My birthday wasn’t very much of a birthday. There was breakfast with Jenn, who had stayed over the night before after going to Sam‘s script reading with me, and Christina, who’s staying here until she moves to Montreal on Sunday, the wild girl, and tea with Paula, then some people I don’t see often enough came over for cake. It could have happened any day of the week, a day like that. It was almost an accident that it was my birthday at all, a slip of the calendar.
Today, however, was completely crammed full of lovely unexpected. (Friday gets extra points because Friday is the day David and I have to sleep in, swearing off the alarm, we lie in bed like it’s a favourite song on permanent repeat.) Dominique called saying let’s go for lunch, with Lung calling almost right after to say he was coming over with a birthday present. As we waited for them to arrive, Christina, David and I had the rest of the birthday cake for breakfast, starting a sugar theme that was to last the rest of the day. Once we had everyone in one place, we went over to 7th for Chinese food, then out to Kitsilano for something called The Unicorn.
The Unicorn is a dessert offered at the first Vera’s Burger Shack. It’s every kind of ice-cream and every kind of topping they have, all at once, for thirty dollars but free if you finish it alone. It has a reputation of defeating grown men who think they have a serious capacity for gluttony. Be that as it may, it’s been on my List Of Things I Have To Try for quite awhile. I didn’t eat it alone, however, as we all took a spoon, but even so, we almost died. Five of us, and we couldn’t manage to eat the last peanut butter cup. It sat in the bottom of the pitcher like a soggy accusation.
After that, there was very little we could do but sit, so we gingerly picked our way to Kitsilano beach and sat in the grass, laughing at our delicious folly, holding our bellies, and sitting as still as we could. This, of course, is when Lung decides he has to try and sit on my head. Hooray for Lung, picking on a poor little woman like me. My favourite photo of this sad, sad debacle is not of Lung cradling his not-quite-sprained finger as I sat on him instead, a knee in the middle of his back, but when Christina just about fell on top of him trying to wrest his camera away as he insisted on using the last shot in his camera to take her picture. Her t-shirt, as it clearly shows in the next photos, says, I PWN BOYS.
Next we went to PLANET BINGO, the mysterious, very large building at Main and 11th, that I had always wanted to explore. David and I had stepped in once but had immediately retreated, overcome by the over-powering feeling that we had gone through an airlock into a muted David Lynch scene, as if we would discover a midget dancing backward with a bright pink ink dabber. The idea of going as a group lent us impetus, made it feel safer, (as it happens, Dominique had always wanted to go too), a sense of security which almost immediately proved to be false.
The place was an anthropological experience, through and through. Rows of vacant squares filled with meaningless numbers, blotted out by hands moving almost automatically as a soft, harmless voice recited numbers over speakers set into the walls, as if thorazine were free at the door. There was no natural light. The bottom floor was resident to a hundred people, easy, lined up like refugees, hopeless, frugal, and addicted, there for no other reason but to be there. As soon as we discovered there was an upstairs, with electronic bingo, we fled up the institutional, darkened stone stairs. Computers would be less of a threat, somehow, familiar, and requiring interaction of a sort we didn’t have to buy markers for.
We entertained the notion of trying out the second floor just to be surrounded by more weirdness, but it was too full, we wouldn’t have been able to sit together, and none of us felt comfortable being isolated there, so we went up to the third. (Hurried whispers, “There’s three floors, they said!” “Three??” “Three.“). The third turned out to be perfect. Miniature disco balls hung from the ceiling, explained by a sign on the wall that said Planet Bingo’s Lunar Lounge. It was possible to see that the windows had been spray-painted black sometime about thirty years ago, a time measured in how the paint had flaked away, showing a slight snow of sunlight in the cracks.
Not knowing what we were doing, we were reduced to the hive mind collective of the lost tourist, trying to pool knowledge in an effort to over-come the cultural language barrier. Eventually we figured out how to buy cards on the computers, play the games, and decipher the names the games were given, smiling nervously the entire time. Running out of cards was a relief, as if it was an escape, rather than a sad thing, bring unable to play. It was evident we didn’t belong. Blinking into the sky outside, away from the casino false lighting, was wonderful.
Thankfully, PLANET BINGO is only a couple of blocks from where David ostensibly lives, so next came a visit with his bunnies, Fido and Emerson the emo bunny, and a welcome, brief sit-down at his place to catch our breath. The ice-cream, even hours later, was still defeating us.
Dominique left us after that, and our plan of going out to Jenn’s BBQ fell apart as soon as Lung, Christina, and David and I got back to my place. Any movement felt like too much effort, so instead we dropped our left-over’s in the fridge, bounced up the Black Dog where we picked up Lars & the Real Girl, and settled in for the night.
The movie was bloody good, and that brings us to now. Christina and Lung on the fold-out couch, quiet in the dark except for the occasional furniture squeak, David asleep in the bed behind me, and me tapping at the keys, listening to TV On the Radio and happy to be the only one awake. The cats were checking in on me every once and awhile, but I’m pretty sure even they’ve settled in for the night.
Tomorrow we’re all going up the Drive for breakfast, to pick up cat litter and groceries and hit up the bank. (Exciting, I’m sure). Then, yay, double-yay, triple-yay, we’re going to Playland to ride the rides and eat cotton-candy and truly atrocious hot-dogs! (David’s promised to ride a roller-coaster too, for the very first time, for my birthday. I’m very pleased. I love them dearly and want to share. I think Lung’s going to maybe be convinced to try it too. I don’t know yet. He’s a tougher nut to crack.) In the evening, after all the thrilling I’m-going-to-die-on-this-ride/stop-crying-you-sissy excitement has had a chance to wear off, we’re going to the Richmond Night Market for street food. It means putting off job-hunting for a weekend, but somehow, I’m finally all right with that. I didn’t send even one resume off today and I don’t feel guilty at all. I can catch up Sunday, once my friends have gone, and the birthday weekend is over.
Goodnight everyone. I hope you’ve been having a very good week. I’m sorry I haven’t been in touch much. Thank you for the birthday wishes. It’s been mild, but it’s been nice.