Thursday, December 31, 2009

The pissing race

So he’d gone to such-and-such-a-school, traveled here-or-there, come back tanned or learned, hair parted in a new direction. She’d married, had a kid or two, worked a bit, put on some winter weight.

Graduate, post-graduate and doctoral thesis research. University is not for her so it’s off to coastal college. He’s becoming this-or-that, she’s on her way to one place, another. One bought a big house, another a condo, a third talks up an apartment.

Nod, pause for effect, speak again. Wait your turn, listen attentively; make eye contact and smile. Leave room for failure, lie a bit, mix anecdotes for maximum impression. Tell different stories to persons over 40, mention newfound business savvy.

Show off ringed fingers, pull out photos of grinning children; collect bathroom paper plaques, war and drinking stories. Remember husbands beat boyfriends, mistresses are kept secret, fianc├ęs linger large.

And before you go, pull it out and measure. But worry not, there’s time to grow. We’ll see you again, same time, same place, next year.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Highway number three

Still have that heavy foot as you speed down those yellow dotted lines you’ve followed so many times. Farmhouse blemishes dot the snow and sky blue sky stretches off the horizon, over the car, back into empty snow-covered prairie. The pedal presses down, tires spin and the car stereo breathes the words, “Live through this, and you won’t look back.”
My parents were babes
The homecoming party

“So why haven’t I seen you around here before?” he asks me. I tell him I’ve been long gone from the haunts I used to call home, am only back for a bit; couldn’t stay away forever.

This time of year we spill out of bigger cities, new jobs, trips east and west, wherever. We all end up back around old bar tables, sleeping at parent’s houses or on friend’s couches, gossiping about the locals with the best of them.

We avoid the bars that have new names: Whiskey Dix, HiFi, Pink Taco. Instead we make our way to the King’s Head, end up back at Bar I, wonder what happened to the Collective. We spread ourselves thin, eating too many separate lunches with friends who have long since ceased talking, hear each side of the same story over and over again.

The streets haven’t changed: they still lead us back and forth from one reunion to the next. We pull up to the red light and I open the door to take a leak. I let the road run yellow as the light turns green, hop back in, wave at the cops and drive away.

I make it home liquored up on dark beer, stomach full of his cake, sigh to myself, “Welcome home, Winnipeg.”

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Meet the Martins

This is the only family I could be the tallest member of.

Happy Holidays

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I was dining with a ghost

And so the eating tour of Winnipeg begins, with a sunday on a Sunday at an all-day buffet. First off is Aalto's, our one-time Friday morning hang over breakfast spot. Served with a slurpee, in true local fashion, the hotel lobby eatery cured each ache and pain brought to us from nights spent dancing at the Pyramid Cabaret.

Next is Cousins for a veggie burger and pint of Fort Garry Dark, eaten with the company of a good book and your favourite waitress. Then it's off to the Fyxx for your fix of your favourite left-over sandwich, all cranberries and love.

You still have days, pace yourself, you murmur into the Rye-bread. But without fail you hiccup from scarfing the meal down too fast, and think to yourself, that this says a lot about your relationship with Winnipeg.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Teenage kicks right through the night

Before the blast-off of engines, there were a few last bad decisions to be made. Crowded two too many into the car we headed east, then north, then east again, ending up off our usual grid, out of the city core; at the right apartment. The mob scene had already begun, what with its bathroom penetration, guns behind locked doors, kids on ketamine. The crazed young things, we called them, as if we weren’t still walking in their shoes.

With toothy smiles and clutching presents we raised a glass to the woman of the hour before settling onto couches, around tables, and on wash-and-dryer tops to watch the madness, participate, and watch again. The air was thick with sexual expression, frustration, confusion: they danced and drank the evening and their inhibitions straight away. Then as the door began to swing we decided it best not be the last left in the room, dialing our way backwards to the highway lights.

And as we stumbled towards bed sheets we spun past the clock, blinking its early morning hour. Spilling into our homes we set alarms with time ticking closer, and despite the cabs to call, bags to pack, and farewells to say, we blinked black windows away unbothered, thinking: this must be what it feels like to be young and in love.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Trash talking Toronto

...and with that he heads home.
Talk to me, my stuff

Six months after the name went on the lease, my apartment sits clean for the first time in what seems like forever: the product of time to waste. And so here is a tour, not of rooms or walls or windows, but the borrowed, bought, and stole pictures, photos and frames that fill my mind-space.

Bulletin bruises: Me vs. Megan Fox, Jackson Pollock and Disco-Schtick
Thrifted treasure chest and green on greenery
Madam kitchen wall, found at Goodwill
Frames waiting for wall space, sunglass on display
Mum's abstracts, vintage suit carrying-case
Digital graffiti by Brian, gifted scarlett and Mr. Mcqueen at Holts
Niagara by tilt lens, magazine ad and thrifted frame

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The permanent pageant

And of the women in that city, all those dance floor blondes fought for the smallest crown. They stored away slim bikinis for weekend trips to beach house boredom, suntans and nights spent liquored up on borrowed booze. Later they’d find dive bar DJ boyfriends, photos on the web. Grow out of prep-school uniforms and up into parent’s past.

So they battled on to new cities, new dance floors, won larger crowns. But nothing really changed, new blondes dyed in their roots. And though they only hold such competitions in small towns and seedy suburbs, each year one girl rides up that airport escalader,

Miss Winnipeg.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Self portrait of a North American male, homosexual
Inside the clock maker’s home
Photo: Dale Reimer, '05

There is a house down a road and in that house there is a room. Half submerged, the view out its two-top basement window is a flower garden sill. Stones separate that dirt from grass, which grows out towards a sand-covered drive and highways further still. And in that room there was a bed, which now folds to a sofa. On that leather-bound present tense the man sleeps, all fat with moments past.

In a city far, far away, on a street dotted brick-brown, an apartment stands five stories tall. Come snowfall there is a room that sits in this stack of boxes, cold with turned-off heat. The fridge is empty, fan still; shoes sit on racks without a place to go. Bills pile high on top books and paperwork lost and found.

But before the plants brown and start to die (as they do each December) the mail arrives, the door spins, and into the hole the key turns.

He always returns.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Toronto the tiny

Just as her text message announces an early arrival at our reservations, his call inquires on appropriate attire. I’m half dressed in a jacket, tie and underpants, and say so to a whip-lash response: “Oh shut up, I’ll go put on nice clothes.” Click.

We’re easily the loudest, youngest table, all cozied into our booth, reaching over each other’s arms for the last bit of chicken liver mousse. Our waitress overhears, “I was having sex behind Hooligans…” and, of course, tells us she’s from Winnipeg, too.

In the next breath we discover she graduated with his brother and sigh, “Small world,” in unison; such is Toronto’s broken record. We assess the appetizers, down our drinks, and order one more at the pub down the street before departing with a promise to meet again here or there, knowing full well the homestead will soon stitch us back together.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Penile economics
*Photo: Pinups mag

It takes more than a head shake saying, “I’m not that kind of boy.” to throw them off our scent. Still, we find ways; believing fiercely that in the homo-caste-hierarchy we are the owners and not the owned. When sprouting silver turns us into foxes we will become more than our twenty-something selves. Until then, we call ourselves buyers not sellers; send steely glares, push back drinks and sneer, “Nothing’s cheap.”