Chapter 15: The Shitteth Has Hit The Fanneth

I’ve never been good at telling people I’m a comedian. It took me years- almost decades. And once I did start blasting the fact, I was annoyed cuz then someone always says,

“You’re a comedian? Tell me a joke.”

But in my younger years, I always felt like I had to say, 

“I’m a comedian/bartender.”

Cuz that was the honest truth. Humble? Maybe…

But that second job always helped me cross the border.

(Canadians know what I’m talking about.)

When the customs agent asked what I do for a living I was swift to pick the better of the two careers. 

“I work at Boston Pizza!”

Sure, “worked” would have been more accurate, since technically I was moving to Huntington Beach for a guy who convinced me I was his soulmate in a nightclub in Las Vegas, but why mention THAT? I still have a warm pay stub in my purse with OVER TIME on it because I’ll need to buy Billabong shirts once I land.

Even if they call my boss to verify I work there he probably won’t hear the phone ring. He’s still using his keys as Q-Tips to clean his ears. Every other word is always,

“WHAT?”

But luckily it didn’t come to that, so I continued into Little America, aka that part of every major Canadian airport where your passport says you’re officially in the States, even though you’re still on Canadian soil eating Tim Bits. (Donut testicles.)  

As I get on the plane, I hope I have a seat close to the TV screen. I lost my glasses sometime after I “finished” university but never replaced them because who cares? I don’t have to read chalkboards anymore. Why waste the money? But in this moment, I was really worried about how I was going to watch Cameron Diaz in The Sweetest Thing.

When I land at LAX, my first fear is,

“What if I don’t recognize him…”

Maybe I DID need new glasses.

But I got a new passport and that seemed responsible enough. I was quite confused by the fact this was the first year they DIDN’T let you smile in your photo. Weird… Isn’t dental work how they identify dead bodies? Why would they want you to hide teeth in an essential picture? They should MAKE you smile. Added security, cuz every one notices an over bite or snaggletooth. Anyway, this is just a round about way of saying I’ve looked like shit in all my passport photos every since.

As I walk into the arrivals area to look for my suitcase and now boyfriend, I’m approached by an older man.

“Hi, how are you? I’m so sorry to do this, but my bag got lost by the airline and all my travelers cheques were in there. I just need $20 to get a cab. Could you please help me?”

Seems legit. I hand over $20, even though the Canadian dollar was so tragic it cost me $1.46 to buy one American dollar, so my life savings turned into $1600 USD. Whatever. That should last for a while.

I see a guy I think could be Mr. Huntington Beach, wearing checkered Vans and a Hurley baseball cap, looking bored sitting on a bench. It’s 2002, pre-smart phones. If you didn’t bring a book to pick someone up at the airport you were staring at baggage carrousels and counting fanny packs. He looks up and gives me a nervous wave. I walk over.

“Is it you?”

(Facetime really would have helped. All these phone calls and AOL chats didn’t do anything for remembering what he looked like.)

“Yes!”

He seems a little upset I forgot what he looked like. Or he’s pissed I missed my first flight. But I sit down beside him and hug him. He warms up immediately.

“You’re just as hot as I remember.”

“You are!”

Phew. I was so scared I looked gross after traveling across the continent. Plus I’m so much paler than him. I tried going to the tanning bed a couple of times in Ottawa, but I always got scared it would break and I’d land on all the burning hot bulbs. (I think that eventually made it into a plot point of one of the Final Destination deaths.)

We cruise south on the 405 in his Ford F150, the preferred ride of surfer dudes in SoCal. He blasts punk music, appeasing me only slightly with a version “A Thousand Miles” I had never heard before. Due to my lack of knowledge in this genre of music, I assumed all songs were by Blink 182.

The exit for Beach Blvd approaches. I can’t believe I’m going to LIVE on BEACH BLVD… it all seems so surreal… (A phrase we all use at 23, eh?) We ditch the two suitcases I narrowed my life down to in his townhouse and head to Fred’s Mexican Cantina to meet his friends. 

The Huntington Beach pier looks so cool. As I hear the waves of the Pacific Ocean crash, I feel so far away from Ottawa. I can’t help but think,

How crazy is it that you can just LIVE somewhere else in the world when fate takes over…

 (By spontaneously purging your job, car, boyfriend and apartment.)

I’m a little spaced out and tired at Fred’s. I didn’t worry too much about my lack of personality since I was fighting a three hour time difference. Plus I had already met his roommate in Vegas (who I liked) and my “bf” had trash talked the other girl at the table so hard I didn’t worry too much about impressing her. (Classic 2000’s! Trash talking people you hang out with on the reg. lololol.) On the way home, he took me to the Del Taco drive-thru, because I had never had it before, and he said it was a California delicacy. 

