Maxed out 

An epiphany on a patio


The crowd on the patio of the Brew House smelled vaguely of coconut oil, spilled beer, heightened expectations and seething resentment. Celebrating the first long weekend of the Summer of Recession, the thirsty, assembled masses were a riot of colour. Skin, covered in high-tech fabric since sometime last October, soaked in free vitamin D and morphed before indifferent eyes from ghostly porcelain white to ghostly porcelain white with a wash of brilliant crimson. A familiar, chauvinistic sense of national pride in besting our American neighbours in the rush to summer by one long weekend was tempered by a nagging sense of colonialism in celebrating a dead, forgotten Queen.

I was lost in low-key reverie, amused by a family drama unfolding at the next table where a bossy big sister, perhaps age eight, was shoving limpid french fries into the cheeks, ears and forehead of her younger, besieged brother. She kept saying something about "it's the attack of the killer frites." Tears and temper were both near exploding as their parents intently thumbed vital text messages into respective Blackberries. "Whistler's gr8; wish U were here."

Two young homies, decked out in team colours - Canucks and Blue Jays - were embraced in an animated argument about the manifold failings the Canucks had to address in the off season to mount a better showing in next year's playoffs when one of them had what apparently passed for a brainstorm in his ever-tranquil corner of the world. "Why is there an off season anyway?" he said excitedly.

"In some places, there's barely an on season," his insightful friend countered, sparking the discussion into a nationalistic rant about the merits of repatriating the Phoenix franchise back to Canada, leading, in turn, to arguments for and against Winnipeg versus Hamilton, an argument that struck me as being a bit like having to choose whether you'd rather hit your right thumb with the hammer or your left.

But it was one of those kinds of days. Too cold to swim, too hot to ski, just right for arguing irrelevant minutia on an inviting patio over multiple refreshing beverages. I was lingering, in hindsight a moment too long, intrigued first by the spectacle of the retro-Goth, twentysomething couple, dressed like black holes and made up to look like the illegitimate love children of Ozzy Osborne and Alice Cooper, grilling the waitress on the relative merits of Lifty Lager versus Black Diamond Stout. The guy - a guess on my part - thought the stout was more in keeping with their wardrobe and dark outlook on life while his girlfriend, channeling some long-simmering latent optimism, liked the alliteration of Lifty Lager and kept repeating it over and over, "Lifty Lager, Lifty Lager...." "You're so bourgeois," he fired back, touching off a heated debate on Marx's theory of class, the misinformed scope of which left me believing they'd studied Groucho, not Karl.

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