Mandatory cheese sandwich entry, part two

(continued from Mandatory cheese sandwich entry, part one)

Thursday, March 6th, 5:45 p.m.

Cute Girl and I meet up in the Eaton Centre, the largest shopping mall in downtown Accordion City. Neither of us are really the shopping mall type; it’s just a convenient indoors place with lots of landmarks, making it an ideal place for meeting in the winter.

I haven’t seen her since before she left the country back in December and wasn’t able to even have a proper conversation with her when she called to say goodbye from the airport. Dad was in the intensive care unit at the hospital at the time, my sister had just returned from emergency eye surgery at another hospital and I was doing the pillar-of-calm thing for Mom.

She looks the way Homer Simpson describes women: “A woman is like a beer. They look good, they smell good…and you’d step over your own mother to get one!”. She thanks me for coming to see the movie with her — she says that I’m the only person she knows who’d go to see an art film like What Time Is It There?

Truth be told, I’d be happy to watch TV static with her.

6:15 p.m.

We walk westward on Queen Street. We’re looking upwards, enjoying the way everything looks on a cold and cloudless early evening: everything looks crisp, and the light of the setting glinting off the windows of buildings gives the building contrast against their royal blue background. It’s one of those moments that I wish I had a camera built into my head.

“Hey, the Queen Mother Cafe,” she says, as we cross University Avenue and into the boutique-y part of Queen West. “I haven’t been there in ages.”

“Let’s go there,” I say, “I could use some spicy noodles.”

7:00 p.m.

“Hey, d’you mind if we drop by the Silver Snail [a comic book store on Queen Street, a short walk west] before we go to the theatre? I’m behind on the Battle of the Planets comic book. I need to get issue three.”

“You’re a comic book reader?”

“Of sorts. It’s just that I loved the show as a kid. The comic book, I find it a little lacking in text. I’m really more of a Sandman reader.”

She wants to go to a comic book store. I check myself for any sign of drooling before I answer.

“Ever seen the original non-bowlderized Japanese version, Science Ninja Team Gatchman? Where Mark’s name is ‘Ken the Eagle‘ and Zoltar’s is ‘Berg Katse‘?”

“No, but I’d love to watch it sometime. And you know what else we need to see? The Electronic Music Festival in Detroit.”

Sigh. She’s a geek’s dream date.

7:20 p.m.

Later in the dinner, she explains that her friend S. is taking a date to the movie tonight.

Her: It’s very odd. A lot of my engineer friends have recently joined Lavalife.

Me: You know, I have a couple of friends — neither of them engineers — who joined too. One could definitely be classified as a geek, but certainly not some of the others. It’s catching on.

Her: Which brings to me S. [a friend of hers]…he’s on a date tonight with someone he met through Lavalife. In fact he’s taking her to see the movie.

Me: Oh, so are we meeting up with them?

Her: Nope. In fact, he set some ground rules.

Me: Ground rules?

Her: Yeah, basically he asked me not to say ‘hi’ to him tonight. I think it’s hilarious.

Me: Not to say ‘hi’ to you? Because he doesn’t want his mating ritual observed? Or is he worried that his date might get upset or jealous?

Her: I think it’s the jealous thing. Something like that. Although we’re not interested in each other, we’re pretty alike and like a lot of the same things.

Me: I’d think it would give him more street cred. Demonstrate that the S.-man is one in-demand brutha.

Her: That’s what I said. But apparently he’s just worried that she might get upset, that he and I are good friends because he and I have so many common interests. He’s worried because her interests are more…mainstream…? Classic…?

Me: I think I see where you’re going. Still, I don’t think it’s any reason to get jealous, and especially not on a first date. If her tastes are classic, wouldn’t it be a safer choice to go see a less…er, challenging movie?

Her: I wonder how she’ll react.

7:45 p.m.

We’re weaving our way past the waiting line for tables when Cute Girl notices something and taps my shoulder with excitement

Her: Oh my God, it’s S.!

Me: What? Where?

Her: Over there!

I look around. The restaurant is packed, and I’ve only met S. once or twice, so I might not recognize him in a crowd.

Her: Right by the front door.

Me: Right by the only exit.

Her: This should be amusing.

We make our way to the door and S. waves to Cute Girl. Cute Girl decides to say “hi” — after all, he’s waved to her, and his date is sitting facing him. We do introductions and then dash out.

Me: Well, so much for the “not saying hi” thing.

Her: Well, he waved at me.

Me: Yeah, I guess that means it’s okay. Either that or he let his guard down for a moment.

Personally, I don’t think it’s a big thing for another woman to say “hi” to you on a date. Hopefully the encounter didn’t throw S. off his game; after all, much worse things can happen. Watch this weblog this week to see exactly how much worse.

8:30 p.m.

