Wednesday: I wonder about “the club”
On Wednesday, T and I were driving back from town. We’re getting him ready to go to university, and I can’t really talk about that because I’ll probably cry. But anyway, we were listening to the radio, and a rap song came on. I’m not a huge fan of the “my money/my fame/I’m a pimp/I’m a player” school of rap, but I was trying to listen, and the only lines I could really make out were “in the club”, over and over again. It occurred to me that the phrase “in the club” seems to be a mainstay of many songs these days, but as a cosmopolitan person, I was confused. I’ve lived in small towns and big cities, and I’ve certainly gotten around, but I still don’t know exactly where “the club” is. So I said to T, “Tell me—you’re 18 and fairly worldly. Where is the club? Have you been to the club? And if not, do you know anyone who HAS been? I ask merely out of a burning curiosity.”
T shook his head. “Sorry, no. I don’t know anyone who goes to ‘the club’.”
“But you’re a teenager. If not teenagers, then who? I’m 50—I don’t know anyone who goes to the club. I know a lot of people who go to “the bar”, but I think that’s different than “the club”, if modern music has taught me anything. Maybe it’s 20 year olds with a lot of free time and disposable income.”
“Maybe,” said T. “SOMEONE must go there for so many songs to be written about it.”
“I wonder what one does ‘in the club’?” I mused. We listened to the radio for a minute.
“According to this song,” said T, “you get ‘in some trouble’.”
“Hm. Doesn’t sound like much fun. There must be other things you can do there; otherwise, why would anyone go?”
So we made a list. Here are the top things so far that you can apparently do “in the club” according to people who write songs about it.
1) Get down
2) Get up
3) Get busy
4) Get on the floor
5) Throw your hands in the air and wave them like you just don’t care
6) Do business (but not while drunk—see below)
8) Party like it’s yo birthday (a more enthusiastic style of partying, apparently)
10) Hold out for one more drink
I don’t know about you, but the club was suddenly sounding very tantalizing. I wanted to go there. Remember, back in my heyday I’d been a DJ, and I wondered if the club today was like clubs when I was young, with the disco dancing and all (just kidding—I’m not that old). Yet, I still had one major problem—I didn’t know where it was, and my teenaged son was no help either. So I did what any normal person would do—I asked Ken.
Me: You know how all these songs keep talking about “the club”?
Ken: Club? You mean like a speakeasy?
Me: How old ARE you anyway?
So dead end there. Finally, I had no choice but to turn to my good friend Google. I typed in “how do I find the club?” but all I got were hits on golf clubs. And while I LOVE driving the golf cart, I’m not actually keen on the game itself. Also, I got links to a game called Club Penguin and how to find its hidden pins, and none of that made ANY sense. Perhaps the club was simply a figment of everyone’s imagination, a kind of Zen state only achieved through listening to hip hop music. Then I tried “What do I do in the club?” The first thing that came up were several lists of things NOT to do “in the club”, and they were very detailed lists which included things like ‘get drunk and try to do business’, ‘stand instead of dancing’, ‘don’t order an appletini’ (seems pretty obvious), and ‘don’t stand on the stairs’ (which seems very random, but apparently it can create ‘gridlock’, and no one in the club wants THAT, am I right?). But the number one thing, according to Google that you should never do in the club is TAKE PICTURES, especially of the DJ. Now, I couldn’t remember anyone ever wanting to take pictures of me when I was a DJ, but the kids today with the cell phones—they just take pictures of everything, so it seems. But all the lists were adamant that it was absolutely verboten. Then I was super happy that I’d done all this research, because towards the bottom of the lists was a link to the club! It was called the It’ll Do Club, and it was in Dallas, Texas. Well, I’d always wanted to see Dallas and now not only could I go to the club, I wouldn’t make any stupid rookie mistakes while I was there. There was a link to a Youtube video about the It’ll Do Club and I was even more pumped to be able to go there virtually first. But wait—in the video clip, everyone was breaking ALL the rules! People were standing instead of dancing, and I’m sure I saw a couple of appletinis. But the worst thing was that half the crowd was taking pictures of the DJ! The worst thing you can ever do, according to my investigation. What the hell kind of club was this, anyway? The ANTI-CLUB? See for yourself: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PbbV8PThkVg
So while the DJ sounded great, I knew that my first foray into “the club” couldn’t possibly be to a place that so blatantly flaunts the status quo. I guess I’ll just have to keep looking for clues by listening to more dang rap music.
