It Was A Great Ride.

 

I was 12 years old that summer. The heat was unbearable. We spent most of our time hanging out at Mitchel Berman’s house. They had a swimming pool in the backyard, one of those above ground oval pools, that served us well that summer. I had been sitting on my front lawn, waiting for my friends. I saw Mrs. Berman standing on her driveway in one of those summer dresses and as the sun shone on it, I could see through it. I couldn’t help starring at her, hoping, maybe even praying that she would turn a little to the left and step into the sunlight. I really had no interest in girls prior to that summer. But there was a girl at summer camp, Sue Perlmutter, who introduced me to her breasts. She was abut a year or two older than me and there really wasn’t much of an introduction. But there was Mrs. Berman, a fully grown woman, now standing directly in the sunlight, which pierced through the flimsy summer dress, revealing her shapely thighs, and undergarments. I was sure she knew that I was watching her, and when she called me over, I was terrified that I had been caught doing something wrong. To make matters worse, I was now sporting an erection. I walked over to her trying to hide it by covering it with my hands, but I was certain she knew exactly what I was doing.

“Well”, she asked. “How was your summer at camp?”

“It was good.”, I informed her.

“And I see that you’ve grown up quite a bit.”, she said, glancing at my hands trying to hide my boyhood.

“Really?”, I asked.

“Oh, yes.”, She answered. “You seem taller, and older, I think. Do you think you could help me carry these bags in? Its just so hot, and they’re so heavy.”

“Sure.”, I said, realizing that I was not in trouble.

We entered the house, the house where I had spent countless hours, hanging out with her daughter and the rest of our friends. “Can I get you something cold to drink?”, she asked as she put her bags on the counter.

“Sure.”, I said. “Thank you.” I watched her as she turned toward the cupboards, and reached up to retrieve a glass. Her dress rose high up her thighs, revealing an exceptionally round bottom. She brought the glass down, and poured me a glass of lemonade.

“It is hot in here. Isn’t it?”, she exclaimed as she wiped the droplets of perspiration that had formed on her neck and chest. “Maybe I should go change.”, she stated and she left the kitchen. I stood up and put my now empty glass in the sink, just as she returned, wearing shorts and a halter top. The erection I had when I entered the house returned with a vengeance.  She had removed her bra, and her hardened nipples stared at me from beneath the fabric, as her breasts bounced lightly as she walked towards me. I tried to cover my embarrassment with my hands, but it was too late. She had noticed.

“You really have grown up.”, she said as she took a step closer.

“I have to go now.”, I said, as a wave of fear and uncertainty swept over me.

“Are you sure?”, she asked, as she undid her top and let it fall. I felt paralyzed, unable to move.  She took my hands and placed them on her perfect breasts. They were nothing like Sue Perlmutter’s. These were soft, and full. She moved my hand across her nipples, and I felt them harden under my touch. “I wish you’d stay.”, she told me as she leaned in and kissed me. I had no idea what I was doing, but I really didn’t care.

Mrs. Berman reached her hand down and touched me, causing me to jump. “it’s okay.”, she whispered. “Everything will be okay.” She led me into her bedroom, and showed me things I had only read about. She taught me how to please her, and seemed to instinctively know how to please me.  For the next several years I spent a couple of days a week visiting her, helping out around the house, while her son, and my friend, Mitchell attended Cub Scouts with his father.

I don’t know if she told any of the other neighbors or not, but shortly after our first few meetings, some of the other women in the area began talking to me and looking at me differently. Before long, I found myself providing sexual favors for three ladies who lived in my neighborhood. It was a difficult balancing act, and the time and energy involved in keeping my activities secret from my friends and family was more draining than pleasing these women. When I was fifteen years old, it came to a screeching halt. It was when I was fifteen years old that I first laid eyes on Wendy Glassman.

Mrs. Berman has long since gone, but I am forever grateful for all that she taught the 12 year old boy. I have never forgotten you, or the things you showed me.

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Power & Control

 

I had sneaked into the bedroom. After being awake for 3 hours, while my wife slept, I went to retrieve a cigarette. I moved as quietly as humanly possible, maneuvering around a chair, a lamp, and assorted collectibles. Just as I reached the pack that sat atop the dresser, she spoke. “Did you have coffee already?”

“Ya.”, I replied. “I’ve been up since 2 o’clock.”

“Did you make me any?”, she asked.

“No.”, I told her. “You were asleep.”

“I’m awake now.”, she stated.

“Would you like me to make you coffee?”, I asked.

“No.”, she said. “Its okay. I’m awake now. I can do it myself.”

“Then why are we having this conversation?, I replied.

“I was just asking.”, she stated.

“Its quite aggravating.”, I informed her.

“I know.”, she replied. “But its my job.”

“I wish you’d find another line of work.”, I responded.

“No you don’t.”, she said. “You wouldn’t know what to do with yourself without me aggravating you.”

“I suppose you’re right.”, I told her. “All of these years of having a pain in my ass, I suppose I would miss it if it were gone.”

“Oh, don’t start that sweet talking now.”, she stated. “Its far too early, Let me at least have my coffee first.”

