Friday, May 21, 2010

Falling For Henry

While a good girl crush can get the blood pumping and the inspiration sparkles all aflutter, for a straight woman in her 20s, there's nothing quite like a jaunt down the side street known as Crushed Out Boulevard. Now that the weather's nice and I've moved into my parent's place in Stratford, I'm seeing dudes all over the place. And you know what, Stratford men? You are not bringing your A-game.

I re-watched Everything Is Illuminated tonight, and while Alex - played by the incomparable Eugene Hutz - tries a little too hard and never takes off his track suit, there's something adorable about him. Most of the dudes who stuck around my hometown after graduation are not, shall we say, premium. One of the reasons I left was because I didn't want to drink myself to death in a fleabag apartment above a sewing machine repair shop; if I had stayed, that would have been my fate. I'm not even being melodramatic - this town will eat your dreams if you don't tread carefully. So I'm not surprised that, surveying the scene here, the guys on the street are a little, um, seedy. The general trend seems to be that most of the men who stay in this town straighten their lives out by their late twenties or early thirties, but the mid-twenties crowd is still about a year away from being scared straight. I'll be spending the summer trying to keep my nose clean.

In light of this unfortunate black hole, I think I'll be developing my literary and cinematic crushes. I mean, he's nothing special to look at, but William Carlos Williams, in addition to having a great name, writes some lovely poetry. "This Is Just To Say" is one of my all-time favourites; my pal Emily has made up about a thousand variants on that theme. Her subject matter has ranged from dive bars to sweatpants to illicit love affairs. WCW, your work is easy to adapt. My love of David Foster Wallace has been firmly established by now - I swear, I bring him up in conversations more often than I mention my family - and I bought his recently published biography to savour this summer. My crush remains unthwarted.

Celebrity crushes are empty, soulless and vacuous, but they do pass the time. No sweaty lover to rub against tonight? All right, well, get it done and watch yourself a movie. Preferably one starring Mos Def, who is scorching hot and nerdily cute (such a winning combo!) Do some situps and listen to Henry Rollins do some storytelling. I'm not interested in the Us Weekly, airbrushed, blond celebrities who show up on reality TV shows after they've been to rehab and married a former lingerie model. My crushes, both in real life and from afar, tend to be makers and doers, and the famous versions of frat boys are just not really my cup of Earl Gray.

Am I feeling particularly self-deceptive and foolish for even sharing the celebrity-crush-as-substitute-for-hometown-guys strategy? Oh, you betcha. But that's the thing about taking a breather for a summer. Investing in a Stratford guy would be investing in Stratford as a concept - and with the aforementioned dipsomaniacal death, I'm not so keen on that. Toronto is my future; this is just a resting place. Not a place to put down roots. It's a lilypad, one that I'll share with Dustin Hoffman and Dan Savage while I do situps and wait for the fall.

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