A Surprise

When was the last time you did something truly kind or generous for another person? Something that wasn’t done out of obligation like a birthday, holiday or anniversary. Something you just felt like you wanted to do because the surprise and happiness registered on the recipient’s face is more than enough payoff.

It’s probably been a very long time since I last did something for another purely out of kindness and affection. Sadly, I can’t even remember what it would have been. A couple of months ago I bought a new set of headphones for The Magpie because she kept forgetting hers at home and not having tunes at work is balls. But they weren’t special or anything, like six bucks total, so that doesn’t really count.

It’s shameful really. I have so many wonderful people in my life that I fucking treasure the shit out of and they deserve to feel the full magnitude of my adoration more often. People are precious and they don’t last forever so give as much love as you can while you can.

It’s been a bit crappy lately. There have been plenty of nights in the last week and a half when I’ve come home from work in an absolutely abysmal mood. High-strung and super irritable, melting the faces off of my fellow commuters on the subway ride home with withering looks of derision cast their way at the slightest provocation. I feel bad for D for having to deal with it all. I imagine that interacting with me the past while has been a lot like trying to force a meaningful relationship with a rabid wolverine. It ain’t been no picnic, that’s for damn sure.

I was thinking about him Friday afternoon. Thinking about how strong and patient he is. How often he probably bites his tongue. All the little things he does just so I’ll be happy. One night last week he ate all of the burnt perogis so I only had to suffer the slightly singed ones. He let me stay up, reading in bed with the lights on while he tried to sleep because I was at a scary part in The Shining and just needed to have him close. He sends my food back at restaurants when something is wrong with it because I’m too embarrassed to do it myself. When we rent a car for the weekend to go see our families he lets me control the radio and CD choices for the whole trip, even though we have majorly opposing tastes in music with very minimal overlap. When his boss rewarded him with concert tickets to any show of his choosing in Toronto because he’d been killing it at work, he used them to fulfill one of my lifelong dreams instead of choosing to see a band that he likes. And he’s able to do these things with such ease because my happiness matters to him.

The BNL concert was unreal. I can’t say enough how much it meant to me. It was amazing how selfless D was about using his reward on me. He’s the real deal alright.

I started to have this urge, while I was thinking about D and how great he is, to do something. A compulsion to demonstrate the depth of my admiration for D. I just had to do something. Something kind and generous because he hasn’t been getting the very best of me lately. And I was struck once again by how remarkable it was that he gave me the BNL concert. I remembered him telling me a few days after the BNL concert that his favourite band Killswitch Engage had just announced a show in Toronto for a date in October, and how much he would have loved to go. Hmm, that could work.

I was almost ready to pack up and leave the office on Friday when I decided to hang back a minute and see if tickets for the Killswitch Engage show were still available. Unfortunately for me, the show was already sold out. However, because of how quickly the show sold out they’d decided to do another show the next night and tickets were still on sale. Fuck yeah, just my luck! So I immediately decided that I was going to buy him two tickets for that concert. Yes, I’m going to give D what he gave up for me. And the look on his face is going to be worth every penny. I bought the tickets, printed them off and stuffed them in my bag. I was buzzing with excitement the whole way home just dying to spring my surprise on D.

Killswitch Engage is the first concert we ever went to as a couple. They played a show in Waterloo on Mother’s Day 2008. I actually still have the ticket stubs.

ticket stubs

It was a great show. They were promoting their latest album As Daylight Dies and Howard Jones was the lead vocalist at that time. I’d never even heard of the band until I started dating D, but that album stayed in the CD player in his car for about three straight months and I really came to love it. I especially love Howard. He’s got such a killer voice and he’s an amazing performer. He’s magnetic on stage; captivating and astounding the listeners by perfectly blending his melodic singing with bone-shattering metal screams. It’s so much fun to watch him work. Listening to that album is so enjoyable. The music is phenomenal, undoubtedly. But it also takes me back to that summer when we started dating. When I hear the opening bars of My Curse I feel like I’m in D’s old sunfire again. Driving around with the windows down, D hammering his thumbs on the steering wheel in time with the drums,  butterflies in my stomach and not a care in the world.

D was going to fucking love this, and I couldn’t wait to see his reaction.

I got home on Friday, grabbed the tickets from my bag and tossed them at D. He looked at them puzzled for a moment and then unfolded them.

“Whaaaaat?? What is this all about?” he asked. I told him that I loved him and I appreciate how awesome he is and that he deserves it. “Fuck yeah! This is so awesome, thank you!” was his response. Huge smile on his face, eyes gleaming with happiness and surprise. Exactly the look I was going for. It was even better when I told him that the second ticket isn’t for me. I told him to take anybody he wants, ideally one of his metal-head cronies. And he loved that even more.

