LETTER TWENTY-THREE

Monday, June 6, 2016
Toronto

Dear Henry, 

I got that heatwave I was wishing for. Last week my skin blotched from its oppression. It's since passed, but while it lasted, it was glorious.

A couple weeks ago I was looking through the concert listings in NOW magazine while on the streetcar, to pass the time. I was going through them chronologically. I noticed the Digs were still playing Thursdays at the Drake, a band I thought had dissolved years ago. Me and Sophie used to see them at Cherry Cola's on Sundays. I was kind of enjoying myself. It's nice to find out what's happening without going through facebook.

So I was leafing through the listings, when something caught my eye. The Sonics! The Sonics were playing Lee's Palace Tuesday May 31. Man they're old. I mean could you name a better heat wave garage rock way to take out the night?

Tuesday comes. I'm at the library, as per usual, about ten minutes from the concert. Just got out of work, so I'm pretty exhausted. I check out my bank account balance. Ach. Half what's needed for the ticket. It's okay, I'll find some scalper.

I hit the road. Sonics play at 10pm, and it's just after 8pm––I figure I have a lot of time to find a cheap ticket. I pass by the Beer Store. Nope, I say to myself. No beer tonight. I pass by the Metro. Nope, no groceries tonight. I pass by all those beautiful annex homes with the porches and the gardens and the beautiful students biking along. Nope, no––you get the point. 

Finally, I reach the parking lot behind Lee's. Nice parking lot, with a Love Bot painted on the back of a store. I'm pepping myself up for perhaps a long night of disappointment. I take a breath, and turn onto Bloor, bracing myself for the the mingling crowds of smokers and concert-goers.

It was an idyllic spring evening on Bloor, just east of Bathurst. The sun was out, pedestrians were wandering up and down, none, apparently, in a rush. And there was no line up at Lee's.

Naturally taken aback, I asked the closest couple,

"You here for the Sonics?"

"The Sonics," a girl in a Big Fat Burriot apron replied. "Who? We're just talking, getting to know each other."

I scratched my head, and pulled at the entrance to the Palace. Locked, and the lights were off. Could I have mixed up the nights?

I scrolled through my phone, looking through ticket master to find some clue. The Sonics, May 31, Lee's Palace. CANCELED. Shit. What should I feel in this situation? I guess I just saved some money, but––

A guy in sandals, shorts, and fisherman cap came up, pulled at the entrance in frustration. Was this another concert goer who missed the memo?

"You here to see the Sonics?"

"Me? Hell, I'm here to pick up my credit card. This place is impossible to get into. I left it here last Friday, I've been coming back everyday, it's never open!"

I laughed. Nothing more consoling than another human's misfortune.

After chatting for a bit, fisherman starts banging at the door. I'm looking at the sky, and the earlier couple are apparently enjoying fisherman's theatrics. Then, the door opens, and fisherman slips through.

"No," yelled the aproned girl. "You'll set off the alarm." But fisherman had already slipped into the darkness. Only to reappear seconds later, mind you, frustrated that he hadn't been able to get any further than the entrance lobby.

"How'd you get in," I asked.

"I dunno," he said. "I was just banging at the door, guess that loosened the lock or something, and it popped open."

 Big Fat Burrito girl, thoughtfully, "Maybe the alarm isn't going to off." 

And that's when the alarm went off. In seconds the shrieking siren filled our entire region of Bloor, echoing and amplifying off the street fronts. Passers-by up and down looked our way. Fisherman nervously looked back and forth between the palace and the adjoined Mexican burrito chain, where Ms. Big Fat Burrito had just entered, saying to her friend, "sorry, looks like I have to stay". Her friend left, and after minute of surveying the mess, wondering, it seemed, what the moral thing to do would be, fisherman also quietly sidled off, not looking back once; although to his credit, he walked deliberately slow, and I could see his hat bob up and down in the crowd as he grew smaller and smaller in the distance. Then I was alone in front of Lee's, in the carnage, laughing my ass off.

Laughing uncontrollably, in fact. Laughing harder than I've laughed since I don't know when.

Affectionately,

Sal

P.S. The photo of Love Bot I included is of the Queen St variety, NOT the Bloor St version of Tuesday's night.