Bubbie Has A Boyfriend

 

There was quite a furor in my house. The kids were upset, my wife was uncharacteristically quiet, and once again I found myself in the role of therapist for this band of brooding, yet quite lovable barbarians. As innocent as it appeared to me, there was much anxiety over the news that my 80 year old mother-in-law had a boyfriend.

“Who is this man?”, one of my daughters asked.

“What does Bubbie need a boyfriend for?”, another one shouted out.

“We need to check this guy out.”, a son chimed in. “What if he’s after her money or something?” I sat listening to this diatribe, wondering what he hell had happened to what I thought was a reasonably sensible family.

“I don’t know who he is.”, my wife said. “Except that he’s younger than her, and he’s French.”

“He’s a gigolo.”, another son entered the fray.

“Are they, like dating?”, a daughter asked.

“It appears that way.”, my wife responded. “He just moved into her building.”

“Oh my God!”, a daughter quipped. “Are they living together?”

“No.”, my wife said. “He has his own apartment. A few floors above hers.”

“Well, that’s convenient.”, I said. Its probably not even furnished..”

“What is that supposed to mean?”, my wife asked, with arms folded.

“It means they are probably living together.”, a son replied. “He just rented his own apartment to make it look good.”

“They are not living together.”, my wife stated. “And please”, she added as she looked directly at me, “If you’re not going to help, then just say nothing.”

“I just don’t think there’s anything to get so upset about.”, I said. “The woman has been a widow for almost 40 years. She spent all of that time alone. I think its good for her to meet someone and try to be happy.”

“Well, it’s not your mother, is it?”, my wife reminded me. And true enough, it wasn’t.

“We need to meet this guy.”, a son said. “We need to check him out and make sure he’s okay for Bubbie.”

“We should just put him in the trunk of his car and leave him in the parking lot at the Airport.”, someone said.

“This isn’t a Mafia hit.”, I interjected.

“What if they’re having sex?”, a daughter asked.

“They’re not having sex.”, my wife answered.

“How do you know?”, I asked.

“Because they’re not.”, she said. “You’re still not helping.”, she said to me.

“Well”, I offered.”Why don’t we ask your mother and her friend to join us for lunch. We’ll all go. We can meet him, and see what’s going on. Maybe then you can all stop talking about it.” There are times when I have wonderfully brilliant solutions to all of my families troubles, but not one of them will ever let me know. This was one of those times.

“Okay.”, my wife said. “I call my mother and make arrangements for this weekend.”

“I’m going to grill him.”, a daughter said. “No one messes with my Bubbie.”

“We could take him outside and threaten him.”, a son said. “You know, scare the crap out of him.”

“Who are you?”, I asked him. “We’re not the Sopranos!”

“We will all behave.”, my wife said. “It will be a nice getting to know you, and welcome to the family lunch.”

“He’s not in my family.”, a daughter said.

“Does he even speak English?”, a daughter asked.

“He speaks English.”, I assured her. “But like a Frenchman. Just mumble, close your eyes and move your head around a bit when you speak to him. He’ll understand perfectly.”

As the day of the luncheon rolled around, everyone was working on their own agendas. There were those who had plans to batter the man with incessant questioning, while others were planning on intimidating and threatening. My wife wasn’t sure how she would react. She hoped that she would like him, for her mother’s sake, but she already had issue with him. Me, well, it made no difference to me whatsoever. I was pretty far removed from the emotional turbulence that had overwhelmed my family. If he was alright, then I was alright. All of the kids and their significant others met at the restaurant about 20 minutes before we arranged for them to come. We were an intimidating site for a newcomer, all 10 of us, seated at the table, some with a scornful demeanor, and visible uneasiness. “Please make sure your children behave.”, my wife whispered to me.

“Why are they suddenly mine?”, I asked.

“Because you taught them to be rude and disrespectful.”, she said.

“Okay.”, I said to my kids. “You really need to tone it down, and behave yourselves. Be nice. Be polite. We’re hear for your grandmother. Let’s try to make her happy.”

When they arrived, we all sat there talking, introducing ourselves, and trying to get to know the Frenchman. I’m sure he knew the scrutiny he was under. I’m sure my mother-in-law warned him about our family. But he was alright. He held his own. One of my daughters kept giving him the ‘stink eye’, and I had to glare at her to get her to stop. It turned out that the Frenchman had a crap load of money, owned several properties across Canada, including a beach house in Nova Scotia, and a Condo in Vancouver. I could see my daughter’s eyes light up,  with dollar signs floating around her face. My mother-in-law seemed happy, the happiest I had seen her in many, many years. My wife, struggling a little to let go of the ghost of her father, also saw her mother’s happiness. We finished lunch, and said our goodbyes, as they had a long drive back to Windsor. As the rest of us walked towards our cars, there was much chatter about the Frenchman.

