GEMS IN THE PHONE BOOK
Or, the merits of being an accidental tourist in one's own town
By Theolonius McTavish, a vanquished vassal in the Court of the Quipping Queen and a casual collector of odd names, (an onomastics buff, if you please)
“God’s Country” may be Ontario. But, Canada's most western province, "Beautiful British Columbia", or more precisely its capital city Victoria, certainly takes the cake for being the best “Quirky Queendom” indeed.
Don’t get me wrong, I love this "Shang-ri-la" situated somewhere in the fog, the mist, or what some have euphemistically called, 'the light-headed vapours of Lotusland'. Now if only we could only eliminate the wretched rain, the damned seagulls and the rancorous debates about off-leash dog parks ... life here would be, dare I say, great!
Rather than complain or kvetch, (which is easy to do since islanders consider this a recreational sport), I decided to run a marathon. Not wanting to over exert myself, I instead chose to let my fingers do the walking through the first 100 pages of the Greater Victoria Phone Directory.
Now if you want to get some idea about the curious folks who live and work in this rather quaint colonial outpost, just take a peek at this marvellous 517-page piece of prose.
This is not your average town. For one thing, being on the tip of a rather big island across the pond from the bustling, grid-lock burbs of Vancouver and Seattle makes getting here a challenge.
And no, the folks here don't want anyone building a bridge over the pond thank you. Then more whacko tourists would inundate their pristine land of home-grown nuts and fruitcakes. Even more of a concern is the potential for calamity and havoc that such a discombobulated deluge could cause among the many wicked wenches and witty witches (who wear their pentagrams openly without anyone batting an eye in Beacon Hill Park). Of course, all this messy hullabaloo would probably be a boon for businesses such as "Chaos Photography", "Classy Claws" and the "Compassionate Resource Warehouse".
To appreciate what makes this place hum along, all one has to do is figure out what makes this city tick or talk, as the case may be.
"The Garden City Capital of Canada", Victoria is home to “Better Gnomes and Gardens” and the “Celtic Tree Service”. From all accounts, they appear to be doing a bang up job of creating public awareness about the need to protect biodiversity -- especially how to grow magic mushrooms, prune rose bushes, and harvest old-growth forests without harming at-risk pixies.
And, thank goodness governments at all levels are working collaboratively with all wilderness stakeholders to implement a harmonious interspecies communication strategy and to build affordable, safe, transition shelters for marginalized trolls, behavior-challenged leprechauns and homeless hobgoblins.
Socially-conscious folks will no doubt applaud the efforts of “Affordable Sunshine Counselling” who offer a friendly smile, a helping hand, and a warm seat to jollyless green giants who say their needs have been forgotten by the politicians, the media, and scientific researchers. Apparently the latter have done precious little to stem the tide of a growing inclement global warming trend. As a result, there are far too many puddles in paradise, oodles of unwanted cats and dogs raining on everyone's parade, not to mention collateral damage caused by a miffed 'Mother Nature' who seems to enjoy smashing to smithereens the Brobdingnagian boys' vital cash crop of B.C.'s best bud planted beneath the old-growth rainforest canopy.
And speaking of pixies plus a plethora of perambulating people and their pets, this place has some rather odd services. Their names alone leave a lot to the imagination, in the absence of a more informative white page listing. “All Dog’d Out” (is this a massage parlor for pet owners?), “A Stable Way of Life” (quite possibly it's a born-again riding academy for spiritual seekers, although who knows), and “Bow-Wow Parts BC” (is this where all those who are barking up the wrong tree might end up if they’re not careful?)
Now if being a glutton strikes your fancy, there's always “Babe’s Honey Farm” (where Queen Bees and Sugar-Daddies get in free…just kidding). For fun, you might appreciate the talents of “Chef on the Run”. (She’s probably the PMS patty-cake or post-menopausal pie lady who’s sprinting after three visually-impaired mice, to cut off their tails with a carving knife ... need I say more). To settle your jangled nerves after the last caper, you may want to drop by the “Big Moo Ice-Cream Company” in Sidney (where maybe they’ll tell you why ‘brown cows’ don’t fly in this neck of the woods).
While we’re on the subject of paradiddles, methinks that the “Bean Bandit’s Café” and “Blue Angel Towing” might share something in common – a penchant for vulgar winds and the science of ‘flatology’.
Getting down to business means you could run into “Broomcloset Marketing” (who know that neither suck-it-up nor swiffer strategies really work). Want some pizzazz, then why not contact the “Chimera Consulting Group”. (They'll either knock your socks off with their munificent magic tricks or else dazzle you with their fire-breathing she-monster slaying tactics). If you're not impressed with their bag of goodies, then give “Caduceus Management Limited” a chance to show you what they can do. (They probably know a thing or two about taming snakes in the grass, not to mention argumentative asps and vexatious vipers, if you ask them nicely).
Meanwhile over at “Coma Communications”, (where seldom is heard a discouraging word and the skies are not cloudy all day), they know the value of grabbing forty winks when they can. Of course since they've never heard of snooze alarm buttons, they’ll probably miss the blow-out mattress and futon sale at Humpty Dumpty's favorite ready-to-assemble furniture store, “The Brick”!
Now if you want stuff moved, you might want to try “Albatross Delivery”, (mariners in the doldrums usually find them a big help). If that doesn't work, try “Calling All Cows Dairy Delivery” (who offer a convenient alternative for those who don’t like milking sacred cows). And those wanting a low-budget night out with the lads, (on the back of a camel in the deserted downtown streets of Victoria after midnight), should give the “Barefoot Nomad Movers” a dingle.
Have an itch you can’t scratch, a funnybone that needs feathering, or an ear that could use a few sweet nothings, don't forget to “Call Tickles & the Clowns” or "Cleopatra's Bedroom".
On the other hand, if biting the dust isn’t your thing, then let “Chew Excavating” do it for you.
And last but not least, when the Orca whales of life get you down by threatening to overturn your dingy and tossing you into the drink ...without your survival suit, your six-pack of suds and your blinking ghetto-blaster ...maybe it's time to try “Adventures with Ex-Stream Fishing Guides”. (At least these has-been hip-waders know the difference between sticklebacks and sea-monsters!)
To order your copy of "The Greater Victoria Phone Directory & Community Information Guide", call 1-800-827-5166.
Note: all business names mentioned in this article can be found in the 2004 edition of "The Greater Victoria Phone Directory". Any descriptive commentary is, I can assure you, purely fictional if not quite accidental, considering it was written by a tongue-in-cheek, tippling tourist in his own home town).