adventures in the far east β€” of canada!

I am an honourary Newfoundlander! And a note of sadness

In calgary, culture, food, friends, internship, lingo, st. john's on July 12, 2009 at 1:18 am

On the long-awaited Friday night, I got screeched in with my friend Jeanne!

But firstly…holy hotcakes, we’ve been having great weather. So good, I don’t like it–like 26 degrees, very sunny (I gradually get more uncomfortable for every degree above 20). I’m baked.

Friday at work was great…it was a light day, and most everyone left earlier on account of the weather. In fact, we were encouraged to–“Get the fuck out of the office!” the higher ups in the offices urged. I did, but only an hour early, because I was finishing up some work I don’t ever want to touch again. You’ll begin to understand why with this brief description: densely packed maps I standardized, only to find out each one is sized differently depending on the section (so some maps are 83%, 100%, 125%…). I had to proportionally determine the ratio to increase or decrease each symbol on the maps, and rearrange the type…the stuff of nightmares.

But that’s been how I’ve been discovering some of Newfoundland’s crazy place names like Dildo and South Dildo a little further…south. A few more random ones: the town of Goobies, and an island called Random Island.

Target is near the harbour, and right across from Harbourside Park. Beautiful place, and every Friday afternoon, there’s a free lunchtime concert there! And as it so happened, the Idlers did a free hour show there, to a very large crowd. It was great, kids dancing everywhere, people basking in the sun listening, and while watching (even though I would be at the show that night), I met some of the friends I’ve made there. The other Karen was there too (being a co-worker of John), and she invited me to her own birthday event at her place Saturday. Suddenly, another event, but that’s another batch of stories and pictures.

Some of Friday's crowd at the Lunchtime Concert

Some of Friday's crowd at the Lunchtime Concert

Idlers at Harbourside Park, across from Target

Idlers at Harbourside Park, across from Target

After work, myself and two co-workers (including my lovely intern buddy) went to Taste of Thai. Hmm. Good food, but pricey, no free foodstuffs, and honestly–the Thai green curry I make is far superior. I ordered it to see how well they do theirs, and it was white. Guys, it’s called green curry for a reason…I knew instantly it wouldn’t taste right, as it had to be lacking a whole lot of the green herbs. A disappointment overall, sadly (my first…not bad, but disappointing eat out in the city), but it’s the only Thai place in the city. Maybe there needs to be at least two of something to upkeep quality, like the two Japanese restaurants, or the two Indian places?

However, that’s not the note of sadness I mention. One of the friends I’ve made, Kevin the fellow Calgarian, told me he was leaving for home…flight at Saturday 9 am. WHAT! We got along great, we played squash, dammit, shared a number of beers, and were looking forward to hanging out more. He couldn’t find a job in his few weeks here–I think he was getting a little impatient, he’s only been around for 3–so he won’t be back until September for school. 😦 He was awesome, and now I am back to having no squash partner.

I found out when I called to confirm with him our screech in; obviously he couldn’t come, as he had to pack and leave so soon. So, it was down to myself, Jeanne, and her roommate, who is tons of fun, and I know we’ll be seeing more of each other. My intern buddy showed up to take pictures for me as well, which was brilliant because she had to cancel earlier as well.

Anyway, the screech in…so much fun! The guy at Christian’s Bar is so entertaining. The ceremony was full of laughter and good-natured fun, and telling locals afterwards, they’ve all been pleased we did it at Christian’s, apparently the best place for it.

The place was jam-packed. It cost $15 a person, and the presiding guy was larger than life–he was dressed in fishing gear, and carried a big wooden canoe paddle, and his accent was wonderfully befuddling. He regaled the crowd with jokes, and asked everyone participating their names and where they came from. There were surprisingly a ton of people from out of town, and I don’t just mean elsewhere in Canada. When I announced my name, he remarked to the crowd, “Well, we don’t get many Natrix’s out here, I tell ya!” and so he renamed me Captain Eli for the remainder of the ceremony haha.

Keith, master of the ceremony, myself and Jeanne

Keith, master of the ceremony, myself and Jeanne

Keith's fierce!

Keith's fierce!

