Men at Work

by Julie Bruck
The Lost Valentinos. For Nik, Safe Travels and "break a leg!"

I said, “Do you speak-a my language?”
He just smiled and gave me a Vegemite sandwich.
—“Down Under.”

We middle-aged sense them immediately:
four brittle pop stars sprawled across
the rigid fibreglass chairs at the airport gate.
It’s not just that they’re Australian, that gorgeous
thunk of English, the stacked electric-guitar cases
draped with black leather jackets, or their deep
tans on this Sunday night in midwinter Toronto
that holds everyone’s attention, drawn as we are,
pale filings to their pull. Even their rail-thin
lassitude attracts us, as it must Doug, the portly
Air Canada gate manager in his personalized jacket,
who arrives to greet the band, cranking hands
and cracking jokes. Doug, who must live in
Mississauga with the wife and a couple of kids,
and who insists the boys come back to play Toronto
next year, when we clutchers of boarding passes
will have abandoned our carry-ons for tickets
to a midsized arena and a resurrected band
whose lyrics never did make sense but
which are laced to a beat that won’t let go—
propelling us down the carpeted ramps
of late-night flights on feeder airlines, hips
back in charge of our strange young bodies,
now shaking down runways in rows.


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