“He seems okay.”, a son said.

“I still don’t like him.”, a daughter said.

“Do you think I could get him to pay off my student loan?”, another daughter asked.

“I hate the French.”, someone stated.

In the car, heading home, my wife asked me what I thought of him. “I don’t know.”, I told her. “He seems nice enough, and your mother is very happy.”

“I don’t want her to get hurt.”, she said.

“Ah, honey.”, I said. “They’re 80 years old. He can’t get her money because we have signing authority. What’s left for him to take? Her virtue? That ship sailed a long, long time ago. Let her have fun. We will take care of her, but she needs to live.”

“I know.”, she said. “I just worry that he’ll leave or something, and then she’ll have nothing.”

“She’ll have us.”, I reminded her.

“Thank you for looking out for my mother.”, she told me.

“And besides”, I stated. “If he hurts her, we can always have him stuffed into the trunk of a car parked at the airport. Your gangster son would gladly do the job.”

“Oh, so now he’s my son.”, she exclaimed.

“Yes.”, I explained. “The crazy shit they get from you. The kids and I refer to it as ‘getting Moroccan’.”

“Well”, she said, “We have some time without any kids. Interested in some crazy Moroccan sex?”

“It so happens that’s my favorite kind.”, I told her. Man, I love this woman..

 

 

 

 

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The Freud That Was Sherlock Holmes

 

Here at the Institute of Psychofictional Studies, no stone is left unturned in our search for the truth. After 10 years of intensive research, Dr. Guillermo Montoya, esteemed tenured Professor and head coach of the women’s nude hacky sack and lap dancing team has uncovered evidence to support his hypothesis that Sherlock Holmes was not a fictional character, but rather the alter ego of Sigmund Freud.

According to Montoya, Freud, an emotionally weak buffoon, had, in his cocaine induced dreams, created the persona of Holmes, genius detective, who epitomized all that Freud knew he could never be.  As evidentiary proof, Montoya points out that there is not a single instance in which Holmes & Freud were seen together,  and postulates that Freud  revealed his dreams to Conan Doyle over the course of a long weekend, when the two men met at Reichenbach Falls in the Swiss Alps during the summer of 1893. Freud was so captivated by his alter ego, that he had named him Sure Luck, a reference to his own deductive reasoning prowess, and certainly he would have shared that with Conan Doyle.

Montoya has suggested that many elements of the Holmes stories were simply attempts by Freud to deal with his own personal anxieties and ‘meshugas’.  According to the research, Moriarty is the embodiment of Freud’s father Jacob, a cold, distant and emotionally disturbed man, while Watson, Holmes’ trusted protector and blindly supportive adviser, is in fact Freud’s mother, Amelia. It is not without possibility then that Holmes’ estranged siblings, with their ridiculously inane given names, are the characterizations of Freud’s own siblings, towards whom he felt great animosity, and the discovery of sibling rivalry.

Montoya and his team of Psychofictional researchers spent hundreds of hours interviewing family members of Freud and Conan Doyle, and it was uncovered, though never recorded,  that Holmes was freakishly fond of cats, and had taken in many strays during his illustrious career. Montoya states it is more than mere coincidence then, that Freud had an obsessive penchant for pussies himself. To further illustrate this , the research suggests that the numerous images of valleys, crypts, tunnels, and caves in the Sherlock Holmes tales, can be identified as vaginal openings, symbolizing Freud’s unsuccessful attempts to slip into his mother’s vagina, demonstrating a significant Oedipal complex. Montoya also theorizes that Irene Adler, Holmes’ love interest in ‘A Scandal In Bohemia’, who he could never quite get over, is representative of Freud’s beloved sister Anna, whom he desperately wanted, but could never have. In a final stroke of genius, Montoya identifies Holmes’ constant handling of his violin, as Freud’s  struggle with penis envy, and chronic masturbation.

Providing a fresh perspective into the two minds of one great man, the results of this ground breaking research are due to be published in the prestigious  Frostbite Falls Journal of Psychofiction and Melon Artistry. Montoya has indicated that while he views this as his crowning academic achievement, he is set to embark on an in-depth investigation in order to prove his theory, that Natasha Fatale, over bearing shrew and partner of Boris Badenov, is in actuality, the cross dressing Bullwinkle Moose at the infamous Wossamotta U.

