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Vanity Fair Illustration by Amery Sandford  

Vanity Fair

It’s not easy being hot and serving ice cream waffle sandwiches at the Ex, Alexandra Kimball knows—but someone has to do it.

The summer after Grade Eleven, I learned about a job I could get from my friend Maggie. It was a service job working an ice cream waffle sandwich booth at the Canadian National Exhibition, the mega fair that runs every August in Toronto. Maggie said that the year before, she had made about $1,000, an amount that covered all of her costs until the following summer—clothes, CDs, beer, and the “classic books” we were making a big deal out of reading together. She told me that it was a brutal job, with twelve-hour shifts, one half-hour lunch break, and two fifteen-minute smoke breaks. If you could make it past the first two days, when most people quit, you could make it through the whole seventeen-day stretch no problem. This was important because on the last day, Labour Day, everyone got paid double.

Since I was a year younger than Maggie and I had only babysat before, I wondered aloud if I would even get hired at the Ex. She laughed. “It’s okay,” she said. “I know this manager and he just picks the hot people.” Now she had my attention. Being hot was newly important to me, but it was also mysterious. One never really knew if one was hot or not. Usually you had to guess at it, maybe by comparing yourself to someone who was “technically hot”—say, a model. It was 1996, and just the week before, Maggie had done a test shot for the modelling agent who represented Linda Evangelista. If a technically hot person was recruiting me to a technically hot job, that would mean—no, I cut myself off. It couldn’t be. And yet a current of anticipation was gathering in my body, a question. Was I hot enough to serve ice cream waffle sandwiches at the Ex?

At this age, my rough thesis about the world was: beauty is a form of power. I came from a long line of hot women in poor families who leveraged their looks to secure jobs that were slightly more tolerable than the ones they were expected to have. At twelve, my grandmother had been plucked from her village in the Alpine foothills to be a housekeeper for one of the wealthiest families in Milan. In the 1970s, my mother was a men’s cologne salesgirl in then-upscale Simpsons, until the owner noticed that she had an accent and fired her on the spot. As far as I could tell, these jobs were the only social perks these women had enjoyed in their entire lives. Hearing their stories, I concluded that hotness was a thing—a power. It mostly got you better jobs, but I suspected it also got you compliments, attention, maybe even love.

“I’m in!” I said. I mentioned it might be fun to work together all summer. “We can hang out on all our bre—” Breaks, I was saying, but Maggie cut me right off.

No!” she said sharply. “There will be no time for that.” She described how I would leave my house every morning at 8 AM and come home at 11 PM, and that there would be days when I would not even see the sun. You had to figure out a way to eat on the streetcar, she said, and suggested spending the entire commute eating bread. She told me where she bought her bread, but I wasn’t really listening. 

This job would be like a seal on my hotness, I kept thinking. If I was officially hot, I could forever silence the part of my mind that was always like, “am I hot?” My eternal question resolved, I could dedicate myself to the real benefits of being hot: collecting its perks. Better jobs begat more money which begat more stuff and on and on and on, until I was too old to be hot and had only my memories. I vowed that if I got this job, I would do hotness proud and squeeze out every drop.

Maggie had given me the name of the guy who hired people for the ice cream waffle sandwich booth, and my first task was to locate him at the hiring fair on the sumptuous Exhibition Place grounds. Mustachioed colonizers had built the place in the 1800s as a showcase for feats in agriculture and industry, and it was still used for giant animal auctions. The constant presence of livestock made the entire place smell like loamy farmland, even when the animals were tucked away. No matter where you were on the grounds or how hard the exquisite stone columns were screaming “this is the apex of Canadian urban civility!” there was a part of you that always thought about cows, pigs and walls of caged chickens; a yodelling auctioneer.

The hiring fair had that classic Ex vibe of beastliness being corralled into panicked Victorian order. Inside a beautiful stone building that had hay and manure on the ground, I was happy to see my theory of hotness as power play out in real time. Hundreds of teenagers and university students stood around while various managers of “events”—rides, games and food booths—milled around them, appraising. I had a brief shock when I saw how many among them were rural Ontarians, whom I clocked by their slightly outdated outfits and farmers’ tans. They were people everyone in the city seemed to discuss on a spectrum of mildly tragic to subhuman. We called them Double Doubles after their devotion to Tim Hortons, the coffee chain that formed the social centres of their hamlets and towns. But luckily for the Double Doubles that day, the managers didn’t have such a shallow view of the world. Instead, they rigidly selected for the sheer hotness that appeared across all variations of race, region and class.

