I grew up in Scarborough, Ontario—a suburb dotted by discount stores, brick bungalows, car dealerships, parking lots in front of outlet malls, condominiums, and sports bars. Growing up, ‘fun’ often meant leaving the sleepy suburb—with its backyards, playlots, and working folk—for the lure of a city that promised some kind of relentless change and newness. Thinking back, I regret not having gotten to know its places and particularities better. I regret having overlooked so much.
I remember one place in particular—The All-Star Sports Lounge. Its exterior was painted electric blue. Beside it was a bank, and beside that, a Beer Store with a Chinese buffet across the street. I imagined what it would have been like to be a young Canadian in Scarborough, in search of some kind of a suburban night life, arriving instinctively at the All-Star the way birds migrate when the seasons change. I picture a couple at the bar on a Friday night, perched on swiveling stools, parkas on their laps, part game-watching and part nursing their lukewarm Molsons.
One sports-bar margarita later (accompanied by a flurry of nail-polished text messaging), a new friend arrives and the slow-empyting basket of onion rings is now shared between 3 people. The unfailing alchemy of alcohol and frying-oil give off the taste of solace. Also boredom and comfort. There is a denty puddle of Heinz ketchup on the side.
The 3 will stay until last call. Whatever it takes to brave the -20 wind-chill, I suppose.