 

 

 

The Italian Job

 

Francesca  worked at the small trattoria not far from my room at a pensionne near The Spanish Steps. She was beautifully Italian, with long, dark hair, deep brown eyes, and an accent that had me hanging on every word she said in her delightfully, broken English. And, after touring Rome for several days, I discovered that of the 7 hills in Rome, she had the only two I had any real interest in seeing. She was, without a doubt, a dish that I would devour served hot or cold. She told me that she was an artist, and some of her paintings were being shown at a small gallery. She invited me to attend with her, and we agreed to meet when she finished work.

Julian, the bartender at the Hotel Cok in Amsterdam, had given me the contact information of a friend of his in Rome who would be able to meet my hallucinogenic needs, and I was able to secure some peyote and mushrooms. I spent the afternoon, milling around the city, fascinated by the way the people turned into lizards and sea horses, and were able to hover up and down the steps. There was a chimpanzee organ grinder collecting money after he danced. I swear his feet never even touched the ground!, The Via Dei Cerchi was filled with protesters waving placards. The Police were out in full force, donning riot gear, and armed with tear gas. The demonstrators began throwing bottles and stones at them, and the Police fired.I tried to run, but I couldn’t see through the thick clouds of smoke. In the ensuing confusion and pandemonium, I followed a group of radical Romans running down the street in what I thought was an attempt to elude the police. I ended up in front of The Coliseum, where I blended into the crowd of tourists. There was an older man there, selling religious artifacts from a cart. He looked tired, and his face was weathered from the years of being outside. He offered me a crucifix, rosaries, and a small bottle of holy water, all of which I declined.

I was still pretty high when I went to meet Francesca.We walked along the bank of the Tiber. I have no idea what we were talking about, but she laughed a lot. And every time she laughed, or even smiled for that matter, I got hard. The peyote was beginning to wear off and I had no intention of attending an art exhibit without mind altering medication. Francesca and I sat down on a bench along the walkway, and I managed to convince her to try some peyote. It was new for her, and she panicked when the river first stood up and began to walk over to us. We moved as quickly as we could with the river, and the monster that lived within in, chasing us.

There were a lot of people already at the gallery when we arrived, and Francesca went to stand by one of her friends.  There was a woman with a giraffe head examining a painting, and I went over to investigate. She made strange sounds as she peered at the painting, commenting on the colors, and brush strokes. I had no idea if there was another giraffe there with her, but I did not see one. I looked closely at the painting. “What do you see?”, she asked me with a very British accent.

“Demons and The Mahavishnu Orchestra.”, I answered. “And you?”

“The magnificence of life, and love.” she stated. “The wasted dreams of those who would not wake up long enough to take action.”

“So”, I asked, “Do you like art?” Her huge giraffe head turned to face me.

“I just adore art?”, she said. “I am a patron of the arts”.

“Well”, I informed her, “there is this wild painting in The Stedalijk Museum in Amsterdam.” I leaned over to her, getting as close as I could without having to endure her giraffe head landing up my nose or in my eye, and whispered. “Its filled with penises.”, I said.

“Pardon me?”, she asked.

“Dicks! You know. There are all sorts of them out for a day in the park, riding bicycles, playing tennis and volleyball, sun tanning, all kinds of stuff. And every character is a penis!”

“Are you on drugs?”, she asked.

“Well, yes.”, I told her. “Yes I am.” She wandered off with her big giraffe head, and stood by the watering hole. I saw Francesca with her friends, and headed over to them. I was introduced to Antony, a struggling photography who worked as sales rep for a car rental company, and Geovana, who made a meager living as a musician in a string quartet. I referred to them as Tony and Gee. We talked for a while, but I found it hard to look at Gee, as she had suddenly developed bat like wings, that seemed to flap back and forth every time she spoke. I think Francesca noticed them as well, as she kept turning away from Gee, listening to the cigarette machine in the lobby talking about neo fascism with an elderly couple of red necked wallabies, who were busily stuffing packets of cigarettes in their pouches.

