I would’ve preferred Jimmy Kimmel’s One Man Show but unfortunately it made it to series

Every now and again I see a friend write something and think I should do that.

To clarify, it’s not just that I should jot down any old thang. More of a harnessing intentionality in the direction of a cohesive self-contained piece sort of thing. My girlfriend and I went to see a friend/acquaintance/amicably known gentleman’s one person show. It’s Fringe, a one man show is one in many. It was neat, relatable and also showcased his personality pretty admirably. I think. As you could tell from two sentences ago, it’s not like we’re close enough to drive one another to the airport. I enjoyed myself, while also sitting in the audience thinking a combination of I could/should do that. Not “that” exactly (I’m having fun with italics today. Just go with it). Even in some Infinite Monkey Theorem paradigm, I doubt I’d produce an identical copy of my amicably known gentleman’s play. I don’t know any of the details.

Cliché as it is, I adore one person shows. It’s so gratifying to enter a room to see a stranger talk across a stage, then leave with intimate snippets from their past. In a way, a piece of the performer leaves with everyone who watched. All those attendees smuggling elements of them out into the world. It’s marvellous when someone puts their otherwise ordinary life under a microscope to find the theatricality therein. They’re often funny, sweet, self-deprecating and appreciative at once. They’re the summation of an individual looking for lessons within themselves to share with others. It’s storytelling from the heart, and good storytelling takes a little soul. Some of my favourite comedy sets of all time have come from pain. Chris Gethard’s Career Suicide, Hasan Minaj’s Homecoming King, Hannah Gadsby’s recent triumph Nanette. Finding purpose and value in a life lived. It must be the most powerful sensation to have an audience so wholly absorb you as a person.

I can talk (I do, often verbosely). I write about myself most every day. Not every day, occasionally I’ll create monolithic lists of puns. I share some insanely intimate details amongst the overwhelmingly inane ones. I have the spare to open my heart for strangers. Still, it doesn’t feel the same. Not to imply that I don’t find this whole project incredibly valuable. The format (let’s be real, my attitude) doesn’t lend itself to neat, well-edited pieces. I don’t have the mental, emotional, or creative wherewithal to produce quality on the daily down-low. If I were a different person, maybe it would. However, if I were a different person, this likely wouldn’t exist. Count your #blessings, folks.

The problem being: I want to. Not the fancy writing everyday aspect, but something substantive. I want to funnel my brain into words on a page, then rearrange those words until they’re cohesive, insightful, thoughtful and relatable. I want my words to do more than sitting idle, looking cute. I want others to read or hear them, see them channelled through a different medium. Sure, it’s scary. Fear is likely my no. 1 demotivator now, in the past and likely forever. Nobody wants to listenI’ve got nothing interesting to say or just another white dude talking about himself on stageWhy would I deserve to be there? Where would I even start? What central themes and metaphors could I wring from my 30-odd years on Earth? Thankfully, fear is at least asking the right questions. There needs to be a purpose and unless I know it, there isn’t one. I need to know what I want to say, what stories to tell and how to best represent who I want to be. If I can show others that I am someone with interesting stories to tell, maybe i’ll believe it too. My life isn’t a script with some grand call to action. This isn’t my “O Captain! My Captain!” moment. I’m just planting seeds. It’s something that’s worth thinking about, because – once more – I want to.

I want to prove to myself that all the “shoulds” and “coulds” have the potential to be “cans”. Still, there’s more to it than that.

One day I want to see a friend write something and think I did that.

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So I sat on every fence imaginable. Is that a crime?

Last weekend the subject of comfort level with group size came up.

I thought it was interesting, given that it’s such a personal relationship with interpersonal dynamics. Rather than being some prescriptivist introvert v extrovert bullshit, people added depth as to why it was they felt so. I posed the question on Facebook today and it resulted in a wonderful thread. Everyone chimed in at length. Individuals found resonance and kinship with those who felt similarly. Some loved a 1:1 ratio because it was low stress/attention. Others enjoyed being able to passively listen and occasionally chime in with a group of 6-10. A few were just big party people. I gleaned insight into certain friends and how best to accommodate their needs/desires. Altogether an excellent experience/resource.

The one thing I didn’t do was comment with my own favourite dynamic. With reason. The thing is, when it comes to this game I’m a shameless cheater. I love all of them with different caveats.