I remember the way things used to be. I don’t know what happened to change it all, but it was different. It had been for over 20 years. Somewhere along this long, strange trip, everything shifted. It was like a parallel universe, with things reversed.

“I used to be in charge.”, I told her, although it sounded a lot more like a question than a statement of fact.

“Yes you were.”, she replied.

“Well.”, I continued, “When did all of that change?”

“It never changed.”, she replied.

“Well. it seems to me”, I added, “that I have very little input into things that go on here.”

“That’s because that’s the way you want it.”, she responded.

“That’s not what I want.”, I told her.

“Sit down.”, she said. “We need to talk.”

“Listen carefully.”, she told me. “And please don’t get upset. You were never really in charge.”

“No , I was.”, I said. I remember making every decision.”

“Well”, she continued. “You really didn’t. You felt that you were in charge because I wanted you to feel that you were in charge.”

“What are you talking about?”, I asked,

“Ah, honey”, she said as she moved the hair off of my forehead. “You never stood a chance. None of you do. Everything that has gone on in our lives was because I was in charge. And look where we are today? Beautiful children, and a  happy marriage. What more could you have wanted?”

“The children, while beautiful, are out of their fucking minds.”, I replied. “And as for a happy marriage, we’re not happy, you’re happy. There’s a difference.”

“Is there?”, she asked. “Could you be happy if I was unhappy?”

“Well, no.”, I said.

“And why is that?”, she asked.

“Because I love you?”, I guessed.

“Hell no.”, she answered. “We both know its because I wouldn’t let you.”

“You tricked me.”, I said. She stood up and sat beside me, hugging me as she rubbed my shoulders.

“What can I do to make it better for you?”, she asked. “Whatever you want.”

“I’d like sex .”, I said.

“Okay.”, she said. “Anything else?”

“Do you think you could make me that brisket again?”, I queried. “The one with the roasted potatoes and carrots?”

“Of course.”, she replied.

“Great.”, I said. “That would be great.”

“Is there anything else?”, she asked, as she stood up.

“No I think that covers it.”, I told her.

“I’m glad.”, she remarked. “And honey.”, she said as I began to walk away. “I like it when you put your foot down and try to take control.”

“I know.”, I said. “That’s why you fell in love with me. Right?”

“No.”, she answered. “But don’t stop. Its really very cute.”

She was good. She was very good. She had confused and confounded me, again. It was precisely at that moment that I realized that she was right. I was never really in charge, and I never would be. But it  didn’t matter anyway. The brisket was good, the sex was even better, and I didn’t really want anything else.

 

 

 

Welcome To The PTA

 

“Forgive me for interrupting this pretentious discussion of the sordid affairs of your politico-religious existence,” , she said quite loudly to the small group that had gathered near the door, “but the reality is, you’re all full of shit.” The droning murmur of inane chatter that had filled the room suddenly stopped.

“Nicely done.”, I told her.

“Thank you.”, she said. “I’ve been rehearsing.”

“It shows.”, I replied.  “I think we should go now.”

“Really?”, she asked, with an air of disappointment.

“Really.”, I said. “This could get very ugly.”

And so began our ongoing battle with our children’s school. Up until then, it had been my role to challenge the powers that be, to shake the status quo at its very foundation, to deliberate, dissect, and disgrace those involved with the task of educating my children. It was quite satisfying to know that my wife was equally up to the challenge.

“That was quite impressive.”, I continued as we walked to the car.

“Thank you.”, she responded. “I had an excellent teacher.”

“Well, its nice to know you were paying attention.”, I said.

“Do you really think that after all these years of listening to you that something wouldn’t have rubbed off?”, she asked.

The phone call we received the next day came as no surprise. The school administration, including the school’s Superintendent, had requested a meeting with us to discuss several concerns related to our kids. It did not sit well with my wife.

“Concerns with our kids?”, she ranted. “Are they out of their minds?”

“They are.”, I confirmed. “But you have to try to relax. We have to go in calm and seemingly rational, no matter how pissed we are. Never let them know what we are thinking.”

“That’s good.”, she said.

“Yep.”, I replied. “Words to live by from Vito Colerone.”

The meeting was more of a lynching, with 6 school and board personnel present, armed with files, and reports. They positioned themselves at one end of the table, so that my wife and I were forced to sit at the opposite end, looking like guilty school children. “Have a seat, please.”, the principal stated.

“I think I’d prefer to stand.”, I responded., as my wife sat down in her assigned seat. “What I have to say really won’t take very long.”

“However we have a rather lengthy list of concerns regarding your children.”, the Superintendent spouted.

“I’m sure you do.”, I replied. “But I really have no interest in hearing any of them. So, I understand that the teacher who had manhandled my daughter is still teaching in the school.”

“We have finished our investigation into the matter, and we don’t believe there is any need for further disciplinary measures.”, he answered.

“Well”, I said as I put my hand on my wife’s shoulder. “I don’t believe there is any need to continue this meeting.”, I stated as my wife stood up.

“Just a minute.”, the Superintendent said. “There are issues here we need to address.”

“Oh, I’m sorry.”, I replied. “Did I not make it clear that we really don’t give a shit about what you think?”.