But as I woke up the next morning, I realized there were a few loose ends I forgot to tie up before I left Canada…

Like for instance…

I forgot to tell my parents I was moving.

Oopsies. It must have slipped my mind. They live in Vancouver. I couldn’t even use them for a ride to the airport, so how were they to know?

And remember how I refused to give my family my cell phone number?

Well, Daddy Walkinshaw sure did call my sweet Glebe apartment in Ottawa. And my roommate sure was home and picked up.

“Hi, is Christina around?”

“No, she JUST moved to California, but if you talk to her can you tell her Kïrsten says HI!”

A few days later, I get an email from my cousin Debbie in Surrey. (Ya, Kristeen. I said SURREY! I know you’re excited.) The subject line reads:

THE SHITTETH HAS HIT THE FANNETH!

To be fair, the part of this conversation I was avoiding was less about moving to Orange Country and more about my issues with discussing boyfriends with my parents. A girl with my level of turnover can’t mention EVERY guy to mummy and daddy. (Using those words makes me sound posh but I assure you I was upper white trash at best.) I had to be sure a guy was lasting at least four months first before my introducing them to family.

Soooooo….

Should I wait another two months to respond to the email?

(This is me and my cousin Debbie and she will LOVE I used this pic.)

Chapter 14: What Happens In Vegas…

What year did the phrase, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” come out? Surely it was after May of 2002, right? Otherwise how do you explain a Canadian girl coming home from Sin City just to dump her boyfriend, quit her job, sell her car, sublet her apartment, and move to Huntington Beach for a guy she met on the dance floor who convinced her she was his soulmate? 

OR could it be that at the ripe age of 23, she thought the phrase was just in reference to the yard stick cup you spend $42 on to drink a watered down margarita out of? No point in dragging that through customs. 

(On a side note, I had a boyfriend once who was very inexperienced at filling out declaration forms, and thought he had to put down the amount of money he SPENT in the States, and not the value of items he was actually bringing back in to Canada. When the border agent asked him what he spent $2000 on, he casually said, “Mostly booze.” Took a few minutes to sort out.)

Upon returning to my cozy Glebe apartment, nestled behind Kettleman’s Bagels (24 hrs, FYI) I was very entertained by the messages Mr. Huntington Beach had left. He had NO voice after getting home from Vegas, so it was hard to make out anything he was saying. I’m probably to blame cuz we chose to get to know each other beside a blaring DJ.

I suppose I could have given him my cell, but considering the phone plans of 2002, he’d have to go on the land line list, just like Daddy Walkinshaw. WHO COULD AFFORD ALL THESE PHONE CALLS? 

(Plus I still had a boyfriend for a week or two.)

Our phone calls went long and late- super late for me since he was on the west coast. He had just quit his day job, convinced corporate America wasn’t for him. He took a job at BJ’s Pizza and Grill, which only made us feel more like soulmates because we were both servers at PIZZA restaurants! (Me, Boston Pizza, respectfully.) Both chains, so he didn’t really escape “corporate,” but how would I know that in Ottawa? (And no, I’m not going to insert blow job jokes into dating a guy who works at BJ’s. I had enough of those in my act already.)

I spent many nights driving down Bank St. to an internet cafe so I could instant message him on ICQ. (In hindsight, didn’t the sound this site made when you had a message sound like “UH-OH!”?) We’d spend hours online, then I’d return home so we could talk on the phone. He’d pay for the calls because we both knew Americans tipped better. 

One day, he finally broke down and declared.

“That’s it! I’m moving to Ottawa!”

This startled me for several reasons. 

First of all, it was WAY too soon after breaking up with my boyfriend. I might have been a dirt bag, but I did feel bad. I couldn’t just have a new boyfriend landing in Ottawa, immediately living with me. (Especially when I met him on a trip with my ex. BAD GIRL!)

Second of all…

If anyone is moving, shouldn’t it be me?

I’ve dreamt of living in California all my life. So many road trips to Disneyland as a kid, cruising up and down the I-5. It always felt so right to me, even if my dad was writing off family vacations by going to car auctions and buying used cars while we were at the pool. The most embarrassing year being the one my dad bought ex-cop cars to sell to cab companies in Vancouver. My parents drove separately with my sister and I each in black and white Chevy Caprices all the way from L.A. to Vancouver. The good news? Nobody ever cut us off. (I KNOW I have pictures of this in the motherland and I WILL publish them when I turn this blog into a book.)

