Friday, July 31, 2015

On Vacation

On Vacation

Oh, a little fun in the sun, and then a little more fun in the sun.

Yes, it's that time of year again. I'm off for a short vacation.

While I'm away, my good friend, da'Shade, will be keeping you company.

I'll see y'all soon enough.

Be good ...



Thursday, July 30, 2015

Remembering Mr Witowski . . . Or How I Learned The Art Of Bowling

Remembering Mr Witowski . . . Or How I Learned The Art Of Bowling

Thaddeus Edward "Ted" Witowski passed away on September 9, 2014. You can read more about him in his obit at The Winnipeg Free Press.

Mr Witowski was my Grade 9 French teacher in a suburban school in Winnipeg. He was undoubtedly the most feared teacher in the building, big in stature, with a bloodcurdling voice, and a maniacal look in his eyes. He ran his classroom with an iron fist. There was no time for any kind of frivolity or “goofing off.” Every minute of every class was intense. You were either listening to him or studying silently at your desk.

Those days, I had a giant chip on my shoulder. The counselors would always tell my mother that I was too smart too fast, and so I guess I acted out because I was bored with the mediocre information that schools would provide. I was the bad boy in the back row, and thank goodness, I have never had to go through a twelve-step program because there would be far too many teachers who would deserve my apology for being an ass in class.

As bad as I was, I never challenged Mr Witowski or stepped outside his rules. I suppose there were some kids who did, but I never saw it happen, and I still can't imagine anyone living to tell about it.

The strange thing about Mr Witowski was that he ran the bowling club in the school. At the time, this seemed a bit out of character to me. Bowling was for the gentler set, and I couldn't imagine him spinning a large black ball down the alley at a set of white pins. If anything, I saw him as more likely under the hood of a ’55 Chevy every night — busting his knuckles on the intake manifold.

How I ended up being a part of Mr Witowski’s bowling club has always been a mystery to me, but I still remember following him to the local bowling alley every Tuesday after classes were done for the day. I wasn't a good bowler. I can't say I even liked bowling, but that didn't matter. I went to see him bowl. I wanted to see the other side of his armour. I wanted to see if he was softer outside the classroom. He wasn't.

The last I saw of Mr Witowski was at an end-of-year awards ceremony. He presented me with a small trophy for being the "most improved player" in the bowling club. I remember walking onto the stage and shaking his thick, oil-stained hand. Under the polite applause of the student body, he said to me, "Congratulations, but remember ... the idea is to knock down every pin."

With those words, I'm not sure Mr Witowski meant to offer me anything more than a final lesson in the art of bowling. All I know is that his words have stayed with me for a lifetime, and anyone, who really knows me, will tell you that this surly, burly French teacher defined a path in life for me like no one else had ever done before or ever would again.

You see it's not always good enough to "do your best" or "give it your best shot." At some point in life, such aphorisms simply become excuses for failure. You can't always rely on "doing your best" if your "best" simply is never good enough. At some point, you have to succeed. At some point, your "best" has to actually be the best. At some point, you have to roll the ball down the alley and knock down every pin.


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Move Over John Dillinger, There's A New Gun In Town

Move Over John Dillinger, There's A New Gun In Town

I feel like doing something dangerous today. So I've decided to rob a bank. Naked.

I know. You're wondering, Why naked?

I don't know. I figure you need a disguise, and no one in the bank has seen me naked before, so I think it's a great disguise.

Sure it has its limitations. I won't have any extra pockets to stuff cash into. That might be a problem.

And I guess some tall, busty, D-cup teller might not take me seriously. She might say something like, "Did you forget to bring a real gun?"

That might be just enough to arouse some masculinity issues and screw up the whole caper. But as long as the air conditioning isn't cranked up to super-cold, I should be OK. You don't need to be like John Dillinger, dangling a 12-gauge shotgun to make an impression. John Wilkes Booth killed President Lincoln, and all he was packing was a tiny derringer.

Here's another thing. Since I'll be naked, no one will be able to identify me by saying, "He was wearing cut-off blue jeans and a tie-dye T-shirt." Not that I would wear a tie-dye T-shirt or cut-off jeans, you understand. That's just an example. OK, I do own a tie-dye T, but I've never worn it. Well, I wore it to bed once, but, that night, I dreamt that Jimi Hendrix was hanging out at the foot of the bed and trying to light my red satin sheets on fire. OK, I don't own red satin sheets, but I thought that sounded kind of sexy. Not that I'm trying to be sexy, but who writes "faded blue flannel sheets" on a blog?

And, BTW, after so much summer sun, I have some very cool tan lines now. So when they call the police to report me, they'll have to say, "He was white, no he was African-American, no . . . white . . . no . . . Asian . . . no . . . ummm . . . a checkered-coloured dude." That has to work to my advantage, don't you think?

Being naked could also be an ace up my non-existent sleeve if the police do arrive and I have to switch the whole scene into some kind of hostage scenario. From any of the the movies I've seen, the bad guys always get the hostages to strip. I would do the same. Then, all those SWAT guys couldn't pick me out from the rest of the jiggy nudists running around inside the bank. I'm hoping that would bamboozle even the best trigger-finger-happy police sniper.

Oh, I know what you're thinking. They could call in the "ex" to identify me by having her peep through the windows using a long telescope. Don't worry. That's not a problem. For the last ten years of our marriage, she was too busy figuring out how to maximize her divorce/retirement fund by reading Cosmopolitan in bed to pay me any mind, and her memory has completely gone south ever since her hormones started going berserk.

I know, I know. You probably think that it's all just a crazy idea, that it's against the law, and that I might get my ass slapped in prison. But sometimes a man has to do what a man has to do. A little notoriety never hurt anyone. And just think, I might even make an appearance on CNN or any number of news channels on television.

Now that would be way cool.

After all, they say everything looks twice its real size on TV.


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Measure For Measure

Measure For Measure

I bought a measuring cup the other day. I bought it from the Dollar Store. I paid over a dollar for it, but there’s tax, I suppose. I haven’t used one for years. I have never measured much. Instead, I would just guess. It seemed to work for me most of my life.

Now, I plan to measure things a little more carefully. I need to become a little more precise. I've been flying by the seat of my pants too long.

I need to measure what I say sometimes. People listen – once in a while – and sometimes I say things that fly off the top of my head. At times, I think what I say is just a ¼ cup of mindless banter. They hear a gallon of something completely different, sometimes wisdom, I guess, and sometimes reproach. While I'm just filling in gaps in a conversation with mindless, idiotic snippets of a brain gone momentarily loco, they’re hearing an answer to the puzzle of life.

