I Pretty Much Had Brunch With Claire Danes

Look, I’m from Toronto. Our most exciting celebrity sightings are spotting the host of the national evening news in line at the Starbucks or else a slight whiff of Brangelina when they swoop in for .25 of a day during our film festival and talk about how “clean” the city is. It’s nice, in a way, because living in a Hollywood-star dead-zone means that when a lady is out on the town, there’s never much need for her to scan a room on the lookout for Sarah Jessica Parker or Woody Allen or Snookie. At least, not the way I do when I’m in New York. Instead, I just get my fill of Jennifer Lopez candid shots from regularly scheduled readings of US Weekly, or else occasionally fall onto Perez Hilton from an errant bit.ly’d Twitter link, and then the rhythm of my unglamorous Toronto life resumes with gusto.

This past weekend I sat down at a particularly adorable local diner in the “Upper Annex.” The area is the neighborhood equivalent of a funky quilt your not-so-good-with-attention-to-details friend made for you: warm but with odd patches of hideous fun-fur here and there; it’s cozy, it’s familiar, it’s a little bit weird. There’s a bizzaro nouveau unfinished “castle” on the hill looming just above the Upper Annex. It winks its puckish Edwardian-ness at the pizza take-out joints and convenience stores below.

The diner I mentioned is not one of those greasy spoons you might find further downtown. It has more of a homey sense. They make their own sausages with local organic blah blah whatevers and serve only farm fresh eggs. There are giant home-made sticky buns and good coffee. It’s the kind of place I put on lipstick to go to—but a subtle shade, like dusty rose, or something that sounds more stylish than that but still looks, essentially, like dusty rose.

I was meeting with my lady friends, as one of our group was visiting from out of town. I’d been looking forward to this brunch all week, fantasizing about it in much time I should have spent doing productive things like submitting health claims to my insurance or writing War & Peace 2: Electric Russialoo. And now here we were! And as Erin, my out-o-town friend, walked in and joined myself and my other two lady-peeps, the rest of the world vanished and we were thick into our cloud of ridiculousness and chatter. I’m sure everyone else in the restaurant was quite irritated by how loud we were laughing (Okay, I was laughing…), but I didn’t really care. It was all I could do to appreciate the amerrrrrzing home-made sausage, so caught up was I in my group’s pleasant hysteria.

But then I looked up from one chomp of (surprisingly delicious) toast and saw a fellow walking towards the diner door that reminded me, like, A LOT, of Hugh Dancy. The previous day, the previous DAY, I tell you, I had finished watching an awesome 2002 BBC adaptation of a George Eliot novel that he starred in, called Daniel Deronda. And I thought, “Wow, that man looks a lot like Daniel Deronda, but older. But it can’t be Daniel Deronda… I am in Toronto. Is he maybe an actor I sort of recognize from in a local theatre company or a Tim Horton’s commercial? Is he maybe a barista at the Starbucks near my house– is that why he looks familiar?”

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    • Sean

      I’m in Toronto at the lower edge of the Annex (St. George and Bloor). What restaurant were you at? Sounds nice…I wouldn’t mind checking it out.