This was the first time Jeremy and I have been to the Toronto Pride parade and, if he continues this behaviour, it could be the last.
Two months ago I sorted out what day the main Pride parade was on and made sure I wasn’t working. Two weeks ago I checked out the parade route and decided we’d go just north of the Eaton Centre to watch. Two days ago I sorted out the bus and train schedules. Last night I went grocery shopping for treats, bought sunscreen, baked the mini cupcakes, filled water bottles and placed them in the fridge, got out my big gym bag, and put all our supplies on the table for easy packing this morning. Here’s the cupcakes before they were packed…
I got up this morning, had breakfast, woke Jeremy, then looked at the clock while I packed the bags and cringed.
“Jeremy, we’ve got to go. Your breakfast is on the counter. I’m just getting dressed then we need to run to catch the bus.”
I quickly got dressed then went to hand Jeremy his bag.
“Wait, I just need to use the washroom,” he blurted then he hurried away.
Crap, I thought he’d just gone ten minutes earlier while he was in the bathroom, which would have made sense. I grabbed both bags and both water bottles then hurried to the front hall to slide on my sandals. Then I waited impatiently by the door. We’d had just enough time to catch the bus when I came out, I hadn’t counted on Jeremy; he takes longer in the washroom than most people I know. Jeremy finished then went into the living room and started rummaging through the stuff on the desk.
“What are you looking for?” I yelled. “C’mon. We’re going to miss the bus.”
“My cell phone. Can you call it?”
Crap again. My phone was in my pocket and I was holding two bags, two water bottles and our keys. I called and the phone started ringing just as he picked it up. We ran out of the apartment with it ringing in his hand.
We had two options for buses this morning. There’s a regional route which we needed to catch. It went by about two blocks north of our place at 9:07am but from there it takes a huge detour before coming back about 10 blocks south of us. We needed to leave our place by 9am to catch it.
Our second option was catching a bus in front of our building at 9:25am and it would connect with the regional bus at 9:29am. But, as I’ve mentioned before, we haven’t always had good experiences with connecting buses. We had no choice this morning, the regional bus went by when we were still half a block from the stop. Luckily we caught our connecting bus.
Jeremy was quiet on the bus and the train, preferring to listen to a book with his headphones on…
We got to Union and were immediately confronted with chaos. The whole building’s being renovated and we were routed to an exit I’d never seen before. Finally we got turned around and heading in the right direction for lunch at The Old Spaghetti Factory.
This restaurant was a childhood favourite of mine and one I’ve brought Emma and Jeremy to countless times through the years. It is absolutely incredible (and the food’s good too)…
Lunch was enjoyed thoroughly by both of us and then we set off to find the parade. Jeremy was in an amazingly good mood and, like usual, the conversation got a bit odd.
“It’s so hot, I think I’m going to melt into a puddle,” I commented. “You’re going to have to scoop me off the sidewalk and pour me home.”
“That’s not going to happen,” Jeremy retorted. “You’re far more likely to burst into flames than melt.” Umm… thanks?
“It’s scientifically proven. I read that three people have burst into flames in the last…” his voice trailed off, he’d obviously forgotten that part. “Anyways, I learned about this in school.”
“Wait? What? You’re learning about spontaneous combustion in class?” I blurted. I wondered idly if the women in front of us could hear this conversation.
“Yes, we were reading about it in Rodney’s Believe it or Not.”
I figured that would be how you know your school board has really run out of budget money.
“Umm… I think you mean Ripley’s Believe it or Not,” I said dryly.
“Okay. Well the book said it happens to people who drink a lot of alcohol…”
One of the ladies turned. “Oh dear,” she blurted. Apparently they could hear us. I just laughed.
I turned back to Jeremy. “Hon, they call the book Believe it or Not because not every story is true. You have to figure out which ones aren’t true on your own. I’m thinking this would be one of the not true ones.”
We walked a bit further then I asked a police officer directions to the parade.
“Just down there,” he said and pointed. You can’t miss it.
The first thing I saw were huge pride flags. The second was the protesters. They were pretty lame. Two or three men, two banners, and a megaphone.
“Let’s cross the street,” I blurted. The light was about to change and I didn’t want to get stuck on the corner right beside the protesters.
“I want to punch them,” Jeremy muttered. “I wish this was a video game so I could punch them.”
