Posts Tagged ‘mlmots’

Peeping Tom, Stalking Stew

August 25, 2010

Once upon a time, my best friend Dave was friends with a really hot girl on Facebook. And one day while visiting Dave’s wall, I happened to notice a thumbnail image of this really hot girl. So I clicked on it. This lead me to her own personal page, which she had left wide open to the virtual world. Her name was Amy. She had long brown hair and blue eyes. I clicked on her photos and scanned through every one of them. I watched two years of her life flash by in grainy mobile uploads and over-exposed digital. I saw her at school in a dorm wearing sweats and a baseball hat. I saw her all stumbly on Bloor Street after having one too many at The Dance Cave. I saw her outside of Union Station in a big winter parka. I met her parents and her dog Barkley, and was given a tour of her childhood home from her Christmas trip to Saint John in 2008. I met her ex-boyfriend Brian. Saw them on a camping trip in Fundy National Park, saw them embracing in Times Square in the summer of 2009, I even saw them under the covers in bed. I was able to gather from her “likes” that she was a fan of graphic novels like “Tales from the Farm” and “The Walking Dead”. Her favourite TV show was “Battlestar Galactica” and she loved Sufjan Stevens. I knew her favourite coffee shop was Ezra’s Pound on Dupont. And I knew she had spent last weekend at the Arcade Fire show on Olympic Island. In just about every photo, Amy had a big toothy smile, which seemed to me to reveal a genuine happiness that I could easily idealize.

Not three days later: turning around from the cash register at the bar I work at, there she was. Wearing the same green blouse I had admired so much in one of her recent photos. She smiled and asked for a gin and tonic. Her voice was gentle, yet dry, dusty. Like she’d just had three smokes. I blushed. Made her drink. Lemon instead of lime. I glanced at Amy’s face, wanting to see that grin again, the one from her photos, where she was all teeth and gums, and full of a brightness that I believed could illuminate even my worst thoughts. She tipped me 50 cents. “I uh, like your top,” I said, my face flushing crimson as she said thanks and turned away from the bar. I watched her join her girlfriend at a table by the front window, and felt like a peeping, perving Tom. A sleazy, stalking Stew. Because I knew this woman. This lovely Amy from Saint John. Or at least felt like I did. And she didn’t have a goddamn clue. All because I clicked on a tiny thumbnail image of her and then followed a series of clicks and links that were openly, publicly available to me on the world wide web. And although I was convinced that she could love me, there was nothing I could say to her in real life.

Thanks Facebook. You’ve become wikipedia for people I don’t know. Visual fodder for a laptop dream. Shame on us all.

Sketches of Women (Part One)

May 15, 2010

She got on the streetcar and I noticed her immediately. She was wearing a black American Apparel hoodie, one size too small so an inch of skin was exposed above her blue jeans. Her jeans were so tight they looked painted on, yet still looked comfortable to wear. They fit her perfectly, outlining the countour of slim thigh, calf, and round ass. Her feet were clad in a pair of blue canvas shoes with white soles and laces, similar to Vans. Her black hoodie was zipped down to the middle of her chest exposing pronounced collarbones. The skin visible in the unzipped vee of her hoodie and above her waist created the illusion that if she were to unzip it all the way down to her navel, I’d find her wearing nothing but a lace bra beneath. Her hair was long, brown, past her shoulders, and swept to the right, so it slightly covered her right eye. Occasionally she would run her fingers through it in attempt to keep it behind her ear. Her eyes were big and light brown, her skin the colour of raw almonds. Her lips were pouty and glossed. She smiled only once, as the streetcar came to a sudden stop and a woman nearly fell on her. She had pointy canine teeth, immaculately white, and her smile was infectious. I imagined seeing that grin, turning towards me in my kitchen as she passed me a mug of green tea. I imagined that smile greeting me every waking day of my life.