(If what you’ve just read seems a little more whimsical than usual, it’s to make up for the seriousness that is about to follow. Hope you don’t mind.)
Thursday: I call 911
I had to go back to Toronto on Thursday because my secret agency had a big deadline coming up. Also, I wanted to make sure that my condo was still in the same condition that I left it—I always worry that I’ll forget to close a window and I’ll be invaded by pigeons, or I’ll leave food out and it will have rotted and all my neighbours will think something died in my unit. But no—everything was just fine. I left work on Thursday, and as I was approaching my building, I could see, a couple of doors down, a man lying on the sidewalk. Now, that’s not unusual for downtown Toronto, which is weird to say, but it’s something you get used to. So I went upstairs, got unpacked, and made a grocery list. About half an hour later, I came back down, and the guy was still lying in the same position on the sidewalk, like he hadn’t moved in ages. People kept walking past, but I started to get worried, so I went over and knelt down next to him. Then I realized that I recognized him as one of the regular panhandlers in the neighbourhood. Not Mike, or John, or the guy who always asks for smoked oysters, but I’d definitely given him change and bottles of water over the last year. I shook him and said, “Hey, are you OK?” He tried to answer back but he was pretty incoherent. He was lying directly in front of the entrance to a place that does “eyebrow threading”, (which sounds and looks like NOTHING I ever want done), so I went in and said, “You know that guy lying on the ground outside your door? Has anyone called for an ambulance? I think he needs help.” The four women inside were all like “Oh…no…um…” so I said, “It’s OK—I’ll call 911.”
I explained to the dispatcher that I’d seen him around but never just lying on the ground, and that I was concerned, and the dispatcher said he’d send an ambulance right away. Sure enough, it was there in about two minutes, with two paramedics who, I’m sorry to say, seemed extremely pissed off about the whole thing. They asked me if I knew the man or knew his name, and I said again that I’d seen him in the neighbourhood but never lying on the sidewalk like he couldn’t get up. The eye rolling was so loud you could almost hear it. “What’s your name?” one of them asked him. What the homeless guy said didn’t sound like “Edward” to me, but suddenly that was his name. “OK, Edward,” said the other paramedic. “Have you been drinking today?” Edward kind of shuddered and the paramedics took it for a Yes, which started another round of eye rolling and exasperated sighs. “Ok, you have to get up now,” said one. “We’re taking you to the hospital. You’re not going to throw up on the stretcher are you?”
As one of them went to get the stretcher and the other one studied the traffic, Edward motioned to me. I knelt down again and put my hand on his arm. He reached over and took my hand in his other hand.
“Sorry. Sorry. Sorry,” he kept saying over and over again.
“There’s nothing to be sorry about,” I said. “These guys will help you.”
He gave my hand a squeeze. Then he gave me the finger, but it was fine, because in retrospect, I think it was aimed more towards the ambulance than me. I just kind of laughed and said, “That’s OK—you’ve had a bad day.” And it really WAS a bad day for Edward, because as the paramedics were laying a drop sheet on the stretcher, I realized that he’d also wet himself at some point.
Why am I telling you this? Because when I went over to talk to him, I was reminded of a story out of our nation’s capital from about 20 years ago that has always stuck with me. In the winter of 2000, a woman not much older than me, who’d just had knee surgery, fell on an icy sidewalk into a snowbank. She couldn’t get herself up, and slowly froze to death while people walked past her, ignoring her cries for help. So maybe Edward was drunk. Or maybe he’d had a stroke or a heart attack or had hit his head when he fell down drunk. Either way, he was going to get some help, whether he liked it or not. The takeaway from this is not that I’m some kind of hero. If I was, I would have gone over right away instead of waiting until later. No, the lesson is simply this: don’t walk by someone who is lying on the sidewalk. Be the person who stops. Because as soon as I did, the women in the eyebrow threading place gave me towels to put under Edward’s head, people on the street stopped to ask if everything was OK, a couple of really sweet university students asked if I needed them to wait with me, and the paramedics, even though Edward was urine-soaked and was looking like he might puke on them any second, still got him onto the stretcher and took him to the hospital. And that, my friends, is what happens in MY club.