Friday, June 28, 2013

Continued Contemplations Of The Apocalypse



Continued Contemplations Of The Apocalypse

when Mother Earth
slams down the lid of her steamer trunk
and throws a few leftover bras and panties
in her Adidas carry-on bag
when she stubs out her last cigarette
and farts one long one followed by a short snuffer
as she hurries on her way to the front door
where the Armageddon Taxi Company driver
is waiting somewhat impatiently
when she leaves without so much as closing the front door
i'll still be here waiting for your call

when your nerves are shattered
like ice cubes in a glass cracking under the bubbly
foam of a diet Coke
when your eyes twitch and your lips flick
like eddies in a stormy sea
and your hands shake so bad
that you don't think you can really hold on
to life for even a second longer
no matter how hard you try
when you simply can't grab on to what was or is or might be
i'll still be here waiting for your call

when the air raid sirens break out
of the age of rust and spin
a cacophony of fear over the neighbourhood
when the dogs wake from the sleep
of the endless summer's heat
to join the choir and howl in harmony
and you begin to hear trumpets over the chaos of noise
trumpets and the roar of some golden chariot
swinging low and sweetly
when it swoops down your way no matter how unexpectedly
i'll still be here waiting for your call

when the souls of the dead rise from their graves
in exquisite clothes and the frilly finery
that someone thought was best for travelling
underground on the way to journey's end
and when they shimmy and shake up and down
like marionettes on such an unsteady stage
and for the life of you or maybe for the death of you
you find yourself shuffling your feet so heavy with clay
and begin obscenely thrusting your hips back and forth
in some bizarre rendition of dirty dancing
when you grind on some unsuspecting zombie and groan your way to paradise
i'll still be waiting for your call


© Copyright, Kennedy James. All rights reserved.
 







 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Chip 'N' Dip



Is it the quality of the chip that makes the dip, or is it the quality of the dip that makes the chip?
 







 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Parable



Parable


I met an old man along the road. He was carrying a heavy bundle on his back and was so stooped over from the weight of it that he could barely take a step forward.

I said to him, "Old man, let me lighten your load. Let me carry your bundle for you."

He looked at me with wise and clear eyes and said, "If you carry this burden for me, how will I know that I am still alive?"

© Copyright, Kennedy James. All rights reserved.
 







 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Under Water




Under Water


The air disappears and I am underwater. I do not belong here, in this wet world of algea and minnowy ghosts, this my most unnatural element, this coffin of myriad bubbles encasing my body. Yet, I am here, and the sensation is one of dying and living in a moment, my breath held tight in my lungs, my vision blurred by the crash of water, and for a short few seconds, I know I have abandoned life, abandoned all the landscapes I have known, abandoned my existence in the sun, abandoned my friends and lovers and the stand-close-by-waiting family. I have abandoned you, and your caring heart.

The light from above drops like long crystals around me. I wait, knowing the moment is soon to come, that split second of decision. My breath rushes from me in packets of bubbles, and I watch it rush to the surface. I think to myself that is the way of life, always a letting go of what you need to sustain you most, letting go of youth, friendship, family, and even love. No one knows the depths of those moments, only you.

My body cools to a shiver. It cannot or will not adapt to life underwater, and I feel the weight of oceans begin to bear down on me, ready to crush me in the instant I concede defeat or relinquish hope — I can never tell the difference. It has always been so. Life is hard, and the tides of change come and go. Your body falters in the waves. Your arms tire from the swim. Your soul tires from the heartache.

The last of my breath is gone, and still my body releases tiny pristine bubbles, the final vestiges of life-sustaining air escaping through my skin and popping like a question all around me. Live or die? Surface and live in the world of air I share with empty rooms or drown here in the unforgiving loneliness of life underwater? More uncertain as the surface seconds tick by, I watch the water as it clears and calms, watch it accepting my place here if I want it, accepting this flesh without judgement, accepting and yet already preparing the process of bloating my body and floating it to the shoreline with the other morning debris. Every fibre of my being screams out to me. One action, one mere kick of my feet, and I will rise to the surface. Only inaction drowns me, and it is then that I realise that it has always been my inaction that has crushed so many of my hopes, my beliefs and my dreams in the surface world.

