After our performance art class, Linda and I went to a bar in Chinatown that is known for serving +100 types of beer. Seated at the corner booth beside us were a man and woman having an extremely audible, dramatic conversation about the contents of the guy’s phone, and their seemingly failing relationship. The girl became increasingly aggravated as her boyfriend simultaneously texted people and denied acts of infidelity. She took the phone out of his hands and began scrolling through text messages and emails. She alternated between variations on ‘oh, you lied about this’ and ‘oh, you lied about that too,’ while simultaneously jolting left and right to avoid his half-hearted, occasional, attempts to grab the phone.
An hour later while on the subway to T (Linda’s drug dealer)’s house the train stopped for ~3.5 minutes. The doors opened and closed on a poster of Zac Efron’s enlarged face, for his film That Awkward Moment, which someone vandalized so Zac Efron had a poorly drawn moustache.
At the door to T’s basement apartment off Queen Street we were greeted with an impossibly huge black Doberman which T later explained he purchased to ‘be friends with cops’ and ‘attract people.’ We made small talk and smoked two joints. I pet the Doberman absently, while searching for music to play on T’s Lenovo ThinkPad. Linda mentioned that I was a ‘killer DJ,’ and I felt, momentarily, like committing suicide.
‘Whoa, crazy,’ said T. ‘So do you like, play shows or whatever?’
‘I haven’t in a while. It seems harder to find gigs in Toronto than anywhere else.’
‘What kind of music do you play? EDM mostly?’ T asked.
‘No, not really. A lot of… ambient stuff, I guess. Maybe I’m aiming at the wrong market…’
T stared at his phone.
‘I should probably be playing art parties or gallery openings or something…’ I muttered, trailing off indifferently.
I turned on ‘Freak, Go Home’ by Darkside and took a hit from the joint, feeling extremely anxious about having to continue with the current social interaction for any longer. I wanted to speed up the transition into the drug transaction portion of the evening, but it seemed like both Linda and T were having a ‘great time’ discussing European politics, and I couldn’t find a polite way to change the subject to my purchase. I remembered the poster of Zac Efron in That Awkward Moment and sunk into the worn leather couch. Forty-five minutes later T handed me a plastic Ziploc bag containing five Xanax bars and two Morphine tablets. I handed him some money and put the plastic bag in a coin purse with a picture of Florida on it.
‘Hey, you ever need anything, just call,’ said T, as he handed me a ripped piece of loose-leaf with his number written on it in permanent marker.
‘Thanks, will do!’ I said, trying and failing to sound earnestly appreciative.
The Doberman ran around the apartment at ~75mph while we put on our shoes, and T repeatedly laugh-yelled at the dog to ‘calm the fuck down.’
While leaving T quietly, hopefully chirped, ‘Enjoy the drugs!’
To which I replied, ‘Thanks, you too.’
Later that night at a bar in Kensington called Thirsty and Miserable, Clara and I sat on the patio drinking gin and tonics and discussing the benefits of picking your nose in public.
‘I feel like if you don’t, then you are also the kind of person that refuses to eat anything of any kind in their bedroom,’ I said.
‘Yeah, it seems like people who don’t pick their nose in public would enjoy trips to the DMV, because they would see it as ‘another item checked off their to-do list.’ Like, they would look forward to checking it off on their to-do list in their day planner,’ said Clara.
‘Or they would check it off on the Wunderlist app on their iPhone, that they use 30–40 times a day.’
I stared at the pile of cigarette butts beside the no smoking sign on the side of the patio.
‘I like to pick my nose and look small children in the eyes while I purchase office supplies at Wal-Mart,’ I said.
‘I like to pick my nose during matinees at Tiff’s Bell Lightbox theatre,’ said Clara.
On the way home, while listening to ‘I Would Rather Go Blind’ by Etta James, the bus driver animatedly discussed his distaste for the frequently changing schedules he is so often faced with. He seemed to be talking to no one and everyone on the bus simultaneously, but no one ‘piped in’ at any point. He went on to discuss the length of his arms in relation to the steering wheel, and other objects in the area near the driver’s seat. When I got off the bus he said ‘Goodnight sunshine’ and honked while driving away. I felt angry at him, but couldn’t decide whether it was for honking, saying ‘Goodnight sunshine,’ or both.
I wondered why people feel the need to interact with each other. Seems like it’s mostly for personal validation. When I got home, I took the elevator to the basement to get a Luna bar from the vending machine, but all that was left was a stale-seeming honey bun and a box of Good N’ Plenty. I went upstairs to my apartment, ate a bowl of Dorset granola while responding to emails, and fell asleep in my clothes.
This is an excerpt from The Title Of This Book Is An Inside Joke (Metatron, 2015).
Sophia Katz lives in Toronto, Ontario. Her writing has appeared on Medium, Everyday Genius, Hobart and Electric Cereal, among others. The Title Of This Book Is An Inside Joke is her debut collection.
Image by Freyja & Zamudio