"Toronto is a frightfully lonely place. I find people very inhospitable at times.” So spake the recently deceased, Toronto-raised Lois Maxwell, who won fame as Miss Moneypenny in 14 James Bond movies.
Rather gentle (or genteel) of her to soften the truth with that "at times." Maybe just from January to December.
It occurred to me out on the street today that if people in this mean town learned to be kind, they'd be less miserable.
I still maintain that the real reason for the eradication of community bars in Parkdale was the sight they presented that was unbearable to overworking upscalers.
Poor people out at night drinking and sharing and dancing and laughing and shooting pool, with no careers or computers to rush off to. Have-nots having what money can't buy, especially in this town: fun.
'Tis the season of fake cheer, and even though my old haunts (at least we know we're ghosts) are gone, I felt the traditional pull exerted by the first big snowstorm that happened to fall on a Saturday night. Interesting how we'd all feel that pull and how it was nature that would bring us out to play.
Another no-money pleasure denied the new drive-down, not-dressed-for-it invaders, but one that we, without e-mail assistance, all decided to pursue to the end of the road.
There, a stranger and I simultaneously exclaim, "Isn't this great?!" And sure enough, the snow has brought everyone out of their rooms and hiding places to revel together. There are men on canes and crutches who couldn't resist venturing into a whiteout to get to a jukebox.
No sooner do I drop my snow crust on the floor of the pub than a shot of tequila is presented me by a mysterious young man.
I look around. The tables are full of drinks. No matter how big the crowd, the tables are never full of drinks. It's this lad. He's making month-early Christmas and New Year's together for everyone who comes in.
The snow got well and truly toasted thanks to the generosity of a stranger boy.
Santa is the lie that made me doubt the existence of God. I always feel sorry for immigrants to Toronto who grew up without Santa, in places where sharing is a matter of course. How hard it must be to learn to be mean, to realize that here one can eat a meal in front of a starving person without the slightest compunction.
Selfishness is not condemned, but commended. Whatever we have is ours, and anything left over we waste or hoard. Christmas is a frenzied attempt to compensate for a year of being miserly with the everyday kindnesses and hospitality so desperately needed in this frightfully lonely place.
My musician buddy passed through last year when ice was on the ground, and we went to a party where the people for whom he played for hours, the people who said "I love you, man" and called him "bro" would not spare him a sip of their private beer.
"Can I sleep on your floor?" he asked his biggest fan. "No, not tonight." If you can't help somebody now, then when?
Last week he was here playing, and when he got paid he turned to me and my other kind buddy and said, "Look what we got."
"I like how he put that," said buddy two, who likewise shares. Kind is the only kind worth knowing, but about as easy to find as cheap rent in the mean-streak GTA.