Stasis is death. My eyes widen, my feet kick, and I rise out of the water, furiously breaking well above its surface, where I gasp in the wonder of being alive.


© Copyright, Kennedy James. All rights reserved.
 






 

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Going Down



Going Down

Elevators are funny places. Usually, the ride down from the top of the world to ground level is a solo mission. Other times, a stranger or two will hop on from the lower floors.

I've discovered that, for the most part, little if anything of substance is said between people in an elevator. The weather might be mentioned.

"Nice day out there ..."

"Fabulous."

"But pretty hot for this time of year."

"Yes, maybe too hot."

"Heckuva lot better than winter."

"Much better."

Some things are never mentioned in the polite world of the elevator. No one ever uses profanity. I mean, no one ever says, "I'm so fucked up today." That kind of colourful self-diagnosis would be crossing some imaginary line of good taste, I guess.

Other words are taboo in such polite company as well. Proper elevator etiquette forbids pretty much anything that deals with bodily functions. For example, no one uses the word, "masturbate." If, as everyone watches the red numbers on the elevator's control panel count down to the lobby, some young man or woman at the back of the elevator suddenly groaned, "I so need to masturbate," well, eyebrows would rise back up to the fifteenth floor, and some riders might fall into an irrepressible twitter, or tweet, or whatever the word is now.

The same is true for such perfectly good words like "fellatio" or "cunnilingus." Nobody uses those words, certainly not in an elevator, and usually not in any context at all.

I mean, you don't say to your significant other during, say, the heat of an argument, "Oh, please, just give me a fellatio." You might say, "Blow me," but never "Fellate me."

The same is true of "cunnilingus," truly a very strange word, because just saying it kind of twists your tongue into knots. Again, who says, "Please, how about a quick cunnilingus?" More than likely, the phrase would simply be, "Eat me."

Of course, the elevator is not the only place where polite language has a foothold. Some of you will be squirming in your knotty underwear just from reading such words as "masturbate," "fellatio," or "cunnilingus." Even typing them was a bit of a challenge, but I do so only to help free our language from languishing in the Land of Nospeak, where some words dangle unspoken, seemingly forever, like forbidden fruit hanging, ever so temptingly, from the Tree of Knowledge.

Once in a while, you have take a bite out of good taste.

Just don't bite too hard.

And never in an elevator, FFS.

© Copyright, Kennedy James. All rights reserved.
 







 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Sweet-Lover-Man


Sweet-Lover-Man

My long time love affair is over. Ended. Done. Kaput. Exit stage left. See ya, wouldn't want to be ya.

For as long as I can remember, I have been coddled and comforted by ice cream, and for all the joy it brought me, I have reciprocated by offering it my undying love in return.

No more. No more secret rendezvous in the middle of the night along Rocky Road. No more swooning for the taste of Heavenly Hash caressing my lips. No more morning dances with Butterscotch Swirl. No more jungle fantasies in bed with Chunky Monkey. All those wild and wonderful indiscretions have been banana-split from me forever, and have become just empty waffle cones, remnant memories of all the sweet delights of a life entwined within the allure of that oh so seductive, frozen dessert.

A lost love brings great remorse, I suppose. I know there will be moments when I will remember the chocolate dip of a Dairy Queen cone with great fondness, my resolve to move on mixed with my confused desire to lick indiscreetly again. I did not want this love of my life to end with so much drama, but I suspect there is no easy way out of love. All you can do is to make a stand, draw a line in the sand, and remain resolute. Sometimes, the thing you love most is what is most harmful to you.

And ice cream, for all its cool delight, has had its way with me for long enough. No more. No more syrupy nights walking along the beach or spooning in front of an open fire in the château. No, enough. No more.

Time. As time goes by, I will find acceptance. The memories will drop away, like cellulite goop disappearing from my butt. As time goes by, I may be less of a man, but so much more of a man. I will learn to breathe again without the sensation of choking under some caloric conundrum racing through my veins and clogging my arteries.

