The Air Canada Centre

Not my dog. Or seat, either. Not my photograph.

According to Kepler, Scaliger, in Exercises, says that “resin sweated from the timber of ships in the heat of the sun forms drops which give births to ducks whose bills develop last of all the body. When the bills are free, the ducks give themselves to the waves below.”

Something similar occurs with the sweat of hot-dogs cooked in “Burkie’s Dog-House,” in the Air-Canada Centre. The drops of sweat give birth to large, stout men in their middle twenties, with faces full of unshaved stubble. Contrary to the ducks in Scaliger’s account, the men’s “bills” form first, and so from their very beginnings they are free to hold court on a variety of subjects, the first being, “Wow! I knew I should have got the foot long!”, the second having something or other do with the Maple Leafs, and the man’s “boys” (that is, his identical brothers also born from those droplets). An example: “We better get back to the game, boys!” followed by a throaty call from no fewer than two of the gathered members. “Yennnrgggh!”

But one can’t fault them for their jubilant behaviour. The atmosphere at the ACC is electric, contrary to that of the Roger’s Centre, which is empty, concrete, and crushing. “Burkie’s Doghouse” is a good example of this difference, tight-rope-walking on the fine line between theme park and farce, and, as a bonus, the hot dogs are actually worth six dollars (mine came with pulled pork and coleslaw).

There is a certain charm, too, to the tribes of well-fed men who cruise the concourse around the rink, as even if they haven’t changed much from their dressing-room days on the high school football team, they at least dress well and operate according to the rules of “Jock Chivalry.” At the Roger’s Centre the predominant tribe (aside from groups of young women wearing baby-blue Alex Rios t-shirts) seem like they have climbed out of some alternate world where everyone camps out in the backs of grease-stained pick-ups and the chin-strap beard is mandatory. They wear dark plaids and shorts (the baggier the better–for hiding mickeys of whiskey, that is), which are unsuitable in hot weather, so they strip down to stained white tank tops and tie their plaid shirts around their waists. These men seem as likely to “throw down” with you, due to some perceived slight, as treat you with any kind of civility, and owing to the aforementioned whiskey bottles, they are often seen with red faces, flailing their arms about in response to security already leading a long train of their chastened friends to the section exit.  I don’t want to postulate on what kind of sweat they are born from.

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