“Well”, he continued. “Now we see why the children have so many behavioral issues.”

“Hell no.”, I corrected him. “You haven’t seen anything yet. I suggested you contact your superior, and have yourself, the principal of this school, the teacher and the Board of Education obtain legal counsel. I have secured a human rights attorney who is, as we speak, presenting a motion to bar Ms. Emmerson from teaching until a full and complete inquiry has been completed. As well, criminal charges for assault, and child abuse are being laid against this deranged woman. And the rest of you who were aware of the issues we raised, and did nothing, have been named in a civil law suit, as has the board. Papers should be served to all of you within the next 72 hours.”

“I don’t know what you think you’re going to get out of this.”, the Superintendent questioned.

“Oh.”, I reported, “I almost forgot. You may want to watch the 6 o’clock news tonight. Doesn’t matter which network. They are all airing this story. As to what I think I’m going to get out of this, well, your fucking jobs. Your careers, and your reputations.”

The silence that fell on the room was deafening. The Superintendent finally spoke. “Can I speak with you outside?”  My wife and I joined him in the hallway, just outside of the school Principal’s office. “Don’t you think this can be rectified in some other way?”

“That ship has sailed.”, I replied. “We spoke several times, and you informed me every time that there were no grounds for any disciplinary action. You blamed my daughter, and justified the teacher’s actions. And so, now, you’re all fucked. Get Ms. Emmerson out of my kid’s school, and I will consider withdrawing the legal proceedings. Can I be frank with you?”

“Of course.”, he said.

“Do yourself a favor.”, I told him. “Don’t fuck with my family. We will take you down.”

“Well, that was pretty amazing.”, my wife said to me in the car. “How did you arrange all of that stuff.”

“I didn’t.”, I told her. “My friend Jerod is a lawyer. He’s drafting some letters, but now we wait to see what they do with our offer. They can transfer her wherever we don’t have kids.”

“What about the news casts tonight?”, she asked. “If they watch and its not on, they’ll know we’re full of shit.”

“It will be on.”, I assured her. “That I was able to arrange through Jerod. All three networks will air a report on a child being assaulted by a teacher and how the school and the board swept it under the rug.”

“You’re pretty sexy when you’re devious.”, she said.

In less than 24 hours, we received an email stating that effective immediately, Ms. Emmerson had been removed from the staff at my kid’s school, and transferred to another school at the far end of the school district. A formal letter from the school board arrived several days later, with a full and complete apology from the Board.

Things changed at my kid’s school. My kids seemed happier, and we no longer received phone calls about nonsense. When we did attend planning meetings for our kid’s, our ideas and recommendations were included in the plan. We never saw Ms. Emmerson again, and a few months later, the school principal disappeared. I told my wife that I had nothing to do with it, but I’m not sure if she believed me. My wife decided to become active in the PTA, and wound up being president. Me, well, I took satisfaction in knowing that my dream of being a Mafia enforcer had come true, and that I could easily turn my wife on by behaving like a character from Goodfellas.

 

 

I Am Not Amused

 

As we raced through Donovan’s Gap travelling at speeds of up to one thousand miles an hour, or so it seemed, my wife, who was sitting beside me, had her hands firmly gripped on my right arm trying to hold on. I sat with my eyes and mouth tightly closed, trying to keep the force of the wind from ripping my face off. I could feel the sweat dripping down my face, as she dug her finger nails into the now raw flesh of my arm. And despite the terror, and impending doom that had swallowed me, I noticed just how nice she smelled. But that momentary olfactory sensation was short lived as we careened down a steep curve, banking to the left, and tossing us like rag dolls into the side of the car, and bouncing us back into the other side. My wife threw up just as we came to a screeching stop on the other side of the Gap.

“Well”, I said as we exited the car. “I’m never doing that again.”

“Are you kidding?”, she asked. “That was amazing! Are you afraid, or something?”

“It’s not something.”, I replied. “I’m definitely afraid.”

“You know.”, she continued, “the best way to conquer fear is to face it head on.”

“It’s okay.”, I said. “I’m not really interested in conquest. I’m good with just survival.”

“Is there another ride you want to go on?”, she asked, with her sultry voice in perfect form.

“I’m good.”, I replied. “Think I’ll just keep my feet on the ground for now.”

“Oh, come on.”, she pleaded. “What about Death Zone.”

“No thanks.”, I said. “That last one was as close to the death zone as I’d like to be.”

We wandered around the park, as she identified every ride designed to separate a man from his genitals. “How about that one?”, she excitedly asked.

“Why don’t I get you a funnel cake?”, I suggested.

“I love the funnel cakes here.”, she stated, as joyous as a 5 year old.

We headed to the food area and purchased 1 funnel cake, with every topping known to man, a blue raspberry candy apple, and a soft serve chocolate vanilla swirl ice cream cone. “Do you want some?”, she asked as she shoveled funnel cake into her whipped cream covered face.

“No thanks.”, I said, as I continued eating my blue raspberry candy apple.