Extraordinary beauties were culled from the crowd: young Tia Carreres and brickhouse Anna Nicole Smiths and baby Angelinas with full-sleeve tattoos. There were Lauryn Hills and seventies Pacinos and shirtless D’Angelos. The managers dispatched all of these exquisite creatures to some other building on the CNE fairgrounds. I understood that they were going to games or rides, better jobs where they got to wave their arms around in the sun and be friendly. Their exceptional hotness had earned them this privilege, and I knew I’d never see them again. A wave of middle-hot kids followed, all of them going to food booths, like me. Left behind was a crowd of shuffling forgotten, the unchosen, the not-at-all hot. I would never see them again either.

Eventually, I found the manager Maggie told me about taking applications from a long line of hopefuls. This guy’s name was Phil, and he was around forty, bald with a jolly face and big stomach. There was something in Phil’s face that made me feel tender, something like “managerial pride.” His eyeballs went up and down over the body of each teenager who appeared at the front of the line. “Oh yeah,” his face seemed to say. “It’s gonna be a great team this year!” 

When I reached the front of the line, I brushed the hay off my jeans, stood up ramrod straight, and tried to project both obedience and hotness. But as Phil’s eyes scanned my form, he paused, his eyebrows inverting to a concerned V. 

“Hmm,” he said, still looking. “How tall are you?”

“Five-two?” I stammered, my heart plummeting.

“Do you have long arms?” he asked. “I just need someone who is tall enough to reach over the counter.”

And then my long arms and I were newly employed. Relief moved over and around me. Like my foremothers, I was officially hot.

The ice cream waffle sandwich booth was one segment of a hexagonal island of booths, all of which were topped by a giant sculpted version of whatever they sold: ice cream waffle sandwiches (in our case), Swiss waffles (to our left), Buffalo Burgers (to our right), falafel and shawarma (to our rear). They all backed onto a kitchen staffed by three old women in hairnets and a greasy-haired kid with a strong feral energy. Ice cream waffle sandwiches was the most popular booth and also the smallest, just big enough for exactly two sylphlike girls, standing side-by-side so closely that our jammed-out elbows almost touched. It was also the easiest booth, involving no real fire or chopping. I was relieved to see Maggie was the other person I’d be working with. 

She was smiling, wearing the same thing as I was: a black polo shirt and a baseball cap to match. It was not a good uniform, we agreed. With the shirt-jeans-sneakers combo and our long hair coming out of our baseball caps, we both looked like Otto from The Simpsons. Why bother hiring us for our Lolita charms if you’re going to put us in this? Maggie pointed out the girls staffing the Orange Julius booth, which was shaped like a giant superrealistic orange. They had better uniforms to match their better booth. We regarded them silently. They were also officially hot, but in a kind of hushed, important way. We hadn’t seen them at the job fair. We thought they might be private school girls. As they unloaded crates of oranges, their blonde ponytails went aswish. They appeared efficient and confident, like they should be wearing headsets. 

“Maybe their parents make them work at Orange Julius to build character?” Maggie wondered out loud. But then a bell rang in the Food Building—a great, brassy sounding, industrial Victorian bell—and my first day began. 

It went by in a blur. The main things I recall are that three people at Buffalo Burgers quit immediately, and toward the end of the day, a red-faced woman holding the hands of two screaming children called me a “dumb little bitch.” I had never in my life been insulted directly to my face, and I immediately burst into tears. 

Maggie’s harsh whisper materialized through my panic. “Get down on the floor,” she hissed. “Get down on the floor so the customers don’t see you.” I popped a deep squat on the floor and continued crying into my hands. After a wave of customers passed, I darted out to the Food Building washroom where I washed my hands and face in the giant troughlike sink. When I got back, I thought Maggie was going to make fun of me, but she didn’t say anything, absorbed in restocking the freezer. Then, wordlessly, she showed me something special: how to discreetly wipe a toasted sheet waffle on the bottom of my sneaker before serving it to a customer.

The best part of the day was the end, at around 10 PM, when another bell rang and every worker in the building cheered in unison. Then we slung on our backpacks and exited the building in waves. We were exhausted. But a playground awaited us: the Ex After Dark. After the customers left, the carnies started running the rides again, and if you were hot enough, Maggie said, they’d let you ride for free. 

