Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Taking My Ex To The CNE; Spending My SSHRC Grant At Holt's; Ferragamo Heels

A couple years ago my ex came to visit me in Toronto. It was August, and the Canadian National Exhibition was two weeks into its run. For those not from Toronto, the CNE signals the official end of summer. As soon as the Conklin trucks start packing away their ferris wheels, funhouse mirrors, and bumper cars, the leaves turn brown and it's back to school.

My great-grandfather owned a few concessions at the Ex, and was actually Showman of the Year in 1967. My grandfather worked there, my father worked there, and I worked there. I sold hats, plastic horns, pennants, and other cheap kitsch. Working under my grandfather's motto: Nobody pays the same price.

So it was only natural that, when my ex flew in from New York in mid-August, that one of our stops would be past the Princess Gates (only New Yorkers call them the Princes' Gates).

She didn't like it. She hated it. In fact, she demanded that we leave.

"But we've only been here fifteen minutes," I said.

"I don't care. I want to go. It smells like a barnyard."

"That's just the Horse Palace."

"David, I'm wearing Eau d'Hadrien. Do you have any idea how expensive that is?"

"Really? You smell like a harness."

"Do you want to take that back?"

"All right. I'm sorry. Well, you shouldn't have worn perfume to a carnival. What can I tell you."

She glared at me. "It was a gift from my grandmother."

"A five-thousand-dollar bottle of perfume?"

"It was my birthday."

"You know what my grandmother gave me last year? Some Old Navy pyjama bottoms that were 85% off."

"Oh, I want those."

"You can have them." We were walking past a guy selling cotton candy and sno-cones. "Do you want something?"

"What flavours do they have?"

"Lemon, cherry, grape, orange."

"Get me a red one."

So I bought her a cherry sno-cone. I should have known better. I really should have. But I got a red one, too--it's my favourite flavour. Within five minutes she'd spilled cherry syrup all over her Chanel blouse.

"No!" she screamed.

A young Jamaican couple looked at us. "Look," I said, "she has the same bag as you."

"David, get me a napkin."

"It's too late," I said, crunching cubes of shaved ice.

"Just get me one!" So I did. "This shirt cost five-hundred dollars."

"I thought it was a present for finding the afikoman."

"Fuck you."

I was mad. "Where did you think we were going, Canal Street? I told you, it's outside. It's a fair."

"Does that mean I can't look nice? So I'm going to dress like a homeless person because we're going to a fair." She was hysterical, setting the stain deep into the silk threads. Then, just as her finger was poised for the seventh time to poke me in the chest, there was a loud cracking sound, and she fell down. "My heel!"

She'd broken a heel on a sewer grate. I knew I was about to die. But, instead, I helped her up.

"Don't say anything," she said.

So I didn't. But I was thinking, "Who wears lambskin pumps to the Ex?" And it was such a good question. I wanted to ask. I wanted to needle her. So, I figured, What the hell.

"Well, at least they were Goodwill buys," I said. "Double-C. That's not a name-brand."

"I'm going to kill you."

"That's a short heel, though. The shorter the heel, the cheaper the shoe."

"Shut up."

"You can wear them on the beach now. Hanlan's Point."

"If you think you're sleeping in bed tonight..."

"Wait a second. I saw those last week. A guy was selling them at Bloor and College. Five bucks for three pairs, or four for seven."

"I bought these at Sak's."

"Yeah, he was selling them from a sack."

Then she kicked me. But at least it was a bare foot.

The rest of our day was great. I carried her back to the car. "I don't know what they do on the ground in Toronto," she said. Then we went to Holt Renfrew, and I bought her two early Thanksgiving presents. She wore them home. "You know you're wearing a tenth of my SSHRC grant," I told her.

"Fuck your SSHRC grant," she said.

We were a happy couple, I'll tell you that.

1 comment:

Diz Mixen said...

It's Prince's Gate. Seriously. I worked at Ontario Place. It was all calm and peaceful there, until the CNE rolled in. Those Carnies!

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