Baked, but bored to tears

There we were. A spirited game of oldtimers’ recreational hockey done for the night. Sitting around cutting everybody down to size – who botched what pass, who couldn’t score if his life depended on it, or, which tender let in the worst goal. Then, not surprisingly, the conversation shifted to comparing planned or dreamed-about vacations in the South. There was this pool-side service or that all-inclusive price or this best beach for just lying in the sun. And I couldn’t resist.

“Yes. Sounds OK,” I said. “Then, what do you do after that?”

Stop mangling O Canada

Because it was appropriate, Whitney Houston belted out The Star-Spangled Banner at the Super Bowl in 1991. Photo www.newyorker.com
Because it was appropriate, Whitney Houston belted out The Star-Spangled Banner at the Super Bowl in 1991. Photo www.newyorker.com

Dignitaries had been gathering at the French Embassy in Ottawa for an hour. Wine was flowing. Hors d’oeuvres fast disappearing. And finally, an assistant to the ambassador announced that His Excellency was in the hall. The din dissipated and our attention was directed to a mezzanine level where a woman dressed in red, white and blue began to sing.

“O Caa-naa-daa,” she began in elongated, almost dirge-like tones.

“Oh no,” I thought. “This is going to be another of those interminable renditions of our national anthem.”