We went to Third Beach not so much for a picnic or a vacation or really even expecting to have that much fun. We went because it was the hottest day of the year and our apartment was showing signs that it wanted to cook us. Normally, the local outdoor pool would suit us just fine; but on the long weekend? We wouldn’t find a single slab of concrete big enough to stretch out even one of the towels. Our local park, even closer, is an old one with magnificent trees and all sorts of shade, but the City of Vancouver is re-modelling it at the moment, half of it’s dug up, most of it is fenced off. No, I’d say it was fate that forced us to the ocean that day. It was fate that found a spot for us, the last one available, because Third Beach, big as it is, was filling up fast that’s the kind of scorcher we were facing. Our view of the ocean was unimpeded. To our left, ships in the distance, hazy in the heat. To the right, the shiny high rises of the comfortably wealthy, and then the mountain behind. We shared a weathered and beached log for a backrest with a couple who sat silently to our left, reading, sleeping, seldom stirring. To our right, a young woman in a royal blue one-piece sunbathed alone.
She wasn't alone for long. I didn't see who joined her, I just heard him. Perhaps it was the wind or the way he was facing, but his voice carried well, and, no matter which way I turned or what I tried to block him out, I couldn’t and all I could hear for the next two and a half hours was him. His voice was deep and soft, and marked with all the cadences of an urban brah. You could hear the beard without looking. They were on a first date. Neither one of them seemed to know how to apply the conversational brakes, even if just for fifteen minutes. The conversation kept picking up steam like a runaway train, they were getting excited, they just could not stop.
I'd say it was going well. I think he thought so too. His voice was pleasant and his responses thoughtful: here was an experienced first-dater, an urban bro who knew how to listen. If I was his date—and if I did not find urban-brah speech vaguely nauseating—I’d think about it because: he cycles the whole of Stanley Park, leisurely-like, once a day (takes about 35 minutes); some days, he nips into the public pool at Second Beach, swims some solid lappage to break-up the bike-ride; he hiked last week, a real doozy, an overnighter up a mountain with an impressively English-sounding name, look I’ve got the calluses to prove it, there was another guy up there with a shotgun and two pit bulls, scary at first but you kinda get used to it, good gun safety and the pitbulls were both sweethearts. He loves it in the West End, it feels like you’re living somewhere sweet, every day is Puerto Vallarta, plus there is nothing like the freedom of living unencumbered which, it turns out, is his way of saying he doesn’t currently have a couch but is in the process of MacGyvering together a “Day-Bed Area", maybe later she’d like to see it, he’s got a few ideas.