Bouncing emotions in a moment

I had a Toronto moment a couple of weekends ago.  I call it that because it was fleeting, mundane, richly textured, and random, and because while such a scene could have played out in quite a few other large cities, it’s unlikely to have been layered with so many sublime themes.

My wife and I were at the car wash that day after a trip to our cabin in the bush. That little sanctuary of ours can only be reached by traversing a final 20 kilometers of stone, dirt, sand, and muck, in descending order of comfort and quality.  The car begged for a shower and so we obliged.  Our local car wash is only a few short blocks from our downtown condo and I have no idea what we will do when it is razed in another year to make way for yet another 50 storey building.  It’s a typical soft-cloth, old-fashioned operation where you leave the car running with an attendant who takes your order, gives you a slip, and then takes your car.  You enter the building at one end, present your slip to the cashier, make your payment, and then wait for your car on the other end.  It’s normally short and predictable but that day was different.

On that day, and at that time, the waiting room was filled with five employees of the car wash all watching the television that hangs on the wall.  A rainbow hue of people, including us, were collected in that room. We asked what was up and were told that Canada’s Karen Cockburn and Rosie MacLennan were competing on the trampoline in the medal round at the Olympics.  I’m not a trampoline enthusiast and have to admit I don’t recall ever watching the sport at any level before.  But I was aware of Rosie.  Our gym is where she trains and they had a sign up that week wishing her well at the Games.  Although I didn’t realize it until I saw her on the TV, I’ve trained next to her.  Picture me dangling from the overhead bar, raising and lowering my 190 lbs; next to petite little she in the squat cage fine-tuning her perfect quads.

Two more customers entered, paused and scanned the room.  We (all) informed them of what was up.  The cashier offered to process each of the customers.  They, like us, declined and said they would wait and watch.  My wife suggested to the employees that they take their time washing our cars. They smiled. We smiled. We wanted to watch the Canadians.

Bounce. Straight as an arrow, high in the air went Karen. Kiss the sky. A great performance? Looked like. We were very pleased.

Next up, the first Chinese, Shanshan Huang.  Like her diving compatriots, perfect form. Such precision. But was it daring enough?  These sorts of sports are always a little sketchy around the difficulty margins and hard for us laypeople to judge.

Then Rosie. Oh, Rosie. Can you soar any higher? A room of strangers are rooting for you, all tensed muscles and lifting hearts. We bounced as you bounced.  And you clearly were better than Shanshan Huang. Gold medal position…. Such a rush for us in that room!

But then Wenna He of China climbed on to the trampoline.  Being a Canadian is a funny, almost always pleasant, and sometimes fatalistic way of living.  We are easy-going, love to laugh, and don’t have really high expectations for our international athletes (bless their hard-working hearts).  We take what they can give us and we are grateful.  So as we watched Wenna He bounce and kick her slender leg, she soared high to the rafters, and we silently prepared ourselves for Rosie to slip to a silver medal. And it looked like that might come true until the last drop of Wenna. Where she stumbled and landed flat. Oh, what a relief…

Lots of cheers, lots of smiles and clapping.  Then we paid and walked outside to that brilliant sunshine.