I stole constant glances at her as we rode the streetcar across town on Queen Street. I tried to place her ethnicity, at first I believed maybe white and Vietnamese mix, but looking up at her big brown eyes and then getting a second glimpse of her ass I decided she was of Latin descent, perhaps a Brazilian father with a Canadian mom. That slight flash of skin above the top of her jeans was a beautiful brown, the colour my skin could only become if left to bake on a Central American beach for months, but a hue she keeps all year round. She wore no rings, her ears were unpierced, she wasn’t hiding her eyes behind oversized sunglasses, and she did not seem to be wearing any makeup, except for the faint lip gloss. She stood the entire trip across town, and what struck me was that she was not listening to an iPod, nor did she pull a cellphone out of her leather purse to text a friend or make a phone call. This is a gesture so characteristic of her “type” of girl — the need for distraction, for constant communication, and the fact she resisted this endeared her to me even more. To place her age proved difficult, but if I had to guess I would say in between 19-24. I hoped it closer to the latter, but fear her startling beauty was partly due to the fact that she was just stepping into it.

When I ride the streetcar I always try and guess when a person is going to get off. I look at an old Chinese woman, and assume Spadina, I look at a clean shaven man in a suit, consumed with the screen of his Blackberry and I assume Bay Street. With her, I guessed Yonge Street, which is a safe bet, as it leads to various subway transfers and the many shops of The Eaton Centre. I was right. As we reached Yonge, she took her leave of me and as she did my breath stopped. It stopped because I knew I would never see her again. I knew that those waking moments with her next to me or those delightful domestic moments drinking tea together on my couch — with her smiling her perfect grin and her bright eyes shining with love — would never happen. The streetcar continued its slow trek east and I let out a lengthy sigh, stupidly feeling as if I’d gone through the beginning and end of a relationship that was never meant to be. Sigh.


February 7, 2010

The train accelerates after Chatham—steady, galloping, equine—the passengers within docile riders ready to unhorse. Eager to get off train #67 in Windsor, the last stop on VIA Rail’s Corridor run.

“Are you gonna give Daddy a hug, Mommy? Will you give him a kiss?”
“We’ll see.”
“But you said—”
“Enough, Evan.”
“But you said.”
“Shhh, the man across from us is trying to sleep. We’re almost home.”

I lift an eyelid. She looks drained, siphoned—her boy has been pretty good, but still he’s sapped her spirits.

The iron horse hammers home, racing the rigs on the 401 through Tilbury and Belle River. Evan presses his nose against the glass, peering out at Lake St. Clair in the gathering dusk.

“Look, Mommy! The lake’s like a hockey rink!”
“I see it, sweetie.”

She reaches into her pocket, pulls out a gold band and slips it on her finger. She holds out her hand, inspecting. She doesn’t smile. Finally I realize who she looks like. She’s a blonde Sandra Bullock—but not Keanu’s cutesy bus driving sidekick in Speed, she’s the sullen thin-lipped wife of Brendan Fraser in Crash.

She closes her eyes and spins the ring on her finger.

I stare at her profile and Evan’s face-smear on the window and think about my flight this morning from Edmonton, stuck in a holding pattern over Pearson airport before it landed. I picture the plane doing quiet figure eights over and over in the sky above the snow clouds. I picture it suspended in air, and think of how my Mom had been in a holding pattern herself—lying in her hospital bed, not getting any better or worse for months, until her plane decided to swiftly descend.

And which one’s better? The airplane looping round waiting for the all-clear to land, or the train careening headlong to its last stop?

We’re almost in Tecumseh now. The town’s been lobbying for the trains to slow down ever since a young girl was struck and killed on the railway in 1996. But instead it charges ever faster, Tecumseh a scant blip on the radar, as the machine lunges towards the final stop. I still can’t imagine how that little girl didn’t hear the train coming. I spent entire summers as a kid leaving pennies on the tracks behind Tranby Park, waiting for the afternoon train to come by and flatten them. And long before it did, the rail would vibrate and make a sound like far-off sleigh bells.

“This is how you should hug Daddy!” Evan shouts, latching his bony arms around his mother’s neck, a mini bear hug, a schoolboy stranglehold.

Mommy catches my eye as the train finally begins to brake and the nearness of home wrings my stomach. I still can’t get over how much she looks like Sandra Bullock, and wish my Mom had resembled a movie star when I was Evan’s age.

Recently published in Misunderstandings Magazine