Dec 25th, 2014 (barely)
I've been sitting on this story for months now. The events I'm about to describe took place in July, but having been raised on the CBC's Vinyl Cafe, I knew that in the grand tradition of Canadian turkey stories, I'd have to save it for Christmas. I was busking outside Santa Barbara grocery store on Commercial, a busy, but extremely competitive spot. It was an especially swealtering day, and shoppers were taking their sweet time to pick the most refreshing summer produce they could find. (I'm drooling as I type this, I can feel the heavy lump of mashed winter root vegetables that was my vegetarian Christmas dinner lazing in my stomach, and I feel mighty envious of my July self). An older man in a straw hat and wayfarers stopped to listen as I serenaded the grocers with Chris Smithers' "No Love Today" (a song that is one part heartbreak and two parts vegetables). In the middle of the song, a sundressed woman placed a big wooly peach in my case (disclaimer: I stole the peach descriptor from poet Ben Jonson). I waved away her apolagies for not having any money to give me, thanked her, and told her to enjoy the sunshine. I played a few more songs, and then the sunglasses man came up to give me a couple dollars and tell me the best real life turkey story I've ever heard. (No offense at all to the great Mr. Mclean's fictional ones).
He used to be a busker in my old West side neighbourhood, out near UBC. His favourite place to play (guitar I think, but honestly I don't remember), was outside the Safeway on West 10th Avenue, where I used to go with my elementary school friends to buy bagels that were mostly air, and entire tubs of neapolitan icecream that always melted before we could carry out our gluttonous agendas in full. When he would play there, people would often stop to give him food, which he always appreciated. (I can absolutely relate, sometimes when you're having a music-making day, it's hard to remember to feed yourself.) He received his best food-based donation during the Christmas season decades ago, when a shifty-looking character bolted out the front doors and produced a frozen 20 lb. turkey from his oversized puffy winter coat and dropped it in his guitar case, thanking him for the music and wishing him happy holidays before heading off on his merry way.
I asked the man if he returned the turkey, and I was pretty satisfied when he said "are you kiddin'?! I cooked the thing up for Christmas dinner, and you know what, it was the best bird I ever ate!"