It’s 1:30am, Edmonton time, 3:30am Toronto time. I’m kinda delusional and confused with fatigue and too much sunlight. The sun didn’t set until just before 10pm here in Edmonton, which means I had some 16 hours of sunlight today, with my flight. There’s nothing quite like the haggard feeling — an itch that starts in the retina and reaches back, unwanted tickling, into the cranial cavity — from too much sun. Like a corrosive hairball that won’t budge.
One Night in Edmonton.
Whyte Avenue, Edmonton, May 18, 2013. 11:30pm-12:30am.
Crowded sidewalks, loud people spewed out from dark doorways of bars, clubs. Drunk, young, sexually charged. The bright and neon lights matching the gaudiness of sexual energy. Flesh, tight clothes, rank pheremones buzzing viscerally through the din of constant cat calls and blatant ogling. An obvious terrain of machismo – big trucks, motorocycles, muscle shirts and lack of shame or respect or restriction of the male sex drive pervades.
12:30am: “Now we just gotta find two broads who’ll put out,” one young, passing guy says to another, a near-clone. His Hawaiian shirt is fully open and he has a ridiculous bounce in his step.
“Aw man, that girl, the bitch, she called me at 4am yesterday…ha!ha! What do you think she wanted? She wanted me to fuck her. ‘Are you busy,’ she said. Ha! Ha!” His laugh is metallic, punched into the air.
12:00am: I was getting a kebab and a disheveled “clubbing girl” – short skirt, skampy top, elongated heels, but too much fatty flesh billowing and bunching out to pass it off, despite her fake-tanned complexion – burst into the small store and says, slurs, shouts, “Can I use your phone?! I’ll fucking pay you, just, can I use your phone?!” Her voice has a false tone of desperation, shrill. She’s pleading/demanding, but it’s for something selfishly arbitrary, it seems… a lost cell phone, maybe. A booty call. Something to restore her sense of self worth.
“What?…No”, the 30-something year old Kebab man stammers. “No, uh, the battery’s dead, you can’t use.” He’s obviously lying, looking at me apologetically, but with conviction: she’s crazy and rude, right? his look says. His damning judgement forces me into his fold.
“Fine, then fuck you!” the girl blurts, not looking at the Kebab man, but rummaging desperately, with jerky, imprecise movements in an oversized designer knock-off purse. I imagine her pulling out some shamelessly vibrant lip stick and smearing it all over her face…everywhere but her lips. Her flabby form is out the door before her rummaging is done so that the last we see of her is an arm, seemingly disconnected from a body, as though seeking emancipation from her body, grabbing blindly, submerged to the elbow in the bag that she had plunked on the kebab counter when she first made her graceless entrance.
“Bitch, she should learn some respect,” the Kebab man says after she leaves. I feel a dull, detached discomfort.
As soon as I left the hostel, two young men accosted me on the side street. “Hey, do you have a musical instrument?” one slurred, a brunette with short hair (can men be called brunettes?), thin, attractive, with his pants falling below his waist line. Humbert Humbert peeps into my mind. “Do you want a beer?” the other one asked before I could answer.
“Uh, yeah, I’d love a beer.” I said.
“Aw, guy, we’re doing this scavenger hunt, my girlfriend and her friends against us.”
“I don’t have a musical instrument,” I said. “cheers”
“Naw, you gotta take the cap off first, take a sip, then cheers,” the other said seriously, with a hint of religiosity.
“What can this dude help us with?” the brunette asks the other.
“What else is on our list?”
“Uh, a pyramid, uh..”
“Aw, guy, he can help us with that!” He turns to me. “Can you help us with that? We gotta build a human pyramid with six people..”
I look down at the beer in my hand, resenting its price.
“Um, sure, I guess.”
They beckon to a passing a group of guys on the main street, a half block away. They’re drunk too, of course, and loud and over excited.
They start forming the pyramid. I hestitate, and so does another guy.
“You better get in there,” he says to me. He’s muscle-bound, tall, curly haired. His shirt is tight enough to see not just nipple but areola, skin pores (really, areola?). I eye his physique and say, “You can’t weigh much less than me, you get in”, comparing the weight of his muscle to the weight of my love handles.
“I weigh 400 lbs,” he says, smirking. He’s shy and hesitant compared to the rest, and despite wearing the Whyte Ave uniform.
After the picture, there’s general shouting conversation, aggressive aimlessness. “Thanks for the beer,” I say, not caring if anyone hears me, “Have a good night,” and walk down Whyte Ave.