As soon as I sat down, Campbell or Camp to all and sundry, wanted to get something off his chest, even before we ordered anything to drink. This was unusual but I could guess what was bothering him.
“Hey Camp, I heard about your eh, fire drill at the restaurant.”
“Well yeah, you could call it that but I better tell you what happened before you listen to any nasty rumours.”
I played the peeved and doubted Thomas. “Oh Camp, I’d never.”
“Yeah sure. It all started like the perfect evening. A pleasant dinner out with my co-counsellor and friend.”
“You’re talking about Muriel. Your special friend.”
“Right, Muriel. Anyway we were just waiting for our orders when Muriel leaned across the table to whisper something to me.”
“Maybe she wanted to give you a peck on the cheek or maybe even a kiss on…”
“Hold it right there, buddy. That’s the sort of gossip that turns facts into fiction my boy.”
“Ok, carry on. She was leaning across the table and then ?”
“Well, there was a candle on the table and for this eh, occasion she let her hair down, so to speak.”
“She let her hair down?”
“Well yes, she wore it open and falling onto her shoulders. Anyway when she leaned over the table her hair instantly caught on fire from the stupid candle on the table. I couldn’t believe it. It was instant. And because I’m a man of action I reacted instinctively since there was no time to think.”
“What did you do Camp ? Call 911 ?”
“I threw my full glass of beer at her head.”
“You did what ?”
“I just told you. I put out the fire but the smell. Oh boy, nothing worse then burning hair.”
“Doused Muriel in beer ? I can’t believe this Camp. How to ruin a romantic dinner.”
“You tell me. Muriel wasn’t too impressed at the moment but she came around later on, after she returned from the bathroom, and forgave me. She actually thanked me from saving her from a worse fate. Anyway she now has bangs and a cute page cut. Actually looks quite good on her.”
“Camp you’re my hero. You throw a glass of beer at your date and come out a champion.” I couldn’t stop myself any longer and burst out laughing until even Camp, who seldom smiles and never laughs, chuckled.
“Here are two complimentary pints from the new brewery in town,” Vicky said, setting two foaming glasses in front of us.”
“Free beer ?” Camp said, nonplussed.
“Yes, I figure you deserve it. I thoroughly enjoyed your volunteer fire fighter episode,” Vicky said, “Like a real hero.”
“Hold it there girl, heroes risk their lives for others. Stanislav Petrov*) was a hero. He saved the world from nuclear war. I merely put out a fire, in more ways then one, which makes me a fool, not a hero, by all accounts.”
I needed to share my worries of the week with my friend. “Now that the BC fires destroyed 150’000 hectares of forests this hot summer and displaced 37’000 people we’re happy to see some rain around here. Meanwhile serial hurricanes are ripping through the Caribbean and earthquakes are pounding Mexico and the leader of the free world is threatening with annihilation and world war III at the UN,“ I said glumly, staring out at the calm waters of Howe Sound.
“There you go again, like Atlas, carrying the world on your shoulders.”
“I can’t help it Camp, these things worry me.”
“I have to compliment your Swiss Councillor whose rebuttal pointed out that the UN is there to keep the peace of the world and is not a forum for threats of war and destruction,” said Camp. “A voice of sanity in a wilderness of confusion.”
“I sometimes feel like I live in the wrong alternate universe Camp. Maybe somewhere I slipped through the wrong rabbit hole. The universe I wanted to live in was where Al Gore won the presidency, fossil fuels have mostly been left in the ground, Russia joined the EU and borders and fences have been disbanded,” I said much to Camp’s amusement.
“Maybe you need to sign up for one of those mood enhancing cannabis prescriptions,” Camp suggested.
“Clare wouldn’t go for it,” I said. “She believes in facing reality, no matter how difficult, and forge ahead with a positive outlook and an open mind. Useless clichés when you’re faced with a constant barrage of bad news, I say.”
“She has a point,” Camp said. “What use is it to brood on misery when you can just enjoy the sunshine and the fine new craft beers being offered everywhere.”
Just at that moment Muriel walked in, looking rather cute with her bangs and page cut. “Mind if I join you two?” she asked and pulled up a chair.
“No need to stare at my new hair style,” she said with a wink and a tilt of her head. I just want to make it clear that Camp here is my Champ. Without his jungle reflexes my hair would not be quite this stylish.” And with that she smacked a kiss on Camp’s cheek which made him him look like he had an instant case of tropical sunburn.
“All is forgiven then?” Camp asked sheepishly.
“No need for forgiveness, but I’ll have one of those beers as well.”
Vicky must be psychic when she appeared with a pint for Muriel. “This is for you from me and I must say the new hair style suits you.”
“Thanks, I’m just happy I still have hair.”
We all laughed and drank to that.
“Beer always tastes better when it’s free.” Camp said. I couldn’t agree more.
I have to admit that my mood improved markedly with Muriel’s sunny presence. For just that moment she made disasters and dangerous demagogues go away.