It was a typical snapshot of being single in Toronto: it was 13 minutes before midnight on a Saturday and I was planning on staying in, eating takeout and watching movies. At the last minute, I decided I should go out to the Black Eagle. I always get this premonition on nights like these, that what I’m really looking for is out there somewhere, and that I’ll never find it on my sofa.
I quickly downed a few mouthfuls of scotch, smoked a joint and was out the door. I went up Jarvis to Carlton Street, past the scores of hoodlums, hookers and inebriated college kids — the usual Saturday late night crowd. A car honked at one of the hookers. She turned and waved. “Hey, baby,” she said. They began whistling and cheering out the car window.
“How much?!” one of them asked. She slapped her ass; this wasn’t new to her. As much as I get bored of Toronto, I couldn’t help but think, this is my home. I smiled, and continued over to Church Street.
The Eagle had run out of hangers at coat check, which I found encouraging — it promised a wide selection of men inside. I grabbed a beer and went to the dancefloor, where an attractive man in a leather vest and jockstrap held his phone up in the air trying to grab the song with the Shazam app.
There was an older man standing to my side, staring at me. I had no interest, so I let him stare as I gazed across the dancefloor. “Are you by yourself?” he finally asked. Before I could answer, he fell into me and slipped his hands around my waist. He smelled like he’d been drinking all afternoon. I simply said, “Yes,” and pushed him off. He glared at me for a few moments before storming off. Thankfully, I didn’t see him for the rest of the night.
I returned to the front and joined the line-up to get upstairs, which stretched all the way to the entrance. It always seemed to take forever to get up to the second bar and backroom. I was discouraged at first, but noticed a handsome boy in front of me, separated by two of his friends. He was in his mid 20s and looked out of place, like he didn’t really belong at the Eagle. He was clean-cut and struck me as naive, guessing by how relaxed his eyes were, and how he laughed and looked about. Not my usual type, but I guess I saw some potential in him — I might’ve been like that at his age.
His other friends were also trim and decked out in V-necks and designer duds. One of them was his age, and the other was old enough to be his father; maybe even his daddy? I kept my eyes on them and analyzed their interactions, trying to determine who they were to each other. There were no obvious clues to make me think that they were together. At one point I caught the eye of the young man — he smiled back, so I reeled him in with my grin.
The line hadn’t moved in over 10 minutes so the daddy turned to the boy and suggested they leave: “Let’s get a burger and some poutine.” He pronounced it like the name of the infamous Russian president. But the boy wanted to stay, so they stayed. Their other friend laughed, joking that the line was taking just as long as one at the Wonderland theme park.
“This is the Behemoth,” I said. They all turned and laughed. “Supposed to be the best ride in the park. Do you think it’ll be worth it?” I’ll admit it: this wasn’t the greatest pick-up line I’ve ever uttered . . . but they reacted, so it must have been fine.
“Probably not,” the daddy said. “Come on, let’s go home.” The boy insisted, again, that they stay. He made eye contact with me as he pleaded his case. Sure enough, after a few minutes, the line started to move. When we got to the front, the bouncer motioned for the three of them to go upstairs, but saw that I was alone so he let me go too.
I chased them up the stairs and joined them by the second bar . . .