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Maxed out

How you dispel relief

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The sun was high in the sky last Friday, though clearly further south along the Earth’s tilt than it was a month ago. Cool air blowing down off the glaciers gave an underlying edge to the warm summer air, a reminder of how quickly shorts and a T-shirt could become inappropriate statements of optimism. Dark gray clouds crept low along the western horizon, threatening to make good on the weatherman’s fencesitting forecast of "sunny with clouds, maybe rain, maybe not, don’t blame me."

The final cup of morning’s coffee was rapidly becoming an issue, asserting itself as persistently as Zippy the Dog had an hour earlier when he too wanted out and wanted out right now. In Zippy’s case it was easy to harness him up to the bike and let him pull me into the village, or was it the other way around. In the case of coffee that had overstayed its welcome, the issue wasn’t as simple, at least not now that I was in the village and couldn’t take advantage of the nearest bush.

Approaching the conference centre from the parking lot side, the enormity of my error – getting out of bed possibly but certainly coming to the village – coupled with the urgency of my need, struck like opposing stormfronts. Between me and the nearest of Whistler’s few public washrooms was a sea of riot police. Helmeted, batoned, firearmed, body armoured and restless they milled around like well-dressed street thugs waiting for something to do. I was going to be the next something.

Crowd control barriers funneled me toward the first clutch of peace officers. "Where are you going?" one asked.

"The public washroom. Gotta go."

"You’ll have to go around. You can’t pass through here." There was no room for negotiation in the tone of her voice. It was matter of fact. A public walkway some 60 feet wide, between the patio of Tapley’s and the conference centre, was just too close to wherever the white boys of PNWER were hatching their plans for Pacific Northwest world domination. Maybe she thought Zippy the Dog was a suicide bomber disguised as a Lab. Surely I fit the profile of an anarchist shitdisturber dressed in shorts and a golf shirt.

"What do you mean, around?" I asked, since the word was subject to several different directions, all of which took me further away from the immediate relief I sought.

"Back up immediately!" she said. "Go back to the bus stop and through the breezeway." I wondered momentarily what she was like off duty. A dominatrix in stilettos and rubber, whip in each hand, cattle prod on a nearby table? A deranged den mother to a pack of right-wing skinhead scouts? A WWF wrestler?

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