We left the gallery, with Gee complaining that she was too tired to walk. Francesca suggested that Gee should shut the fuck up, start flapping her giant bat wings, and fly. We wound up taking a taxi back to Francesca’s flat. Tony took out some pot, and began filling a pipe, while I went and brewed mushroom tea, and we settled in for a night of drug induced transcendence. Not long after the flowers in the vase on a small table in the corner of the room began singing ‘Quando, Quando, Quando’, Francesca and Tony passed out, so Gee and I went outside to watch the flying gekkos perform a death defying Cuban 8.  We sat on the grass of the small parkette just outside the flat and talked about music, and art, and how to make a decent marinara sauce. She was funny, and smart, and insanely hot. By the time the sun came up we had made plans to visit the ruins of Pompeii, and I had agreed to learn the Tarantella. I would have agreed to almost anything then, with the flying gekkos gone, and the sun just beginning to rise. We returned to the flat to find Tony and Francesca still asleep, exactly where we left them, sprawled out across the living room furniture. I needed coffee, and headed into the kitchen. Gee followed and stood behind me, with her arms around my waist. She began moving her hands down my thighs, and kept brushing her hand across my junk. “Have you ever had an Italian job?”, she asked as my erection strained against the denim. I told her I had not, although I wan’t 100% certain exactly what she had in mind. It didn’t take long however, for me to understand, as she lowered the zipper of my jeans, and stepping in front of me, dropped to her knees and gave me an Italian job that I was sure surpassed all other Italian jobs.

I saw Francesca later, at the trattoria. I was watching the peyote induced images of combat ready squirrels, and dodging their semi automatic volleys, as I sat on the patio, soaking in the hot summer sun. Francesca was hovering over me, rubbing my shoulders every time she walked past, and bringing me another limonata as soon as I had finished one. I’m pretty sure it was the peyote, but it seemed like everyone passing by looked like the clown from Pagliacci. I sat patiently waiting for one of them to start singing ‘Vesti la giubba’, but before that could happen, I noticed the squirrels on the offensive, charging towards the trattoria. This hallucinatory fantasy was disrupted by Francesca asking me if anything happened between me and Gee. Sadly, I realized at that moment, that I wanted this woman so badly, that I was about to lie to her.

We had plans to meet Gee later in the evening, and Francesca wanted me to go to Blunauta in Piazza di Spagnato to buy a new outfit to wear to Gee’s recital. We wandered through he store, with Francesca picking out a bunch of stuff to try on. She took them into the change room while I waited for her for what seemed like forever. The leprechauns running around the change area, were getting agitated,  looking for a safe place to hide their gold. I heard Francesca call me, and I walked into the change room to find her naked, looking like a Roman goddess.. She reached out for me, and right there in that change room, in a crowded store in Rome,  we made our own Roman history. The woman was incredibly talented, and built to withstand attacks from all sides. The leprechauns cheered in appreciation, and I am pretty sure they were throwing gold coins at us.

The recital was well attended and when it was over, Gee and I went back to Francesca’s flat. After Gee fell asleep,  I spent the night in Francesca’s room, where we drank mushroom tea, cursed the vampires peeping in through the window, and watched the sun come up. With my time in Rome coming to an end, I said my goodbyes and promised Francesca that I would return. I never did.  I wrote her a letter which I never posted. I suppose it was intended more for myself than it was for her. I took the day trip to Pompeii, and afterwards returned to visit the old man selling religious articles from his cart outside of the Coliseum. I purchased some holy water, and a cross, ensuring that I would be protected from the vampires that had been following me for the last few days.

 

 

 

 

When It Rains, It Pours

 

My wife has spent the last 2 to 3 years tirelessly minimizing our expenses in an effort to maximize our savings for retirement. She has systematically eliminated all things that, as she puts it, ‘we don’t really need’. The selection process, fraught with anxiety and despair, has not always been an easy one.

“Do we really need cable?”, she asked.

“Yes.”, I answered. “We really do.”

“Its very expensive.”, she continued. “I think it’s frivolous. There are better things we could do with our money.”

“Like what?”, I inquired.

“We could save it.”, she said. “For our retirement.”  I sat silently, knowing full well that she wasn’t finished. “And I think we should look at our food budget. We spend way too much on food.”

“What are you suggesting?”, I asked.

“We have to eat differently.”, she explained. “Simple, inexpensive food. Meals like soups, and rice and beans.”

“Soup is not a meal.”, I told her. “It’s the stuff that comes before the real food arrives. It’s like salad, only wet.”

“Don’t you want to stop working and just take it easy?”, she asked.

“What for?”, I inquired. “There will be no cable, and no real food to eat.”

“You’re just being stubborn.”, she stated. “Do you always have to be so damned difficult.”

“I think so.”, I answered. “I have tried not to be, but it never works out. Maybe we could come up with some sort of compromise.”

“Like what?”, she asked.

“Maybe we could use the money we save from cancelling the cable to buy real food?”, I suggested.

“You’re missing the point.”, she explained, with a great deal of fervor. “We have to be prepared for the future. Didn’t you ever hear about saving for a rainy day?”

“I’ve heard about it.”, I replied. “But what if it never rains?”

“What are you going on about?”, she inquired.

