Those Three Silly Words.

January 18, 2006

Downtown is a girl with dirty runners and a guy with cigarettes. A few patent brogue flashes mixed in with the glint of stainless steel thermoses. Heels clicking, strollers rocking, mothers fraying. Everything in its usual rhythm. I’m waiting for the 8 near the crowded mall entrance. This is my favorite spot in the city. 102 ave and 101 street. It’s a goldmine of hot beauty and despair. The city proper is encapsulated in the 100 or so meters of this block. A bit of everybody is there.

I see the couple leaning against the glass of the office tower. He’s got a face that only a mother could love; scarred with deep cuts and his eyes seem too small. Almost looks like he just got sprung. She’s a cubicle dweller somewhere – got the cheap brown suit and the practical glasses to prove it. She’s all over him like a brunette coat. Up and down his face with her lips. Hands on his ass. He seems faintly reluctant, but hey, what guy wouldn’t want that? Quite a scene, really. All within the narrow strokes of fading daylight. A nice refresh from the suits and beggars that make up the base of this strip.

They go at their almost dryhump for another minute or two before the 99 comes lumbering down the ave. It is her bus, apparently. They disengage after a long, wet kiss. He turns around and starts to walk off. She approaches the bus, stops in the doorway, turns around and stands there, blocking the entrance. She calls his name across the crowded sidewalk. He is twenty feet away, but he hears just fine and turns around.

“I love you” she calls.

“I love you, too” he croaks, and then turns and continues walking away.

I have to chuckle a bit before guffawing. What is this, the final scene from some cheesy romantic comedy? Have these two drama majors seen Pretty Woman a few too many times? Maybe. Still, two people declaring their love for each other across a crowded sidewalk is not a scene that I see every day. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen it.

I keep my cynicism in check. It is too easy to go there. The lovers had their five minute fling under the glass and steel and diesel of downtown and left a lovely trace on the sidewalk.

I’m glad I was witness.

Vignette #25

6 reader comments (closed)

1

Rich

“drama majors” indeed. what a couple a flakes.

Jan 18, 2006 • 09:24

2

adam the ink slinger

I have a fondness for that particular chunk of city too, Mike.

As for the lovers, I’m not sure what to make of that. I guess it’s nice to know that people still do the ridiculously cheesy when love is involved. Cheesy stuff like that means that all is well with the world, I think.

Jan 18, 2006 • 22:29

3

gravel

Yeah, the lovers were melodramatic but very well meaning. And comforting in a way.

RE: 102 and 101 – best place for people watching in the city.

Jan 19, 2006 • 00:13

4

Rich

Downtown isn’t bad, but West Ed is better for people watching. You really get to see people at their consumerist worst @ West Ed.

Jan 19, 2006 • 15:31

5

Mark Kozub

Great piece of writing. It’s interesting how uncomfortable we get when we see two people so unabashedly in love (or lust), hey? It’s like we think, “WHAT IS THIS, AN AD FOR LOVE? DID SOMEONE PAY YOU?” On the other hand, more love in the world is a good thing. Here’s a thought, too: how would you have felt if it were a same-sex couple really going at it on the street? Would the “ick” factor be higher? And if so, does that make you think about your/our prejudices? (Sorry for the tangent…)

Jan 19, 2006 • 15:49

6

gravel

@Mark: Interesting question. These two weren’t going at it TOO hot heavy, but it was certainly conspicuous. I always tend to feel uncomfortable with displays of excessive affection. My first thought is usually, “What is this, your bedroom? Take it home.” I think, and I might be wrong here, that almost everyone is put off by excessive groping and grinding in public. Its just not the place for it, to me. BUT, once in a while, it is nice to see a couple go at it with no regard for propriety.

As for the same-sex question, I’m not sure. I’ve seen two guys go at it in a bar before, but never on the street. I don’t know. My gut tells me, shamefully, that the “ick” factor would increase as compared to a straight couple locking lips.

Jan 19, 2006 • 17:06

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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.

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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?

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