Friday, November 19, 2010

How I Met Pugs

Going to have dinner with Pugs tonight. Yummo, yummo, yummo... we're having Chinese take-out from China House restaurant on Eglinton West. It's a celebratory dinner because she got a 6-month contract job that she starts on Monday. I'm really happy for her. And quite proud of her too. Pugs is my 59 year old friend who lives one floor down from me in my building.

We sometimes go to the movies, sometimes play cards, and she quite frequently invites me over for dinner. She's a nice lady, and though she's lonely, she's assertive and social and when she has no friends, she introduces herself to strangers.

I know this, because that's how we met.

2 years ago when I was still a dog-owner, I used to run into Pugs in the elevator with her little dog "Suzette". We communed as most dog owners do with the good fortune of having dogs that don't want to kill every other dog they encounter.

You get 3 guesses what breed of dog she has, and the first two guesses don't count.

When I first met Pugs, she kind of spooked me a little, because she was so forward and a little socially awkward. But... loneliness does that. I'm learning first hand. Sometimes the mere act of speaking to strangers seems to project a second holographic head beside your real one for people to gawk at as they reach for non-existent pepper spray.

The first time Pugs and I had a significant conversation was the day she saw me toting around a book. (not an unusual sight) It was the Time Traveler's Wife. She's an avid reader, and took full advantage of the opportunity to ask me what I thought of the plot, and since I was loving it, I told her so. The next time I saw Pugs, she told me she'd picked-up a copy of the book and was reading it too.

One day she kinda cornered me in the elevator and just blurted out, "John, are you gay"? Bold, top-of-the-mind inquisition that brought a smile to my face. I replied, "Yes I am". And she was pleased that I would admit it to her. She said she wondered because I always referred to the dogs being with "my ex" every second week, and never saying ex "girlfriend" or "wife". Pugs also wanted me to know she had no issues with gay people and she was worried that we'd never be friends if I couldn't tell her. She then asked me if we could be friends outright, to which I replied with more than a little inward trepidation that we could.

I'm a little ashamed to admit that, because really, being friends with Pugs has added a wonderful element to my home life. It's really nice to have a friend who lives in another apartment in your building. We've borrowed things from one another. I've helped her with things she couldn't do on her own, looked after plants, and I'm going to look after Suzy for her for a weekend in January. And she cooks for me, and lends me books, and quotes me poetry and tells me stories. We take turns paying when we go to movies and restaurants. It's kind of like having a mother who's a friend.
Admittedly, I don't treat her like a mother, because I have issues with her getting too close, because she can be a little ...eccentric, and demanding. But for the most-part, I really do enjoy being friends with Pugs, and like that I can help her and be company. I don't want to even allude to it being charity, because she's been a friend and company for me too. It's not like I'm mister popular.

Pugs is a kind woman. She's led an emotionally difficult life, and she doesn't wield her solitude like a crutch. I admire her. Even if she thinks her dog is actually speaking to her.

Perhaps a stage in life that waits for me too.

Elvis Presley - "Are You Lonesome Tonight"

Are you lonesome tonight,
Do you miss me tonight?
Are you sorry we drifted apart?
Does your memory stray to a brighter sunny day
When I kissed you and called you sweetheart?
Do the chairs in your parlor seem empty and bare?
Do you gaze at your doorstep and picture me there?
Is your heart filled with pain, shall I come back again?
Tell me dear, are you lonesome tonight?

I wonder if you're lonesome tonight
You know someone said that the worlds a stage
And each must play a part.
Fate had me playing in love you as my sweet heart.
Act one was when we met, I loved you at first glance
You read your line so cleverly and never missed a cue
Then came act two, you seemed to change and you acted strange
And why Ill never know.
Honey, you lied when you said you loved me
And I had no cause to doubt you.
But Id rather go on hearing your lies
Than go on living without you.
Now the stage is bare and I'm standing there
With emptiness all around
And if you wont come back to me
Then make them bring the curtain down.

Is your heart filled with pain, shall I come back again?
Tell me dear, are you lonesome tonight?

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