Thursday, May 8, 2008

A Date With My Ex In Toronto

A few days ago I asked my ex if she was OK with her role on this site. She said it was fine; she could use the publicity. I asked why. She said she's got a new book coming out. Columbia's publishing division is handling it, and the pre-printing sales figures have been dismal. "Sometimes I feel like I'm wasting my life," she told me. "I'm pregnant, I've got Dennis, but I need more than that. You know what I mean."

"Sure," I said. "Everyone needs to feel successful in their career. That's normal."

"I meant money, David."

"Well, what's the book about? Maybe it'll surprise you."

"It's a complete history of asceticism, of self-denial," she said.

"So it's an impulse buy."

"They're going to put them near the register."

" lines."

"You know what, David...Go fuck yourself."

And she hung up. But she's fine with these stories, and that's all I wanted to hear. So here's another good one about her trip to Toronto in 2006.

Loren (her name) doesn't like to fly. She's afraid the plane'll crash and she'll be the sole survivor. "I couldn't deal with the guilt," she used to say. "And what if I forgot my purse?"

So I drove down to Union Station, waited for her in the Grand Concourse, and was happy to see her walking up the marble steps, trailing a rolling suitcase. "How was your trip?" I asked, shaking her hand.

"Don't get me started."

"Why? What happened?"

"We hit a cow."

"You hit a cow? You mean the train hit a cow?"

"No, David. I hit a cow. I got out and hit a cow...Yes, the train hit a cow."

"How do you know? Did they announce it?"

"I was in the front...Inthefrontofthetrain! The engineer was showing me how it worked."

"Well, that was nice of him."

"You should see how high the windows are. I had to sit on his lap just to see out."

"Sure. I guess they were out of phonebooks..."

"--And that's when we hit the cow. It was awful. Oh, I feel like I'm gonna be sick. Anyway, where are we going for dinner?"

At this point she was just a philosophy major in her last year at Yale. Graduate school at Columbia was a year away. I kept having to remind myself, "She's smarter than you, David. The tattoo's right."

I took her back to my apartment, and she took a shower, unpacked, and got dressed. I tried to get into the shower with her, but she stuck out her hand. "I've got a headache."

"Oh," I said. "Do you want an aspirin?"

"No, but lick my ass for a while."

She was a genteel girl. Gingham and ribbons, I used to say. "She's a lot like Laura Ingalls Wilder," I told people. "Only with softer hands."

Dinner was at a place called Sapore. It's an Italian restaurant around Yonge and Lawrence. It's a small, intimate kind of place--the kind of place where the maitre d' is also the owner. And he knows your name.

"Adler, table for two," I said, referencing our reservation. He led us to a table on the patio. It was a beautiful night, and the weather was perfect for al fresco dining.

"We're eating outside?" Loren asked.

"What's wrong?"

"I don't want to eat outside."

"Why not? It's gorgeous out."

"David," she said. "This city smells like shit."

And she was right. It was early spring, and the open-sewer smell of Toronto was particularly strong. So I asked politely for another table, and we were seated near the middle of the dining room.

Everything was fine until dessert.

"Would you like anything else?" the waiter asked. "Coffee, cake maybe?"

"I'll have a cup of coffee," I said.

"No you won't," Loren interjected.

"Why not?"

"Do you know what kind of beans they use?"


"Are they fair trade?"

"Why don't you ask him."

She turned to the waiter. "Is your coffee fair trade?"

"I'm sorry--I don't know."

"No coffee, David."

The waiter looked at me, very sympathetic. "Perhaps another rye."

Loren castrated him with her eyes. "He's driving."

Later that night, in bed, I tried kissing her feet. That's her favourite form of foreplay.

"No," she said. "Go to sleep."

"But I haven't seen you for three months."

"David, I'm tired. I've been up since four."

I paused for a theatrical beat. "Well maybe you should've had a cup of coffee."

She stayed for another two weeks. It's the first time a woman's ever menstruated from May 1-15, then 22-30. "What'd you need the week off for?" I asked her. "A smile?"

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