(A Random Post)

In August

Slapped Actress – The Hold Steady

I’m not depressed, I told Sarah. I understood why she was asking. From her perspective, I seemed unmotivated and confused and distant. Her thoughtfulness was appreciated. It was easy for me to deny it, but difficult to explain exactly what state I was in. Is there anyone who finds that easy? As I glanced away, I poked at my lukewarm pasta and considered what to say next to alleviate her concerns. This was two years ago.

*****

My latest trek downtown began where it often does, at the Sonic Boom used record store. In order to curb my own habits, I’ve trained myself to not spend in excess of $100 there on any given day. Unfortunately, this usually means that I spend around $95 whenever I shop there.

After gorging myself on CDs old (Stevie Nicks) and new (Dinosaur Jr.), I began to wander. As I approached the UofT campus, I could see a gathering of people next to the 7-11. Apparently, someone had either passed out from heat exhaustion or a homeless dude dropped dead (or a combination of those two things). I passed by the scene, entered the 7-11 and immediately grabbed two large Gatorades in preparation for a hot day and a long walk.

I caught a lacrosse match being played at UofT stadium. It occurs to me that in my four and some years at UofT, I never watched a single minute of UofT athletics. I stopped to watch for a few minutes before carrying on.

*****

I take a moment to rest at the Barbara Ann Scott ice rink. It’s funny, before yesterday I never thought to find out the name. I always thought of it as that circle of ice that I passed by on the way to the Eaton Centre. It was perfectly shaded on Saturday and provided cool relief for all the city folk sitting around in repose. I see a lot of people like myself, by themselves, and I wonder what their stories are. Usually, I assume that they’re waiting to meet up with somebody. Is that a safe assumption? Is that girl I spy across the water waiting for someone? Something? Anything? I know I shouldn’t think about it, but my mind imagines the conversations that we could have, the connections we could make if we weren’t all afraid of each other.

*****

Maybe I didn’t look hard enough, but I couldn’t find the new Jordin Sparks CD at Sonic Boom so that meant a trip to your friendly neighbourhood HMV. There’s a cute redhead working the counter and my first thought is, Oh man, I’m walking up to the counter with a Jordin Sparks CD and a Blu-Ray copy of Street Fighter: The Legend Of Chun-Li. (Happy Birthday William!) How lame does this look? I’m one of the hippest indie cats out there and this is what this girl thinks I like? I have an A.C. Newman CD in my bag! She is definitely not impressed because the first thing she asks me is if I want a gift receipt. I find this is an odd thing to say unless you’re close to a major gift-giving holiday so it was like she was giving me a chance to declare these items as contraband. I…I don’t know how that got there officer. Unfortunately, I have no choice but to confirm the purchases. Any chance of intelligent interaction is all but over…but then:

I like your shirt.

Now would be a good time to mention that I’m wearing my Man Of La Mancha t-shirt. I wear this shirt for two reasons:

1) Man Of La Mancha is fucking awesome.
2) The off-chance that some chick will see it and think I’m cool and have good taste.

Finally, FINALLY this happens and all I can muster is this:

Thanks, I think it was a gift…I love Man Of La Mancha.

Exciting stuff, I know. Then I scampered out of there. I have no earthly idea why I was in such a hurry to leave instead of stopping to make further conversation. There were so many reasonable threads of dialogue to pull (Do you like musicals? Have you ever seen a production of it? Do you dream the impossible dream like I do?), but rather than pursue them like any normal, socially adjusted human being would do, I bailed. Yes folks, this has been yet another installment of “Alex Lee, The Most Impotent Of All The Faggots”. Tune in next time!

*****

I realize now that attempting these kinds of downtown jaunts with anyone else can be a mistake. It’s not like I do anything particuarly taxing mentally or physically, but for whatever reason I prefer to keep these things solitary. I’ve always desired to travel unfettered and maybe I’ll actually do that outside of Ontario one day.

The Harbourfront is always my goal. I don’t even necessarily do anything there, I just like the idea of walking until I hit water. I ate at Oyshi Sushi. It’s not a bad joint and the business was doing well even in a horrible location. I sat in the corner writing in my notepad, working on this very entry, when I noticed that the staff was shooting me the occasional concerned look. It occurs to me that my scribbling might be causing them to confuse me for a food critic. I decide not to push it, even though I probably could have won myself some free tempura.

Right next to the sushi joint is this marble fountain that I somehow never noticed before. This is why I like walking around downtown, even if it’s along the same path over and over again. I miss a lot. There was a young couple on one bench and a family on another. The family had three kids, two of whom were old enough to run around on their own, which they did with glee. I wanted to join them. Instead, I stumbled over to the fountain, looking all the world like some hallucinating crackhead. I knelt down in front, letting microscopic drops of water wash over me and I began to meditate.

My parents are always telling me to keep up with the news. Why? I choose to ignore the daily atrocities of humanity, thank you very much. That must sound incredibly cynical and ignorant , but I choose to dwell on the positives. On Saturday, I felt the city beneath my feet again. There was a warm buzz in the air, both from the annual Caribana Festival and the renewed optimism that comes from a city prepared to go back to work.

On Queen Street, a man has set-up a card game on a box on the sidewalk. He barks at the passersby to try and find the queen. One-in-three chance to win, you know? It’s the oldest hustle in the book and it’s drawing an entirely new crowd. I pass on by. I pass by the festival and the buskers and the harbour. I tell myself that there will be another time to appreciate these sights. I have had enough for now. On this first day of August, it is the simple majesty of a marble fountain in downtown Toronto that brings me to my knees.

It’s time this was done with. Go into one of the other apartments and lock the door. Don’t come out until I’ve left.
You won’t be back, will you?
No.
How do you do it, Frank?
When you said you were scared and you wanted to live in the country, do you remember what I told you?
“Just go.”
That’s how simple it is.

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Destined to fight the world's evil, The WAMBAG endures massive battles involving impossible stunts, races on horse-pulled carriages, and the desecration of enchanting medieval castles (all done with dizzying computer graphics). Not only does the eye candy keep on coming, the tongue-in-cheek writing and deep Transylvanian accents perfect the film with a dose of dark humor.

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