Like anyone just off vacation I felt pretty good. I didn't see everybody or
do everything, but I did manage to walk (or re-walk) enough ground out West
to return with some funny stories to fill the humid Toronto afternoons
telling my Ontario friends.
As usual, I walked off the runway tired and very drunk. It was two a.m.
Toronto time and I was to start the morning show downtown at six.
What a mess.
I had already been on a four day bender, attending various parties and
drinking off a visit with my ex and our daughter.
And now back to the radio station within hours of my arrival. I really have
to plan these things better.
All the same is was good to be back: To smell the smog and listen to the
thunder of the Streetcars. To watch a starless sky and eat hotdogs from
street vendors who seemed to be laughing as you ate what they know is a
shitwich. To feel the massive city breath heavy breaths, that are as ugly
as, they are beautiful.
The human condition in concentrated form. Yes, Yes this is always what I
need. Always these days. Always.
When I got home around 3:30am I put down my bags and had a look around. The
face of my apartment had changed and somewhat dramatically. My brother was
now long-gone on a 53 hour bus ride out west and somebody new was sleeping
in his bedroom. I scanned. The living room looked great with new trinkets
gracing every corner. Pillows, some frilly, and others with IKEA's
appropriation of Aztec design, sat comfortably on my tired sofa (the sofa
can not be saved. I am afraid too many nights of lonely men have sunken deep
into its foam pores). The bathroom is filled with creams and lotions,
mascara and lip glosses. The kitchen has cute little hangings and is stacked
with new glassware, throw rugs and spice racks.
My room is the last beacon of manhood. I must go there and not come out for
a while. After five years of crude humour and chronic masturbation, a season
must change. I was to live mono et mono with a woman.
I will call her Sylvia, and for the record, my first impression was honestly
a good one.
She was sweet, petit, and had a nice set of legs that playfully bended under
her skirt when she discussed the possibility of moving into my apartment. A
journalism student and a freelance model/actress, she seemed the right type.
In her extra time she danced ballet and jazz. She had a dancers body. Her
mom, a single woman who lives in the Scarborough Bluffs, is a well off
lawyer so I figured there would always be money if there were any trouble. I
couldn't think of anything else that should be covered, so I went with her.
She was 21 and very much asleep in her new bedroom.
When I got in from the morning show I was in bad shape. I needed sleep and
badly, as I could feel my body cramping up as I approached the 60 hours
awake mark. Sylvia was watching TV on the sofa and smoking a joint. I took a
hit and watched whatever she was watching. She was wearing a spaghetti
string tank top and a short miniskirt. Okay. Well, I did not last long, a
few words and I went to bed, stoned and exhausted.
By the time I got up, went back to sleep and got up again in the morning,
Sylvia was gone and had been gone for the whole night. Wow, she really did
like to party. I spent the day wandering around the house trying to get a
few things done.
Around 6pm I got a call from the District #42 Police station. They had
Sylvia and there was some sort of problem. She got on the phone and
explained that after she finished her shift at the sports bar she worked at,
a big fella walked out of the place and followed her. He grabbed her and
threw her into an alley. Now. how a 5'6, 110 pound girl punches her way out
of that is a mystery to me, but she managed to do just that. The police held
her for psychiatric treatment and ID checks and then released her. When she
spoke to her boss, he got angry and claimed that her fussing about was
hurting his business, so she quit. It had been two days and I now had a
fresh batch of police reports and unemployment slips being sent in the mail.
Honestly, I was not concerned.
Sylvia was fun. We smoked outside on the balcony and drank beer in the
afternoons. Sure, she had no money (of her own), but she was upbeat and
upfront with her conversation. When she was out for over a day she would
phone to let me know and I would do the same. I often made her dinner and we
would watch documentaries that I rented or were on television. Her friends
were the usual University fare with their various drug habits and young
scattered ideas. She had a few boyfriends that would come over when I was
out and have their way with the little dancer. It all seemed pretty normal.
As the weeks pushed on we had many nights sitting in the living room with
our whiskey-gingers and would talk about our families and our relationships.
Her dad killed himself when she was ten, so she seemed to have some issues
there. She was also Bipolar which, oddly enough, did not come up in my
original screening process.
IE: So I hope you don't mind cats. As you can see I have two. Say, is it me
or do I detect that you have mood swings that would make the Bobbit penis
story look like good night on the town?
In a funny way, nothing she could throw at me was really bothersome. She
seemed fine and was honestly convinced of her capability. Our relationship
was very platonic and fun, so my only real concerns were whether she would
pay the bills on time.