I felt closer to her, my older and hotter friend. I realized that all day we had experienced exactly the same things, the same hand motions and the same insults and the same brief moments of relief at exactly the same time. Being officially hot was more of a ride than a designation, I thought, observing a roller coaster.  Just when I thought it was too hard, there were moments of exhilaration.

It is impossible to describe working a Food Building rush hour without getting a bit abstract. The closest I can come to capturing this experience in concrete terms is that it felt less like you were working than like you were being worked by an amalgamation of outside forces. Put another way: you were being continually assaulted from multiple directions. There was the assault from within your body as you forced it through a rapid cycle of dysfunctional hand and arm positions because your arms were actually too short after all. Then there was the assault from outside the boundaries of your body, from the customers ejected in groups of ravenous hundreds from events in other buildings like dog circus shows and combine tractor displays. They were demanding, demanding, demanding. Then there was a generalized assault at all times from lack of food, sleep, sunlight, and seeing your family. This sense of full existential battery got more intense or diffuse depending on what else was going on—an especially massive rush, for example, or the sudden appearance of Phil, who made the rounds multiple times each day and always told you, cheerily, to speed things up. Eventually you got good at this and something robotic clicked in where it was like just endure. A rush hour started, you braced yourself, and then work just happened. 

By contrast, the lulls between rushes I find easy to describe: they were normal. I’d lower my arms from the counter and feel the pain drain deliciously from my shoulder blades and wrists. Maggie and I would turn to each other and laugh. We were ourselves again. We would talk about the shitty customers and make fun of the bitches at Orange Julius, who never seemed to wilt or break down, perhaps because they knew they worked in such a cool booth. Who knew there could be such joy in simply being not in pain? We imagined being poached to work at the Orange Julius or even a game or ride outside. There was a rumour going around that managers from the nearby Medieval Times were circulating, looking to hire new serving wenches. Maggie knew a serving wench once, she said—sometimes, this girl got tips. 

We measured how close we were to the end, to the double-pay Labour Day that made it all worth it. I thought of how Maggie and I were suffering together and also free together. Sometimes, I thought about a story my grandmother used to tell me. At the end of each workday in her Milanese villa, she said, Signora would unlace her braid and brush her long black hair, over and over, until it shone like silk. In these moments, I felt like I had the job I came for; I felt like I had perks.

Halfway through the first week, I entered the ice cream waffle booth in the morning and Maggie was gone. In her place was a short, porcine-faced blonde with dark roots who was leaning back against the cash register, applying lip gloss while also chewing gum. She told me her name was Debbie and that she was from Sarnia. She didn’t ask mine and I didn’t offer it. I noticed that she’d tied her polo shirt up so that it exposed her belly, and done a whole thing with the collar and a push-up bra such that it gave her a couple inches of cleavage. Debbie confused me—she was not hot, but she was acting hot. It’s the job, I thought. She got the job by accident and now she thinks she’s technically hot. Debbie replaced the lip gloss in the front pocket of her dated jeans, folded her arms, and stared at me with a smirk.

“I made $1,100 dollars here last year,” she said. “But Phil really likes me.”

So Phil really did pick her, I thought. Huh. She told me that she’d been moved over from the falafel stand before her shift and she hadn’t asked why.

“Okay so what hot guys are you meeting here?” she asked. 

“Uh none?” I was taken aback. Why would you want to meet guys here? Weren’t we just here to be hot and work? “It’s hard to tell if you’re just in the booth all day.”

“But girl, this is the best place to meet guys!” Debbie protested. “Last year a guy even proposed to me here.” Now, she looked wistful. “He saw me and he said, ‘I’ve never seen a sexier girl in my life.’ Then he went out, bought a ring and came all the way back to give it to me, right here in this booth.”

“What did you say?” I asked. 

She looked scandalized. “I said no, of course! But he was so understanding. Such a sweet guy. It happens to me all the time.”

I found Maggie again on our fifteen-minute break, at our usual meeting place, which was the emergency exit behind a baked potato stand. Her face was shiny with sweat. She told me that Phil had, without explanation, moved her over to Buffalo Burgers—the worst booth of all, because you were standing all day in the radiant heat from the grill. Eventually we got around to Debbie, who Maggie remembered from the year before and said was “Food Building famous.”

“She told me a guy proposed to her last year,” I scoffed. 

