restricted access Vicar, Victoria
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3 Vicar,Victoria Vancouver, September 1999 Other than the waitresses, big surprise, Isabelle was the only woman in the entire restaurant. Here in green, islandlike Vancouver, the three of them—Isabelle, Jimmy, and Dennis—had been fierce tourists with a strict itinerary: the anthropology museum and University of British Columbia (hosting an international Sasquatch conference!), a long walk through Stanley Park, an examination of the new library. What had revitalized them so? The rain? This was the last evening of their three-day stay, and they’d exhausted outdoor activities , so they’d been in buildings all afternoon: they shopped, drank coffee, and went five pin bowling at the Commodore. It took them three games before clever Isabelle figured the right way to tally (and when he discovered that he was losing, Jimmy no longer wanted to play). Now the three of them had come to Robson Street to eat dinner in a Hooters restaurant. They were squabbling over which of them was responsible for their being there, nursing weak beer among a sorry assortment of Sasquatch conference attendees, Winnipeg ad men, investors fleeing Hong Kong, and the odd loner taking up a whole booth. Certainly not Jimmy, for he opposed all objectification of women. Certainly not Isabelle, for she was not remotely lesbian. Certainly not Dennis, oh no—for he was almost a Jesuit priest. “Well, I think it was you, Brother Bacchus,” said Jimmy, and he drank absently from his mug. “God, Budweiser!” he scoffed. “Thee king of beers,” said Isabelle. Dennis wondered whether she found Vancouver disappointing, because it was a city in a country that was supposed to be bilingual, and there was only a passing whisper, even a mocking, of French. But she was only twenty-six years old, almost half his and Jimmy’s age, and she had been resilient on this whole journey through the Pacific Northwest. Only today, for the first time in two weeks, did any of them show real signs of weariness. “She sure loves the exchange rate,” Jimmy said when Dennis suggested they pull out of Vancouver a day early, for her sake. They’d all splurged on the strength of their currency, hauling back to their ivied old bayfront hotel some tony, full, and damp-to-the-point-of-breaking shopping bags from Banana Republic, Eaton’s, and HMV. Dennis liked Roots and Marks & Spencer, because he 4 5 could buy lots of nice things (he’d sworn poverty along with chastity and obedience, but still liked nice things. Sure, to buy designer clothes was as forbidden as breaking chastity, but it didn’t seem as bad to him, because policing his consumerism wasn’t nearly as difficult as policing his libido) with obscure designer tags, and the other, far less worldly Jesuit colleagues would never know. At a big record store, Dennis went to the listening stations and found out what kids these days were listening to, but couldn’t discern the difference among trance, techno, and electronic. And when he pulled the headphones off, he noticed that a very fancy cologne, worn by some hip boy who’d worn the phones just before him, had rubbed off on him, and now he felt absolutely a poseur. “Ooh, Frère Denis,” Isabelle had sniffed behind his ear, “You are defeeneetly down with le Oh-Pee-Pee!” “O.P.P.?” “Ozair people’s poocey?” she tried it out. They ate and drank, too, and Dennis got into the spirit of it because he wasn’t really spending any money. Every restaurant had a full bar, and since the wine was not famous, Dennis drank martinis, and was therefore two or three steps ahead of the beer-swilling Jimmy. Isabelle drank Cokes. Canada was just America, only much nicer. The differences seemed to be more unsettling to Dennis, though, than they were in, say, France. It wasn’t just the one- and two-dollar coins but the wholesomeness and the “oh gee’s,” of the friendly lawn bowlers in Stanley Park, along with the public ordinances for dog owners that included the rule “Be Courteous,” as if courtesy were quantifiable and enforceable. “Courtesy is more efficient than the law,” said Isabelle, after Dennis had pointed out the rule and she had thought about it. “You Americans make me laugh with your signs in every street, ‘Eet ees forbeedden to park here, except between the ow-airs oav two and seeks.’” In America, he told...


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