Kate wears an outfit consisting strictly of Italian names.
Her top half: Dolce.
Her bottom: Armani.
On her feet: Blahnik.
I am in shrunken Levi’s that barely cover my ankles and a
stripped shirt that my mom bought me from Winners.
"Club’s past capacity," the thick,
towering bouncer tells my friends and I as he looks over us. We
stand in front of Storm Nightclub in Yorkville and watch as women
slide past. They wave a quick hello to the bouncer and walk straight
Armed with fake ID and crop tops, we are no match for him and his
I turn to Jackie. Although she wears a catsuit from
Le Chateau, she looks more the part than I do. I shake my head.
"This is fucking ridiculous," I say.
She shrugs. I put my ID back in my purse and prepare
to leave. Kate turns from the bouncer and grabs my arm.
"Wait, don’t fucking go," she says.
It was her idea to come to Toronto’s ritziest and most pretentious
strip for the night. I agreed to join her, seeing as it was only
going to be for one drink. Kate soon informs me it's actually going
to be a night on the town.
I usually try to avoid Yorkville. Had I been around
in the 60’s when it was a district bustling with vagabonds
and hippies, I wouldn’t have stood out as much as I do now.
Three decades later, it’s not the place for a 17-year-old
with a $7 allowance and a minimum wage job who would settle for
recycled beer if it meant saving two bucks. Yorkville is a romping
ground for high-class pimps, arm-candy woman in all shades of tan
and the occasional celebrity. It is a place to show off your money,
be it through the $100 glass of champagne you buy or the woman you
are buying it for. This is why Kate loves it here. Tonight Kate
has $120 in her wallet. This is six times more than what is in my
wallet (and bank account).
Kate doesn’t work. Neither does her mom. Her
dad isn’t working this week since his "bridge club"—a
rental room for out-of-work men to gather and gamble illegally—got
shut down, although this isn’t an uncommon event. He still
manages to stuff his daughter’s wallet with money every time
she tells him to. Every other night.
"We have to get in," Kate says, with determination
that could win a war. I nod, losing the battle. "What, do you
have to be like 21 or something?" she asks the bouncer, staring
up and batting her eyes.
"No, twenty-five," he says without looking
down at her.
I step next to Jackie and roll my eyes. We sit on
the curb and wait for Kate to plead her case. Cars that look like
they’re being taken for a test-drive roll past, vibrating
with heavy bass beats. A blue thunderbird with sleek chrome sides
zooms past us but misses the light. Kate’s ears perk up, recognizing
the sound of the engine. She turns around.
"It’s my dad!" she says, running
toward the car, leaving the bouncer behind.
Kate had mentioned her dad might be around. He tended
to come to Yorkville often. Apparently he had friends in the area.
Jackie and I get off the curb and watch as Kate runs to the side
of the car. I can’t see the driver but there are two blond
heads in the back seat. I raise my eyebrows and let out a dark laugh.
It seems too absurd. Jackie sees it too.
"Are there women in the back?" she asks
me. I raise my eyebrows and shake my head. Jackie looks puzzled.
Kate doesn’t see the women in the back yet and knocks on the
car window. The lights turn green and the car skids off, leaving
her on the side of the road, discarded. Slowly, she turns around
and walks towards Jackie and me. Her eyes are wide and empty. They
don’t see anything around or in front of her. She comes towards
us, staring at nothing, eyes getting wider and emptier.
"That...was. My Dad," she says slowly.
"He had. Two fucking girls with him. He looked. Right at me.
He just drove right off."
Jackie and I stare at Kate, stunned and silent. Having just witnessed
what she has described doesn’t make it seem any more real.
I feel bad for laughing.
"Oh my God Kate, I’m so sorry,"
Jackie says because there really isn’t anything else to say.
Kate looks at her, horrified. Her lips are parted in disgust, her
eyes covered with a thick coat of tears. Her chest heaves up and
down, faster and deeper.
"I have to find him," she says and turns
around. "I’m going to find that FUCKING ASSHOLE!"
Her voice has turned into a screech. She is yelling
at the top of her lungs. Jackie and I look at one another and immediately
read each other’s expressions. Holy shit.
