The Ariolimax columbianus, more commonly known as the Banana Slug, is ubiquitous in the rainforests of the Pacific Northwest. The Banana Slug is a hermaphrodite. When mating time rolls around, Banana Slugs engage in an act called “penis jousting.” Somehow, the slugs fight until one slug’s penis gets knocked off. The winner gets to be “the man.” The loser has to carry the eggs.
“Banana Slug mating rituals sound a lot like a Friday night in a Manhattan bar,” I told my guide as we sloshed through the green squishy stuff that covers the floor of the rainforest on Meares Island, a small island off the coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia.
Cock-blocking had suddenly taken on a new, more serious meaning.
My guide chuckled and, lost in the mental comparison I was drawing between slug life on Vancouver Island and the NYC dating scene, I slipped on a cedar plank.
Whoosh, slap, squish, thud <– Those are the sounds an eco-tourist makes as she falls in the forest.
Down the trail, a fiance hoisted his fallen fiancee back to her feet — another victim of the squooshy green stuff — while I flopped around, clumsily trying to make it onto all fours without eating anymore lichen in the process.
Where was my mountain man in shining plaid when I needed him?
A few days earlier, I arrived in the great Canadian City of Vancouver ready for 10 days in the woods, away from work, domestic duties, and dating in the city. Or so I thought.
As soon as my rental car drove across Vancouver’s city limits, my phone started beeping relentlessly. The little blue light that illuminates whenever I have an OkCupid message was flashing like a lighthouse beacon in a hurricane. When they warned me I’d find love on this Canadian adventure, they weren’t kidding.
Warning! New matches ahead! Warning! New messages!
I opened the alerts icon in disbelief. I had been in Vancouver not more than 30 minutes, and already my inbox was overflowing. There were notable similarities between the Vancouver men and the Brooklyn men OKCupid frequently found for me (why are they always in Brooklyn?!) — beards and plaid, in all their incarnations, were the standard uniform and a commitment to “sustainable living” was high on lists of interest. That’s where the similarities ended.
Good-bye hipster. Hello mountain man.
Good-bye bike-riding, semi-unemployed, struggling artist. Hello banker-turned-kayak-instructor who plays in two hockey leagues, sails on weekend and skis in the winter.
I knew I had a lot to look forward to on this vacation. And apparently, it wasn’t just the sea-kayaking.