Holy crap in a Bundt pan... Due to the recent well-publicized shortage of
amateur websites produced by assholes who consider themselves to be clever, I
have been called into action. My name is Jeff Kay, and I’m an Ugly American living
on the cusp of a mid-life crisis, near Scranton, PA. And I’m here to serve, baby.

The View From Down Here
A journal of sorts, updated every once in a while.

Breakups are never easy

August 15, 2007

-- On Saturday morning in Ottawa I went to an ATM to withdraw forty dollars from my checking account. And two questionable pieces of paper came out, each bearing an artist’s rendering of Betty White. At least I think it was Betty White… And on the back was a rowboat filled with cartoon characters. 

The hell, man? Was somebody playing a trick on me? Even though I knew it was a ridiculous notion deep-down, part of me didn’t fully believe this “money” was actually spendable.

From the bank we followed Toney’s sister to a farmer’s market. There we walked amongst hippies and large dogs wearing bandanas, and looked at vegetables, and baked goods prepared with something called spelt flour. I have no idea what that means, and have little interest in finding out.

I was really hungry, but afraid to purchase anything at this jamboree of wire-rim glasses and body hair run amok. So I just waited in the shade of a tree, my stomach growling and sweat rolling down my back. A guy in a booth nearby had a gigantic wok going, and was mixing up something that smelled like garlic and bad hygiene.

It was hot during the entire visit, and humid too. It’s not the kind of weather I associate with Canada ; it was more like Atlanta . And who needs that? I blasted the air conditioner in my car wide-open, and it struggled to keep up with demand. I’m not a fan of any of it. I thought we’d be escaping that soul-sapping crapola, and I was wrong, horribly wrong.

After the so-called farmer’s market (real farmers don’t wear Birkenstocks), we followed Toney’s sister to downtown Ottawa . She pulled into a parking garage, which was apparently designed for an imaginary world where everyone drives a Chevette. It was really cramped and claustrophobic inside, and we had to feed ten dollars into a machine for the privilege of leaving our vehicles there.

Maybe I’m out of touch (anything’s possible), but the city seemed mighty expensive. My inner-sensors kept telling me that everything cost at least 25% too much. A recalibration might be in order, but I don’t think so. I believe my sensors are functioning perfectly, thank you very much.

We walked around Parliament Hill, and it was really pretty. There were lots of tourists around, but never was there a crush of people, like you’d experience in Washington D.C. or places like that. And that’s a good thing.

Also, there are no hills. Everything is flat, so it’s very easy to get around on foot. I had no idea what to expect, but Ottawa is an appealing place.

While we were walking past Parliament, the batteries in Toney’s camera shit the bed. She’d bought replacements before leaving Pennsylvania , and asked me to put them in my camera bag in case we needed them. Then I left the bag in the trunk of my car, which was roughly a million miles away from where Toney’s dead camera was now residing.

She wasn’t very happy with me, so I went into a little souvenir shop in search of batteries. They cost $4.98 for two, and I needed four. Grrr Reluctantly, I handed over one of my Betty Whites, and the dude gave me back all manner of strangeness as change. 

There was a $2 coin, which looked like a half-dollar with a penny baked into it, and something my brother-in-law called a “loonie.” I just don’t know…

We had lunch at a mall food court, which featured many of the same “restaurants” we see every day. Wotta rip-off. I wanted to experience local stuff, not KFC yet again. But my vote was slapped-down, kicked repeatedly, then urinated upon. I had two slices of bad, expensive pizza, and a Dr. Pepper. I felt like one of those people who go to NYC and have dinner at Applebee’s.

After lunch we forked over lots and lots of “loonies,” for a bus tour of the city. I know people dismiss that sort of thing as far too common, but I like taking tours of unfamiliar places. 

Most allow you to jump off, explore for a while, then pick up the next bus that comes along. So it’s a good way to cover a lot of ground with a minimum of stress. Then you can go back later on your own, to revisit the places you especially liked.

We saw all the major sites in
Ottawa , and heard them described in two languages by a teenage girl suffering from a bad case of the perky. 

Among a thousand other things, she told us the American Embassy is “bullet-proof, bomb-proof, and visitor-proof.” Everybody laughed, but I suspect it was out of a feeling of obligation. We also saw the ranch where the horses used by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police are trained and housed. They were all huddled wherever there happened to be a sliver of shade.

After the tour, we were led to the Beer Store. It seemed to be a subtle way for Toney’s sister to say, “We provided your shit for the first night, but after that, you’re on your own.”

I walked up to the drycleaner’s counter and ordered a case of Sleeman Honey Brown. And the guy wanted to know what I considered to be a case. I said 24, and he said, “Yeah, that’s what I call a case as well.” I didn’t know how to respond to that, so I just stood there. 

And in a few seconds my 24 beers appeared through a hole in the wall, and rolled down a conveyor belt. I still have about twelve of them, but they probably won’t make it to the weekend; Sleeman Honey Brown is officially on the Endangered Species list.

For dinner we went to a pub called The Arrow and the Loon. I don’t know what that means, but the food was good and the beer was better. I had a cuppa two tree St-Ambroise Pale Ales, and that was a mighty fine adult beverage. 

I’ll have more to say about this dinner in the director’s cut… Ho-ly shitbiscuits!

And I’m sorry this update is so late. I had to quit in the middle and leave the house for several hours. One of the tasks we accomplished today, was getting our passport photos taken. On Friday we’re going to the post office to order passports for all four of us, you see, in anticipation of our proposed trip to
England next spring.

Yes, I’m unemployed. What of it?

For the record, my photo turned out awful. It looks like my head is ratcheted to one side, like my neck is L-shaped, or something. My face is all red and fleshy and liver-like, and my skin is shining like something in a wax museum. It’s full-on hideous, but what are you going to do? There’s nothing to make me believe it would be any better if I tried it again…

Anyway, I’ll finish up this long-winded Canada tale tomorrow. The Wal-Mart version, anyway.

See ya then.




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01/17/12 12:14 PM

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