Sideshow Tour Diary #3 | Toronto’s Naked Heart LGBTQ Literature Festival: CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE

It is the night before your first-ever reading in that minor metropolis known as Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Have you heard of it? Your main decisions tonight are what to eat for dinner and what time to go to bed. What will you choose?

A. Eat some protein, vegetables, and grains, and then go to bed by 10 PM.

B. Decide you want pizza, forget what the good local chain is, order from Pizza Pizza even though your guts do not travel well, eat it with smelly garlic dip, then go swimming, fall asleep at about 3 AM watching Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt on your laptop (for the umpteenth time), wake up around 5 AM almost gagging at the ambient garlic-dip smell, and put the rest of the open dip out on the balcony.

Whatever you chose, somehow you made it to the morning. If you chose A, who knows how you’re doing? Maybe that chicken breast had salmonella! Maybe your tiny portion of grains kept you hungry and awake all night! If you chose B, chances are your morning is one that oscillates between the bathroom and the bed, where you are doubled over in pain, but flipping through your book and trying to finalize what you’ll read later today. Now another decision comes your way: in what order would you like to get ready for your big day?

A. Get up early, take a brisk walk, shower, dress, eat a modest breakfast of fruit and protein, time your poetry reading three times, put on your special party clothes, and take a relaxing 17 minute walk to the venue.

B. Get up slightly late because you were up sick so many times, go to Shopper’s for lip chap and tampons and leave with lipstick, nail polish, beef jerky, and a lecture from someone about not collecting Shopper’s points, swim despite being sick and on a schedule, lay around sick and naked timing your poetry reading, use high-energy a capella music to get yourself in the mood for the event. At long last, get in the shower, get out of the shower, hear the fire alarm ringing just as you step out of the shower, listen to the PA system tell you that there’s a fire and you are on lockdown, check the clock, notice that you need to leave for the venue in fifteen minutes (the perfect amount of time to get dressed and go), get dressed and sit on your bed until they announce that you are allowed to leave, hail a cab, and get to the venue at 3:29 PM for a 3:30 PM start.

Whew, you did it. You made it to the venue with one minute to spare. Upon crossing the street, you run into a venerable queer poet from your current home base (for the sake of story, let’s say it’s Amber Dawn) and a scholar you used to know (let’s say it’s Marty Fink). What do you do?

A. Brush right past them, shouting apologies, but you have one minute to get inside!

B. Chat with them for 2-3 minutes before heading in. You may be late, but you’re still a person!

Hopefully you chose B, because you weren’t even the last writer to arrive at the event. Because of this huge new festival’s ambitiously busy schedule, folks are running from venue to venue like amazingly committed fans. One writer didn’t show up; a writer from the audience took their place; one writer’s performance included a musical saw; lots of laughter and thoughtful grunts took place. A great event! Afterwards, you head to a local pub for some grub with a mixture of old friends, new friends, and family.

Let’s fast-forward to the next day, when you’re flying home. How will you spend your short last hours in Toronto?

A. Get up early, pack your bags, and head out by taxi or transit, making sure you will arrive at Pearson a good 90 minutes before your flight.

B. Get up only once you’ve had a full eight hours of sleep, go swimming, eat some pasta, laze about for a few minutes, eventually shower and get dressed, then notice the late hour. Pack rapidly until sweat drops are flying off of you in all directions, sit your whole fat self on your tiny carry-on suitcase until it finally zips shut, hurry downstairs loaded down with overflowing bags, ask for a taxi, watch a Jeep-style stretch-limo pull up, insist you just need a regular cab, listen to the hotel staff tell you that the cost is the exact same as a regular cab, wipe your sweaty forehead, look at the total lack of other cabs, look at your watch, climb into the limo, overzealously stretch and massage your sore neck the whole cab ride until you cause excessive tenderness, arrive at Terminal 3, descend from the weird limo stairs as you are picking a wedgie, and finally roll up to security right on time. (Horror stories about security can wait for another blog post.)

Time to choose your seats at the self-service kiosk. Which would you prefer?

A. Seat 28D, your original seat, which is now surrounded by other people (keep in you mind you are fat).

B. Seat 5D, near the front, the only seat with an empty seat next to it!

If you chose A, there’s no telling what might have happened. (Last time you flew without lucking into an empty seat next to you, the very small business man next to you insisted he be moved up to first class, a demand to which the staff acquiesced.) If you chose B, you will be far more comfortable. You will also be seated across the aisle from a man who takes his shoes off, stretches into the aisle, sneezes and honks phlegm constantly, and wipes boogers on his pants. You may end up with his cold for a week upon your arrival but home, but hey, at least you won’t have bruises from an armrest an angry neighbour forced down into you.

Whatever you chose, you arrive home at 2 AM and have exactly 23.5 hours until you’re due to teach. No prob!

The moral of this story is probably: don’t sweat every decision. Go swimming. Have diarrhea. You’ll be alright.


A poetry-tour dispatch from Invisible author Lucas Crawford (Sideshow Concessions). Catch Lucas between readings here on the Invisiblog for the next couple of months. And tonight, Nov 10, you can hear Lucas read in Antigonish

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