“Aren’t you going to offer me some?”, she queried. I did, and she accepted, and I never got the apple back. We continued to wander the park, as she marveled at the myriad of rides that were strategically placed throughout the grounds.

“Let’s go on that one.”, she said. I turned and looked, trying to discern the fear factor. It appeared possible. Not too high, and it didn’t seem to move all that fast. It was called Timberwolf Falls, a rather innocuous name that mentioned neither death or terror. I studied the ride, watching a canoe shaped car travel up the tracks, reaching the peak, and then falling down the track into a pool of water. Seemed harmless enough, and I could swim. And, there wasn’t much of a line up.

“Alright.”, I said, as she jumped for joy. “But this is the last one.” She grabbed my hand and raced me to the ticket booth.

“Hurry up”, she shouted as I purchased two tickets.

“She’s just a little excited.”, I informed the woman in the ticket booth who was now watching my wife jump up and down in the line. We didn’t have to wait long, and then we were next in line. My wife’s excitement seemed to increase exponentially in relation to our position in line. The closer we moved to the front, the more animated she became.

We entered the canoe. She sat in the front, holding on the sides and rocking in her seat. An employee came by to ensure that we were securely locked in our seats. And then we started to move, the slow, deliberate crawl to the top of Timberwolf Falls. It was at this time that I began having second thoughts. It didn’t appear to be so high looking at it from the ground. And why did we need to be locked in our seats? As the canoe reached the peak, it stopped, as if pausing to say a prayer before its final descent into oblivion. My wife was squealing with delight, shouting “come on already” in anticipation of the impending climax. And suddenly, without warning, the canoe moved off the peak, and began its journey, at ever increasing speeds, into the river that seemed to be waiting for our demise. My wife threw her hands in the air, shrieking, as I held on to the sides of the canoe with every ounce of strength my trembling body could muster. We hit the water, and an enormous wave created by our impact washed over us. My wife laughed with joy, wiping water off of her face with her hands, while I gave thanks to any superior being who would listen for our survival. When the canoe arrived at the exit, I couldn’t get out fast enough. I was soaking wet, from top to bottom.

“That was so awesome. Wasn’t it?”, she asked. “Did you like it?”

“It wasn’t all that bad,”, I told her. I think I wet myself, but getting soaked, no one will ever know.”

“Ah, honey.”, she told me as she gave me a hug. “We don’t have to go on anymore rides today.”

“Thank you.”, I replied. “Do you think we can go and sit down somewhere?”

As she began to walk away, I noticed that her white jeans had become almost transparent since they got wet. “You know”, I said, “I can see through your pants.”

“Are you kidding me?”, she shouted, as grabbed my jacket and wrapped it around her waist, trying to cover as much as she could. “Maybe we should just go home now.”

“Or”, I said, “maybe we should go to a hotel and spend the night without any kids.”

“Do you really think you’re up to that after all of the stress and excitement you just endured.”, she asked.

“Well, I think it will be okay.”, I answered. “Provided you do most of the work.”

“So pretty much the way its always been.”, she quipped.

“Very funny.”, I said. “Now lets go find a hotel room and get me on a ride I really enjoy.”

“Well”, she replied, “I suppose its about time you got to pick a ride you want to go on.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Christmas Flashback

 

“Where have you been?”, my wife asked me.

“I don’t know.”, I replied.

“What do you mean you don’t know?”, she continued. “You had to have been somewhere.”

“I know.”, I told her. “I was somewhere, but I’m just not sure where that somewhere was.”

“Okay.”, she said. “You’re starting to freak me out.”

“Freak you out?”, I quipped. “How do you think I feel.”

It was a Saturday afternoon. My wife and I had gone out for the day. I had wandered off, as usual, and had somehow become lost. Nothing seemed familiar, and yet I knew I had been there before. It seemed like I had been gone for hours. And standing there, surrounded by the cavern like walls, I was sure that I would never find my way out. Fear and anxiety began to set in, and then the panic hit. Waves of impending doom washed over me, leaving me filled with dread and despair. I realized that I was alone, and had no idea where I was. There were people milling about, but I couldn’t ask anyone for help. I just couldn’t speak. I opened my mouth, but not a sound would come out.

“You always do this.”, my wife pointed out. “It doesn’t matter where we go, you always seem to wander off.”

“This was different.”, I told her. “I don’t think I was here.”

“What the hell does that mean?”, she asked.

“It means”, I leaned over to her in order to whisper, “it means I was somewhere else.”

“Like another store?”, she asked.

“No.”, I responded. “I think somewhere farther away.”

“You’re not making any sense.”, she said.

“I know.”, I replied. “I’ll try to explain, but I don’t really understand it, either. Maybe we should sit down somewhere.” We walked over to the bench that sat in front of a metal sculpture of 3 strange looking women who seemed to be flying, strategically placed over a fountain. “Okay, I’ll tell you everything I know.”, I said as we sat on the bench.

“You were looking at shoes or something, so I thought I’d just walk over to the electronics store. But I never got there. Something happened to me. Everything seemed different, like it had changed in a instant. There were these really bright lights. They were everywhere, and they seemed to blink on and off with some sort of synchronicity. And there was music, but really awful music, like Bon Jovi or something.”

