Sunday, 17 May 2009

Confessions of a Not So Shopaholic

I met and married my husband in T.O. during the eighties. It was a fun time -- Toronto was full of music, bright colours, big hair and innocence. We took long walks along Harbourfront, rode the streetcar to the Fox Theatre at The Beaches to watch vintage cinema, and listened to great Jazz in the Soho district on Queen St. West.

After a few years we grew weary of increasing noise, pollution and violence. Grafitti slashed across brick walls, people started avoiding eye contact. Faces on buses and streetcars reflected our mood - weary and disappointed. The edges of our vision of Toronto took on a tattered, stained look. When we blew our noses at the end of the day and black stuff came out, we figured it was time to migrate north.

We moved to Newmarket, the town in which I had spent my teen years. We had kids, I took a job at the local paper, and everything's fine. People still nod and say good morning to each other here. I still see old classmates. We have a great mall, a super hospital and a Home Depot. Who could ask for more?

My daughter and I headed to Toronto yesterday for a bit of girl time and shopping in honour of her twentieth birthday (next week) and my (gulp) fiftieth (next next week). After all, it's still a nice place to visit. Toronto still holds a bit of Oz-like magic for my daughter.

She especially likes the gigorzmic Indigo Bookstore at the Eaton Centre. I found a copy of Whiskey Sour by J.A. Konrath. He's a Facebook buddy -- yanno, a friend of a friend of a friend -- and I was curious about his Jack Daniels series. I couldn't find the book in Newmarket so it was a nice surprise. I also spent way too much on a funky file holder.

We slipped into Williams-Sonoma to check out the spices. Men in trendy glasses and headsets flitted about the place, straightening rows of saucepans. I admired a red butter crock, the perfect size for keeping a quarter pound of butter on the kitchen counter, but balked when I saw the price - $45. No thanks.

At The Pottery Barn, more men in trendy glasses and headsets folded towels.

As we walked past a camera shop, a patron accidentally knocked over a picture frame, sending it crashing face down on the floor. An employee looked at the mess, knelt on one knee and spread his arms out, wailing, "Why? Why?" I figured he was really an actor and the camera store was just his day gig.

Newmarket doesn't have a Disney Store and Beth really, really wanted a stuffed Bolt. Because of her Animation aspirations, she loves to browse the store but I find it a little surreal, like Wal-Mart at Christmastime, or the underground society in A Boy and His Dog.

We had lunch at Mr. Greenjeans and the waiter seated us in a little alcove with a bistro table and two stuffed leather chairs. When we sank into the chairs, the table was up to our chins. We managed to eat anyway.

Two girls occupied the table opposite, and one of them described in her best skater girl accent, "You know, that iPod thingy has this little ruler in it with a bubble, you know? Like, it helps to see if your shelf is level, you know? I want one of those."

Somehow I doubt she'd need that application.

We stepped outside between downpours to get some air, and I noticed how much Dundas and Yonge had changed. Flashing Jumbotron screens and neon lights were everywhere, much like the pictures I'd seen of Times Square. If I stayed too long, I'd surely suffer from sensory overload.

An older man sat on the sidewalk, playing an Erhu - a Chinese violin with two strings. The plaintive sounds of the instrument wove its way thinly around sirens, bleeping crosswalk signals and roaring motorcycles.

We crossed the intersection diagonally, a first for me. I was amazed the pedestrians didn't tangle up and fall down in a mess when the human streams met at the middle, but we managed to get to the other side. We entered a newer building and Beth found a little shop that held her favourite Nintendo toys.

Back at the Eaton Centre, we encountered a man we'd seen on previous visits. We speculated about his occupation. He wore the same pale yellow suit and little straw fedora. He held a bejeweled cane in his hands. I snuck a shot of him from behind a display.

I tried on a few shirts, but the results depressed me. It seemed all the clothes were made for skinny women with miniscule boobies positioned near their chins. After two sweaty sessions in tiny cubicles, I gave up trying to find something that fit me.

In the end, I came home with two sore feet, a file folder, a book, a $10 necklace, and a DVD of Snatch.

Not bad, huh?

Picture 1: A shot I took on Queen St. East in the Eighties
Picture 2: Eaton Centre
Picture 3: Trinity Square
Picture 4: Disney Store
Picture 5: The Man in Yellow


Amber Green said...

I'm glad you got home with both your feet, even if they were sore.

BernardL said...

Very well done word tour of your Toronto visit, Sandra. I like your reference to A Boy And His Dog. I remember the underground society very well.

Chumplet - Sandra Cormier said...

I think I spent more money in one hour at Home Depot than I did in a whole day downtown.

moonrat said...

hey, so when is your big day? you gonna five us a clue? :)

Chumplet - Sandra Cormier said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chumplet - Sandra Cormier said...

That was too easy. It's on Conan Day.

Queen of the Road said...

And, you didn't go to the Bata Shoe Museum? I'm turning 50 soon and thinking of treking up your way just to see it!

Chumplet - Sandra Cormier said...

Oh, Doreen, if you do, let's have lunch (as long as it's a Thursday or weekend)!

We can go to the Eaton Centre to look for the Guy in the Yellow Suit.

Zara Penney said...

Me feets is sore and me head whirlin' and me credit card is achin' just readin' what ya done!


Hi five gal!

Barbara Martin said...

A perfect description of Toronto, Sandra. You made the correct choice in moving away. I will do the same in a little while.