Monday, March 1, 2010

With Glowing Hearts

I have one small regret about the gold-winning men's hockey game, and that is the Dude and I went home instead of going to Yonge St, which was shut down by the crowds as they celebrated well into the evening.

For a video, click here.

For a selection of photos, click here.

But the Dude had to get home and use the bathroom, and we were both worn out from the day. Like old people. But we got to the pub to secure seats for the 3:30 game at 1:30. And we tried to get into Pauper's in the Annex neighbourhood, but there were already people lined outside trying to get in. So we settled for the James Joyce Irish Pub just down the street. The Joyce is a key spot if it's St. Patrick's Day, being Irish to the nines and all. But with its lacklustre food and pitcher-free beer service, it was mostly empty when we go there, not being the first place everyone wanted to go.

But that all changed, presumably as people were turned away from other pubs and started piling into the nearest they could find with open seats. Some showed up at 3:15. I will never understand that. When an event is about to take place, whether it's a movie premiere or a huge game and seats are first come first served, why wouldn't you show up early?

The Dude and I are both firmly in Camp Early and we scored three tables for six people, at which we eventually seated nine. And I drank beer for the first time. And by drank, I mean a pint rather than a sip of someone else's beer, which I wrinkle my nose at. There was little to be had at the Joyce, so I had a Mill Street Organic. No, I had two. In the name of hockey, I drank our nation's favourite drink, something I usually can't stand. I felt like I drank two loaves of bread.

Overall, the atmosphere was playful and excited and you could feel the electricity in the room. An enthusiastic fan was running around having everyone rub his lucky loonie. People's faces were painted, jerseys were on, Canada flags and merch all around. I channelled all my nervous energy into my leg, tap-tap-tap with my heel.

I loved being surrounded by fans as they cheered "Luoooooo" for all Luongo's saves, which sounds like "Boooo", so that at first last week I was confused why Canadians were "booing" his awesome goal-tending. Luuoooooo!

And then Sid The Kid took the game all the way home and the crowd, to borrow the most appropriate cliched phrase, went wild. The crowd went ape shit. The crowd then piled into the streets and I've never in my whole life seen the entire city covered in smiles, with such fellowship towards each other and unrestrained patriotism and unbridled joy.

And when I woke up this morning I was kind of bummed the party was over. Our Olympics were done, and we set a new world record for most gold medals won at a Winter Games ever. And I feel proud. I always carry my patriotism and love for my country with me, but how often do I express it? How often do we all toot our caribou horns? The outlet we as a country had these past two weeks to express our feelings for Canada was rare. Even on Canada Day we usually celebrate politely and with a quieter sort of laid back attitude. "Ahem. Go us, eh?"

Somehow these games brought us together in a way nothing else ever has. We're always there for one another through our healthcare system, which doesn't discriminate. We afford equal rights to all to become employed, vote, marry and have families-- or not have families. We're generally a happy and low-key bunch who don't always know who we are, but are hunky dorey with doing right by each other.

But as we cheered on the best of our best, partied in the streets and sang our anthem, boldly wore the maple leaf and looked our neighbours in the eyes as we celebrated our victories, we experienced a new way to be Canadian, with the glowing hearts we've been singing about for years and raving jubilation. And fucking eh, was it awesome.

I hope it lasts.

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