What a musty, haze-hovered, lazy Saturday afternoon it was in ‘The Hammer’. Let me rewind for a second. Hamilton Ontario was nick-named that for a reason; as well as ‘Steel City’. Well if you’re not familiar with Hamilton here’s the scoop. It’s the main hub for industrialism in the region, and probably the province. Not to mention the fact that Dofasco and Stelco are established right in the pit of it, well, the armpit that is, to name a couple of hard core industrial leaders. This also explains the fact that Hamilton can easily spotted from a distance, due to the enormous bubble of smog that encompasses it. You’re probably guessing it’s not the most glamourous place to live. Bingo. Well, let’s just say the night life’s not exactly booming either, that’s why my friends and I prefer either the outskirts such as Burlington, Oakville and the Mega City of Toronto for fun. Ah yes, T.O.’s the place to be if you wanna feel alive, but as for traffic, crime and cost of living, that’s a whole other ball game. That’s why I choose to reside in my cozy, little niche in good old Hamilton. Having said that, after a long, boisterous night of partying with Jen, just the thought of getting up was exhausting. But, a girl needs to get hydrated after six shots of vodka, a bloody Caesar and, well, I can’t really remember much after that. As I hauled my ass to the kitchen to grab some water, I caught a glimpse of Jen, sprawled out on my sofa in the living room like a damn dead cat! I chuckled to myself thinking, her head is soooo not gonna appreciate last night when she wakes up. I figured I’d be a good buddy and just let her sleep off her hangover. I settled for watching ‘One and a Half Men’ re-runs, and mocked some ditzy chicks on one of those ridiculous ‘marry-a-millionaire’ reality shows. As if they could hear me. I’d like to give them each a shot upside the head! Too bad my LCD screen wouldn’t appreciate the damage much. Pity. It wasn’t long before my boyfriend Tom called. He too had a drinking night out with the boys. “What’s up babe?”
“Not much, just got up”
“Yeah so did I, and I’m watching gold-digging air heads fight like hawks over one nasty lookin’ rich dude. Real exciting” I said as I chomped on a banana.
“Jaz, Is Jen still there?” (Jasmine Penner by the way, but everyone calls me Jaz)
“Yeah she crashed here, she looks like a train wreck but I’m sure she’ll be fine. Tell Jim not to worry about her!”
“Yeah he tried calling her but she won’t answer her cell, I guess that explains it. Tell me the truth did she pick up any dudes last night?”
“Like I’d even tell you that with Jim there and all. The answer is nooooo she did not! Stop getting Jim to fight his battles through you. And for the record, she was a good girl last night”. (Relatively speaking)
Jen Snyder is my best friend. She tends to get quite sassy, for lack of a better word, when she drinks. I’ve pretty much took the role of her body guard/babysitter, when things got really sticky. And I mean literally sticky. I had to practically peal her off this jock dude once, when she insisted she was going to leave the club with him one night. She had one too many Yager Bombs and didn’t want to listen to reason. This being the main reason why there are problems between her and her boyfriend. This is also the main reason I decided to take things slow with Tom. A girl’s gotta have her freedom, ya know? Not that I’m some dirty ho or anything, but settling down at the age of 21 isn’t exactly what I have in mind. Tom and I get along pretty well, and he’s sweet. We’ve pretty much been high school sweethearts on and off, but I’d say our relationship is more on a platonic level more than a deep, romantic one. I’ve always felt safe with him, and content, but I don’t think I’ve ever really experienced fire works with him, nor had I with anyone else for that matter. Unless I count George Clooney and Gavin Rossdale in the mix. Ya, what? So I have a thing for older guys. Just as I hung up the phone with Tom, I was a little startled by Jen’s groggy voice as she started stretching her limbs like a wild cat.
“Hey dude, I don’t feel so good, could you grab me a glass of water?”
“Ya man, I told you to settle down last night. Jim’s been trying to get a hold of you, and as always he gets Tom to call MY cell to get to you”
“I’ll call him later; I just really need some water right now, and maybe some Advil?”
“I’ll get right on that” I shot back at her sarcastically, yet obediently gave in to her requests.
