Levi’t to beaver.

I was sitting on the train yesterday, hurriedly doing my daily writing. I’d hoped to squeeze maybe 15 minutes of writing time out of my transit between the gym and a volunteer meeting for this large scale game my friend is running (a meeting I arrived on time for (at the wrong location. In more realistic terms I was late)). I was somewhat distracted, but still trying to focus. All of a sudden I heard a voice pipe up next to me.

“They look like jeans, but what are they really made of?”

My head darted towards the source of the noise. The guy next to me was looking intently at my jeans. The jeans in question are yellow, mildly stretchy. They’re comfy and snug and best of all were all of $15 from H&M. After teen years spent draped solely in black, I’ve made an effort to widen my colour palette. Now dressing is a matter of picking a plain coloured top and a coloured pair of pants. Occasionally there’s a malfunction and I end up mono-coloured like I’m wearing pyjamas. Most of the time it lets me hide in plain sight (or remain camouflaged outside of a McDonalds with a red top and said yellow pants). With this guy next to me, not so much.

I replied that I had no idea what they were made of. Denim perhaps? Oh no, he assured me, that wasn’t denim. He knew his jeans and what I was wearing was no denim he knew. He asked me if they stretched much. I paused and wondered what would be the more practical use of my time, writing my entry or discussing something I knew nothing about with someone I’d never met. I put away my phone.

“So are jeans your thing?” I asked, genuinely curious. “Oh yeah.” He replied. “I got all sorts of jeans. I always liked to dress stylish. Back in school they’d call me ‘Pretty Boy’. Even the teachers.” I nodded. “Right on.” He smiled “yeah man. I got heaps of jeans. I buy good ones, y’know?” [He rattled off some brands that I’m pretty sure I’ve heard before, but can’t remember] “They get expensive though.” “Oh? What’s the most expensive pair you bought?” I asked. He paused for effect. $700 was his answer. My eyes widened. “$700? What kind of jeans do you get for $700? Well, aside from ‘good ones’, I guess. Do they have special jean technology like Bluetooth? Do they glow in the dark? Contain Kevlar? I’m not knocking it, but what do you need to justify a $700 pair?” He looked almost confused “Well they look good and people know they look good.”

I took a moment and tried a different tack. “So if you’ve bought a $700 pair of jeans, is there any special prep you’ve gotta do? That’s a major investment and surely you want to take care of it? I remember reading something about putting new jeans in the freezer or wearing them into the bath for a couple of hours. Are those the kind of jeans you own?” He looked put off. “I don’t do any of that gay shit. I don’t want tight jeans. I’m all about that straight cut.” “Wait” I responded “what’s with the ‘gay’ stuff? How does wearing any kind of clothing make you gay? If it’s vanity you have a problem with, you just mentioned how much you spent on clothes.” “Yeah but” he sputtered. “I dunno, maybe you’re right. Anyway, if you’re making money you might as well put it into shit you like.” I nodded. “Yeah, that works.” He looked down at my jeans again. “So are you a jeans guy?” I burst out laughing. “Nope nope. I buy $10 H&M ones when they’re on sale. I’m not really a clothing person. It’s cool that you are though. It’s nice to have things to care about.” I heard the robot voice in the train announce Spadina coming up. “This is my stop, but it’s been nice chatting with you. You’re really a Jean-ius.” “A genius?” He asked “I just know stuff about jeans.” I fought every internal urge telling me to point it out. “Have a good night bud.” “Yeah, you too.”

It was either that or calling him a de-nimrod.

Van Dammed if you do…

Every now and again I’ll get some reference stuck in my head and want so badly to find it a home. Of course I’ve got a stable of references ready to saddle up at any time, but not all references are equal. Some are super niche, requiring either a certain unlikely scenario to come to fruition. Elsewise the reference itself might be from something esoteric or lost to the past. Quoting Captain America: The First Avenger isn’t tough, but pulling from the 1990 Captain America film takes some work for very little payoff.

The question is why any of this matters. Ultimately, like most of my content, it doesn’t. Of course I want my references to be out of control, but if I navigated my life without constant pop-cultural quotes, I’d be doing alright in my lil’ Maslow pyramid. I’d probably talk less though. Why I do chase the ‘rush’ of a solid reference is truthfully a matter of pride. It feels fantastic to toss out something obscure and have acknowledgement flow back. It’s like the full body hum of making a room erupt into laughter. There’s nothing quite like the idea that even for a second, you were capable of making people happy. Absolutely nailing a reference has that same sensation, but on a much smaller and more concentrated level. You feel in sync with someone else. There’s this communal feeling of goodwill that exists between you. You’ve called to something hidden in the depths of their memory and that discovery brings them involuntary joy. Then you get to feel special for putting them in touch with it. Like I said, it’s silly and ephemeral, but that doesn’t make it any less of a goddamn delight.

