Thursday, May 2, 2013

Dangerous old men

Two old men and a cruller

God, the mall, the mall. First I have to get on a bus. The goddamn bus I take to the mall, the C38, is a bus that nobody wants to drive.

“I hate the C38,” one driver said to another. While driving, which they’re not supposed to do.

“So do I.”

”I wanna commit suicide when I draw that one.”

“Me too.”

“Goodness,” an old lady sitting at the front exclaimed. (She didn’t say “goodness” at all, for all I know it was “shit, man”, but that’s how it registered on my mind.)  “Why do you want to commit suicide?”


Right. Trains. On the C38, which eventually takes me to the mall after an agonizingly dull haul along Westwood Avenue (an industrial park at the end of the world), we get trains. 

We get stuck behind trains that are miles, light years, eons long. They defy physics by grinding slower and slower, stopping, then running backwards, as if time itself has inexplicably reversed. Einstein might want to ride on this train.

Today, we had one. A bugger of a train. A big train, a bad train.

While we waited and shifted and yawned, the driver visibly chuffing and chafing to get going so he wouldn’t get yelled at and blamed for being late, I heard some kids in the back, guffawing in the usual stoned-teenager way. Their voices appeared to be breaking, so they were pretty young.

They weren’t as bad as some. One of them yelled once and the driver told him to shut up, but he only yelled, “HEY! BUY ME A PIZZA!”, which I didn’t think was too bad compared to the fxxy stuff I was used to.

Then suddenly.

An elderly Indo-Canadian man approached the bus and knocked on the door (doors, really). He shouldn’t have been let in because the bus was between stops. But it had been between stops for 22 minutes now and showed no signs of moving.

The doors opened. The old man was admitted.

He shot down the aisle with the speed of a gazelle.

“You bloody hoodlums, I kill you, you stay away from me, you creeps, you all going to die!” He physically hurled his slight frame against the corner where the three kids were squished together.

“Hey man,” one of them said.

I kill you! I kill you!  You all going to die!”

The scant passengers all had that “Jesus!” look on their faces. I had the thought: if this was the U. S., somebody would be dead already. As it was, the old man used his fists, windmilling them at the boys as they yelled HEY! and tried to duck under their seats.

The driver was large and burly. He had that security guard/cop kind of walk. You know what I mean. A sidearm look, though of course he wasn’t armed. I was all too aware of policy on bus altercations: the driver had to call the Bus Police and wait for them to come break it up.

If he’d waited, somebody would have been beaten bloody, and it wouldn’t have been the old man.

The driver picked the guy up by the shoulders and lifted him over the aisle and deposited him on the sidewalk outside the door.

I was still worried. What the f---? What had just happened, and why? Why would an elderly man jump on a bus and attack a bunch of teenagers? How would he even know which bus they were on, and why was he so pissed?

I was prepared to lunge behind the back of my seat, just in case these were the notorious Bacon Brothers of Surrey, but I didn’t have to. Once we finally cleared the railroad tracks, the kids shambled off. One of them unhooked his bike from the rack on the front of the bus. They were youngish, dressed in the slouchy casual garb of slightly nerdy junior high students. The farthest thing from gang members I’ve ever seen. They ambled away, guffawing about something-or-other. And that was the end of that.

The only thing I could think of was: did they vandalize his rock garden or something? Throw gum wrappers on his lawn, pee on his rhododendrons?

The other thing, God. I hate things like this. I was in the dollar store buying something, wrapping paper I think, on one of those long tubes,very awkward, especially in the rain. There was an old man in line in front of me, paying for something-or-other. I only remember the cashier said it cost $21.59. I noticed he had his wallet open in front of him on the counter.

Suddenly he glanced sharply behind him and said, “My wallet. My wallet.”

I realized he was looking at me. I was the only other person in line.

“Can’t trust anybody these days,” he mumbled, shooting me a paranoid look.

“Hi,” I said, brightly, or I think it was brightly. I was holding my own wallet in my hand and had my purse and my paper in the other and could not even imagine snatching his wallet out from under his drippy old nose.

“I CAN HELP YOU OVER HERE,” the cashier at the next till said. She’d been standing there not helping me, as if her till was closed or something, and it pissed me off.

“Sorry,” she said when I slammed down my rolls of paper. “I thought you were with him.”


She thought I was with a hundred-year-old man with a persecution complex, a rheumy-eyed, baggy-pants old coot with a week’s worth of stubble, a man so bent he looked like a cheap dollar store pretzel, a man so old he probably thought the goddamn train was going too fast.

And she thought I was “with him”. I wanted to say to her – I should have said to her – why didn’t I say to her, “Yes. He’s my great-grandfather and I’m taking him out for an airing. He’s due back at the asylum in 10 minutes.”

She thought we were lovers. Husband and wife, for Christ’s sake. What did that make me? I look in the mirror, and I don’t see an old person, I don’t.

(Let us interrupt this pointless story for PROOF. This was taken on Easter Sunday, goddamnit!)

Maybe I’m blinded. Maybe I really am a withered old hag. Maybe she thought it was a May-December thing. Who the hell knows or cares.

I needed something, needed an addictive splurge to shoot sucrose into my veins and make me feel better. Tim Hortons looked inviting, and I ordered an Ice Cap, which consists of eight ounces of full-fat cream with a shot of espresso. Had to have something with it, so instead of my usual Boston Cream I ordered a honey cruller.

I ordered a honey cruller because the tray of honey crullers had just been slid out into the display case. I ordered a honey cruller because the glaze was just lazily sliding down the sides of the crullers and forming nice leisurely blobs. I ordered – skip it, they looked good, I bought one. I looked around for crazed old men – they were coming out of the woodwork today, I guessed – and sat down.

I had a long slurp of caffeine-and-cream before taking a bite. I cannot describe this! The cruller was still slightly warm. Like puff pastry, it was extremely light with an eggy sort of softness inside. It melted on my tongue, which was telling me, “This! Is! Good!’ while my brain planned to buy seven more of them so I could keep on repeating the experience.

The cruller was both soft and crisp, sugary, icing-y in a slightly granular way. It looked like a honeycomb, sort of – all open and scalloped, almost faceted – maybe why they call it a HONEY cruller and not a BASEBALL cruller! In any case, like most pleasurable things, the cruller didn’t last long enough. I had never had a cruller which was slightly warm before, but it stirred a long-ago memory of my mother frying up doughnuts (NOT “donuts”, that modern atrocity which was only invented to save lettering on signs, or else for the 95% of people who never learn to spell), coating them in sugar and cinnamon, and letting them cool on a rack in the kitchen. I would burn my tongue agonizingly to get at those doughnuts. They were paradise.

The cruller thing may never be repeated . Tim Hortons half-bakes their doughnuts in Etobicoke or somewhere “back East”,  freezes them and ships them around the country like so many hockey pucks to be finished off in a tepid oven. The next one will probably taste like nothing, with the consistency of leather soaked for 100 years. But I had this one, this Proustian cruller, which I will probably remember forever.

Or probably not.


  1. Hey, EVERY day is one of them days.

    But the cruller was good.