By Annaliese Meyer
There can be something sickening in the familiar. If Bill Murray in Groundhog Day has taught us anything it’s that the radio and small talk are the devil. People mean well, but who wouldn’t want to capture Punxsutawney Phil and drive off the edge of a cliff after the millionth time someone asks how you are, and you mechanically reply, “Good!” People are beautiful, especially your loved ones, but sometimes you gotta get some strange to shake things up! Luckily the city of Toronto has an abundance of strangers – some wise, some certifiable – that often make it their mission to impede on your life. So why not embrace it!?
Even the mildest interactions with strangers can be exhilarating! I know that whether or not cat-calling is sexual harassment is still under debate but I still fondly recall the day an old man glided in front of me at a cross walk like a ghost, gave me a one-two and said, “your boyfriend is really lucky.”
I gave myself a quick hand fan three times over like a hysterical secretary in some black and white murder mystery. ‘Why thank you, sir,’ I thought while adjusting my Canadian Tuxedo. Who knew so much jean could evoke such lust in stranger? In his eyes, unlike people who know me, I was some exotic woman with a handsome boyfriend. He probably paints me abstract art about our love and brings me the type of kosher dill pickle you can only get at street festivals every time he comes over, I thought.
On the particularly mystical days, there can be an interaction with the Gandalf-like stranger whose most crystal blue eyes lead you to make up several narcissistic delusions. Clearly this gentleman is an oracle who is here to tell me the meaning of life. He’s here to quell my fears about death, see beyond the body, dive into my consciousness and paint a picture of my soul with his words so I can finally see myself clearly. Not in a way that is diluted by human flaw or optimism, but one that is real in its filth and beauty. But then he addresses you and says something like, “darling…?”
“Yes father?” you reply silently, with hopeful doe eyes.
“The lizard has awoken within the temple. God is here to save you from hell fire. I am Scooby-Doo.”
“Awesooooooooooome, got any Scooby snacks?” you reply.
Or there’s the stranger that silently restores your faith in humanity. When there is a rage-filled demon yelling at someone innocent, and you catch the glance of another who is equally as horrified as you. You both smile in a way that alleviates the tension of the event. The emphasis in their eyes says something like, “Get a load of this guy? Life, huh? So crazy.” To which you silently reply, “I know right? At least we’ve got smiles and cheese. Cheese makes everything better, especially burrata. So expensive though, who am I, an oil tycoon? How fun was RollerCoaster Tycoon?”
There are also those interactions that leave you thinking, “I’ve said too much.” This stranger has generally caught you on an off day when you are particularity unstable, and is spawned by them saying something like, “Can I sit here?”
You reply quaintly, “Isn’t silence scary? Sometimes I can’t sleep at night, and I’m so afraid of still air that I have to put on Netflix just to feel as though someone is beside me.”
Then you have to cut the tension by saying something like, “What about those Kardashians? They won’t stop pruning their bodies until they’re fully plastic amiright?” Nice save bruh…
However, every 20th full moon or so there is that kind wise stranger who says something so lovely that stays in the back of your brain forever. Like the construction worker that saw me writing once and told me to never stop. Those ones are the rare jewels that shine soft rainbows on your heart like a crystal that gets hit at the right angle by the warm summer sunshine. I bet you didn’t know crystals could do such a thing. Sometimes we forget that strangers can too.