(Source: Afireoutsideme on Deviant Art)
Pretend it's June in North Ontario. The sun is weak, the town is tiny and the area is stunningly beautiful. It's also St. Jean Baptiste which means the Quebecers in my little group want to get wasted* and declare their sovereignty.
Now, I'm not all Vivre Quebec, but I enjoyed hanging out with the biggest Libre believer of them all. Thom was a guitarist of the tenth degree. A ponderer with a French-guy afro. Funny, deep, and a little bit lost. Being as it was Quebec's national holiday he got all introspective and wanted to wander off to the beach with his guitar. I was bored on our free block and decided to go along. Mostly, I confess, I wanted to sit looking over Lake Superior and listening to Thom's acoustic guitar.
As we got closer to the beach a cop car pulled up and informed us that a bear had just been reported on the beach. There's another thing about this town. It wasn't unusual to see black bears crossing the street in the middle of town. With a dejected Thom I turned and meandered down towards main, stopping at their little skate park.
Laying on the curved concrete Thom played and I listened.
Groups of fourteen year-old boys can be a little obnoxious. Especially when it's a birthday party and they're on the way to the corner store to try scam cigarettes. They spotted us like prey on a field mouse.
"Dude, you're amazing. Man, play us something."
"What do you want?"
"Play us some Slipknot! Know any Metallica? Dude, Slash! Who's she?"
"Kris. She sings." I shot Thom my "way to try switch the heat" look.
"Dude! Play us something and she can sing."
Kids don't shut-up easily. Thom cued the opening bars of Hotel California, about the only song that we both knew he could play and I could sing through. Amid just-breaking voices and experimental swearing he glanced at me. Kind of a "just do it, I dare you."
As I started on dark desert highways and cool wind in my hair the miraculous happened. The group shut-up. They stood against the graffiti and stared. When the guitar died they were all, "Man, that was amazing. Amazing! Beautiful! Really." That's right. We got a fourteen year old male to use "beautiful" as description.
Then the birthday kid dropped twenty bucks in Thom's case. Twenty-bucks! We were on a youth volunteer program, so that was a night out at the Legion (yes, the Legion was the happening night life). It was his birthday money, but he wouldn't take it back.
They headed off to the convenience store. We returned to our non-heavy metal under the night sky, but it wasn't too long before they were back.
"Dude! You were amazing! But we're out of money, Man. Here. Have a rock."
"No way, Man. They're too good for a rock! Here, have my shirt. No, seriously, take it!"
I was laughing. Thom was like, "C'mon guys! You can't go home without a shirt. No, it's cool."
"No really. Take my shirt. Take my shoes."
"Here! I'll give you my pants!"
To our chagrin a barely teen dropped his pants. Right there on the skate park of a little northern town.
"Want my boxers, too? I'll give 'em to you!"
Thom was freaking out a little. I couldn't stop laughing. We managed to get the kids to (mostly) keep their boxers on. Eventually it was us who had to leave them running around the ramps partially dressed.
"I was scared," Thom confessed. "Man, like, maybe we get in trouble for little kids strip in front of us!"
It was perfect. My first and only St. Jean Baptist. But regardless it'd probably be my favourite.
*Yes, I see the irony as the holiday is (apparently) named after a saint.