Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Bird unions and bad taste

I’m lured into the wicker & whatnot store by sale prices on sea grass baskets, but end up at the back checking curtains. This is where I buy tab curtains so thin they are almost not curtains at all, which is what I like: more sky, less curtain. Usually, the store has a good assortment of solid colors, including neutrals.

Today, however, they have a display of patterned curtains. They are “retro” which is the new word for old made very ugly. They are printed with daisy outlines in assorted shades of Flesh Wound Pink, Dried Blood Burgundy, and Trying To Be Red. The designs appear to be doodles copied directly from a preteen girl’s notebook margins. They are so hideous, so gauche, I think if I ever had to look at them day after day, I’d hang myself.

The sales clerk hustles by me.
“So,” I say to her, grinning conspiratorially, “this must be your What Was I Thinking line of curtains, is it?” I realize I am a conspiracy of one at this point because she draws herself up as if I have personally affronted her and announces,

“They’re retro. That’s the style.

Style? Style? That was the style three years back. And since it disappeared from the clothing racks, I’d deluded myself that the onslaught of that particular eyesore was over.

Fine. Forget the sea grass baskets. Definitely forget the curtains.

I stroll past the cheap handbag and suitcase store with its’ display of retro patterned suitcases in the same mind-numbing color scheme. These, if possible, are even worse – huge grotesque orchids blooming on gigantic wheeled suitcases, carry-on bags covered in livid, overlapping ovals that look like bloodied eyes.

Lunch hour is almost up, but I have just enough time to search for the lame pigeon who haunts the deck of the Split Crow Tavern. There are always pigeons on Granville Street. Every outdoor pub and café is constantly shooing them away. They gather around your ankles if you sit on a bench, pecking hopefully at the ground, imagining that your cigarette may shed crumbs or your coffee cup will produce the coveted dropped French Fry.

They are incredibly stupid birds, but they win on sheer greed and persistence. At any given time, there are several with missing toes and I’ve become fond of one who is so hurt that she can only hobble a short distance and then sits down like a chicken roosting. While I eat, I sneak her balls of white bread product that came with my soup – and feel guilty because she gobbles them down as if they were food.

To make up for kindness-poisoning, I purchase slices of whole wheat bread and search the length of the walking street, only to discover that, 45 minutes later, there isn’t a single pigeon anywhere. It’s 2:00 pm and the pigeons apparently keep union hours.

The account of my lunch hour is: the date, September 28th, written in my journal, unaccompanied by an entry, the discovery of new worlds of eye-meltingly bad design, the aftertaste of bad soup, and the knowledge that pigeons have a quitting time.

But I’m only telling you the exciting parts here.