Dating under the giant phallus
The Catholic church has overseen my last few half-hearted/no-hearted attempts at relationships, literally. The exact same imposing steeple was visible from each bedroom where I've played guest, a constant feature of my Walk(s) of Shame and an enormous phallic reminder that Montreal can be a very small pond.
Living here for more than a decade, I've somehow, accidentally reduced this vast city of millions to a dating-pool effectively as small as that of my former high school. Population: Me, my ex-conquests and their new girlfriends. Great.
The men I cut out of my photos are generally artists and/or musicians (by coincidence not preference, I've learned that lesson already), and they all live within 10 blocks of me. And they're good at what they do, or if not good, then at least prolific. So, even if I'm lucky enough not to leave my apartment, go for coffee or grab a beer at the same time as any one of them, they still find their way back into my home via some form of local media - radio, TV or free weeklies. When The Mirror referenced three ex-something-or-others in a single issue, my comfort zone started feeling a little lopsided and lumpy. Maybe, I thought, it was time to find a new one.
Besides, bumping into a local ex-conquest at the end of the night (the just-give-me-poutine-and-put-me-to-bed part of the night) really blows, because unless you make an obvious and cowardly detour, you'll be sharing the same route home. Just you, your ex, and his annoyingly cute new girlfriend in the skanky little outfit she wore especially for him because he likes how it makes her ass look. Ugh.
When it happened to me most recently, the smalltalk was staccato and artificially sweetened. I certainly wouldn't order it again, if that means anything, and I couldn't wait for it to end.
Just before all tact was lost, the familiar giant phallus rose into view - a foothill to a mountain of relief - and grew taller with every click of the heels that were killing my arches. It became my symbol of hope, nearly as its architects intended. If I could just make it to the church, I thought, then poutine would be just around the corner and everything would be OK.
I knew then, walking with these people I'd rather have avoided, that this neighbourhood (and everyone in it) is "home" whether I liked it at that particular moment, or not.