D was ecstatic, still is actually. And I felt amazing too. It was just what I needed, that boost of extraordinary, something to banish the gloom of last week. I may not have all of my problems licked, but at least I still have it within me to make someone else happy. D is so goddamned precious to me. And treating him to a night of ear bud busting metal fury is the best possible way that I can express that to him.

Rock on D, you skiddy metal-head weirdo.

This is Living

It’s dark and dingy. The only lights in the place focused ominously on the stage. Creating ambiance. Hinting of things to come. We wait, our hearts heavy with the burden of expectation.

That last group really sucked. They assaulted our ears with their shitty timing and even shittier stage presence. They did care though. They seemed to love being up there, if the twenty-minute encore was any indication. At least someone was feeling it. We sure as hell weren’t. The silence following their departure from the stage a sweet reprieve.

Then it starts. A hulking, bearded mass of a man takes the mic. A thunderous clash of drums and guitars commands our attention. And our attention is rapt the instant the set begins. Fists clenched and face contorted with feeling, the singer wracked the crowd with the primal screams erupting from the molten-metal core of his being.

This is it. This is what we came for. A kick-ass metal show.

As I stood there swaying with the music, watching our friend Jim own the stage, I thought about how amazing it felt to be there supporting him. How vastly his band had exceeded our expectations. How impressive they were. Every note an indication of how much passion these guys have for their music and the time they’ve spent perfecting it. I was astonished, we all were.

Jim’s band, Sinthetik, was astounding. They melted our faces and blew our minds with their badass sound. They were raw and unforgiving. They were melodic and mesmerizing. Their shit was tight.

It made me feel alive. It made me feel invincible. And it made me want to live my life with the same ferocity of the music. So I did.

After the show, we heaped our praises on Jim, and made our way to the bar up the street. The Magpie. My friend The Magpie’s namesake. It was dim and inviting.

I laughed with my friends, tossed back my drinks, and danced with abandon.

at the magpie

enjoying some drinks

drinks

Magpie and I

It was an amazing night. The metal show the perfect catalyst for my weekend of living it up.

The next day brought with it another flurry of activity. D and I had tickets to the Toronto Auto Show, and we were planning on watching the hockey game at Joce’s place. We picked ourselves up and shook of the grime of the night before. We made our way down to the auto show.

We came into direct contact with approximately a billion people at the show. It was insanely crowded. But through the throngs of auto-crazed maniacs, I was able to snap a few pics.

ferrari

McLaren

mercedes

My personal favourite is the massive Mercedes van. Seriously, if you’re going to drive around looking like a sex offender, you may as well do it in style.

We powered through the exhibits. Although it was fun, we were relieved when it was over. We probably should have gone during a weekday.

Our next priority was making it over to Maple Leaf Square by 4:00pm so we could score some free tickets to the hockey game that night. Neill texted us about it earlier in the day, the ticket giveaway, and since we were going to be in the area anyways, we figured we may as well try. Also, since we were planning on watching the game at Joce’s, wouldn’t it be awesome if instead we showed up with tickets and told them we were going to the game instead? Hells yeah, that would be so awesome!

Carlton, the Toronto Maple Leafs mascot, was going to be at Maple Leaf Square at 4:00pm. And if you could find him, you could have tickets to the game. Not to worry, we found Carlton.

Carlton

We also ran into Batman while we were there. So that was awesome too!

toronto batman

He’s really into hockey.

I should also point out that the game was actually held in Ottawa. But since Ottawa is a bunch of dicks and tried to ban Leafs fans from their games, Toronto decided to show their fans some love. Admission to the game was free, and you got to watch it on the jumbo-tron. And every person at the game got a free 24 ounce fountain pop, a slice of pizza or hot dog, a bag of popcorn, and a candy bar. So screw you Ottawa! We’re gonna make it on our own.

at the game

And we had an awesome time. It felt great to be a part of something like this. To stick it to the man. Leafs fans or not, you simply cannot segregate or banish willing fans from the games. What were you even thinking Ottawa? What a boneheaded thing to do.

The Leafs did lose though. And it was an embarrassing loss. I’m not even a Leafs fan, but I am a fan of a good time. Going to the games is fun, and people should not be denied admittance to them based on their fandom. That’s so ridiculous.

It started with the casual acceptance of an invitation, and became one of the most outrageous weekends of my life. When adventure beckons, I come running.

I love my friends, I love my city, and I love living.