Editor’s Note, June 2009

WHEN WE PUT out the call for this month’s anthology of pithy little stories that begins on page 52, we wondered how many freelancers and colleagues and friends would respond. We asked them to recount a true incident, an event they had witnessed or been a part of, that captured something essential about Vancouver. Within hours we had a dozen replies. Within a few days we had scores of them. Just about anyone you ask has a little gem, it turns out, and when you fit them together they form a sort of mosaic of the urban experience. Most-mined category, by far: panhandling. Who doesn’t have a story of being approached, crudely or wittily, for spare change? Other veins of anecdotal gold: real estate prices, the weather, visitor responses to the city, cross-cultural imbroglios, and the sexual habits of neighbours.

Oddly, no contributor touched on our mania for cosmetic improvement—I say oddly because it was a local couple, Jean and Alastair Carruthers, who pioneered the cosmetic use of Botox, and I say mania because nary a Hollywood star, society belle, or pole dancer would be caught dead wearing a frown these days. In the 20-odd years since the doctors Carruthers merged their specialties—she originally used Botox in her ophthalmological practice to correct eye problems, and he was a dermatologist, correcting skin problems—Vancouver has become a centre for enhancement of all sorts, a fact often noted by visitors. Katherine Ashenburg, who first crossed paths with the Carruthers a couple of decades ago (and who profiles them on page 46), is one of my few female friends who has no intention of trying to forestall the aging process with botulism—though she admits this has less to do with an insistence on quaint notions of inner beauty than with her morbid fear of needles.

Perhaps you have a tale (100 to 200 words is an ideal length) that reveals a facet of the city. If so, send it along—my email address is below. We’re planning to make “Tales of the City” a recurring element in the magazine, and to the teller of the best tale each month (as judged by our editorial team) we’ll award a $200 gift certificate for dinner at one of the city’s finest restaurants. From which—who knows?—you might come away not only with a pleasantly full belly, but with another tale to tell.