Life will go on, possibly much longer, without this lost love. Still, the hurt is fresh, and I can't honestly say that I won't be sad, possibly for some time to come. I will find a new love. I always have. Something kinder and gentler for my heart to embrace. In fact, I have already noticed the soft, pouting buds of broccoli calling to me from the other end of the grocery store.

I am hopeful. I believe in fresh and new beginnings.

Wait. Wait! What's this? Giant bags of M&M's here in a bin? And on sale? All those vibrant and colourful candy coatings wrapped tightly around a soft chocolate centre are calling to me. "Eat me," they groan, "c'mon, big boy, eat me."

What's a sweet-lover-man to do? Yes, yes, come home with me my little darlings. We will stain the bedsheets with a rainbow of delight, and though the morning finds me full of shame and guilt, I will have my fill of you, if only for tonight ...




© Copyright, Kennedy James. All rights reserved.
 



 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Downside Up — Five Days Deluxe Accommodation At The Hôtel Depression



Downside Up — Five Days Deluxe Accommodation At The Hôtel Depression

I'm considering going into a depression.

I need some sleep, and apparently when you are depressed you sleep quite a bit.

I'm thinking maybe I could just turn on the television, lie on my couch with an oh-so-cuddly comforter, and crash in front of the old-time movies channel. Why the old-times movie channel? Well, that way I wouldn't feel like I was missing something, because I've seen almost all the movies they run, except the Chuck Norris movies, which I refuse to watch, simply as a matter of good taste.

Do you eat more when you are depressed? You see, I don't eat much these days. I like little snacks, but I never eat the BIG meal, and I refuse to follow the brainwashing we had as kids to eat certain foods at breakfast, other foods at lunch, and some whopping big hunk of whatever at dinner. On any given day, I might eat a bit of steak or fish for "breakfast" and a bowl of cereal for "dinner."

I suspect flopping into a good depression will mean that I will have to change all that. A dozen doughnuts usually goes a long ways, but hey, I am not adverse to downing one crueller after another, until the sugary pastry sends my mind reeling into a kind of dizzy unconsciousness.

I don't suppose you can be depressed without a good case of the blues and a tendency to roll around in the mud of self-pity. I have no blues these days. Life is good, but I suppose that I could certainly find something in my life to whip into some form of self-pity. I'm sure that I can find something to blame my parents for.

I wonder, though, if I really get into this depression gig, whether I will end up flipping from the old-time movies channel and start cruising my cable package to watch the likes of such shows as The View, The Talk, Dr Phil, Oprah reruns, or some such show that seems hell-bent on reinforcing the dark side of daylight for every depressed homebody? Will I end up thinking that infomercials or The Shopping Channel are the essence of prime time viewing?

Will I start looking for some kind of self-help on the Internet or begin reading those ridiculous books that pretend to have the answer to all of life's little problems?

Will I only sing Leonard Cohen songs in the shower?

Will I even bother to shower?

Perhaps, I should give all this depression stuff more thought. I would hate the idea of my son or daughter coming by, shoving Prozac in my mouth, holding my lips closed, and rubbing my neck until I swallow. After all, once people think you're depressed, then apparently you're locked into that stereotype for the rest of your life. People don't seem to be able to think of depression as a disease that can be cured. It's sort of like the way we treat alcoholics. Once you are one, you will always be one.

What nonsense we live.

We need to turn our thinking upside down.

© Copyright, Kennedy James. All rights reserved.
 





 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Polaroid Girl




Polaroid Girl


your body
clings to me
like ivy finding its way
in serpentine patterns
over the cracks
and crevices of
an antique brick wall
and i still remember
the way you turned
your face away
even as you pushed
your naked breasts
into sharp focus
when you first became
my Polaroid girl

you watched and giggled
when i fumbled to find
the perfect angle
to capture
the passionate collision
of Venus and Mars
my finger snapping the shutter
and igniting a sudden flash of light
that made me flinch
"Quit moving," you cautioned
"Or you'll just get a blur"
and how could i not
instantly watch my love develop
there with you
my Polaroid girl

the years run past
like shadows overlapping
sunny daisies
and somewhere in a shoe box
or beneath the underwear
in my drawer
a younger woman
with a body serene
(although slightly tinted bluish green)
lingers in my memory
the you in you
who discovered that the freedom to be
exists far beyond
the clunky white borders surrounding
my Polaroid girl
 






 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Life Is Simple



Life Is Simple


Life is simple.