  • Aside from hanging out alone, one of my favourite hidden dynamics is listening to a group of friends riffing on a podcast. It’s a one way medium where I feel like I’m part of a bunch of in-jokes. It’s weird how inclusive it can seem. It’s why I tend to listen to conversational podcasts rather than storytelling or informative ones. It’s like being in good company while on my own.
  • I love one to one hangouts. I love dates, heart to hearts with good friends or non-stop banter with buddies who’re on my wavelength. A good one to one session makes my heart feel full, which is a gift I then pay forward to everyone who crosses my path. Plus it very often involves eating, and anything gets better with food. Prove me wrong.
  • With the caveat that there needs to be a strong emotional or comedic resonance, I adore spending time with a couple. Usually it’ll be a matter of a longtime friend finding a partner who suits them impeccably. In this scenario I can often interplay with each partner. If there are any sticking points I get to mediate (and it’s rare I’m on anyone’s side in particular). Best of all, it allows me to sit there and soak in the affection they have for one another. A++.
  • “Double dates” are tons of fun. They don’t even need to be romantically based, but if there are interlinked relationships of any variety it’s neat to swim in those waters.
  • Groups of 6-10 are awesome for dinner parties or low key hangs. It’s uncommon for conversation to not be readily flowing. I’m naturally attention seeking, which means I get validation whenever I tell a poignant story. It also means that sometimes I can sit back and chime in with an incisive pun or joke, then bask in the reception it gets. These are the kinds of groups where someone will tell a killer joke and you all get to slowly come down from the shared peals of laughter. Alternatively, someone might be incredibly emotionally vulnerable and warmed by the support channelled back to them.
  • Gatherings of 10+ are usually when you’re getting into party terrain. If it’s among close friends, it’s wicked to end the night having had 6+ decent conversations with people I haven’t seen in ages. This is all kinds of gratifying. The types of evenings where I get to come home glowing, thinking about the wonderful people in my life.
  • Once you get over 20, I’d consider that a bonafide free for all party. To be honest, this is also one of my favourite dynamics. ESPECIALLY when I get to meet new people. Interacting with strangers is a big upper for me. I get to tell road-tested anecdotes, create new connections and be generally spontaneous. I flit in and out like some MPDG, or just hang out in the kitchen. I’m a total ham and setting a circle alight with laughter is genuinely my favourite sensation bar none. A bunch of my favourite friends were people I met at parties and decided to escalate into one on one hangouts. This one (like all of them, to be honest) is totally my jam.

Was that a cop out? Maybe I just like people, okay? Get off my back, Jack.

Or hang out with me one on one so we can eat pork bone soup and humanise each other.

I’m a husk of my garden variety self

“Mambo No.5” describes my T-shirt drawer at age 8.

I ate too much candy corn from a cone this afternoon, so I’m feeling more than mildly ill. No regrets. I had a craving for something sweet and there it was, a transparent cone of multicoloured candy corn. Had I known it was probably laced with SARS… well I would’ve likely still eaten it anyway. My gluttony is a stronger force driving me than my sense of self-preservation. My way to a heart attack will certainly be through my stomach. It’s fine, I’ll go out doing what I loved. I mean, hopefully this isn’t what kills me. If I’m eating myself to death, I at least want the final blow to come via barbecued ribs. I’m adamant about that. Get it, Adam-ant? I’m sure you can’t Eve-n right now.

Remember back in the 90s when they used to make Loonie Tunes basketball shirts with aggressive statements? Stuff like Taz wearing a backwards baseball cap with the words “Bad Attitude”. Or Daffy skateboarding saying “You Won’t Like Me When I’m Angry”? I thought of the audacity of those fucking things today and couldn’t stop laughing. I was cracking up at my desk, cradling my face in my hands. My coworkers were a little disturbed. It was unsettling to say the least. Has anyone on the net updated those for a modern framework? Like, Lola Bunny in Crocs and a denim vest saying “This Bitch Bites”? The face that launched a thousand furries giving voice to disenfranchised mall goths everywhere? Hot Topic could launch it as its new Summer line.

