Sunday, August 25, 2013


Okay, I’ll say it. Envy is a very bad thing.

But sometimes it just happens. Like when a writer acquaintance I know gets his screenplay produced and directed by Tom Ford. Or when my neighbor’s sunflowers take on Jack and the Beanstalk qualities while mine whither and die in a matter of days. Or when my friend’s pup stops barking with just one look and my manic schnauzer barks on and on at an ominous lamp, all my Dog Whisperer viewing for naught.

Again, envy is bad. Especially for grass-is-always-greener Eeyores like me. I do best putting my head down and blocking out others’ successes, plugging away to achieve my own dreams, hoping that work and a little luck will create my next big break (and crossing my fingers that the new double-paned windows keep the dog’s barking at bay).

Still, there are times when the blinders don’t work and I am blindsided. It happened as I headed to Whistler this week for a work retreat.

There are people who grumble about work retreats. I used to. That changed as I came to view my annual August trip to Whistler as a chance to shop, jog new trails and connect with colleagues in a casual way, chatting for five-minute stretches before work topics creep in. And then there’s the eating. I have a favorite veggie burger stop in Whistler Village. When I lived in Vancouver, I occasionally drove up just for lunch, craving the burger and the sadly-no-longer-on-the-menu crunchy salad. (Guess I didn’t drive up enough.)

Last year I discovered Purebread, a bakery that hooked me with buckwheat sour cherry chocolate scones. I aspire to try everything on the menu and I have made good progress in this regard on return visits. Chitchats and scenic jogs are lovely, but the trek to Whistler is now all about baked goods. Being as I am obsessed about my weight, I prep for Purebread, extending my workouts in the weeks leading up to the trip and I accept the fact that I will have to fit in more intense cardio when the feasting frenzy ends.

It’s well worth it.

An hour away, my mouth began salivating uncontrollably. They say dog owners start to look like their dogs; it’s rather frightful when we start to act like them. I refrained from barking, instead playing a monosyllabic chant in my head: scone, scone, scone. I suppose I lapsed into some meditative state: absolutely nothing was on my mind but pastries and strong coffee. I’ll take scone silence over yoga or some other zen journey any day.

The line was out the door as I pulled up. Naturally. Since people blocked my view of the treats, I had no choice but to notice the people. Ten of them stood between me and sweet satisfaction. At the register, a couple of cyclists with their backs to me paid for an assortment of treats. From behind, one caught my eye. Very attractive as far as all things from a rear view go. The first cyclist—the one I didn’t pay much attention to—passed as I continued to enjoy the sights while stuck in the line.

Then, the second cyclist turned around. The front was better than the back, a Scottish/Irish complexion with piercing blue eyes. This summer, I have worked on establishing eye contact, maintaining cruise control instead of reflexively checking my shoelaces. I stared straight into his baby blues as he looked into my deep greens. He stopped right in front of me.

A rush a fear swept through me. Was he going to punch me in the gut? Spit on me? Call me a faggot? (Why do I always go to the negative?!)

“Hey!” he said.

And that’s when I realized I was cruising my family doctor.

I quickly snapped out of lust mode. We carried on an extended conversation. He pointed out his partner, the other cyclist, but didn’t introduce me. He’d clearly forgotten my name. Understandable. I have one doctor, he has hundreds of patients. Still, it was a wee bit heartbreaking.

It’s such a cliché, but I’ve had a crush on my doctor since my first visit eighteen years ago. I’d silently noticed each time he wore new glass frames and continued to feel tummy flutters even as his closely trimmed curls receded through the years. This is a man who makes freckles sexy.

Back in his office, I’d thrown imaginary darts at his partner in the prominently displayed photo of the happy couple in Prague. I felt a pang of remorse now, seeing the pleasant soul clear a little table for himself and my Doctor McDreamy.

The good doctor and his mate had biked to the bakery from their weekend haven seventeen kilometers outside of Whistler. This was a simple little excursion after which they would bike back.

How lovely.

For them anyway. I wanted to tell the partner that he had stolen my life. I was supposed to be the one with a socially conscious professional as a cycling partner and a world traveling companion. Yes, Good Doc is part of Physicians without Borders, volunteering time in Africa and Haiti. Yes, the pair holiday in Tuscany, Greece and other places as a couple and as part of a larger group of successful gay professionals. Lovely, lovely, lovely.

Here I’d harbored a long-term crush and he only knew me as Hey. Some of us keep living the humiliations of high school.

I returned to my car, scone and coffee cup in hand, patted my dear little dog and drove onward to the hotel. The urgency to devour my scone was gone. I took a bite while stopped at a light. Satisfactory, yet not sensational.

Envy leaves a bitter taste in one’s mouth.

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