My phone started to ring – it was Keg. I sighed. It was always Keg.
“Hey, are you on the Internet?” he asked abruptly before I had a chance to say hello.
Keg had just moved to Montreal, and called at least once a day to ask for directions. Leaving his new apartment with an address scribbled on his hand and only a vague idea of where to go, he would stomp off looking for a restaurant, a job interview or a hot date before realizing he wasn’t on the right street let alone the correct neighbourhood.
I conjectured that Keg’s sense of direction was so bad that he probably meant to move somewhere other than Montreal. I assumed he just got lazy on his way to Halifax. Or maybe had overshot completely while aiming for Toronto.
But while I was happy to help out another prairies ex-pat, Keg’s ceaseless phone calls were starting to overstay their welcome. He always assumed I intrinsically knew where he was supposed to be going. His endless requests for guidance, leadership and oversight had become irksome. But, with no job and a perpetually absent lover, I had little else to entertain myself with. Besides, poring over maps, routing transit lines and noting pitfalls was massively relevant to my interests. Keg’s continuous fumbling somehow justified my otherwise lame existence.
“Where are you off to today slugger,” I sighed again. It was now habit to keep Google maps perpetually in idle.
“Dude,” he puffed, “I’m late.”
I could already picture him speed-trundling down a one-way boulevard, hyper-aware of his need to get somewhere quickly but not quite swift enough to realize he might actually just be rushing away from the very spot he intended to get to.
I waited for him to continue but he only panted into the receiver.
“Well?” I snapped. While I was semi-grateful for the distraction I was increasingly annoyed at Keg’s oft-charming obliviousness. But even more heartbreaking was the realization that Keg was in fact my spirit animal – a beast that expected everything to come quickly even if it meant half-assed results. Life was too short to wait for perfection and I stuttered through at a steady pace, making promises to go back and fix the typos but never slowing down long enough to put in the effort.
“Come on Keg, I’m a busy man.” That was clearly a lie.
“I’m late,” yelled Keg.
“You’re also slow,” I quipped.
“I’m late for a date,” he finally barfed. “I’m supposed to meet this girl at the library.”
“La Grande Bibliothèque?” I asked.
“It means ‘The Big Library’ you ninny,” I brayed. “This is Montreal – surely you realized there was more than one library.”
“All she said was to meet her at the library,” wailed Keg.
“Furthermore,” I continued, “La Grande Bibliothèque is massive. There are at least seven floors in that building, not to mention three different basements.
“This date wasn’t planned out very well,” I laughed. “But would you like me to at least attempt to get you there?”
“I’m already here,” he admitted.
I felt like swearing but didn’t have the energy. I hadn’t eaten a proper meal in a while. It was winter and I was perpetually cold – the window was permanently cocked open on one side due to a 100-year-old shambling frame. I also hadn’t seen my girlfriend in several days and suspected she was planning on leaving me for a hotshot guitar player, a better apartment or a grilled cheese sandwich. I was far too fragile to be fucked with.
But I had to remind myself that Keg was one of the few friends I had in this forlorn city. He shared the same zeal for afternoon beers that I did. We could natter on endlessly about nothing. And his laugh was weirdly infectious. These people are rare and only come into your life infrequently. Do everything you can to keep them happy and close or someone else will get them.
“Why do you need my help Keg?”
“I think this is where she meant.” He paused. “Do you think I should go in?”
“Why not?” Keg was better than TV.
“I kind of dig her, but I’m not sure if I should go through with this.”
“So now you want dating advice in addition to directions,” I laughed.
“I have a crush on my roommate,” blurted Keg.
I could feel the daytime minutes on my phone evaporating. I groaned – cable TV was probably cheaper.
“She is such a sweetie,” he said. “We were watching a movie and we got in a pillow fight and she kept climbing on top of me. I think she digs me too.”
“That’s more creepy than sexy,” I said, even though I secretly wanted what they had. “So hit that shit already and leave the other beau with the books.”
“She’s got a boyfriend,” said Keg.
“Wait, who has a boyfriend?” I was confused. In addition to directions and relationship advice, Keg also needed an editor.
“I don’t think I can help you find your way out of this one,” I admitted. “This really goes beyond my expertise as a digital navigator.”
“Well what would you do?” wailed Keg, now clearly in distress.
The problem with giving people advice is that they rarely follow it. Most simply proceed to do the exact opposite. But I was smart enough to know that. Given the opportunity, I’d probably make out with both women and let nature take its fiery, revengeful course. And I was far too good of a friend to let Keg do anything otherwise. Of course, any advice you give is probably best experienced firsthand. Unfortunately I wasn’t that smart.
“Honestly, if I were you I’d pick a direction, any direction, and start walking.