Thursday, November 13, 2008

How To Scalp A Giller Ticket; or People Will Say We're In Love

Last night I was in London, ON, visiting a friend, and I popped in at Frank Davey's house. Frank was watching Oklahoma!, the 1955 version with Gordon MacRae and Gloria Grahame. Yes, Frank has a DVD player. A Toshiba. People tend to assume that, just because he wears homemade sweaters, Frank is some kind of anachronism. That's not the case at all. You should see the man's iPod. If Chantal Kreviazuk only knew who her biggest fan was...

We started talking about my night at the Gillers. Frank hadn't been invited, and he wanted to know who was there. I told him that I'd seen Vicki Gabereau, Valerie Pringle, Wendy Crewson, Craig Kielburger--

"Who's that?" asked Frank.

"Craig Kielburger?"


"He advocates for child rights. Mostly in Africa, Asia. He tries to get kids out of sweatshops. That kind of thing."

"That's nice."

"Yeah, he seems genuine. But he was written by J.M. Barrie, so who knows."

"Why would he be invited?"

"I don't know. He's famous, I guess."

"I've never heard of him."

"He has a column in The Star. He's all over the news."

"But what does he have to do with Canadian writing?"


"So why would they invite him?"

"I don't know."

"I just don't understand."

"It's a tough one."

There was a pause. "Well. They didn't invite me."

I was shocked. He'd already told me, five minutes before. But I'd also noticed an incredible amount of milk in the house. "They didn't."

"No. And I asked the mailman. I asked him every day. What do you think? Can I trust him? I don't know if I can trust him anymore."

"I think you can trust him. I wouldn't worry about that. But I can't believe you weren't invited. I wish I would've known. I had an extra ticket; I scalped it." I never would have taken Frank. He's no fun, and he tends to get into pointless arguments with waiters. Once, at Shopsy's, he insisted that he'd been given slightly less corned beef than I had. And he made the waiter stay at our table while he ran out to his car for a ruler.

"You scalped it?" he said.

"Yeah." [Beat.] "Well, I didn't need it. I asked a friend to go with me, but she's on strike. She had to collect wood. I sold it for eight hundred bucks."

"Eight hundred? Jesus. To whom?"

"Some woman on the street."

"On the street?"

"Yeah. People were lined up out there--right outside of The Four Seasons. 'Who's selling?' was all you could hear. She tried to start me out at two hundred, but there was no way."

"And you got her all the way up to eight?"

"There were four other guys bidding against her. I just let them go. The woman and the guy were left at seven fifty. And they were dressed up, all ready in a dress and a tux. Finally the guy said, 'Look, I've only got eight hundred on me.' And the woman said, 'Me too.' So I didn't know what to do. And I said, 'Well, flip a coin.' The woman said, 'Wait! There must be something else I can do for you. Something.' And, Frank, it was right out of a movie. So, of course, I gave the ticket to her."

"And what did she say?"

"She was so grateful, she kept re-iterating that she'd do anything. And I was thinking about it. She was beautiful. But I said, 'Belinda, I'd never take advantage of someone like that.' So I got her to stick an ice cube down Alice Munro's dress."

"You're kidding!"


"What did Alice do? What did she say?"

"She said, 'It's hot in here.'"

"I can't believe I missed it. David, I'm so mad."

"It wasn't that good. Don't worry. O'Regan hosted again, and he was just terrib--"

"Shh!" And Frank pointed to his LCD screen. "This is my favourite part." And he started to hum. Then he started to sing. The man was in a trance. "Don't throw bouquets at me...Don't please my folks too much...Don't laugh at my jokes too much...People will say we're in love."

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