“ Cheers ” had it right, we all want a place where everybody knows your name, where people say hi as if they’ve known you half their life. Where you can walk in and sit at the bar, order lunch, dinner or just a coffee and not feel weird about being alone with nothing to read, no cell phone to talk in to and no paper to read. For many people in downtown St John’s (including my father) this place was the Heritage Café on Duckworth Street. You could walk in and not even need to order, they’d say “ How are you today Mr. Doyle, you want the usual? ” . I remember how sad everyone was when it shut down, the wake seemed to last years with people walking around with a hungry, lost look in their eyes. I wish I could say “ my place ” was as friendly and unpretentious, but it isn’t. I started going to this restaurant about twelve years ago when it was a skinny little slip of a thing with just a few tables. I would go there pretty much every day for cappuccino and some of the best and most consistent food you could think of, not to mention the nicest people in the world. After about five years of going there everybody else found out about it, soon you couldn’t get a table, on weekends you’d have to line up for an hour, but by that point I was hooked and I rearranged my eating habits so eating dinner at either 4 in the afternoon or 11 at night was common practice- anything to avoid the line. Then they renovated and opened a few more locations and I thought finally I will be able to get a seat whenever I want again, but it just seemed with the facelift even more people wanted in. Still I walked there about five times a week, I went there every single time I hopped off a plane, even dreamed about the food when I was in Italy. Sure other people I brought there complained about it’s “ Seinfeld Soup Naziish” rules of no substitutions, even if they were allergic, vegan even diabetic, or the rude response if the wine was off ( and it was off ), I was in complete denial about “my” restaurant. For twelve years I have been ordering the same seafood pasta and for twelve years I have lovingly covered it with parmesan cheese, but now all of a sudden they won’t let you put cheese on it anymore- saying it ruins the dish, they won’t leave the cheese on the table in case it might go near it and they watch over you shoulder to make sure. I can live without just about anything in life except cheese, it’s kind of like the moment your boyfriend cheats on you and then you go “ that’s it, I’m done”, when they took away my cheese I knew it was a bad relationship and I had to walk away. Why is it that now just a few hours later the cheese is forgiven and all I can think about is the “make up” pizza?
|If I had my way I’d fall into bed fully asleep because memories of childhood insomnia plague me to this day and since I am neither a field laborer or a mother of one, two , three or eight children, my body like most other North Americans tends to be underused. Sure I might go to the gym or do a yoga class, run to grab a cab or take the stairs instead of the elevator and will even give myself a pat on the back for doing even one of these things in a day but compared to someone like a fisherman, we are a comatose sort of bunch. So rarely am even close to half asleep when I crawl into bed, mostly my mind is racing, my eyelids are glued open a la Nicole Kidman and I lay still just long enough to jump out of bed to adjust the curtains so no street light can leak in and cover up the blinking light on the clock radio only to return to the fold just to turn on the light and read. You’d think I’d skip the other parts and go straight to reading but no I try and cheat the system every night and every night I fail. Last night saw me lying in bed staring at a pile of unopened books, a choice of twelve different universes I could delve into, I scanned the spines, dismissed some titles as too heavy and settled on “A Sunday By The Pool in Kigali”. A perfect read for a Sunday night I thought as I sunk into the sheets. Immediately I was hooked by story , I too was by laying by the pool under an African sun , but this was no light reading, this was a personal account of the Rwandan Genocide. I could not leave the pages until I realized I was jumping out of my skin with every creak the wind dealt to my house, I lay there cursing our apathy, our role as a society who thinks much but does very little, who hides their head for fear of crossfire. Obviously this did little to help my attempt at sleep and when it did come it was filled with Machete yielding Hockey Players and gun toting beavers. So today when I stopped in the middle of the road and “harshly spoke” to a nine year old boy for pushing over a five year old on his bike and then walking off without an ounce of remorse, I didn’t feel bad at all about now being the crazy lady in the neighborhood, I felt good about not being apathetic. Hopefully that feeling will endure when he comes to egg my house.
The art of “Announcing” something is a very tricky thing, even when there are other people nudging your elbow, you have to be completely confident in what you are proclaiming. Take Hilary for example, when the rest of the world was shouting at their televisions saying “ the race is over, drop out now” she did what any forward thinking, reserved person would do, she waited until she was one hundred and fifty percent sure there was no chance in Florida she could beat Barack. Well a month and a half ago Kim and I did our last concert as Shaye- a retirement of sorts, we toasted each other and all of the wonderful and crazy memories, we prepared ourselves that we might not do another gig together for a long time, so last week when we were on stage together again I had to have a little laugh at our expense. Our embarrassingly Cher like short retirement came about because we were asked to host and event honouring Canadian Songwriters at Massey Hall for the Luminato Festival. Honestly we were thrilled to be invited, let alone host it, so leading up to the gig we spent countless hours that we’ll never get back wondering what we should be called. If you think coming up with a name for your kid is difficult, you should try naming a band, all the good names are taken and if you try to reuse- you’ll be slapped with a lawsuit harder then fifteen kindergarten name tags saying, Samantha H, Samantha C , Samantha R.. anyway you get the picture. Kim and Dav sounds a bit too much like Sim and I, Stockwood, Doyle sounds like a law firm specializing in divorce and KD although it’s great with Ketchup is not where we want to go branding wise. Which leaves us with Kim Stockwood and Damhnait Doyle, formerly called Bon Jovi, which I think will do quite nicely except some nights I wake up in a sweat going why isn’t my name first? Between seeing Leonard, playing shows and squeezing in to see Hey Rosetta absolutely slay the crowd at the Horseshoe Saturday night, I feel like a groundhog who has hibernated all winter long and once it’s seen sunshine it lays out in nonstop, risking burning and dehydration for fear of never seeing the sun again. Here’s to guzzling water, staying home and turning off the phone, this animal has got to go back underground.