So Mr. Huntington Beach put the pressure on.

“Okay, then you’re moving here!”

He did live mere blocks from the beach. Paled in comparison to my proximity to the canal… 

And we did have such a good connection…

Both Sagittarius’s…

It just made so much sense!

So I walked over to the travel agent on Bank Street.

“Hi, I’m looking for a one way ticket to L.A, maybe in like two weeks?”

(That’s how long a 23 year old thinks is takes to move across a continent.)

The travel agent was nice, but concerned. 

“Oh… can I ask why you need a one way ticket?”

“I’m moving there.”

“Do you have a Green Card?”

“No, I’ll get that once I’m there.”

“Oh… well it’s really not advisable to get a one way ticket into America right now. Since 9/11…”

That day was still haunting us.

“I’d recommend getting a return ticket. We’ll make it exchangeable so you can come back whenever you’re ready.”

Ummmm, I’m moving for my soulmate. I’ll never need the other half of that ticket. But I get it.

“Sure, let’s do that.”

I handed over my credit card with a $500 limit, and she handed me a ticket to LAX.

I had two weeks to binge work before my departure. I took every shift I could, and had one last weekend on the road, going back to Kingston. This time with a comic who coincidently lived in L.A, so I figured it was a sign! The hilarious Lisa Gay Tremblay was headlining. I told her the big news. She was VERY concerned.

“Wait?! What?! No! You can’t just move for some guy you just met! No, no, no!”

Should I tell her I already bought the ticket?

“Well, when it doesn’t work out, and you’re broke, can’t afford tampons, you call me! I’ll come pick you up, AND bring tampons.”

Jokes on her. I was still wearing pads.

The rest of my time on Planet Canada consisted of going away parties. And if I can recommend one thing to people in their early twenties, it would be DO NOT HAVE GOING AWAY PARTIES THE NIGHT BEFORE YOU MOVE!

Cuz guess what? Multiple people crashed in my living room that night, none of whom had the power to wake me up in time for my flight. I woke up 45 minutes before it took off.

Ooooops.

There was that hippy part of me thinking,

“Is this a sign?”

But I refused to believe this wasn’t meant to be. Plus nothing is more embarrassing than having multiple going away parties then still lurking in town.

I’m going.

So I marched back up Bank Street to Travel Cuts.

Same girl working.

“Hey… remember when you said I had to buy a return ticket… well I should have bought TWO one-ways. I missed my flight. Can you fix it?”

That miracle worker had me on a new flight by 6pm. Just enough time for me to squish in one last round at Mexicali Rosa’s, to prep for real Mexican food in my near future. 

And just like that, I left Canada even faster than a young comic today.

(The pic of me at the top of this blog is from Vegas in 2016 but this one is from 2002. You can tell by the weight difference and the Sens hat. Thanks again to Andrea for these pics of me, her and Tania:)

Chapter 13: The Real Foosball Wives of Las Vegas

I’m going to Vegas, baby! First time since turning 21. (I was so young I told people I was going to Atlanta too, just cuz I had a connecting flight there.) Sure I’m going with my boyfriend and I don’t think you’re supposed to do that, but I’m pumped. 

I figured the trip would be good for material too. I was currently trying to write a bit about how I’m always the girl in the back seat of an over packed car who had to sit horizontally across the three people actually wearing seat belts. You had to be very cautious of hiding your head from potential cops driving by. Apparently the designated driver to drunk person ratio in Ottawa that year was 7-1. 

But I was very stoked to accompany my boyfriend to his foosball tournament at the very glamorous Riviera on the Las Vegas Strip. Don’t forget it’s 2002, so a lot of these hotels hadn’t been demolished or blown up as a New Years Eve stunt yet. The boys were going to be busy training for the big games, so all the girlfriends joint forces so we could hit the club scene. 

As it turns out, we were in luck. It would be much easier to get into the hottest dance clubs without our boyfriends. Thank god for foosball! (And in my case, some poker tables which I know my bf ducked into after hours.)

My boyfriend’s foos (pronounced fooze) partner was Hussein, and his girlfriend Tanya became my bff instantly. I lucked out cuz she was super hot- a more showered, booby version of me. Made scoring a free Vodka Red Bull here and there way easier. (My boobs didn’t grow till my late 30’s, after decades of nachos.) Also, I think Red Bull was still banned in Canada at this point, so after I had three I thought I was gonna have a heart attack.