I need to measure what I write sometimes. People read this blog. That much is certain. Some days, I write thoughtful stuff. Other days, it’s like I'm writing underwater in the deep end of the neighbour’s pool, and on those days, what rises to the surface in bubbles of noxious gas is what you get. Some people can’t tell the difference, and when I write without really taking a measure of my words, some people read that as the truth about me or them or the way we should live. You shouldn't always believe what I write. I don’t.

I need to measure what I hear and read. I may have some insecurities. Don’t we all? Sometimes, when someone says something relatively harmless to me, I react in the strangest way. I bristle. I feel slighted. I feel diminished. Too often, that was not their intention. I need to take stock of exactly what was said and not jump to conclusions. If my son says to me, “You were a great father,” that doesn't mean he’s saying “You’re not a great father now.” I have to listen, measure what the words are, and decide how much importance they should have. The same is true when it comes to reading. Email is the worst. People take shortcuts when writing email. It’s all BTW and FYI. The problem with email is that people want to be brief. Brief is not always good, not if the writer is leaving a bunch of huge gaps in there for the reader to fill in by guess and conjecture. Sometimes, we fill in the gaps with the wrong conclusions. Someone who writes, “BTW, I think you’re really sweet,” doesn’t always mean “FYI, I want to spend the weekend with you.” Then again, sometimes they do. I’d prefer that they’d just say what they mean. Weekend or no weekend? Spell it out for me.

I need to measure what I know about myself. Too often, people see other people as the measure of their lives. How often has someone said to you, “You’re just like so-and-so,” or “You’re exactly the same as me”? No, I’m not. I don’t want to be like so-and-so and I don’t want to be you. Half my life, people would say, “You’re just like your father.” I suppose they thought that was some sort of compliment. It wasn’t. I have always wanted only to be me, and I want people to know me as me. Please believe me when I say, I haven’t patterned my life after any one other person. I'm not Brad Pitt, not Albert Einstein, not Gandhi, not Elvis, not the Beatles, not Bob Dylan, not Madonna (hmmm, how did she get in there?). I'm not trying to be anyone but myself. If I remind you of Dr Seuss, then please forgive me if I don’t accept your measure of who I am. Swab for DNA if you must, but I assure you that everyone is pretty much unique. Dream about being someone else, if you must. That game is not for me.

I think it’s important that each of us buy a personal measuring cup. You can get one at the Dollar Store. Too often, we measure ourselves in the vaguest ways, and then we wonder why we feel vague and a little vacant about our lives.


Monday, July 27, 2015

One Hump Or Two?

One Hump Or Two?

I had this dream last night that I was travelling around on a camel, one of those double hump models.

I've never ridden a camel. I hear that they smell a little musky and that they have a habit of spitting at you when you least expectorate it. Personally, I find spitting offensive. I never do it. But if a camel spit at me, I might spit back. I'm an eye-for-an-eye, spit-for-spit kind of guy.

I suspect camels spit as a kind of early warning measure telling you not to mess with them. I mean they live in incredibly hot climates where water is scarce, and on a hot summer's day, who wants some lug climbing on your back, kicking at your flanks, and telling you to "giddy-up." OK, you probably don't say "giddy-up" when riding a camel, but what do I know? I've never ridden a camel.

It's no wonder that camels have a hump or two. Simply a result of evolution, I guess. Somewhere back along the dippity-do DNA trail to the tadpole, camels grew humps for a reason. Oh, I know, all you brainy folk will think it's like a gas tank for extra water. Really. How silly. Camels simply evolved a hump to try to keep people off their backs. Apparently, the plan didn't work out, because people ride camels every day. So much for the theory of evolution.

I don't suspect that Darwin realised this camel-riding thing was going on. He was probably too busy walking around the Galapagos Islands and studying turtles. Now there's a creature you could ride quite handily. A nice cushion strapped to that firm shell seems much preferable to sitting on a hump. The problem is that turtles are slow, and people are always in such a dang hurry. We hurry here, we hurry there, we hurry everywhere. We seem obsessed with getting somewhere, some place, preferably by yesterday. We say things like, "I'm going to the store," but we wish we were already at the store. We want to get from A to B as quickly as we can, to hell with the journey. We loathe the journey, hate the traffic, curse the crowds who slow us down, damn those who dawdle. Rush, rush rush.

Maybe that's why we buy fast cars, which really are a bit senseless when you consider that we live in a world of speed limits. I mean we drive cars that will top out at 200 mph, and yet we're told not to exceed 55 mph or, heaven forbid, 35 mph. Jell-O. It's like someone decided we should have to drive in a world of Jell-O. All that power and yet all that resistance. Maddening. If the highest speed we are allowed to drive is 55 mph, then why not build cars that will only go 55 mph. What's all the extra speed for? Drunk drivers? Husbands who are too stupid to deliver their own babies? Men in full blown mid-life crisis looking for a Viagra fix? A test of free will?

Which brings me back to my dream about riding a camel. You see, I ended up riding my double-hump dromedary into the local Exxon Self-Serve gas station, and I pulled my spitting friend up alongside a slick, red Lamborghini, possibly one of the fastest cars ever made. A tall, blonde ex-beauty queen was filling it up for her race to the hairdresser or the podiatrist — who can say for sure?

When she saw me pull up on my camel, with its mottled dreadlocks and musky smell, she tittered and said, "Oooo, I love your humps."

I thanked her politely, then proceeded to stick the gas nozzle in the camel's rear portal and began to pump in the high octane stuff. Oddly enough, the camel didn't seem to mind. Meanwhile, the tall, blonde ex-beauty queen was becoming more and more coquettish — her three-inch eyelashes fluttering like butterfly wings.

"I would love to ride your camel," she crooned in a misty, fog-rolling-in voice.

"Then, you shall," I replied in my best late-night-FM-radio voice

At that point, the dream skipped a scene, like a bad DVD a friend has insisted you borrow, and the last I remember is watching the tall, blonde ex-beauty queen bouncing up and down on my camel's humps while she squealed with delight. I followed her along Portobello Avenue in her slick, red Lamborghini at, ironically, 10 mph. And suddenly, the whole camel thing made sense to me.

The next thing I knew I was awake, and my mind immediately raced back to something Joey Bucyk, a tough kid I met in juvie when I was just 13, said to me all those years ago. "Listen, Kennedy," Joey confided in me late one sultry summer night, "every woman, young or old, rich or poor, fat or thin ... every woman loves a good hump."


Sunday, July 26, 2015

Liar, Liar, Pants On Fire

Liar, Liar, Pants On Fire

I've come to suspect that everyone lies.

Oh, I know, you're sitting there thinking smugly, "I never lie, never have, never will."

Well, perhaps you're right. Perhaps, you consciously try not to lie these days, but I can almost guarantee you that you have lied at some point in your life.