All of this is to say, for the last day or two I’ve been searching every single conversation to drop the “For me, it was Tuesday” bomb.

A friend once laid me low with that very quote and I felt tickled inside and out. It resonated in my heart and mind, both of which grew three sizes (as a side effect, I got smarter). In that moment I felt connection and a certain kind of bliss. I don’t know if I’d attain that same glorious sensation when I imparted it upon someone else, but until I know I’m gonna keep chasing that dragon.

There’s a documented moment of me experiencing this kind of euphoria. In episode 14 of the pawdcast I cast out my net with an “I am Queen’s Boulevard” pull (at least I got something from my love/hatewatch of Entourage) and catch a whale. You can hear the joy in my voice as I reel from a successful delve into the deep. Witnessing that, it’s no wonder that I chase that high any time I can.

Once again, it’s stupid, but I’d be a liar if I said it wasn’t one of my favourite little moments of rapture. Then again, this would be news to nobody who’s read at least one of these entries.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to return some videotapes.

But it’s not like they made a black Care Bear. The panda doesn’t count.

The weather’s getting warmer, finally. I’ve been taking advantage of it by going for lunchtime jogs when I can. I work on the waterfront and there’s a bike path I can use the whole way. It’s great to get out into the fresh air, no doubt. Finding the motivation to leave my seat at work isn’t always easy, but I feel better (and monstrously hungry) once I’m done. So if anything, it’s having the foresight to appreciate potential satisfaction in hindsight. My main gripe really is sort of silly, so I’ll explain.

You know that bus driver wave? Two bus drivers going in opposite directions will nine times out of ten give a little head nod or wave just to say I see you. It’s neat, it instils a sense of camaraderie. It’s like saying hey, we both know this isn’t the best, but every cloud, eh? As someone who rides in buses all the time, it’s by far my favourite thing about the experience (aside from when that bus driver told me to organise my life because I handed him a $20 note. I was 12. “We’re not a bank for you kids” he went on. Tosspot). If I was a bus driver it’d brighten my day tenfold. But I’m not, so I don’t get to do the wave.

I’ve tried to bring it in on my runs, because I think it’s important. When I’m jogging near my home I do the little customary nod or wave and most of the time the person nods back. Yep, I’m struggling too I hear them think. Because empathy is basically telepathy. I see how they’re pushing themselves and it emboldens me to keep pushing. One foot in front of the other. Life goes on, and it’s only gonna make me strong. Can’t fight the moonlight (my motivational inner monologue is LeAnn Rimes, obviously). It’s also delightful.

When I run on the waterfront though, it doesn’t happen. People avoid eye contact at all costs. It’s a bummer. Is it me? What have I been doing wrong that they won’t meet my eyes? Do I carry a wafting stench? Is my aroma so arresting that it’s easier to look away than consider a human could smell that sweaty? Is my musk offensive? Or is it the way I dress? All black worked for Johnny cash and New Zealand’s national rugby team, but I have neither the cultural capital nor charisma to pull it off in the same manner. I may not be decked out in head to toe Lululemon, but I can still go the distance. Okay, so I may be wearing golf pants, but they’re from the Canadian Olympic team. Doesn’t that make them authentic enough to count? Are they turned off by my knee brace? Damaged goods too much for them to conceive of as a legit contender? I fought hard to tear my PCL (though admittedly that wasn’t the goal). Now I’m nothing but rotting flesh in motion? The fucking audacity of these monstrous perfectionists.

Or I guess they could just be focusing on their own shit. That makes sense too. I just want to make friends wherever I go, like a care bear in human form. Is that too much to ask?

OffSpring are in the air. I gotta keep me separated.