"I HAVE TO FIND THAT FUCKING ASSHOLE!"
Kate is yelling and screaming as if she is a child who’s just
fallen down the stairs on her head. She bolts down Yorkville Avenue,
in the direction of the blue Thunderbird.
Kate is a bank of gossip. She knows everything about everyone else’s
lives and holds it against them. This is why I’m her friend.
It’s good to have her on your side. Strangely, nothing leaks
out about Kate. She’s too busy basing her existence on other
people’s lives. She is the one who sits in the corner at a
party, arms folded across her chest, whispering to the person next
to her about how ugly so-and-so’s skirt is and how so-and-so
gave some guy anal in the bathroom. Kate never leaves the house
without makeup. She once stayed home from school for a week because
she had a sty on her eyelid. She missed another when she was getting
electrolysis done on her upper lip.
Right now Kate doesn’t care what people around her think.
Her makeup is smeared down her face. She is screaming wordlessly,
pushing people out of the way, searching for her father’s
Jackie and I follow, a dozen steps behind. Kate turns on to Bay
Street and stops in front of the subway station. She slams her Prada
over-the-shoulder bag on the ground, her compact and wallet spilling
out onto the concrete. She crouches, hugging the back of her knees
and sobs. We are still paralyzed with shock. We don’t crouch
on the ground with Kate or rub her back. Jackie and I stand there
and watch as she cries. I realize that in the four years I have
known Kate, I have never given her a loving hug.
"I have to call my mom," she says, getting up.
Her mascara has streamed down from her small beady eyes. It drips
off her chin. We stay silent. Kate runs down the subway stairs and
tears the pay-phone receiver off the wall. She sobs into it
"I can’t believe this," Jackie says to me. "This
is so fucked."
I start to think about when I was in middle school. Most of my classmates
came from poor and abusive families. All my friends’ parents
were divorced. I had come home one day and complained to my parents
about how perfect we were, how boring. I asked them why couldn’t
we have crises like everyone else. They looked at me and laughed.
Kate hangs up the phone and walks back up the stairs, staring
past us. We keep silent. She brushes off the tears from her face.
I ask her what her mom had to say.
"She was sorry I had to find out like that," Kate answers.
"She wants me to come home, but I have to fucking find him."
We walk outside, into the summer night. We walk aimlessly through
Yorkville, past Remy’s bar and patio, on Bellair now, past
Sazzafras and Hemingway’s. The streetlights give off a glow,
giving the illusion that the roads are paved with gold. Defeated,
we find some boutique steps and sit in silence. Kate has stopped
"Katie what’s your problem?" A short man with
a ponytail and a bald head walks up. He’s dressed for the
area, in a shiny button-down shirt and dress pants. His smile is
tight and stunted. He greets us with a small hello and then turns
"What are you doing? C’mere. Let’s talk."
He pauses and nods hello to a couple walking by. They greet him
by his first name. Kate gets up and hesitantly walks away with her
father. I watch them. Both fold their arms across their chests.
Kate’s father spits out his words. He chuckles slightly when
he talks. Kate focuses on the ground. She doesn't talk back to him.
They walk further away. Jackie and I sit there for a few minutes.
We talk about our families and how we both never imagined our fathers
would ever cheat on our mothers. Jackie’s parents have been
together since they were 13. Their family goes on yearly vacations
to places like Egypt and Thailand. My parents are the best of friends.
They hug me daily. Kate’s parents give her money when she
asks for it, let her smoke in her room and don’t know where
she goes at night.
"My dad’s going to take me to Storm for a drink,"
Kate says to us when returns. "He knows the bouncer."
The next morning I call Kate to hear about what her father had
"He didn’t know why I was freaking out so badly,"
she says. "He was just giving those girls a lift up the street."
She doesn’t want to go into it but tells me about the expression
on the bouncer’s face when she had shown up again with her
"He let us right in, the asshole. He couldn’t believe
that my dad was my dad," she says. "But it was worth it.
That place is fucking awesome inside."
Elianna Lev prefers you to call
her "Elly" over "Eli." If you don't she'll get
you. Get you good.You don't want that.