I’m Everywhere You Want To Be

I made a couple of fatal errors in my vacation plan:

1. Switching hotels for the third night of my stay. Originally we planned 2 nights of solitude for me and then 3 nights with Saint Aardvark (how’s that for a book title) but then SA’s part of the stay got canceled so I canceled that hotel but then I thought I might like a third night on my own. Instead of booking a third night at the first hotel I booked a single night at a different hotel.

That would be tonight. It’s a nice hotel, though a bit drafty. The bathroom amenities are very attractive and I look forward to shampooing, conditioning and moisturizing with them.

2. Before I left home, I packed three books, a notebook, some shirts and underwear and some pretzels and cheese popcorn oh yes and my laptop computer into a bag. Doesn’t sound like that weighs 100 lbs but I think it does. Really. Oh and I didn’t take the car, so I’m on foot. Which is great and fine except

3. Today I had to check out of hotel A at 11 am but couldn’t check in to hotel B until 3 pm. Four hours doesn’t seem like very long unless you are carrying a 100 lb bag.

So after I left hotel A this morning I stopped at the first hair salon that looked likely to serve me, what with the huge bag on my shoulder and the desperate, pained look on my face and there I spent an hour getting my hair cut. Also washed and conditioned and blown dry. My bag sat in the corner, stony faced, heavy, waiting. I drank a complimentary tea and admired my stylist’s long red locks.

Oh yes, I had decided I was going to grow my hair out but I can’tstanditsomuch so now it is shorter again.

Then I went around the corner and had some lunch at a Mexican place. I had a Caesar and some tacos. The Caesar was tastier and spicier than the Mexican food. I do like a spicy Caesar.

But even though I dragged out my drink and tacos, it was only 1:10 pm and I was done. I still had almost 2 hours to kill and a really heavy bag. And there are no matinees at the movie theatres on Thursdays and anyway I’m still mad about sitting through The Men Who Stare At Goats – which I keep wanting to call The Men Who Run With Goats – yesterday. George Clooney is beautiful and Jeff Bridges is a genius and it could have been a really good movie but, well, it wasn’t.

Aha I just figured out how to turn up the heat. The room isn’t drafty anymore.

I wandered up a block and went to Shopper’s drug Mart to buy a lipgloss and some chips. I walked for another block or so but I could. not. go. any. further and there it was, Blenz, the coffee shop that time forgot.

Is it just me or has Blenz just stopped trying altogether? I used to go to Blenz a lot, living downtown, and they were not super swish but they were almost always clean (except for the bathrooms, which were a losing battle) and stocked with things you could buy and they had music playing. They were comfortable. I used to meet people for coffee at them. And then – what, did there arrive too many Starbucks and JJ Beans and Bean Around the Worlds and coffee coffee everywhere you look coffee and Blenz just decided – nope. We are the McDonald’s of coffee shops and we don’t care.

I first noticed the Blenz in the Mizzle seemed kind of downscale but just assumed it was because it’s in the Mizzle, where lots of things are downscale versions of themselves.

I also don’t spend as much time in coffee shops as I used to. And I like to go to the non-chain coffee shops. So I haven’t sat in a Blenz, reading a paper or whatever, trying not to have to go to the bathroom because heaven knows what I might find there, in what seems like quite a few years. Until today.

There were no fewer than three middle aged bearded men reading papers in various corners of the room. It looked nice and empty and as though there would be lots of room for me and my giant bag. I went in, ordered a small coffee to stay and sat in a comfy chair to read one of my books, called Tan Lines. This book is so trashy I only need to read every third page to follow the plot. I think one of the characters might be loosely based on Liz Phair, which keeps me interested. The character in question is a former alternative rocker who hits a dry patch and decides to turn to pop music and enlists the help of a production duo called “White Tiger” who write songs for Avril Lavigne.

This guy named Phil sat in the other comfy chair on the other side of the table. He was about 6 foot 5 and very burly. Dressed all in black. People kept saying hi to him, that’s how I know his name is Phil. I didn’t talk to him. He just sat there and every once in a while he would get up and go to the bathroom.

There was another regular customer sitting at the table on my other side and at one point he said, “Hey Phil,” and Phil said, “hey,” and the other guy said, “the squirrels were looking for you yesterday,” and Phil said, “what?” and the other guy said “the squirrels. They were looking for you yesterday.”

That was it. Phil didn’t say anything else. Neither did the other guy.

There was also a grumpy bearded man sitting in the corner who, I think, was about to kick the ass of another bearded man. Beardo One said, “No, YOU get away from ME you dirty old pervert.” Beardo Two complied, luckily. Beardo One sounded serious. And crazy. And seriously crazy.

No one talked to me, or my bag. No one even noticed I was there. No one cared that I was reading Tan Lines. So I kept sitting there until it was three o clock and then I went to my new hotel, here, where once I took my boots off and sniffed all the bathroom amenities and finished this post I was going to watch Oprah but then Oprah was having her Karaoke Challenge? What? Apparently Oprah cares even less than Blenz what the world thinks of her? So I’m going for a walk instead. A walk that will end with beer, amen.

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