Anyway, a lie is not always bad. After all, it never even made it into The Big Ten Commandments.

The fact of the matter is that sometimes a lie can be an act of great consideration for other people's feelings.

Say you run into someone whom you haven't seen for a while, and you realise that that person has gained upwards to 100 pounds. You don't give them the aghast look and say, "Good grief, how'd you get so fat?!"

No, you say, "Hey, you look great. Been working out?"

OK, you might not say that part about "working out," but I'm sure you catch my drift. Some lies are well-intentioned and really almost an act of kindness.

Let's take another example. Say that your best friend, Hortense, who is married with three children, is messing around with someone on the down low.

Now, I'm not sure what "down low" means, but I like the phrase ... kind of fits my thinking right now.

OK, well, let's say that Hortense is messing around with someone on the down low. She's meeting Big Willy, just some random guy, after work at the Motel Sex, and they're doing whatever it is you do on the down low — probably something low down, as I'm sure you can imagine.

You discover this little affair, when Hortense spills the beans and tells you all the gruesome details, including the fact that Big Willy certainly comes by his name honestly.

At first, you are embarrassed, ashamed, revolted, horny — well, who knows how you are feeling — but the thing is that Hortense swears you to secrecy. Most of all, she implores you not to tell Fabio, her husband, who, despite his name, is apparently not so fabio in bed.

Yes, I know, the irony of the three children is not escaping me. I considered changing that, but I figure, what the hell, sometimes you just have to let little things float. No, not like a dead goldfish. More like a balloon full of hot air.

"I didn't mind at first," Hortense tells you, "but I'd get tense and almost angry just before bedtime. Fabio would expect me to perform, when, really, there was so little to perform with. When I'm with Willy, my gawd, the world turns upside down."

Now, I'm not sure what she means by "upside down," but I must say, I quite like how Hortense is also being true to her name.

And so, you are faced with a dilemma. You are being asked to maintain this little charade for the sake of your best friend. And later that week, when Fabio offhandedly asks you, "Do you think Hortense is having an affair?" well what are you to do?

The honest answer is to say, "Why, yes, she's riding some Big Willy like a bull-buckin' champion in the El Paso Rodeo."

But you don't say that, do you?

Instead you say something like, "Oh, don't be ridiculous, Fabio."

Is that a lie?

It's a dodge of sorts. More importantly, it's what people call a "lie of omission." You left out the truth, even though you knew what the truth was. So you lied. Simple.

Of course, now you'll want to say to everyone here, "Sometimes a little bad can do a lot of good."

And maybe you're right. After all, you don't want to be the reason why Hortense and Fabio get a divorce. You don't want to be the one who backs a haystack of unhappiness into their driveway. After all, there are three kids (now so nicely floating by) who will be affected as well.

No, you hold back the truth because you don't want to hurt other people's feelings and possibly ruin their lives.

Most people would call that a "white lie," but I suspect we had better not call it that here. You attach "white" to anything these days, and every other race and sexual orientation will want their own colour of lie as well. Before you know it, we'll have "black lies," "mocha lies," "yellow lies," maybe even "rainbow lies."

Whatever our terminology, I must say that I support your decision to lie. You lied to protect everyone involved, including yourself, from a whole heap of heartache. After all, when the shit hits the fan, everybody gets a little stinky.

The simple fact of the matter is that we can't have people running around like a bunch of punch-drunk prophets trying to reveal the truth to everyone who might listen. We all live with a certain amount of illusion about ourselves and the people we love. Demanding the absolute truth is simply uncouth. So, we must all mind our manners. Otherwise, the world will crack like an egg on its way to becoming chiffon.

Of course, the real liar in our little scenario is Hortense herself. No matter how much you sympathize with her dilemma regarding Fabio's faucet, you have to admit that she is deceiving her husband in the worst possible way. Adultery is usually based on a whole g-string of never-ending lies. No one simply goes to his or her spouse and says, "I've decided to go and get laid by someone else, and I'll see you sometime after dinner to watch The Voice with you."

That just doesn't happen. No, there is a whole lot of sneaking around involved, a whole lot of late nights at the office or shopping trips to the Outlet Mall out on the Interstate.

Sure, it's exciting at times. Sure, it's pleasurable, especially if you use that contraption that makes the bed vibrate. Sure, it awakens all kinds of liberating and youthful sensations in your head. Sadly, however, it is also living in the heart of a lie.

And worst of all ... if you betray someone who trusts you to be monogamous, you are not only lying to that person, you are also lying to yourself. Before long, you wake up in the morning, look in the mirror, and see something different about yourself, something dark and vulnerable in your eyes, and something really hot burning up the crack of your ass.

Oh, that last little anguish? That would be your pants of fire.


Saturday, July 25, 2015

Another Lifetime Ago

Another Lifetime Ago

Have you ever had this weird feeling that you've been here before? Ever feel like you were once someone else living in another time?

Many people believe that they once lived another lifetime prior to this one. Some people get these strange echoes of the past — feelings of déjà vu but with a twist. They get the sense that they have lived through certain experiences before, existed in a past life as a completely different and separate personality, nothing like who they are now. Some people can even recall a whole catalogue of different lifetimes.

I have never honestly had this sensation of a previous existence. However, if the idea of pre-existing lives is true, I'd like to think that I was someone important, someone with a little pop in history. I do have some similarities to Sigmund Freud — sex on the brain, night and day, and the love of a good cigar (which is just a cigar). Sometimes I see things like the impressionist painter, Claude Monet — all blurry and vague — but that may just be from a sugar rush after a plateful of brownies and ice-cream. I don't think I would have been anyone bad, like Hitler or Stalin. I speak neither German or Russian. I wouldn't mind being the reincarnation of a famous writer, someone like J.D. Salinger, the author of Catcher in the Rye, but I was born before he died, so I guess that disqualifies me right there.

I might have been a lower form of life. A dog, perhaps, yes, a dog with a loud bark. Or maybe a horse. Maybe a thoroughbred racing horse, slow out of the gate, but lightning fast in the back stretch.

I wouldn't want to have been a wild animal, such as a lion or a grizzly bear, a giraffe or a wild hare. I'd rather have been more closely connected to humans, maybe a barnyard goat or a pig. Not sure. Maybe a small rodent living in the streets of Paris, maybe a Mexican mule. After all, over my current life span, many people have called me a rat, and others have called me an ass. It's possible they know more about such matters than I do.


Friday, July 24, 2015

A Little Of This And A Little Of That

A Little Of This And A Little Of That

I'm sitting here watching the sun rise out of a very cool bank of clouds. And, for some reason, I'm thinking of a Tequila Sunrise, that drink that was once popular.

Now, I'm not a drinking man, but I do encourage people to have a lick of liquor once in a while. Some people say it's good for you.

