Thursday, April 24, 2008

Torontonians Don't Fall In Love Like Art Buchwald

My grandfather just got back from Florida, where he goes primarily to golf and steal books from his complex's library. I've written about the library before, but I'll just mention that it's administered by a retired New York librarian, and all its volumes were acquired courtesy of donations. (That means, for you Gentile readers, that some aged Jewish man died, and his wife chucked the books.)

Anyway, he gave me a copy of Art Buchwald's I'll Always Have Paris, which describes Buchwald's ascent to beloved middle-brow caricaturist.

Buchwald, an ugly man in the mould of a shorter, fatter John Turturro, devotes a section of the book to the courtship of his wife Ann. First he ignored her, calling her Fran. Then he sat down, uninvited, at a cafe table, dishing out egotistical bullshit re: his incredible gift for styling prose. (Buchwald is to writing what the Ford Taurus is to cars.) Next time he cornered her in a bakery and forced her to buy him a baguette. And, finally, he invited himself to her house for dinner--which she was to cook for him.

It was at that dinner that he kissed her, then got laid on the kitchen table.

Maybe the fact that they were in Paris somehow explains this. Maybe the fact that it was 1950 is important. Maybe she was just an idiot. But Buchwald's story reminds me of a friend who tried, for years, to land a single date with a Rosedale girl.

First he met her and forgot her name. Then he saw her at a bar and tried to buy her a drink--which she refused. Then he saw her leaving his dorm, and offered to take her for coffee. She said no. Finally, he asked her to be his date to his fraternity's spring social. She told him she preferred to remain friends.

Of course she didn't like him, but the message was sent.

Fast forward three years and this girl's now engaged to the son of a man who has a Renoir in his bathroom.

The book-movie model of dating just doesn't work in Toronto. Here men and women just hate each other. And that hate doesn't blossom into love; it blossoms into more fragrant and colourful hate.

In fact, I don't know anyone who met their boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse in the city proper. They all met at camp, on vacation, at school, or at someone's cottage. Was that because they were drunk and half-naked? No, it was because they found steady sex, and they couldn't give it up.

It amazes me when I hear stories of people falling in love in Toronto. But, invariably, it's a case of love at first sight. "I saw him/her and wanted to screw him/her." No one's story goes, "He asked me what book I was reading and I told him to fuck off. We'll be married in June."

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