hidden hit counter Late Harvest: Teal Capris

Monday, April 10, 2006

Teal Capris

One day, shortly after moving to Toronto, I was riding the streetcar from furniture window shopping at Queen and Roncesvalles to my house. It was a beautiful late summer day, not crazy hot as Toronto had been just days before. I had just walked through Parkdale and hopped on the Queen car near Ossington. When I got on, I pushed past the clusters of people at the front of the car and moved toward the back. I sat in the living-room like area at the back of the car.

The entire rear section of the car was empty, and it was one of the rare cars with a single row of seats on the drivers side, and a double row on the passenger side. Just at the front of that single row, next to the doors, sat one other lone passenger, who had a shopping cart and was gazing out the window. I was still soaking in the Toronto experience and felt, for some reason, that this man was worth observing.

He seemed very fit, with a lean face and a long pointy nose, quite alert, and although initially I thought he was reasonably dressed, I realized after a few moments that the teal capri pants he was wearing looked an awful lot like my grandmothers teal capris: polyester, finely tapered at the bottom, pleated at the top. Likewise, that loudly printed shirt of his seemed, in fact, to be a lady's blouse. He had long, stringy but groomed grey hair that began at the rear of a fully bald crown. The straw hat, which he held in his hand, and his flat-footed canvas shoes, could have been mens or womens clothes. Other than some unusual fashion choices, he seemed quite well composed. I watched for any sign that he might be somehow unwell, or perhaps simply aware that he was dressed in culturally inappropriate clothing and might attract attention as a result. He gave no signs.

Gradually I lost interest in him. Something was not quite right with him, but that was all. He sat, looking out the window and back into the car, a little bit impatient at the speed of the streetcar - but who isn't? His angular face betrayed a vague, simmering anger, some frustration. His eyes darted back and forth like a bird's eyes searching for breadcrumbs in the grass.

We stopped at Bathurst and a string of people got off the car. The driver inched forward. The light went red again and we screeched over the iron rails to stop at the light.

Before the car came to a halt, the man leapt out of his seat, jumped into the air and grabbed the safety railing by the door. He perched on the banister leading down to the door, and with his hands, gripped the vertical rail. Then he cawed like a tropical bird, CAW, CAW, and pivotted on his feet. He swivelled and hit the door with his shoulder, triggering the safety alarm on the streetcar. Ring! CAW! Ring! CAW! Ring!

"Sir," said the streetcar driver, giving the man a look of authority in the mirror. The light turned green. "SIR!" The streetcar advanced through the light. As we began to roll, the bird-man jumped back off the railing and sat down, resumed looking out the window.
I got off at the next stop and never saw the man again.


Blogger shellz said...

I think I've seen you wearing that VERY SAME outfit!

2:05 PM, April 11, 2006  

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