Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Tales from Papa Len

My favourite part about the Village - is its sense of entitlement. People actually walk the place like they own the world. They don't. They own a slice of land that's over-valued and ripe for the current real-estate bubble to burst. Sadly with that bubble goes my inheritance. So to my dearest readers in Dubai - please continue to buy condo's in Toronto and drive up real estate prices thus ensuring that the Faux Hillary's paper worth continues to rise exponentially, merci...

Over at Papa Len has recently argued the same thesis. Papa Len, who I'll have you all know, does most of the shopping at Two-Fer found himself over the weekend at our local Loblaws - or as its officially called, "The Village Market". In times of strife Villagers like to support their own [we're like the mob] and currently Faux Hillary's are rallying around Galen Weston Jr. (or G2) who is having quite the time turning around his families storied Loblaws Supermarket chain, which is facing severe competition from Wal Mart (tasteless nouveu riche southerners). While some may argue that the job is not quite fair for young G2 (best known for starting Toronto's snobbish Spoke Club). In comparison his sister Alannah got given a cushy job at Selfridges (in London) while G2 got stuck shilling organic apples. Wonder what G2 did to piss of Hils?

But back to Papa Len - and his weekend foray down to the Village market. As he deftly manouvered his way around the various beauties of the Village and their bugaboo stroller's, he couldn't help but notice the Village's sense of entitlement in action. Hark! In the distance - your typical Faux Hill Mummy and her child. Mother looks a tad frantic - as she thinks to herself: "I can't believe the nanny quit - I am so out of my league. We are NOT at the Yoga studio anymore..." Mother continues to look ashen as contemplates which groceries to buy, while her daugther begins to cry. Apparently the kid is hungry.

So what does your typical Village mummy do? Ever resourceful our Faux Hillary grabs a clementine from a box, peels it and gives it to her daugther. Problem solved... too bad she didn't buy the rest of the box. Why pay for something when you get it for free?

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Village Faygeleh's

Faygelleh - Yiddish for bird. Also Yiddish for homo's.


I was at a party recently when someone asked me, "So why'd you wait so long to come out?"

Publically I didn't come out until my fourth year of university... I decided, after I spent the summer fooling around with the stock boy at the Gap, that I was indeed a proud member of the population that is 10% more fabulous then the rest of you. Truthfully I had probably known I was gay a couple of years earlier when I discovered the internet and gay porn... meh. I'm sure this came as no shock to anyone who knew me, so the whole ordeal was the big snoozer of the 2004 gossip circuit. Miriam Abromowitz's new bangs got more coverage at David's by Day then my Coming Out party did, swear.

Sometimes I think I have no clue why I waited "for so long" to come to terms my faggotry; especially when I probably could have come out in high school and found myself a nice Uptown WASP [I went to a whitey public high school] to take to the formal instead of my then girlfriend, who was christened with the awful nickname, Fuckily Screwberg. Fuckily subsequently went a bit crazy after high school and decamped to Vancouver (not that I think her crazyness had ANYTHING to do with me. No seriously).

And on top of my progressive high school education Sim Sim Sima and Papa Len are loving, amazing and supportive parents. Papa Len - like the good father that he is - drove me to the airport the morning after I spilled tears on the granite kitchen island telling my folks I was a big homo, handed me my school bag, gave me a hug and said, "Nothings changed son, nothings changed." Then he asked if I needed any money and slipped me $40.00 bucks while my mother was pre-occupied sending emails on her Blackberry (WWSD, always)...

So with supportive parents, a supportive, albeit BOLD sister (you're playing safe, right?), and the best friends money could never buy, why'd I wait? The answer - I'd argue has nothing to do sexuality and has everything to do with the inadvertent pressures my generation and class have placed on ourselves to become idealized version of successful citizenry.

Like many kids of the Village, both gay and straight, I had imbued myself with an incredible vision of what I needed to accomplish in order to be successful. And truthfully being gay didn't fit into the equation - the same way that being a teacher doesn't fit into this pre-conceived nature of success either. My next door neighbour once pulled me aside at a dinner party and as we discussed my future life path [nothing like a fifty your old swilling red wine in the corner of your living room telling you that you should fuck everything you can], where she admitted, "ya know what? You don't have to live like this..." (And by like this she meant centre-hall mansion, mortgage and European car in the driveway.) True - but what if I did want to live like that?

This same sense of hyper competitiveness is what brought about a teary phone call from my Jess last week. Jess is a smart, pretty and successful 26 year-old (if anyone is looking for a nice Jewish girl... I can hook it up); girl has a MBA for example, so certainly she's not going to be living in a van down by the river, ya know? However Jess called me wondering why she felt like such a loser. Because at 26 - she wasn't married, like her mom was at 23, nor did she own a house. Sure these may seem unreasonable goals to most, but in the social circle of Village kids, Jess' version of her life, while an unreasonable goal to many - was a holy grail to her. In fact she'd made herself sick over being a 26 year-old single girl with a MBA.

Only in the Village is this life a disaster... and yet I totally understood her plight. So I ask you if this apparent inferiority complex is the plight of your average Faux Hillary - what happens to one who happens to like penis when he shouldn't?

Someone once called me a class traitor - and today - that line perhaps holds true - as I trade out both a member of my own class and sexual orientation, with a full scale blind item. But I mean what's a gossip column without a blind item?

I happened to run into one of the Village's finest, Ben, over the weekend. Ben comes from a lovely old-school Village family. Father does something that makes a lot of money (doctor, lawyer, or maybe an accountant) and the mother is well known for selling fake Louis Vuitton's out of her basement. Sure she doesn't make much - but now that the kids are grown up and the nanny's paying off her RRSP contributions with continued employment - girl has to do something, right?

