My soccer team used to play the same tournament year after year. We’d make an event out of it and arrive a day early to play one of the many beautiful golf courses in the region and stay a day late to do the same thing. We’d all pile into as few cars as we could and make the 10 hour journey to Kimberley, British Columbia for their JulyFest weekend. There were softball and bocce tournaments as well. Normally a town of about 5,000 people, the population of the town and area swelled to pushing 15,000 for that weekend in July.
We would always stay in the same chalet as well. Up the hill, at the base of the ski hill, far away from the town itself. We’d get a really good deal on the chalets that slept 8 people each, and we’d rent two of them and squeeze in extra people if necessary. They had BBQ pits, a deck, a games room, and over the years, the same groups would stay there so it was like a drunken reunion each time we met up. It was pretty much nearly perfect.
Nearly perfect as some taxi or bus drivers wouldn’t want to drive that far up the hill to drop off revelers after a night at the bar. Most would go to the bigger lodge down the road and you would have to walk the other 3 kilometers up the dimly lit road yourself. Uphill. Full of alcohol and quite possibly blue balls because you didn’t manage to take the girl home who was grinding against you on the dance floor all night. First world problems, people.
The team is out at our usual Friday night haunt, the O-Zone bar. They have a good DJ, the dance floor is a good size, and we get discounts on beer. Our first of three games on Saturday isn’t until 9 am so we’ve lucked out this time. We had spent the morning golfing and the afternoon drinking Coronas around the BBQ deck at the chalets. Now, we were out. At the golf, our round was delayed twice as bears had been seen in our area of the golf course. One had been in the parking lot of the lodge earlier the night before and before our arrival. This part of Canada has black and grizzly bears, and it wouldn’t surprise me if the odd polar bear showed up (although this is pretty much impossible). You will also find lynx and cougar in the area.
I had made a mistake the first year we went to the tournament by wearing a t-shirt that read, “I’d Rather be Masturbating”. Each year it was my responsibility, as laid forth by the team captain, to wear a similarly disturbing yet different t-shirt. Some of us are playing pool, but we’re all in the same area, around the pool tables, near the dance floor, and have our own barmaid to serve us should we be too lazy to walk to the bar. My latest t-shirt is all the rage. Surprisingly, it is even a hit with the women. A simple black crew-neck wonder, the white script across the chest states, “I may not go down in history but I’ll go down on your sister.” I’m the embodiment of class, ladies and gentlemen.
The night goes on and I’m dragged onto the dance floor by three girls. Luckily, I’ve always had a sense of rhythm and do more than just hop up and down on the dance floor. I’m wondering how the four of us are going to symbiotically entwine ourselves in my single bed later, as you do, when the 3 of them are soon joined by their boyfriends. A serious blockage of the cockage right there. Not ungrateful for their attention, I thank them for the dances, the drinks, and the one open-mouthed kiss, and turn to go back to my team. Except none of them are there. Bastards. Time to journey back to the chalet all by myself.
The queue for the taxi is way too long so I see a group of girls piling into a bus going to one of the lodges down the road from where I was staying. I would brave the road! They let me on, after an impromptu song that was my fee, and despite my best efforts, I could neither convince the driver to take me all the way up the hill, or any of them to lend me a couch or a spot in one of their beds. Life is unfair sometimes.
I start my trek up the road. On road trips, when I didn’t have to drive, I did like to have a drink. I’m a little worse for wear but even I can follow a road that doesn’t force me to decide if I need to turn right or left. The road does, however, wind its way up to the lodge, hence increasing the distance. It’s quite cool in the mountains at night, even in July. I can just make out the wisps of my breath as I plow forward. And then I’m hit with the, because I’m a drama queen, biggest decision of my young life. There is a little path, probably a game trail, leading up through the trees and bushes to the same road I am on. I know my chalet is just up over this ridge. The road leads me in the other direction first and then back towards it. This short cut will save me so much time. A no-brainer.
I only need to go about 200 meters to reach the road on the other side. The ground is a little fresh with moisture, but I’m not slipping too badly. But I need to concentrate. I’m staring at my shoes intently. My shoes are now the single-most important item in the world. I grab on to a branch to hoist myself forward and look up. The warm steam of breath snorts in my face. I can feel it against my cheeks. My heart stops, my eyes freeze open, and in the brief moments that I can’t focus because I’m positive I’m staring death in the face, I realize that wearing clean underwear means fuck all when you believe you’re having a near death experience.When I manage to blink again, the startled deer hops off into the bush and leaves me to wonder how quick the chalet’s laundry service can get my jeans smelling fresh again. I finally hit the road, and then the chalet a few minutes later. After a necessary shower, I don’t feel much like sleeping. In fact I can’t sleep. And when that 9 am game ends an hour later, we’ve won 4-1 and I’ve scored 3. But I didn’t go all goo-goo over the deer herding at the side of the field. Nope, I knew better. And somewhere in the woods by the chalet, I’m pretty sure this was happening …