giants and the underdog

Michael picks me up in his new red car. We’re headed to a Giants game to watch our daughter dance in a pink shirt day “flash mob” at half time. The line up for the parking lot at the Pacific Colosseum is huge so he deaks into a side street and senior citizens are lined up along the sidewalk waving their arms. This behaviour is all new to me. My first thought, “Is the Handy Bus late? Do they need a ride?”Unknown

He rolls down his window and a tiny grim faced grey haired Asian woman in a puff jacket and sweat pants points at him, as though she were identifying dog turd on the road. He rolls down the window. “How much?” She squints. “Twenty”. He barks back, “No way. Ten.” She squints again. “Twenty dollar” He waves her off, “Okay, good luck with that, bye- bye” and he drives off slowly. Puff Granny, with one arm gesture, sends her wooly hatted lackey to race after us. I am guessing the lackey, though the same age, doesn’t have a gamey leg. She knocks on the window while doing an anxious light jog beside us. Michael stops the car. In what might be a Greek accent, this lady offers, a bit breathless, “Seventeen.” “Twelve.” She checks back with her pimp Puff Granny “Fifteen”. “No, twelve.” The Greek runner turns in desperation to Puff Granny, Puff Granny nods in agreement, and in full disgust, almost as though it is the Greek’s fault. We park in someone’s drive way for twelve dollars. The Greek runner holds out her mittened hands like a Dickensian orphan and timidly says to us, “The people next door, they charged twenty.” Michael laughs while dolling out his cash, withholding the last toonie to tease her, “They do, do they?” She gasps, worried he may not pay her the full amount, he does with his big charming smile. We stroll off, pleased with our parking spot and the Greek runs back to pimp Puff Granny, the money clasped in her hand and held out victoriously: Olympic torch.

The game starts with a video message from Christie Clark and Michael mutters something about the provincial bully. The Giants are playing the Royals and within twenty seconds of the game, two opposing players are beating the shit out of each other on the ice, helmets off, and the refs are standing by watching it and the crowd goes bananas, pleased with the violence. I turn to Michael, aghast. “Why don’t the refs stop it?! They’re just boys out there!” Michael laughs at my naiveté, “You know they don’t do this in other countries, just Canada, really, where we beat the crap out of each other. Maybe because we’re so “nice” the rest of the time.”

Across the rink from us our daughter is giggling excitedly with a gaggle of girls from her class. Somewhere. Amongst thousands of kids.images

I never really knew the story behind Pink Shirt Day in Canada: two tweens from Berwick, Nova Scotia, David Shepherd and Travis Price, saw a grade nine boy bullied at school for wearing a pink shirt. The two boys went out and bought a pile of pink tank tops at a discount store and distributed them to other kids the next day at school who all wore them. The bullied boy was, undoubtedly, astonished and bolstered by their act of solidarity and the bullies were never heard from again.

And now today, thousands of kids gather together doing a huge choreographed dance in the stands, a sea of pink. At one point they turn the lights out and each child has a glowing arm band, turning half the colosseum into a field of stars. It’s a beautiful act. The Giants get a full house. The parents get an afternoon out. Puff Granny gets ten dollars and fifty cents, the Greek runner , one fifty. Maybe. And for a moment, sixteen thousand people smile, look star-ward, and do a shout out for the under dog.


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