So I got the Tobias Fünke reference out of the way right off the hop. Now to get down to brass tacks. First, a little context.
Let go from my job during the Olympics for having the gall to swap a shift to go to a Team Canada hockey game (a steaming load of bullshit that I’ll save for another day), I’ve found myself temporarily self-employed for another six weeks (I prefer this term to “unemployed”, even if the income is largely the same). The job I had lined up to start in May has been delayed until June. It’s a pain, in that the only money I’m bringing in at the moment is from winning hockey pools and betting on outcomes — though to be honest, I’ve made about the same amount from that over the last two weeks as I did on my best paychecks. I am willing to look on the bright side here: after working nights and missing more games than I care to remember over the past several years, I’ve been given the opportunity to fully enjoy every moment of this year’s playoff push. And enjoy it I shall.
Needless to say, the push began Thursday night against Los Angeles, and just hours before puck-drop I decided to compliment my hockey beard (I haven’t shaved since we clinched a spot) with matching hockey hair. Without cause to look professionally presentable, I decided to go all out this year and dye my hair blue. If I’m going to be out of work for the next six weeks, I may as well make some bad decisions because I can.
Now, this isn’t the first time I’ve done this. When I was in grade 10 I was the vocalist in an alt-punk rock band with three schoolmates: Jesse, Andrew and Rob. That band was named Tripwyre (a name I have since kept and re-purposed several times through the years), and in preparation for our first ever show, I decided it would be a good idea to use my hair to make a spectacle of myself. The show was on October 11th, 2002. I was 15 years old. We opened a three band card, and played a half hour set. We made $80. It was the only show I ever got to be a part of before they kicked me out. To this day, that night remains one of my most cherished memories. I have rarely felt cooler.
Getting kicked out of a band is just like getting dumped by a girl you love who’s starting to lose interest. There are telltale signs — you can see it coming. You see her giggling with other boys; you get the feeling that she’s making plans and you aren’t in them. After school she scuttles off without you, and when you call her on it, she reassures you that everything is just fine, making up some excuse that seems like it could be semi-plausible. You believe it because you want to believe it, even if your brain knows something’s up. One day Jesse turned to me in math class and told me it was over. It took everything in my power not to cry. That band may not have been my first girlfriend, but it broke my heart just the same.
(Sidenote: Taehoon, if you’re reading this and through some miracle you still have photos from that show, I would love to add them into this entry. Or to just have them in general.)
The moral of that side-story is that nearly eight years later I still had more than half a cylinder of blue hair dye left over. I’ve seen it in the cupboard over the years and thought about throwing it out, always convincing myself that maybe some day I would need it again. Does hair dye go bad after a certain point? A question I should have asked before going ahead with it. Oh well. As you can tell by the photo above, my hair is such a dark brown it may as well be black. Dyes rarely agree with me, and never turn out the way they’re supposed to. I’d have to bleach it first, and then move on to Code Blue before anyone could see / make fun of my orange hair. Thank you Graham for your assistance in this phase.
Forgive the MySpace emo angle, I needed to get the hair as well lit as possible. And it matches the shirt! An hour and a half later, after picking up a bag of disposable latex gloves, putting on some Miles Davis and making an awful mess of my bathtub, I was left looking like this:
As you can tell by the stain on my ears, it made just as much a mess of me as it did the bathtub. I consider this a ‘good’ photo — it was taken after extensive scrubbing. Stepping out of the shower, I looked like Toruk Makto with a thick line of blue running from the top of my forehead, down the bridge of my nose all the way to the base of my chin. It even got in my eyebrows! I don’t remember having to deal with this degree of mess when I was 15. This is what I get for using 8-year-old dye.
With my hair newly blued, I threw my Kesler jersey on over top of my Mitchell shirt, holstered a playoff towel in one of my belt-loops and took off for downtown. Except for school and seeing Conan, I hadn’t really been downtown since the Olympics. Now, I wasn’t stupidly expecting a party atmosphere that matched even half of what it was like during the Olympics, but I was expecting something. We arrived at Wings just 10 minutes before Game 1 was set to begin, in time to see Tomas Plekanec scorch one past Jose Theodore. Graham had people there holding a table for us, but even if he hadn’t, I’m sure we would have found something. It just wasn’t that busy, and despite the amazing team the Canucks have assembled this year, the city isn’t yet willing to go all out for them.
Perhaps unemployment has skewed my expectations of what’s reasonable for a Thursday night, but there was little atmosphere to be had. Toward the end of the night, in the bathroom of the Howard-Johnson next door to the bar, one of the drunkest people I have ever met wandered in while I was washing my hands. “BUDDYYYYYYY!” he cried. I liked him immediately, but knew he could not be trusted. “Nice HAIR, maaaaaaan,” he said, throwing his hands into it in a sloppy, half-hearted noogie. He stretched his palms out in front of my face, showing the hair had left no stain. Lucky bastard. “WHAT A GAME!” As I unsheathed my towel and began wooing and waving it in the air, he frantically grabbed the paper towel dispenser and started tugging at it like a magician pulling a never-ending kerchief out from up his sleeve. He finally ripped it off and twirled it above his head. It was a towel power moment to make Roger Neilson proud. And when the moment passed, he was just getting started with me.
“I had to make a choice tonight, man,” he started in, while simultaneously pissing. I absolutely hate this about public washrooms — people who want to talk to you while they’re taking a piss. It can wait. “PUSSY, or BOOZE.” I could already tell how it ends. “I came over to Wings from The Forum and it was standing-room only, man. Can you believe that?? STANDING ROOM ONLY. My girl was all ‘I don’t want to have to stand around for hours to watch the game, my feet will hurt.'” He threw his voice up a couple octaves to impersonate her. “So I was like, Hmm. Stay here, get drunk and watch the game. Or go get pussy. That’s so tough, man. That’s the toughest choice there is.” It’s true. “But I got it all figured out.” Oh? “I had my booze and now I’m gonna go meet her for the pussy. Best of both worlds, man! I GET THEM BOTH.”
I congratulated him (what else could I do?), and he offered me a parting piece of advice. “Go out there and get all the pussy you can, man. Winning’s in the air tonight, and I BELIEVE IN YOU. GET IT ALL.” Words to live by.
Meeting this man didn’t just make the Honour Roll, it was my Highlight of the Night. I got about as many reactions from the drunkards on Granville as I did from people out with their dogs as I was walking home on the North Shore at night. Think about that.
It’s a Saturday game tonight, and I’m expecting big things. Don’t let me down, Vancouver.
Post Script: I held on to the money after the show, and bitterly kept the full $80 as a severance. I may have felt wronged, but this was wrong of me too. Jesse, Rob, Andrew… I owe you all $20. Feel free to collect when I actually have a job.
Post Post Script: Alex Edler needs to be mentioned in this entry, for the sole reason that he was an animal in Game 1.
Post Post Post Script: The chops are not playoff-related. I always have those.