One of the genres I write in (that doesn’t sound ‘right’…I mean, correct) is mystery. I joined the Toronto Chapter of Sisters in Crime years ago and have found it to be a very interesting group or readers and writers. In fact, their meetings have been a great source of authors for the Writers’ Community of York Region (yeah, Terry Fallis, Susanna Kearsley).
Last summer, I attended the Bloody Words conference in downtown Toronto. The attendees from across Canada are an eclectic bunch – famous and aspiring writers and lots of fans of crime/mystery – all milling around the downtown Toronto Hilton. 2012 was the year the subways flooded at Union Station. Not being a downtown person, it didn’t bother me much, because I took the Bay street bus part of the way and walked the rest, because there is always so much to see and absorb on the streets of The Big Smoke. I’ve picked up so many ‘characters’ to populate my stories. Riding the TTC is always a lesson in humanity. Folks having lively solo conversations with the creatures who inhabit their inner universe. The dapper old gents who want to know ‘what island are you from’ and who look puzzled when I tell them, ‘Montreal’. The women struggling with washing-machine sized strollers laden with plastic bags and a pair of fretful children. Gaggles of chattering school girls in kinder-slut club wear or smotheringly tight jeans. I peer at them from behind my dark glasses then duck into a hotel lobby to scribble down sketches of characters to populate my writing.
A group of us from the Conference straggled along Queen Street west to have lunch. Don’t remember where, but the place was loud and the service harried. Along the way, we passed a store – The Condom Shack – with a display that I had to stop and photograph. Talk about a story starter. I have a fertile imagination, but my goodness, the clever juxtaposition of stuffed pink rabbit sporting a carrot strap-on and that purple thingy under the submissive bunny made me stop in my tracks and burst out laughing. You never know when life is going to hand you a lesson, though.
As I was zooming in for a shot from another angle, still chuckling at the absurdity of what I was seeing, one of those super-cool downtowner dudes with gelled hair, pointy shoes, tighty-whitey t-shirt and designer ripped jeans strolled by and tossed me a disdainful look. He didn’t realize that I could see his sneer reflected in the plate glass. No shrinking violet, I whipped around, gave him a sharp up-and-down ‘what you lookin’ at fool’ stare then turned back to my photography.
It struck me later on that to him, I appeared to be one of the folks I’d been making notes about on the bus, rather than a curious out-of-towner marveling at a vignette in a big-city shop window. No matter. The bunnies still make me smile.