She was still in her ho-bag black miniskirt, and stripper hooter top. I have to admit, she did look kinda crack-whorish with her black eye-liner circles under her eyes, and her crazy frizz-ball hair. I loved her regardless. I’ve always hung out with Jen, at least for as far back as I could recall. It felt like we were sisters. Since grade nine we’d been inseparable. However, that didn’t mean we didn’t have our differences. It’s amazing how close you can be with someone, yet how clashingly different you can still be. I was always a bit more ‘grounded’ so to speak. She was more of a ‘free-spirited’ as some may choose to call it. Others might call it ‘ho-bag-ish’. She has always been known to be boy-crazy, and a little too outgoing. I always found her fun and flamboyant. How’s that for a word? I can’t believe I just used it to describe my best friend. She’d probably back hand me if she knew that. She moved to Hamilton from Georgia when she was ten, and I always liked to tease her about her twangy accent. I do find it entertaining. Again, another back hand upside the head almost earned. Of course the fact that she has platinum blonde hair and a decent set of hooters doesn’t help her image. Me? On the contrary. I have long black hair down the middle of my back, and have a bit of an olive complexion. My mom says I get it from my grandma who was part Greek. Anyways, I wouldn’t say I look bad myself. I’m just not all caught up in how tip-top I look twenty- four- seven. But I do like myself a good party! Last night was awesome! We went to the ‘Circa Night Club’ in Toronto. There’s not much to do for fun in these parts, so one’s only option is to drive to the next best city. I do think I went a bit overboard myself with the drinking this time though, ‘cuz I could swear I’ve been seeing a silver lining around the clouds, and other weird, random stuff. And we’ve established that there is absolutely NO silver lining in Hamilton. Perhaps a hazy, blackened radioactive smog, yes, silver lining, no.
“Ah crap! I have to finish my damn project this weekend! It’s due first thing Tuesday morning!” I realized with frustration. I had no clue what direction I was going to point my life in, therefore I settled for a time killer. General Arts and Sciences. The program is supposed to give me a little taste of different fields, so that I could make up my mind with what I want to do with myself later on. Can you say mission unsuccessful? I’m in my last term, and I’m more confused now than I was when I first stepped into the program. Talk about life’s cynical irony.
“I have to do some stupid paper on how to save the f-ing environment! Seriously, not to sound like a pessimist, but the environment is taking a spiraling downfall. The government hasn’t exactly done the best it can to preserve it.” I blurted out. Lake Ontario is a perfect example. I don’t even wanna open that can of worms. The Hammer has a bad enough rap for smog, and between you and I, I think we’re breathing some pretty bad radioactive matter. If you take a stroll downtown, it won’t take much to see what I’m talking about. Before my mind began cynically wandering in thoughts of how mutated and glow-in-the-dark our community would become in the near future, I was abruptly interrupted by Jen’s remark.
“Dude, just say you want to save the animals or some shit”
“The thing is, the class had a list of topics to choose from and that one was already taken. I’m stuck with either preserving our agriculture, or keeping our air clean. Seriously, I think in this city in order to preserve your lungs, you’re better off smoking. At least you have a filter. “I chuckled and Jen joined in.
“Why do you think I smoke Jaz? I’m thinkin’ green!” she twanged jubilantly. I’ll admit I partake of a puff every now and then, but only socially at clubs.
“You even smoke the greens!” I chucked. “I occasionally consume on weekends! So consider me a part-time beginner in the ‘lung-preservation-club!’” I said dorkishly. Seriously, I think I even let out a snort at the end of that one.
“At this point, I call every man for himself! Save your own lungs before it’s too late!” she twanged again. “I think I’ll call Jim to come pick me up so you can work on your project” she said as she swiped her cell phone out of her tiny ass faux snake skin purse. Yeah really.
“I think it’s about time you call him back, he’s kinda worried”
“Oh shucks, he’s got nothin’ to worry about” she said in a more southern accent than usual, followed by a wink, and a little country-diva head tilt.
“We both know you’re lying” I replied with a raised brow.
“Quit doin’ that thing you do with your eyebrow. It freaks me out”
“That’s kinda the point” I said with a crooked smile, as I reached for my school bag, and with a sigh, I started ruffling though my endless nightmare of a project I had to complete by Monday, and I hadn’t even started.