The Saga of Salem

It used to be that when I thought of Salem, I thought of the sassy animatronic cat from Sabrina the Teenage Witch (followed, I suppose, by the town where the Witch Trials took place). However, sometime in December of 2015, I decided to go on a date with someone that I didn’t take the time to thoroughly vet beforehand.

When I say “vet” I mean, chat with. Usually I see if there’s enough to talk about with somebody before committing to actually trying to carry a conversation with them in person. However, due to being pretty busy and generally TIRED of everything *cough dating cough* when John asked me out on a date after virtually no chit chat, I said yes.

Because I’m incredibly classy, I chose the diviest dive bar that I know to be host to our date. As I was walking there, I got a text that just said “DUMPLING QUEEN!” with a winky face beside it. My immediate reaction was disgust and I thought, Ew, did this dude just NICKNAME me? but I kept walking to the date. When I arrived, it turned out that the dive bar was just BESIDE a place called Dumpling Queen but I had never noticed before. He thought for some reason that I was suggesting that our dive bar date be there. We laughed about the mix-up though and I remained reasonably optimistic about the evening.

Once in the actual bar and NOT Dumpling Queen, we were greeted by a waitress who’s style could be described as Hillbilly City Chic, but cool. Whatever. John and I sit down and the waitress comes over and starts chatting with us. Not asking us about what we want to have to drink but rather, just having a general conversation with her new pals, Two Random Strangers On A Date because at this point, that’s all she knows about us.

The waitress was wearing a gold-plated jawbone as a necklace…like a real jawbone. John points to her necklace and says “Cool necklace,” without sarcasm. She smiles the biggest smile at this compliment and responds, “It’s from a badger! I killed it myself!” and I believe her.

So that’s where we’re at.

The waitress leaves after this conversation to go get our drinks. She returns a moment later with them and proceeds to sit down at our table with us. After chatting some more, she then asks, “Oh, is it okay to sit with you? You guys are cool with that right?!” to which I’m mentally screaming, NO. NO IT IS NOT OK! but she sits anyways and I find out that her name is Salem. She shakes my hand because that’s what you do when you meeting someone and comments, “Wow, you have like, a really great and super handshake. Some people have a handshake like a dead fish and you’re just like EW gross, you’re gross. But you don’t have that floppy dead fish handshake. It’s great.”

Salem expresses her concern about the state of the world right now, something she offers up all by herself with no prompting. John says “Yeah, so many Canadians are illiterate, it’s so sad,” and Salem being the gem that she is says, “Oh yeah, that’s SO for sure!” Word for word. At this point, I’m pretty sure that Salem doesn’t actually know what illiteracy is.

I’m smiling and nodding throughout all of this because why not? I may be slightly horrified that this is the turn that my date has taken but hey, it’s pretty funny from an objective perspective.

Someone starts speaking into a microphone and reminds the patrons (there’s literally us and maybe four other people) that tonight is karaoke night. John smiles at me and says, “It’s karaoke night?” and Salem smiles her big, dopey smile and responds “Yeah! It’s British bands only though. I try to tell people about all kinds of British music that they can sing to for karaoke night but no one ever listens to me as a WHITE PRIVILEGED GIRL!” She says the last bit waving her arms around like she’s being subjected to years of oppression. I don’t even have words.

I decide that now is a good time to go to the bathroom and tweet some of this crazy out into the world because PEOPLE NEED TO KNOW. I’m not gone too long but when I come back, John is writing down his phone number on a piece of paper and hands it over to Salem. He looks back at me like nothing is going on and explains that he’s just caught Salem’s boss stealing her tips (which my feelings on Salem aside, is terrible).

Without skipping a beat, he explains to me that his mother was a waitress and he has a very low tolerance for scumbags who steal from their employees. He wants me to know that he’s not giving Salem his phone number for any SHADY REASONS, but rather because he wants her to get in touch so he can hook her up with a job at one of his friend’s bars. Because I know if I had that kind of pull, giving a really terrible waitress a job with my friend is exactly what I would want to do (although again, I do feel for her if her boss was stealing her tips…)

Salem comes back over and tries to make it known to me that the guy I’m with is just a super good guy and wants to help her, you know? (I don’t). Salem sits back down, “It’s just so hard to find a good job right now. I mean, I got fired from my last job because I didn’t want to write things down and they wanted me to write things down but I’m like, WHO EVEN USES PAPER?” she says to me. I am completely and utterly SHOCKED (sarcasm) at the fact that someone has FIRED her before this.

John decides that he needs to use the washroom so he gets up and leaves me with Salem.

Salem: Your hair and your sweater are really awesome colours. Like one is red and like, one is yellow and I think that’s really great.
Me: Oh, thank you.
Salem: No, thank YOU.
Me: Uh, so are you in school or something?
Salem: No, I like doing art stuff though. I really LOVE working with my hands. LOVE IT. I like painting and sculpting stuff. I like touching that clay and making it into a thing. I really like writing words and like stuff, even though I don’t sound like I know words well. I like em. Words are great.
Me: Yeah, I write a bit too.
Salem: NO FREAKING WAY. NO WAY. NOOOOO WAY. That is the coolest. SO cool. Wow wow wow. When you write, do you use, like, metaphors?!

John returns now, which is good because my capacity to have a solo conversation with Salem is pretty much tapped out. Thankfully karaoke has JUST BEGUN. Salem gets up and goes around to see if anyone needs a drink. She brings us another round and disappears briefly only to return and bounce happily over to the microphone. She puts on an “English”-ish accent and dedicates her song to, you guessed it, me and John. She then begins her rendition of I’m Henry the Eighth, I Am.

At this point, I’m pretty much sticking out this date for science. There’s really not much there in terms of chemistry but I’m enjoying this effed up rollercoaster ride that I’m on. From here, John decides to make things even better by telling me three very key things:

  1. You know that your cocaine is bad if, when you taste it, it makes your mouth go numb.
  2. He grew pot with his grandparents as a teenager and sold it for them, but not to individual people. He sold WHOLESALE. That other stuff is for chumps.
  3. He’s a cat person and he’s so grateful to be getting his cats back finally. (from who, you ask??) Oh right. From his wife (unclear if that’s ex or current) who’s in the hospital dying from terminal cancer. No big deal.

Now that I know I’ve got a winner, I go to the washroom once again and when I come back, John is getting his coat on and telling me that he settled up the bill. Salem looks over and sees that we’re getting ready to leave so she then grabs HER jacket, puts it on and leaves WITH US.

SERIOUSLY.

We get to the bottom of the stairs to leave and as I look over at him, he just says “I can see how you might think that this is my fault and I think you’re judging me for this,” to which I say nothing but the answer is clearly Lololololololololol YES.

I’m starving so John buys me a slice of pizza, and then we part ways. You might be wondering at this point how I was able to pass up more time with this enticing pair, but I was all tapped out on fun at this point.

That was the last time I saw John and Salem. Although I did hear from John again who persistently asked me out a few more times after our date, completely oblivious to the fact that it was an utter disaster.

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