Old people, folks who crack the 100 year barrier, often show up on TV, and when some wag asks, "What's the secret of a long life?" they say something like "Well, I had a shot of whisky and a cigar every day. That's what kept me going."

Now, I reckon that may be good advice. I can't be sure. Not a whole mess of people live to be over 100. So, you have to wonder what happened to the rest of them. Maybe they skipped a day. That could be a fatal error in the march to immortality.

As for me, well, I maintain a steady diet of balancing the bullocks. More often than not, I'll find myself having a midnight snack of 85% chocolate with a piece of lettuce. My reasoning is simple. Since the chocolate is probably not good for me, I figure the lettuce kind of counterbalances the negative effects.

The same is true if I decide to eat a cheesecake. Not a slice of cheesecake ... the whole cheesecake. I figure that since there is cheese somewhere in the concoction, I'm good. Cheese ... protein. And I heard somewhere that protein balances the carbs and strains out all the sugar that you're obviously going to find in such a tasty delight.

Then, of course, there's that whole fatty food issue.

From what I understand, there are fats and there are fats. Some fats are evil. These are the trans fats. Other fats? Not so bad.

So, when you eat things like steak or deep fried chicken, we're told to be wary. The portion size of any beef should presumably be judged by the size of your palm. The rule of thumb is that you should never eat any more than you can hold in your hand. So, I'll often make myself a great steak sandwich that fits perfectly in my palm. It might be half a foot high, but it conforms to the general rule — no bigger around than the palm of my hand.

As for that fried chicken, well, you really must peel off the skin before you eat it. Just put that crisp, golden brown, fat-dripping epidermis on my plate. I'll take care of it for you.

Now, I know people have real health issues, and they should definitely attend to those on a daily basis. A little food, a little exercise, and little time for relaxation, just a little-little of everything. Life is a buffet. Lots of great things to do and enjoy, but heck, you don't have to push your way through the line of Weight Watchers alumni just to fill your plate three times over. Everything has a limit.

Sometimes, the little pleasures are the best. A little romance, a little love, a little sex, a little laughter ... we only seem to get indigestion and gassy discomfort when we overdo things.

What's that saying? Everything in moderation? Good advice.

So, remember, one shot of whisky and one cigar every day should do the trick. I can't guarantee that you'll live to be more than 100, but what the heck, by the time you're 60, you won't have enough brain cells left to give a damn.


Thursday, July 23, 2015

Live And Let Die

Live And Let Die

I don't have a cat. I did have one once, when I was about 19 years old. I called it Ttiki. That's not a typo. The double "t" at the beginning of the name is there on purpose, because it was an anagram or word scramble of Kitti. I wanted to name my cat Ssupy, but my lesbian friend, Lacy Anderson, who wore long paisley stockings up to the nexus of her thighs, said that would be disagreeable to some. So I settled on Ttiki, and that was that.

Ttiki was no fancy-pants cat. He was grey with a few fringes of some other grey and plain steel-grey eyes. I found him when he was just weeks old. He had been abandoned by his mother amongst the bales of hay in the barn of my friend, Rod Allen, who lived with his folks on one of those just-outside-the-city stables that boarded horses for rich folks. He warned me that Ttiki was a wild cat by birth and that I shouldn't expect it to be something to snuggle up to on cold winter nights. I told him that was fine. I wasn't planning any murders at the time.

Ttiki never really settled into my place or into my life. Somewhere in the back of his imagination, he was a lion or a tiger or, at the very least, a cheetah displaced by a twist of fate into the body of a dull grey barn cat. He longed to walk on the wilder side of life. Maybe that explains why he would constantly climb the living room drapes and attempt a high wire act along the curtain rod high above the foggy picture windows that looked out into the backyard where Dave Dawson had dumped his green '32 Chevy modified pickup on the lawn. Dave had rebuilt that jalopy from the chassis up, but when that truck broke down on Portage Avenue one night and Dave called to ask if he could haul it to my place, I said OK, and there it stayed for as long as I can remember. Someone tried growing marijuana in the rear bed of that truck one summer, but the neighbourhood kids caught on real quick and the stuff disappeared one night in August -- roots and all. I'm not sure how that truck relates to my memory of Ttiki, but it does somehow, or I guess I wouldn't have mentioned it. Dreams bust up sometimes.

Ttiki got fairly good at climbing those drapes, despite a few falls that brought him down hard on the top of the new colour television that my father had bought me. The TV was one of those large console jobs with sharp corners. I'd be brewing coffee in the kitchen or reading TIME magazine in the bathroom when, all of a sudden, I'd just hear this dull thud. Then I'd know that Ttiki had tried a ridiculous pirouette and lost his footing. Over time, he learnt how to snag those curtains on the way down, and it wasn't that unusual to find him hanging there by one claw like he was rethinking the physics of his distress. Soon enough, the curtains started to look a little more than tattered. I didn't mind too much. I always wanted sheers to let a little more light in during the day.

At Christmas that year, Bonnie Martin, a girlfriend of a friend, bought Ttiki a black collar with a line of hideous rhinestones embedded in it. Hanging from the collar was a small oddly shaped charm of sorts that had Ttiki's name and my phone number engraved on it. Bonnie was hooked in to some odd religion at the time, something Egyptian in origin, I think, and she explained how the charm would protect Ttiki from harm as she twisted and locked it tightly around the cat's neck. Oddly enough, the poor grey whisper of a cat stopped climbing the drapes from that day forward. Instead, he seemed almost domesticated and mopped around the house without his usual flair for flying leaps and bounds and pretending, I guess, that he was Rocky to my Bullwinkle. Mind you, he did take on the chimney one early morning, and I guess he got half way up the black masonry before falling back down in a crash of soot that billowed out the fireplace into the room and over all the furniture. Someone cleaned it up, but I'm pretty sure that it wasn't me.

Ttiki hung around for a few more months after that. He used to sit on my shoulder for hours and watch me hunt and peck as I typed a story about life and death on an old manual typewriter that I picked up at Goodwill for eight bucks. I was always amazed that he never got bored sitting up there on my right shoulder and watching my fingers fumble around the keyboard. Or maybe he did, eventually. Long before I finished that story, he let himself out somehow and lit out for the territories like Huck Finn or Holden Caulfield -- same character, after all, just in different books. I began to worry about him after a couple of days until, one morning, some old guy called to say he'd run over Ttiki in his driveway. He sounded pretty shook up about it, but I knew right away that it was a clear case of suicide by tire. When the guy asked me if I wanted to collect the body, all I remember saying is, "What for?" and we left it at that.