“Look.”, I said. “We see things very differently. You like to plan for tomorrow by sacrificing today. I on the other hand, can’t be certain that tomorrow will ever come. What’s the point in saving up for something that I may not be here to do, if it means I have to give up the things I enjoy doing now?”

“You mean if you don’t live long enough to retire?”, she asked.

“Exactly.”, I said.

“Ok.”, she said. “But I will still be here, and I could enjoy the benefits of having sacrificed and saved.”

“Well, well.”, I replied. “And now we get to the heart of the matter. Its your tomorrow we’re planning for, not ours.”

“And?”, she asked, as if I had something more to add.

“Is there a difference?”, she asked.

“None at all.”, I told her. “There never really has been, has there?”

“None whatsoever.”, she answered. “But I’m glad we finally got it out of the way, and that we’ve reached an agreement.”

“So am I.”, I responded, somewhat dejectedly.

“Don’t worry.”, she said. “You can have your real food. I really only wanted to cancel the cable anyway.”

“I must be getting old.”, I told her. “You never would have been able to scam me like that ten years ago.”

“Really?”, she quipped, as she rubbed my shoulders. “What do you think we’ve been doing for the past 35 years?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rules Of Engagement

 

“I can’t sleep.”, my wife informed me as I was finally drifting off. “The atmosphere has been weird for the past two weeks. Do you know what I mean?”

“I understand the words.”, I replied. “But I have no idea what you mean.”

“Its like things are out of whack.” she continued. “It just doesn’t feel right. And its making me very uneasy.  Does that make any sense?”

“Not really.”, I told her. “But I don’t share your Moroccan sensitivity.”

“Do you think that’s what it is?”, she asked.

“Well”, I answered, “Either that or you’ve lost your mind.”

“We’ll go with the Moroccan sensitivity.”, she said.

“Either way.”, I informed her, “Its okay with me.” Several minutes of silence passed, and I could feel myself drifting off to sleep, once again.

“So what do you want to do now?”, my wife asked.

“What?”, I inquired, both surprised and agitated.

“Well, we can’t sleep.”, she stated, “did you want to talk, or watch tv or something?”

“We could fool around.”, I said.

“No.” , she answered, “I’m not in the mood for that.”

“Well.”, I said, “I think I’ll just go to sleep.”

“That’s it?”, she asked angrily. “You’re only willing to stay awake for sex?”

“Pretty much.”, I told her.

“You’re an ass.”, she said.

“Look.”, I told her, as I turned to face her. “There are only two reasons I have ever been prepared to stay awake. If you need medical attention, or sex. If you don’t need either of those, I have to get some sleep. I’m exhausted”

“Well, I’m over exhausted.” she said. “But this feeling is freaking me out.”

“You can’t be over exhausted.”, I informed her. “Exhausted is finite. There are degrees of tired, and exhausted is the ultimate. You can be over tired, but there is nothing beyond exhausted. You could use an adjective, like totally exhausted, but its redundant. Exhausted implies that you are the most tired you could be.”

“Shut up.”, she said, as she turned her back to me.

“You don’t have to be angry about it.”, I told her.

“Yes I do.”, she stated. “The rules are if I can’t sleep, you stay up with me.”

“Really?”, I inquired. “And if I can’t sleep, do you have to stay up with me?”

“No.”, she informed me. “Only if you’re very sick, or hurt.”

“Who made these rules.”, I asked.

“I did.”, she answered.

“It must be nice to just make up any rule you want.”, I stated sarcastically, sitting up in bed now, realizing that I was completely awake.

“It is.”, she said.

“Well, I’m awake now.”, I told her. “What do you want to do?”

“I’m feeling sleepy now.”, she said. “I think I’m going to go to sleep.”

“You’ve got to be kidding me!”, I stated with some indignance. “You’ve kept me awake, and now that I can’t sleep, you decide that you’re going to sleep?”

“Those are the rules.”, she said.

“What the hell am I supposed to do now?”, I asked.

“Well”, she said. “Medical attention or sex. You decide.”

“You know you make me crazy.”, I told her.

“I know.”, she replied. “That’s also one of the rules.”

 

 

The Rain Maker

 

Among her many talents, my wife has discovered that she has an uncanny ability to predict the weather. With an astonishing degree of certainty, she has been successfully able to determine when it will rain. I have seen it with my own eyes! At first I too was quite skeptical, I mean hundreds of meteorologists, with college degrees and years of experience have had limited success at correctly predicting rainfall, even with the technology of modern weather tracking systems and models. But I have seen my wife correctly predict rainfall consistently.

