Who is this Hooky Player?
In grade nine, my bff Heather Boyd and I skipped school for the day. We took the Red Rocket from our public housing development in Rexdale to downtown Toronto. From Bloor, we wandered south on Yonge Street. Knowing us we were singing as we walked – picture a couple of hoodlums dressed in lumber jackets and Levis ruining Song Sung Blue by Neil Diamond or Rocky Mountain High by John Denver.
We passed strip clubs, porn houses and drug paraphernalia shops, and we were pink-cheeked with the pleasures of our own delinquency.
When we reached King Street, we headed west into the financial district. Off the main subway line, we were no longer so sure of ourselves. I remember the scary-tall black buildings, the polished-granite facades and the spurting blue fountains. But funny – more powerful than the anxiety of being lost in this strange world was the smug joy of being free while the world worked.
I’ve been a freelance copywriter for two and a half decades now. Sometimes when I leave my house in the middle of the day, I feel like I’m playing hooky. I feel like I’m still that kid in a lumber jacket flipping off The Man.
But I’m also very much a grownup. I have a partner, a kid and a dog, and we all live happily amid the shade trees in Toronto’s west end. Aside from freelancing, my CV includes a stint as a writing teacher at Humber College.
And, after all these years, I still can’t get that John Denver song out of my head.