Tag Archives: university

No Dress Rehearsal

With the passing of The Tragically Hip front-man and Canadian fucking legend Gord Downie, I wanted to share a memory from uni that I have that is completely wrapped around a Hip song.

A small disclaimer about this story: I graduated from university 17 years ago. There’s been a lot of memories and a lot of recklessly damaged brain cells in that time. But this is how I remember it.

So, when I was in university about a million years ago, I did theatre. Both onstage and behind the curtains, but for this particular show, I had a small part with a large and amazing cast.

Around the time we were rehearsing for this show, my friend Tim and I thought it would be fun to take some swing dancing classes. For reasons unknown, we had a lot of ska bands play our campus pub (Heroes) and learning some sweet swing dancing moves seemed like a good idea. It was not a good idea. What we didn’t think through is that the lessons were on Sunday mornings. Saturday night was Buck-a-Beer night. We missed a lot of lessons. But not that day.

I struggled my hung-over body into my beater and drove over to pick up Tim. We went down to the boat club on the river (which we referred to as the “Yacht Club”, because it was funnier) for our lesson.

We weren’t very good. Even when we were at lessons, which probably averaged out to less than half the time, we were often hung over. And being friends, we acted like kindergarten children about holding hands. Progress was not being made. To this day I still can’t do more than that fucking box step thing you learn in the first lesson.

This particular Sunday, after the lesson Tim asked if I would go with him to pick out his costume for the play. I believe he was the front desk man for the Hot L Baltimore. I was some old lady. We needed some thrift store duds to make up our shabby costumes to go with the setting.

Tim was ecstatic about his costume. He found a fabulous old-man sweater with honest-to-God patches on the bloody elbows. He was so happy he insisted on wearing it for the next part of our adventure, which was to check out the exhibition at the Kamloops Art Gallery.

The exhibition tied together the Hip song “Fifty-Mission Cap” (about the disappearance of Leaf’s player Bill Barilko) and the work of Tom Thomson, a famous Canadian artist who also disappeared. Or at least, that’s how I remember it. There was definitely Canadian art and there was definitely Hip involved.

See, the thing is, Tim (being possibly the world’s biggest Hip fan) had gone to this exhibition about 1000 times before he and I went that Sunday. He was hugely disappointed they weren’t playing the song (something wrong with the CD player… this was the 90’s) so he insisted upon singing the song (on repeat) to me while we checked out the art, stopping only to intersperse information about the meaning of the song and how it tied to the art we were looking at. Also worth noting that time to time, Tim would strike an “art appreciation pose” (one foot back, hand on chin) whilst wearing that damned sweater. Idiot.

After looking at loads of Group of Seven art and listening to Tim sing and lecture about Barilko for a goodish amount of time while I pretended I was sick of his shit but was secretly trying to not pee myself laughing, we went for lunch.

Over lunch, Tim says to me, “Hey. You can tell all your friends you went dancing at the yacht club and then to an art gallery before lunching with a guy in a sweater with patches on the elbows.”

To which I replied, “A guy with patches who can’t dance, hasn’t showered, and made me buy lunch. Everyone will fucking know it’s just you, Tim.”

It was a wonderful day, and whenever I hear “Fifty-Missions Cap”, I remember my uni days, my theatre days, and my friend Tim.

For that memory, and many others that are all tied up in the music of the Hip, thank you, Gord. Fully, completely. Thank you. You were a good ‘un.

Fifty-Missions Cap

Bill Barilko disappeared that summer,
He was on a fishing trip.
The last goal he ever scored
Won the Leafs the cup
They didn’t win another until 1962,
The year he was discovered.
I stole this from a hockey card,
I keep tucked up under
My fifty mission cap, I worked it in
To look like that
Bill Barilko disappeared that summer, (in 1950)
He was on a fishing trip.(in a plane)
The last goal he ever scored (in overtime)
Won the Leafs the cup
They didn’t win another until 1962,
The year he was discovered.
I stole this from a hockey card,
I keep tucked up under
My fifty mission cap, I worked it in
To look like that
Advertisements