Newfound Friendliness

newfoundland-map

 

 

<-  Ted’s house!

 

 

 

Monday Feb 16, 2015 was a statutory holiday in Ontario, called Family Day.  It’s relatively new, but long overdue.  Finally, something to get us from Christmas/New Years, through to Easter.  On Tuesday the 17th I went to my favorite nearby supermarket to pick up a copy of the Toronto Sun.

Dear Lord, have people forgotten how to shop ahead??  The store was only closed for one day.  I almost had to bring my own parking space.  Quite often I make 25¢ or 50¢ by neatening up the parking lot, putting away carts with quarters in them.  Not that day!  No carts in either of the cart corrals, but people lurking near them.  No carts in the entryway either, so I grabbed a basket.

Most of the shoppers were white-, or blue-haired.  Do they not remember back in the ‘80s, before we had Sunday opening?  Was toilet paper being rationed, or was there a sale on Polident and Depends?

This place was stuffed – just crammed with shoppers.  Folks were bumping into each other and edging carts past.  It was so full, that people going up the aisles could inhale, while those going down the aisles exhaled.

Besides the paper, I also wanted a small bag of fine sugar, and two dozen eggs.  With the help of a little fairy-dust, and my fancy dancing slippers, I circumnavigated the store in less than three minutes, and only got groped once.  Then I got around to the checkouts….backed up like an old guy eating cheese.  The waits were so long, I hope no-one ‘checked out’ before they checked out.

I headed for the express lane.  It was so busy that they had two of them open.  I entered the first line, and was ninth or tenth.  The curve of the lines put me beside a lady about my age, third from the front, in line number two.  Looking in my basket, she saw only the eggs, and insisted that I get in line in front of her.  I mentioned the paper and the sugar.  “Go ahead, go ahead!”  I don’t know what the nine or ten people behind her thought, but I snuggled in quickly, before anyone objected.

Her thoughtful niceness, along with her strong accent, suggested that she was from Newfoundland, Canada’s easternmost, island province, and just full of kind, helpful people.  When I asked, she confirmed my suspicion.  Then I got nosy and asked specifically where she was from.  “Stephenville.”  Newfoundlanders are generally open, friendly people.  They don’t mind when you ask questions and engage them in casual conversation.

I said, “Oh, I’ve got a blog-friend from Stephenville.”  I don’t think she quite caught, or grasped, the blog-friend’ concept, and seemed to think that I’d driven 1700 miles and taken a two-hour ferry ride, to drink ‘screech’ (high-alcohol, reclaimed rum).  The Rock, as it’s known, is a bit behind, technologically.  They didn’t get World-Standard 60 Hz electricity until the late 1950s, and their Internet is a large ball of twine and several empty tin cans.

To give credence to the rumor that “every Newfie knows every other Newfie”, she asked who he was.  “I might knows ‘im.”  I explained that “he” was Ted White from SightsNBytes, a highly proficient and entertaining writer.  “I knows a lotta Whites, but I don’t t’ink I knows a Ted White.”  Ted has explained that, in Newfoundland, or at least in his home town of Stephenville, (Pop. 6193) there are as many, or more, of ‘his’ Whites, as there are of ‘my’ Smiths.  His family inflated the numbers by changing their French name, LeBlanc, to the English, White.

My Newfie tour-guide, whose married name was Green, went on to tell me that, “D’ere’s even a street called Whites Avenue.  Fer a coupla blocks, d’ere’s nuttin’ but Whites, an’ d’ey’s all related ta each udder.”  Ted’s bunch are not related to that lot, because his group ate croissants and snails, before they sailed west to eat cod tongues and mussels.

This 60ish woman has been in Ontario for 20 years, but hasn’t lost that ‘Down Home’ sound and style of speech, because she spent her formative years, and more, down home on The Rock.  I find these speakers a delight to be around, much like the ”y’all” Southern speakers.  They are the salt of the Earth, possibly because they live surrounded by the salty ocean.  They would give the shirt off their back to a perfect stranger, if he needed it – or go next door and borrow one from the neighbor.

