because the personal is cultural
I don’t care if forever never comes
‘Cause I’m holding out for that teenage feeling
-Neko Case, “Teenage Feeling”
I’ve always been a sucker. Not as in gullible, mind you. What I mean is that, when I was seven years old, I watched Dr. Zhivago over two nights as it played on TV and, when the titular character saw the woman he loved as he passed by her on a tramway and ran after her, dying of a heart attack while she kept on walking, completely oblivious to the drama unfolding behind her, I also died a little. It became my favourite movie, as it would for any normal seven-year-old. When I saw it on VHS a few years later at the store, still split over two cassettes, I bought it with the hard-earned money I made babysitting my cousins.
In 2011, it played as part of a film classic series at Cinéma Banque Scotia. I didn’t miss my chance to see it on the big screen. I was afraid that it would disappoint now that I was a more critical adult but, as I was watching it, the thought that came to mind was the phrase my grandmother had uttered when she watched Fly Away Home (also a favourite of mine): “They don’t make them like this anymore.”
I’ve always been curious. We speak of acquired tastes. Taste is a muscle. I always wanted to enjoy more. I liked eating so much that it would upset me when I didn’t like a particular food. Like olives. So, every once in a while, I would have one, just to see if my taste had changed. As a result, there isn’t much I don’t eat today, including olives.
The first time I ordered a coffee, it was because I wanted to be like the Gilmore Girls. Every sip made me gag, but I was in front of friends, so I kept on drinking, trying my best to hide how I truly felt. Now it’s a treat I can’t go without for one day. I’m the kind of asshole who talks about his preferred tasting notes when trying to figure out which bag of beans to buy.
You have to suppress a lot of yourself to sleep with men. You have to pretend you’re an empty shell. You might even have to use weed or alcohol to bypass your demisexuality.
It’s only because of the pandemic that you realize “Wait… So I don’t have to do this?”
When I was still in university, I decided to make a list of all the things I wanted to do before summer was over to avoid what usually happens: so many plans at the start and so few of them achieved by the time the fall semester came around. My plan worked. When school started, I’d checked off every item on the list except one: going to my first dance show. I kept it in the back of my mind until the end of the semester, when a classmate and I went to see Carol Prieur performing Marie Chouinard solos, a show I picked simply because I saw an ad for it when I walked through Place des Arts. The show ended with Prieur physically interpreting Henri Michaux’s drawings while frantically running up and down the stage like eyes making their way across the page line by line. When the performance ended, everybody gave her a standing ovation. Everybody except me. Not that I didn’t want to. I couldn’t. My legs no longer worked. I guess that’s why we say we’re floored. It’s not just metaphorical language.
I went from never having seen a dance show to going to see every dance show in Montreal.
I was lucky enough to go to my first punk show because some of my coworkers at Cagibi were in a band called Pantyhos. So I made my way to Fattal to catch their set at Death House, except I couldn’t “ask a punk” where it was since I didn’t know any. Luckily, I ran into another one of my coworkers in the parking lot and he showed me the way. I’ve gone back to Fattal many times over the years and to hardcore shows more generally. Sometimes, at a show, I would get emotional; I would think about the child I used to be, about how if I told that child that I would one day be going to punk and metal shows and they would be my favourite thing, the child I was would reply “No, that’s impossible. There’s no way you’re talking about me.” It makes me excited about what else I will discover that I don’t even know yet. It makes me curious about who I have yet to become.
has an MA in Film Studies and works in contemporary dance. His fiction has appeared in Headlight Anthology, Cactus Heart, and Birkensnake.