People here are fascinating. And not in a “gee, what wonderfully intellectual stimulation” sense. I mean behaviours are just so far outside of what I consider “the norm” that time chases its own tail trying to keep up.
Toronto is defined from the mix of its people who make their way here from all parts of the world. Hindus, Moslems and Jews from various continents, Chinese, Japanese, Malaysian, lots of Filipinos, Ukrainians, Russians and Italians all set up little communities here. So when unusual behaviour is observed, there’s a strong possibility it can be attributed to the norms of another country. Maybe.
Back in the small town in which I was raised, when people waited for buses, we were always careful to line up – just like they do at elementary school. That behaviour was bred into us, and by God anyone who misbehaved received the harshest Canadian punishment possible. They got the glare of their life.
Here in Toronto, some of us line up at the bus stops. And usually people – anxious to follow the crowd – will continue to line up, right up until the bus arrives. But as soon as the bus doors open, the line breaks out into a mass of chaotic elbows and feet, all desperately dancing around each other in pursuit of a spot on the bus where they can sit down. Some of the shorter people will barge right in front of you, with your two arms of groceries, and pretend not to see you. Canadian glares are useless. Their shortness is the Canadian kryptonite.
Lots of people in Toronto hold conversations with themselves. Out loud. I saw one large woman yelling at herself. It was at a bus stop, late at night.
“Get over here!”
“No you get over here!”
I looked around to see who she was talking to, but there was no one there. No one I could see anyway.
This wasn’t a cogent argument about politics. It was one of those types of arguments that we all enjoy, I’m sure. She was nitpicking. At herself.
The other day I sat in a richly dark Starbucks, held in place by the arms of a big leather chair. Total bliss. I had my iPad and my large bottle of water, and the music was just right.
And then he came in. He was tall, thin and had blond hair. The guy was in his late 20’s I think.
Anyway, he plunked himself in the seat next to me, right next to the beautiful young blond girl, who was also reading. He sat and stared at her. Her back got rigid and it became apparent that she was re-reading the same passage over and over. I started watching him, over the top of my iPad.
Five minutes passed. He stared. She didn’t turn the next page. Then I heard him talking, a sing-song string of syllables. They made no sense. She didn’t look at him. He continued talking for a while, conversationally. The minutes passed, slowly.
Finally he got up and moved past me to get to the door. The stench hit me, and I felt my eyes starting to water.
The girl looked over at me and smiled, shaking her head. I nodded and turned back to my iPad.
Sort of. I could still hear him talking, as he paced back and forth outside the café door.
Dear old dad wouldn’t have known what to make of all this. He probably would have called the guy’s sexuality into question.
The love of money wasn’t the root of all evil, as far as he was concerned. It was homosexuality. And he was there to set everyone straight on that.
So to speak.
Life in Toronto is often like this. Different scenes, different odd behaviours, every day.
Kind of like an old commercial for “Bits and Bites”: a different handful in every bite.