Things about Saskatoon I remember

So I’m having a beer with this queer friend of mine who lived in Saskatoon ages ago, he’s asking me about what’s been happening in our old hometown.

“Cher was at Fuddruckers this past year.”

“Nooooooo! I don’t believe it!”

It’s true, for those who don’t know, Fuddruckers is kind of like Chucky Cheese. I used to get free time on the air hockey table because an employee went to the same queer youth group as me. I was actually living in Saskatoon at the time Cher made her glorious appearance at Fuddruckers. I don’t remember what they said she played there, maybe it was air hockey.

What I do remember is the radio stations kept playing “Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves” over and over. It got to the point where I could sing a few bars and be guaranteed to drive my mother spare.

Fuddruckers is on 8th Street. 8th Street is the main driving route of all the bored teenagers. They just go up and down this one street. Like sharks, always moving. I was one of the teenagers that drove around too, but I hung out with gay boys, so we drove up and down the strip where the boys were, listening to New Order and generally acting dramatic about everything.

I think everybody in Saskatoon does it, the driving around thing. Joni Mitchell probably did it too. She went to the same high school I went to, and the school was so proud of that fact. There was a signed photo of her in the trophy cabinet. Of course, at the time there was no music program, no art program, no writing program, and no theatre. So, there you go.

My friend just told me she went to the same high school as Neil Young. Too funny! What a pair we make.

There’s this local legend about the train bridge where Joni lost her virginity.

The place I lost my virginity in burnt down.

And that makes me think about my Neil Young friend’s favorite pizza place, Dynomite Pizza, which blew up. For real.

That’s not a Saskatoon story though.

When I was a little kid I was convinced my mother was living a double life as Nana Mouskouri. She went off to Canada Council juries and I would be left alone trying to process where she could be. I saw this woman on television, Nana, and she looked just like my mother. Nana was touring. Nana sold records.

Nana wasn’t my mother, but it took me a few years before I was sure.

18 years of living in Saskatoon and I had never seen the fabled Joni Mitchell. This was it, I was at the airport, on my way to my new adult life in Vancouver. I was all fresh faced and hopeful, and there, sitting in Robin’s Donuts, was Joni Mitchell. My mother was trying her best to impart advice about life and how things would be. I could only see Joni Mitchell, drinking coffee and waiting for the same flight as me.

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