Around the Way

I didn’t realize how big Toronto was until my dad dragged me along on his missions. He’d load me up with toys and candy and tell me to keep my arm inside the opened window. Then the long white Thunderbird would ease out onto Davenport with the latest disco tune pouring out of the eight-track. We’d go all over. Scarborough. Mississauga. North York. Parkdale. Mimico. You name it, my dad had it covered. He even had some play up in Richmond Hill. Her name was Claudette and she smelled like the flowery perfume that old ladies wore. She had long shiny black hair that was definitely too straight to be natural. And the nails! Her nails were so long they spawned some of my worst nightmares. She’d either be chasing me with her head on a tiger’s body or I’d have the Dracula dream where her slime-filled melting face bounced along behind me. Wherever I turned, her wretched teeth and eyes pounced on me. Needless to say, I didn’t like her, which was fine, considering she didn’t seem warm or welcoming to my young skinny bones either.

We’d arrive and she’d head straight into prima donna mode.

Kendall, you brought him again, she’d say, cracking the door open.

Published in TOK: Writing the New Toronto, Book 5. Purchase the book to read the full piece.

Toronto locations referenced in this piece

“He’d load me up with toys and candy and tell me to keep my arm inside the opened window. Then the long white Thunderbird would ease out onto Davenport with the latest disco tune pouring out of the eight-track . . . ” —Davenport Road

“The one I liked the most was Karen. She didn’t have a crusty old apartment. She lived in a stained yellow brick house down in Cabbage-town. I still remember the first time we went over. She opened the door, said hi and gave me a big hug. It felt real . . . ” —Cabbagetown

“Her big thing was work. She worked full time during the day as a nurse’s aid and put in a lot of extra time. I was lucky to see her before bedtime on school days. Week-ends, she’d go over and clean rich people’s houses up in Forest Hill . . . ” —Forest Hill

“My dad wasn’t just about play. We actually did spend some time in a basement recording studio down on Symington. It was tiny and reeked of stale cigarette smoke, but I loved it . . . ” —Symington

“I don’t know if my mom suspected anything. If she did, she kept it to herself. Her big thing was work. She worked full time during the day as a nurse’s aid and put 
in a lot of extra time. I was lucky to see her before bedtime on school days. Week-ends . . . ” —Forest Hill