After eight days and nights of eating with my hands–think skewered meatballs and shrimp, tuna ceviche on flat bread and itty bitty tacos–I had my first meal on a plate topped with food that I consumed with a knife and fork on Thursday night.
I covered the TIFF party scene for Metro this year. It’s my fifth year reporting on the festival’s nightlife, and–like clockwork–I metamorphosed into something I call a TIFFhole. I define what this is here. If you have no interest in reading that, I’ll quote myself, which is a really TIFFhole thing to do: “The transition to TIFFhole is a well-known phenomenon in some circles. It’s two weeks of obsessing over party invites, name-dropping and filing stories as the sun rises,” I wrote. “The TIFFhole is a werewolf, ashamed of what it’s become but hungry for its prey and the second-rate rubbed off luminosity of being in close proximity to the stars that it’s hunting.”
I worked during the day at The Social and every night I reported on what Hollywood’s most elite were drinking and not eating–and snuck selfies with George Clooney, which everyone–including my own mother–wanted to hear about and, like a true TIFFhole, I was all like, Do you think I have time to tell you the story? Do you know how busy I am? And besides, I wrote about the selfie with George so I wouldn’t have to be stopped every five fucking minutes by the public to explain it.
The Beast, meanwhile, lived life like a bachelor. Or rather, his definition of bachelor life.
For example, on the first Friday of the festival, he told me that he was staying in to drink white wine and watch documentaries: you know, like a typical bachelor.
A few nights later, he texted me: “Just getting remote batteries and Architectural Digest and Town & Country. #bachelorehood #thuglife”
I’d typically get home at 2:00 a.m. Too charged up on sugary cocktails and starving–no matter how many meatballs you eat, it’s not the same as dinner–I’d eat what take-out scraps the Beast left for me and watch the first thing on Netflix that caught my eye.
One night it was cold pepperoni pizza and Dear John. Another night it was No-Name lasagna and Shakespeare in Love.
On about Day 5, I came home to find the most beautiful bouquet of white roses. A note said, “I know you were upset when I brought this Majolica Wedgwood vase home but I think now you can appreciate how beautiful it is.”
I was upset because the Beast keeps bringing stuff home and our house is crammed with shit. We don’t need another vase or book or rug or side table or antique sewing machine. But in they come like ants.
When I placed a little vase filled with a burgundy and red velvet flower arrangement that I’d stolen from a TIFF event beside the white roses, I found another note: “Don’t do this again. The Majolica Wedgwood is a standalone arrangement.”
I moved the red flowers to the mantle.
We’d cross paths in the morning and update each other on our lives. “The CBC wanted to do a radio interview about what a TIFFhole is,” I told him mid-festival, “but I missed the window because I was in a screening.”
“I hope you would have told them that I invented the word, like four years ago–just like I conceptualized Foodie the Beast. Basically, I invented Jess Allen,” he told me, as he placed a coupon for 25 per cent off a future Brooks Brothers purchase onto my lap. “You were ‘Jessie’ when I met you.”
Back to my first night off on Thursday: I woke up at my typical TIFF time of 5:30 a.m. in order to file my last two Metro pieces, the last of the party reporting pieces and my usual Friday TV Dinners column. Before the Beast left for work at 8:30 a.m., he found me dry-heaving into the kitchen sink. This produced an excruciating stomach ache, which I tried to remedy by lying on the floor.
I proceeded to eat an entire sleeve of soda crackers to calm my nervous stomach, during which the Beast took photos of me.
“You look so adorable!” he said. “Have you seen your hair?”
I hadn’t, but he assured me it was a mullet in the back and a crown braid–the same one I’d worn for two days in a row–on top.
That night I took a great deal of pleasure in making dinner: grilled sausages and leeks, green beans and potatoes. When the Beast got home from work, he was holding a giant cardboard box from LL Bean.
“What could you possibly need from LL Bean?” I asked.
“Have you seen my housecoat? It’s a woman’s housecoat. Do you really want me wearing that?” he answered. “I deserve better.”
He’d ordered himself a man’s white terrycloth housecoat in medium, which is too big. Also, it’s monogrammed.
“What the hell is this book?” I asked.
“Relax already,” he said. “It’s a history of LL Bean and it was only $15.”
“What are you going to do with it?”
“Uh, look at the pictures?” he responded, “to be inspired.”
We watched The Way We Were, which inspired him, I’d wager, more than the LL Bean book. He paused the film every five minutes to tell me how I better prepare myself to see him outfitted in Robert Redford’s Ivy League rowing outfit circa 1940, and his turtlenecks and penny loafers.
It was a beautiful evening. I slept well that night–but nothing will compare to the nap I had earlier in the afternoon after I filed my stories and showered, washing the last remnants of TIFF out of my hair. The sun was shining through our bedroom window. I read about five words in the current New Yorker, in an attempt to un-TIFFhole my soul. But I couldn’t keep my eyes open. The only thing I could hear were the leaves of trees gently shimmying against each other when a breeze passed by, which also kissed my face through the open window.
I was caught in a waking dream, not knowing where I was but sure that I’d felt all this before. I kept trying to reach back in my memory.
And then it hit me: The Big Bedroom. That’s what we called my parent’s room on Manor Road where I lived for 22 years. When we were little, we’d nap there in the dog days of summer, on white cotton sheets with blue polka dots. After rustling through the corn stalks in the backyard, the wind made its way through the bedroom window, kissing our childhood cheeks while we dreamed.