“I like Bon Jovi.”, my wife interjected.

“I know.”, I replied. “And I couldn’t really see anything, I mean I couldn’t make out where I was. I tried to speak, but nothing happened. I just couldn’t make a sound. I could see people, I think they were people, moving around me, but I couldn’t seem to get anyone’s attention. And then, I felt as if I was paralyzed. I couldn’t move. It was like I didn’t have arms or legs. But the lights kept flashing, and getting brighter. There were shadows moving behind them, I thought they were people, but they seemed to be floating, not walking. And then, something got into my mind. I can’t explain it, but it felt like someone was taken information out of my brain. It was so weird.” My wife sat silently for a few moments, thinking about what I had just told her and gathering her thoughts.

“Are you high?”, she asked.

“I sure as hell hope so.”, I answered. “But that has nothing to do with this.”

“Really?”, she asked, as sarcastically as I had ever heard her. “Remember the time we went to Medieval Times, and you were certain that one of the knights had a flying horse? What were you on then?”

“That was different.”, I explained. “Mushrooms, I think.”

“So what do you think happened to you?”, she asked.

“I think I was abducted. By Aliens.”, I told her.

“And what would they want with you?”, she queried.

“Information.”, I answered. “They were getting information and knowledge from my brain.”

“Well”, my wife replied, “Its unlikely they got much except maybe flying horses, and dinosaurs.”

“Dragons.”, I corrected her. “Dragons. Not dinosaurs.”

“Let’s just go home.”, she said. The ride home was one of silent condemnation. She didn’t believe it. Hell, I wasn’t sure if I believed it either. As we turned onto our street, the entire block was lit up. There were blinking lights everywhere, hovering over the houses like low lying clouds. There was a constant hum, as if a giant vacuum cleaner was running.

“It was kind of like this.”, I said.

“Really?”, my wife asked.  “Those are Christmas lights. They’re Christmas lights on the houses. And there are Santa’s and reindeer on the roofs of the houses. And big snowmen on the front lawns. That’s all it is.”

“Then what about what happened earlier?”, I asked. “At the mall?”

“You wandered into the Christmas display.”, she informed me. “With the lights, and Santa and the elves.”

“Well.”, I said. “That makes sense.”

“Ya.”, she replied. “Probably just another Christmas flashback.”

“I guess.”, I replied, as we pulled into the driveway. “You go inside. I’ll be in as soon as I get the giant marshmallow off the lawn.”

 

 

 

The Girl From Founder’s College

 

I met Lily in 1975. She was a full time art student, and part time bartender at The Cock & Bull Pub, in Founder’s College. In those days of politically fueled metaphysics and drug induced socialism, she was a wet dream some true. She was from Uruguay,  and moved with her family up here in the early 1970’s. She was beautifully South American, with an accent that could render most men speechless, and most women sick with envy.

The Cock & Bull was my pub in those days, drinking Labbatt’s and discussing Camus & Kierkegaard,  Dylan and Ginsberg, and Thompson and Kerouac. In those self absorbed moments of pseudo-poetic philosophy, her face brought me back to the essence of real beauty. She was always smiling, with a smile that illuminated the room, and dark eyes wide open, accepting of everyone, warm and welcoming. I fell in love with Lily, right there at The Cock & Bull, as I pondered life’s purpose over pints of lager and lime, from a table on the other side of the bar. We would speak occasionally, and our encounters soon included those signature smiles that so often indicate ‘I like you’, and those knowing glances from across the room.

One day, in one of our brief encounters, she informed me that our little group of liberal arts socialists, was the only one she could really tolerate. She hated the arrogant and abrasive jocks, and was bored to death by the business and science majors. We were, it seemed, the chosen ones. “We should go out sometime.”, I told her.

“Whenever you’re ready.”, she said. “All you have to do is ask.”

We dated for the rest of that school year, and she became one of the best friends I ever had. Long after we stopped our romantic tryst, we hung out together, catching movies and concerts, and just sitting in her dorm room on campus getting high. She called me once when she was sick, wanting me to bring her soup and cold medication, and I suppose to keep her company. When she found a spider in her room, I got the call to come and exterminate it. Sometime in 1976 or 1977, I was hospitalized and required surgery. When I woke in my room, I found Lily sitting there, patiently waiting for me to wake. “Hey”, I managed to blurt out.

“Hey, yourself.”, she said. “You really need to stop all of this attention seeking shit.”

“Ya.”, I said. “Thanks for being here.”

“Where else would I be?”, she responded. “Are you doing okay?”

“Ya.”, I told her.

“Good.”, she stated. “I have something for you. I hope it cheers you up.” And then Lily stood up, closed the drapes that separated my roommate’s bed from mine,  undid her trench coat, and revealed her totally naked body.

“Are you fucking crazy?”, I asked.

“Yep.”, she replied. “Now, I take it your not feeling up to tackling this right now, so I guess I’ll just have to do it myself.” And with that, she sat on the chair, legs draped over the arm rests, and proceeded to masturbate in front of me, right there in my hospital room. “You need to get your ass out of here.”, she said when she was done. “I miss having you around.” .

