Friday, May 27, 2005

Ennui, She Wrote.

On my ride to Pearson Airport, I communed with the hack that drove me.

I love talking to cabbies.

Through his thick Sri Lankan accent he revealed to me, after hearing I was going to WestJet (Terminal 2), that he had just returned from Calgary the night before.

B- "No shit! I'm leaving for Calgary today! What were you there for?"
C- "My sister's wedding."
B- "Good time?"
C- "Busy, but good, yes. The flight was only okay."
B- "Really? How come?"
C- "They have those teevees on WestJet, you know?"
B- "Yes, I know."
C- "They're crap, though. You think it's good, but you know what? I had to watch 4 hours of 'Murder She Wrote'--I do not like this show that much."
B- "Wasn't there anything else on?"
C- "I don't know."


B- "That's a lot of Angela Lansbury for one sitting."
C- "Yes, I know."
B- "Four hours?"
C- "Yes. Four HOURS. Too much of this woman and her mysteries."
B- "I couldn't have said it better myself."


B- "You like 'Columbo'?"
C- "Who is this 'Columbo'?"


B- "He's a big flying elephant that solves crime." (smiling at my own wit)
C- "I do not know this. Is it good?"
B- (snickering)"Naw, I'm just pulling your leg; 'Columbo' isn't a flying elephant detective. 'Columbo' just sounds like 'Dumbo', that's all. 'Columbo' is a guy in a trenchcoat who has a funny eye. It's good. Peter Falk is in it."
C- "I would watch the elephant--this sounds good!"(laughing)"No crime could escape him!"
B- "Yeah, I guess that's true."

And so we spent some more time discussing the advantages a flying elephant would have solving crime, and before I knew it--we were at Pearson. I didn't want to leave the cab, I was having that much fun!

Then, just as I was leaving, he calls after me:
C- "You know, Colombo is the capital of my country, Sri Lanka! Maybe this detective elephant could be Sri Lankan? I would watch that for sure!"

I wish more cabbies thought outside the box.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Take a Picture

There is no easy way to tell another man, a stranger, that his fly is down.

Today I tried the "Fraternity of Males" tone: light, but not too light; jocular, but not too jocular; quietly discreet.

It was not a success. No matter how much he may have appreciated my gesture later in the day while talking to his boss' attractive secretary, he still still looked at me as if to say, "Faaaaaaaaaaaag."

I remember when C and I were kids we'd sit in the mall on a bench snapping our fingers in front of our denimed laps. When someone walking by chanced to investigate what was making the snapping sound, only to discover it was our fingers before our balls, we'd give them the dirtiest look possible. Sometimes even 'tsk tsk' them, as if to say, "Keep stepping, you sick Peder-ass!"
Ah, what a beautiful, misspent youth!

"For your safety, and the safety of your fellow passengers, Death will come quickly."

I flew out to Calgary yesterday, arriving just as the Queen was trying to leave.

She took the bad weather with her back to England, where it most certainly belongs.

But flying made me nostalgic for a flight I took a few years ago during a snow storm.
I boarded a flight in Toronto on this little puddle-hopper bound for the East coast; a similar flight that was to leave from Ottawa had been canceled due to inclement weather. An Air Canada representative looked at our half-full plane and decided that the weather couldn't be so bad in Ottawa--so we were sent on a fence-mending mission to collect sad-sacks whose dreams of an East coast vacation had dried up like so many racks of dulce. Great.

What made it even better was the kid next to me.
Throughout his tens years he had likely seen it all. The food! The women! Years that he could look back on, from Heaven, and be proud that he had sucked the marrow out of Life.
At least I hoped so, since we were about to die in an ice-crusted plane on a snow-covered runway in Ottawa for the sake of some pain-in-the-ass East coast MP's crying for their salt air.

Turbulence would under-state the relentless hammering our plane took--a hammering of such bone-rattling intensity I could feel it in my prostate. As a result, an ugly, beautiful kind of terror came over me.
On our approach the boy's mother called from the seat behind, where she sat with her daughter (clearly the favoured child of the two) and assured him that all would be well. This did not quiet what had become very audible prayers to any God ready to listen.

A- (in a weak, shaking voice)"Oh God. . . Oh Jesus. . .Oh God. . .Oh Jesus. . .OhGodOhGodOhGodOhGod!"

The speed, intensity, and urgency of his pleading increased as our plane bent and bowed to the gusting winter pressures put upon our poor craft. I forgot about my worries, my life left un-lived, and began to wonder not IF but WHEN this kid was going to puke on me.
Or explode his head.

The Stewardess I could see had her eyes closed.

I had to pee.

A- "JesusJesusJesusJesusJesusJesusJesusJesus!!"

. . .and we stopped. Crooked, but we stopped.

The rest of the flight isn't worth mentioning.
I will say that once the sun was visible that little bastard next to me stopped praying. I suppose he's also only really good close to Christmas and really nice to sis when he wants to play with her Barbie.

Calgary, North Carolina

Ever since I read about this little cross-burning between consenting adults that took place last night in North Carolina, I've been thinking about it.
I thought about it while I was walking around.
I thought about it over coffee.
I thought about it during a washroom break at Calgary's wonderful 'Ship & Anchor' tavern when I joined a conversation already in progress between a fella that looked like he could be frontman material for a ZZ Top tribute band (Z) and a scrawny dude that looked like the hillbilly kid from 'Deliverance' all growed up (D).

D- "I'd wish there was some rasta nigga here--I want to fight."
Z- "Har har har!"

D was pacing around the can like he had fire ants in his pants; I began reconsidering taking my penis out in such colourful company.

D- "The bigger, the blacker, the better. Fuck yeah!"
Z- "You better hope some big guy carrying a 'Red Stripe' doesn't set out of that stall and kick you in your teeth! Har har har!"

Posing a potential threat to his remaining four teeth did not seem to be 'top of mind' with this fellow--if he didn't sweat the first twenty-eight, the fate of these brave leftovers was, I feel, already sealed. Heaven only knows whether his first twenty teeth as a kid went under the pillow from natural causes.
(By the way, you gotta love a beer company that picks the slogan "It's beer. Hooray beer!")

I went ahead with my original plan of seeing a man about a horse; if trouble broke out, I wanted to have most of my urine in the proper receptacle.

D- "Fuck him! I hope he does! I've been to jail for whoopin' ass; some nigger would be worth it!"
Z- "Har har har!"

D started to preen in front of the mirror. One supposes that even a racist dresses for success when going about his bigotry; a wet, flat palm smeared over the part in his hair did not make him appear: 1) 'more professional'; 2) 'less deranged'--take your pick.

The stall door opened--moment of truth--and I wanted Mean Joe Green, or Refrigerator Perry, or Mike Tyson to come blazing out, fists swirling and Red Stripe bottles shattering, and punch a hole clear through this pathetic ex-con.

A frightened teenager slid out like a slug and made a dash for the door like it was his mother's arms.

And I didn't hear him flush.

Z and I washed up while D dried his head under the hand blower--insert obvious 'hot air' remark here--and we three merry gents left the John together. As D bounced out to the street I noticed him snag a waiter by the arm and ask to get some water brought to a puppy sitting by the patio railing. I could see his singles ad in my head:

SWM: 40's but looks 20's. Lovely hair; winning smile. Hates Negroids. Loves puppies (both kinds). Seeks same for intimate relationship and more?