“Oh, he did,” she said. “That’s the interesting part! Debbie actually does have the effect on men she says she does. Like she’s not hot, but people see her as hot?”

“Huh,” I said. I tried to sound nonchalant but I was disappointed. I thought Maggie would want to make fun of Debbie with me—to make it part of our thing together. I mean come on, Debbie was a Double Double from Sarnia! But here Maggie was, all liking Debbie, thinking it’s okay that she was, ostensibly, officially hot. 

Men came for Debbie alone and in pairs, shyly and boldly, helpless with lust and made proud and confused and angry by it. They wore good suits and cheap suits and other Food Building uniforms and shalwar kameez and military uniforms and JNCO pants that swayed demurely like Victorian hoop skirts. They came with poems (twice) and flowers (once), but most often, they came with offerings from elsewhere in the food court—clouds of cotton candy and funnel cakes piled so high with whipped cream and syrup the paper plates sagged in the middle. 

Every time a man brought Debbie food, she’d smile sweetly and then spend the rest of her shift eating it from her perch behind the cash register, despite this being explicitly against Food Building policy. I watched her out of the corner of my eye as I toasted waffles, cut up ice cream, and assembled ice cream waffle sandwiches. Right before she left for break, she’d turn her back to the cash and do this rapid, efficient ritual of sexing herself up. First, she’d retie her uniform shirt to expose the maximum amount of cleavage and belly and then she’d do a big fluff-n-toss of her thin, eighties-permed hair. Finally, she’d launch herself out on the food court to gather up the day’s fresh bounty of men.

It should have been a relief to have even a fifteen-minute break from Debbie, but instead it just meant I heard about her even more. If Debbie was not in the booth, I had to answer a million questions from panting men about where Debbie was and why she went away and when she would be back. They never asked for my name or said goodbye or apologized for acting like jerks to me. I realized that to men, I wasn’t just Not Hot, I was something worse—I was Not Debbie. One afternoon, I was alone in the booth and I saw an eager-faced young lad marching confidently toward me, striding toward his own bright future. When he saw me there, it was like I had popped the shiny bubble of his soul.  “Oh my god!” he said. “What happened to Debbie?”

Another thing I didn’t like about Debbie, I silently fumed as I sliced blocks of ice cream in a manner that would eventually require physiotherapy, was that she too seemed to hardly realize I existed at all.

“The way to think about Debbie,” Maggie said as she stuffed plain bread into her mouth, “is like she’s Gloria in The Beautiful and Damned.” 

My mouth fell open; I wanted to cry. This was the latest book we’d read together. I couldn’t believe she would mar it—mar us—with Debbie.

“Oh my god!” I said. “But Gloria was hot!”

“I don’t think she’s supposed to be, like, perfect,” Maggie said diplomatically. “It’s more like she has this power. A sexual power.”

“But Debbie isn’t hot at all!” I protested. “She isn’t even hot enough to work at the Ex!”

Maggie shrugged, and I looked down at the ground. I realized that all day, Maggie and I had been doing different things with our bodies, absorbing different insults from different customers, smelling different Food Building smells. 

Was it different being hot if you were Maggie? Her parents were more than just hot, after all. They weren’t rich, but they had famous friends and were sometimes in the papers. My mom’s heyday had been that perfume gig at Simpsons. As we sat on the stoop outside the Food Building, I felt these distinctions pile up, adding to the silence between us, the new distance.

Then our lunch was over.

Back at the booth, though, Debbie was gone. The cash register was locked and I didn’t have the key. There were dozens of customers now, and a rush was developing. The Food Building suddenly felt less Victorian than Gothic, shadows spreading down the arcs of the vaulted ceiling. The customers amassed, demanding waffles, now huffing steam from their nostrils and stomping like bison. The guy at the front of the line started pounding on the top of the counter. 

Then Debbie reappeared. “Sorry ‘bout that!” she chirped. The atmosphere brightened, the shadows receded. The man at the front of the line stopped pounding on the counter and glanced at Debbie’s advancing form, besotted. “I was just fucking Devon the ice guy. We did it in the back of his ice truck,” she told me, casually.  She then plucked the cash register keys out of her pocket and seamlessly transitioned back to taking orders, charming every person in the line.

