Walking to Skyline Restaurant, a much-loved Parkdale diner recently under new management, on Friday night:
Beast: You met Maggie at the Lemon Tree House writing retreat, right?
Foodie: Sort of. We actually met years ago when she was a bartender at The Paddock and the old Terroni crew would go in after our shift for last call. Then she went on to open the Dakota Tavern, and then The Ace. Last time I saw Maggie, she told me she was really interested in hearing your thoughts on Skyline once she got it up and running, on account of what you said about The Ace.
Beast: What did I say?
Foodie: I can’t remember.
Foodie: What should we eat? I want the club sandwich. Or maybe that fried chicken special. Oh! Steak and French fries! OMG it’s only $18. Or a burger? Do you want to share some stuff?
Foodie: Let’s get the special fried smelts to start and then the kale Caesar salad.
Foodie: You know who “Serena” is, right?
Beast: The woman that Maggie just introduced us to?
Beast: I’m guessing it’s Serena.
Foodie: No, it’s Serena Ryder, the musician!
Beast [On his phone]: Oh god.
Beast: What an asshole.
Beast: What I wrote about The Ace: “I just feel like it’s another place that caters to a cynical type of phony hipsterism. It creates an aura of false authenticity by hinting at this throwback to the 50s–an era that’s already tinged with irony.”
Foodie: Oh god.
Beast: The irony is that the place became my favourite restaurant in the neighbourhood. Nothing is authentic. Or, I guess everything is. You have to pick how something is going to look. You have to like stuff.
Foodie: Do you want to share the pork chop and then the chicken?
Beast: Again, I will do whatever you tell me to do.
Foodie: I just don’t know…
Beast: Why don’t you order a main, and I order a main.
Foodie: Great idea! I’m having the cheeseburger and I am getting gravy for my fries.
Beast: I’m getting the barbecued chicken.
Beast: Can you imagine all the work you’d put into opening up a place, all the sweat, the thought, the time, and then an asshole like me says shit like that?
Beast: I guess what really bothers me about that authenticity stuff is that it has a lot to do with me, and my ego. You know when we were talking about how it bothers you when people say someone with a beard and a blazer reminds them of me?
Foodie: It really annoys me.
Beast: Well I guess when I hear stuff like that and decide that it’s all artifice, it makes me worried that I’m all artifice. That I place all this stock in my 100-per-cent-pure love of things, which makes me interesting: like being the only person in Toronto who truly appreciates Warren Beatty as a film star, love-maker, and comedian. Fuck it. It’s all baggage.
Foodie: Oh I asked Jordy if she could cut your hair like his and she seems hopeful, even though you’re more Jack Nicholson than Warren Beatty.
Beast: You can say that again: apparently Jack was a quick shooter but Warren, he could go on four hours.
Foodie: God this burger is good. How is the chicken?
Beast: Incredible. [Pause] I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately, this idea that comes from Freud about the narcissism of small differences.
Beast: I think because we’ve been watching The Circus. We’re drowning in it now as Canadians with all our bullshit smugness about Trump. [In a mocking voice]: “Oh can you believe those Americans would elect a guy like Trump, blah blah blah, eh?” As if we didn’t just have almost a decade of a prime minister who in real and scary ways was more conservative than Trump is.
Foodie: And he didn’t even have the entertainment factor that Trump has, although it’s not quite as funny as it was a year ago.
Beast: It could never happened here? What the fuck was Rob Ford if not the same weird mixture of the irrational, the angry and celebrity all rolled in to one? Ford was a proto-Trump.
Foodie: God, these digestivos are delicious. I’m never having straight-up Montenegro again. Is it bourbon in here?
Beast: I think it’s Forty Creek whiskey.
Foodie: Well, we’re picking up a bottle on our way home.
Beast: And when I said that so many restaurants nowadays are all artifice, well, they’re not. They reference stuff, stuff that I like, so who am I to judge? I mean, shit, look at me. I’m wearing a western style-braided belt and denim on denim. Of course I’m a shallow fucking hipster. I mean, just because I own a picture book dedicated to Gary Cooper’s style with a forward by Ralph Lauren does that mean this look is more authentic than someone who bought a similar belt at an Urban Outfitters? Just because I have a deep and abiding respect and interest in the idea of the American frontier I’m more eligible to wear this belt?
Foodie: Like these digestivos I suppose. They’ve been embraced by so-called hipsters for a while and we’ve just only discovered them and I don’t care because they’re delicious. Can you put away your phone now please?
Beast: You’re right.
Foodie: Whoa wait. May I see your screensaver?