The clock had all but run out on my deadline for Downtown Halifax's Try Something New marketing campaign. All I had to do was blow $100 bucks downtown, then blog about it, but I was short on time, patience – and worse – creatively constipated after a few false starts.
My first thought was to go pole dancing with Ruth Goldbloom. I'd never been pole dancing, let alone pole dancing with a pint-size dynamo whose tap shoes likely sparked the Halifax Explosion. Studio in Essence on Barrington Street offer pole dancing classes, and I could already picture Ruth's Order of Canada medallion swinging in the breeze as she gyrated her original hips to Superfreak. Not surprisingly, Ruth was "too busy" – what with teeing off at her Kid's Help Phone Charity Golf Tournament, while simultaneously raising millions in support of health, education, and culture. Too busy it seems, to knock back a few cold ones, strap on some pasties, and do the dirty dance downtown, avec moi.
Every party has a ladylike pooper.
My next big plan gone awry involved me, a few girlfriends, and a happy hour of laughter at my expense. Having been kicked out of high school before prom, and never having walked down the aisle – I have always wanted to try on a big pouffy dress. The bigger and pouffier the better. I called Felicity Bridal to set up an appointment for a fitting. I did my best to explain the Try Something New deadline, and that while I was not really in the market for a wedding dress, my "bridesmaids" had (cash) several daughters destined for lavish weddings in the very near future. Therefore, my "fitting" would not be a total waste of their time. Let's just say the downtown bridal boutique was less than enthusiastic, or maybe they'd seen the Bridesmaids (diarrhea scene) movie, but that'll teach me for being forthright. Fuck 'em. Next time I'll just show up in a sweaty sports bra waving a chequebook.
So now what? I scanned the Downtown Halifax directory for inspiration. Venus Envy? Too many batteries. The Press Gang Oyster Bar? Been there. Bicycle Thief? Wasn't in the mood.
That's when I saw it. Fashionably Dead. I had no idea what it was – but it pretty much summed up how I felt – so off I went to 5239 Blowers Street.
Climbing to the top of the worn staircase, a purse in a dark shop window caught my eye. "Fuck You" was emblazoned on a red heart, stitched across the otherwise normal looking handbag. This had to be it.
Everyone has likely experienced the kids who walk in front of your car at a crosswalk, usually with a crowd of other youths, all clad in ripped black clothing, sporting dreadlocks, spikes, multiple piercings, safety pins, tattoos, and a malnourished ferret. The kind of kids who make you thankful your own kid is just slovenly, and not dressed for a rave at a crematorium. The kind of kids you are tempted to run over.
Fashionably Dead is where they shop.
And while there's no doubt I would have stuck out like a boil on a virgin's butt in Felicity Bridal – imagine being immersed in a culture of Goth blackness, surrounded by spider web motifs, zippers, and spiked dog collars meant for people.
"So, what exactly is this look?" I asked the young woman behind the counter.
"Alternative." She responded, sizing me up.
I was about to ask, "Alternative to what?", but then I spotted the baby section. If you ever need a newborn onesie with skull and crossbones on it, this is the place.
"Those are really popular." The salesgirl told me, enthusiastically.
Really? I thought, considering that maybe "something new" was keeping an open mind and a closed mouth.
I poked around through tidy racks of shirts and hoodies, stretchy skirts, torn (crotchless?) bondage pants, and some dominatrix-looking corsets that I was really tempted to try on. I looked at fishnet stockings, studded belts, and a wonderful t-shirt with either Lily Munster or Morticia Addams on the front.
"So, what are the oxygen masks for?" I asked naively, peering into the glass counter showcase.
"They're respirators." She replied nonchalantly. "Just a fashion accessory."
"For your face?" I asked.
I learned the salesgirl's name was Lynne. She was very helpful and rather sweet underneath her daunting dreadlocks and black-edged pallor. Lynne answered all my dumb, middle-age questions politely – and as it turned out – we had something in common. Like me, she came from "away" to study at NSCAD. Like me, she was searching for something down the tributary off mainstream. Like me, she was searching for something new – far, far away from something blue.
"I'll take the purse in the window." I said.
"Really?" she asked, without saying a word.
"It's perfect." I said, handing her my Downtown Halifax Visa card.
When I got home, the Little Bastard was lying on the sofa playing Xbox. I didn't bother showing him my new, first-ever handbag – knowing he would just roll his eyes in disgust.
"Where have you been? I'm starving." He said. "What are we doing for dinner?"
Something new, I thought, dialing a cab.
The homemade Lynchburg Lemonade at Q Smokehouse was a bipolar marriage of tart and sweet, laced with Jack Daniels. Just what the doctor ordered after a shitty week. I briefly considered the Cobb Salad with Pulled Chicken before ordering us a Pulled Pork Sandwich and the BBQ sampler (with a side of mac 'n' cheese). I wanted the Bad Attitude BBQ sauce with jalapeño and habañero peppers, but we turned it down a notch, then settled into a comfy booth. Knowing that food I hadn't prepared was on its way, the Little Bastard was chatty and seemingly happy with my restaurant choice.
"I can't believe we've haven't been here before," he said. "I like this place."
Me too, I thought, sucking a lemon pit out of my straw. Me too.
We left Q, stepping out on to Argyle Street, so happy and full of ribs and Kentucky bourbon I could barely move.
Just then, "Jack!", a girl yelled from a sidewalk table across the street. "Helllllo beautiful!" she screamed.
"Who the hell's that?" I asked my blushing teenage beanpole covered with BBQ sauce.
He just smiled, and walked ahead through the busy, Friday night crowd.
Something new, indeed.
Q Smokehouse is located at 1580 Argyle Street. Our meal with tax and a few lemony libations was well under $50. I can't wait to go back.