Don't know when I last went on a long airplane ride - oh, all right, it was last week. But the time before that, as I recall, people just sat in their seats unless they wanted to use the toilet or bother the staff. Now, since everyone knows that extended flying time is not just uncomfortable but the source of potentially fatal blood clots, passengers are constantly striding up and down the aisles, jogging on the spot and performing stretching exercises. There's me, who sat tight for eight hours hoping for another drink, preferably some sort of coagulant. Gimme a double thrombosis! What's the alternative? Another few more decades in fabulous Toronto? Less leg room, please.
But my luck ran out and I survived the trip to Lester B. Pearson, where a hot grey wind was blowing no good. Home to the joys of domesticity. Locks need changing, plumbing and roof fixing and sheets washing. I never have to wash sheets in hotels. But, then, at the hotels I stay in nobody feels like washing them either.
I won! For once I won something - well, kind of. Heaven knows, I spent enough nights drafting and colouring those hand-drawn facsimiles to enter an obscure contest to win a trip for two (can I just go by myself twice?) on the Orient Express. The very same day I was meant to win that contest (must've been rigged - I never heard), I got a call from Vancouver and my ex-would-be half of a failed touring duo said, "Well, I guess I've won a Jaguar." I knew he meant a car, because there are no animals any more, just vehicles named after them.
My friend, who had 30 cents to his name and had eaten a banana for supper, doesn't drive, even though he has an official Elvis Presley driver's licence that he never has to renew. In lieu of the luxury motor prize he won with his Christmas-gift ticket, he accepted the luxury sum of $78,000 Canadian.
My half amounted, after unspecified deductions, to a cool three grand. Not enough to ride the Orient Express, but enough to get someplace to watch it go by. "But Sheila, you could pay your rent with that. What will you do when you come back?" We all live a little too close to the street, and my buddy here had practical concerns. Then I talked to my little brother, who has been shipped to Nashville, his rent paid, courtesy of Music City royalty the Mandrell family. He said, "Go ahead, blow it all," confident, that, for him anyway, things come up roses.
So I went. I'm so glad I did. But coming back here, that's hard. Maybe I missed getting a vaccination or something. To exist in Toronto one must be immune to ugliness. Maybe I could line up to get into a former whore hotel on Queen West, the Drake, that has, in my impecunious estimation, gone downhill with renovation. Oh, don't listen to me. I'm just jealous that I don't make the grade.
No, I don't. I could never be a star in Canada. Not like Rex Murphy, for instance. Mr. Murphy, whose mellifluous whine gets him on both TV and radio, also processes words for the Globe and Mail, for which I cannot write because my point of view is personal, not objective like his and that of its advertised intellectual, Christie Blatchford.
Speaking of the CBC, celebrities and contests, it seems the network is running some election. Not not that one. Another one. The Greatest Canadian. It feels like a pathetic attempt to rally morale for a country that is clearly defined only on maps. But here's my vote. I nominate for Greatest Canadian Al from Vancouver, who sent me money. Anybody else is just famous.