Epic Quebec City

What's wrong with Quebec City?

photo by Gaetan Chevalier

Well, nothing. Nothing at all. It's a beautiful town set like a diamond on a plain as wide as a loaf of Pita about to be covered with home-made jam. Folks in Quebec city are welcoming, generous and come from a long lost alien civilization utterly impervious to cold.

But not me. We had moved to Canada and we were living in Montreal when someone-someone I thought was my friend- suggested we go visit Quebec City.

In February.


Here we were, standing on a sidewalk, in a waiting line, and out of sight (the waiting line bent around the corner) while the wind laughed at us the way Mr. Freeze might laugh at Batman.

"I never laugh at Batman, that way," said Mr. Freeze, materializing next to me, a beer in hand. He seemed miffed.

"Forgive me, for not paying close attention to your laughter before," I grumbled, "but now that you are standing here, let me ask you this question: do you think the guy who created you knew what cold really meant?"

"Well," replied Mr. Freeze, taking a philosophical sip from his beer, "I highly doubt it. After all, to be cold is to be lonely."

I couldn't agree more. An epic crosses geographical boundaries and walks in and out of seasons. Standing in Quebec City in February with a group of cheerful friends, I discovered that deep connection between being cold and being lonely.  I could at least characterize loneliness in ways I did not imagine before.

"Now, what seems to be the problem?" asked a burly guy.

"Hey, where's Mr. Freeze?" I inquired.

"He's gone for a dip in the frozen lake. Says it clears his mind. But what's your problem?"

"Well, can't you see? It's sooooo cooooold."

"Nah," replied the friendly stranger, "that ain't cold." To my horror, I realized he stood there with an open coat, a shirt and a sweater.

"What do you mean?" I managed to ask between two bouts of clatter.

"See this wall over here?" The wall was three feet away from us, at the end of the sidewalk. I didn't know how to answer this one, but, fortunately, he wasn't waiting for an answer. "If standing where you are, you decide to have a leak, and if your pee freezes before it hits that wall, then its cold."

Several thoughts popped in my mind and I didn't know which one should get my attention. Here they are in no particular order:

"I do need to pee."

"That guy must be the rabbit's cousin. Where's Alice?"

"Will I ever manage to unlearn that image he just planted in my head?"

"Do they teach that at school here?"

"Something is rotten in the Kingdom of Denmark"

I admit that this (true) event was buried and forgotten beneath my stream of consciousness but peculiar experiences are like maple leaves: they start bright green, turn a vivid red, then fall to the ground, turn brown and sink beneath the surface where they lurk, waiting for an unexpected moment to pop-up in your story and add texture and color in ways you did not expect.

And that is worth all the cold of Quebec.