Bad Romance: Move AlongbySamuelx©
Step one, I exit Loblaws, where I just spent the past eight hours. Working the eleven to seven overnight shift isn't easy. I yawn as I exit the store, my dark security uniform getting wet fast as it starts to rain. Wonderful. It was dry all night and as I head home, it starts to rain. That's just the kind of luck I've got, ladies and gentlemen. I walk out of the parking lot, and cross the street. Lucky for me I live about five minutes from work, and traffic is murder this time of day. This is metropolitan Ottawa, after all. A town full of government workers and students, that's it.
I walk in front of a Baptist church and cross myself. Been doing it for a while now. I'm not particularly religious but I received a crucifix on a rosary from a certain old Arab lady this past summer. She's a catholic from Egypt and told me that in today's world, faith matters. She shared a moving but dreadful story with me, telling me how the Arab Christians in the Middle East are under attack nowadays. Wow. I didn't even know there were so many Arab Christians in places like Egypt, Syria and Lebanon until recently. I'm moved by the plight of such people. They're being persecuted for their beliefs. I wear the rosary the old lady gave me for good luck. Wouldn't feel right to throw it away or not wear it because it obviously meant a lot to her. Starting to mean a lot to me too.
As I make my way home, a well-dressed young white lady walks toward me. She's going to work or school or something and I'm just getting home. She casts her eyes down as I walk past her. Inwardly I sigh. I know what she saw when she looked at me. I'm a big and tall young Black man. People always act funny when they see me and there's nobody else nearby. Sometimes they even switch sidewalks, if you can believe that. One time, I surprised a white woman by switching sidewalks when I saw HER coming. Then I switched back after walking past her. I turned around briefly and saw her standing there, flabbergasted by my move. Now you know how people like me feel, lady. Let that be a lesson to you. You're welcome.
I make it home at last. I remove my shoes, and my reading glasses, and toss the book Hominids by Robert Sawyer on the bed. I've been reading novels by this author. I find his work very interesting. Especially his science fiction stuff. I collapse on the bed, too tired to move, and definitely too tired to do anything except fall asleep immediately. I'm awakened by noise coming from down the hall. It's my roommate Lenny, a Haitian guy I've been living with for the past year. We don't get along. He makes a lot of noise, he's also rude and doesn't clean up after himself. I look at the black and crimson rooster on my nightstand, it's my fancy little alarm clock. It's noon. I got home at around seven ten in the morning after my eleven to seven overnight shift. Is five hours of sleep per day enough when you work forty-hour-weeks and also go to school? I don't know. I'm not a doctor. Doesn't sound like enough to me, though.
I can hear shouting coming from Lenny's room. He's having another argument with Rosa, this plump white lady he's been seeing for the past year. I don't much care for Rosa because when she's around my food tends to disappear. There are a lot of little ethnic restaurants in the east end of Ottawa. I spend too much time and money at such places. Where am I going to order from today? The nice little Haitian restaurant nearby or the Lebanese restaurant downtown, the Shawarma place, which delivers so damn fast it's almost scary? Hmmm. Shawarma it is. I pick up my cell phone. I recently switched from TELUS to FIDO.
Let me be the first to tell you a bit of awful truth, ladies and gentlemen. Cell phone companies in Canada suck, big-time, and here in northern Ontario, they drain you dry. I just received a text from FIDO saying I owe them one hundred and seventeen bucks. Isn't that nice? The little Asian dude I got the phone from at Rideau Shopping Center assured me that I'd only be charged seventy bucks a month. I don't make tha t many calls. I don't have a girlfriend and I text my guy friends rather than call them, for the most part. So where are these surprising phone bills coming from? Outrageous I tell you. It's like the cell phone companies want you to get into debt over their diabolical devices which you can't live without. I call the Shawarma place and order the usual. A mixed plate, chicken and beef, with rice and lots of hummus and definitely no salad. Oh, and I don't need a drink because I've got that in the fridge, I think.
Now, you might wonder why a guy who works security at Loblaws doesn't have much in the way of groceries in his home. I do have groceries. I have tons of soup, cornflakes and other stuff, but it doesn't taste very good. It's cheap, though, that's why I buy it. I just don't enjoy eating it. I've got way too many bills to worry about. My rent costs five hundred a month, and I've got a fifty-dollar-a-month Hydro bill. Between my rent, my cell phone, my Hydro and other living expenses, I'm always running a little short. Working forty hours a week at twelve bucks an hour doesn't cut it, man. It really doesn't. Oh, and I've got my fees at Carleton University to worry about. If everything goes right, I'll have my degree in Law soon. That's the potential silver lining underneath all the muck, you know? Part of what keeps me going.