You're born, you eat, you sleep, you grow into what looks more or less like a human being, and eventually you die.

I can't say that it's a quick gig or that it's a long journey through the years. It's a just parcel of time that finds you bobbing and weaving your way through all kinds of situations, some enriching, some pleasurable, some enlightening, and in other moments, some demeaning, some painful, some confusing.

Sometimes you get what you want, and other times you get what you really didn't want.

Sometimes, when people ask, you say that you are happy, and other times, people know better than to ask, because they realise you've never been unhappier.

Sometimes you fall in love, and other times, you swear you'll never fall in love again.

There is no real rhyme or reason to the way things start or the way things turn out. You takes your chances, roll the dice, and sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.

There are no guarantees that what is true today is what will be true tomorrow. Life simply has no warranty that promises to make things right when the frazzle valve in the engine driving your experience unexpectedly conks out. If you need a new frazzle valve, you have to find one somewhere, somehow. You're more or less on your own, baby.

And still, life is simple.

Except we complicate it because, for whatever reason, we hate simplicity. So we overthink the obvious.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that we should aspire to the life of a goldfish, whose singular problem seems to be that it bumps its nose against the sides of its glass bowl. Obviously, we were born for more than a recurring bruised nose. And yet, each of us is similar to the goldfish in trying to stick one's nose where it doesn't belong.

What the goldfish doesn't get is that, beyond the glass, is an instantaneous death.

What we don't get is that, beyond our simple lives, is a world of confusion and hurt.

When you go looking for a full life outside of yourself, when the key to happiness depends on someone else, you are likely to be disappointed when that other person fails to meet your expectations of him or her. Like the poor goldfish, you bump and bump your way through all kinds of relationships, and instead of suffering from that recurring bruised nose, you suffer from a seemingly incurable bruised ego.

No, like life, happiness is simple. Strip off all the cares and woes of the people you know, free yourself from all their expectations of you and all your real or imagined obligations to them, and you will likely find that you are happy, or at least, happy enough.

When all is said and done, only you have the power to be happy. Someone else can't give it to you. Someone else can't complete you as a human being, and you can't complete another person as a human being. Thinking otherwise is a sure sign that you suffer from megalomania and have gone completely insane.

Now, you're going to say that one can't live in isolation and expect to be happy. You're right. We are communal entities. We like to have other people around — friends, lovers, family, and the like. I'd be the last to suggest that you close your door and hide in the catacombs of yourself. Nope, swing that door wide open, and let whoever you want in. Just remember that they are present in your life because you want them there, and since it was your choice to let them in, it can also be your choice to ask them to leave. Should they decide to leave on their own account, then it's equally important to let them go as well.

The life you control is your own, no one else's.

Simple, see?
 






Sunday, June 09, 2013

Bus Riders



Click to stop the bus ... you must be getting off.


Bus Riders


Down on the street, the school children line up in a perfect 1-2-3 queue, each one standing close to the one in front of him or her, as the entire group waits by the curb. They wait for twenty minutes or so, and as that time drifts by, the line gets just a little longer. The sleepyheads and stragglers show up with milk moustaches or runny noses a little later than the more enthusiastic ones. Before long, a big yellow bus turns the corner, and pulls up slowly to where the children wait. Red caution lights on the front of the bus flash in the dull morning light, and the line of young students disappears. In the next moment, the bus pulls away, and the street returns to a quiet, somewhat uninteresting suburban boulevard.

I'm not sure why I'm writing about this on such a chilly June morning. I'm never sure why I love to watch this scene play out day after day, except for on the weekends. I suppose there is something comforting in routines. I am not usually a man who loves routine.

Still, there is something about that line of children that always makes me curiously uneasy.

We all line up for things in life. We line up at the check-out in the grocery store, we line up to buy tickets for a movie or a concert, we line up in the bank, we line up at the airport, we line up at a fast-food restaurant, we line up in our cars as we wait for a red light to turn green.

