As I sit on my bench, overlooking False Creek, I can't help but notice Rock Man and Water Man. It's just 6:30 in the morning, but these guys are already at their posts. Rock man is to my right, after several minutes of sitting still on a craggy ledge a few yards from the water. Rock man jumps off his perch and begins assaulting rocks wherever he finds them. He hurls some into the water, the bigger the splash, the better. Other rocks get smashed to bits on large boulders nearby. He is currently beating a poor unsuspecting rock with a stick. Now he is hunched over a much larger stone attempting to wrestle it free from its anchored position in the earth. He reminds me of a bear. His hind end rises high as he tries to get leverage on this worthy foe. His underwear fails him in his desperate struggle, and I find myself exposed to butt cleavage, he grunts, what a battle! Despite his best efforts, the mighty rock refuses to budge. Finally, in disgust, Rock Man releases his grip, returns to an upright position, curses, kicks at the unmovable foe and then moves on to easier prey.
Meanwhile, to my left is Water Man. Each morning he brings a bucket and a paddle, but this morning, he carries a new instrument. A six-foot-long pole with a propeller attached. Reverently, he descends to the edge of the water, scooping up a bucket of False Creeks finest. Having secured the precious liquid, he turns and, with earnest devotion, climbs up a steep slope to a graffiti-covered concrete wall. Once there, like an Old Testament priest, he pours out his libation. Waterman repeats this process for twenty minutes or more! Water flows freely all around this graffiti-covered alter. Now it's time for the paddle. He steps in ankle deep and begins to manipulate the water with his paddle. He pushes it to the right, then to the left. Aggressive strokes, gentle strokes, all manner of strokes! If only he had a canoe! He is relentless, the water churns and ripples go in all directions, Water Man is now smacking the water with the paddle. He rivals Rock Man's intensity for a few minutes, now he widens his stance and bends low his face is close to the water now. Still, even in such an unnatural position, his paddle never stops moving. Now he stands erect. He strikes the iconic Ken Dryden pose. With elbows resting on the top of his paddle, he stoically looks out over the water. He is still as a statue for several minutes, then with great solemnity, he resumes the ritual of the paddle stirred water. Today the new tool, the one with the propeller, remains unworthy and thus unused. Perhaps tomorrow it will get its chance to part the holy waters.
I wonder who these guys are? What is their story? What life circumstances led one to have a death wish for rocks and the other a fetish for paddling water without a canoe? There is a good chance I'll never know. Perhaps they see me each morning and wonder what life circumstances led me to want to sit on a seawall bench each morning and scribble furiously into a journal. They don't strike me as the type that would notice, they seem pretty focused on their tasks, but if they did notice and muttered under their breath. "There is Writer Man again" I'd be ok with it.