She was reluctant to discuss just how she was able to do this, with limited knowledge, and no equipment. I asked, and all she would say was that she just could. It was astounding. And then, on a day that she was feeling unwell, I asked her if it was going to rain and she stated that she wasn’t sure. I was dumbfounded. Had she lost her ability to predict the weather? Had she lost her super power? When I pressed her for the reason, she simply told me that as she was not going out, she just couldn’t tell. I asked her why that mattered, and then, perhaps in a moment of delirium brought on by as fever of 100.4, she revealed her secret.

It seems that she had discovered that every time she wore her black moccasins outside, it rained. Every time. Without fail. And so, using only deductive reasoning, she concluded that if she were to wear her black moccasins, it would again rain. Thus, she was able to predict rainfall. “Are you kidding me?”, I asked.

“No.”, she relied. “It happens every time.”

“Do you really believe that it rains because you wear those shoes.”, I asked.

“They’re not shoes.”, she stated emphatically. “They’re moccasins. And yes, whenever I wear them it rains. It seems logical.”

“Well, Mr. Spock.”, I told her. “Unless you’re out there doing some kind of rain dance in your moccasins, it is impossible.”

“I don’t care what you think.”, she answered. “I know that its right.”

“You realize  that with that power”, I continued, “You could be dropped into a drought stricken country and it would rain. You could save millions of lives. You could end hunger on this planet. You could get a Nobel Prize.”

“I suppose I could.”, she stated. “Wouldn’t that be nice.”

“What’s your temperature now?”, I asked. “You’re out of your mind.”

“102.3”, she informed me, glancing at the thermometer that had been in her mouth.

“Well, you just rest today. Stay in bed, and rest.”, I told her.

“Can you come home early and take care of me?”, she asked. “Can you bring me home some soup.”

“I’ll try to get home early.”, I informed her. “And yes, I’ll get you some soup.”

“Maybe you should take the umbrella.”, she remarked. “I don’t know if its going to rain or not.”

“I’ll take my chances.”, I said. “But thank you. With the moccasins safely away in the closet, I feel pretty sure that I can manage the weather today.”

“Lentil soup, please.”, she called out as I was leaving the room.

“Whatever you want, honey.”, I said. “Whatever you want.”

Please Behave…

 

It was thought to be one of the most important social events of the decade, although I had no idea why. The entire community had been talking about it since it was announced, yet I seemed to have absolutely no interest in attending.  400 guests were invited to watch Mark & Monica promise each other a lifetime of fidelity, love, and ignorance, at was proudly announced as a white wedding. This was not the first time I had been to such an affair. They all seemed pretty much the same; a crowded room filled with loud, obnoxious, and incredibly stupid people, incredibly inedible food, a relatively untalented group of musicians playing cover versions of songs I never much liked when played by the original artists, and Mr. & Mrs. Malcolm Title, parents of the not so lovely bride. As I stood in my room getting dressed, I couldn’t help but to wish for some kind of natural disaster, like an earthquake, or a hurricane perhaps. Or better yet, an alien invasion. Anything to prevent me from attending this spiritually vacuous event.

“I hope that you’ll behave yourself.”, my wife told me as she straightened my tie.

“I always do.”, I replied.

“No.”, she corrected me. “You don’t. Every time you open your mouth, you offend someone.”

“Really?”, I asked. “I try to offend them all.”

“I’m being serious!”, she snapped.

“I know.”, I said. “I’m just not sure why anyone should be offended by the truth.”

“Because sometimes it hurts their feeling.”, she explained.

“I don’t try to hurt people’s feelings.”, I said in my defense. “I just say what I think, and I am entitled to my opinion.”

“I know.”, she answered. “But why do you feel the need to express it so absolutely?”

“Because my opinion is absolute to me.”, I offered in explanation.

“I just want you try, tonight, for me.”, she added. “Just try to be a little less certain that you are always right, or at least try not to let everyone else know. And stay away from Barry Singer”

“Why?”, I inquired.

“Because I am asking you to.” She advised me. “The last time you saw him, you called him an asshole! In front of his daughter!”

“I did not.”, I responded. “I called him an ignorant ass. There is a difference. And besides, she knows that he’s an ass. Every one knows that he’s an ass.”

“Please.”, she asked again with those dark Moroccan eyes. “For me?’

“Alright.”, I told her. “I will try. For you. It won’t change how I think and feel, but I will make an effort to keep my opinion to myself.”

“Thank you.”, she said, as she squeezed my arm. “You look very handsome.”

“Thanks.”, I said. “I have a date with an insanely hot woman.” She blushed. I love it when she blushes.Her face turned a wonderful shade of crimson, and as she looks away, she emits a soft, little giggle that squeaks its way out of the corner of her mouth.