So much of our lives is spent waiting.

Now, maybe it goes without saying that some of us are better at living in a queue than others. Some of us are more patient, more at ease with the fact that waiting in line has an end to it and that, sooner or later, you will get what you want or to where you want to go.

Still, what if you have been waiting for something for such a long time that it seems like the waiting will never end.

People close to you will preach, "Patience, patience, patience ... soon you'll get married again ... soon you'll get over your financial woes ... soon you'll be happy ..."

Yes, soon ... soon that bus will arrive and take you to where you need to go.

Really?

Is waiting patiently all we need to do?

Maybe, we're confusing "patience" with insecurity. It takes some courage to "seize the day," to get out there and chance it all on red or black, success or failure.

Win some, lose some — that's simply the cost of being really alive.

You see, I suspect that there is an obligation on our part to make things happen. I suspect that rather than just wait for the bus, you might want to steal the bus and immediately head out to where you want to go.

What's that? It's illegal to steal a bus? You don't have a clue how to drive a bus? You're worried that the bus is going to knock you over and crush you dead right there in the street?

Excuses, excuses.

OK, I don't mean that you should literally steal a bus. My point is that, in terms of living life to the fullest, either you're ready or not. Decide.

One thing is for sure ... life is not out on a street curb somewhere and waiting in a queue for you.
 





 

Saturday, June 08, 2013

And The Dish Ran Away With The Spoon ...




One of the great mysteries of life is where the spoons go ...

Is it just me, or have you noticed that the spoons in the cutlery drawer, especially the teaspoons, tend to disappear?

Forks and knives ... they hang around seemingly forever.

But the spoons ... where the heck do they get to?


© Copyright, Kennedy James. All rights reserved.

 






 

Friday, June 07, 2013

Love And Like







Love And Like


I've been wondering lately whether the words, "I love you," also embody the assertion, "I like you" ?

I mean I wonder if you can love someone without really liking him or her?

It sounds odd, I know, but I have seen couples who are married and swear they are in love, but who also seem to have an obvious dislike for the habits and interests of one another.

He likes watching sports on television, and she is in another room reading something like 50 Shades of Grey, while wondering what it would be like to be spanked by Johnny Depp.

She likes to spend Saturday in the mall, shopping for this or that, and he sits outside the stores on the park bench looking like the world is about to end.

He enrols little Johnny in hockey school, and she thinks that little Johnny's time would be better spent taking piano lessons.

Nothing seems to jive between the two, and yet, when the kids have gone to bed, there comes a moment when he looks across the kitchen table at her and suddenly each feels a love for the other.

Maybe it's true that opposites attract. Maybe the fuse to passion is in the differences more than in the similarities. Maybe love is not about "liking" someone at all.

I like my friends, but I wouldn't say I "love" them in the way I love a special woman.

If I turn that around, I wonder if I "like" that special woman in the way I like my friends?

Maybe not. Maybe my feelings for her have somehow left the "liking" scenario behind.

All a bit confusing, but God help me if, after a romantic interlude at 3:00 am, she says to me, "I love you," and I respond with "And I like you too ..."

© Copyright, Kennedy James. All rights reserved.


 




 

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Row A Boat




Row A Boat


I think that I will row a boat across the sea. I’ll embark from the eastern shores of Canada and navigate, as best as I can, by the night stars toward the beaches of Portugal. I suppose that it will be a long and perilous journey. The Atlantic can be so stormy at the best of times. Still, some journeys must be undertaken, despite one’s fears. And rowing a boat across a stormy sea seems simpler than the alternative.

I think that I will row a boat across the sea. I’ll need to take a few things with me — some food and some water, some sunscreen and shark repellent, maybe a book to read when I’m tired of rowing, a blanket in case the nights are cold, a telescope or a kaleidoscope or maybe both, a toothbrush and some soap, maybe a compass, maybe a wooden flute, maybe some paper and a pen to keep a journal of my adventures.

I think that I will row a boat across the sea. My children think it’s odd that I have chosen to leave after living so many years this far inland. My son said just the other day, “The beaches of Portugal are stony and will hurt your feet.” He remembers being there with me once, but does not offer to join me now. My daughter has never been there, and thinks it odd that I would go alone, but she thinks most of what I say or do is odd. Perhaps, you think it’s silly too.