“I’m working on it.”, I said as she was heading out of the room. “Best hospital visit ever.”

“Wait until you see what I have planned for tomorrow’s visit.”, she remarked, as the door was closing behind her.

Lily died in 1978, the victim of a drunk driver. She was 21 years old. She was a beautiful soul, and a wonderful friend. She made me laugh, and she made me cry. It took me a very long time to get over her passing, and much longer to be able to speak about it. There have been a handful of people in my life who have touched me deeply. I hope they know who they are. There’s just some sort of connection beyond what our senses can understand. Its a love for another that is so deep, it requires a minimal amount of effort to maintain. Absence does nothing to hinder it.

I think about Lily a great deal. I never told her just how much I loved her, but I hope she knew. Its been almost 40 years, and I still miss her. I suppose I always will.

 

 

The Chocoholic

 

In all of the years I have known my wife, for better or worse, she has had an issue with chocolate. She is an addict. At times she pretends that there isn’t a problem, but deep down she knows. She buys insane amounts of the stuff, stashing it for later, in the event that the planet should run out. She craves it, becomes obsessed with it, and holds on to it as if her life depended on it.

“You won’t believe what I got us.”, my wife told me over the phone. “I got a huge box of Lindor chocolates. 150 of them on sale for $50.”

“What are we going to do with 150 chocolates?”, I asked.

“Eat them.”, she said. “we’ll have chocolates for a year.”

“You know I don’t really eat chocolate, right?”, I reminder her.

“Okay.”, she said. “So, I’ll have chocolates for a year.”

“That should last you 2 years, if its just you eating them.”, I suggested.

“There my chocolates now.”, she stated. “I’ll eat them when I want.”  She wasn’t kidding. The year’s worth of chocolates were gone in about a week. She carried some in her purse, had some at work, and the rest she managed to eat while sitting in bed, reading.

“I don’t feel so good.”, she told me after the last morsel had been eaten. “I’m never doing that again.”

“I’m sure you will.”, I said. Not surprisingly, I was right. I just couldn’t believe how quickly she was going to do it again.

Less than a week later, while shopping, she noticed her favorite boxes of chocolates on sale, the dark chocolate, sea salt topped, caramel things in a box. They are only available at Christmas time. “Can you get me a box?”, she asked. As I walked towards the chocolate display, I heard a voice call out. “Make it two, please.”

“Why not.”, I replied. I picked up the two boxes and placed them in the shopping cart.

“You know what?”, she asked. “Get me one more.”

“Are you sure?”, I asked. “Remember what happened last time.”

“I know.”, she answered. “But this time I’ll pace myself.”

We got home and unpacked the groceries. Several minutes later, as I entered the bedroom, I found my wife sitting on the bed, an open box of the dark chocolate, sea salt topped, caramel things on her lap.

“You’re kidding.”, I stated. “We haven’t even been home for half an hour.”

“I know.”, she said. “Isn’t it awful.”, as she shoved another one into her mouth. Before the evening was through, she had devoured 26 of the 30 chocolates in the box.

“I think I’m going to be sick.”, she said.

“Me too.”, I replied.

“No, seriously.”, she said. “I think I’m going to be really sick.” And she was. For hours.

“I think you’re going to be okay.”, I told her as she settled into bed.

“I think I should take the other boxes of chocolates back.”, she suggested.

“Okay.”, I agreed.

“Or maybe we should just hang on to them.”, she added. “You know, maybe give them as  gifts or something.”

“Whatever you want.”, I said.

“But you’re going to have to hide them somewhere.”, she stated, “and don’t tell me where they are. No matter what.”

“Alright.”, I told her.

“You know what?”, she continued. “Just hide them under the tv stand.”

“Right.”, I said.

 

 

Bitch Toss

 

I have a habit, although my wife refers to it as a disorder, of arriving at work in the wee hours of the morning, and completing all of my paper work. For me, it works. I then have the day to deal with arising issues, and can devout my time to resolving them, un-distracted by looming bureaucratic deadlines. Some mornings, if I am diligent enough, I find myself with time to have a nap in my office before any one else arrives. I suppose I enjoy the solitude, the tranquility of a world unencumbered by the persistent bullshit of asshats and fucktards.

It began when I was still in University, staying up all night to study, or write essays in the silence, while everyone else was asleep. I would often go to Mr. Donut, buy a pack of cigarettes from the machine, and sit at a table all night, drinking coffee and working on my assignments unfettered by the world that slumbered. It bothers my wife. Even though I am not at home, I seem to be responsible for her waking early, not sleeping properly, bad coffee, and a seemingly never ending list of issues that arise in my home between 2am and 6am. At one time, my wife suggested we get separate beds. My counter proposal was that we get separate homes. Needless to say, we still have the one bed.

At my wife’s urging, or rather badgering, I went to the doctor. After a series of intrusive tests, some of which made me feel quite violated, I was advised that my body clock was off.  It could be reset I was told, and I was given a list of things to do, and not to do in order to correct the problem. Surprisingly, I didn’t see it as a problem. My wife however, who takes great joy in complicating and micromanaging my life, insisted that it was. “You need to sleep!”, she told me. “Everybody needs to sleep!”

