How to clear a fire hall without yelling fire

Sexy Jacques Villeneuve, 1995

On Monday night, my man and I did something we rarely get to do: we went on a date. To a movie parlour.

I had to miss my yoga class to see Rush. I wasn’t thrilled, expecting it to be a testosterone-filled racing film with ninety minutes of cars running around in circles, crashing, bursting into flames… And there was a good amount of all three of those things, but Rush impressed me with how much story was behind the racing. I actually loved the film. And I cried at the end.

Last night, at fire practice (I’m a volunteer firefighter), I was talking to the guys about the film as we got into our turn-out gear. (Of course, I did not tell them I cried.) Martyn, a Brit, said he knew the film would be good.

“Of course you’d think that,” I said. “It stars that British racer guy.”

“James Hunt! How could you forget James Hunt?”

“I’d never heard of him before last night.”

Disbelief. Shock. How could I have never heard of a man who won the Formula One World Chapionship? Once…in 1976…seriously, guys?

Being one of five women in our department of about thirty members, I have a choice to make most practice nights:

  1. pretend I know what the hell the guys are talking about when we’re killing time,
  2. admit I don’t have a clue and get razzed, or,
  3. pull out my shiny castle and knock the discussion into an area that I know something about.

Last night I chose option #3.

“Of course I’ve heard of Niki Lauda and Mario Andretti and Gilles Villeneuve. And Gille’s son, Jacques. In fact, I have a great story about Jacques Villeneuve and the race he won in Vancouver in 1995. The year he took home the Indy Car World Championship.”

The men were all paying attention. What I didn’t tell them is that I used to be a huge fan of Jacques Villeneuve because he was an international superstar from Quebec, where I was born and raised. Or that my ex-husband was both a Villeneuve fan and a huge fan of racing generally. Or that we could hear the cars racing along the streets of Vancouver from the basement suite we were renting that September weekend in 1995. What I said was,

“My son was conceived during that race–”

“Oh, God, Donna.”

“Jeez… I don’t want to know.”

“Too much information.”

Etcetera and so on from the men as they ran from the fire hall out into the rain, missing the rest of my connection to racing which was simply that my husband and I called our in-utero baby “Jacques” until the day he was born.

True story.

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