Well, I have rarely made any promises to my wife, but have kept the ones I did. I was determined to try and keep this one as well. I would try to keep my opinions to myself, and let those whose only point is located atop their heads, espouse their stupidity freely, and without consequence.

The venue was already near filled when we arrived. The country club selected for this wondrous  joining of two empty minds was regally decorated. The grounds were beautifully landscaped, and I could see the golf course from the large window in the reception hall.  “I should have brought my clubs.”, I whispered to my wife.

“Behave.”, she reminded me. “Go and talk to someone and try to have a good time.” I knew a good time was not going to be had. There was no one present that I really ever wanted to talk to. Talk about what? None of them had read a book since they were in High School. If only there was a lounge with a television, I could watch the hockey game. I grabbed myself a beer from the bar, and began to wander around the room.

“Hello, neighbor.”, I heard a voice call out. “I thought for sure you would find a reason not to show up.” I turned to see who was there. Barry Singer. The ignorant ass himself.

“Hello, Barry.” I said. “something I can do for you?”

“No no.”, he replied. “Just thought we’d catch up for a while.”

“Sorry, Barry.”, I informed him. “I’m on a mission.”

“What mission?”, he asked.

“Something I have to do for my wife.”, I told him., and I walked away. In a few minutes we were ushered in to another room to watch the spectacle of the ceremony. My wife and I found suitable seats close to the door, and we settled in. As the ceremony began, someone behind me leaned forward and began whispering in my ear. It was Barry Singer.  I had no idea what he was saying, but I recognized the voice. When I didn’t answer, his whisper became louder.

“What are you doing?”, my wife asked.

“I’m not doing anything.”, I told her. “Its Barry Singer behind us. I told you he’s an ass.” Barry continued to lean forward and try to engage me in a conversation, while my wife was growing visibly upset. The people in the row in front of us began to turn around and whisper ‘Shhh’, which only fueled my wife’s ire. As the ceremony continued, I tried my best to ignore the shit head who was sitting behind me, tormenting me solely by his existence, but I could feel myself beginning to lose the ability to ignore him. People in front continued to utter ‘Shhh’, and an elderly woman asked me, quite politely to stop ruining the wedding. My wife was fuming, her eyes grew dark, and the vein in her forehead, shaped like the letter ‘Y’, which only appears when her Spanish-Moroccan begins to boil, was beginning to take shape.

As the ceremony ended, we stood up to leave. “Somebody should take that man outside, tie him to a tree, and drop a squirrel down his pants.”, she said.

“I’m available.”, I told her.

“Don’t bother.”, she answered. “The squirrel would probably starve to death.” Without knowing it, my wife could be incredibly funny. We entered the reception area, and sat at our assigned table. Luckily, Barry Singer was not at our table. It didn’t take long however, but there he was, Barry Singer, standing over my shoulder, inquiring as to how much of a gift we were giving. I could the ‘Y’ vein start to appear. Barely visible at first, but then, there it was, upper case, and in bold font. “This can’t be good!”, I thought. And then it happened. Like a volcanic eruption, fast and furious, and unrelenting.

“What the hell is wrong with you?”, my wife asked Barry. “Do you have some sort of condition that prevents you from acting like a human being? You are, without a doubt the most insipid, irritating man I have ever met. I want you to go away. Now. Go away and stay away from us. Do you understand?” The others at our table sat stunned, with eyes glaring, and mouths opened. I, for one, had never been prouder of my wife. I put my hand on her leg, showing my approval for her crushing defeat of Barry Singer.

“Was it too much?”, she asked me, after apologizing to our table mates for her outburst.

“Not at all.”, I told her. “You were wonderful. But you forget to mention that he’s an ignorant ass.”

“I thought I did.”, she replied.

“No.”, I said. “But its okay. And thankfully, at least one of us can behave in public.”

“Yes.”, she answered. ” I suppose that I shouldn’t have asked you to change. Its who you are, and you’re usually right.”

“Its okay.”, I told her. “You did an exceptional job in my place.”

“Its a good thing that we take turns.”, she stated. “I’m not sure that people could handle both of us at the same time. I think we should go home.”

“Let’s go.”, I said.

“Are you hungry?”, she asked, as we walked to the car.

“I suppose I am.”, I told her.

“Do you feel like Chinese? My treat.”, she asked.

“Sounds like a plan.”, I replied.

“I’m going to have to borrow some money, though.”, she said.

