It’s one of those things that is at once fascinating and slightly horrifying. Busy homeward bus, five o’clock bonecrush, standers swaying in the aisles, matrons yakking at the front of the rig, driver ripping transfers like the slackers at the Garneau ticket booth. In the middle of all that, the woman in front of me – sitting alone in her seat because her bag takes up the valuable seat beside her – pulls out two Tupperware containers and a fork. Great. Here it comes. A bus eater, I think to myself. Bus she’s not your standard bus eater. A chocolate bar demurely consumed? Not a problem. Bag of chips and a Gatorade (formerly my breakfast of choice) thrown down the hatch with the finesse only a longtime bachelor can muster? Pushing it, but still within the realm of acceptability. Busting out a couple Tupperware containers and proceeding to enjoy your leftover spaghetti Bolognese and Greek salad on a relatively crowded bus? Well, sorry, but that’s just fucking ludicrous.
Admission: Once, I demolished a Taco Bell #3 combo on the 50 northbound. That’s the one with “Fries Supreme” – possibly the highest calorie, most disgustingly glorious/foul side dish in the fast food pantheon. I was really hungry. Eat-the-ass-out-of-a-dead-skunk hungry. So I can’t talk too loudly, I guess.
My stop approaches. Pull the ripcord and get off the bus. On the short walk home I wonder about dinner. Maybe a potato chip sandwich is in order. Perhaps a glorious hot dog, prepared in the greatest counter top appliance known to man. Upon my arrival home, as fate would have it, Justine announces that tonight is pasta night. Spaghetti, sweet spaghetti.
The 51 southbound, rearview mirror, Jan 2007
StreetRag is an urban weblog and podcast about the city of Edmonton, which is located in the province of Alberta, Canada. It is authored by Edmonton-based writer, web advocate, and poet Michael Gravel and is updated frequently with written urban vignettes, amateurish photographs, deuteronomous audio material, barely coherent musings and rambling ecumenical treatises. StreetRag is a love letter to a lonely prairie burg struggling with its big city ambitions and small-town feel.
The city is Edmonton. It's a subject, not a passion. E-Town is almost universally derided by outsiders as an unlivable tundra wasteland populated by oil-hungry redneck conservatives who despise the arts. All of that is true. But it's not the whole story. There is beauty here. Dusty snowfalls. Brilliant summers. A stunning river valley. A diverse arts community that flourishes. It's a place that inspires a gray relationship - not all good, not all shitty. For that reason alone it is lovable, for what is life but a grayscale?