Saturday, October 01, 2016

Imitation Games

He looked nothing like himself. 

He wore the simple light sports jacket we’d found for him at Value Village, clean trousers and a striped collared shirt handed down from another volunteer on Grandpa Munster’s little roster, which, by dumb luck, tied the outfit together perfectly. He looked like a proper gentleman with hands and face properly washed and hair slicked back sans baseball cap.

It wasn’t my priority that he look so dapper. I only mentioned, ever so diplomatically, a couple days prior as we parked beside the coffee drive-through, that his birthday was going to be a special day and we should both be sure to shower and dress spiffy. All I cared about really was that he shower. It would be a long day.

Mission accomplished.

At The Joker we splurged on omelettes for breakfast instead of the $4.99 breakfast. We wrapped up the errand-running quickly and checked out the movies. Sully looked interesting enough to me and contained just enough action to keep Munster interested. His reviews were positive. I’ve watched so many based-on-true-story films that the compromises are immediately obvious. All the little tid-bits which you know never happened like that but which convey the heart of the story – or at least someone’s version of it, or vision of it – in a film-friendly theatrical way. Good enough. It’s entertainment; not research.

At the steakhouse we splurged on a 20 oz steak for him and the monster 24 oz prime rib for me! The only thing in the room thicker was the charm which the waiter laid on. We seemed to make such a connection; surprisingly having so much in common. Or did we? Of course his banter was exactly the right material to elicit the best possible tip. Which I did surrender and not begrudgingly. I realize he is surely like most people and imagines himself squeaking by and needing every penny he can get to keep himself stocked in his proper necessities.

For me I know the dinner is the highlight. The golden oldies performance we’re about to witness is the highlight gift for Munster (though for him, getting to drive my car to Etobicoke may have been the actual highlight). Keys surrendered, I enjoy as much excellent wine as it takes to properly lubricate a 24 oz steak – which turns out to be 40 ounces of McManis Syrah (the best I’ve had since that variety peaked in California just into the millennium, by the way). The resulting buzz, very unusual for me, prompted the sudden corrupt notion that the Elvis show might be a little more enjoyable paired with a little artificial joy and so I added a double snort of cognac for dessert, which put me almost there.

Getting to the giant Woodbine grounds was easy. Finding the Woodbine Concert Hall specifically, was most certainly not. Despite the illusions they paint all over the internet and feed to Ticketmaster, there is no such thing as a Woodbine Concert Hall.

Eventually we happen on a string of conveniently spaced staff who happily point the way throughout the odyssey which takes us along hallways and escalators to some sort of Upper Utilitarian Causeway where banquet chairs, mobile lights, mobile concession tables, bar, and mini-stage components have all been hustled together in such a way that the performers will hopefully not scrape their heads on the low ceiling tiles.

I then complete my noble transformation with a pair of Coronas in fake tall-boy cans which looked promising through the bar fridge window but which yielded the standard 355 ml. Those and a fountainized Coke for Gramps ran $20 which seemed a small horror at the moment but in hindsight cost only twice the price of two medium pops at the Cineplex’s crap stand; the world champion of rip-offs.

Steve Michaels: International
award-winning Elvis tribute artist
So the Elvis guy is fake of course. The real Elvis died early, from drugs I should mention. I’m not against “recreational” drugs in any simple-minded blanket way but I certainly realize that there is often a slippery slope between useful experimentation and harmful dependency and that a lot of users don’t actually have a realistic plan for how to stay off of that slope before it’s too late, so that’s something worth thinking about; eh?

But this particular fake Elvis is good; not that that can be discerned through the basement rec room quality acoustics of the great Woodbine Ersatz Concert Hallway, but because he was once crowned so by the official in-the-know Elvis aficionados of Memphis Tennessee. So there.

He waves his hand at his fake guitar (the backing band is authentic and decent) and I dutifully issue fake applause but I’m authentically happy for Gramps who is clearly living the dream along with a slew of other fine folk who probably have nothing in common with me whatsoever.

With a couple rollicking hits to go (surely Suspicious Minds, right?) I can no longer manage to pretend I’m not falling asleep which I don’t want Gramps to see, so I duck into the conveniently located men’s room where the Excel Extra-Excelotron Hand Dryer of Doom (or some such mechtraption) has only been miring the show and turning confused Elvis fans’ heads with its semi-alarming Hurricane Katrina impersonations about twice per song, there to perhaps doze off on the throne (these ones the tiniest low-rider models ever!) and I suppose I did doze off because I become lucid with the Suspicious Minds (nailed it!) crescendo fading away, replaced by the sounds of the auto-flusher gushing in repeat-mode and the cleanest testicles in history, and with Gramps’ distant voice shouting, “Hey, you in here!”

Good times.

Good times, says me. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.