Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Rubber Boots

After I posted admissions regarding my lack of activity in the now-shuttered Brunswick House, I remembered an odd, though hardly unexpected, experience from The Madison Avenue Pub. (“The Maddy" is a hot spot for local students, not just those from the University of Toronto, and professors and Annexians alike.)

Years ago, when I was a regular occupant of the Maddy, I witnessed a potentially ugly incident. One night as I was leaving the establishment after soaking down with friends of mine, I heard a provocative discussion happening in real (but a bit blurry) time on the stairway leading from near the main entrance up to the second floor:

"Man! Give him his rubbers back!" Again: "Man, give him his rubbers back." And: "Come on, man!"

Remembering that I was carrying several packets of condoms in my left back pocket I made an offer to the swaying young bloke amongst the three who clearly was operating sans "rubbers". My kindly gesture might give the lad a night to remember.

"Hey. These are yours. They should last you the night." While tossing a "Thanks, Man!" he extended his right arm but inexplicably missed my personal space. I helped by intercepting his hand, a dance much in the way a Soyuz-Progress spacecraft might mate with the International Space Station. The cargo had been delivered. "Contact."

My hope was he would not notice the expiry date; that the alcohol had disconnected any primal urge to check the potentially prize-winning numbers on yellowing packaging.

As I took the two steps down to the main floor, I turned and looked up to my grateful pal: "Have fun....but be careful."

I spun a half-turn toward the opened exit door but a sweeping voice chased me: "What'd'ya mean, be careful?"

I wasn't so inebriated that I could not walk an uncountable pace. That was all I heard. No more "what?". He had probably already forgotten me.

As I walked north on Madison Avenue, a young man – they all seem young after you've punched a third decade in the head – approached with measurable non-precision and puttered a question to my broadside as he wobbled around me.

"Hey, man. Do you got any rubbers?"

"Funny you should ask. Sorry, Sam, I just gave the last of them away. Have a good night."

(I should have gone into business for myself. A tall, skinny, well-dressed, in a Metrosexual way, and sober guy is of the sort that must be equipped with condoms-for-sale. It all makes sense.)

A clarification: The above story is a work of creative fiction based on actual events. Not all details are authentic and certain liberties are taken in order to tell an entertaining story; I hope. ("Reality" drifts to the mundane.)


The above piece was first posted as "Play It Safe Again, Sam" on April 11, 2016.

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