Despite the fact I desperately wanted to get into night clubs, I was a terrible dancer. At best I had the Britney hair flip down, but all my other moves just spilt other people’s drinks. But me and the foosball wives were lucky enough to get in to the esteemed Studio 54 in the MGM Grand. (These bars seem to change names every five years to keep up with the times but I believe it’s called Hakkasan now.) Tanya and I were busting a move to Sonique’s “It Feels So Good,” but I was in my head about my bad dancing and my possible heart attack. I could see some surfer looking dudes (DUDES- that’s what we called them before the word “bro” took off) laughing pretty hard on the dance floor. I had to assume they were laughing at me. Being a few years into comedy, I was getting really good at calling out my short comings, so I confronted them.

“Are you laughing at my dancing?”

This seemed to make them laugh even harder. One guy moves closer and responds.

“What?”

(Dance floor conversations. There’s a lot of “What?”’s.)

“ARE YOU LAUGHING AT MY DANCING?’

“NO!”

“YOU CAN TELL ME IF YOU ARE. I KNOW I’M A BAD DANCER.”

I’m good at breaking the ice, eh?

‘WHERE ARE YOU FROM?”

“OTTAWA!” 

“IOWA?”

“NO! OTTAWA!

Blank stare.

CANADA!”

Canadian cities don’t always register with Americans. 

We keep chatting on the dance floor until we realize it’s a bad spot to talk. We find a bench that’s not reserved for bottle service and some how end up talking for hours. 

When the foosball wives were ready to head back to the Riv, I tried to figure out a way to say goodbye to my new Huntington Beach dance partner. My cell phone didn’t work in America, or maybe it did but my bill would be a million dollars so that wasn’t an option. He suggests me and my friends come by the pool tomorrow at New York, New York. Too bad the only thing I’m more insecure about than my dancing is my body in a bathing suit. 

That ain’t happening, but I say “maybe” anyway. We hug goodbye. 

I thought that was it, but…

My last day in Vegas I was walking along the strip when I hear, 

“YOU!”

I turn and it’s Huntington Beach guy. And I know it’s inappropriate, but I was excited to see him.

“You didn’t come by the pool!”

“Oh ya I know. I don’t like my bathing suit. Sorry!”

“Well, I’m not letting you go this time.”

And from that moment on, he was by my side. We walked the strip until the sun went down and back up again. Imagine Before Sunrise, but all the European cities are fake and made in the late 90’s. If it wasn’t Vegas and 2002, I’d have more people to text and check in with. But some how that night went completely unnoticed by anyone except me and him. That’s what happens when you meet a fellow Sagittarius who’s as incapable of being practical as you. 

The last spot of the night was an after hours bar at the Venetian. Our desire to drink was fading, as it always does around your last day in Vegas. (Back then I thought three nights should be the MAX anyone stays in Vegas, but now I’m a rebel and can last two weeks. Mostly thanks to edibles.) Our conversation takes a turn for the hopeless romantic…

“Do you believe in soulmates?”

“Fuck ya, I do.”

“I think we might be soulmates…”

(I’ll leave it up to you, the reader, to decide who said what.)

I couldn’t even write this in my diary, because I was so ashamed (and worried someone might read it) but we did kiss. And it was powerful. The kind where you feel like you have a strong argument in favor of “love at first sight.” Was this cheating? Nothing else happened. It was just the peak of our bonding. A classic Vegas tale, really. 

But the kiss is always the moment when the person in a relationship knows they have to go. We walk to the cab stand and he holds my hand.

“Don’t go back to Canada. Come to Orange County with me. We have room for you in the car.”

I couldn’t help but think back to that bit I’m working on. I was tempted to ask, 

“Will I be sitting horizontal?”

But instead I just say,

“I wish.”

“Come on! I’ll take care of you!”

(We’re both 23 lolololol)

“You have my number.  You can call me.”

“Okay, but if you don’t come to me, I’m coming to Ottawa.”

I duck in my cab and wave goodbye.

At least he’s not calling it Iowa anymore. 

I get back to my hotel room and shockingly my bf is still playing poker somewhere. (Tragically, he did NOT win a foosball trophy.)

We head back to Atlanta, and then up to the mother land.

When I walk back into my sweet Glebe apartment, my answering machine is blinking. 

Mr. Huntington Beach is not letting this thing go.

Note: These pics are actually from a trip to Vegas later in 2002, featuring my Vancouver friends Andrea and Tania with an i. (I know a lot of Tanya/Tania’s.) These are not actual women who date foosball players. But they did witness me trying to learn the robot.