Sofie Michaelson’s opinion: “On Believe Guy”

Continuist dame Sofie Michaelson is a 1st year journalism student at Ryerson. She writes a witty and intelligent blog, check it out! Read below on her thoughts on the infamous “believe guy”. Haven’t heard of him? Well, obviously you haven’t been in Toronto long enough.

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Walking through Yonge and Dundas is always a bit of a risk. You never know who or what you’re going to encounter, you never know exactly what is going to happen to you, and you never know who or what to expect. It’s also a bit terrifying to walk past Forever 21, because that corner, as all Torontonians know, is the roosting place of our (beloved?) Believe Guy.

Believe Guy has been there for an unknown amount of time, and comes to his corner sporadically. If you’re lucky, he’s not there. If you’re not, he’s creeping around quietly, waiting in silence for the right person to scare. Believe Guy’s victims usually don’t expect him to be there, which makes his tactic of creeping in by the stop light and yelling unexpectedly very effective when it comes to making people flinch.

I have been a victim of Believe Guy many times. Too many times. I wish he wasn’t there, but I also know that if he wasn’t, I’d have a handful of less decent-type stories to occasionally tell and the corner of Yonge and Dundas would be a lot less adventurous.

Despite Toronto’s well-known Batman, Spiderman, Black History Month sellers, the Eaton Centre pimps, and other random street performers, it is Believe Guy who I find to be most important in the creating of the Yonge and Dundas atmosphere.

Believe Guy might not always be there, but he is always in our hearts. Whenever we pass by Forever 21, we expect him to be there, and when he isn’t, we claim it is a success, when it is really a bitter disappointment we refuse to acknowledge, because he’s funny, and random, and often unnoticed until he screams at us to BELIEVE IN THE LORD!

We don’t know who Believe Guy is, how he got here, or where he came from. We don’t know where he goes, or when he decides to grace us with his presence. But we do know what he wants. And we know what he believes. And we know that, no matter what, Believe Guy will always show up outside of Forever 21 and scream at us to “BELIEVE!” We know what he wants. We know what he believes. And perhaps that’s all we really need to know. Believe Guy believes, and that’s his gimmick. He makes people flinch and yells unexpectedly. But he always yells the same thing, and he’s always in the same place, so I guess that’s some kind of dedication.

I like to think that Believe Guy is a sort of shining beacon of hope for us Torontonians, commuters, students, shoppers. When he’s there yelling, we whisper and laugh at the people who jump, and we’re glad he isn’t there. For that time, he represents what we don’t want to be: crazy, publicly humiliated, or both.

But when he’s not there, we miss out on the laughter whenever somebody gets frightened by his yells, and the corner of Yonge and Dundas by Forever 21 seems cold and lonely as we wait for the light to change.

Where would we be without Believe Guy? Would be still be the same walkers who go through Yonge and Dundas semi-cautiously, always a little bit aware of who or what might jump out at us next? Or would we be a little less self-certain, a little less hopeful, a little more apathetic towards life?

When Believe Guy’s not there, I’m disappointed. I don’t know where he goes. I don’t know when he will come back. But I know that when he is there, while I don’t appreciate the startling yells, I do enjoy his precense as Toronto Believe Guy, because we all know him, we all know who he is, and it makes Yonge and Dundas a little more personal, a little more of a relatable, story-telling, risky experience.

I don’t believe in the lord. But I believe in Believe Guy. Because he is real. He doesn’t change. He’s always going to believe in the lord, and he’s always going to want to save us and teach us to believe in the lord as well. Sure, he’s scary and random and at best he’s crazy, but he doesn’t mean to frighten us or make us flinch. He wants us to know there is hope. There is a lord for him. There is reason for everything. He picked Forever 21 as his nest, and there he will always stay.

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