- "Hey, are you alright?"
This was a good opening line a woman had used on me once when I had been sitting alone. It couldn't hurt, I had thought and it always seemed like a pretty safe question.
- "I've been waiting for hours and no one's come back for me."
He was pretty glum, and so I invited him out with me. Sensing his vulnerability, I had let him borrow my sunglasses so he could hide his weary eyes.
After some random adventures that I had needed to tend to, we went to check out a club called Ché Burrito in Hess Village. The bartender had been very nice, and this may have been the first time I met her there.
- "Nothing for me, but a beer for him."
I had not brought much money with me and I had no desire to drink myself.
- "Well, for HIM... three dollars."
He must have charmed her a little bit because she smiled as I paid her.
I know beer isn't the best thing for someone who's depressed and tired, but I had thought there'd be a fun atmosphere to cheer him up. After meeting the DJ, we went outside to take it the air.
- "You know he's not real, right?"
Annoyed, she was a patron who wore nothing short of ordinary for this type of club: makeup and blonde hair, black leather with jeans. Her question had made me wonder if she was real herself, as people without imagination often do. She was lacking any conscious uniqueness, attractive in a Bratz doll-like manner. Perhaps she gets far in life saying nothing at all; looking as she does, ornamental, living lower densities, beneath the soaring joy this child once chose to discard, sinking to the alluring depths of 'maturity'. This was too harsh to think. Perhaps it had been taken away from her, and appearances are often deceiving. I just find people's definition of what is real is far too limiting and two-dimensional.
For her benefit, I paused to take her point of view only to tell her:
- "Things are as real as we believe them to be."
Resounding advice, endlessly applicable. To that she had said nothing, but had obviously deduced that I was aware and not full-blown schizo. She couldn't have played along, but I certainly could with her, and we both just as quickly reconnected with our separate worlds.
It was here that I learned that he was actually a SHE and HER name, Fifel. Like Fifel Goes West... except that this Fifel had gone south.
I had felt like friends of mine would arrive soon, and while we were in generally alright company, we had chosen to see what else the night may bring.
On the way through Hess Village, we ran into friends Kearon and Johan who were ironically heading to where we had just left. Even with the introductions, Fifel was very quiet and we parted.
It's true, I had been on other adventures before Ché with Fifel, during which I kept finding red ribbons. Were they for her I had wondered. No, I decided she was more of a blue, and sure enough, a blue ribbon, which she had earlier earned by drinking Pabst, had laid itself down in our path. It was rubbery and durable.
Leaving Hess Village, I noticed the time was late and I had wanted to return her to where we had met, but she convinced me to bring her home with me. I had housed stranger folk before, this could not be denied.
On the bus ride home, the truth came out:
- "I wasn't left behind. I ran away from home."
- "Why though? I'm sure they miss you."
- "I know and I love them all and stuff... my family..."
She had looked down, and I had had the feeling that she was rehearsing the good and the bad times, framed in her mind, forever cherished.
- "Maybe we can find them tomorrow."
- "No, I want to live and experience for myself. I've never done it before but isn't that how we know we're alive?"
This rung true to me, having thought the same things myself during my times in Toronto. I had run away too from my problems, but I had only come back more assured that what I was doing was what I needed to do. I didn't dare answer her other than exchange a calm sobering stare to her wide desperate eyes.
T-shirt slogans now advertise that "You Can Do Anything In Hamilton." Anything but escape.
Less serious now, we had drank some tea and I had went to work on something for her to wear. I have had fortune with finding random objects for many years, some which are used right away, others which seem completely irrelevant, only now one made sense.
The year was 1997, and I was very young then, but I remember where I found this. It was at a grocery store called Food Basics, near what would become my High School, across from the music store I, many years after graduating, would teach guitar lessons. When I summarize it like this, it seems even more odd.
It was for her, because I had found a new tag for myself a couple of weeks ago. Our new adventurer needed something classy yet...classically retro. OK Computer came out in 1997 as well as other things.
Besides the collar I decided he needed a new look.
She reminded me of Snoop.
My friend Taryn had once given me this crown to match a lady I was with at the time. It seemed fitting.
After this kind of fun, I remember the old broken ukulele I had. There were photos of myself I took with it from very long ago.
- "I don't know how to play music..."
- "That's okay, it doesn't work anyway!"
Along with my rum she seemed to bond with it. I put her to bed, and wrote this story.
Despite what you may believe, I really don't have the free time for all this. I'm not sure where she'll end up next, but I've got the suspicion that her name isn't really Fifel.