Maggie had been right, I thought, as I fed waffle sheets into the toaster, a precise but excruciating movement that would recur in my dreams for many years to come. Debbie was like Gloria; she did have a power. She wasn’t hot, but she could make people behave as if she were hot, and honestly, that seemed a far more powerful magic. I knew that being hot could get you various things, like this job at the Ex, or the free Gravitron ride I’d take after my shift ended. But until now, I hadn’t understood how this lined up with sex, with desire. It didn’t, I realized—it actually didn’t line up at all. 

You didn’t need to be hot to be sexually powerful because sexual desire just didn’t play by the same rules as beauty. Hotness was an incremental, tangible, measurable thing. It had a clear market value: this amount of hot gets you this amount of power. But sexual desire? Fuck if I knew. Sexual desire seemed to have no rules at all. It came out of nowhere, for no apparent reason, and then it gave you the world.

About four days before the Ex ended for the year, a hinge on the deep freezer in the waffle booth broke overnight. Phil came by to check it out at the beginning of our shift. He hmmmed and squinted and jiggled the freezer lid, throwing it open over and over again to see how quickly it slammed back down. The seal was still working so the ice cream would be fine, he said. We’d have to work with it for now.

Before the bell, Debbie and I practiced a few times—throwing the freezer lid open, ducking in and picking up a brick of ice cream, and then darting back out before it slammed back down with decapitating force. Could I get in and out of the freezer without losing my head? I thought of it as a little game. It surprised me how fun I found it, just to have a new task, a new set of motions for my entire body. 

But then, just after bell, a pipe burst in the kitchen. The old women who worked back there started yelling at each other and I went back to look. The floor was filling with water and the black-haired youth with the wild eyes was running around, trying to scoop it with his cupped hands into a bucket. I realized our freezer was running from a plug in the kitchen and the cord was snaking through this water. Phil emerged to shoo me out of the kitchen.

“All right, all right,” he said. One of the old women was on the ground, fixing the broken pipe with a wrench. “Back to work.”

Back in the booth, Debbie was leaning back against the counter, eating a funnel cake with a zoned-out look in her eyes.

“I think we should get out of here,” I said. “There’s water everywhere in the kitchen and all our cords are running through it.”

“Oh that happened last year,” she shrugged. “It’s okay, the cords are insulated.” 

This was the moment that the misery of this job all came to a head for me, a big slapping realization that if hotness was currency, this trade was a scam. I went back to serving customers, but now I felt very political. I thought about how before Signora brushed my grandmother’s hair, she had been standing all day in a hot kitchen, scrubbing pots, her muscles tense and sore. Capitalism, I thought. In my heart, I devoted myself fully to Socialism and the plight of workers. 

After the first rush hour ended, I called out my fifteen-minute break before Debbie could and set out stridently onto the Exhibition grounds. I located a payphone and dialled my father. I knew he had worked a lot of shitty manual labour jobs and was also interested in Socialism. I plugged my free ear with a finger to drown out the churning sounds of the fairground rides and the screaming, stampeding crowds. 

“There is a broken freezer and cords running through inch-deep water!” I screamed into the receiver. I tried to tally it all—the twelve-hour days, the near-lack of breaks, the impossibility of eating, Debbie. My father, however, just sounded confused.

“Alexandra!” he shouted finally, cutting me off. “What kind of job is this?”

“It’s a food job,” I shouted. “It’s an ice cream waffle sandwich booth at the Ex.”

“And how old are you again?”

“Seventeen,” I reminded him.

“That’s what I thought,” he said. He paused, thoughtfully. 

“Is there anything I can do?”

“Sounds like you’re crew on a pirate ship. Think you could stick this one out?” 

Then, to my horror, he immediately launched into a little lecture about the farm job he had when he was seventeen, and how he eventually came to appreciate this job for the way it toughened his hands and soul. 

“I think you’ve gotta learn to get along with this other girl,” my father advised, in a paternal tone I’d never heard from him before and would never hear again even once. My sense of betrayal by him was abrupt and violent. 

My political mood ended. My socialism decreased, and a sense of pure pragmatism took over. The cords were insulated, I told myself. I was two days away from double-pay Labour Day. Hotness didn’t matter but money was still money, right? I made my way back to my booth, ready for more of Debbie and the guillotine freezer, newly resolved to take whatever they wanted to throw at me. But along the way, I saw something. 

An angel-faced guy I recognized from Buffalo Burgers was charging decisively out of the Food Building. He had just quit. “I will never ever again!” he shouted. He took off his ball cap and threw it on the ground, and then a few feet later, he wrestled his polo shirt off and threw that on the ground too. Now he was shirtless, and I saw the heartbreaking beauty of his young, sculpted torso, the hotness the uniform had obliterated. Then he disappeared into the crowd. 