Looking back now, I guess that sounds pretty insensitive and all. To be honest, I sometimes wondered if that cat might have been better off left alone to live in Rod Allen's hayloft, but when I mentioned that notion to Rod at my mother's funeral in the summer, Rod simply said, in a kind of off-handed way, that his dad would have just drowned that kitten in a barrel and tossed him in the garbage if I hadn't come along and taken Ttiki home that day. So, I guess some life is better than no life, unless maybe, the some life you live is really no life at all.


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

A Life Alone

A Life Alone

There’s a gentle breeze in the air. It rushes through the back window and I can hear the sound of bamboo wind chimes rattling a soft good morning.

The day promises to be sunny and probably hot. The sun has that look in its eye. Foreboding and promising stagnant air that will drip with humidity before day’s end.

Summer has arrived in the city, and I think of days on a crowded beach with my children so many years ago. I can almost hear the clamour of voices, the laughter, and the squeals on the crowded sand. The memory melts into the roar of traffic.

Somewhere, not too far off, a dog barks in a repeated litany of sorts. It sounds desperate to find its way back into some house where someone is getting ready for work. I’ve heard the same dog before. Everything has a repetition when you live alone.

It wasn't supposed to be like this. No one plans a life around empty rooms. It's just what seems to happen these days. Maybe it has something to do with our consumer-driven, throwaway consciousness in the 21st century. Who would have thought we would be thrown aside by those we once loved or be the ones throwing others out of our lives like old newspapers into a recycling bin? I'm not sure people can be recycled and then be expected to come back whole.

But they don't come back. Not usually.

Down the street, the school kids wait for their bus. They wear backpacks that always seem stuffed with mysterious possessions, only half of which has anything to do with their schoolwork. Mostly they carry a parcel of their lives hitched to their young shoulders. Many of them are from homes that have fallen apart long ago. Still, they pretend that everything is all right in the world. They have one another's company for now, and they carry on.

I don't mind the mornings so much. There’s ample activity in the world to keep me distracted. I plan my day. I listen to music. I write. I keep busy.

The nights are different. The darkness crowds me into a single place in all these rooms, a familiar spot on the sofa, where I sit and read or play guitar or do nothing at all. There, the vacancy of living alone envelopes me. I try so hard not to reflect on how it all came to this, this cluttered emptiness of my life, and yet there it is, spreading out from heartache like a fog. It’s not the loneliness that makes me sad.

Yes it is.


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

King Kennedy

King Kennedy

I think I'd like to be King of the World.

Just imagine what that would do to alleviate some of my life's greatest problems.

I wouldn't have to wait in the drive-thru for a simple, stinking cup of coffee while the lady in the SUV in front of me orders the entire menu.

I wouldn't have to shop at Wal-Mart, even though I would because, I mean, who really wants clothes that last more than a month?

I wouldn't have to listen when someone said, "You can be whatever you want to be."

I wouldn't have to sneak over the fence and take a dip in the neighbour's pool in the middle of the night.

I wouldn't have to wait for Heaven.

I wouldn't have to use the Self-Serve gas pump and watch my bank account plummet while I squeaked half a tank into the beast because I could just drive up the Full Service lane and, with a sly snicker, say "Fill 'er up."

I wouldn't have to explain what I meant.

I wouldn't have to fly in the Economy section of an airplane and suffer long hours squeezed into a ball while reassuring an indifferent flight attendant that "Everything is fine, thank you."

I wouldn't have to watch CNN, unless I wanted to know what was happening in my life.

I wouldn't have to eat KFC right out of the bucket while bending over the sink and still manage to make a mess of a new white T-shirt.

I wouldn't have to listen to Elvis.

I wouldn't have to sleep naked on 200 count sheets and wake up wondering who gave me the rash.

I wouldn't have to get into useless arguments about God or politics.

I wouldn't have to wait to talk on my cell phone until it was during evening hours or on the weekend.

I wouldn't have to do tequila shots just to be socially acceptable.

I wouldn't have to cut out and save coupons, unless, of course, they were for more than 40% off.

I wouldn't have to do laundry and then try to match up socks that somehow seem to disappear in the rinse cycle.

I wouldn't have to phone people up in the middle of the night and say, "You busy?"

I wouldn't have to figure out how many more years it will take before I actually own my house.

I wouldn't have to be angry with the past or worried about the future.

I wouldn't have to know the location of every Dollar Store in every town I visit.

I wouldn't have to feel sorry for myself.

I wouldn't have to eat ice cream that was made by some generic company called "Ben and Harry's."

I wouldn't have to blame everyone else for screwing up the world.

I wouldn't have to haggle and argue with vendors at the flea market, unless they insisted.

I wouldn't have to join a club or take night classes just to fill in empty time.

I wouldn't have to worry if my inkjet cartridges would print one more photo.

I wouldn't have to listen to Anthony Robbins CD's.

I wouldn't have to ask the doctor if triple bypass heart surgery was really necessary.

I wouldn't have to just pretend to be smug, indifferent, or inaccessible.

In fact, I wouldn't even have to be me.


Monday, July 20, 2015

Kissing By The Book

Kissing By The Book

In Shakespeare's play, Romeo and Juliet, Juliet says to Romeo: “You kiss by the book.”

I've always wondered what she meant by that. Is there a book of kissing? Is it a book of instructions, sort of a Kissing for Idiots manual? It seems to me that anyone with decent aim could be a good kisser. You should hit the lips, I guess, but even that is no longer really an issue.

Hit the foot ... and you're OK.

Hit the knee ... and you're OK.

Hit the tummy or thereabouts ... and you’re really OK.

Breasts ... mmmm.

Hands, arms, shoulders, back ... perfectly acceptable.

Hit the neck … should be fine unless you have relatives in Transylvania.

You can even hit the ear. You'll still be OK.

Really, the only body part that might not be acceptable is the nose. You should probably never stick your tongue up someone‘s nostril.

And now that I've written that ... I wonder what it would be like?

I mean it couldn't be any worse than going to work every day and having to kiss someone’s ass.


Sunday, July 19, 2015

in the twilight ...

in the twilight ...

in the twilight
you line up the stages of your martyrdom
across the kitchen table
and you say
"Look here and here
"Here where I bled red on my mother's white sheets
"Here where I was beaten into swollen blue
"Here where I loved with every fibre of my being and lost
"Here where I stumbled
"Here where I was pushed to the ground
"Here where I was trampled
"Here where I knelt and bruised my lips praying
"And look here
"Over here where I was left for dead ..."
but my eyes cannot follow
the twitch and shaking of your fingers
instead i watch your blouse
fall open
where the treason of your third button
reveals the beauty of your bare breast
so full of life


Saturday, July 18, 2015

In The Dream

In The Dream

In the dream, I am young again. I am standing by a road, one that is busy with the traffic of life, but sadly the worst has come true. Those who travel by me are life's refugees, rushing away from the pain of old age or infirmity, from disaster or despair, from failure or frustration. All have dark faces and dull eyes that offer me a furtive glance, their cold lips seeming to form an unspoken question, before their stare turns back to the road and some unknown point ahead. I look where they look, but I see only a thick brown fog billowing over the brim of the world.