“Well, it’s not and you can’t,” I replied absentmindedly. I was scanning the corner ahead of us for a spot to watch the parade. While I’d planned to wait farther up, the crowds made me realize that would be impossible. It didn’t take us long to find a spot though. It was in the sun but there were only two short people in front of us so we’d have a good view. There was a restaurant directly across the street, which would have been good, but there were also barricades. Behind us was a plaza offering some sort of VIP event. Hopefully neither of us would need to pee.
“Can I just cut their cord to their megaphone,” he asked a short time later as he glared toward the protesters. I was closing the cupcake box with no small amount of discouragement. I’d had no idea it would be that hard to give away free cupcakes. Only a handful of people had taken any. I’d long since tuned out the monotonous rant.
“That’s destruction of property,” I pointed out. “No, you can’t. Look, the parade starts in 15 minutes.”
That was when Jeremy looked up and noticed the patio…
I’d noticed it almost as soon as we arrived and immediately pondered it for next year. The pluses were space, a pretty good view, and those mist machines; it was really hot. The big minus was the view would be awkward from that many floors up.
“Mom, we have to go up there,” Jeremy pleaded. “Look, they have space over by the green window.”
The space was there but so were the barricades. Even if we found a way across both barricades, I had no idea where the entrance was or how long it would take to get up there, and chances were they’d probably booked for reservations months ago. I explained this all to Jeremy. He was still begging 10 minutes later. If this parade was anything like the Santa Claus Parade, we could be waiting for another hour until the parade finally reached us.
“Fine,” I sighed. “Go ask.” I knew they wouldn’t have space but it would keep him busy until the parade arrived. He grabbed his phone and left.
Five minutes later a cheer erupted from the crowd. Holy shit, the parade was almost here and Jeremy was nowhere in sight. How could it be here already? I frantically called him.
“Jeremy! Come back! The parade’s starting now.”
“No,” he replied. “I’ve found a better spot.”
“C’mon,” I urged. “The parade’s about to begin.”
“Mom, I’ve found a better spot,” he repeated irritably. “I’m right beside a fence and there’s no one around me at all.”
I hung up and went to join him. I liked the spot we were in but did not want to argue with him, not that we had time. I crossed the street, found him, then agreed it was a good spot. There was barely anyone over there, even though our spot was packed (that should have been my first clue), and we were in the shade. Moments later the police drove by…
… this was going to be great! I could see flags in the distance and then they turned. What the hell? We went running back to the intersection just in time to see them go by…
I looked at the narrow road and the lack of barriers and realized there was no way floats would make it down here. We were at the end of the route, all the walkers were going one way and the floats another. Our former spot was on the real route where we could have seen everything but now we needed to make a choice which we wanted to see more. There were more walkers, it wasn’t that hard a decision. But I still wanted a chance to see a bit of the floats.
“I’m going to move up a bit,” I told Jeremy. He didn’t feel like moving.
I ended up wedged against a barricade with about five or six people in front of me and at least ten or fifteen between me and the floats. I could see both if I stood on tiptoes. I rested my heels against the barricade leg and leaned back to watch the rest of the parade.
I had trouble seeing the floats but my camera has zoom which helped. You can see the protesters on the left. I’ve seen those lists of who’s going to hell in several atheist groups (people try to figure out how many points toward hell they’ve gained, with kudos going to the ones with the most points) but I’d never realized people really used them. Also, I have no idea what a “lukewarms” is.
The parade was very colourful…
I idly wondered how Jeremy was doing. We chatted briefly via cellphone and picked a meeting space for after the parade. A short while later he called wanting to know how to find me. I waved my hand repeatedly.
“Mom, you can turn off your phone,” Jeremy said from behind me. I hadn’t even seen him. “I want to go home.” His voice was firm and irritable. “Now,” he added.
“The parade’s not over,” I pointed out. “Plus there’s going to be entertainment afterwards.”
He crossed his arms. “I want to go home now.”
“Jeremy, I want to see the parade. Our church hasn’t even gone by yet.”
He complained that he wanted to go home repeatedly over the next few minutes. I quickly realized this wasn’t fair to anyone else around us.
“When the next break comes, we’ll leave,” I promised.
Soon the next break came and along with it came Jeremy’s rant. It was all my fault. I was stupid and hadn’t even bothered to make plans, so I was lazy too. Obviously I couldn’t have planned this in advance, obviously I’d never even tried, or I’d have known that was where the parade ended and I’d have warned him not to go that far. It was ugly, nasty, loud, and totally uncalled for.
