Only once have I met another Susan Boyle fan on a pre-arranged 'meet and greet'. Andy P and I arranged to meet while I was in Toronto a couple of years ago. What a day it was!
I think this is a good time and place to, finally, make honest women of Andy P and myself. We met one afternoon at Future's Bakery on Bloor St. in Toronto. Right here:
We're having a nice chat about various things and the young thugs next to us overhear us talking about Susan Boyle and they make some snarky comments. Well, what with our bein' 'ladies' an' all, we ignore them as long as we can, but even ladies have their limits. AndyP finally stands up and says, "Hey, Jailbait,
I bet you don't have the nerve to say that to Susan Boyle's face!" To be frank, neither AndyP nor I break the 5feet 3 inch barrier, so these louts think we're wimps. They were wrong. They then said something VERY rude and I said "Hey, Candyass, Susan Boyle's barf is worth more than your brain." Only, I didn't say 'barf'. Well, next thing you know, tables are going over, coffee mugs are shattering on the tile floor and fists are flying. I get burned by someone's coffee.
Well, what with this being Bloor St. and all, there's a cop car nearby keeping an eye on a porn shop and we all get arrested! No kidding! Now, I'm going to tell you that the second
worst thing about being arrested is that you get thrown in the back of the van with the very folks you've just been fighting with! They don't handcuff AndyP, but the rest of us get the treatment. In fact, the officer lets her ride up front because he's from the Maritimes, too.
Now, it wouldn't have been nearly so bad if they'd taken us to the police station on College Street. But nooooooo, that's too convenient, so we get sent to some place near King and Parliament. I say "Hooolleee shit, Andy - they aren't kiddin' around!" [This is one of those moments that neither vulgarity nor profanity, alone, are up to the task of expressing my shock. Only in combination can they do that.] Now, all of our luck isn't bad - I know several lawyers in town! Unfortunately, most of them are out of town. But I leave a message on the phone of a friend of a friend at the law school and most of my hopes on the counter and we get thrown in the cooler. Andy, she's too embarrassed to call ANYBODY.
[I guess it's okay to now admit that as a social scientist, I'm actually pretty excited to be getting arrested. I just assumed
that the police would realize that we're 'ladies' and couldn't possibly be guilty of anything. I think my bruised knuckles and the bruise above my left eye effectively disguise my status as a 'lady'. Andy will have her own theory of why they felt compared to lock her up. Anyway, I'd never even been close to getting arrested. So, I was kind of excited at being able to tick this off my bucket list!]
A friend of mine is an auditor and she told me when Martha Stewart got thrown in jail that she hoped Martha lied about the amount she went in for because if she told the truth, she'd be the ONLY one in there for less than six figures worth of crime. Ironically, her business partner has a sister that served three years in jail for killing her husband! I explained to him that if her sentence was only 3 years, that means he deserved it. She went to jail for executing the law, not her husband. Besides, she must have been treated like royalty in jail for that! Remember - it's everything to get thrown in jail for something good.
So, I realize, the LAST thing we want to say is "Oh, we got in a fight over Susan Boyle at a bakery." And alcohol wasn't even involved! So, I whisper to Andy "Pssst, follow my lead." "What?" "Just agree with everything I say." So, when they ask "What're yin for?" I say, "we help women embezzle money from their ex-husband's businesses and keep a 10% commission." Well, Our New Best Friends with whom we're sharing the cell are VERY impressed.
Until the girl that was with the thugs who is in the cell across the hall from us says "No they aren't - they're in for arguing in a bakery about Susan Boyle's 'barf'!" We're dead meat now. They're laughing their asses off at us. It doesn't help when Andy tells them the dean of the U of T law school is going to bail us out. "Oh, I thought Susan Boyle was going to bail you out!" says one. I think I feel ill.
Well, I'm not actually sure how long we're in for, but waiting for that return phone call seemed to take for-ever. And ever. [Jail isn't like it was depicted on the Mary Tyler Moore Show with funny prostitutes. These prostitutes are angry.] I try to make smalltalk with Our New Best Friends. At least the ones who aren't passed out. That leaves the ones in for prostitution and violent crimes as the alert ones. I worry about bed bugs and lice and sit on the floor. Andy starts to pray. Eventually, I surrender my Ray Bans to the leader of Our New Best Friends as a reward for seeing to it that Andy can pee in privacy. They were scratched anyway. [This is the downside of being thrown in jail after an afternoon in a coffee shop - it is THE worst thing about jail. Remember that.]
FINALLY - the police officer [yeah, some of those stereotypes about 'prison matrons' are true!] comes and says a money order for our bail has arrived from the U Toronto law school! We're out! And, yes, we make rude gestures to our Former New Best Friends on our way out. AndyP sings a few bars of "Wiiiiiiild horses are dragging us awaaaay" with a vaudville-style move and a telescoping tampon applicator narrowly misses her head. But Fuck a duck - we're OUT!!!
So, we find ourselves standing at King and Parliament at about nine o'clock at night. This is where not being at the College St. station bites us in the butt, because we could have just strolled over to Fran's and had eggs. AND the money from the law school would have come much faster.
But the smell of the clear, cool air is like a tonic to us both, so, we start to walk west to the subway because there's a world of construction around there [they're building an athletes' village for Pan Am games, among other projects] and neither of us knows which streetcar lines are actually operating. We nip into Red Line coffee [I know, there we are drinking more coffee, which is what got us in trouble in the first place, but it's coffee and a bun and a CLEAN bathroom!]. We then keep heading west and come upon some famous church. Andy wants to go in to have a quick word. I say, "Andy, I think it's Anglican - they don't play for your team" but such are the advantages of mono-theism. "It's God's church," she says. She's right, so in we go. I'll admit to finding it relaxing. She goes up front and I sit in back. When we stop to chat with the priest as we're leaving, he notices our bruised knuckles. We tell him we'd been skating at Nathan Philips' Square and weren't very good at it! When we leave we argue over what the priest must have thought: I think he thinks we're a lesbian date. She thinks he thinks we're criminals. Both make us laugh.
But it's gotten colder and even the hum of a Saturday night in downtown Toronto won't fix that. We're standing at the corner of Church and King and a couple of guys on motorcycles crawling in the traffic offer to take us back to Bloor and Spadina. OKAY! This is the other thing we learned - your safety threshold changes once you've been in a brawl, a crowded police van with criminals and a cell with women who are already drunk by 4pm. But we find ourselves back where our adventure started.
Now, as Meet and Greets go, I think our afternoon/evening was pretty great. No fine food was consumed. No quilts or chimes were exchanged. There was no live music. But it was a day we'll never forget. There's no better way to get to know someone quickly than a brawl and a bit o' jail time together! What a great Meet 'n' Greet!