On a Friday, I spoke to a Peruvian woman who I met at a party at a Starbucks in a library. I can remember so very little from that conversation, not because of what happened afterwards but because it was an awful combination of mundane, pleasant and awkward. Mind you, I’m not referring to the pleasant nature of a wonderful moment so much as I mean the pleasant nature of common courtesy which carries with it a very subtle air of disinterest masked away from a cheerful grin. The conversation was scattered with silence that I had to try to break and she would often let her voice trail out with the whisper of how she was more focused on graduating than anything else. She’d smile from time to time, but she looked around too much for me to think that I had completely engaged her.
The only remarkable compliment I received was “that I was funny”, so I could imagine that at the very least I was fun. Which I wasn’t really having much of at the time. When we parted, I was left to analyze the night, leaving me to debate with myself. Thoughts ranged from “You did alright, I’m sure she’ll talk to you later” to “Man, you really shouldn’t have said you didn’t have any other plans tonight” to “You are wonderful at fucking everything up” to “Jesus Christ why the hell are we walking in the cold?”, the last one of which I was more interested in resolving since I was aimlessly trudging through the Torontonian tundra whilst I thought about this thing for more time than it was worth. Perhaps it was better to relax and watch a movie and then later have a drink.
Aside from the picture, not much else caught my attention. The Scotiabank Theatre doesn’t have the same chances of an interesting sight as a dilapidated motel next to a strip club unfortunately. So I was left to peruse for a bar, eventually finding one that was still open at midnight. I went in and asked for a pint.
“Can I help you sir?”
“Yes, can I have a pint of Guinness, please?”
“Okay, will there be anything else?”
“Not on my budget there is…” I muttered sleepily
“Nothing”. Everyone around me was talking to someone so candidly, and yet I was left alone once again to my own devices. The lights managed to feel dimmer as I was there, and for a while I was hoping that they would just fade out completely. At least I didn’t have to be reminded of my situation. Though I think what made me more upset is realizing that my dinner was basically a bag of popcorn and Maltesers. “Here you are, sir,” the bartender responded as I gazed upon the dark brew in its trademark glass. Without hesitation I took a few sips and then took another glance at the people around me. They were having a good time, and as much as things could have gone better, I realized had a good time too. I watched a movie, I socialized with someone for a bit, it can’t be that much of a failure.
A few more sips later and I stared at the TV screen, noticing how calming the glitched feed seemed to me. It was an ocean of static, blurring the commercials with the tennis match to produce displays of color that only machine would be capable of creating. Downing the whole glass, I spun my head around and felt way more dazed than I should have. “All I had was a pint…why am I feeling like I had 12? Holy fuck…” the bartender turned her head from my muttering. “I’m fine, I’m fine…just gonna go now,” I stumbled down and walked to what I could best assume was north back home.
For the next hour or so, I had found myself in the most isolated parts of the city. I wasn’t sure if it was because of the time or the weather, but a part of me was certain that it was neither. My feet were stepping on the ground of a suburban ghost town and each crackling of the snow against my shoe was getting the attention of someone. The creaking of metal hinges and the darkness of the alleyways was comforting at times, either knowing that someone was there or that no one was there. Yet those same thoughts had me on the verge of paranoia, shouting for at least something to fill the space.
As I tried to find my bearings, others were finding theirs. I was startled by a silent, stoic homeless man who covered his face and extended his hand for change, almost as if he was a statue. In fact, it was a statue. My frantic dash led me in a neighbourhood where a man was leaving his house for god-knows-what reason. I yelped at the sight of him coming out of the house. I heard him shout something, but I was too far away to make it out. I know that he must have said at least one curse. Once I was in a more “populated” area, I asked a passerby how I could get to where the ROM was as that would then help me have an even better idea of where to go.
“Excuse me, do you know how to get from here to where the ROM is?”
“Yeah, I think you go, uh…west.”
“You sure? I think you go more eastward…”
“Let me just find it on my phone.”
“Smart idea, very smart,” I still felt my head gyrate like a Tilt-A-Whirl starting up. Or slowing down. Quite frankly, either one sounds awful, but at least it’s wasn’t going at full speed.
“Well here you are…that’s where the ROM is.”
“Ah, yeah, I am supposed to go east then.”
“I guess you were right.”
“Thank you!” I bounced and slid about from street to street, finally getting to my residence. I got on to the elevator and slid down to the floor, breathing deeply and checking my watch. It was 2 AM or so, which probably meant that my suitemates were still up. When it came up to my floor, I waltzed out and pushed the unlocked door open with my foot. I grabbed a glass of water and laid down on the sofa for a while, and heard one of my suitemates open their door and come out to see me. “Dude, are you drunk?” he asked.
“Not really…all I had was a pint.”