We all ate a hunk of canned fish meat on toothpicks, and he told us some of the history of screech and such which was cool, and then led us through a raucous sing-along of a tune that reminded me of the Twelve Days of Christmas. No, not the melody itself, but the way it was structured…you know…”5 golden rings! 4 calling birds, 3 French hens, 2 turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree! On the 6th day of Christmas my true love gave to me…” It started at 1, progressed to 2, then 3, and so on to 10, and each time, he sang what preceded it, faster and faster. It was quite impressive actually when he got to 10, he was singing the words faster than any auctioneer!

Fish cube on a toothpick!

Fish cube on a toothpick!

We had easy responding lines like, “What will you sing me?” (about him singing us a song, to which he answers that he’d sing us a number*, which increased) and then we sing back something like, “What will the one* be?” All the numbered things were all nautical…I think haha. His accent was impressive.

Then we were made to get down on our knees, and he produced a frozen cod from a bag; we each had to kiss it on the lips. What a riot, eh? Okay, thinking about it more thoroughly, probably not the most hygienic thing, but it was fun, and most of us did it with gusto. One young woman near me was so freaked out about kissing it…she got within inches of it many times when it was offered to her, and she was always at the last moment turn away in disgust, grimace, and physically shudder! Even our peer pressure couldn’t get to her, and the host (Keith, I think) playfully jerked it and cried, “BOO!”, startling her after a few too many tries. I mean seriously, it’s all in good fun, lighten up lady!

I'm kissing the cod, you just can't see it...

I'm kissing the cod, you just can't see it...

KISS IT! Lady in red had the trouble

KISS IT! Lady in red had the trouble

Next came the screech…we each had mini shots of Newfoundland rum. I love rum, so it was no big deal for me…it’s a little stronger, yes, but still tasty to me. Earlier, the host taught everyone the appropriate response to a question often asked by Newfoundlanders: “Have you been screeched yet?” The proper answer is:

” ‘Deed I is me ol’ cock, long may your big jib draw!”
(sounds like: “Dee-die is me ole cock”)

BRILLIANT. Let’s break it down…” ‘Deed” is a contraction of indeed, ” ‘ol” is of course old, and don’t think inappropriate things for “cock,” it’s shorthand for the British cockney, which over here can mean friend. To the question “Have you been screeched yet?” the first part in essence says, “Indeed I have, my old friend.” The second part is wishing someone good fortune, a saying you can find in many cultures. A “jib” is the triangular sail on a ship, so literally you say to the person, “May your ship’s sail draw wind for a long time.”

After the shot, he went around challenging the participants to recall and say it again. Most couldn’t without screwing up, but I did fine. πŸ™‚ One guy who disappointed got his bottom paddled a few times by Keith’s oars! Acting frustrated that most couldn’t say it properly, he just told us all to keep saying, “Yes.” After the great show (because it was that enjoyable), he pronounced us all honourary Newfoundlanders, and passed out certificates!

Cheers!

Cheers!

Just screeched in

Just screeched in

My screech certificate!

My screech certificate!

Keith was great man, he kept us on our toes, and he was good on his own–every performance has to be a little different. He worked fluidly with what he had–for example, when Jeanne (again, from Montreal) was passed the fish, he warned, “No French kissing!”

Something to remember for sure. Immediately afterward, we went to The Dock beside Christian’s and watched the Idlers play. They’re so good live, we danced our shoes off! I stayed after their show (ended 3 am), bought a CD from John for $10 (such a good price, and so well done), went up with John and Kate to the band suite (bands get like a top floor suite above the establishment with its own bar, nice washrooms, couches, flatscreen TV, etc) where we hung out for a bit, and then we all had to leave (bars legally should not be open past 3 am, even on George Street). But the three of us and Mark, the frontman and trumpeter for the band who I’d also met that day at the cabin, invited us over to his place for a nice chat until like 5 am. It was nice, I didn’t get a chance to talk to him much at the cabin, and he’s a remarkably cool and down-to-earth guy for being a frontman. He grows so much of his own food in gardens, and he’s so socially and culturally aware.

Idlers at The Dock

Idlers at The Dock

Friday was everything I’d hoped for and more! And I’ve found out that I may have a day off Monday. Huh. My afternoons and evenings are so delightfully occupied these days. I slept late, and almost missed a lunch thing with a university prof I met here as well, but that’s for later.

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  1. Are you really working there? It’s tooooooooo fun………..

  2. Sometimes I wonder that myself!… πŸ™‚

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