On our way to the Old Spaghetti Factory I’d given away my full container of fresh Ontario cherries and half a bag of potato chips to homeless men. Now we passed a man sitting on a patio chair. A hand lettered sign rested beside him saying welfare didn’t pay enough. That’s not a surprise.
“See, that’s how selfish and self-centred you are,” Jeremy sneered as we walked by. “There’s a homeless man begging for money and you didn’t give him anything.”
I ignored Jeremy and kept walking. He continued to rant. I walked into Cloud Gardens, a small greenspace in downtown Toronto, for a chance to breathe. Jeremy trailed along behind.
“What are we doing now?” he yelled.
“Giving me some space,” I retorted. “Put your headphones on and calm down.”
There was all sorts of entertainment at Dundas and Yonge. My original plan was to head there after the parade and hang out for a little while, picking up veggie dogs from a street vendor for dinner. There was no way I was inflicting Jeremy on anyone though. The next train was in twenty minutes.
I knew there was a homeless man sleeping nearby, I’d noticed him as soon as we’d entered the park. Meanwhile he slept through Jeremy’s rant, through a police officer checking on him, and my approach.
“Excuse me,” I said quietly. He didn’t stir. He was dirty and exhausted. All his possessions were in a grocery bag beside him and one hand firmly clenched his cardboard coffee cup, in an attempt to keep someone from taking it. I placed the box of remaining cupcakes beside him and walked away.
“I can’t believe you tried to wake him,” Jeremy ranted. “And I can’t believe you gave him those cupcakes and not the other man. He was probably a hardworking person with a home who just happened to fall asleep while drinking his coffee.”
“He was homeless,” I said quietly.
“How do you know?” Jeremy snapped. “Have you been following him?”
“Yes,” I snapped back. “I’ve been stalking him for weeks now in my spare time.” This time Jeremy shut up.
We got to the station ten minutes before our train’s platform number was due to be released.
“I’m going to use the washroom,” I told Jeremy. “Your washroom is over there. Meet me right here beside this Dairy Queen sign.”
I was back within five minutes. No one was near the sign. Crap. How long was Jeremy going to take this time. I watched as the time ticked on then finally called him. I didn’t want to call him in the loo but I wasn’t going to wait for an hour in Union Station for the next train.
“I’m waiting for you,” he replied. He sounded cheerful, which was a surprise.
“Where?” I looked around and couldn’t see purple hair anywhere.
“By the nine screens,” he replied. I could see nine screens all together. I hurried over and Jeremy wasn’t there. Seriously? I was not playing hide and go seek with a seventeen year old less than ten minutes before our train left.
“Look, we don’t have time for this. Meet me at our original spot,” I snapped. That was when he came around the corner.
“You wanted me to walk too far,” he smugly informed me. “So I waited over there instead.”
“Jeremy, you waited in a spot I didn’t know about. We make plans for a reason. Wait in the right spot.”
I read our platform number and hurried off. Jeremy tried to tell me we were going the wrong way but I ignored him (we weren’t).
The ride home was uneventful. Jeremy fell asleep on the train and was quiet on the bus. He snarked about getting the desktop first but settled down immediately. I went in and uploaded my pictures then emailed them to myself so I could access them on my netbook. Then I came in here to write.
“Mom? Everyone’s saying this guy was wrong but I think the fire department’s being an ass.” Jeremy sat down on the end of my bed. I sighed internally. “He parked in front of his own house and they broke his car windows to get to the fire hydrant.”
“Good for them,” I replied. “He was in the wrong at least three times. He put other people’s lives at risk by parking there, it’s against the law to park in front of a hydrant, and he parked in a no parking zone.”
“You’re a fucking asshole and I’m not doing dishes,” he yelled as he stomped out of the room.
It’s going to be a long summer for the both of us. For me, because I’m stuck with Jeremy’s volatile attitude and for Jeremy because he’s already noticing I’ve dropped down to necessities. I refuse to buy any treats for someone who’s treating me badly. No cans of iced tea while I’m at the grocery store, no chocolate bars from the dollar store, no containers of instant hot and sour soup for a snack, no downloading a video game because it’s on super sale for just a short time, no iTune songs. He gets a dollar a chore for allowance and loses a dollar for chore refusal and bad behaviour. So far he’s minus four dollars and the week started yesterday.
I don’t know what’s gotten into Jeremy lately but it better get out of him soon.