The other evening I’m walking home. It’s not late but it’s after dark. I look unremarkable in Monday office wear – the kind of clothes you drag yourself into in that seven o’clock Monday morning sigh. I haven’t washed my hair, it looks unremarkable too. I’m wearing a casual fleece jacket over top of the Monday office clothes and a favourite scarf in reds and greens. If anything, the colours of the red jacket and scarf are the only things not unremarkable about my aspect on an autumn Monday evening in which I just want to get home.
I’m walking fast. At that time of the evening, the office tower crowds have left the sidewalks and got onto their trains and I’m free to hoof it as fast as a like. I cut down from King Street and through a parking lot and round south onto Blue Jays Way and as I get around the corner a young guy materializes on my left jolting me to awareness with a sudden “WOW.”
“Wow!” he exclaims again, beholding me with his arms held out at his sides.
I’m not particularly surprised, there are animated people everywhere in the city, and I give him the, albeit amused, attention he’s looking for without breaking my stride. He beholds my unremarkable aspect, held to his spot by some perceived marvellousness.
“You look GREAT!” he says, maintaining a respectful distance and I don’t feel threatened by him. I smirk, to let him know I’m on to his play for a handout or a trick even. He backs off a little, acting bowled over by the aspect of me:
“The way you rounded that corner, that was gorgeous!”
I don’t break my stride but I give him a little laugh, appreciating his original delivery but I’m not falling for it and I’m not going to give him any money.
As I walk south toward home, I carry with me the enjoyment of his in-the-moment earnestness, and what seemed to me an artistic perspective of an otherwise unremarkable woman rounding a corner in a red jacket and pretty scarf.
And I wonder if, really, he maybe did see something in that woman that betrayed recent events he couldn’t have known about; those kind that, despite her unremarkable approach to Monday‘s workday in a city office, had her feeling just as beautiful as the person he created in his clever appeal.
Wherever it came from, the fella's creative perspective is beautiful thing number seventy.
There is sidewalk art on King Street, depicting a yellow brick road. It’s advertising a free evening movie in the park next to Roy Thompson Hall. I was thinking it would have been fun to take my girls to see The Wizard of Oz in a park when they were small. But then again, neither was a big fan of that film. Kelsey wasn’t much up for malevolent looking green witch faces, or clowny scarecrow ones for that matter, despite how kind the bloke is. And Carly was less than impressed – the technologies of her day rendered old movies fake looking and therefore not believable. Besides, she’d heard the little people in the film had been abused, and even if that story about the little guy hanging himself on set was an urban myth, my little social critic was jaded.
Had I had the breadth of entertainment available to me when I was her age, I suppose I would be too. Nevertheless, I can still drum up the escape into Frank L. Baum’s world I experienced just from seeing that old movie on a small, black and white screen (unless we got to go to Aunt Martha’s and see it on their colour console) all these decades later.
So I was charmed to see people walking on the narrow strip of yellow brick road along the wide King Street sidewalk this morning. Maybe it was subconscious – their feet just following the obvious path. I was kind of hoping some of them were imagining they were walking into a world far away from their offices and meetings. Hanging around with weird creatures and rediscovering oneself while defeating witches could be considered a favourable alternative to another day of spreadsheets and emails; for a few days anyway.
I was thinking that as I noted some feet in high heels stepping purposefully along the yellow brick road. The woman in the sharp suit attached to those feet was wearing a hint of a smile, her thoughts seemingly not anywhere near King Street. “Carry on!” I thought, pacing my walk to the tune of the Yellow Brick Road song running through my head. I just know she was walking to the same tune.
I’m walking home tonight, after doing a bit of shopping and grabbing dinner, still in my office clothes. I’m walking south on Spadina, somewhere between Queen and King Streets. Ahead I see a car pulled over and the people in it seem to be bantering with a guy on the sidewalk. Guy walks away and past me. The car looks as if it will roll on past me, then one of the four teenagerish looking fellas calls out to me:
“Hey, we’re looking for coke! Know where we can find some hookers and some blow?”
(big eye roll)
Just up ahead a half block is a guy sitting against a building and he’s hollering at a passerby walking a bicycle:
He’s quiet for a few seconds until I approach then he starts hollering at me:
“Fuck off! FUCK OFF! FUCCKKKEE OOOFFFFEE!
He quiets down after I pass, but 30 seconds or so later I hear him greeting some new person back in the sidewalk world behind me.
I get to King Street and I'm waiting for the light and I see a pretty girl riding a shiny new, scooter. She’s wearing a pretty dress, great boots and has some shopping bags slung over her shoulder. As she navigates a left turn in busy traffic, I admire the fabulous picture she makes. Two young women come up behind me, also waiting for the light to change and note the pretty girl on the scooter too:
“Of course she’s driving a white one.
“She should learn how to DRIVE it first.”
I walk on and I see a little rat run across the sidewalk in front of me and then a streetcar drowns out all the voices.