Yeah, navigating my own city now is distractingly traumatizing. Walking down the sidewalk from your car I maybe saw twenty-two percent of what was in my eyeline and heard half of what you said. Am I walking funny? I spend too much time on my side reading the articles and going crooked. I’m sorry I don’t know my town as well as I should for you. Sorry I don’t know what street we’re on.
We’re walking toward a restaurant that I’m sure was there three years ago, and I’m sure I’ve seen it since, but even for the downtown core this isn’t a place I’d walk through often. Besides, we could eat anywhere. Well, I can. I dunno about you, I worry about you, I know you won’t say anything if my personality offends you. You will mutter. I hate it when you mutter, I find it too passive-aggressive even for me. “What?” “Nothing.” Then shut up. Or better, fucking say something, challenge me–don’t attack me, though. But challenge me.
There’s the place? Here was the restaurant, but that marquee awning doesn’t look very promising, burgundy and blank. Keep going. There it is thank fuck. Have you even looked at me yet? Is it my walk? My coat? I have fur and dusk on my coat, I couldn’t find my autumn jacket in my fucked up little commune, it’s probably at the Sally Ann or on some hipster. Nought against hipsters, new buzzword for douche, no one knows what they are. Even hipsters are conditioned to hate hipsters.
Jesus, through the window this place looks fancy, do we need reservations, is there a dress code? The wait staff is all tops-and-tails. I’m way too exposed standing here. Wait, there’s a woman in jeans, we’re fine. Walk in and there are t-shirts and plaid flannels, table-for-two-please, here-or-there, here? It’s up to us, the affability is bordering on aggressive. Just sit, this shouldn’t be complicated.
How many Indians came by our table? Four Indians, I think. Brushed steel goblets of icewater, goblets I’d like to be given, that I wouldn’t mind taking for keeps. I order a beer, it’s something I’m trying, I’m allowed, it’s social, trying something new, association therapy, experimental but let’s see, cheers. This is what I babble, because holy hell, your tone of voice.
Menus or buffet, this shouldn’t be this complicated. We’re both buffet people here-and-now. I would like to down the glass and order another, but I nurse it, I eat food and enjoy it, especially palak chicken, which I’d never had, but might be my new favourite thing. But all of the food here is amazing. The ratio of staff to customers is about 1:3, there is some hovering, I feel awkward and impolite, especially when I don’t quite catch an accent, when people at other tables are blasé and don’t notice or don’t care that this restaurant should be packed, we should all be wearing ties and jewels.
One of the staff is a chemistry student, think he got told to come over and mingle, less of an accent, creating a more amenable atmosphere by being relatable and talking about different places he knows. Or he’s young and affable and I’m old and jaded. He rounds the time up from two to ten for me, I joke, when he leaves, that that’s horrible practice in chemistry and a recipe for an explosion, not that these people want to blow anything up! It doesn’t even make sense, but you hush me, you’re probably right, but I mention other times with another person and things get chilly.
Palak chicken was my new favourite, I was now sure. I happily over tipped on the cheque–no, bill!. You drove me home, things were easy, we were both more easy, I think because we became reaccustomed to what we were familiar with about each other and hey, it’s good enough for friendship, so thank God.
Home. Seething underneath is the alcoholism, thinking how nice it was to have 20oz. of Belgian Moon vaguely standing by while I went about my business, there the whole time for a hit, there like an I.V., dripdripdrip.
To the bar.
Such a dive, cocaine trick serving, young scuzz boys strutting, old drunks swaying, all part of some efficient ecosystem I don’t think I want to understand and they clearly know I don’t belong in. But hey, I was out, out of a prison house, in a commonhouse. Out again, thrice in a day, voluntarily. There is nothing inspiring here, just a documentarian’s sense of observation to be taken. The television show Cops couldn’t have summed up how miserable the vibe was in a way more on the nose, and it was being broadcast on two of the four screens, and it had the honour of being the show with its mouth untaped. I shut off. And just drank. The last interesting thing I’d ever heard in this place, years ago, was one souse telling another how Ricky or someone went to the crazy hospital and stuck another crazy full of holes with a sharp pencil. I could have been that holey if I’d been there at the right time.
The prettiest thing in the building is some colourful dye in cocaine trick’s hair, the twenty-four-year-old who was fifty already. Maybe Gord Downie singing from the jukebox speakers. The rest was puke so I pissed and left. Death by brain cancer is the same as all death of body, I should find a beautiful place to waste that meantime.