Let’s Go to The Cup Baby!

The deafening cheers abated briefly so that we could hear the music. Canucks apparel was mixed among street clothes and elder members of the crowd curiously wore Canucks sashes over their conservative attire. The dancing was sloppy but vaguely choreographed and my daughter joined in with her own moves.

it wasn’t exactly what I expected to experience the night the Vancouver hockey team clinched their first trip to the Stanley Cup Finals in 17 years but it broke up our otherwise mundane morning at the library. The public library nearby houses mainly kid’s books as well as Chinese and Vietnamese. It shares its space with the primary school library so whenever we go we usually see our neighbour’s kids. This morning we were on our way out when we spotted our friends participating in a dance competition in the gym. The teachers/judges, all wearing the sashes, invited us in to watch. The cheering was for the dancers.

The night before was when I expected the celebration. The town is hockey mad. Bus drivers and bank tellers wear jerseys on game day. Early in the playoffs I was riding my bike home from a friend’s and noticed the streets to be unusually empty. Coming the other way a woman commuting home from work had a radio perched on her handlebars tuned to the game. The occasional house window glowed like luminescent ice. Whenever the Canucks win a game car horns honk in the distance, cheering erupts from houses and apartments. So when Bieksa’s unlikely shot crossed the line in overtime Tuesday night, my wife and I ran outside to participate in the inevitable party. Our proximity to downtown and the arena, and the density of our neighbourhood, i assumed, lends it the distinct possibility of ad hoc parades.

Reports from Facebook friends in various neighbourhoods made our experience that much more disappointing. Yaletown, the West End, even Grandview all hosted traffic stopping parties. But the Downtown Eastside lay relatively quiet. Car horns sounded in the distance and on the way from the arena back to the suburbs. An old man with a gray beard hopped off his bike and said to me, “I guess we won, eh?”

the loudest sound came from a drunk neighbour.

“Woo!” Her smoke damaged larynx kept her from cheering at expected octaves. She more than made up for her raspy woots with an aerosol powered horn which she blared every minute or so from her porch. “HONK!” “Woo!”

The piercing of the horn set my wife on edge. The kids were sleeping next door.

“Don’t worry,” I said, “the can seems almost out of juice.”


Some other neighbours walked by–middle class Christians like us, living here by choice and conviction rather than necessity or accident, but unimpeded by the responsibilities of parenthood.

“You guys going downtown?” my wife asked.

“Yeah, sounds like fun down there.”

Off they walked.


“I need to go to a class for this thing,” our drunk neighbour thought out loud.

There looked to be more commotion up the hill on Hastings, but traffic kept passing unabated. Though one could hardly call it a party, there was a definite sense of elation for the long suffering team, even among our long suffering neighbours. Only one person seemed completely unmoved by the win. She stood on the corner staring up the street, wearing a short short skirt and a hooded, zippered shirt, starting to recognize the futility of waiting for an already well-satisfied city.

The reaction in Yaletown:

The reaction in the West End:


About azlewis

I'm an academic living in the poorest neighbourhood in Canada. I also teach at a local seminary.
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