Because I’m not a fully functional human being, I sometimes have strange responses to things. It’s fine, I’ve existed up to this point idiosyncratically and I’ll likely continue along the same path until I no longer exist. We all work with a range of people. Some co-workers grow to become friends. Sometimes with others water cooler talk drags on uncomfortably long (an important part of adapting to a workplace is learning who you can make flippant asides to (that won’t result in a conversation you weren’t looking for)).  The vast majority of them are simply people who do the same thing as you do, or inhabit a similar office space. As someone who has a lot of acquaintances, some of whom I’m pretty close with, co-workers who qualify as friends are a huge anomaly in my life. I make friendly conversation with most people, since the alternative would be either not talking with them or making unfriendly conversation. Neither seem to be great options. What I’m getting around to is this: I really hate the co-worker on maternal leave bringing in their infant thing.

In no way am I saying that there’s anything remotely wrong with bringing your kid in to work in order to parade them around. You do you, and other people enjoy it. Totally fine. When it happens though, I have to be elsewhere. I just don’t have that kind of relationship with the people on my team. If I was on some kind of parental leave, my co-workers would see me no sooner than 365 days post-pregnancy. Every single time that someone brings a kid in, I don’t know what to say.

I still haven’t evolved to the point where I find babies interesting. They make shitty conversation, are pretty bad at doing anything and don’t understand my pop cultural references. So there’s no attraction in getting to hangout with an infant. I too lack the knowledge about child-rearing that gives me conversational ammo for their parents. They’re obviously gonna want to talk about their baby, who I know nothing about. Outside of that, there are the usual assortment of questions about what life is like with a baby that I’m not interested in. If I wouldn’t have chatted with the parent about non-work subjects while they were still working in the office, how would them having a kid change that?

It feels like a social obligation. I don’t want to pretend that this person is suddenly interesting because they reproduced, that’s disingenuous. While they’re in the office though, it can be hard to avoid them if they’re conversing with people in the middle of a main thoroughfare. There’s no way to get to the kitchen for more water without bypassing them, so I get stuck parched at my desk hoping they’ll just leave without noticing me.

Maybe I need to work out strategies around this. I could just pretend in my head that they don’t have a baby, and ask them questions that I’d usually ask them as if they didn’t. “So, what’ve you been doing these days?” “How’ve things been lately?” “That Toronto weather, eh?” “Trump right? So crazy right now.” (then launch into the Uh oh, uh oh, uh oh, oh, no, nos from Beyonce (feat Jay Z)’s 2003 single “Crazy in Love”) Then again, people like talking about their kids. So as an addendum to that, I could totally splice in some throwaway about the baby to my previous plan. “So what’ve you been doing these days [with the baby]?” “How’ve things been lately [with the baby]?” “That Toronto weather [with the baby], eh?” “Trump right? So crazy right now [with the baby]. Uh oh, uh oh, uh oh, oh, no, no.”

Conversely, the underside of my desk is very spacious and I get a WiFi signal there. I could hide from my problems instead.

Oddly enough, I feel pretty dirty today.

I stayed out late last night (for a decrepit senior like me, anyway) and didn’t get to bed until around 3.30am. Since the weather jumped about ten degrees yesterday, the bedroom was sticky with heat. Great sleep was not acquired. Even with an hour and a half nap this afternoon (I mentioned the decrepit senior thing, right?) I’m still catching up mentally. What I’m saying here is don’t expect Shakespeare in this entry.

Anyway, I was thinking today about mercy and how unstrained it is as a quality.

Dumb.

A friend and I went out to Dance Yourself Clean. It’s an indie music dance party (named after the LCD Soundsystem song. You’d be forgiven for assuming it was an alcohol/drug free gig). Basically a DJ going off a playlist of popular indie tunes both classic and contemporary (the idea of classic indie seems strange to toss around in my head). Throwing out crossfades and unnecessary flange, etc. At some point later in every event they’ll throw on Arcade Fire’s “Wake Up” and the crowd will go nuts. It’s a commodified experience being packaged and sold, but I’m pretty okay with that. If I get to come to an event, hear the kind of music I enjoy dancing to and have others on a similar wavelength, I figure I’m in for a good night. It’s not about pushing boundaries and discovering new things, but rather getting that reaffirming tingle from waves of nostalgia all evening. Last night’s event was less grand than the previous one. I dunno, fewer tunes my friend and I knew. I mean, she kept on pulling out Soundhound for evidence. Once again the label throwing the event had their own artist performing live, which felt a little tone deaf. If people were coming for that specific purpose of essentially listening to a playlist, why put live performance in front of them? That’s not what they’re looking for. As with the last DYC, the live performances worked gangbusters to clear the dance floor. Who knows? Maybe it was done specifically to drive people to the bar. Help out the venue a little. In any case, if a night ends with a friend and I going for 2am korean food, it’s been decent enough.

