Forget Magazine - Remember, Remember, Remember

by Jake White

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 normal.

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 a clue.

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 that night.

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 to tonight?"

"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 pounce.

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.

She 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 number.

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

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