I knew I’d never see this guy again, but that I would forever think of him when I considered the complicated seduction of being officially hot: how what makes you powerful can also be used against you, but sometimes, you can pick that power back up again and run. By the time I reached the Food Building, the hat and shirt were still where he’d left them, untouched. I imagined they might remain on the CNE grounds forever, a tribute to this small but significant moment.

The mood in the Food Building on Labour Day was like nothing I’d experienced before. There was so much excitement in the air, so much anticipation and celebration. Elsewhere on the grounds, a massive aircraft show was starting up, with motors and propellers running at an outrageous volume. From inside, it sounded like bombs were raining directly onto the building. This only added to the anarchic energy of the workers inside. It was like the last day on earth but everyone was really happy about it.

“I’m going to tell my last customer to fuck off, right to their face!” Maggie told me before bell. “What are they going to do, have me fired?”

I thought I might tell Debbie to fuck off, but when I entered my booth, she wasn’t there. Phil was. His girth filled the whole booth, so I had to sit on the broken freezer while he addressed me. “So Debbie won’t be in today,” he said. “It’s a long story but we’ll put someone else on cash for you.” Wait, I thought. What had happened with Debbie? This was confusing, as was Phil’s newly sympathetic, human tone. I sensed that I had been wronged, and that Phil felt sorry for me. But then, almost instantly, Phil left the booth, and Maggie reappeared in his wake. 

“Dude you are not going to believe this,” Maggie said, taking up her former place at the cash. “Debbie stole like $800 from the cash! She was doing it the whole time, while you were right beside her! Get this: she tried to blame it on you, but of course Phil didn’t believe her. I mean, it’s like Debbie, versus you. I think the ice guy was somehow involved.” 

Then she did something she’d never done before: she walked over to me and gave me a hug. It was a Labour Day Miracle.

As I prepared my station at the toaster, my mind went wild—imagining, revising. I remembered the day Debbie was late returning from break. I recalled the ice truck. I pictured Debbie and Devon rolling naked and laughing on a sheet of twenties spread on a block of ice while I was fumbling around our booth, panicked and clueless.

As the story of Debbie’s theft and my victimization rolled throughout the Food Building, I noticed workers in the other booths were looking at me with warmth and sadness but above all, interest. A hot guy from Buffalo Burgers nodded at me when he passed our booth and said “s’up” in a briney Newfoundland accent. I even got an expensive smile through the Orange Julius booth’s porthole. There was a power in being pitied, I now realized. The beauty was, this too came with perks. 

I felt so high I barely noticed the pain in my distorted torso as I dispensed ice cream waffle sandwiches across the counter. The crime scene in my mind changed again and again, my role evermore sympathetic, admirable. As I pictured Debbie and Devon making their escape, I forgave them over and over. Look at me in my polo shirt, I thought, waving at them, wishing them well. After all, Debbie’s theft had served me well, I thought. A stonery aspect of my personality was now taking over. 

Sexual power was indeed a chaotic and profound gift, I thought. Yes, Debbie had it and I did not. And maybe I was not even hot at all. But these were just two of many powers a person could have, powers that I was only just beginning to appreciate. Being wronged seemed to be one, being forgiving was maybe another. The woah part was that there was more ahead: more modes and attitudes and ways of being that were powerful too. How profound it felt to imagine these infinite powers, and how they’d manifest in various ways—deliberate or mysterious, on purpose or by accident, for and against me—for the rest of my life.

When the bell rang at 10 PM on Labour Day, it was truly victorious. Every worker in the building jumped and hugged each other; some kids actually cried. After collecting the paycheques with the double-pay Labour Day wages of our dreams, we thundered onto the grounds so hard we kicked up clouds of hay-laced dirt. The carnies were ready for us. At that moment, we were all Double Doubles, all Orange Julius girls, all Debbies, celebrating together. For one night we were all hot girls on a Gravitron, our spines sucked to the walls, weightless in a momentary freedom. ⁂

Alexandra Kimball is a journalist and non-fiction writer. Her first book, The Seed: Infertility is a Feminist Issue, was published in 2019 by Coach House Books. Her writing has been featured in the Walrus, the Globe and Mail and Toronto Life. She lives in Toronto, where she was born and raised.