Mr. Cranky’s Autumn Saunter
Wednesday, November 7, 2018
It’s a brisk fall afternoon and I’m wandering around downtown with no constructive purpose in mind when I see a sign on Bay Street I haven’t noticed before: Heady Virtual Reality. Being out of the loop on everything contemporary (cryptocurrency, social media, Kanye West) I decide I should learn about virtual reality.
Inside, I talk with Zach, the affable owner who answers all my witless questions with Zen-like patience. For $10 per 15 minutes I can don special goggles and experience other realities, like walking a plank 300 feet up in the air. That sounds like something I would pay not to do. Another offering is the oddly named game Arizona Sunshine, in which you kill zombies. I have nothing personally against zombies, other than their terrible grooming, so I don’t think I want to randomly kill them. I will judge zombies individually on the content of their character. Many activities here sound like they might be fun, but outside there’s sunshine and real reality, absolutely free of charge, so I move on.
Meandering down Champion Street, I come to a favorite store, the Lucky Monkey. I have an inspiration. I’m wearing my backpack, it holds a lot, so I’ll do my Christmas shopping now while the store is uncrowded. I buy three light-up yo-yos, a dashboard eyeball wiggler, two whoopee cushions, three kazoos, two sets of coat hooks that look like severed fingers, an assortment of fake moustaches, a rubber alligator and a half-dozen of those infuriating little puzzles in which you must roll BBs into shallow indentations. Presto, I’ve finished my Christmas shopping. You might think I have a lot of grandchildren. I don’t have any. No one on my Christmas list is under 50.
While poking along Commercial Street, I see a sign for something called WinkWink. I figure it must be a high-end designer eyewear store, but when I get to the show window I see it’s a sex shop. I’ve never been in a sex shop. How could this be? After all, I’ve been to Hamburg and Amsterdam. In the interest of journalistic thoroughness, I figure I should have a look.
Inside WinkWink I quickly realize that I don’t know what most of this stuff is for. The dildo and vibrator section is relatively self-explanatory, but a lot of the other pleasure-inducing implements have me flummoxed. I could ask the salesperson but I don’t want her to think I’m from Lynden. There’s a large bondage area with ropes, restraints, gags, slave bracelets and handcuffs. This section scares me. I think I would rather go shoot zombies. As I leave I’m amused by the store’s location—right next door to Faithlife. Oh well, there’s a lot of sex in the Bible as I recall.
Before heading home I remember that I’m desperately low on dark chocolate peanut butter cups, so I hoof it over to Trader Joe’s. I grab some peanut butter cups and then stroll through the aisles to see if there are other essentials I might need. I become aware of an irritating phenomenon that occurs every year around now, the proliferation of pumpkin-flavored products. I am of the opinion that pumpkins have two legitimate functions: pumpkin pies and jack-o’-lanterns. I suppose pumpkin bread and pumpkin soup are marginally acceptable if, of course, no tastier alternatives are available. But Joe’s shelves are now loaded with pumpkin-adulterated concoctions. I count at least two dozen such fusions. This is unacceptable.
Many of these amalgamations are serious gastronomic offenses. For example, there is pumpkin spice rooibus tea. Isn’t rooibus tea disgusting enough on its own? What sort of sick person would decide it needed to be even more repulsive? I also see pumpkin ale. Why would anyone think it was a good idea to add pumpkin to beer? Who would do this? Probably a relative of the rooibus tea guy. Oh my god, this is going too far: pumpkin tortilla chips and pumpkin salsa. This is an insult to Mexico and could precipitate a diplomatic crisis. Donald Trump is probably behind this. And here’s the ultimate outrage: pumpkin spice coffee. I can’t think of many things much worse to put in coffee than pumpkin. Maybe mayonnaise. Or anchovies. Or bat guano. I even see pumpkin dog treats. Isn’t it enough that we’re polluting our own food? Must we go after innocent animals? What’s happened to human decency?
Some might argue that I’m just talking about a matter of personal taste. You can’t reason with people like that.