The year was 1986. The season was summer. The month was July. The flowers were in full bloom and Vancouver’s World Exposition was in full tilt.
I was seven years old: blonde, headstrong, a delight.
Like most families from around British Columbia, we made the pilgrimage to Expo ’86. We travelled the eight hours South from a small town in the interior to take in the festivities.
We stayed at my Grandparent’s house. They waited up for us, gave us a quick kiss, and then went to bed; leaving us to heave our luggage up the steps, and down the hall to the spare bedroom. As usual, my sister Michelle called the “right side” of the bed. The good side. I always meant to.
Neither of us could sleep for our excitement. This was the World’s Fair. The World would be there. We would get to see the people we saw in the National Geographic magazines up close and personal. I wondered if there would be nudity.
The next morning came early. My family, with a crush of others, rode the Sky train downtown to the action. We fought our way to the gates to purchase our Expo passport. The passport was to be stamped at each pavilion we visited. With one shared look, my sister and I took it on as a challenge, to ourselves and to each other. We rushed to each pavilion; the culture and contents were irrelevant, though I did keep an eye out for any nudity.
My enthusiasm waned around mid-day, though my competitive nature kept me going about a half-hour longer than Michelle. We had seen a lot, but really seen nothing. To me, Expo ’86 seemed to be a big letdown, and I told my parents so.
We had dinner with my Aunt, Uncle and cousins. After dinner my parents presented me an idea. They asked if I would like to stay over at my cousin’s house and skip Expo the next day. I wasn’t sure. My cousin coaxed me, offering me the “right side” of the bed. I conceded. Expo had been a big bore.
The next morning, I awoke in a puddle of urine that was not my own. My cousin had peed the bed, and told her mother that I did it. My Aunt came into the bedroom and chastised me, explaining that most seven year olds have better control of their bladder. I tried to explain, but it was no use. I spent the rest of the day red-faced, hiding in the downstairs playroom.
Around dinnertime, my parents came to pick me up. My Aunt told my mother what I had done. My mother’s face fell and she shook her head in my direction. I tried to explain.
Back in the car, Michelle told me about the giant Swatch watch at the Switzerland pavilion, eating lunch at the floating McDonalds, and the life-sized robot named Expo Ernie. I would never get to see this giant watch, eat at a floating McDonalds, and I would never meet Expo Ernie. “Then we went on rides all afternoon”. I had not been aware that Expo contained amusement rides. Then she waved her passport at me. Every pavilion, every country: every stamp. Then I remembered that Michelle and I had been in a competition.
The regret settled in quite quickly.