June rolled on and Sylvia got a job at one of the Museums. It lasted one
shift. She missed her second shift when she woke up at 1:30pm. Things were
not going well for her, but I tried to be helpful. I brought her to a
Martini Bar with some friends and showed her how to cook a little. Lifestyle
stuff is easy.
Jazz season was in full swing and I was involved with a lot of concerts,
festivals and reviewing for the entertainment beat at the station, so we
didn't see each other for a bit. She had a few modeling gigs, so that would
bring in some cash. For just a moment I figured everything was going to be
I lay in my bed on a Wednesday night towards the end of June when Sylvia
showed up with a friend. I shuffled about not thinking much of it and tried
to fall asleep. Before long I heard a knock at my bedroom door and I
scampered around to throw on some shorts. Sylvia wanted me to meet her
friend. Curtis was a huge black guy with corn rose. He put out his fist so
that I could hit it back with my own. I was so groggy that I reached out and
shook it, as if we were shaking hands. White people: Sometimes we don't have
Sylvia looked a little disorientated and seemed to be pleading with me
through her eye contact. I was not interested and closed my door. I lay down
again and tried to force the vision of his huge cock drilling her tiny
little body out of my mind. It wasn't easy. Soon enough I heard her saying
goodbye to Curtis, much to his dismay, or so it sounded. She opened my door
and lay down beside me in the bed.
Sylvia explained an awful lot to me in the next five minutes. I had not seen
her in 48 hours and that was because she had downed a prescription's worth
of pills and almost died. When somebody found her they took her to hospital
and she was resuscitated, barely. Her body was covered in little suction
marks where sensors had been placed. After describing that experience she
explained that she had a spot in a shi-shi Rehab hospital, and would be
leaving for it in 12 hours. I couldn't believe it.
Got a producer's job. My brother moves back to B.C. I visit my four-year-old
daughter. Go to a wedding. Visits from strange people. New roommate. Big
concerts. Roommate leaves with 24 hours notice before rent is due. Her arms
are around me in my bed.
I felt like I wanted to throw up, but help her too. We lay there, quiet, for
a long time.
She looked at me and very tenderly started to kiss me. I was panicking. This
is not good Jake.
Now I am joining in.
Hey idiot. You are kissing a manic-depressive, bipolar, suicidal dancer. Cut
it the FUCK OUT!
I am older now, so when my conscience is really freakin', I am able to
actually hear it. Strange. So I quit it and flopped over on my side. Soon I
was asleep and she would be gone before I returned from work the next day.
Ugly, but better than any other option. I think we were both a little sad
I arrived home after work on Thursday and I must admit, I was happy. Sylvia
had paid for two months rent and so July was mine to enjoy, alone. A rare
treat indeed. I walked around the apartment and pet my cats a little. I
opened the fridge and got a drink, sat back and had a sip. What's this?
Music. oh shit.
Sylvia walked out of her room and smiled. I stared back.
"My admission date got pushed back a day," she watched me. "What are you up
"Uhh, well, I thought I would stay in. I didn't get much sleep last night,"
I said seriously.
Sylvia wanted to stay in too.
Boy, did we ever fuck.
I lay there, shocked and remarkably pleased. I knew it would not last long.
The reality of the situation was hiding under my back, and he was ready to
In my head, over and over, "A dancer. Finally, a Dancer."
Despite my blissful moments marinating in the glory of crazy sex, I knew it
was bad news. But just as I turned over to give her the speech about how we
probably won't see each other after tonight, she got up and got dressed.
Sylvia looked very pretty as she lit up a smoke, placing it in her soft,
dark lips. She didn't even look at me as she headed for the door. Last call
for drinks was just around the corner and she had some money to burn.
wanted to believe from the bottom of her heart that this would be the last
'last call' that she would worry about for a long time.
"Forty-five days at least," I thought and I lit up a smoke myself. I lay
back and thought about my day ahead. It was three a.m. and I wouldn't get
any sleep again.
The next day was a little rough at work, but I managed. I came home to find
a small note from Sylvia. It didn't say much, but included her mom's phone
I changed my answering machine message and didn't hear from Sylvia.
One Saturday morning at 4:30am I checked a phone message from 3:30am. I
sipped at my juice and listened to Sylvia lose it at me for five minutes
about how I did not indicate to callers on the answering machine where she
was in a proper fashion. I felt bad, I had no way to call her and I knew she
was suffering in the clinic. I also felt angry, but not because she was
angry with me.
Steam, it blows everywhere. Even at me.
Jake White is known in some circles as The Great White Hope. You tell me