Canadian vandals recently made victims of my friends Mike and Marleen. Canucks, the stereotype goes, are exceedingly congenial, deferential, almost annoyingly polite. They make backyard rinks, not war. But in this instance, they invaded my friends’ home along coastal Nova Scotia and ransacked it, smearing it with profane imagery.
This is both a crime report and a cautionary tale against vesting too much faith in our cousins to the North, bands of whom are every bit as capable of plotting and perpetrating scandal and heinous act more typically associated with organized crime syndication in the lower 48.
Once upon a time, twice each year, Mike and Marleen endured 24 hours of driving over two days from their Capitol Hill home to reach their second home in Cape Breton Island. Always they would drive, as they had so much cargo to convey to execute second-home repairs. As the natives up there know most especially with an event like Hurricane Bill, wood-stripping winds regularly visit the island. Doozies of coastal storms often approach unannounced. So Mike and Marleen could never truly “just get away from it all” up at their vacation home, and rather regularly undertook “home repair R&R” there. Little did they realize they’d need to repair rigorously the home’s interior on their visit there this month.
Given that they’re away from Cape Breton for extended stretches, they have a handful of neighbors with key access to the house. Canadians make very good neighbors, Mike and Marleen would have told you, prior to this August. As new residents of Maine, Mike and Marleen’s commute to their vacation home was cut in half. They pulled into their winding gravel driveway near 10:00 p.m. on August’s first Friday. The best part of their arrival always is discovering a full case of Alexander Keith’s waiting for them well chilled in the fridge, the welcoming libation of their neighbors. But in light of what my friends discovered when they entered their home three Fridays back, they needed a much stronger restorative set of spirits.
As longtime season ticket holders to the Caps, Mike and Marleen endured their fair share of snickers and potshots from the Nova Scotians in their Cape Breton neighborhood over the years, and this was amplified once native son Sidney Crosby was drafted first overall by Pittsburgh in 2005. The Canadian Maritimes are home to enormous support for the Montreal Canadiens, but alas in recent years more and more Pittsburgh sweaters have been found on skating Nova Scotian youths. The stakes of course were seriously upped when Pittsburgh and Washington met in the playoffs this spring for the first time since their respective rebuilds. We know how that turned out, and the volume of incoming phone calls from the Island to Mike and Marleen’s Capitol Hill home was at an all-time high.
However those phone calls were mere nuisance compared to what Mike and Marleen confronted inside their Cape Breton home this month. Once inside, they discovered an insidious infestation, a graffiti-ing of their tastefully rustic abode, with all manner of Sidney-in-Stanley-celebration mementos. Stanley Cup champion hats were hung on coat hooks; championship edition newspapers, large and small in circulation, littered coffee and dining room tables; color and black-and-white glossies of the follicle-challenged face beaming at his triumph were spread about every room of the house; Sidney Crosby figurines and action figures bearing makeshift miniature Stanley Cups were even left in the home’s restrooms; even beer bottles bearing labels with no. 87′s victory grin greeted my Capitals loving chums; and the criminal coup de grace: euphoric banners in black and gold lettering were strung across support beams.
The nightmare welcoming. Talk about home depreciation.
All my friends wanted at that moment was a round or two of ice cold
Keiths before collapsing their travel-weary bones in bed. Instead, they
had to summon unlikely energy to restore their home to dignity. There was no way my friends were going to leave the repairs to Saturday morning. Michael
took red — not yellow — tape and fastened it around the perimeter of
his home to indicate a crime scene involving Capitals’ fans. They lowered their heads and resolutely made like bruised and battered fourth-liners, laboring deep into the night to salvage their home. By early Saturday afternoon my friends were ready ignite a bonfire down at the beach with the mountainous detritus.
Belle Cote is the name of the actual outpost in which my friends’ home is perched, atop a glorious bluff overlooking Maguerite Harbor and the Atlantic Ocean. It is a hamlet of some 350 year-round residents, most of whom were likely in on this scheme.
“Did you call the Mounties?” I asked my friend Michael this past weekend, as I learned of the assault.
“The RCMP wouldn’t do a thing,” Mike told me, “I suspect they were part of the ransacking.”