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Maxed Out: Dancin’ with indecision

'You can care until your ears bleed. And other than making you bloody, what’s it get you?'
There's a first time for everything.

It was one of those moments.

Dazed and confused in more or less the middle of Olympic Plaza, it was one of those moments when the best thing a guy could do would be to just sit down, gather his thoughts, remind himself of what exactly he was trying to do, and start doing it all over again. Maybe even seek refuge in making a list! System overload: Reboot.

So naturally, I didn’t do that.

Instead, I hesitantly jerked my way first one direction then turned heel and stumbled a few steps the opposite way, like a target in a shooting gallery. Walk… plink… walk the other way… plink… repeat as necessary until enlightenment arrived.

After a half-dozen iterations of this spastic two-step, I broke through the haze and became self-aware of the comical spectacle my indecision was creating. Instead of seizing that moment of clarity to gather whatever was left of my wits, I truncated the two-step into a herky-jerky spinning motion. Whistler’s version of a whirling Dervish. A jerky Dervish? Sounds like a sweet, meaty snack.

“Tourism Whistler paying you to be street entertainment, dude?”

The all-too-familiar voice was a little less familiar than usual. The ground-glass, whiskey and unfiltered cigarette edges seemed rounded, almost melodic. There was a lyrical quality to his words. A kinder, gentler mockery.

“Just dancin’ with indecision, J.J.,” I replied.

In a most unusual way, I was kind of glad to be bushwhacked by J.J. Geddyup, Whistler’s inveterate, underemployed, over-stimulated, chronically paranoid private eye. If anyone could make me feel like I knew what I was doing, J.J. would be that guy. Living a life that pretty much embodied disorder and uncertainty, J.J. could be relied on to be an island of chaos in a placid sea. No matter how weird my life was, J.J.’s could be counted on to be a few steps closer to Armageddon.

“I know I came to the village to do something; I just can’t remember exactly what it was,” I continued. “Good news is, while I’ve been trying to remember, I’ve thought of several other things to do. Male Pattern Distraction. Now I’m just trying to figure out the best order to do them in.”

“I suggest we start with a planning session… over a beer,” he said in a voice that seemed way too rational, considering what a half-assed idea it was.

“A beer? It’s 10 in the freakin’ morning, J.J.”

“So it is. Better make it a Bloody Mary then. I’m buyin’.”

I froze. “What did you say?”

“Better make it a Bloody Mary?”

“No, after that.”

“I’m buyin’?”

“Yeah. That. I’ve never heard you say that before.” It was a little like taking a mild but stunning blow to the head. J.J. offering to buy a drink? The guy who purloined my beverage whenever he came within reach. The guy I’d seen swipe beers off tables when their owners left them untended to make a pit stop. It was like hearing Pierre Poilievre say he and Justin Trudeau were secretly lovers.

“You look like you need a drink,” he countered. “In fact, you look like you either need a couple of drinks or you’ve already had a couple.”

Stumbling to the nearest patio, he ordered two Bloody Marys. “Make that one Bloody Mary and one black coffee,” I corrected.

“Coffee this early,” he mocked. “You are confused.”

“And you’re not,” I said. “How come? Usually it’s the other way around. You’re scattered and I’m the one who knows more or less what he’s doing. In fact, you seem eerily calm.”

“I am. Calm, that is.”

“How come? How can you be calm?”

“What’s not to be calm about?”

“Oh, let’s see. There’s stubbornly high inflation. There’s Trudeau driving the good ship Liberal Party into the ground. There’s silly people ripping the globe’s social fabric to shreds over which side is less reprehensible in the Middle East when their protest actions will have absolutely no impact on either side’s dogmatic intransigence. There’s the escalating culture war virus Canada seems to have contracted from the U.S. Need I go on?”

“Why worry about things you can’t do anything about?”

“Worry is doing something! Unfortunately, it’s about all I can do. I can’t do anything about uninspiring presidential candidates. Anything about an only slightly worse choice on this side of the border. Can’t do anything about Alberta channelling its inner Quebec or the growing sense most provincial leaders believe the best environmental policy is no policy at all. Can’t do anything about the wars that are raging and the ones just waiting in the wings for a spark. Worry’s about all that’s left. How come you’re not worried? Since when did you start walking around, offering to buy drinks, humming ‘Don’t Worry, Be Happy’?”

“Since I stopped caring, dude. Since I caught the wave and joined the great unwashed.”

“What the hell does that mean, J.J.?”

“Means what you don’t know won’t hurt you. Isn’t that your philosophy about skiing?”

“Not exactly. It’s what you can’t see can’t hurt you. And I only mean it ironically; kind of a skiing-in-the-fog rationalization. But how can you not know? How can you ignore what’s going on around you?”

“No news, no newspapers. No antisocial media. Everything I need to know I can get off YouTube DIY ditties. I made a knife out of a bunch of rusted drill bits. Cool. The rest is just noise, one big reality show. Not part of my bubble. Ignorance is bliss, dude.”

“And freedom is slavery, war is peace… yada yada yada. Show me the lobotomy scar, J.J.”

“No lobotomy, dude. Just conscious choice. Or unconscious choice if you prefer. Look, you can get yourself all worked up about inflation and war and a burning planet and politics and greed. You can get so confused you can’t remember what it was you’re doing and wind up spinning in the middle of the village like a confused cat in the middle of a freeway. You can care until your ears bleed. And other than making you bloody, what’s it get you? Nothing. You know what? Maybe there is no solution. Maybe the best efforts you can mount, the best plans you can make aren’t good enough. If the planet’s warming up, if the icebergs’re meltin’, what the hell: strip down and ride the wave, dude. Cowabunga!”

“Seems a bit nihilistic, J.J.”

“Actually, it’s de-nihilistic. Don’t worry; be happy.”

“Well, if that’s the case, maybe a Bloody Mary this early makes all the sense in the world.”

“Nothing else does, brother.”