Meeting at the Crafty Coyote was a fun choice. Sitting next to the bar, the fellow behind the bar couldn’t stop plying us with sample tasters. It’s nice when you find someone with a passion for their craft (pun kind of intended). As soon as we described the kind of tastes we enjoyed, he’d fill a bunch of sample glasses and push them our way. I think at one point I had four sample glasses sitting in front of me. One or two of them though, he really stuck the landing and nailed what I was looking for. One cider he picked out for my friend was amazing. If we weren’t heading off we would’ve downed a few pints of it. It was nice too that after an evening of arguing with people on Facebook about connotations of certain gendered terms, the barman called both of us “friend”. An unexpected, but delightful gesture that took the edge off a frustrating evening. It was really great to catch up with my friend. She’d gone through a bunch of stuff in the last while and we’d been to busy to catch up.

It was amusing, then, that some old guy at the bar kept making conversation with me. He must’ve been lonely and he was super friendly/respectful, but also wasn’t catching the social clues that I was really there to hang out with my mate. It was more funny than annoying. Thing was, the conversation got kind of interesting. He was talking about how Toronto has a bunch of remote spots that are really picturesque, but also happen to be sewerage outputs. At some point he started talking about Ghost in the Shell and Akira and it pained me to turn away from the conversation. What part of me didn’t want to talk about vintage anime with some 60+ year old stranger? I had to tell him in all honesty that I was enjoying chatting with him, but I really wanted to talk with my friend. I thanked him for his time and turned around. Once more, unexpected but delightful.

That’s my time, which means I now get to leave and eat (drink?) pea soup with my main squeeze. May you all be so lucky.

We all need tomboy-dy to love.

Another day, another weird subway experience. I’ve made a policy as of late that if people are gonna talk to me, I might as well listen. Unless I’m really focused on what I’m doing, too tired to be disturbed or generally don’t think I’m gonna have the peace of mind to be respectful and receptive, in any case. Who knows? I might learn something from the experience, even if it’s merely to not talk to strangers on the subway. I could be privy to a new outlook I’d never considered. I could form a strong connection. Hell, if it wasn’t for random people conversing with me in public when I arrived in Toronto, I probably wouldn’t have met a bunch of my close friends. The idea, in my head, is more of facilitating what they’re saying. If it’s anything particularly egregious, I’ll be fine stepping in and saying something. If not, why not let them talk? I figure most people starting up conversation in public are venting for the most part.

Today I hurried into crammed subway car. Relieved I’d made it in on my first try, I exhaled deeply. I heard a loud voice (I was wearing headphones, it must’ve hit a certain volume threshold) from behind me.

Voice: FUCKING FUCK. GEEZ.

I turned around and looked. I caught this dude’s eye. Reasonably tall, black, bushy beard and a cap. Missing a tooth or two in the front.

Dude: What the fuck is this all about, eh?
Me: Like, why is everyone here?
Dude: It’s all fucked. Why we here, man?
Me: Capitalism? You’re not wrong.
Dude: FUCKED FUCKED FUCKED. WHY FLYING FUCK? WE ALL FLY, WE ALL FUCK. FLYING FUCK. FLY AND FUCK.

At this point I figured maybe he wasn’t making some larger statement about society, so I let him ramble. It was basically more of this for a while. I didn’t really know what to say.

Dude: Do you know _________? (I had no idea who he mentioned. Some famous person, presumably).
Me: No idea who that is.
Dude: What about ________? _________? ________?
Me: No, sorry. I don’t know these people.
Dude: They’re all fucked man. Ugly fucking dude, dumb fuck.
Me: Okay…
Dude: Well what you think about that?
Me: I don’t know these people. How am I meant to have an opinion on any of this?
Dude: Sheesh, opinions? Why’d we need opinions?
Me: You asked me what I thought. I said I didn’t know these people. I’m not sure how to have a conversation about things I don’t know.

At this point we hit Yonge. Most people filtered out. Some woman told me she liked my accent. I said thanks. I still had no idea what was happening, so I figured I’d lean in.

