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Maxed out

The fabric of my universe



A number of years ago, there was a popular cartoon theme in the pages of the New Yorker magazine. It always involved two characters, one a pilgrim on a quest of enlightenment, the other a wizened, bearded guru. In an impossibly remote setting - on top of a craggy mountain devoid of chairlifts for example - the anxious and puzzled looking pilgrim would be standing before the lotus-seated guru and the caption would be something prosaic and unfathomable. "Life is like a beanstalk, isn't it?" Or, "Life is like a kumquat." Or tapioca pudding or motor oil or something that made no sense whatsoever and wasn't, on the surface, even remotely funny but given the arc of New Yorker cartoons, was at least as funny as most of the others.

Hanging on the endless shoulder of our Olympic winter, waiting for the warmth of a promised spring that seems reluctant to arrive, I have come to the conclusion - after meditating long enough to lose all feeling in my lower body - that life in Whistler is like a tostada compuesta.

Those of you deprived of Mexican food in your formative years may be unfamiliar with that delicacy. Tostada compuesta is a concoction consisting of a flat, crispy corn tortilla, a generous dollop of refried beans, onions, chilis, melted cheese, a mélange of salad and, perhaps, sour cream, guacamole and, depending on the sanitary standards of the kitchen, other surprises.

Like so many legume-based ethnic dishes, it looks uncomfortably like an accident your puppy might have had after its first encounter eating roadkill. In the evolution of experiencing Mexican food, tostadas compuestas are way down the list of things any normal person tries and only then on a dare or out of sheer boredom with the more approachable dishes like tacos and enchiladas. Messy doesn't begin to describe them; delicious does.

Why, you might ask, is life in Whistler- at least my life - as messy as a tostada compuesta?


In the world of elegant living, a world I have only a passing acquaintance with through the pages of elegant living magazines idly-thumbed in waiting rooms, the overriding ethos is a place for everything and everything in its place. There are closets, bureaus, armoires, chests of drawers and rows of hand-crafted baskets filled with neatly hung or folded clothes, each sorted by colour, style and designer label. There are cedar chests brimming, but never stuffed, with clothes of a different season, carefully laundered and put away with sachets of lavender or more masculine scents depending on the gender orientation of the wearer.

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