He wore a shirt striped in black and charcoal, khaki trousers, black boots, and a black yarmulke.
I tried to undress him with my eyes, but apparently that's just an expression.
I need to seduce my professor.
I am soliciting suggestions until Tuesday morning.
When I was four or five, I had my first Halloween. my mother made me up as a black cat -- pink nose, drawn whiskers, and furry cat ears affixed to a headband. I wasn't really sure I wanted to go trick-or-treating; even to my kindergarten mind, it seemed too social, too aggressive, too confrontational to ask, nay, demand free sweets from strange people I wasn't sure I liked or not.
My mother, astute woman as she was and is, sensed I was going to cling to my shell forever if I was allowed to stay home, so she nudged me out the door, and as I frowningly crossed the street, extolled all the wonderful rewards of Halloween (mainly candy).
We knocked at a house at the end of our street. At first, there was no response. I was just beginning to worry when there was a feral growl -- a tall monster with an awful hairy green face burst out, roaring.
I began to cry.
Right away, the poor guy -- who must have been in about his twenties -- dropped his arms, and even under a latex mask, seemed sorry, worried by my tears. As he tried to offer me chocolate, I hid behind my mother.
She ended up taking the candy for me and thanking him. After that, I could not continue, so we went home, a shaken (me) and slightly exasperated (her) pair.
Thus ended this holiday of ghouls for young Gloria -- the literal scaredy cat.
When viewing photographs of myself, my assessment is commonly as follows:
The boyfriend despairs.
"Sorry, you're too black to make bouillabaisse."
Maybe it's the impossible swarm of cheap sushi joints in this town -- you can have sashimi and yakitori in both Little Italy and Greektown! -- but if one more person snarks that a non-Japanese-run Japanese restaurant is a "fail," I'm going to stab them in the eyes with my chopsticks.
It is an epic lapse in logic that the quality of food could be affected not by ingredients, or skill of preparation, or instinctive gift, but an artificial idea of race. If anyone ever so much as whispered that fine French or Italian cuisine were beyond Japanese chefs by mere virtue of their Oriental squint, they'd be cleaved in two.
We're all sitting in a café. As usual, our conversation has somehow drifted to the topics of marriage and money, both of which inevitably drive me to misery.
Her: "I just want to marry someone who does something, you know, respectable. Lawyer, accountant--"
I'm waiting to ask the question. My teeth are setting on edge.
Me: "What would you say is not respectable?"
"Well ... garbage man ... waiter--"
I cut in faster than a knife. "My dad's a waiter."
There's a moment of silence. Across from me, someone laughs in slight disbelief.
The preceding anecdote was given in the interests of full disclosure.
I always tip.
Save for the rare, complete service meltdown, I always tip 15% on a restaurant bill, which is the industry standard in Canada. My father works at a restaurant inside a busy four-star hotel, so I consider him a reliable source on these things.
I started dining at restaurants (low- and higher-end) once I got into my late teens. Part of it was seeing it as part of my newfound adultness; another part was finding more venues for socializing with good friends. The last part was initiating myself into a social ritual, and discovering the enjoyment that can be gleaned from a good, skilfully presented meal. I feel that tipping as an integral aspect to that social ritual, but I see it abused very often, in many creative ways.
I see people insist on meticulously calculating what is really a simple percentage (lest they tip a dime or nickel too much, le gasp), deciding it is a legitimate "comment" by paying anywhere from 12.3% to 13.8%, or, in quite magnificently ballsy form, excuse their pitiful offering because they're "poor students." If you're so damn poor, nothing stops you from staying home; if you're too poor to pay a decent tip on your meal, you're too poor to eat out.
People inform me that they refuse to pay a tip on the post-tax bill, usually in rather moral wording. The difference is so miniscule to me that I see it as nitpicky meanness that takes away from the server, the person it means the most to. On, say, a pre-tax bill of fifty dollars, the tip is $7.50; on the same post-tax amount, the tip is $8.63. The difference is little more than a dollar. For a bill split between two people, this is negligible. For a bill of a solitary diner, this is also negligible, as they can apparently afford a fifty-dollar meal.
Sometimes I hear that somebody doesn't tip because they don't want to be complicit in a system that places an undue social burden on the customers by denying its workers a living wage.
(At this juncture, I have to wonder whether they, a Paragon of Righteousness, have in the past decade ever eaten at any corporate fast food outlet, since most have waged fierce wars against the unionization of their workers, and some battles continue. Mmm, McHypocrisy.)
If you cannot bring yourself to submit to the apparatus of tyranny that the food service industry evidently is, don't eat at a restaurant. Refrain from arriving, partaking of the food and hospitality, and then refusing to submit to the terms of service (of which you had full prior knowledge), because this is alternately known as being a jackass.
His hand drifts up the underside of my forearm. He uses a finger to trace the barely visible trail of a pale green vein; I watch the ever-so-slight indentation under his gentle touch.
His fingers slide between mine, in a latticework of digits. The soft webby skin tucks against my own.
A perfect fit.
In Toronto, there are three major players on the post-secondary scene (apart from vocational colleges): University of Toronto, York University, and Ryerson University. Of these, U of T is the largest, the wealthiest, and the most prestigious, enjoying a substantial international reputation. I went there.
There are consequences to this decision.
My boyfriend and I once met a very nice and very inebriated young man on the streetcar. He was the friendly drunk, and made chit-chat about restaurants and apartments in Toronto. Finally, noticing our ages, he asked where we went to school. My boyfriend replied he went to Concordia; it's a small school in Montreal, which not everyone has heard of, so this answer passed unremarked upon.
Then I gave my reply. Upon hearing it, our new acquaintance gave a slo-mo nod; I felt a stab of apprehension. Then he began a long-winded speech on the school's flaws. He rambled about the impersonal face of the administration, the school's overintellectualized values, its removal from the "real world", and its narrow appeal to a limited academic group. At this point, I had not uttered a single damn word on the university's quality or suitability.
As he kept ranting, I maintained a polite smile (which became more forced when I actually had to respond). I had grown out of caring about where I went for university the moment I graduated this past summer. I knew several people who attended other schools, many with better reputations in certain fields. One, who had defected to Ryerson after an uhappy stint with U of T, has always insisted on remarking how much warmer and more intimate the atmosphere is. (Frankly, I tend to find this comment an insult to hundreds of staff at U of T, because many always are very kind and do the best they can when they teach at the country's largest academic institution.) As for the rest ... I had spent five years loathing myself for pursuing my life's passion, so yeah, fuck you, to all the strangers who think they can make me do that again.
As he shambled off the streetcar, I spotted a Ryerson lanyard dangling out of his jeans pocket. I sighed.
2. As "Americana" defines itself as artefacts of American culture, "Gloriana" consists of the artefacts of my culture.
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