AFTER-DARK in TORONTO

25/05/2017

Walking home down Yonge Street late one night, I saw a street huckster plying her trade on a fellow across the street at Gloucester. Feeling secure in her position, I continued on my way never giving her situation a second thought in relation to me. No such luck as I misread her capacity. I approached Carlton, and while waiting for the the light-to-change, she was upon me. Before she spoke, I declined her interrupting her pitch-sentence which began, “May I ask you…?” Cleverly, she switched tactic saying, can ask you to buy me a coffee and a muffin? Feeling outmanoeuvred I consented, and we went into a corner store where I informed the clerk of her intent which took considerably more time than I had cared to spend.

 

Her choice was a very large coffee, with more sugar than I cared to consider, and she carefully selected her muffin. Upon paying, she slid in a request for an Aero chocolate bar to which I consented. I paid and went on my way, stopping in at Amato for a slice to consume while I continued my walk home down Yonge St. Along the way I passed many sleeping and hunkered down street people. Passing by them took a certain amount of emotional strain, but routine was not one of them.

 

Before reaching Shuter, with The Eaton Centre to my right, two young fellows came my way assessing me as they closed in on my munching movements. They thought better of making direct communication save visual acknowledgment which contained a regard noting my possible opposition to any advances they may make.

 

Passing Shuter and coming upon Queen, there were other minor assertions, as were at Dundas. Then, to my surprise, my coffee-and-muffin assailant rounded the corner as I approached Richmond/Yonge. ‘What the…! From where did she come, and how did she happen to get there before me without breaking a sweat? She greeted me calmly and, without skipping a beat, asked ‘if I wanted a date?’

 

I was now familiar with this question, in this setting, although I was not some twenty-five years earlier. I declined, saying ‘No thank, I’m okay’, signalling I was not in the market for such her offer. I crossed the street, continued heading south approaching a tall, shadowy figure who withdrew with a few shuffles, on hearing a sound unintelligible to me as I passed him ‘bye’.

 

I continued on, passing other street-people, one over the grate in front of the GoodLife Fitness, another lying in front of McDonald’s on my way to Adelaide. It was at Adelaide where I encountered another straining plea buffeted by a fellow admonishing this talented beggar to get off the street for his own safety.
I left the scenario and went on my way, turning left along King Street eastward then southward onto Church. I crossed diagonally into Metro for some Goat’s Milk, preferring late-night shopping for its quiet and lack of line-ups.

 

I departed Metro avoiding any kind of contact or conversation, save pleasant exchanges with the employees there, crisscrossing through the St. Lawrence Neighbourhood making my way home.

 

Reflecting on my path from Bloor/Yonge intersection, southward along Yonge to King, eastward into The St. Lawrence Neighbourhood, I was privy to numerous paired/single, sleeping/waking panhandlers. It was quite the journey, with more familiarities than preferred; but, that’s the nightlife in any big city today, even our Toronto. The not-advertised, readily available Toronto After-Dark, for those inclined: ‘indulge at your own risk!’

 

 

52a. In the Way

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