Tuesday, April 12, 2011

I have *got* to get downtown more often

I don't really work downtown. At Booth and Carling, I'm more downtown-ish. But I had occasion to go right downtown this morning, to Slater and Elgin (that's a hard 'G', for one of my readers) to have my "Test of Oral Proficiency" in French. Yes, my French oral exam. (No snickering.)

I had parked a fair bit away from the Public Service Commission building, and had a nice walk there, looking at all the stylish people walking purposefully down the sidewalks and into office buildings and at the varying architecture -- old churches cheek-by-jowl with modern multi-storey towers. The people downtown look more fashionable, the buildings look more dramatic, and even the bathroom reading is of a higher calibre. Remember that last bit, I'll come back to it later.

After the test (J'ai survécu à l'examen. Je pense.) I was starting to feel hungry, and detoured into the Esplanade Laurier to get some pho to take to work with me for my lunch (chicken soup being just the ticket for my poor stomach, recovering from a 24 hour period where, much like the Fukishima Daiichi nuclear plant, it had a containment breach and all its contents were expelled rapidly in all directions. You can thank Evelyn for that analogy, btw.)

While I was walking through the mall, I needed to use the ladies' room. And this is what was written on the back of the stall door:

Baby, I'm an anarchist
You're a bleeding heart liberal
We marched together
For the eight hour day
And held hands
In the streets of Seattle
But when it came time to throw bricks through
The Starbucks window
You left me all alone*

See, that totally kicks butt and is way more interesting than the more usual "Candace is a slut" kind of bathroom graffiti. Doesn't it leave you wondering about the doomed love affair? Yep, pho and literate bathroom poetry. I have to go downtown more often.

*Yes, I did spend an extra couple of minutes in the stall, copying the poem into the notebook I keep in my purse for emergencies such as this. The things I do for you people.


  1. Excellent analogy about your stomach and the Japanese nuclear plant. I'm just sorry that you had to experience such horror.

    I had to ask Pete was "pho" is, as I thought that I am so jet lagged that I could no longer translate Canadian. Nope. It turns out that I simply cannot translate Asian foods.

  2. LOVE the poem. I appreciate you capturing it!

    Downtown scares me. It's the parking, and all the people. I am just ashamed at how incredibly suburbanified I have become.

  3. Love the poem, love the analogy and bravo pour avoir survécu à l'examen. J'ai aucun doute..

  4. beautiful picture

  5. I always think the same thing about downtown, although it's mostly laziness that keeps me from going more often. Also, *snicker* - you got evaluated on your oral proficiency (I can't help it, my sense of humour is an arrested adolescent).

  6. Jen - Thanks for the commiseration over my stomach ailment. I'm better now. The pho was just what I needed. Since Ottawa is the nation's capital, we are super multi-cultural and can get so many great foods. The two that I've discovered since moving here that I like best are pho (Vietnamese noodle soup) and shawarma (Lebanese pita sandwich with chicken (or beef, or lamb), garlic sauce, pickled turnips, onions, hummus and tomatoes). Mmmm. I'm hungry again.

    Lynn - I love the poem too! Don't be afraid of downtown. Sometimes I leave the car at Bayshore and the girls and I take the bus downtown. It's fun.

    Jazz - Merci, mon amie. Je trouverai le résultat de mon examen dans 5 jours.

    Jen - Thanks! It's St. Peter's and St. Paul's Anglican Church on Metcalfe Street. I didn't take the picture, but I did walk past the church on my way to my exam.

    Allison - I said, no snickering! But it's hard not too. Once, a couple of years ago, one of my French teachers was a gorgeous twenty-something guy from Saguenay-Lac St.Jean. I had gone for my reading comprehension and writing tests, and was considering the taking the oral exam. We were discussing it at the end of class one day, and he looked at me with huge brown eyes, and said, with all sincerity and totally unaware of the double entendre, "Alison, I would be very happy to help you practice your oral." How I didn't burst out laughing, faint, or blush, I'll never know. I just thanked him politely for the offer and got out of there as fast as I could.