Shaving for Cancer

Last night, I had the privilege of witnessing a friend of mine getting her head shaved to raise funds for someone who recently underwent cancer treatment. I’ve heard of people doing this, but have never seen it done.

While watching, I was thinking to myself what courage she has to part with her hair. I mean, it’s easy enough for men to go around with a bald head, or at least it’s more socially acceptable for men to be bald. For women, though, it’s another story. Not only is it less socially acceptable, but for those who have longer hair, it takes a long time to grow it back. (That’s why I think we should donate double the amount for women who do this.)

Okay, I know I’m starting to sound gender biased here: men have short hair, women have long hair, yadda yadda yadda. But if you look at it from the “socially acceptable” perspective, you might agree (or maybe not). Plus, women with super-short hair are often accused of being gay, or butch, or whatever term people like to use.

Regardless of all this, I realized that though it took courage for my friend to go bald, it took even more courage and strength for the cancer survivor to undergo her treatment and to keep fighting. I met her for the first time last night, and what a woman! She is beautiful inside and out, and had a smile on her face the whole time.

No Parking for Locals?

If there’s one thing that I find annoying during the summer in Whitehorse, it’s the fact that the Yukon Visitor Information Centre down on Second Avenue has parking spaces specifically marked for out-of-town visitors only. I know we should make the downtown welcoming for visitors, but at the same time, if I’m inside the visitors’ building looking through pamphlets to help plan a visit from an out-of-town friend or relative, why can’t I use those parking spaces?

The person/people coming to visit me are spending dollars flying here, shopping here, and visiting here, and we use my vehicle to get around. Because of the Yukon license plate, however, I’m subject to receiving a parking ticket if I use those darn parking spaces. (In the by-law officers’ defense – or whoever issues these tickets – I only got a warning on my windshield last summer, not a ticket.) Rather than limit the users, why not limit the parking time only?

What brought forth this rant so early in the season is the fact that a friend of mine is planning a visit in late June. I’m very excited and looking forward to this. Thinking about planning for her stay, I thought I should go down and have a look at some of the pamphlets at the Visitors’ Centre. This brought back the memory of the warning in my windshield last summer. Ouch!

Licensed Landmarks Close Doors

First, it was Joe’s Free Pour.* That was the one place that any Cheechako* had to be initiated to upon arrival in Whitehorse.

“It’s the first time I’ve been served a see-through Ceasar!” I exclaimed when my aunt and uncle took me there for the first time.

I don’t drink beer or hard liquor, and the place didn’t sell wine. It was an old-fashioned bar with good old-fashioned service, no frills attached. Walking into that place was like stepping back in time, both in decor and in atmosphere. The live entertainment consisted of good conversation with old Yukoners, friends, and, of course, Joe, who is a friend of my uncle’s.

If a good blues’ band is what you were after, it was a matter of walking a few blocks south, down to what the locals still call “The Taku” (the current name being The Discovery Bar). Another landmark in Whitehorse, apparently they’re closing their doors in a year’s time. There’s talk that the whole place is being purchased by a well-known group (who already own half of Main Street) and the building will be converted into offices, and who knows what will be on the first floor, but it definitely won’t be the pub.

These last couple of years, however, my visits to The Taku tended to be at the hour of the after-work crowd. The only entertainment was either chatting with some of the regulars, people-watching, and meeting people during the terrorist tourist season. I love the small pub feel of the place; it’s the only bar in town like it.

That leaves the downtown core with four bars that I can think of. One is a “joint” that, though busy, has, shall we say, a reputation. The other two are half the size of a football field each; no small pub atmosphere there. And that leaves the Gold Rush. Yup, fairly small, but that building, too, has been recently purchased by yet another local corporation. Will they keep it going? Probably. Will it be the same? Who knows! Oh, I almost forgot about the Roadhouse. Boy, has that place changed and for the better! (Nice outdoor patio, good food!) Hhmm… I wonder where the Taku regulars will end up going.

It’s funny how things change; in the case of local bars, most of the changes have been positive. My aunt and uncle talk about the old days when people could literally (and legally) walk from one bar to the next, drink in hand, then stumble into their car and drive home at the end of the night. Thank goodness we don’t see that anymore. But seeing more little spots that are congregating points for old (and new) Yukoners closing their doors one after the other is another thing. Because of archaic laws, no small business person can open a little pub because you have to have x number of rooms attached to the place. That leaves the door open to huge chains of hotels to set up shop. I’m not against free enterprise, but it wouldn’t surprise me of one or two of these eventually replaces the small individually owned places, making Whitehorse look more and more like any other city. We’re already seeing this in other sectors – just look to your right next time you drive up Two Mile Hill. Now, that I have a problem with!

(*Note: Hyperlinks added April 3rd, 2007)