Luke leaves Critical Mass

Today, My Favourite Giant left Critical Mass. And we are lessened by his departure.

Luke Puxley started at Critical Mass not quite two years ago. He was a daunting figure, mostly due to his sheer size. Luke is not a small man, though he never played the “big man” role. He was simply a larger version of EveryMan. He was kind, funny, helpful, thoughtful, intelligent, and hard-working.

And he liked to goof off just as much as the rest of us. Maybe moreso.

Luke was “My Favourite Giant” to some of us, “The Giant” to others, “Sir Bonks-A-Lot” to a precious few, but was as much a Critical Masser as the rest of us. He will be forever immortalized in a sketch prepared for our summer Town Hall, most notably for his portrayal of a hard-working, sweaty, big guy. (Come to think of it, some of us are still haunted by those images…)

So it was simply natural that we have to make a final burst for Luke as he heads his way to an MBA. Yesterday, Mark arranged for a lunch at the Drum and Monkey, which I couldn’t attend due to an interview I had to conduct. (For the record, I don’t much like the Drum and Monkey for lunch, anyway. Too much food, and the service is lousy.) We would make a go of the usual run of things: Vicious Circle and sushi afterwards.

Late because of a long-running conference call, I arrived at VC shortly after 17:40. Festivities were already well underway. Although we didn’t have a massive gathering, there were at least 25 people in attendance. Not shabby for someone who’d been mired on the Mercedes account for three-quarters of his employ.

Friday afternoon was sunny and warm, and sitting on the patio of VC was something we all could enjoy. It wasn’t long before the Critical Mass team dominated the east side of the patio. We could have packed in more people, but were snubbed by Steve and Jana, and later by Thelton and Christie (though they had a better excuse — anniversaries do tend to take precendence).

As afternoon turned into early evening, attendees started to drop off. The call for sushi went out, but acquired only a handful of takers: Scott, Linday, Luke, Reid, and yours truly. When minimal mass (the opposite of Critical Mass — when a sufficiently small number requires the dissolution of a particular state) was finally attained, the five of us headed over to the Sumo Lounge in Eau Claire Market (convenient for Luke, Lindsay, and myself, since we all live within walking distance).

We had a booth to ourselves, thankfully away from everyone else. Why thankfully? Because we were loud.

Okay, I was loud.

One litre of sake between the five of us. Luke eventually cut himself off (it was a bit much for him). Peter Kinjo, the owner and Chief Troublemaker, made a point to come around and spread his unique brand of cheer. No dancing for Luke in a rubber wig and kimono, though — I suspect they wouldn’t have fit him, anyway.

Departing Sumo, all of us but Reid (he was heading out to join up with Jim) headed upstairs to the Cineplex to play some air hockey. Luke went down in the first round, but it wasn’t an easy one. (Sake really destroys hand-eye coordination.) He’d get his revenge later on. We went around to various video games before deciding to give pool a shot. Somehow, we ended up playing darts instead. That took a while, since none of the four of us were any good.

Darts at Cineplex, 13 August 2004

Oh, and that round of bottle caps (drinks, not the candy) didn’t really help, either.

Scott and I finished a round of pool while waiting for Luke and Linday to finish their darts game. Despite having a near total lack of coordination at this point, I was able to aim surprisingly well. The lack of coordination finally showed through when Luke took me down in a final game of air hockey.

With that, we all headed out into the unusually warm Calgary evening, Luke and Linday heading up to Crescent Heights, Scott and I heading over to my place in Sunnyside. I offered to give Scott a ride home, but needed to sit down a while and rest before getting behind a wheel. (Just because I’m inebriated doesn’t mean I’m irresponsible.)

We watched The Simpsons on DVD before I was inspired to put on The Great Escape. I fell asleep barely into the movie (I was exhausted), waking up about an hour or so in. By this point, it was almost 3:00. I took Scott home, hitting the sack almost as soon as I got back.

The office will certainly be a quieter place without Luke around anymore. But we’re sure we’re going to see him from time to time.

After all, he’s gonna miss us at the breakfast table.