Status Update #58
(Previously on “The Wallet” Richard heads out in search of a Starbucks, but the fog is so thick that even the Niagara Falls are invisible. The moodiness this evokes takes Richard back to when he worked as a driver for an escort service.”
The coffee at THIS Starbucks in Niagara Falls is $1.20 more than the same Grande Dark Roast back in Toronto. At first I think it’s a mistake, but NO that’s the price. I ask the girl behind the counter (or “barista” as they are now called) why there is such a marked difference in price and she doesn’t know except that perhaps the rent of this property might be higher. What – higher than Yonge and Bloor? Madison Avenue in NYC? She shrugs. I realize she has no say in the price of the coffee, and I am starting to behave like my father, who would challenge pump jockeys for the price of gasoline. So I sit down and watch people.
People Watching. It’s a thing. A pastime. Kinda weird I think. Defined in other terms, spying, staring, gawking, stalking and it seems not so legitimate. But when we call it “people watching” it seems cool, even refined. I love people watching. Try “I love spying on people”. Doesn’t sound so nice. I have not too much else to do. I’m bored. Oh Oh . Bored is a dangerous state of mind. I remember most of the dangerous, destructive acts in my youth began with this notion of being bored. Stories that begin with “I was bored so…” rarely end well. I take out my trusty journal and write the date at the top of a blank page. “Jan 11, 2014.” Sometimes just writing the date is all I do. I forces me into the present. The coffee shop is populated by everyone else who has surrendered to the fog. A family of five, a couple of couples, and a large group of young people who are all wearing the same t-shirts. I can’t seem to make out what the shirts say, or what this group is collectively doing today. I could ask, but I’m afraid they might try to sell me something, or ask me to sign something or give me a flyer or simply mistake my question for evidence that I give a shit – which I don’t.
Apparently I’m grumpy. Wait – I’m a drug addict. I can fix this. I take out a piece of nicotine gum, and start chewing it. I deliberately drink some of my coffee. Ah… there we go. I still don’t give shit, but I’m okay with it. (Progress not perfection). This journal makes it look like I’m not paying attention to people, but it’s a cover. I’m people watching. People watching – I realize, is very popular. Aren’t movies a form of it, or TV? Going to see a band, or a sporting event? Comedy shows… “We” seem endlessly fascinating to us. What brings people together, what splits them apart…
The husband and wife and three kids remind me of a family of racoons I watched once in my backyard in Vancouver. The mother walked from one clump of bushes across the lawn, followed by the three cubs, and then slowly at the end, the male. The communication between the adults was intuitive. The two bigger cubs are close to the mom, and farther back is the little one, wandering confused. The father’s emergence into the little cub’s view seems to straighten the little cub’s path and strengthen his resolve to catch up to the others. Was it fear or an attempt to impress the father that caused this effect? Who knows? The result – the brood held together – is accomplished.
I was that little cub. The youngest in my family of six, and the youngest of all the cousins. I was always wandering, confused. Trying to catch up. Not sure whose joke this is, but it was always true to me. The is joke is “I’m the youngest of four kids. When I became a teenager my parents said, “Here’s the keys to the liquor cabinet – do what you have to do.” I guess there was a mix of complacency in my parents, mixed with the burden of expectations of what my siblings had accomplished and the high water mark that I was to supposed to accomplish. At that point you can either try to keep up, and overtake them, or wander confused and lost until you find your own path. I became a stand-up comedian, so I think it’s clear what choice I made. I tried to keep up, but eventually surrendered to the lost wandering. I also had my Dad following up though, so I was okay. When my father died in 2006 – my wandering continued – but now there was no one following up. I was in trouble – but I didn’t know how much trouble I was in. All I knew was that I missed him terribly, and when I unconsciously look behind me, there is no one that has my back.
As the mother goes through flyers of stuff they can do instead of look at the invisible falls – I feel a little jealous of them. Especially the little one. The father notices me looking and checks me out as a potential threat. I wanna say “Don’t worry dad, it’s all good.” But he wouldn’t trust me anyway, so I pretend to return to writing in my journal.
TO BE CONTINUED
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