Dude: You know what a tomboy is?
Me: Uh, it’s what people call girls who dress boyish, right?
Dude: Naaaah, it’s women who really like men.
Me: (for a second, entertaining the notion that he was broaching some larger point about the irrelevance of gender) I don’t think that’s true.
Dude: They wanna fuck men so they dress like ’em.
Me: I don’t think that has anything to do with it.
Dude: I like tomboys man, they’re sexy. Fuck.
Me: Great.
Dude: Yeah man (notices my bag on the ground. Puts his foot on the top (there was very little in there. It’s not like he was squashing anything and I was curious about what he was doing). Hey, put your foot up and I’ll kick this up.
Me: What?
Dude: I’ll pole vault it.
Me: Pole vault it?
Dude: Pole vault it. Pole vaulting.
Me: Isn’t that where you vault yourself over a bar by pushing with a pole?
Dude: What?
Me: With a pole. That’s pole vaulting, right? That’s what you’re talking about, right?
Dude: What?
Me: (Grabbing back the bag) It’s funny, we’re trying to have a conversation but we’re talking past each other.
Dude: What?
Me: Exactly.
Dude: (pulls out a lighter) Can I use this on your beard.
Me: No. Not at all.
Dude: Why?
Me: Do I really need to give you an answer for that?
Dude: Why not?
Me: If I say no, I don’t need a reason. The answer is no.
Dude: You can do it to me.
Me: I don’t want to do it to you.
Dude: Why?
Me: If you’re on fire it’ll probably hurt you. I don’t want to hurt you.

We got off the subway.

Dude: (tries to pull me towards convenience hole in the wall) You got some change.
Me: No. I use debit.
Dude: C’mon man.
Me: No. Anyway, I’m going to the bus. I don’t know where you’re going.
Dude: (follows onto escalator. Stops walking) Let’s go to TD.
Me: I’m not going to TD. I’m going to work.
Dude: Let’s go to TD man, I need to buy a bottle.
Me: That’s cool, but I’m not doing that. I’m also not gonna stop people from walking through.
Dude: Man, you’re no fun.
Me: You’re actually not wrong.

I do it to myself.

My takeaway? I need to make Egg McMutton a thing.

Had an odd encounter on the subway yesterday. As I sat down, I noticed an older man practically barking at a younger woman. He was sitting in the blue priority seats right next to the door. Usually I’d have my headphones on but after a gruelling gym session that made walking difficult, I was deeply craving a calm head-space. By the sounds of it, this wasn’t what I was in for. The man began going off at anyone in earshot (so namely, the whole car). Everyone was doing the Toronto shuffle (looking down at their feet, pretending not to pay attention while their ears pricked up).

I was busy chasing the dragon in Bejeweled, but I heard his voice directed my way. “So people don’t give a fuck about cripples now? Is that it?” I looked up and we exchanged glances. He talked at me “people too selfish to give a shit?” I thought for a second and replied “I dunno. That could be it, though usually I find people are more often ignorant than malicious.” His brow furrowed “people are fucking stupid, that’s what they are.” I paused for a second. “Do you really think that? Maybe they just didn’t realise.” “Not every cripple is visible” he countered. Excellent point. “Not getting out of the fucking way. Inconsiderate teenagers.”

I laughed “since when have teenagers ever been considerate? They’re still learning what being a person is.” He shook his head and replied, still angry “We were made to respect our elders. I never would’ve gotten away with this shit.” I nodded. I thought for a second. This was a voice I rarely ever heard and it sounded like he needed to vent. I could do worse than giving him my ear for ten minutes. “Things probably were different in your days.” “How do you know?” He barked “you weren’t there.” I shrugged. He continued “I fought two wars for this country, I have trouble walking and nobody gives a damn. You say people are ignorant, but they can’t leave these seats empty just in case someone needs them? Fuck ’em.”

He paused. “You’re not from here” he exclaimed “what part of the Commonwealth are you from?” “New Zealand” I replied. “New Zealand, eh? D’ya hear that at McDonalds you guys have got the Egg McMutton?” I laughed then sighed “I wish. I’d order it every day.” He looked up and noticed the station “Oh, Spadina? I’m getting off here.” He stood up and shouted “EXCUSE ME”. Nobody moved. “HEY. GIMP COMING THROUGH.” Still, nobody moved. The car wasn’t packed, but a guy was standing in the middle of the doors. They opened and the guy didn’t get out. People started walking in. The old dude pushed a man to the side and barged out the door “MAYBE FUCKING LET PEOPLE OUT BEFORE YOU GET IN” he screamed.

He had a point.