Climbing buddies of my Vancouver past.

We are the Champions has taught me that if you’re a yoyo legend, you could monetize your face by printing it on t-shirts to sell online, and your merch shop would be so popular that things sell out!

I would not want to see my face on someone’s shirt; thus, I won’t be picking up this under-appreciated hobby. For royalties, though, I could accept my face being printed on underwear, assuming I won’t ever have to see it. Do whatever you want with my face as long as it’s out of my face.

Today, an old lady smiled and waved at me from a bench as I crossed the street. I had to think fast: Do I know this person? Have I ever seen her on a t-shirt? Do I wave back?

Wait, how many old ladies I do know in Victoria? I know Victoria has so many, but they’re a rarity in the bike shop. Although she wasn’t even wearing a mask, my facial recognition skills weren’t quick enough for the encounter to not be awkward.

I am not good with faces. I have a theory that because I grew up not knowing I needed glasses, I never bothered to look at faces as they were all a homogeneous mash-up of mouth, nose, and eyes from afar. I didn’t know until ten years ago that real-life was as crisp as the images seen on HDTVs! I’m not trying to be funny. For real, I was floored by how much better I could see with glasses even though I can get by without them. I have yet to master studying people’s faces from a distance.

I remember names disturbingly well, though.

At the dentist, I recognized Dr. Ho from my “I’m at home sick and there’s nothing to watch on cable but infomercials” years. If you’re not familiar with Dr. Ho, he sells pads that you stick to your gut so that you can shock it into a six-pack and shock the whole family at Thanksgiving. Dr. Ho has been at it for at least 20 years now. The idea that some people find this concept more appealing than moving around under their own will is madness. Yes, some people just want to sit around and electrocute their muscles! To each their own.

So, Dr. Ho was on tv hooking up an overly enthusiastic infomercial host to his wares. I wasn’t up for watching him, so I asked the hygienist if she could change the channel. She handed over the remote and stood there holding a spit cup while I scanned the digital cable listing as fast as I could. From my experience with digital cable, by the time I decide on something–and it’s a channel that’s available–I’ve already missed the first half of the show.

As to not prolong things, I settled on Animaniacs. The hygienist laughed at my choice and urged me not to rush my decision. Actually, I was content with my selection: I needed to watch something that I wouldn’t mind having the dentist’s face block for most of the episode. Besides, Animaniacs is a top-shelf cartoon of the 90s that was produced by Steven Spielberg!

Title screen for the 90s cartoon, Animaniacs.

“Anything but Dr. Ho,” I explained defensively, not knowing whether she had paid attention to what was initially on the screen. For this appointment, there was no Dr. Ho, but Dr. McBee, who made my skull vibrate with her Dremel. After the first visit, my right jaw was so numb that it took the lidocaine six hours to wear off.

The aftermath of the second appointment wasn’t too terrible other than entirely losing the feeling of my left ear. After I left the dentist, I kept grasping at my ear instinctively to make sure it hadn’t slid down my neck. Although my ears don’t work, I still need them: they’re useful for holding up my glasses.

Somewhere in Victoria, there’s a cast being made of my mouth. I should have requested extras to sell online as stocking stuffers. The crowns are happening: I know it’s an outrageous expense, but I used to work at Value Village (thrift store chain) where many of the older staff had brown teeth. It was hard to look at–and this was before I wore glasses. Sometimes I could smell… the rot.

Troy from Community stares wide-eyed with furrowed brows.

It’s not for me.

For now, we have masks masking rotting mouths, and in my case, acne caused by mask-wearing. Ugh. I also imagine masks make it a trifle more difficult for someone who hasn’t seen me in over five years to recognize me.

I was restocking the floor at work when a customer–let’s call him Mac because that’s his actual name–approached me with enthusiasm. He was someone with whom I occasionally climbed when I lived in Vancouver. I was also friends with his girlfriend, a fellow climber named Laila.

When they split up (amicably), Laila moved to Ontario, and Mac went up north to the Yukon. I ended up in Québec shortly thereafter. Mac and I fell out of touch quickly, whereas my friendship with Laila survived the distance.

I moved to Victoria a little over a year ago. Two months ago, Laila became my neighbour. Then, two weeks ago, Mac decides he’s had enough farming potatoes or whatever, and… THE THREE OF US ARE NOW LIVING IN THE SAME CITY, WHICH IS DIFFERENT FROM THE CITY WHERE WE ORIGINALLY MET.

Of course, Mac recognized me. It was he who spotted the actor who plays Abed on Community slipping between set trailers when we walked down Industrial Ave after a climbing session. Instead of carrying on like a respectable commoner, Mac decided to approach the actor, Danny Pudi (whose name I knew, because I’m good with names!), and proceed to ask him, “Are you Abed?” The answer wasn’t no, and thanks to Mac’s brazenness, Danny shook our calloused climber hands politely.

Abed from Community says, with a blank expression, "Cool. Cool, cool, cool."

Back to the old lady: three seconds in scanning my brain for all the cotton-headed coffin dodgers with who I fraternize in Victoria, I recognized her as one of the tenants of the famed Black Lodge. Finally, I waved back.

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