Every year you hop on the Skytrain from wherever you are, and Skytrain it down to Burrard where you get off and join the mass of humanity that is swarming towards English Bay.
There are THOUSANDS of people, and nowhere to put your blanket, so you park in the two-foot-square space between a handful of Asians and a kid building a sandcastle. Over the next two hours, you play cribbage and gradually encroach on the kid's sandcastle area because, come on, kid, that's not why we're here. The fire boats out on the water turn their hoses on each other, and everyone points and laughs and some dweebs take out their cameras and snap a few shots, including you and the old guy in front of you.
The last few sparks fade and everyone cheers, and then...AND THEN the raging idiot in everyone comes out. I understand if you've never been before that this must come as quite a shock to you, but really, you should have done your research (by which I mean ask anyone who's been before, because this never changes) and if you've been before, well then, there's no excuse for you. You KNEW this was coming, WHY are you getting so upset? Hundreds of thousands of people are trying to get through the same tiny gap in the gate, down the same street, and onto the same Skytrain at the same station. It will take you well over an hour just to get on, and there's no chance of you getting a seat. You know this. Also, have I mentioned the hundreds of thousands of people? To turn to the seething mob behind you and yell 'Stop pushing!' would almost definitely do nothing, but at least your request would be aimed in the right direction. To turn to the person immediately behind you and holler the same thing at them? As though they were the ones exerting several tons of pressure into your back? For serious, people. You are ridiculous.
It's too dark to play cards by now, and you've already got your camera out so you start pulling faces to pass the time.Eventually the show gets underway, and China is always your favorite because of their moody theatrics and their less-is-more policy,
The StarWars theme song is still the greatest musical piece to set fireworks to,
And Canada wins again because it's their party, and they'll cry if they don't.
All three coutries join for a grand finale and the air smells like burning tires.
And so, after twenty minutes spent getting off the beach, and half an hour spent getting to Burrard, and well over an hour waiting in line to get on the train, and another forty minutes packed standing in the only car full of people that were going (as we were) all the way to Surrey (I knew there would be no mass exodus at Granville, but I thought that at least Metrotown had my back, and if not Metrotown, then Columbia, all the usual exit points, but everyone stayed til the bitter, Surried end), we climbed into the car sweaty and tired, swearing we'd never do that again.
By next year, though, we will have forgotten the crunch and the shoving and the people with poor personal hygeine, the long strings of teenagers linked hand-to-hand, as though trying to move through the crowd that way isn't going to piss people off, the people stepping on your blankets and the necessity to step on other people's blankets, the group of middle-aged hardcores in front of you that won't sit down even once the show has started, the overweight mom in a tank top and shorts that rocks out hard to Shakira's 'Hips Don't Lie' (ok, ne'mind that last one, that was a highlight. If it hadn't been so dark, I would have video taped it and YouTubed it for you all), and the overwhelming sense of clausterphobia and shut up that accompanies the latter half of the evening, and we will be drawn once again to loud noises and pretty lights.