I lived at Church and Gloucester and worked at Josee’s Hair Salon in West Rouge right at the border of Scarborough and Pickering. My travel time to work was about an hour and 40 minutes depending on which of the 85 buses I caught at Yonge and Sheppard. Bus 85A will drop me off in front of the salon. Bus 85 took me to Meadowvale.
I had a routine. I did not always enjoy the long travel, but I had a routine: my journeying ritual to work - pick an album and play it on shuffle.
Album: Raymond verses Raymond
I walk to the Yonge and Bloor subway station, the northbound platform on the Yonge line. I walk to approximately where I know the doors to the third car will be, and I wait.
Usher: Mars verses Venus
People watching. It is not too busy on the platform. Who is starting their day and who is ending theirs?
I see Josh, the stripper from Remingtons. Well, he is not much of a stripper; he can’t dance for shit, but he’s very easy to look at. He is not alone; he is with three other guys.
The train arrives. We get in the same car.
Usher: Little Freak.
“You let her put her hands in your pants,
be my little freaks...Usher buzz me in,
everyone loves RAYMOND!
Be my little freak.”
Josh the stripper and his trio are ending their night.
One is in a white short-sleeved tee with a nicely faded haircut - bet you it is a level two on the top and a one on the sides, it looks good on him. Two is in a black short-sleeved tee, standing with one hand on his buckle. He keeps moving his other hand around his crotch unconsciously touching and grabbing... it is not attractive, but he is the most handsome. Three, is the shortest and the cutest, wearing a white dress shirt, sleeves rolled up. He seems the most reserved.
Josh the stripper is doing most of the talking. There is a lot of laughter and hand gesturing. He keeps moving his body weight around on his feet, restless. He walks away from the three and stoops over, holding on to his thighs. Maybe he is sore from work.
The three keep talking amongst themselves. Josh the stripper walks back to the group and takes over the conversation again - more laughter.
They are very attractive as a posse, but it is Josh the stripper who stands out most. He always did, even at work. This morning he is wearing black gym track pants and a dri-fit black, short-sleeved tee. It all fits perfectly, not too tight.
Usher: Foolin’ Around.
It is 7:30am on a Saturday.
"Sheppard and Yonge, next stop is Sheppard."
I get off the train. Maybe the foursome is going to a shoot… maybe to shoot a video. I want to see it. At the bus platform, bus 85 is a minute away, bus 85A is 20mins away.
Usher: Making Love
Saturday morning. I am going to be late to work. I get on Bus 85.
Usher: Pro Lover, Papers, Stranger
“Next stop is Meadowvale, this will be the last stop” I get off the bus.
Album: It’s About Time
I begin my walk from Sheppard and Meadowvale to Island Road and East Avenue, singing along to SWV.
“Cause my heart starts beating triple time
With thoughts of loving you on my mind
I can’t figure out just what to do
When the cause and cure is you.”
I arrive at work.
These are among the things I miss.
Tawiah is an actor, playwright, creator and director, and is currently the Metcalf Foundation Artistic Director Intern at Canadian Stage.