Another Night at Denizen Hall

Your reputation is made up of the stories that other people tell themselves about you. Your identity is made up of the stories you tell yourself about yourself.

Edmonton feels safer to me today than it ever has. My perceptions of safety seem to have a lot to do with urban renewal. I remember being told a crime story as a child about the Park Hotel that used to stand where Bryan and Allisons No Frills grocery store is now at 104th street and 80th avenue, and I remember ducking down in our family car every time we would drive past it; peering over the edge of the car door as if surveilling that dangerous place. Now it is one of my regular grocery stores.

104th street and Jasper Avenue used to host the Cecil Hotel which was the epicentre of violent crime in Edmonton. The Cecil was an early emblem of this city's "Stabby Stabmonton" brand. Jasper and 104th is now the gateway to downtown neighborliness, the Warehouse District filled with pubs, cafes, coffee shops, and condominiums, all behind historical and faux brick warehouse facades.

Last night I met up with Daag and his girlfriend of two years, Perrin. Daag and I go way back - thirty five years now - having met in Frau Docktor Jutner's German 10 class at Harry Ainlay Composite High School. The venue was Denizen Hall, the fairly new-ish entertainment pub on the main floor of the Grand Hotel at 103 and 103, across from the Greyhound Station.

Regardless of the city, "across from the Greyhound Station" always conjures images of sketchy, run-down hotels to me; the kind that get rented by the month or by the hour, and fit easily with the Stabby Stabmonton brand. The Grand has always fit that mould so well that I still felt surprise last night, on my fourth visit to Denizen Hall, that I actually partronize the Grand Hotel.

The very slender, lightly tattooed and raven-haired server cheerfully checked-in repeatedly with us as we dawdled in our menu decision-making. When she departed after finally acquiring our appetizer tray and drinks order Daag asked me if I feel fifty.

"Yes," I replied readily. "I feel fifty. I feel like I have less energy than I used to." Both Daag and Perrin nodded at that. "And I feel love differently." That latter comment needed explanation.

One of the things I learned from my 6-month (chronos-time), 55-day (kairos-time) relationship with No Borders is that I experience love like a 50-year old who has been through an 18-year marriage. I learned that I regard devotion in action much higher than devotion in feeling. And I learned that I had forgotten than I haven't always been this way.

"Twenty years ago, I wouldn't have been able to tolerate being with someone who also loved someone else," I told them. "And I would forget that No Borders and I were seventeen years apart in age." No Borders tolerated my continuing relationship with Hannah for the first few months, but she must have been imagining an eventual phase-out of her from my life. And I never got the chance to bring up Amandi Khera or Kaylyn Airey with her. I carried my feelings for them like grenades in my pockets that I would have to bring out and show No Borders one day. "I think that my being fifty means that I happily accept that there are relationships of love and devotion, and realtionships of only love. And you don't have to abandon one for the other."

Food and drink arrived, and Denizen Hall continued to build its reputation with me as serving the best traditional pub food anywhere. The appetizer platter include mini-corndogs, grilled cheese sandwich bites, chicken-wings, potato pops, popcorn, and, to my surprise, peppered chicken-skins. Excellent food.

Daag shared his signature story about me with Perrin. "This is the guy," he said, "that I had that conversation with about the cabbage-on-the-bus." Perrin and I may have looked equally perplexed. Daag enjoys the philosphical bent of many of our conversations which are best epitomized by a discussion about sentience.

"We started debating about whether only humans had rights or do we owe them to any creature with sentience. And we eventually wound up at the question: if you met a sentient cabbage driving a bus, would you say 'good-morning'?" Daag said it was one of the best conversations he's ever had. I had no independant memory of it but the story sounded true, and it made me laugh.

"Have you approached that girl at Red Star yet?" Daag asked.

"Kenna?" I asked. "Romantically do you mean?" He affirmed. I explained how the best possible outcome (without explaining why the best possible outcome is unlikely) would be that Kenna and I would meet each other's expectations of a romantic partner. "The way things are now, she so dramatically exceeds my expectations of a customer/server relationship that I get so much joy from it that I will never give that up. It is the best customer/server relationship that I will ever have." I left off my punctuating statement that I've been using recently when talking about her:"I love Kenna."

We finished off our food and drink, and enjoyed the rest of our time playing the new Star Trek pinball machine. It was a fine time.