So I was thinking. How complicating and annoying and dehumanizing it is to be human with our sex bits and socialized social sophistication, communication evolved to its apparent highest form—manipulation, deception and double-fisted entendre. Hard not to love that too, for all its playfulness. Possibility. Making words do the unexpected and wonderful, why, it’s my favorite thing in the world. To pun and make fun, make raw and real the underhanded undermining.
And yet. In some situations. All this firing signals and throwing up defenses, nuance and insinuation new awes and in sin you wait, hon god it makes me tired. My Frenchy Nausea not wanting to go out at all.
Put on my face then put up a wall, careful never to look too hot.
Sometimes getting hit on feels like getting beat up.
I am intentionally purposefully painfully not as friendly as I want to be—smiley jokey talkative, helpful and happy—with strangers and even friends, males particularly, because I don’t want them to think it means something.
And that’s messed up and not fair. That I can’t be who I am for fear of what people might want me to be—when a smile leads to a dare, all of a sudden forced to backpedal or grit and bear the awkward or pretend it never happened. So I just stare, or don’t look at all.
We’re all in and of the universe, plunked in little pockets of other people, familiar patterns and places, but we’re all armed with mission statements, agendas and wildly inaccurate and unintelligible, untellable ideas about ourselves. Though operating in the same dimension, we live, essentially, separate realities. And then, we bump into each other. And attempt to interact.
I take the 4 or maybe it’s the 7 headed downtown to Luvafair at Celebrities to have cEvin Key bang my eardrums with new wave and select strains of Skinny Puppy. I’d waited awhile for this bus, along with some dude, a barrel chest in a polo shirt, hair cut crew. I don’t talk to him or look at him or even stand anywhere near. When the 4 or maybe it’s the 7 finally arrives, he’s closest to board but stands to the side, arm sweeping gentlemanly ladies first yarg okay thank you that’s sweet polite unnecessary awkward whatever. It’s a Thursday night, so not quite a drunk bus, but it is full, so I sit at the front on a bench seat facing the aisle and look about for discarded newspapers so I appear busy, noticing peripherally the guy sits across from me.
He is trying to catch my eye. I glance and he stutters a syllable but stops because I’ve already looked away. Glimpse again, he does it again, what what what? finally looking dead on. “Did you hear what she said?” nodding to the woman who sits beside me. “She said, ‘Are you two together?’ meaning you and me. I’m flattered.” Oh for fuck’s sake. I glance to the woman who would have changed seats for “us.” She smiles weakly. Whoops! Sorry!
Here are my options: a). Giggly bashful girly leading him on. b). Giggly bashful girly too shy to respond. c). Stuck-up bitch. I don’t want the guy to think I think he’s an asshole or an idiot, because he’s neither, nor do I think it, really, he’s just some dude and I want him to leave me alone if engaging me entails him flirting with me. But there is nothing friendly or even neutral that I can say that won’t also encourage him. So I ignore him, which invariably comes off as c). stuck-up bitch, which I can’t help but feel bad about. What a dumb life.
There are no newspapers to be found. There is no where to look but down. Getting up and moving to the back would be lame. I glance to the woman again and see she has her eyes closed. Feign sleep fatigue meditation, brilliant ploy! I close my eyes and don’t have to be there anymore. But after awhile, looking tired gets tired. “Would you like something to read?” asks the woman. Why, yes! She hands me some religious leaflets. Great.
I mean, great! I love god tracts. I’m fascinated by their masterful tones of simultaneous innocence, assumption and condescension, so succinct and plain yet purporting such colossal claims. The penalty of sin is death? Jesus died for my sins? He rose from the dead and I must take him into my heart or I will go to hell? Wow! I read them with being a mimic in mind—not a servant of god but a student of voice to help perfect propaganda, self help and satire. Forget my soul, sin and salvation. I seek to improve my craft. And yet, this takes reading it, and reading it looks like I’m interested in it, and taking interest translates to a successful conversion. I quite possibly made this woman’s day, thinking I’d ensured my cloud in heaven, while in reality I was deconstructing the hell out of it with plans for future subversion.
