I am at a house party in Cabbagetown, Toronto, hosted by a delightful young gay couple I met at my gym on Yonge & Something. I am wearing jeans, a black tank top, and a paddy cap.
A red-haired woman asks me the second question everyone always asks in Toronto. The first question is what’s your name. Then they pretend you don’t have an accent and avoid asking you where you come from because they once read an op-ed written by a frothy thought-police
maperson about how you’re a cryptofascist for othering others by questioning their origin.
And they go straight to asking you what you do for a living because Canadians are the greatest people in the world, but they still need to know where you rank in the grand scheme of things.
So I tell her the truth — that I am the Editor in Chief of Arthritis Monthly magazine. I say it like that, capitalizing Editor and Chief because job titles should always be capitalized in Toronto.
To this she oohs and aahs and how-interestings. Yes, it is quite interesting, but also very challenging, I say. It’s not easy to fill up an entire magazine with fresh arthritis-related content every single month plus the special summer issue.
The red-haired woman is single and middle-aged and gorgeous and wants to tell me about all the boys she’s slept with in the past three months. I pretend to listen but my mind is elsewhere, thinking as I am of the next Arthritis Monthly centerfold spread — two blank pages with an old lady crumpled into a tiny twisted heap in the bottom right corner.
One of the hosts is snorting coke off the abs of a shirtless Portuguese waiter. He turns to me and says, “you can’t smoke in the house”.
Then I wake up.