In the dream, you are young again. You stand by my side with the wind in your hair and the sun on your face, but your expression is troubled. You ask where the road leads and why so many hasten by. Your small hand holds the folds of my sleeve, and with a gentle tug, you question why we remain behind this crowded human parade so persistently passing before us. When I turn to you, I see the uncertainty in your eyes and the impatience of your youth, and I pray that my voice will be strong and resolute as I say simply, "We will wait for these to pass. We are travelling the other way."


Friday, July 17, 2015

In Between

In Between

Some days, I get caught in the in-between.

Some days, I want toast and honey, and I also want toast and jam. I can't decide which or both.

Some days, I crave the taste of coffee the very moment I have my first sip of Earl Grey tea.

Some days, I go for a morning walk and, after only a dozen steps, wish that I had never left my bed.

Some days, I'd like to read the newspaper when I'm not the least bit interested in knowing what's new.

Some days, I think I feel like I'm 18 and wonder why my knees creak.

Some days, I want to do the right thing end end up doing the right thing the wrong way.

Some days, I say too much and then get blamed for saying too little.

Some days, I fly by the seat of my pants when I'm not even wearing pants.

Some days, I feel bipolar, and then I don't.

Some days, I'm full of wonder, and then I wonder what I'm full of.

Some days, I spend the money I don't have instead of spending the money I do have.

Some days, I wear boxers over briefs.

Some days, I feel like a failure when I'm happiest for the success of others.

Some days, I love taking photos when I've left my camera at home.

Some days, I feel completely spiritual and not religious at all.

Some days, I'm madly in love with the idea of being madly in love.

Some days, when I'm thinking about the future, I'm really thinking about the past.

Well, you get the idea, I'm sure. Or maybe you don't. See? In-between ...


Thursday, July 16, 2015

I Want ...

I Want ...

I want to go to a gas station and say, "Fill 'er up!"

I want to blame everything on the Bossa Nova.

I want to know why sad songs say so much.

I want Al Pacino to stop making movies.

I want President O'bama to admit that he's Irish.

I want a penny for my afterthoughts.

I want part of the revenue that TV stations get from infomercials.

I want Christianity to stop exploiting Jesus.

I want people to have a good laugh when they read William P Young's book, The Shack.

I want a baker's baker's dozen.

I want to know who put the bop in the bop shoo bop and who put the ram in the rama lama ding dong.

I want all those little critters involved in the death of Cock Robin brought to justice once and for all.

I want to know how to make up a batch of holy water.

I want know which of the Williams sister, Serena or Venus, has the bigger butt.

I want reality shows to quit trying to convince us that what we're watching is in any way some kind of reality.

I want to see a gay version of The Bachelor.

I want meatballs with my spaghetti.

I want the police to do their job.

I want basketball to disappear.

I want Madonna to stop ... everything. Just stop already.

I want Donald Trump to buy Mexico.

I want art for art's sake.

I want to make love to the beat of "You Ain't Nothing But A Hound Dog."

I want to listen to John Lennon's "Imagine," and not have to imagine.

I want too much.


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

A Horse Opera With No Name

A Horse Opera With No Name

Billy "The Flea" Bucksaw stood at the bar and kicked the sawdust out from under his boots. His silver spurs glittered in the dim sunlight that streamed through the dusty front windows as Billy turned to look vaguely around the Bar None Saloon.

It was just high noon, and the place was pretty much empty. A few old-timers were seated at a small wooden table near the front doors. They were smoking dark rollies and drinking corn liquor from a single bottle while they dealt cards to one another. At another table, a saloon girl fussed with her hair and repeatedly smoothed out the folds of her flowing skirt. She was young, Billy thought, too young to be a working girl.

As Billy stared her way, she caught a sense that he was watching her, and she turned her face toward him and offered him a crooked smile. Billy held her gaze for a minute, then with a twitch of his steel grey eyes and a twist of his Stetson, he called her over to the bar. She seemed to float across the floor as she sidled up beside him.

"You new in town?" she asked with a frail-sounding voice.

"Ayyup," Billy deadpanned.

"Here with the cattle drive?"


"Some other business, then?"


"My name is Penelope Penchant," she said as she casually brushed her tight bodice up against Billy. "Maybe you'd like to buy a lady a drink?"

Billy looked into her eyes. One was slightly swollen and a yellow bruise underlay a heavy cake of makeup. She caught his thought before he said anything and turned her face half away. Billy reached over, his rawhide glove touched her gently on the chin, and he turned her face back toward him.

"None of your business, really," she said, her voice becoming hoarse and throaty. "Best leave off your questions, and just buy a nice lady a drink."

Billy frowned. "I'll buy you that drink for a piece of information," he grumbled.

"What do you want to know?" she asked. Her face hardened and lost its colour as Billy looked her up and down. After an awkward minute, she repeated, "What do you want to know?" and then added, "Sometimes, here in Sagedust, a man's better off knowing nothing."

Billy's eyes narrowed and his right hand involuntarily traced the outline of his Colt '45, slung low in its holster on his right hip. "I'm looking for someone," Billy began.

"Someone special, I reckon. Maybe even someone like me?" she purred.

"A man," Billy growled. "A man with an iron fist."

"No man in this town like that, mister. No man with an iron fist, that's for sure. Just regular Joes is all we got here."

"Regular Joes?"

"Yep. Regular Joes.'"

"Is that really the line? 'Regular Joes'?"


"I don't think they said 'Regular Joes' back in the wild west."

"Huh? What are you doing?"

"It's not what I'm doing ..."

"Why are you stopping?"

"I don't get this whole scenario. What's Kennedy doing?"

"I dunno. He wanted to write a horse opera, a cowboy story. I got a call from my agent yesterday. She said to show up for the story in a frilly dress. Hey, not really my usual gig, but I need the work."

"At least you got some straight information. I was told that I was being cast as a spy."

"Not a cowboy?"


"Hmmm. That's odd."

"So I showed up expecting a spy thriller. Secret agent stuff. Eastern Europe setting. Berlin, I think. Then I get here, and suddenly, I'm some kind of gunslinger named, Billy 'The Flea' Bucksaw. I don't mind being a cowboy, you understand, because the money is right. But I've no idea why I'm known as 'The Flea'."

"Nasty little pests."


"Fleas ... nasty. Once had a cat with a bad case of fleas. Maybe you're supposed to be some nasty little character."

