Sunday, July 16, 2006

The Slurpee Generation

Scene from the park:

I was sitting in Garden Park reading Harpers as the kids played shots on goal after the World Cup final. That immediacy of kids is refreshing. Right after the game they have to go out and play soccer. Fortunately they were trying to score goals, not head-butt.

A new father, probably in his late twenties, early thirties walked up to the play area near me. He was meticulously dressed in modern sport/casual attire, with a Slurpee in one hand, and an Everest ready MEC kid back pack, filled with with kid.

I've never been a Slurpee fan. I think I was just a bit behind the curve in terms of timing (Sarnia, Ontario, late sixties, proximity of a 7-11), so it never became a habit. But, what do you do if you grew up with Slurpees, and now you've got a kid. Do you walk right by the 7-11, or do you get in while the going's good, before they can start to ask for one?

The new father bent down to put his Slurpee gently on the ground, unshouldered the pack, and extracted the kid from his high-tech chamber. The kid was gently put into the swing, the digitial video camera came out of somewhere, and the moment was captured.

After a few minutes of this the kid started squawking. The dad tried changing swings and a bottle, but to no avail. I somehow thought the kid just wanted to get down and crawl on the grass or in the sand by the swing and slide, but this did not seem to be in the game plan. At no time did the little kids sock covered feet come in contact with the planet Earth.

The dad, re-inserted the kid into the MEC expeditionary gear, shouldered it, bent down to pick up his Slurpee, and was off.

I somehow can't draw the conclusion I want from this. There was a gestalt I felt about the scene; the well-groomed sport/casual clothes, MEC backpack, digital video camera, child as an addendum to the gear, the controlled interaction with the playground, and of course, the Slurpee that for some reason pinpointed the scene.

So I'll have to leave any conclusion up in the air now, and let it sift a bit.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

World Cup Fever

Well World Cup has come and gone. I won't talk (much) about Zidane's bout of madness. Although some are saying that if the Materazzi insult was a racial epithet, then Italy could be stripped of their prize. We'll see.

It's strange being a soccer (football) fan in North America. The night before the World Cup I was cruising the sports channels on TV (I get three) trying to find a preview. Anything, anything, but nada. All three stations were showing the Lions lose to Edmonton (the other kind of football). This was the big news.

It's not as if soccer's not popular. I took the kids down to SoccerRio for the final. Got there early to get tickets and seats, but no luck. It was sold out by the time we got there, probably days before. Silly me. I didn't think they would pre-sell tickets. And then later on Commercial Drive, stimates of up to 10,000 people. And we can't manage to fit anything on the sports channels the night before? Someone's dropping the ball, so to speak.

We had a good time anyways. We all came back to our basement and watched. Kids outside at half-time kicking a soccer ball in the backyard. Our own little party. I know there were lots of others like this going on as well.

Afterwards I took a walk down the Drive, in my France shirt. It took me 5 minutes to walk the one block by the Caffe Roma. It was packed. No problems though, every one was happy. I even heard the police report that things were calm. Maybe they're finally coming around to the fact that public events such as this are a good thing, and lead to more safe public events and, who knows, maybe even safer streets.

The odd thing about my walk down the Drive was I didn't see anyone I knew (well one, but he's a musician so he doesn't count). I realized they were all Commercial Drive immigrants for the day.

So it's true, the Drive really is the host for a large portion of the city during World Cup. Part of me likes that and welcomes them. They're well behaved and having fun. This is the festival atmosphere that gets shown on TV. But part of me just wants to get my shopping done.

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