I thought I was never going to miss my little hometown of Toronto with all of its little awkward middle-child quirks, however, last night I went to go see Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World and I have to say, I got a little sentimental – particularly due to the scenes in The Second Cup which were directly in front of an intensely shitty apartment I once lived in, which caught on fire one February morning.

Cue the track:

So I’m in the shower in this really horrible little apartment-complex, which was really more like cubicle apartments, a junior one bedroom where my FUTON (puke) folded out directly into my keyboard stand and enforced a perpetual fear of being crushed by a small tube television set. The place was literally just clothes upon clothes upon clothes spewing into designated makeup areas and a miniature kitchen that if you squinted, seemed like it was a separate room (if the squint meant you were also blinkering off the left side of your face with both hands and you also were extremely over appreciative of modular decor). The adjoining apartments (I think there were about 5 or 6) were all smaller than mine, which meant they (quite literally in some cases, as it turned out) had mattresses in their kitchens. I never met any of the other tenants, except when I was trying to avoid them in the narrow hallway where the shared washer and dryer were. I still have complete freakouts thinking about shared laundry as a result of these people (and lets face it: MOST PEOPLE) as they were completely insane crackheads.

Ok so, back to me in the shower, you filthy perverts. So anywhatever, I’m in the shower, and all of a sudden I can hear screaming. Like SCREAMING. Like 8-in-the-morning-multiple-voices-screaming. I have just put shampoo in my hair. I lean out the shower to look at the front door (literally within arm’s reach) and sigh gratefully as I realize it’s closed. I have storyboard-style scenes playing out in my head that the drug dealer with the shabby elderly prostitute with the Starter Jacket Blowjob Aura about her have finally been robbed by a maniacal drug abuser who is now stalking from apartment to apartment with a sawed off shotgun. More screaming. I happen to notice thick black smoke pouring in from under my door.

I jump out of the shower, mascara tears adoringly cradling my cheeks, and attempt to stuff dripping wet skin into tight jeans. This results in my collapsing in the direction of the open window and the curious but disdainful ready-to-die Siamese Fighting Fish who’s smug in his waterbowl. I manage to close the windows against the potential onslaught of looming firey chaos. Smokey the Bear done taught me. I fuck up Smokey’s next rule as I half-zip up a parka on my shirtless torso, a towel wrapped around my hair, and open the door directly. BLACKNESS, even though there is a massive skylight that typically makes for a perpetual daylight. Using my thinking brain, I close the door and rapidly inhale a big ol’ mouthful of air and make a break for it down two flights of stairs through the smoke. I break out like a casualty from a fashionless planet onto an icy grey Queen St West.

Panting, I run into the restaurant below, which owns the building. It is playing “The Girl From Ipanema”. I’m not even fucking with you, it was “authentic” Tex-Mex. So I guess it was lite listening for the breakfast burrito crowd. The waitress looks up, aghast. I look at her like this is an alternate universe before snapping “Do you know the building is on FIRE?” She pauses and does nothing.

All of a sudden STREAMS of crackhead start exploding out of the building like someone’s announced a spontaneous free Ivory soap giveaway at a scent-free vegan white-people-with-dreadlocks convention (that would make them run, cos they’re gross, you know?). I’m outside at this point, freezing, as the crowd gathers. An overweight woman has chosen to exit the building via the roof, which is made of corrugated clear plastic. One leg has fallen through and she is stuck, perched like a fat squawking bird protecting a nest of lies and insanity. The residents of the building are behind me, and I’m feeling like a brokedown Lieutenant-General Gene Simmons in front of an army of creeps clad in dollar-store-wolf-printed-on-fleece blankets.

By this point, I’m hysterically crying and Queen Street has been blocked off by the cast of the local 911 Wednesday, seven stopped streetcars, and random onlookers who actually interrupt my crying to ask casually “So…. What happened?” Just curious. Whatevs. The other residents behind me start asking one another (obviously in that Bob and Doug McKenzie voice) “Hey man.. Like, where’s Trevor?” This goes on for about four minutes. I’m now addressed by the emergency services person, who asks me if I know that my jacket is undone. The firemen are precariously balanced on the edges of the plastic patio rooftop, in an attempt to save the shrieking harpy.

Zipping up my parka over my (still naked, still soaking) skin (perverts), I look up to see a haggard-looking fortysomething man emerge seminude and coughing from the building’s entrance (BEFORE THE FIREMEN HAVE GONE UP, EVEN!) to joyous cracky cries of “TREVORRR!!”. As I happen to be freezing, Mr Emergency-Services-Check-Out-My-Chesticles is all “Um, so like, you can get warm in here and stuff.” I have a shirt stuffed in the bag I brought down. Glaring, I avoid his looky looks while changing in the back of the ambulance when all of a sudden the front doors open, and the elusive Trevor is placed, coughing into the front seat for oxygen treatment and assessment. Hacking sickeningly and after pausing to remove his oxygen mask and spit phlegm inches away from a police officer, he says he was “smoking a joint-i-mean-a-cigarette” and lit it off the stove that conveniently also housed his pile of polyester shirts, which must have caught on fire while he went to “go do number two in the bathroom”. Do you think I’m making this up? I fucking WISH I was.

I flip out and can’t listen to any more and I go outside and hear the crackheads whispering that he stayed in so long as he was flushing his stash and won’t go to the hospital because he’s actually high as fuck and totally paranoid he’s going to be arrested, even though cops, firemen AND emergency workers are telling him he has smoke inhalation (before you think I am insanely heartless, keep in mind I am thinking of the fact that a) no fire alarms went off b) I had told the landlord, a dubious sort of guy anyway, that I could hear them beeping and being all “hey, I might not go off in the event of a fire unless you put some BATTERIES in me” at which point he told me they had put the drywall over them and now had a fancy NEW fire alarm system “guaranteed to blow your mind” and c) ALL OF MY STUFF WAS NOW ON FIRE BECAUSE OF THIS DOUCHE).

I walk across the disturbingly quiet street to The Second Cup and find some cash, asking for a coffee. The barista looks at me, flashes concern and says “It’s on the house”. I start feeling better as the fire’s getting put out and sit down in The Second Cup (As Seen In SCOTT PILGRIM VS THE WORLD) and catch my insane reflection in a bit of reflective aluminum shelving before I realize that I am not, in fact, above the crackhead army. Not in the slightest.

An hour or so later, they let us into our smoky apartments. Miraculously mine has been spared. I wipe off the mascara and reapply, adding lipstick and a sequined top before telling the crackheads to fuck off as they wander into my apartment. I pack a rolling suitcase full of designer cocktail dresses and heels, makeup, and a hairdryer, and leave the rest.

Onwards and Upwards.

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