I would have loved to have partaken of more of her friendly sociability.  Because she put me ahead of herself, and several other shoppers, I was soon through the checkout and free to proceed with my errands.  Thanks Mrs. Green!  You were a delight.   😀

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Purple Jesus

I wonder already, how many of you know what I’m talking about, and how many are just shaking your heads, confused and wondering.  Did you ever go to college or university?  Did you ever get really wasted on booze?  Did these two things happen more or less in conjunction?  Chances are, you know about Purple Jesus.

Purple Jesus is the drink of choice for those who want to be a little more upscale than those who merely swill beer.  It’s the all-you-can-drink buffet served by folks who want to throw a party you won’t remember.  There’s supposed to be a recipe for it.  One bottle of Rye, one bottle of rum, one bottle of gin, and one bottle of pure, unflavored alcohol.  All “bottles” are 26ers in Canada, and fifths in the USA.  For each bottle added to the communal pot, a 48 ounce can of Welch’s Grape Juice is stirred in.

In practice, it includes whatever the BYOB guests bring.  It all gets covered by the taste of the grape juice anyway.  At the party I attended, the mixing was done in a huge canning kettle.  With two universities and a large Community College in town, there are tales of bathtubs in the students dorms, stained permanently purple.  Scrub and rinse the tub, put in a new stopper, and you’re ready to party.

The little bash I attended was supposed to be a lease-breaking party.  Two friends had signed a year’s lease, but wanted to move to a handier location after eight months.  The landlord wouldn’t let them sub-let, and didn’t want to be bothered screening a new tenant, hence, The Party.

Newly married, the wife and I arrived on-time, to find the shindig already under way.  All chairs and sofas were full, so we wound up sitting on a couple of cushions on the floor.  A short while later, we were joined by a hippie couple and their male, deodorized, pet skunk.  Cute little fellow, (the skunk) friendlier than any cat.

All of us sucked back the PJ, except the hippies; they toked up and added a contact high to the room.  They lived on the seventh floor of another apartment building, and the next day, the skunk committed suicide by walking off the balcony, or so they claimed.  Poor thing, probably thought it could fly.

Our hostess served each of us a twelve-ounce glass of this witch’s-brew, as we sat on the cushions.  The stuff goes down like Kool-Aid.  Twenty minutes later, my glass was empty.  I went to stand up to get a refill, but the hostess told me to sit, and got it for me.  Twenty minutes later, my glass was empty, again!  With no hostess in sight, I lithely arose….and apparently an earthquake tipped the building.  Holy S**t, I think I’ll just collapse sit here and coast for a while.

The party was in the middle of February, but with that many people, the doors to the snow-covered balcony were left open.  The first glass you get with the ladle.  Perhaps the second glass you get, you use the ladle.  By the third glass….ah, t’hell widdit, just dip the glass into the pot, and get grape-coated fingers.

One of the partiers did this, and then stepped out for some fresh air.  Seeing the humor potential only a drunkaholic would, he grabbed a small handful of snow, and tossed it at one of his friends.  At least it struck the wall in the same room.  The person splattered by the ricochet got up, went to the kitchen, dipped out another glassful of the magical elixir by hand, grabbed some snow, and tried to return the favor.  Soon, it looked like a pie-fight in one of the Three Stooges movies.

When the gaiety subsided because everyone was out of breath, the walls were decorated with dozens of little purple exclamation points.  The grape-encrusted snow had hit the walls, melted and run down, leaving purple tracks.  Maybe my ears were anesthetized, I didn’t think the noise level got too high.  The next day, the landlord came up to complain, and saw all the marks on the wall.  It cost them the price of repainting the room, but they got their wish.  They were out by the end of the month.

Ah, the good old days, when we were invulnerable.  Now, if I have a second small glass of Pepsi, I pay for it the next day.  Never *regular* partiers, both the wife and I cut back when we got married.  Did any of you party hardy when you were young and foolish?  Are you foolish enough to think you still can?  KayJai and her booze-cruise buddies need not respond to this poll.  They are exempt from self-incrimination.