I'd like to begin from a point that many a Whitecaps fan will be able to empathize with following Saturday night's debacle:
On that night, emotion flowed out of me easier than people flowed out of BC Place around the 80th minute. Why wouldn't it? A home derby loss was and is an appalling result whether it's 1-0, 3-0 or 6-3. Add in the fact I made the trip from Victoria with my good friend Greg to see this match - I paid money to see this debacle - and I was ready to charge at the moron who had the unmitigated gall to raise a Portland scarf just across the aisle from the Curva Collective. Visions of strangling a hated enemy supporter provided a brief cathartic release but did nothing to improve my mood as Greg and I strode into the cool Vancouver night. I was angry, embarrassed and hungry; thankfully, one of those was easily solvable mere steps from BC Place.
Greg and I took a seat inside Back Forty and idly stared at the TVs located around the saloon as we tried to find the words to begin coming to terms with what just happened. In between drinks (water for Greg, cranberry juice & ginger ale for me), we managed to meet each other's gaze just long enough to impart such learned insights as "well, that just happened" and "well, that was embarrassing" and "I can't believe we paid to see that". Our rage was abated somewhat by the surprise presence of AFL league action on the monitors - or, as the vast majority of you probably know it, "footy". I defy any of you to convince me that footy referees do not have the best goal-line signals in all professional sports; who couldn't help but crack a smile at the crisp stand to attention between the goal posts, bent arms snapped forward at the elbows followed by the waving of a flag?
Answer: the gaggle of drunk yahoos directly behind and to the right of me who engaged in some of the most shrill, piercing drunk-shrieks I've ever had the misfortune to experience. Combined with other hallmarks of the inebriated - overly loud nondescript conversations, "playful" physicality and, in the low-light of the moment, spontaneous dancing directly in front of the path to the kitchen to whatever music could be heard - Greg and I wolfed down our food as fast as we could and got out before any more permanent hearing damage could be done.
Things worse than a derby loss: obnoxious, shrieking drunks within two feet of your ear.
Our night was far from over, though. No, Greg and I had another fun adventure still to come: a trip down East Hastings. I'll pause while you imagine a crack of thunder and lightning, which, no, is not drug slang.
As if I hadn't already learned the perils of not booking a hotel far enough in advance - how I somehow blanked out on this weekend being the Labour Day long weekend is a mystery - I now had to lead our party of two back to a hotel whose name I will not even dignify with a negative mention. Suffice to say Greg and I had already taken our lives in our hands once when we walked to the hotel to check in before the match and twice when we walked halfway back before hopping on the first bus marked "Downtown" using our transit daypasses. The clincher on that second walking trip was a gentleman sporing a Robert Griffin III jersey and matching ball cap. You wouldn't think anything was wrong until you noticed he wasn't so much walking down the sidewalk as he was pinging off walls and lampposts in 45-degree banks. We were not keen to spend any more time on foot in that area of town than was absolutely necessary, especially in the dark of night.
Things worse than a derby loss: trying to find a tactful way to walk past someone swerving all over the sidewalk.
Thankfully, I had made the wise decision to give my phone a quick partial charge at the hotel shortly after check-in and was able to look up all the steps we needed to take to get back. One SkyTrain ride and one #3 bus later, we were on the sidewalks of Hastings again, doing our absolute best to be as inconspicuous as two gangly nerds sporting Whitecaps paraphernalia can be. Amazingly, we managed the two and a half blocks without incident and were soon at the front door of our hotel.
Now, as my wife will tell you, I can tolerate a lot in the name of a good deal. I tolerated the afternoon walk down Hastings; I tolerated the intimidating repeat trip at night; I tolerated being buzzed in(?!) to our hotel after jiggling on the locked door a few times; I tolerated the closet-sized, second World War-era elevator missing chunks out of the wall and door; I tolerated the shaking stairwells and ever-present fire doors; I tolerated the by-technical-definition double room with its mismatched bed sizes; I tolerated the single usable electrical outlet in our room being occupied by the fan and television, meaning if you wanted to charge a phone one of those two things wasn't going to work; and I tolerated the remote for said television missing the door for the battery compartment and having its face buttons all but rubbed off. Where my tolerance and general optimistic sense of my personal safety finally evaporated was when we walked past a woman tapping on doors (including the elevator) asking to be let in so she can sleep. Said woman would eventually be escorted out of the building by the manager, who, considering his agreeable attitude and demeanor through all of this, deserved far better than his hotel and his neighbourhood offered. Nevertheless, Greg and I were swiftly out of our room and back downstairs, where I passed the room key back over the front desk and began searching for anything - anything - in a better part of town while Greg called #TAXI. (That's #8294, folks. Keep that number handy - you never know when you'll want to get the [expletive] out of Dodge.)
Things worse than a derby loss: watching someone fail to operate an elevator's call buttons before berating said elevator for not providing a sleeping quarter.
If you ever wanted a visual representation of the socio-economic differences in Vancouver, stare out the window of a taxi as you transition from East Hastings to West Hastings. It's jarring how immediate the transition is; gone are the boarded-up, graffiti-tagged shops, replaced with townhouses, shops and a London Drugs that popped out of nowhere because why not.
Things worse than a derby loss: not being able to leave East Hastings because you live there, either in a building or on the streets. A bit melodromatic, maybe, but you can't deny it's true.
Having arrived at a hotel that was as upscale as our previous one wasn't, Greg and I overcame a brief check-in snafu - our online booking did not translate into actual hotel inventory, so a roll-away cot was added to a single bed room - and settled down in the top floor lounge with two sorry-for-the-snafu drink vouchers. Mocktails in hand, sports highlights on the bar television, cover band playing over our shoulders, Greg accurately summarized our night thusly:
"Y'know, I really don't care about that loss anymore."
Cheers to that.
Honourable mentions for things worse than a derby loss:
- Forgetting your phone charger at home (silly Greg)
- Walking eight blocks in the pouring rain without a jacket (silly Greg)