||Run, run Rudolph, you really gotta make it to town/If Santa's in hurry tell him he can take the freeway down/And away you went Rudolph reeling like a merry-go-round - Chuck Berry
Synchronicity, the Jungian concept & not the Police elpee/song, concerns a subject at one particular moment in time & postulates that there is no such thing as coincidence. In layman's terms, Jupiter's aligned with Mars. And so, by a strange collusion of cosmic forces, my old friend Tim and I find ourselves in Calgary with no obligations to anyone for Christmas 2001. A couple of weeks ago we agreed to meet at the bar in Eastside Mario's, a New York-themed bar/restaurant in south-suburban Chinook Mall, to hatch a scheme to amuse ourselves on Christ's Big Day. ("Jesus! You don't look a minute over 33! Good to see you. How you been? Happy birthday.")
"We're drinking in a shopping mall during the Yuletide season, you know that," Tim said.
"Not the first time," I said. "At least it's close to work."
"What are your plans?"
"I've been buying Blue Rodeo's back catalogue of cds in anticipation of offing myself during the holidays." I've been depressed lately.
"Tell you what, you're better off icing yourself during January. That way your personal tax exemption will cover your income tax obligations & leave more money to your estate." Tim's an accountant.
"Good point. I'll make offing myself a New Year's resolution then. So, what are we going to do for Christmas?"
"I have two briskets of Schwartz's smoked meat in freezer." We had both returned home to Montreal for Grey Cup. He shopped for meat. "Why don't you come over?"
"Perfect. We'll need some light rye & some mustard. And beer. Lots of beer."
"I'll pick up the E Street Band Live in NYC double DVD for our viewing pleasure," he said. Tim, being single & benignly eccentric until very recently, has all the toys including a DVD player & a big-assed movie theatre-sized stereo television. I, very recently single (again), have very little left in the way of fun stuff.
"I'm taking delivery of a bootleg video of Cocksucker Blues," I said. "I'll bring that."
"I've got a Buddy Guy show on tape & that Being Mick documentary too."
"Perfect. I'll pick up the Gimme Shelter DVD, there's six extra songs on it. The posters at Rocks Off say it's great."
"You can store it at my house since you don't have a DVD & you're going to kill yourself in January."
"Deal. Another round?"
"Cheers. Geoff, this is going to be the best Christmas ever."
"Shake. High fives."
Well, I'd spent two weeks combing Cowtown for Gimme Shelter on DVD. It had become my reason to live. Sunday, I was so desperate, I went shopping again, back down to Chinook Maul. There are three record stores in the joint, you'd think I'd find what I was looking for. Uh-huh. At the end of my rope a little sooner than expected, I went into Chapters. Books & music, right? But all they seem to sell are empty picture frames, Sting & Diana Krall cds, greeting cards & self help books. I did root out a Toots & the Maytalls (Pressure Drop, Sweet & Dandy, Reggae Got Soul, Funky Kingston) Best Of disk for just $9, but I digress.
I collared an sales associate in his brand new denim shirt. "I'm looking for Gimme Shelter."
"Is that Stephen Covey's or Oprah's latest? Have you tried our extensive self help section?" he asked.
"I've got 2 ex-wives. They've been pretty liberal with pointers that way. No, this is the Rolling Stones..."
"The new biography, Old Gods Almost Dead, is on display near the entrance."
"No, this is a music..."
"And in the music section too."
I wandered empty-handed back through the jammed mall to the bar in Eastside Mario's. I needed some Sleeman's Honey Brown self help ale. Two drunks sat at the corner across from me playing with the television remote. Golf click football click Budweiser ad click football click golf. They're like kids,
the barmaid said to me with a sunny smile. Then fucking take it away from them, I said.
I called Tim. "No luck. Can't find Gimme Shelter on DVD anywhere."
"Where are you?"
"Chinook. Eastside Mario's. It's just like being in New York, I swear."
"You're drinking alone in a mall bar during the Yuletide
season. Note to self: have hit rock bottom."
"You've been downtown?"
"Of course I've looked downtown, at both A&B Sound & HIV."
"I've lived up to my part of the bargain. I picked up the beer & Springsteen Live in NYC. Over 3 hours running time."
"Cool. I've seen the Stones Bridges to Babylon-and-on DVD."
"Nah. Not good enough. We want them young & beautiful. We want 1969. There's 8 shopping days left. That's all the time you've got. Are you in or out? Right now," he said like we're in Ocean's 11, "otherwise I'm cancelling Christmas & you can spend it moping by yourself."
"You should be. Especially after my generous offer to store it for you."
I said, "Thanks for that. I did get Cocksucker Blues."
"I'll bet you did. Try a walk-in clinic." Tim hung up on me.
"How's your Christmas shopping going?" the Eastside Mario barmaid in the Santa Claus lid wanted to know. "All done? Just 8 days to go!"
I said, "I know. Bring me another beer."
**Merry Christmas & Happy New Year to all.**