I’ve Been So Lonely, Baby

Ottawa XPress – Shotgun – July 21, 2005

I love boys and music. Too bad it’s not as easy to pick up a boy as you might snatch up the latest Oasis CD from your favourite music store.

But an old Ottawa friend who moved to London, U.K. years ago said to me that if your worst problem is your love life then what a luxurious problem to have. This from a guy who was riding the tube between King’s Cross and Russell Square when the bombs hit the British capital’s transit system. This from a guy whose social circle includes rock stars and rockabilly types who make an annual pilgrimage to Las Vegas for some Elvis thing that I don’t quite understand. He is truly living an exciting life.

With so many options and opportunities presenting themselves by the minute, and a social life bustling with a scene, why would he be desperate, or worse – bored?

But hold up. Ottawa had its own vibrant scene during the Bluesfest, and I still don’t have a date!

Well, it wasn’t for a lack of ogling. And my friends and I weren’t the only women drooling. An exceptionally attractive male friend of mine described Bluesfest as one big bar. “I feel dirty,” he said, as he sought protection by my side, away from two cougars who kept turning their heads Exorcist-style in his direction as they spoke loudly of their love for men with beautiful eyes.

Not that I can’t relate. A lethal mix of heat and hangovers eventually made subtlety way too difficult when it came to discussing nearby hotties. We also resorted to overt gestures such as clock references – “Sam Roberts twin at three o’clock!” – while other times we just pointed and stared.

But thanks to this sexual energy, any woes of singledom were lulled in the distraction of nights of fabulous music and super-cute music lovers. The experience reminded us that there are attractive boys living in Ottawa, beyond our male friends and the cliques of local artists and rock stars who are too untouchable or familiar. Whether these hotties were single and remotely interested-or more importantly, interesting – is another story altogether. But one is free to dream, right?

Just being surrounded by them was fun! And for me personally, Shotgun reader, it made me rethink my silly crush on a boy who lives far, far away.

Well, OK – not really. Hell, I was obsessed with seeing his haircut on other dudes and tried to spot legs as hairy, a voice as quiet and a face sculpted as perfectly as his on every brown-haired beauty that walked by. I’m afraid I have found the most handsome man in the universe, dear reader, and I want to marry him in the same spirit we might have married a Popsicle or our favourite Smurfs when schoolyard friends suggested we do so-’cause we enjoyed these things so much.

But outside of any gris-gris voodoo magic à la Dr. John with which I could zap the dude’s innards to fire up an interest in me, the distance is a killer. Talk about the blues…

So here I am, with the festival season over in a month and soon I’ll find myself in some dark bar in Vanier downing Old Milwaukee’s while I recreate Lynn Miles’ Slightly Haunted CD, feeling Slightly Psycho for the desperation. And some of us will be back to thinking O-Town is useless, convinced that luck and love lay elsewhere…

In Quyon, Pontiac perhaps? It’s a small town on the Québec side, past Luskville. It’s a quaint town nestled in the middle of butt-fuck nowhere, a place where my girlfriend and I drove to on an impromptu Saturday afternoon road trip that let me cure my hangover in the luxury of an air-conditioned Ford.

So these Quyon folks? They’re living it up. From the roadside, you could see backyards filled with happy neighbours and kids enjoying lunch and splashing about in inflatable swimming pools. No eye candy. No rock stars.

Until we saw Elvis, patron saint of the lonely-hearted and false-started.

Nailed to the side of a white barn that doubled as the July 1-3 Country Music Jam grounds down by the river, was a wooden Elvis cut-out standing three storeys tall. Like a towering Christ image erected high upon the church of tunes, here was Elvis: who was once so lonely, baby, that he could die-and who did, only to remind us of love’s blues and save us from our sad selves.

Thinking on Elvis, I closed my eyes and pictured the site of the festival jam-packed with Quyonians sucking back O’Keefe and with kids scurrying about eating poutine and candy apples. And it occurred to me that the ideal life I saw them as living wasn’t far off from my own Kodak moments with the girls at Bluesfest, except we drank a better brand of beer. All of a sudden, my summertime high off running into hot babes at Bluesfest was replaced with asexual Vashti Bunyan-like simplicity from a make-believe Quyon countryfest.

I realized maybe life – no matter where you are-is about enjoying the eye candy (or the candy apple), rather than forcing someone to make you the apple of their eye. After all, true love takes time, right?

And, Elvis wasn’t built in a day.

– Sylvie Hill