I dunno, I’m feeling very creatively bankrupt at the moment. I even feel like a pun run would be a tall order right now. Oh, speaking of running, I went for a jog today and got to half hang out with the cutest fucking puppy. It was teensy as shit, trotting around in a basket mounted on the rear of its owner’s bike. The cyclist went slightly faster than I did, but for maybe two kilometres it’d pull ahead, then I’d catch up when they stopped at a light. It was basically sentient fluff with eyes and what I presume was a diminutive bark. I was listening to music and it wasn’t loud enough to be heard above it. I was tempted to pat it, but given that the owner was facing the opposite direction, that seemed a little creepy and impolite. So I started it down, patting it with my gaze. I’m not sure that was any less creepy. I mean, it barked, so I’m not certain it was on board.

I’m sorry, but this is all I have today. It’s raining heavily in the middle of a heatwave. It’s humid enough that we might as well be 20,000 leagues under the sea. My mind decided to stop working. Believe me, it’s been over half an hour. I’ve just forgotten how to think.

Or the slow acting poison from the candy corn has finally reached my brain.

Move over Radiohead, we have a new King of Limbs in town

Toronto Fringe is here and I’ve lost my girlfriend.

In a metaphorical sense. We’ll still be sharing a house/bed, but it’s likely to be more of a “ships in the night” kind of deal. She’s working evenings and I’m a 9-5er. We’ll share company during the weekends. Magic: Arena is my new girlfriend for the next two weeks. Maybe I’ll go watch some shows myself too.

Look, once again I have nothing. It’s not like I do much prep for these. It usually starts that I’ll look around my desk for inspiration. Maybe I’ll think of a conversation or song that’s been on my mind and go from there. Once in a blue moon I’ll have a topic ready to rock and/or roll. Presently: Zilch.

My hand smells funny. There you go. It’s still cast-bound and I went for a run today. Toronto’s still in the sweltering grip of a heat wave, so my hand sweat excessively. Well, all of my sweat excessively, but the sweat on my right hand had nowhere to go. Poor, poor pores. With all the blood rushing into said hand, it began to swell. Maybe it hated being constricted or something and hulked the fuck out. It got to a point where, mid-jog, I’d be flicking out droplets of sweat on the path before me. Like a sweat Red Carpet. Sweat Carpet?

It smelled funky, so I washed it in the shower, letting the water trickle out. Problem solved, I thought. Except for the liquid leaking onto the office floor, that was. A trifling issue. A few hours later (namely, just before) I got a whiff of my cast covered palm and my nose crinkled involuntarily. It looked a little odd. White and patchy. I prodded it with a finger and skin came loose. Gross. I rubbed it a little and lots more skin flaked with it. Was I spliced with a snake? Is my hand a grand fungual infection? Have I got athlete’s fist?

A quick Google says I should put a light amount of baking soda on it to draw out the moisture. A quick look at my brain tells me I should add some salt, detergent, cooking oil and vinegar to make it into a bitchin’ arm volcano. I can pretend I have a cool Mega Man arm cannon and possibly be arrested for disturbing public behaviour. Maybe I’ll get deported to Johannesburg, my arm will morph into an inhuman appendage, I’ll be able to wield awesome alien weaponry and I’ll feel like I have to throw up whenever I watch the movie. Then maybe I’ll develop a bizarre Pavlovian vomit response to looking at my own limb. I’ll continue to unload until my body inverts and I develop a misshapen exoskeleton. Then I go to live under the sea like one of Lovecraft’s unfathomable horrors.

Anything’s possible. I mean, I managed to write a whole entry from nothing, right?

Try walking a miel in my shoes for once

After a long weekend of sun, I’m tapped out. Expect nothing and you’ll still be disappointed.

I’ve been sitting here for two minutes, staring at the page. I have yet to find a thread that’s worth pursuing. Oh wait, some dude just walked past my desk offering free ice creams. That went from zero to absolute zero in an instant.

I’m saying it was “cool”, folks.

I was thinking this morning (while on the toilet, in full transparency, where all good ideas come from), of a fun comedy set idea. I’m 99% sure it’s been done before, but if not, I like the cut of it. Rule of 18, straight up. The basic set up is to tell a cheesy joke that’s unlikely to get much response. Then, after your chilly reception, you go overboard into explaining it. Then dive deeper. Then start to go into your next joke, but interrupt it with another thought on why the joke was worth more than it got. Lather, rinse, repeat, but getting increasingly more abstract each time. I sorta feel like it’s an art to make the inital set up enough that you have fertile terrain for mining. Then again, perhaps I’m just aping something Rory Scovel did when I was half awake. Maybe the set ends by closing with the initial bit? In all honesty, there’s absolute zero chance I’ll actually do this ever.