“You mean, you need to sleep.”, I corrected her.

“Yes.”, she fired back, “I need to sleep. So you need to fix the problem.”

Now, to be truthful, there have been times when I have wanted to suggest things that she needed to fix. Things like get cable back, have more sex, and give me some of the fucking blanket. But there always seems to be a round or two of the game known as bitch and catch. It works like this. No matter what is going on, no matter who is responsible, my wife hurls her bitch at me. My role in this game is to catch it, and hang on to it. If I drop it, the bitches that follow will be harder and more erratic, making it almost impossible to catch and hang on to. The only way this can be won by me, is to catch and hang on to each and every bitch, and at an opportune moment, to throw one back and force her into the catching role. Not surprisingly, she is very weak in this part of the game. I am, and I say this with all modesty, the Provincial Champion, three years in a row, and the reigning Silver Medalist at the World Championship.

Let me assure you that this is no easy feat. The training involved is unprecedented in modern sport. It requires stamina, patience, inner strength, and quick reflexes. It demands a calm interior and a hardened exterior, much like an emotionally charged M & M. Years ago, I secured a trainer and a coach, who work with me several times a week, and I attribute much of my success to their dedication and knowledge in deflecting bitches, the most difficult part of this event. In its simplest terms, it weakens the bitch, slowing it down and minimizing its impact, so that it it falls into your hands like a feather drifting on a warm summer breeze, landing right in the palm of you outstretched and open hand. The idea is to stand perfectly still, don’t even blink, and look at her. And just as she is about to release, lowering your eyes to the ground, and mumbling “I’m sorry, honey.”, creates a disturbance in the atmosphere, causing time to almost stand still. When this is employed correctly, and you have caught the bitch, this is the moment to throw it back. It is unsuspected, and applies a devastating blow to your combatant, one from which they struggle to overcome. The bitches stop.It gets eerily quiet, as she thinks about her next move. Don’t move, and don’t say a word. Anything you say or do at this point will only serve to provide with additional bitches. There is an old saying ‘the one who speaks next, is the one who loses.’. Don’t speak. Through my coach and trainer, I have mastered this by imagining my wife naked. Yep. There she is, standing in front of me, naked, and my mind is occupied in thoughts of sexual fantasy. “What the hell are you doing?”, she asks me, being the first one to speak.

“Nothing.”, I reply. “Just thinking.”

“About what?”. she pries.

“About you.”, I say. “About us.”, as I lower my gaze to the ground again.  

“I’m sorry.”, she says, as she comes towards me, totally bitchless. “I don’t mean to give you a hard time.”

“Well”, I said.  “Seems like you already did.”

“Oh, so it does.”, she remarked, looking at my crotch. “Well, I suppose we should take care of that.”, she continued, as she led me into the bedroom.

Game, set, and match!!!

Here She Comes Again

 

As each of my children has grown, there has been a tearful goodbye, and, once the door had been closed and locked behind them, a celebration my wife and I have shared in silence, through glances that scream joy and gratitude. “Another one out.”, was never said, but my how it was celebrated.

“We have to talk.”, my wife said the other night. “What do you want first, the good news or the bad news?”

“I’d prefer no news at all.”, I answered

“Well, that’s not an option.”, she said, as she sat down beside me, and turned the television off.

“The good news is”, she began, “your daughter is breaking up with Rick.”

“How is that good news?”, I asked. “I like Rick.”

“Well, there really is no good news, then.”, she replied. “It’s just bad news, and even worse news. She’s moving back home.”

“Hell, no.”, I shouted. “Don’t we have some kind of no return policy?”

“I’m afraid not.”, I was informed. “She needs you to rent a truck and help her move.”

“When does it end?”, I asked, although I didn’t really expect an answer. And yet I got one.

“She’s our daughter.”, came the reply.

I was well aware of who my children were, but I really thought that by the time I was old enough to start collecting Canada Pension, my obligations to them would have long since gone. I truly believed that life would return to that blissful, euphoria when my wife and I free of responsibility and obligation. A time when I could do whatever I wanted to. And now, the dream was over. Just like that, she was moving back home.

“They’re like a virus.”, I stated. “Just when you think you’re over it, it comes back, and starts all over again.”

“It won’t be for long.”, my wife continued, “It’s only until she gets back on her feet.”

“Right.”, I said, with an obvious hint of sarcasm. “She was already on her feet, and that took 25 years. I really can’t wait that long to wait for her to leave again.”

“It will be fine.”, I was told. “You’ll see.”

“I hope so.”, I said. “And let her know that I stopped wearing pants in the house.”

“She knows.”, my wife replied. “Everybody knows. And while we on the subject, we have to get her a bed, and some furniture for her room.”

“She doesn’t have a room.”, I replied. “Not for two and a half years.”

“Well”, my wife advised, “her old room. She will be moving back into her old room.”

“That’s my office.”, I stated.

“I know.”, came the response. “And it was very nice. But now it is being converted into a bedroom for your daughter.”

“Which I have to refurnish.”, I added.