I think that I will row a boat across the sea. I suppose that there is a chance that I may be swallowed by a whale, but I hope not. I hate detours, and a whirlwind ride to the bottom of the ocean really doesn’t fit into my itinerary. If, like Jonah in the Bible or Geppetto in the story of Pinocchio, I do end up in the belly of the world’s largest mammal, I sincerely hope that a breeze will cause a sneeze, and I get spit back to the surface with my dignity and most of my possessions more or less intact.

I think that I will row a boat across the sea. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining about where I live today. I’m not real unhappy or feeling blue. I’m not running away from anyone or anything. It’s just that life sometimes asks for an adventure, and in my dreams, I can hear some soft serenade drifting over me from distant shores. I admit that I never get the meaning or the intent of dreams, but I think I’ll know more when I get to where I have to go.

I think that I will row a boat across the sea. What’s that? Well, yes, I would be happy to get you a souvenir, but you see, I'm leaving for a reason, and I don’t think that I’ll be coming back.


© Copyright, Kennedy James. All rights reserved.
 




 

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

You're Only As Pretty As You Feel




If you talked to your friends the way you talk to your body, you'd have no friends left.
— Marcia Hutchinson



You're Only As Pretty As You Feel


Body image. What a drag ...

I'm always amazed at how our young girls, and our young boys too, have to cope with this unreal ideal of body image that the media pumps out at them.

Well, it's not only young people who suffer. It seems everyone under the age of 90 is obsessed with somehow maintaining a "perfect" figure.

To be honest, I can't think of any one other thing that bothers people more, or that preoccupies more of their time.

We are who we are, and I must tell you, we are all a little imperfect, here or there ... but so what?

It's the imperfections that make you unique.

It's the imperfections that make you beautiful.


© Copyright, Kennedy James. All rights reserved.
 






 

Monday, June 03, 2013

Music Is Love




Music Is Love


Peanut butter and jam. Movies and popcorn. Strawberries and whipped cream. Chips and dip. Wine and cheese. Bogey and Bacall. Brad and Angelina. Green eggs and ham.

It's funny how some things just naturally go together.

Take music and love, for example.

It seems to me that every couple who has a loving and lasting relationship also has that "special song" that somehow becomes an anthem for their connection to one another.

Sometimes it's a song that they may have heard on their first date, and sometimes it's a song that speaks to the special feelings each has for the other.

Usually, it is not a song like "Purple Haze" by Jimi Hendrix, or "The End" by The Doors. More often than not, it's a little more melodic in tempo and has a more romantic drift in its lyrics.

Over the years, I've had a few relationship songs. Let's see, there was The Righteous Brothers' "Unchained Melody," Elton John's "Your Song," Billy Joel's "Only A Woman," James Blunt's "Beautiful," and Snow Patrol's "Chasing Cars," just to name a few.

The surprising thing is that, when the relationship ends, you don't necessarily start to hate the song that was an intricate part of the emotions you shared with that special someone. From my short list, only Elton John's "Your Song" is strictly taboo — with good reason, trust me.

I have never used the same song for two different relationships. I suppose that is a possibility, but clearly a case of bad taste.

Lately, I have a special affection for Neil Young's "Harvest Moon."

The top ten relationship songs, as picked by members of Facebook, are:


Hmm ... I have suddenly realised how out of touch I am with the new generation. The only song that I recognise in the list is Christina Perri's "A Thousand Years." After a quick survey of the others, I'm sitting here shaking my head.

Well, you get older, I guess, and music changes over the years, but the one thing that doesn't seem to change is that love invites the presence of music and music responds by helping to define love.

What song do you best remember as your special "love song"?

© Copyright, Kennedy James. All rights reserved.
 




 

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Driving Miss Daisy



Driving Miss Daisy

When Miss Daisy came north for a holiday to the just slightly sub-Arctic paradise of Canada, I'm not sure she knew what to expect.

