Frisbees in suburbia

Frisbees in suburbia

You travel enough along the 401 in Ontario and you start to see patterns. For instance, you notice the clothes worn by people who patronize the OnRoute rest stops along the way all appear to come from the same bins of faux athletic garments from Costco. Except for the truckers who are all wearing saggy jeans but never mind that for now. 

The people of the OnRoute during high summer vacation season come from very tidy suburbs and they’re on their way to Something Important like a goddamned family reunion and they very sensibly stop at the OnRoute because Ontarians are nothing if not sensible (can’t beat Costco prices). Right then and there you realize that out of a population of 14.5 million people all but a handful of weirdos which I hope you assume include yours truly are thoroughly reasonable folks. 

That’s why Ontario is so unbearably dull. Especially at the OnRoute. 

A slightly dramatic rendition of the rest areas of my youth.

When I was a kid growing up in Quebec City I got to experience the putrid smells of truly awful provincially-maintained rest areas that mostly consisted of glorified portable shitters with a truck near the front door selling overpriced past-their-due-date egg and tuna sandwiches. Something about that smell is still embedded in my nostrils all those decades later. 

We did road trips a lot when I was a kid, not always very long ones but there was that one memorable three-day tour de la Gaspésie where we collected rocks from Rocher Percé, and when I finally took the plunge, literally, and did a front dive off the one-metre diving board at the Motel Universel in Rivière-du-Loup, wearing my fetching Batgirl bathing suit no less.

You can always tell who is not used to travelling. That’s true at airports, train stations and of course Ontario’s unique OnRoute network, which — I should point out, in the interest of fairness — is way better than the Quebec bucolic crappers of yore. Of course nowadays Quebec’s rest area network doesn’t stink like it used to. And like Ontario’s it’s full of private businesses that sell you food you really ought not to ingest, but that’s neither here nor there. We’re on the road, dammit, we deserve overpriced grease. That’s the only reasonable thing to do. 

You can tell who’s not used to travelling by how they waddle. Getting out of the car after 200 km of boringness can certainly cause significant stiffness in any carcass. It’s something experienced road-trippers know and expect and would never be caught acknowledging. No, us roadies just spring out of the car like we’re ready for a rodeo or three. Flexible and nimble and not bedraggled one bit. 

We’re in, we’re out, we’re on our way. That’s the only way to get there.

Get there we did, if by “there” you mean “the Oakville Walmart for supplies.” Tournamenting means long days in the sun and the heat, with few bathrooms and no place to buy lunch. Or snacks. Kids who run around trying to throw and catch frisbees in these conditions do get thirsty and hungry. It’s actually kind of hilarious how much food they inhale throughout the day. Shit just disappears down them gullets, never to be seen again. 

Some parents, the most experienced, have like an entire SUV packed with coolers and tents and tables and parasols and fans you stick over a bucket of water so that you can spritz this lovely cooling mist to general happiness. 

Me, I have cooler bags because a) I am nowhere this organized or 2) I’m busy taking pictures of the kids, not thinking about which three kinds of brownies would be best. My priority for food is stuff that doesn’t melt or rot badly in the heat, is full of protein and won’t give us food poisoning. That’s a lot of hummus and beef jerky. It works, OK? 

So off to Walmart we went and there I was hit by a Serious Existential Question: Why do people and cars have to mix in big box store parking lots? When you drive in, you have to manoeuvre around people walking into or out of the store. Once you park and walk to the store you have to fight your way through cars on their way to a parking space. 

Why do we do it this way? Are we being deliberately stupid? I looked it up fairly extensively and could not find a good explanation anywhere on the interwebs for why we do it this way. I guess we’re just a bunch of lazy-ass doofuses. 

Anyway, would you like to see more ultimate pictures?

This is my second year on the competitive ultimate circuit and I’m barely at the point of understanding what way my team needs to throw the frisbee. They yell things about stacks and “UP!!!” so much and then also cutting and I’m standing there looking like an easily baffled goof much of the time. Unless of course I’m napping in my chair. 

But two things I especially love about this sport. One is, there is no referee and players need to come to an agreement when there’s a foul or some breach of the rules. And it works! But mostly what I love is the spirit. It really is key to the whole thing. Each team has spirit captains and after each game both teams sit around and decide who gets flowers and special recognition and such. They have small presents for each other and it’s so damn wholesome it makes you want to burst a sinew. 

The road trips are long, the tournamenting weekends are expensive and also exhausting, but man am I happy to be involved in this wonderful sport.