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The Wide Open

May 7th, 2006

Friday, May 6 – TORONTO, CAN. It was raining with increasing fervor. My jacket, a bright orange mix of Gore-Tex and some encapsulated fabric is meant to be very breathable. But it’s meant for below-freezing temperatures, not a solid downpour as it’s increased breathability means decreased waterproofness. What I’m trying to say is I was darting from doorstep to overhang, getting wet.

Paddy was AWOL. Her phone, not surprisingly, was either dead or misplaced and she had the key. Kevin and Pam offered to take me out to their place but, while I do like order in my life and have been accused of being too much of a planner, I figured things would work out. So they headed off with declarations of how relaxed about matters I happened to be. But I knew I could always pass out in a well-lit corner of the condo lobby under the watchful eye of the concierge.

The only way to keep the evening going was to have another beer so I was in search of a suitable bar, one that was chill and close by. Of all the bars I could pick, I ended up at the Wide Open which, according to the review, “this cozy bar is a friendly, unfussy refuge for serious drinkers and the people who like to imitate them.” I was imitating.

Inside were about twenty guys of varying character and two young, attractive bartenders. The stereo was blaring classic 80’s rock: Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar on Me” and Bon Jovi “Shot Through the Heart” among others.

“It’s their generation’s classic rock,” said the graying guy on my right. To my left, a clean cut fellow gave me the up and down and said “you must be a climber.” Turns out he works for Mountain Equipment Co-op down the street and does industrial design on the side. I think he’s also got a bit of a crush on one…or both…of the bartenders. Like I think every other regular there does.

I could see how they’d be enticed; dancing on the bar is commonplace. Gillian, with her crop top and hip huggers, flashed her black bra more than once, served with a sloppy hand and plenty of attitude. She broke more than one glass–not by accident, but with dramatic flourishes. However, after last call, with the lights coming on and the screams of ‘Get the fuck out!” followed by a pointed “Not you guys, you can stay” to the regulars around me, something transpired to bring tears to the other bartender and a few more hurled glasses.

Yup, time to leave.

After the walk back in the rain I spent the next 45 minutes talking with the graveyard concierge about his budding career as an illustrator for video games, all the while wondering which couch I was going to pass out on. But then, at about 3:30, Paddy stumbled in.

It’s been a lot of late night city wandering but I like Toronto; the people are nice and there’s a lot going on. It’s just flat, so flat that today I saw a cloud on the horizon and my first thought was ‘Mountain!” Definitely a sign of withdrawals.

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