The dame on the side seat, all of skinny-assed eighteen, is talking loudly to her boyfriend on her cell phone. Looking and sounding like ten gins or six left-handers (hard to tell, but I’d bet on the weed). That’s what draws my attention today. That low, drunken slur in her voice, trying to sound alert. The blue eyeshadow just barely keeping her eyes open.
“I’ll come home if you want. I’ll come home right now. [pause] No, I’m not. [pause] I said I’m not. [slight giggle] Nothing. I said I’m not! Should I come home or not? [talking quite loud] I don’t know when I’ll be there…I’m not! For the last time!”
And on and on, getting progressively more annoyed at her boyfriend…sounding more fucked up with each passing moment. Far be it for me to call someone out on public inebriation, but since I gave up the sauce I find it difficult to see anyone in this kind of shape. For me, witnessing someone’s struggle to keep their shit tied leads to one of two reactions: disgust or empathy. If I see a genuine lunge at something beyond simply being wasted, I have empathy. Anything short of that and disgust takes over. I’ve done my share of both.
[hangs up phone after a perfunctory thank you, turns to her two friends] “Well, that was nice. Some old shit. I guess I’ll have to fuck him tonight to make up for it.“ Her friends are in similar states of cloudyheadedness, but not as bad as my little stoned gutter.
After a few minutes of this adolescent bullshit, and although my stop is a few kms down the road, I decide that it is time to leave the bus. As I wait at the door, sloppydrunk asks me if I’d like to come with them. No, I say, I’m on my way somewhere. She turns her heavy eyes away for a moment and then back to mine, giving me a pathetic look. Besides that, I continue, it smells like drunken girl in here. She didn’t respond, and I got home late.
StreetRag ::: An Urban Notebook
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?