What Time Is It There? is about as un-Chinese a movie as it gets. Chinese (and especially Hong Kong) movies tend to be relentlessly “commerical” and have straightforward plots. This movie has no real plot, but merely paints the alienation and loneliness of a Taiwanese street watch dealer whose father recently died, his slowly-unhinging grieving mother and one of his customers, a Taiwanese woman alone in Paris. We’re talking long shots in which almost nothing happens, where half the story is told in how the shots are done.

It is by no means a “date movie” unless your date happens to be doing a degree in avant-garde film, alienation in literature, postmodern studies or has bandages on her wrists.

Luckily (?) for me, this is a non-date. I’m making a mental note to alter the situation in the future. I wonder how S. is faring.

11:00 p.m.

Cute Girl bids me farewell — she’s going to hop onto the subway and begin the long ride home to Mississauga, the next city west of Accordion City.

“No you’re not. I’m giving you a lift home.” At this time of night, the trip by public transport is at least an hour and a half, maybe two. I can have her home in thirty minutes in the Accordionmobile.

Besides, it gets me just a little more time with her.

We need to pass by my house to get the car keys, during which time I show her the wig that Char gave me.

“Check it out,” I say as I put on the wig, followed by the flaming cowboy hat I bought in Vegas, “Rob Zombie!”

I tell her that after I drop her off, I’m making a quick appearance at Velvet Underground to wish my friend Trysh from my drinking club, the Thirsty People of Toronto, a happy birthday.

“You do all these things, and you’re the member of a drinking club? You have an interesting life.”

“It’s not that hard,” I reply, doing my best Martha Stewart impersonation, “I do it all with things you might already have lying around at home.”

The ride home is fun. I put a mixed CD that my friend Ryan made for my Year of the Sheep party, a mixture of older songs — PiL’s Rise, Love and Rockets’ So Alive — and newer songs like Pulp’s This is Hardcore, a bare-bones electric guitar and acoustic drum version of Portishead’s Glorybox and a dub-ish version of Massive Attack’s Teardrop. She tells me about the screenplay that she’s working on, and I tell her about some of the programs I’m writing.

We make plans to catch up soon, and I drop her off at her door.

Once again, she doesn’t close the door of her house when she gets in, but watches me as I drive off. That’s a good sign, right?

12:10 a.m.

I put the car back in the garage, don wig, hat and accordion, hop on the bike and start heading west on Queen Street. I notice that my phone is vibrating.

It’s a message from Hector “Turb” Catre. He’s an old friend from high school. The nickname “Turb” is short for “disturbed”. He’s at Tequila Bookworm, which is just a few doors down from the Velvet, so I decide to drop by and say hello.

I walk in, still wearing the hat and wig, which gets a laugh from Hector and the friends he’s sitting with. I’ve never formally met these friends before, but as I’m introduced, they all say they’ve seen my accordion performances on Queen Street. Oh, how I love this instrument.

One of Hector’s friends, a cute goth girl — possibly an engineer? — is talking about her addiction to playing Counter-Strike. I tell them that the new pickup line of the year will be “I declare jihad…on your pants!” Hector’s planning to get a team to try out for Junkyard Wars and invites me to join. The table is all coffee and laughter.

I look at the time and decide I’d better go catch up with the Thirsty People, so I say goodbye and head out.

1:00 a.m.

At the door of the Velvet Underground, the bouncer doesn’t recognize me.

Bouncer: Whoa! Another one?!

Me: Huh?

Bouncer: Dude, we already got our own accordion guy. Maybe you know him?

Me: Yeah, right.

At this point, I still think he’s pulling my leg.

Bouncer: No, seriously. He’s one of Nikki’s [she’s one of the bartenders] friends. Been here for a couple years now.

Me: Hey guy, it’s me!

Bouncer: What?

I take off the hat and wig.

Bouncer: Holy shit! It’s you!

(I’ll post a picture of me in the wig later. You decide if I look all that different.)

Although there’s still at least an hour’s worth of dancing left and Trysh is not the type to leave a bar early, especially on her birthday, I catch her on her way out. She has to show up at a funeral the next day, so I give her a birthday hug and she boards a taxi.

Time to go home.

2:10 a.m.

I’m answering my email when Paul stumbles into my room, drunk as a skunk.

“You look plastered. What did you have, a four-beer night?”

“Very funny.”

Paul’s gets drunk quickly, which is why we named him “Drunken Master”. He even used that as his hacker handle when he was with the Hacktivismo group.

He and Chris had gone to see the complete opposite of the movie I’d watched that evening — Shanghai Knights — and loved it. He gave me a slurred summary of the plot, tried to repeat some of Owne Wilson’s jokes and then stumbled downstairs into his room.

He’s going to be in mucho pain tomorrow morning, I thought.

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