There was a wall-to-wall mirror in our modestly furnished living room. Most of what my parents owned were hand-me-downs from our neighbours who insisted on being called friends. My father was a janitor. We lived on the rez-de-chaussée of an upscale highrise, and our neighbours – our so-called friends – were the tenants: business owners, professional hockey players, philanthropists. They were nice enough people, don’t get me wrong – we had food in our fridge, clothes on our back, and a roof over our head because of our friends – but they wouldn’t be seen walking with us. A tired-looking navy blue velvet couch leaned on the mirror, and on the far right side my father sat, each night, beaten up.
Evenings were a family affair, and sitting down together around a movie – in silence – was the extent of our communication. We were often asked to fetch a Schwarzenegger movie at the mom-and-pop video store; I would often come back with Woody Allen fare. We would sit in front of the television – the master of our ceremonies – and while away the evening. Monday. Tuesday. Every day.
Our building stood on top of the city, looking down on the working poor. BMWs honked at public transportation; ambulances rushed 98-year-old CEOs to their death at the nearby hospital, blowing their sirens at the BMWs. Woody’s one-liners couldn’t compete with the cacophony of the city. Amidst the noise and the punch lines, my father would fall asleep. Without fail. Monday. Tuesday. Every day. And without fail, his head would fall back on the wall-to-wall mirror. He would wake up, pretend he was never asleep, and drift off again. Repeatedly.
Are you sleeping?, asks my wife when my head hits the gyprock wall behind our second-hand aubergine couch. I open my eyes, look at my wife smiling, and promptly fall back asleep, over some movie. Every night.