While we’ve been here, we’ve met a variety of Canadians. There’s the truck driver on crutches after an accident that put him in the ditch just outside of Thunder Bay (not far from the Little House in the Bush as it turns out), the teacher who just came back from a year teaching in Dubai and her partner who does something we don’t understand in the Alberta oilfields, the boyhood friends from Timmins here with their families, the brother and sister from St. John’s here for their brother’s wedding, and this morning, the building contractor from North York who greeted us by pointing at Dan saying, “You’re the guy who jumped off the glass-bottom boat yesterday, right?” We looked at each other and laughed.
“No,” I said, “he was with me yesterday singing and dancing in a Cuban bar. Pretty sure he wasn’t on a boat. But it does sound like something he’d do.” Dan of course is the chatty one and naturally curious. But this afternoon’s encounter left him speechless. It happened like this:
We’re floating in the pool, chatting about nothing in particular, when suddenly, a young woman swims over toward us.
“Hi!” she chirps and fixes us with a bright smile and intense stare although her focus seems to be slightly past us. I glance around, thinking at first she must be talking to someone else, given the familiarity of her tone. But there’s no one near us and so I respond tentatively, “Hello?”
“Nice to meet you, Evelynne.”
I pause, thinking perhaps she wants something. No response. “Um… so when did you get here?” I say, proceeding politely with the typical resort conversation.
“Two days ago. But I’m looking forward to when I get back because it’s my birthday next week.”
“Well. Happy birthday in advance then. And where are you from?” I ask.
“Brampton,” says Evelynne, continuing to stare and grin, waiting now it seems for me to carry on.
“So you were able to get some time off for a holiday before your birthday?”
“I’m an artist so I can take time when I want.” More grinning, more staring, as if she had a secret.
“Well, we’re semi-retired so we can take time when we want too,” I say.
“We work part time though.”
“Well, and when people want us of course.”
“Oh.” Apparently I am not talking about the right things. A pause. Then Evelynne asks, “Do you have any kids?”
“Um… yes. Five.”
“Oh.” A pause. “What are their names and how old are they?” she demands.
I look at Dan. He looks at me and smirks. I proceed to list their names and ages.
“Oh,” says Evelynne. Another pause. Then, “I’m going to be 33 next week.” Still staring and grinning intently.
“That’s the same age as our youngest,” I say.
“Is one of them a chef?”
“No, why do you ask?”
“Because I’m also a psychic and I was getting something about one of them and cooking.” I sense Dan quivering next to me. But he’s looking the other way.
“Oh.” This time, I pause. “So… what kind of art do you do?”
“I’m a mermaid artist!” Her grin widens.
“Oh! That’s interesting.” I glance at Dan who is now hiding under his hat. And who I can’t help but notice has chosen not to participate in this conversation.
“What do you think the first thing people notice when they see my art?” asks Evelynne gleefully.
“Their boobs!” she crows. She stares even harder. I glance at Dan, still hiding under his hat. His shoulders are shaking, the water rippling around him.
I pause, debating whether to pursue this. But in for a penny… “Is that because they’re… large?” A snort erupts beside me.
“Yes!” she laughs with delight.
“Well,” I say, “It’s been lovely meeting you, Evelynne. I think I’m going to go back to my book now. I hope you have a nice holiday.” But the psychic mermaid artist is already swimming away.
A little while later, we see Evelynne perched on one of the lounge beds next to a couple of women. “Hi, ladies!” she chirps. “I’m Evelynne! It’s my birthday next week! I’m going to be 33…”