"Who knows? It bugs me when the guy makes up stuff as he goes along."

"That's what writers do, I guess."

"Yeah. Just doesn't seem right, sometimes. We're like pawns that someone else gets to move around the chess board of life."

"Wow. Nice combination of simile and metaphor."

"Huh? Oh yeah, thanks."

"Maybe you should be a writer."

"Well, I figure, just because we're imaginary characters doesn't mean we don't have anything to add."

"Hey, I remember talking to you before. Didn't we work together already?"

"Yeah, you know, I was thinking the same thing. You look familiar."

"Weren't you in that Ouija story?"

"Yeah. Just a minor character though. But you had a leading role in that story, didn't you?"

"Well, not sure it was a leading role. I was a gypsy fortune teller. Logged almost a whole chapter."

"That's right. Great job by the way."

"Thanks. That was some tough role. I had to gain thirty pounds and add twenty years to my age, and I did all that with only a few hours' notice."

"Well, fortune teller, any idea where this story is going?"

"Not really. All I know is that I'm supposed to go upstairs with you, and when you fall asleep, I steal your gun."

"There must be a sex scene, then?"

"Yes, a short one."

"Well, I'm not up to that. Not today."

"No? Really? Why? Is it me?"

"No. It's not you. It's just ... oh ... I don't know. It's just that I've been feeling a little vacant lately."

"I know what you mean. It's tough being a fictional character. Sometimes I feel like a freaking stereotype. Nothing but a giddy puppet."

"Yeah, real people don't know."

"Real people have it easy. They get to dance around with their free will. We get our whole lives plotted out for us."

"Yeah. No kidding. One day, we're heroes; the next day, we're villains. One day, we're living the good life; the next day, we're getting killed off in some oh-so-dramatic tragedy."

"Well ..."

"Yeah, I know ..."

As the afternoon passed in waves of searing heat, the girl, or maybe it was the liquor, wooed Billy into feeling comfortable around her. Before long, Penelope Penchant and Billy "The Flea" Bucksaw were climbing the stairs of the Bar None Saloon to one of the private rooms above the bar.

Outside, just at the edge of Sagedust, a cloud of dust swirled beneath the hooves of a black stallion. In the saddle, a heavyset man in a black hat and a long black cloak sat with a look of vile disdain on his face. He wore a double holster bearing bright nickel-plated six-guns, but the one on his left hip had no handle. Instead, it was specially designed to fit the man's prosthetic left hand, a crude looking contraption that resembled an iron fist.

His dry chapped lips were cracked with streaks of blood that spit outwards into the hot air as he muttered to himself, "What the hell? This sure doesn't look like Berlin."


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Table d'Hôte

Table d'Hôte

If life were a restaurant, I guess things would be a whole lot easier.

Some flamboyant waiter would swagger by your table, and you could order all your hopes and dreams à la carte.

Instead of a cocktail or a glass of wine, you might ask for a decent childhood, a time when good friends managed to outlast the teenage years and remain true friends for the rest of your life, a time when you were encouraged to get a good education so that today you could have the job you love, a time when you had maybe only two parents, who loved and respected you as well as one another.

For an appetizer, you might skip the garden salad with the garlic croutons and select a high school or college romance that was both passionate and uplifting, someone who accepted you for all your faults, someone who didn't compound all those early life insecurities by adding his or her own troubles to the fire.

For your main course? Well, after you skim through the various specials, you might consider the full-marriage-deal, preferably to someone you could trust to be constant. Add to that a side dish of having a child or two, kids who are well-behaved and who will love you far beyond the day they walk out the door. And just think ... if somehow everything turned out to be moody and sour, you could just send the whole plate back to kitchen for a complimentary substitute instead of undergoing a messy and expensive divorce

For dessert, you might order up an early retirement, flambéd by your table with a decent pension plan topping. Want a cherry on top? Have a grandchild or two.

And last but not least, forgo that after-dinner liqueur for some golden years of good health, for a time when you remain conscious of who you are and where you live. Sidestep the brandy of dementia, use your napkin to dab the smug look of feeling full off your face, and don't forget to leave a good tip.

If only life were like that ... a menu of choices that you make for yourself to celebrate who you are and what you want from your life. If only we didn't spend so much of our lives, so much of out time and energy, trying to make ourselves acceptable to other people. If only we didn't make choices based on what we think someone else wants. In my imaginary restaurant, everyone makes his or her own choices. You don't get to order for the entire table, and no one else gets to order for you.

Sadly, in real life, you don't always get what you ordered. You hope for stroganoff, and you get Beefaroni instead. You dream about cherry cheese cake, and you wake up to Pop-Tarts. You want rich cream in your coffee, but you settle for powdery Coffee-Mate. A four course meal sounds marvellous, but not when those four courses are simply four different little compartments in a plastic TV dinner.

Real life isn't a restaurant, not even barely a drive-thru. Oh, we get to make make choices once in a while, but usually we are left scrambling our eggs trying to deal with the slop some mad, cosmic chef throws on our plates. Sometimes it's our slop; sometimes it's other peoples slop. It doesn't matter who owns it because, after all is said and done, we are expected to clean it up. It's as if real life tries to determine whether or not we can digest the horrors of one day's experience and wake up the next day still hungry for breakfast.

Oh, my poor tummy. Pass the Alka-Seltzer, would ya?


Monday, July 13, 2015



Yesterday, I walked along a beach by the lake.

The day was hot, and after only a short time, I felt as if I had trudged a hundred miles, my thoughts carrying a suitcase full of tears. Out by the water’s edge, the merciless sun crushed my body, and the hot sand ripped the strength from staggering legs.

I looked across the water to where a ship steamed towards the Atlantic and watched it disappear in the haze. My dull, lazy eyes blinked in the intensity of the light that flared back at me from the mirror of still water.

Ahead of me, two young boys struggled with the string of a kite that dipped and dived above them in the currents of the day’s hot breeze. I watched their determined bodies twist and turn as they struggled to run into the wind. The kite, red and white, and radiant in the sun, confounded their efforts, rose to a pandemonium of joyful shrieks, only to crash like a spike into the sand. The two would drop their arms in anguish and race back to the kite, check it for wounds, and then reset the process. One held the string and began his run, while the other tossed the kite heavenwards. Again, a brief incline towards the ragged clouds and then, as if decreed by the fates, a sharp plummet to ground.

I stopped to watch this reiterated failure of flight. Words of encouragement formed in my thoughts, but evaporated before they became audible puffs of sound escaping my lips. Instead, I stood there silently, watching, and inwardly willing that kite into the air. It rose and fell, rose and fell, until finally, it caught a cooling updraft of air and was aloft. It soared in endless pirouettes and seemed to dance effortlessly above its astonished pilots who laughed and fell all over one another with excitement.