“And by the way.”, my wife went on, “We’re going to meet with her on Sunday and talk about what’s going on with her.”

It was raining on Sunday, quite pathetically ironic I thought,  and as we found my daughter in the coffee shop, I was reminded once again to behave myself, which really meant that I was to not say a word. My wife and daughter began their conversation as I sat quietly, drinking a double cappuccino. They spoke at length about making better choices, and thinking things through, and whether she was sure that whatever was going on between her and Rick was irreparable.  Suddenly, my wife was overwhelmed by a craving for pastry, and excused herself to stand in line and purchase herself a Boston cream donut. She did not, by the way, ask if anyone else had wanted something. I took the opportunity to instruct my daughter that she should try and make it work with Rick. I told her I loved her, and she could always come home, but she needed to be sure. She got a little teary eyed and when my wife returned, she noticed. “What did you do?”, she accused me. “What did you say to her?”

“Not a thing.”, I replied. “We were just talking.”  On the drive home my wife informed me that there were problems in the bedroom between Rick and my daughter. “I don’t want to hear this.”, I stated. “We agreed that we wouldn’t share that kind of information. This is why I want them out of the house. I don’t want to know anything. Let them live their lives, and leave me to age peacefully in my naivete.”

“Well”, my wife added, “She’s decided to stay put for now. She’s going to tell Rick what’s going on, and give it 3 months to see if anything changes. She’s going to look for a job, and hope to find a place of her own.”

“What happened to her job?”, I asked.

“Oh, she quit the clinic 3 months ago.”, my wife informed me.”

“It just gets better and better.”, I stated.

“Anyway”, she continued, “you can keep your office, at least for a little while. And you may as well leave your pants off.”

“Is that an invitation?”, I asked.

“Why not.”, she answered. “You’re a lot of work and a lot of trouble, but never in the bedroom.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Milky Way…

 

The Weird Guy, as he had come to be known, had been sitting outside the local Tim Horton’s everyday for as long as I have lived in Cabbagetown. Dressed in his red & black flannel shirt, even in the throes of the most intense heat waves summer could muster, unkempt and disheveled, he would stop everyone who passed by and ask for a cigarette or some spare change. He was not homeless, living in one of high rise buildings that dotted the north end of the neighborhood, just wide eyed and unblinking. He was, to put it bluntly, crazy. My wife objected.. “I don’t thin we’re supposed to use that word.”, she advised me. “It’s not politically correct.”

“I really don’t care.”, I informed her. ” I’ve lived long enough to have earned the right to be politically incorrect”. And, after having spent the best part of 35 years working in the mental health field, I could guarantee that he was bat crap crazy.

As we walked through our neighborhood one day, we inevitably passed the Tim Horton’s that had become his office. “Do you have a cigarette, man?”, he asked. I stopped and gave him a cigarette, and went on my way. About half an hour later, as we made our way back up the street, arms laden with beer & tacos, we passed by The Weird Guy’, who again asked me for a cigarette. I ignored his request this time, and continued on my way. An hour or so later, as I went out to get the fancy, sparkling wine my wife forgot and now so urgently needed, I passed by him again.

“Do you have a cigarette?”, he inquired.

“Are you kidding me?”, I asked. “Every time you see me you’re  asking for cigarettes or money. Can’t you find someone else to bother?”

“I haven’t asked you before.”, he responded.

“Oh, come on.”, I said. “This is the 3rd time this afternoon. Do me a favor pal, just stop talking to me. Don’t ask me for anything again.” Over the next few weeks, there were only a few occasions when he would ask me for something, but generally our little talk had made a difference. He pretty much left me alone.

And just the other day,  while sitting on my terrace, I watched as Police and EMS came streaming into view, leaping out of vehicles, and racing into a building that my terrace faces. There was pandemonium all around the grounds of the complex. Uniforms were rushing everywhere, creating perimeters and blocking traffic in and out of the development. The local television news people arrived, and began asking questions. “What’s going on over there?”, my wife asked.

“I have no idea.”, I answered, “But it will be on Citypulse at 6.” We watched together as Police escorted someone into the back of a cruiser, as an ambulance sped away with sirens howling. Shortly after, the forensics team arrived, taking pictures of the crime scene, and collecting evidence. At 6 we went in to watch the news. And there he was, the weird guy, being led into the back of the cruiser, taken into custody by police. The story was told that he had stolen a jug of milk from a nearby convenience store, and in making his escape, assaulted the store owner with the jug of milk. He then fled to the nearby apartments, where he lived, and was stopped by a security guard who was patrolling the grounds.He allegedly stabbed the security guard, who was listed in ‘grave’ condition. The weird guy was located by police in one of the buildings, hiding in the laundry room, clutching the jug of milk.

“He stabbed a guy over a jug of milk.”, I said. “Clearly, it didn’t do a body good.”

“He could have stabbed you that day you yelled at him.”, my wife stated.

“I don’t think so.”, I said.

“You never know.”, she continued. “You need to be careful. He could have had a knife on him then, too.”

“Ya”, I told her, “he could have. But I wasn’t trying to take his jug of milk away, so I’m pretty sure I was safe.”