Love in the Diner (04/07)

I had a strange experience today
After a 30km bike ride to the Beaches
and back in the spitting wind,
I finally made a break at Bathurst and College
at the College St Diner which
serves excellent pancakes although it has been known
to charge 50 cents a packet for strawberry jam.

In my recent streak of sheer psychic excitement
I've concluded I must be having a telepathic effect on total strangers
so wrapped up am I in this, this thing for which I have too much respect to name
that steam is pouring out my ears and infecting others

anyway it must have been a sign when
just after I ordered the 'Can't Talk, Eating' hungry-man special
four goodlooking philosophers (definitely not Toronto natives) - one woman, three men -
well coiffed, toned, erudite and inquisitive
sat down next to me and proceeded
to hold forth on
'what love is' one of them asked
and that hooked me
and what's the difference between love and being in love
and whether love is an overused word
how it means whatever it wants to mean to whomever wants to use it
how the word means nothing at all, really
and how words generally do that.

I couldn't believe my ears
these philosophers
thirtysomething professorial types
the kind who can breezily discern semantics over brunch
the four most intelligent people on the planet, really
having this analytical argument
about the meaning of love
in which
my universe hung in the balance
they were talking about me
everything seems to be about me lately
- I deserve a healthy shake, I know -
I would have banged my sugar shaker on the table
to get their attention
saying 'hey folks, love is war and
you're looking at one of the foot soldiers!'
but I'm trying to give up sugar
in favour of healthier smoothie-type things
and so I kept silent
and they kept mocking me
four feet away

but the coincidence was too precious so
resourceful as I am I
asked the waitress for a pen
so I could jot this down for later
that was my revenge for
them talking about me and my war
ie me writing about them
so I unfolded my bike map of toronto
with the entire city depicted
(I use that map to figure out how to get around)
and wrote all over it but now it's ruined as
in scribbling in all of this
my words filled in all of lake ontario and half of the downtown west end.

(i know I must be preoccupied these days
but there are sensible ways to deal with it and there are crazy ones for
on the way out of the diner
thinking about what it all meant
I accidentally walked right smack into the
women's bathroom
I guess I was looking for you
luckily no one screamed
but boy was I red.)