As my eyes followed this dizzying aerial ballet, a wry smile cracked lines into my wet cheeks, and then I was laughing too.

I sat in the sand, relaxed and consumed by the moment, and I realised that the constancy of the human spirit is not so different from the flight of a red and white, radiant kite.


Sunday, July 12, 2015

Bernadette In New York City

Bernadette In New York City

Her young eyes watched her mother's eyes, watched the sadness cross her mother's face like art in reverse, the cruel shadow of certain sorrow stealing the colours of the day and leaving only a stark and crude pen and ink outline in black and white.

Her tiny hands felt the tremble of her mother's fingers, an electric horror that travelled from one generation to the next, a steady drain of life's energy that seeped outwards and nowhere like the quiet that follows a summer thunderstorm when suddenly the lights flicker off and the world spins into dark chaos.

Her tender heart searched for the beat of her mother's breaking heart, grasped at the strange new silence, and waited in the vacuum of time for the link of pulse to return.

Her innocent spirit reached out for her mother's steady resolve, where she had always found the certainty of hopefulness and love, but where she suddenly discovered only the damaged fragments of a desperate soul screaming for solace, amidst the din of a million million other tortured souls screaming for comfort as well

She is older now.

She barely knows her mother anymore, and she has little if any memory of the father she lost when he fell from the sky and was reduced to rubble.

Even as she watches over his photograph beside her bed, his voice is gone, his rough hands no longer tussle her hair, and the fresh smell of his kiss has drifted away forever.

And so, she wears a small gold star on a thin tarnished chain around her neck, a daily reminder of him that she touches gently before falling asleep and dreaming quietly of the life she will never have, unaware that while she sleeps, half the world wants nothing less than to steal her every dream away.


Saturday, July 11, 2015



There are many thresholds in life.

There was the time you took those first steps, an occasion marked by the delight of your squealing mother who wasn’t quite quick enough in her hysteria to keep you from falling face first into the coffee table.

There was the day your father took the training wheels off your bicycle and shot you down the front street so that you could crash into the neighbour’s new car.

There was your first day at school, a time when your mother dressed you in hideously new clothes and provided you with all the regular geek gear – a back pack with some superhero or cartoon character emblazoned on its plastic shell, a matching lunch box, and an assortment of pencils, crayons, erasers, and the like.

There was your first love, a young girl or young boy who caught your fancy because ... well, maybe she or he had a bigger frog than you, maybe she or he could run like the wind ... who knows why kids fall hopelessly in love while their parents blame it on puppies.

There was your first high school dance. You may have had a date but, more likely, you didn’t. You may have dressed in something pretty in pink that tiptoed on that fine line between looking like a “fairy princess” and an underage hooker, or you may have worn a houndstooth blazer that your mother thought was “slimming” but made everyone you met nauseous in a kind of motion sickness way.

There was that inevitable first kiss. You had practised it with every aunt and close relationship, but you never ever realised how clumsy and yet how miraculous it could be.

There was your first time having sex. It was good, bad, or indifferent – probably scary and full of self-doubt -- or maybe it was wondrous and fulfilling, so much depends on who you were with, where, and when it happened.

There was your first orgasm, and that caught you by surprise, didn’t it?

There was the day you got your driver’s licence, and there was that first night time drive when you were all alone with the radio blaring and the car racing almost out of control.

There was your high school graduation, and your parents showed a hideous side of themselves by bouncing like goats around at the edge of the stage with an instamatic camera that captured photos of you from the most unflattering angles.

There was the “one,” the young man or young lady who captured your heart and to whom you swore undying love for the rest of time, only to change your mind by the end of summer.

There was your wedding day in which two families who had little love for each other came together in a celebration of your promise of endless love. Everyone dressed in rented clothes, which were rented for a reason – you’d never be caught dead in them a second time.

There was the birth of your first child, and you came to understand the meaning of the word, “miracle,” only to discover, soon enough, that you would need many more miracles to get that kid to adulthood without one or both of you going insane in the process.

There was the divorce, the first one. Everything you believed in about honesty and trust in life disappeared. Many of you still haven’t recovered.

There was the next generation of lovers, women or men who had been through a life similar to yours, and who, like you, were looking for some tenderness, some companionship, and a second chance at love.

Then, and may I add most importantly, there is the fart threshold.

Your middle age comes with some physical changes, but the fart threshold is not restricted to age. You can date, kiss with piercing tongues in a variety of anatomical places, have wild sex, talk dirty, fake a couple of orgasms, and scream, "O! — O! — OMGGGGG!!!" — yes, all of these are the rites of passage to intimacy. Still, you’re never really completely comfortably intimate until you can lie back in bed and lay down a good fart.

Sure, there will be some twitters from your partner, some epithets like, “Good one ... let’s light it up next time,” but those are signs of acceptance. You’ve crossed the threshold. And before long, you’ll both be communicating on a wonderful new level and in a completely new language.


Friday, July 10, 2015

Finding Light

Finding Light

The house lights dim. The heavy velvet curtains roll away from the centre, and the spotlights dance furtively around the stage until each of them is positioned on you.

The rows of seats stretch out before you, most of them empty, but in the nearest rows, you can still see some familiar faces turned expectantly toward you. This is it. This is your moment.

Sure you feel alone. Sure you can barely hear above the absolute silence. And when, someone — your brother or sister, your mother or father — someone begins to applaud politely, it only seems worse, because the applause that ripples through the auditorium isn't a resounding acknowledgement of your life. No, quite the opposite. The clapping patter of a few hands seems more like a question mark, more like something hesitant and uncertain, more like the sound of a final judgement. Except it's not final, not yet. Underneath the dying applause, there is some kind of expectation. And in that moment, you realise that you have no idea what it is they expect.

You begin by saying, "You ..." but quickly revert to offering, "I ..."

Then, nothing.

A tiny muscle in your forehead twitches with a frenzy. You reach up to find it, to soothe it, but your entire face seems unfamiliar to your hand. Your frightened fingers trace a lifetime of memories that have creased your soft skin over so many years of failure, and you wonder, "Is that what they see? Is that what everyone I've loved and supported sees in the end? Just the sad times. Just the times I fell down, the times I was crushed down, the times I couldn't stand under the weight of my pain, their pain, the pain of a world gone mad?"

The lights grow hot, and a murmur wanders up from the audience. You recognise the sound. It has followed you all your life, that unrelenting "What are you going to do now?" — a refrain that has followed you through life since the first day you heard it. The crowded impatience of smoldering faces ignites like spontaneous combustion and flames into anger. And even worse, somewhere, in a back row perhaps, someone snickers.

And then you do it ...

... and you wait ...



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