I am snapped out of my reverie by the buzzer. It's the Shawarma delivery guy. I head downstairs, and see that it's Khalid. A short, stocky, dark-skinned guy. He's half Black and half Arab, and always complains about how they treat him at the Lebanese restaurant where he works. I always tell him that my job is always hiring and he always laughs it off. Whatever. I greet Khalid warmly because he's a chill guy. He hands me the packet containing my food. The order printout says seventeen dollars. I pay, and give two dollars to Khalid because I know what it's like to have a crappy job one does just to pay the bills. Khalid asks me how June is doing. Ah, Khalid, why did you have to go there?
June is a tall, beautiful young Black woman I was dating for most of the summer of 2012. We met at the movie theater, and just clicked. She was half Haitian and half Trinidadian. We got along wonderfully in June and July, but our relationship changed in August. We began seeing less of each other, and stopped getting along. I still liked her and kept trying to fix our relationship but she just didn't seem to give a fuck. She stopped trying. There were lies and deceit on both sides but long story short? We're not together anymore. I tried so hard, put aside my pride and always put her first. I was always there for her, even when my guy friends told me I was whipped and my female friends from school and work told me June was shady and didn't deserve someone like me. In the end, I gave up because a relationship is supposed to be about two people. If one person is trying to fix things, and the other doesn't care, it's doomed to fail. I'm through with June, but she's still leaving messages on my phone. She calls me now more than when we went out. Why is she doing this? What's her game? When I was all about her, totally focused on her, she treated me like shit. Now that I'm moving on, she's borderline obsessive. Why? Women! I smile politely at Khalid and tell him that June is doing fine. He smiles, nods and leaves.
I walk back upstairs, and feast on some delicious Lebanese food. I like the Lebanese people. They have a church located not far from me. Lebanese ladies are gorgeous. Lots of them at Carleton University. They seem to go mainly for Arab guys or White guys, though. I've rarely seen Arab women with Black men. I eat my food, and wash it down with some orange juice. I then head to the shower, and frown as I see hairs left there by Rosa, Lenny's girlfriend. Thank God the bozo is moving out at the end of September. Two new guys are moving in, a pair of brothers from Burundi, Constantine and Abraham. I get along fine with Constantine. Abraham seems okay. I don't know. I'm a lousy judge of character. We'll see. I brush my teeth, then shower. I go back to my room, and get dressed.
I look in my closet, and realize that most of my clothes have been worn. Going to have to do laundry soon. I pick up a long-sleeved red T-shirt featuring Fat Albert and a pair of Black pants that I usually wear with my security uniform. I look at my window, where twin flags stand side by side. I have two flags at home, a Haitian flag and an American flag. I was born in Haiti and grew up in the U.S. The City of Brockton, Massachusetts, was my home for more than a decade, before I moved to Ottawa City in provincial Ontario, Canada. I say a silent prayer for U.S. President Obama, past whose picture I walk as I exit my apartment. Lenny and Rosa have stopped arguing, and judging by the mattress thumping I'm hearing, they're making up. Lenny is an asshole of the worst caliber, and he's on welfare yet he gets more women than me. Either women always go for the bad guys or the universe is out to kick my ass. Whatever. I take a deep breath and exit.
I walk to the bus, and catch the number nine heading to Hurdman station. From there I'll catch bus number four heading to Carleton University. The bus is packed. I see a familiar face. It's Katrina. The tall, dark-haired and slender, alabaster-skinned beautiful young woman I met this summer. She goes to my university too. Studying business or something. Katrina is half white and half Arab. She looks like a model. We were getting really friendly after I met her at Hurdman in July, while I was coming home from my old overnight security job in Kanata and she was heading to her job at some government office downtown. Katrina seemed really cool at first, and we were really friendly for July and most of August. Recently, um, when I looked her up on Facebook, I saw that we were no longer friends. She kind of removed me. Sans explanation. Whatever. I smile politely at her and ask her if everything is alright. We chit chat about school and stuff, then she gets off the bus and goes her way and I go mine. She isn't heading to school right now, but I have class at three. It's already two forty when I board bus number four. Damn.
On the bus ride to school, I crack open my copy of the novel Hominids by Robert Sawyer. As I'm reading, a young blonde woman sitting near me cracks open a comic book. I notice that there are Black characters on the pages and ask her what the book is about, for I'm curious. She smiles and tells me that she's reading Marvel Comics The Black Panther. Wow. A blonde-haired, blue-eyed white chick is reading The Black Panther. She tells me that she became interested in the comic book character after watching the BET television miniseries. Hmmm. Interesting. I smile and command her on her good taste. I'm Jen, she says, extending her hand. I smile and introduce myself as Steve. And I'm definitely pleased to meet her.