I know I said I was going to talk about children this week, but regular readers of this blog will know two things”
1. I lied
2.I have tendency to get sidetracked by stories and events that occur throughout the week.
Without further ado, here is the story for this week:
Growing up in Winnipeg, it is a small miracle that I have somehow reached the age of 25 (or a 116 if you believe Facebook) without taking a trip to The Joint. The Joint is a local “tobacconist” and smoking “accessories” retail chain that carries all sorts of glassware to assist in consuming “substances” of various legal standings.
I simply never had a reason to enter such an establishment as past experiences with tobacco-related substances are neither noteworthy nor reinforcing of repeated use. In the odd scenario that I did enter an establishment, I always imagined it would be while engaged in some midnight odyssey while embroiled in organized crime and criminal intrigue.
I never expected my first visit to be with my dad.
For those who don’t know, my dad is a straight shooter. Beyond straight in fact, as despite putting himself through college as a musician and a long-haul trucker during the late 60’s and 70, he somehow evaded alcohol, smoking, drugs, and all other forms of vice. Hence my surprise when he asked me to come with him to the “local head shop” as he called it.
Why on earth would my father want to go to The Joint? Had he become concerned with my recent interest in beer brewing and in a glorious example of overcompensation, decided to overdose me on tobacco to turn me off of emotionally altering substances? Maybe he decided that in retirement, he was going to dive into the grittier version of the 1960’s he had ignored up until this point?
The answer was far more mundane. As part of a trip my parents are planning to Vietnam, their travel host had requested a Zippo lighter to be given as a gift to the host family in Vietnam. My father’s Google search revealed the joint as a retailer of Zippo lighters and the decision was made.
The Joint lived up to expectations. Bongs filled the store, with e-cigs, tobacco, incense, joint papers, and some unfamiliar oddities filling the spaces in between. A man greeted us from behind the counter; his tremendous dreadlocks seeming to defy gravity and rise up in a hair style evocative of Guile from Street Fighter. The clerk proceeded to continue helping the man in front of us, a towering man of African descent that easily cleared 6 feet. After purchasing something called a “blutarillo”, he turned and began to leave when my father called after him.
“Hey”, my father shouted.
The man pivoted with surprising agility given his frame and stared down at my dad. Dressed in a torn plaid shirt reflective of decades spent in farming and plant science, my father picked up a half-full Gatorade bottle from the counter and broke the silence. “Is this yours”, he asked?
“Yeah; yeah it is my man!” replied the African man, a huge smile spreading across his face.
“It’s important to stay hydrated” my dad responded in a sagely tone as he smiled and handed the man his bottle. “Thanks a bunch man…hydration is important” replied the man, the grin still plastered on his face.
“No worries”, replied my father before turning back to the counter and requesting a copper plated zippo lighter.
“What do you smoke”, asked the clerk? “Nothing”, my father replied in a tone simultaneously casual and hoarse. It’s payment for a favour in Vietnam”.
The clerk stood stunned, not sure what to make of my father. Looking at my father’s grizzled features, the result of years spent working outdoors, I was struck by how badass the response appeared in the context of the situation.
The clerk appeared to be trying to decide whether my father was a Vietnam veteran or a CESES agent when my father interjected and asked if they had a silver or unmarked Zippo instead. The clerk complied and we were out of the store a few minutes later.
“That was interesting”, I said as we left in lieu of anything better coming to mind.
“Yeah, my father replied. It reminds me of the sixties.”