Tag Archives: TTC

In Cahoots

It’s strange now to see anyone using a pay phone. Stranger still to see anyone using a payphone on the subway platform, but there she was.

The woman in the farmer’s galoshes.

I don’t want to reveal too much; I don’t want to, you know, compromise her identity or anything, the woman in the farmer’s galoshes with the big scar running from the corner of her left eye to the middle of her rather prominent forehead.

She picked up the phone and dialled, punching in the numbers without hardly ever even looking at the keypad.

The phone rang a few times, it must have, before she got an answer. She tapped her thick fingers against the plastic sides of the telephone booth as she waited.

Her nails were immaculate.

“So you’re home after all,” she said, finally. “Meet me at our spot in half an hour.”

A pause, the heavy underground air ringing my ears.

“Oh, sorry. Did I wake you? Alright then. Meet me at our spot in an hour. Can you get to our spot in an hour? Is an hour enough? Alright then. I’ll meet you at our spot in an hour.”

She hung up the phone, placed the receiver back in its cradle with a semi-satisfying click, the woman with immaculate nails in the farmer’s galoshes with the big scar running from the corner of her left eye to the middle of her rather prominent forehead.

And there I was. Standing there, right next to the booth, the action, pretending to read Didon’s Play It As It Lays, and trying to be cool, just be cool, and wondering.

Was it possible that I had just witnessed something clandestine, at 4:00PM on a Sunday?

I mean, should I even be telling you this?

She timed it perfectly. Our train arrived. The doors opened and the woman got onto the subway car ahead of me.

I tried to catch her eye as she turned, and I failed.

Didion, Joan. (2005). Play It As It Lays: A Novel. Farrar, Straus and Giroux (revised paperback edition): New York.

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Filed under People, Places

The Kyd

Can you make memories, or do they just happen?


It would be nice to choose, but I wasn’t thinking that just yet, watching The Kyd.

He was being held way up high, against his father’s chest. They were waiting in line behind us. With them were The Kyd’s mother and grandmother. They were trying their best to placate The Kyd, who was screaming his head off.

It was a long line. A crowded line on a busy day, and both were just shy of being uncivil. It was the opening weekend of the Canadian National Exhibition – THE EX, with its rides and shows and games and fried coke and glow sticks and cronuts and sand sculptures and fireworks and giant-stuffed-unicorns and .99 cent spaghetti – and the subways and shuttle buses were running at full capacity, causing people to spew up from deep underground and spill out into meandering tendrils along the sidewalks, against the office towers and assorted businesses of the downtown.

"But it was 99 cents!"

“But it was 99 cents!”


On and on it went.

The screaming, the howling.

The fingers pulling at the inside of the cheek of his wide-open, half-toothless mouth.

The Kyd screwing up his face something foul and sour – an awful, pulpy mass of tears and snot and dripping, inconsolable wetness. The Kyd beating his father’s shoulder with his balled-up little hands. His mother on one side offering him a cookie, a toy, a candy. His grandmother on the other side sing-songing “soon, soon, we’ll be there/we’ll be there soon/just hold on, just hold on!” to the back of The Kyd’s mussed-up head.

The father telling him to just hold on.

“Just hold on.”


“Soon, OK? We’ll be there soon, I promise!”

“PleaseIhafftago!PleaseIhafftago! PleaseIhafftago!PleaseIhafftago! PleaseIhafftago!PleaseIhafftago!IHAFFTAGO.PLEASE!!PLEASE!!PLLLLEASE!!!”


I remember thinking, irritability, Why do people take children places? Why do they think they can go just anywhere?  

Oh my god.

“Oh my god. Stephen, I think he’s got to go the bathroom.”


I’d like to say I remember noticing this too late, before the inevitable. That there was nothing I could have done even if I hadn’t noticed anything.

With time, when perhaps it matters less, perhaps I will.

Really cannot speak for The Kyd.

Who started kicking, really kicking hard, so his father held him tighter, big hands grabbing each other at the shoulders.


When The Kyd stopped wailing and crying, I knew it was over.

He started wetting his pants.

Soaking his father in his urine.

Causing the mother to cry and wail, dropping candies onto the sidewalk.

Making the grandmother hysterical, jumping up and down, stepping on the candies.

Gooey Swedish berries sticking to the ground all around them.

The family stepped out of line and ducked into a nearby office building.

The rest is conjecture.

That was months ago, August sometime. Mid August going into September. And now it’s almost Christmas.

Merry Christmas.


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Filed under Children, Family, Interruptions