Saan Lot.

Beside the discount store, the vacant lot was full of scrub alder and bushes. It was too dense for dog walking, too dense for kids to play in. But we played.

The rules at the Saan lot were fluid. Sometimes it was Sardines, sometimes more like Capture the Flag, sometimes just plain old Tag.

It always involved beer.

We’d each hide a couple cans there before going to the bar up the road. If you saw someone else, you had to studiously ignore them. That was important, so they could hide their beer properly. That was only fair.

After the bar closed and drunk small-towners spilled out into the parking lot, calling to each other as they disseminated down toward the water or out up Hospital Hill, looking for late night munchies at Esso or PayLess, or over to Stink Creek Park for drunken fumbling and blow jobs, we all made our way down to the lot.

We thought we faded seamlessly into the bushes. Really, we probably made a hell of a racket. But no matter. Invariably, someone would stage-whisper, “Cops!” And we dove into the bushes, crawling commando-style, and usually giggling to ourselves. The night air, the slap of alder switches, the wink of stars overhead was wonderfully refreshing after the asphyxiating combination of Budweiser, Obsession perfume, and cigarette smoke in the bar.

We were searching for the hidden beer. If a person found a beer, they had to drink it, and share it with whoever found them when they were drinking it. Then we’d go off and find some more beer. Sometimes we’d split up, sometimes crawl around together until we’d either found all the beer or run out of steam.

Sometimes we lay on our backs, passing beer back and forth, staring up at the stars. Those were my favourite times. It was like I was a puppy who’d found my litter. Kevin’s head on my stomach, my head on Billy’s leg, we’d worked hard, played hard, and now, the reward: That final, slack-limbed bliss that sometimes happens at 3am.

Eventually we got cold. Then, we struggled out, grass-stained, tipsy and laughing, and wended our happy way home.

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