Sunday, December 10, 2006


I woke up at 5 15 am this morning, ready to go to work, and jumped out of bed to prepare my morning “toilette” before realizing – ugh – it was a day off. Collapsing back down on the cheap poly/cotton sheets of the ghastly apartment rented for me by the production, I tried to get back to sleep but sadly the arms of Morpheus refused to embrace me.

Perhaps it was the sound of the toilet in the bathroom down the hall which has been constantly running now for going on seven weeks? The owner/manager of the suite burst in quite early a few days ago to fix it, glaring at me as if I had no right to be in bed past six o clock in the morning on my day off, and yammered at me in a strange mix of French, English and what may have been either Portugese or asthma. Taking my cue from the locals, I just smiled and nodded until he finally left, only to return a few hours later with a rather grim looking plumber and a stolen shopping cart full of tools. After much hammering and wrenching, they left but not before aforementioned owner/manager declared "fixed!" and stared at me with a look of accusation as if i was responsible for ruining his toilet AND his day.

The thing still isn't working right but I've decided not to bother complaining about it. I'm afraid next time he comes over he'll just drop some decorative stones in the toilet bowl and charge us extra for a "water feature".

Anyway, with that lovely gurgling in the background, I gazed around me at the walls decorated in a style which can only be described as late eighties Russian Prostitute chic, and wondered exactly how I was going to spend my precious hours of leisure time in Montreal.

Was it too early to go watch strippers?

The problem with being on location is the old “idle hands” phenomenon. You’ve got per diem (for the uninitiated, “per diem” is a Latin term meaning “free money to be spent as if you’re a sailor on leave”) burning a hole in your pocket AND you’re several time zones away from anybody who cares what manner of illicit behaviors you’re up to. It’s a recipe for moral disaster. Normally, I keep myself out of trouble by shopping, but with time I’ve discovered I have a natural propensity toward buying CRAP while I’m on the road. I can’t remember how many dreadful sweaters, horrendous suits, truly awful shoes and scandalously inappropriate shirts I’ve purchased in nameless malls and stores over the years.

Then there are the DVD’s, the video equivalent of the paperback novel. In a desperate attempt to fend off boredom, I’ve bought so many ridiculously bad movies to watch in my hotel room I could probably open my own Blockbuster. Did I really need the director’s cut extended version of Legally Blonde 2?

What time do those strippers start?

The gym helps. Normally I work out every morning before going to the studio, but our production has had call times so obscenely early that I arrive on set with sheets of my skin still falling off from the exfoliation of the night before. On this day off, I spend two whole hours just trying to whip my muscles back into shape from the past three entropy-inducing days. I consider going to see a movie, but the idea of watching something made for about five hundred times the budget of our current picture fills me with a combination of envy and nausea, so I take a pass.

Dining alone is an interesting activity. On one hand, it seems like the most solitary past time imaginable, just sitting there by yourself at a table, chewing your food and staring at the other diners, laughing, talking, enjoying their normal, regular lives and getting to spend time with their friends and family. And truthfully, one does feel a bit like some kind of phantom, observing but not participating, a vague sense of disconnection flavoring even the most remarkable meal (and there have been several – Montreal has some extraordinarily good restaurants) with the metallic taste of sadness.

But as I have spent most of my adult life living in hotels around the world, I have become accustomed to eating alone in restaurants. And I must tell you, dear reader, if one keeps one’s ears open, there is very good sport to be had.

On this night, I watched in awe as a husband and wife argued to the point where she stood up, pulled her ring off, threw it on the table where it bounced to the floor and then stormed out. I really felt for the poor fellow as, with every eye in the place on him, he bent down and rescued his “three months salary” (as the jewelers of America brainwash straight people into believing they must spend on their wedding manacles) while awaiting his bill.

It’s the kind of thing if I wrote it into a movie I’d be accused of being melodramatic. But life IS melodrama, except without the soundtrack.


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