I’m saying if anyone wanted to steal this idea, that’s cool, folks.

If French Stewart made a fortune off honey would that make him a miellionaire?
If I made a fortune off windmills would that make me a mill-Leon-air?
If Miley Cyrus was paid $1,000,000+ for a televised appearence would that make her a Miley-on-air?
If Meek Mill never made a million dollars would that make him a Mill-eo-ne’er?
Did the creator of a popular hair removal product make a Million-on-Nair?
If someone inherited a million dollars would that make them a million-heir?
Would the owner of Weber grills be Char-Millionaire?
Would a Pokémon plane be called Charmeleon-air?
If someone had their arms replaced by morays and suspended in mid-air throughout eternity would they be be arm-eel-eon-air?
If someone travelled through time, was conscripted in the Roman army, obtained priceless artifacts and sold them in the present day would they be an army-legionnaire?

That turned out sweeter than I thought. More like amieli-alright!

Was that a toe-tal recall?

If I needed an antidote to Cabana Pool Bar, Hanlans Point was my sweet, sweet panacea.

It’s been literal years since I last went. Toronto has the most beautiful, accessible island a short ferry ride away and I rarely ever go. Why? It Is A Mission. Here’s how you get to Hanlans from my house:

  • It’s an island, so price gouging is in full effect. BRING EVERYTHING.
  • Plan out what you’re gonna want to eat/drink. In group picnics, sharing is caring.
  • Buy ferry tickets in advance (VERY IMPORTANT).
  • Grocery store run for aforementioned snacks and infinite liquids.
  • Gather towels, beach blankets, sunscreen, hat, jandals and bags to fit all of this.
  • Pack the chilly bin full of liquids and meats.
  • Apply sunscreen for the journey.
  • Get ice and last minute forgotten snacks from the grocery store.
  • Catch a bus to the subway, hauling all of your gear.
  • Transfer to the subway, gear in tow.
  • Transfer to the southern line, taking care not to trample open toed feet under the oppressive wheels of your chilly bin.
  • Transfer to the ferry bound streetcar, continuing not to maim strangers’ toes.
  • Arrive at the terminal. Wait in the long (but much faster moving) line for pre-purchased tickets.
  • Wait in a long line for the Hanlans ferry to come in (it’s merely a 15-20 minute walk from arrival to the beach instead of 40).
  • Board the boat and take deep breaths. Not too far now.
  • Be herded like cattle in the cramped offloading.
  • Still resist crushing toes with your chilly bin.
  • Walk the 15 or so minute walk to the beach, gear in tow.
  • Find your group on the crowded, colourful beach.
  • Drop off your gear. Allow your muscles to remember how it feels to be unburdened.
  • Set up your blanket to maximise collapsing space.
  • Shed your clothes. All of them. If it’s hot enough, take cues from Robbie Williams in “Rock DJ”.
  • Relax and enjoy the ambience.
  • Watch out for your toes on the hot sand.

Once you’re there though, Hanlans is bliss. The beach is flat and broad. The crowd is, for the most part, pretty chill. Clothing optional is taken very literally. Some choose to disrobe, others don’t. In my experience at least, I haven’t seen much of a fuss about it. I’m sure there’s aberrant behaviour towards women, because people = shit. I’m hoping it’s in the minority. Most beach-goers seem friendly. There’s a lot of lounging, splashing in the cool waters, and tossing of frisbees. Some bring cute lil’ pups. Most people drink and lax out. There’s rarely drunken hoodlum-ism. People have private speakers, inflatables, shade tents. The group next to us even had a hookah set up. There’s a gorgeous view of Toronto that peaks at sunset. It’s a special place that, despite the hurdles, is well worth the journey.

I’ve never been one for the outdoors, but contrarily, I’ve always felt strong ties to the beach. It’s a New Zealand thing. When the coast is a stone’s throw away at all times, you sort of accidentally find yourself skipping stones. I grew up body surfing and downing post-sand ice cream cones. The beach was a large part of quality time with my grandparents. It was so ever-present that I couldn’t understand why it was so revered in books and movies. It was something I continually took for granted and continually do. Yet, it’s a part of me.