For most people who live in the southern palisades of the mighty USA, Canada seems about as remote as Tibet, and maybe a little more so, since we don't have a Dali Lama trapsing around the world on a meal ticket paid for by the unsuspecting hordes who believe that the said Mr Lama has something to offer, when in fact the Dali Lama is about as significant as the Dolly Parton, and far less interesting to look at.

Most folks below the 49th parallel either have no idea where Canada is or think of Canada as a land of ice and snow, Eskimos and dog sleds, beavers and white seal pups with mournful eyes, and heapings of bacon drowning in maple syrup with a side order of beer.

OK, much of that is true. Much of Canada really is a land of ice and snow, Eskimos and dog sleds, beavers and white seal pups with mournful eyes, bacon and beer, but at this time of year, the most you will be able to find while visiting where I live is the bacon and the beer. Both are quite tasty, I assure you.

When Miss Daisy landed in Toronto, she found herself in the fourth largest city in all of North America, a city of over 2.5 million people, many of them without turbans, living in a vast and towering modern megalopolis of brick and steel.

Of course, I'm not sure any but one of those over 2.5 million people mattered to her when Miss Daisy's feet first stumbled onto Canadian asphalt and concrete. What she was apparently looking for was a good driver, and who better than me, although I must confess that my skin is a tad paler than that of Morgan Freeman, the actor who played Hoke Colburn, the driver in the movie, Driving Miss Daisy, the title I have unabashedly shoplifted for this blog entry.

In Toronto, you drive or you perish. The city is a labyrinth of freeways and noways, and unless one wants to remain sequestered for an entire vacation in a luxurious third-floor suite at the Hilton, well, a tourist like Miss Daisy needs transportation. Although I may not drive an air-conditioned stretch limousine, hey, I get around.

So, for a free meal or two and for a kind word or three, I drove Miss Daisy hither and yon. We managed to see the underbelly of this huge city, skipped out of town to Niagara Falls, lost 20 Canadian dollars at a casino, dropped a few more Canadian dollars on the ponies at the racetrack, had fabulous seats at a Blue Jays baseball game in Toronto's famous Skydome (now advertised as the Rogers Centre), shopped at three different mega-malls, learned all about the merchandise in Target department stores (new to Canadian culture), spent a morning watching the boats by the serene, aquamarine waters of Lake Ontario, looked up (way, way up) to see people hanging off the CN Tower, and we even got thrown out of a McDonald's drive-thru for being indecisive about what to order. I know, I know ... like, who doesn't know what to order when they hit the McDonald's drive-thru, eh?

Yes, we got lost once. My fault, entirely. At some point, while trying to listen to Miss Daisy drift on about this or that, and on definitely the hottest days of Miss Daisy's stay, I zigged when I should have zagged, and we ended up in the cargo pick-up area of the airport. Gruesome looking custom agents watched us zoom around shipping containers full of Columbian coffee and hashish, and at any moment, I half-expected to be stopped by Homeland Security officers, strip-searched and made to feel less than human. Past experience has taught me that such is the Armerican way. Fortunately, we were in Canada, so no Homeland Security, just our "Home and Native Land" Security comprised of two attack Cocker Spaniels being walked on a leash by a wisp of a red-headed girl with freckles.

In between the hurly-burly of driving this way and that, there were quieter moments as well — time spent dining in the luxurious Hilton restaurant, evening cribbage matches, hours of interesting conversation, intervals of pure escape while watching a movie or two — all punctuated by the ease of sharing another person's company. Being together never felt quite so together.

All good things come to an end, I guess, and before we knew it, it was time to pack Miss Daisy back on an aeroplane and ship her home with a suitcase of souvenirs and hopefully some wonderful memories.

As for me, well life seems a bit quieter now. It's funny how a visitor from another place can elevate your attention to how great it is to be alive. Let's face it. A life alone is a life alone. Sure, you can surround yourself with friends, kids, and grandkids, but sometimes that special someone makes the hours of every day more special.

Sharing all the twists and turns, through all the streets and back alleys, of my life reminded me that there is still so much more to see and do, so much more to experience and yet somehow less and less time in which to do it.

How we sometimes waste or postpone life drives me crazy, but I won't soon forget the all the great adventures that I had while Driving Miss Daisy.




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