In every interaction, every casual collision, there is so much happening behind the scenes of eyelids, under skin surfaces. Burly gawky guy with the awkward pass? yeah, you should be flattered, ’cause I kick ass: I am supreme awesomeness wrought of knots and thorns.
I get off on Davie (read: Gay Street) and I’m glad of it, just to possibly maybe mess with the Christian and my hapless admirer. cEvin Key was smashing, and a couple nights later at another club, pal James reports that some of his friends saw me at Luvafair and I am now their favorite dancer in the whole world. The Whole World! Victoria rarely felt my heat and I hardly danced at all during the semester. I’d thought I’d peaked. No more sweet, new moves and considerably less energy.
But I’ve been running a few times a week, to the point, to the park, past the fancy tennis people to Jericho Beach to see the crows and duckies, my intensity dictated by whatever song’s playing and how powerfully the lilacs are drugging me.
As a result, my wind has improved and with it, tenacity. I’ve also been practicing in my bedroom, which is bad, because there’s carpet and the floor’s uneven and sometimes I hit the ceiling and there isn’t much room but to turn in a circle so I’m stuck practicing on actual dance floors with actual people watching and I have to announce Everybody Look Away Now! I’m Trying Something New! but no one listens or notices me polishless anyway. In fact, I am on my game like never before.
I’ve been working on my slides and glides. I aim for 750 words a day. 750 words a day is trash, amateur, joke blood from stones in fists and self-flagellation. Sometimes a single sentence takes an hour. Sometimes it takes my life then makes my day week month the whole infant summer. It’ll be my left knee that blows. I channel Michael Jackson and Elvis and it swells. One day it will explode, and it’ll be the West Coast that showed me how to show myself: How to devour a crowd and how to strangle the inner editor who wants to chop this into separate narratives, fearing deceptive the obvious contradiction of loathing eyes on me then demanding them just the same.
I want to disappear and to captivate completely, for everyone to piss off and rub themselves against me.
Not really, well. Really. It’s hard, it’s hell. It’s okay. Concealing the contradiction would be the dishonesty.
At the end of the night, I am on a Megabite quest, and James is coming with me, not really taking into account that we’re walking across the entirety of downtown just to get a certain brand of street pizza when there’s 3 a.m. street pizza everywhere.
Granville Street is torn to bits, making way for the Canada Line, the sidewalk in many spots reduced to gravel footpaths, bordered by fences and retail outlets. It’s half human maze and it’s a rat race I tell you, to be the first to stand in line outside for half an hour to advertise the popularity of empty clubs where they swipe your ID, retain your personal information and take a mug shot no shit before taking a $15 cover and subjecting you to the Top 40s and late ’90s epic trance, half detention camp, if suddenly it posed a national threat to be drunk, sexyish, lustful, high, obnoxious and/or lavishly insecure.
I don’t dance on Granville Street. But I’d walk eleven blocks to eat its pizza. We step around the sidewalk pocks, vomit Pollocks and urine patches, the staggering smashed, swaggering last ditch efforts to get laid, and no less than forty women about to break their ankles.
Alcohol goes straight to high heels, ‘specially on gravel on Granville on Gravol.
(Now served in juice boxes!)
Megabite has a line out the door, and the last night busses leave in twelve minutes. Damn. So we get some quicker, off-brand streetza and it isn’t that bad but feet dead, construction dusty, breathless and pfffft Normalbit, we vow never to do this again.
The next day at the beach, on five hours of sleep,
the ocean knocks me down and blood pours out my knees, the waves rushing to lap the sap.
My legs are long numb from the freezing water, so I don’t notice the pain. When I laugh my ass off about it Ma, skinned my knees! I don’t feel it leave.
Several hours later waiting for a bus, I rupture my new scabs busting a move for my shop window reflection. It smarts fierce and I curse and grit a grin.
I really am pretty awesome.
And I really will miss this place.