Hanlans seems the perfect fusion of who I was and have become. It lets its freak flag fly, comfortable in itself.

Also if a woman comes by offering freezies, say yes. Trust me.

More like Ca-bummer

After 30.5 years on this earth, I feel like I’ve found my place in it. Cabana Pool Bar is not that place.

Until yesterday I’m not sure I’d ever been somewhere that made me feel so vestigial. It was like stepping into another dimension where all common sense inverted. Everything had a price and that wasn’t merely financial. Seriously, everything cost. All the shaded tables were reservation only. The deck was littered with unpopulated but inaccessible tables. If we sat down, security was quick to let us know that we needed to move. The area around the pool had a $20 paywall for men. Once you were in there, however, you couldn’t sit at any of the cabanas without paying. Minimum spend to rent a cabana was $1000. We luckily had a tangential friend who had other tangential friends who’d rented a cabana. It was fucking sardined with people. After the guys in our group paid $20 each to get in, we crammed in on the edge. We stood on the precipice of an unused cabana; An unused cabana in which we were not allowed to sit or stand.

Frankly, the experience was baffling. We found the type of people for whom Cabana Pool Bar was their place in the world. They were instagram model types, dudebros with rippling abs and older men with a lot of money. A friend remarked that she probably had more body hair than all the regulars combined. Status and hierarchy oozed out of every interaction like low level rot. Us average, everyday dudes, we were twos on a scale of ten. I’ve never before set foot in a place where security’s first recourse was to physically shove me out of the way instead of using their words. I felt like an oil spill in the sun. A weird, colourful blight in a foreign environment. I’m sure you all have an image of what this place looked like by this point. Now imagine me – an overly smiley dude in a floppy yellow wide brimmed hat, a Where’s Waldo Chameleon shirt, and a rainbow coloured arm cast – where would I fit in?

Simply put, it felt like a total erasure of my existence. I talk to strangers in public fairly regularly. Their usual responses are one of three: 1) we’ll start chatting, 2) they might give a polite laugh or nod, end of interaction, 3) they’ll be a little weirded out, but give some kind of acknowledgement and maybe turn their head. I was in the pool and had some dumb observation, I turned to two women standing beside me. Almost as soon as I started talking, they looked at me, quirked an eyebrow, laughed and turned to each other to chat. The look was entirely where does this guy get off thinking he can talk to us? I don’t know if I’ve ever felt so dismissed as a human being.

It was surreal to think that if you had vast sums of money, this is how you’d choose to spend it. From top to bottom, the experience seemed a total commodification of women. Men were sold the idea of tanned, toned young women who’d give them attention. Women were sold the allure of being a glamorous object of attention, to be admired and treated. Everything was designed to be a spectacle and had its cost. Bottle service was commonplace. In the lowest tier, two bikini clad servers would march over to the cabana and present bottles. The next tier up, a team of bikini clad servers would march up, holding letters to spell out some kind of message. Wanted more? How about an extra bunch of dollars to get a fucking marching band to parade around for you? I think there was someone on stilts. I commented on the bizarre class politics at play to a friend. Was this what the upper class wanted? “Upper middle class” she replied. “If they were upper class, they’d have their own private boat. They’d tour the Caymans or something. This is what happens when the upper middle class wants the illusion of punching above their weight.”

The thing is, I don’t feel envy. I’m not even disdainful. Sure, I’d love to be a sun soaked Adonis, showered in attention. I’d love to not have financial qualms or concerns. I’d love the kind of abandon that throws caution to the wind. Really though, it’s not the life I want. You know what? These people had all the money and status they’d need, but they weren’t happy. The number of people I saw crammed into cabanas with dour expressions, so committed to being fucking grumps. It was unreal. Like they had a need that would never be filled. It wasn’t enough. Nothing was. Once they had what they thought they wanted, they needed the next thing. I lead an abundant life filled with people I adore. I’m part of a community where everyone supports one another because they want to foster joy. We all have struggles and we’re there for each other. It’s based on compassion, not competition. It was one thing to be a tourist in another culture, but holy hell I’m thankful for the lovely fucking bubble I’ve found myself in.

So fuck it. Today I’m going to Hanlans for a nude picnic with My People. That’s my place.