But back to Ben. Oh Ben... Ben is a very attractive metrosexual with a loving girlfriend who he's been dating throughout his tenure at university. I hadn't seen him for years until I ran into him last year when we were both on winter vacation with our parents. As we stood in a Mexican bar, awkwardly, Ben just looked at me and said, "I wonder what my girlfriend is doing now?" It was he was making a Tom Cruise esque point - Ben is a virile heterosexual man with a girlfriend he cares about.

The problem with this lovely portrait (and I know people are already picturing a nice, tatsteful wedding at Beth Tzedic, Mazel Tov to the parents etc...) - Ben used to fuck my good friend. Oh and did I mentioned that the friend Ben fucked was a guy? And I'm pretty sure it wasn't one of those, "I'm just experimenting" phases. It was prolonged... and continued, to the point that every school break Ben and my friend could be caught necking in a parked Mercedes at the Bathurst Jewish Community Centre parking lot (can you get any more wrong then that?).

So why the blind item, I mean who I am to judge Ben?

That's a tenuous one isn't it... on one hand I can completely commiserate with hating the concept of being gay. Lord knows it took me years to come to terms with own sexuality and I still see myself struggle on certain days with accepting aspects of my 'other' culture. And it still forms a large part of my relationships with potential mates - being gay is always an odd elephant in the room. Admitting your sexuality even with supportive parents and friends is a bitch at best. Admitting your sexuality when you've grown up in a heteronormative culture where you've pressured YOURSELF to become a successful and virile contributor to the Zionist cause is that much harder.

But back to dear Jess - who called me back feeling a lot better. I felt that it was time to bring up the Gatsby clause of life.
"The Gatsby clause?" she asked.
"Don't waste your life chasing the American dream," I said, "as I fished out my dog-eared copy of the Great Gatsby, to quote: 'Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter – tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms further . . . And one fine morning- So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.'"

But the real truth for people like Ben, myself and Jess (straight, gay or bisexual)? The truth that you have to remind yourself before you go crazy - Success, be it in the Village or elsewhere, gay or straight - is yours to define. So define it well and define it so it makes you happy - don't chase the green light. Gatsby got shot remember and Ben's probably engaged to be married...

Perhaps its time to organize a Faux Hill Village Pride Parade? Sim Sim Sima would make a great Grand Marshall don't ya think? I'm just not sure if she can find a rainbow coloured sweater set at Talbots. Shucks!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Retail Queens

Dateline - Yorkville

After a lovely lunch on Saturday with a suitably caustic friend of mine - we found ourselves walking around my Third Village (the Faux and Gay being the two more predominant ones). As we sauntered round the Hugo Boss store - we couldn't help but laugh at the "street team" which had been hired to breakdance in front of The Boss's Yorkville boutique. I mean nothing says: "come on in and buy a suit" like a team of breakdancers right?

"You realize," my friend observed, "the dancers have upped the racial diversity of Yorkville by like 400%."
"Ah yes - Yorkville - where the only black people are employees."
"Maybe these are the 'exotic' kids who will be accepted to Upper Canada on scholarship?"
"One can only hope."

After much amusement we went on to the Cashmere Shop, where I contemplated whether or not I needed a new hat. The answer: undoubtedly yes, but WWSD? What Would Sima Do - she wouldn't buy herself a cashmere hat, in fact at our last garage sale she admonished a family friend who selling cashmere scarves for $1.00...

As I was about to leave the shopkeeper stopped me: "You look familiar."
"McGill?" I asked.
"Yes - you were in my class."
"I was your teacher." No - I wasn't, but I do like to re-use jokes from those infamous late eighties Oil of Olay commercials whenever I can. All of us had a good chuckle at Bugsy Brown's expense.

"So what are you up to now?" I asked in a very Faux Hill manner. In Toronto, or at least in certain parts of this city, asking a distant acquaintance what they're doing is the default question, judgmental undertones be damned.

Why is this? Well... in certain circles in Toronto [white, upper middle class] you are what you do.

"I actually own this place."
"Oh." Secretly I had been hoping that my newfound nemesis with her McGill Sociology degree would be working retail while figuring "herself out". Was not expecting this curveball. SHE OWNS A STORE?!! I don't even own a house and my Seven for all Mankind Jeans are looking worse for wear and on top of that I'm pretty sure that people don't even wear Seven's anymore...
"My father opened it a couple of years ago and I took it over when I came back from Montreal. He spends most of the year traveling in India sourcing the best cashmere. You?"
"Uhm... I work for a not for profit."

The good or bad news depending on your vantage is that the Cashmere Shop is NOT an isolated incident. In fact for your average uptown graduate of Havergal or Branksome Hall minding shop is the new black. While our grandparents may have worked their asses off to ensure that their progeny would never have to work the schmatta trade down on Spadina subsequently pushing a generation of pre-Faux Hillary's into professional degrees (thereby allowing them move to the Faux and BECOME the Faux Hillary's they are today) the latest trend round the Village is to help your daughter establish her own jewelry business, retail establishment, or online boutique. This is for some reason a gender specific trend.

Witness a friend of a friend called Buffy. Buffy "the Holts Now or Never Saler" (see what I did there?) recently started up her own jewelery line. Buffy Wear is an "affordable yet stylish collection of costume jewelery designed by Buffy." Buffy believes that jewlery should be FUN! and AFFORDABLE! and STYLISH! I found myself on Buffy's website the other day at work, mouth aghast at what this former singer, actor, dancer was up to. The tagline: "its all about who you're wearing" - speaks to establishment glee and while the jewelery designs are nothing special - my friends grandmother makes nicer beaded necklaces from the Hazelton Lanes Retirement House arts and crafts department - Buffy appears to be making a go of it.

Meh - who am I to judge - at least Buffy gave up her nascent singer, songwriter career.

Mind the store folks.