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My Big Red Couch

Friday, July 29, 2005

Cuban Cigar

I smoked a Cuban cigar in Vancouver.

We were in Vancouver because we could be, not because we had to be. We were in Vancouver because it was up the road from Seattle, which we had grown bored with after a day and because Vancouver had Cuban cigars. We wandered around the gaslight district and I smoked my Cuban cigar until it made me sick.

When we arrived in Canada, just over the border, there was nothing. Vancouver is a ways into Canada from the border, at least another thirty minutes drive. We drove through the first town looking for food or drink or anything familiar and the only icon we recognized was the golden arches. I think we were trying to prove to ourselves that we really were in a foreign country. The only other evidence that we weren’t in Kansas anymore were the bank time and temperature signs. It was seventeen degrees Canadian (it’s a little known fact that is what the “c” actually stands for, not Celsius).

When we finally found Vancouver I remember being on a one way street that climbed a hill. There were several lanes of traffic and high hedges that came right up to the edge of the road. There was road, sidewalk and a wall of foliage. You caught glimpses of homes between the bushes, otherwise the citizenry was reclusive.

We topped the hill and Vancouver lay before us. It seemed miles, and it was, down to the water. The street transitioned from the hedge rows to commercial to downtown. We stopped at a bank about a third of the way into the city and robbed an ATM machine. It was robbery first because it was Monopoly money and second because it was relatively worthless (and by relatively I mean a sixty cents on the dollar exchange rate). I think we are millionaires in Canada.

We crossed the street to a used book store. Traveling to Vancouver was a whim and we were looking for a guidebook. The used book store had coffee and so did we. They had no local travel section so we had no professional guide but they did have the free independent newspaper so we grabbed that to get a feel for the city.

We headed into downtown, where the clerk had assured us we could find my cigar, parked and wandered the gaslight district. There was urban filth on the brick paved streets. There were junkies around every corners and rusty needles in the gutters.

We ran up a humongous credit card bill (which wasn’t nearly as big when we got home and actually had to pay it) on baubles and whatnots for family and friends. We found my cigar shop and I bought a modestly priced Cuban. It was as strong as I had been warned and we wandered on as I became sicker and sicker.

We found an Irish pub and ate corned beef and cabbage while drinking Guinness and I slowly overcame my smoke induced drunkenness as the alcohol took over.

I smoked a Cuban cigar in Vancouver. We were in the comfort of a new and foreign place, in a foreign country even. I was young and she was young and being miles away from our child, without the worries of family or bills or anything we became lovers again, if only for a few hours.

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