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Fancy That

October 22, 2012

An aeon ago, my great pal K and I decided there were two things we keenly sought in a man: quirkitude or curmudgeonliness. We were 22. Flash forward close to 30 years and there’s a problem. Middle-aged curmudgeons are a dime a dozen and bitterness only works before its time. Curmudgeonliness in a man is now successfully alienating. I’d almost, but not quite, prefer a chap who’s callow, but blithe would do. (To be perfectly honest I’d prefer a standard poodle: chocolate with a puppy cut, no pom-poms.)

As for quirkiness? I’m on the fence. I mean, now that my own Courage, My Love days are far behind me (a landmark Toronto vintage clothing store), I dress, literally, in shades of grey.  Faded black jeans, steel-gray undershirts, my charcoal and black striped sweater, soft gray cardigans – these are my standbys. Not a good thing, especially when I’m jet lagged, but on the other hand is it a problem that I can no longer pass as a 1959 stewardess (with quintuple strand fake pearls and gogo boots)?

The quirks in my wardrobe are long banished and I somewhat hope my manner is as pedestrian as everyone else’s. Likewise, it’s been a long time since I dated anyone prone to graffiti, suspenders and villain moustaches.

Help me out with this scenario. Before I left Toronto for what’s turned out to be six years and counting, I walked through Trinity Bellwoods park and saw, in the bandstand, two people…fencing. The canvas armour, the white masks, les epees, rear arms hoisted aloft D’Artangnan style, the works.  I was floored. Because I didn’t know what to think. Either I loved this quirky display in my vibrant downtown park of choice where inspiration ruled…or I couldn’t believe the assholes. I’m still unsure.

Do I tend to cut London more slack? There’s a grand tradition of eccentricity here that one dishonors Oscar Wilde by spurning. An expectation of quirkiness mellows its antagonisms. Joust in the Trinity Bellwoods bandstand at your peril but if you’re lads outside your Haymarket local at lunch hour on a Friday? By all means go ahead and have a ukulele sing-song.

I’m being terribly hypocritical at this point, because if you’re a winsome, twenty-something, strumming college girl duo with freckles in bandanas, sorry but I don’t want to hear your ironic lyrics. An engulfing tidal wave of wry ukulele-driven lyrics lessons the power of irony to a deleterious degree. The chaps pictured stuck to traditional tunes. They weren’t inviting an audience . In fact I was scared to get too close to them in case they flew off like a flock of storks.

Good on you, lads. Do your thing no matter what and who. Charmed I’m sure. Thank you for making the quirkitude of London so blessedly normal.

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