“I already had that figured out.”, I told her.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Girls Talk

 

 

Some time ago,  my wife and I headed down to a local bar to watch my friends’ band play. It was a rather warm, summer night, and Queen St. West was buzzing with people. The bar was crowded, but we managed to locate Sean & Terry, and sat with them, and over a beer, talked about music, and their upcoming cd. A woman approached  me and asked if I was the drummer in a power pop psych band in the late 1970s, that played Lakehead University in Thunder Bay. “I’m pretty sure that you were the drummer.”, she said.

‘I was.”, I answered. “And yes, we played a few gigs at Lakehead.”

“I thought so.”, she said. “You guys were very good.”

“That was a long time ago.”, I reminded her.

“I remember.”, she continued. “you were called ‘Psych Unseen’.”

“That was us.”, I said. “I can’t believe you remember that.”

“I do.”, she stated, with some excitement. “I even have one of your band tshirts.”

“No way.”, I shouted.

“Uh huh.”, she muttered. . “Maybe we can talk later?”, the woman asked.

“I’ll be around.”, I stated.  My wife had been listening to this entire conversation without saying a word. It was a little unsettling.

“Who the hell was that?”, she asked.

“I have no idea.”, I told her.

“Then why were you flirting with her?”, she continued.

“Flirting with her?”, I questioned. “I was not flirting with her.

“Oh, you were.”, she insisted.

“Ya, you were flirting with her, man.”, Terry & Sean chimed in.

“Can we talk about this somewhere else?”, I proposed, as I stood up. My wife followed me outside, where we could at least smoke. I found a quiet, somewhat private alcove in between 2 buildings, and lit a cigarette. “What the hell is going on?”, I asked.

“That’s what I want to know.”, she said. “Why does a total stranger know so much about you?”

“She doesn’t know anything about me. Just that I was in a band that played at her school 30 some odd years ago.”

“I saw how she was looking at you.”, my wife went on. “And how you were smiling at her. And you didn’t introduce me. How well do you know her?”

“I don’t know her!”, I exclaimed. “She was some kid who saw us play and remembered us. I guess we were really good.”

“Oh, come on.”, she said. “You know you guys weren’t that good. There’s something else.” She took a long pause. And than she asked. I knew it was coming, but I didn’t know when. “Did you sleep with her?”

This was not the first time that she had asked me that question. When I was in High School, I sat directly across from Haley Glass, in Home Room, and English. I spent the entire time in those classes watching her, as she twirled her long, blonde hair, and crossed and uncrossed her insanely long legs, giving me glimpses of  both her soft, white thighs, and her pink panties. Man, how I wanted her. For 2 years, I gazed at the delights I was certain lay beneath the pink cotton. Nothing ever happened. I suppose I was intimidated by her looks back then. I don’t know. about 20 years later, I ran into Haley. She was working as a dental hygenist, and as soon as she saw me, she remembered. We chatted a little, reminiscing about High School, all of the where are they now crap. My wife entered the room, and saw us engaged in conversation, laughing, and seemingly having a good time. On the ride home I was asked. “Did you sleep with her?”

And now, we were reprising our roles in this one act dramatic play, of deceit and potential murder. “I don’t know.”, I replied.

“What do you mean you don’t know?”, she quipped. “Either you slept with her or you didn’t!”

“I don’t remember.”, I answered.

“Were there so many girls that you can’t remember who you slept with?”, she asked, as agitated as I had ever seen her.

“It was almost 40 years ago.”, I reminded her. “How am I supposed to remember 40 years ago? I’m telling you the truth. I just don’t remember. What do you want me to do?” She said nothing, and went back into the bar. I followed her in, pretty sure that this wasn’t over, not by a long shot.

Back inside, the band had begun their set, we stood in silence, watching the performance. When it was over, I asked my wife if she wanted to go out for a cigarette. She said that she didn’t, so I went on my own. As soon as I had lit the cigarette, the woman who remembered me from Thunder Bay all those years ago, came out, and asked me for a light. We started talking about music, particularly music from 30 or 40 years ago, when my wife appeared. She walked over to us, stood beside me, and introduced herself to this woman whose name I still did not know. She identified herself as my wife, and stood there smoking her cigarette, leering at the stranger, until the woman from Thunder Bay, turned and went back into the bar.

“Well, that should take care of that.”, she said. “She won’t bother you anymore.” And then it hit me. I don’t know why I didn’t see it before.

“You’re jealous.”, I told my wife. “You’re insanely jealous.”

“I am not.”, she replied. “What do I have to be jealous about?”

“Absolutely nothing.”, I told her. “But it does make me feel good to know that you want me all to yourself.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”, she said.

“No.”, I said. “You love me. I know its hard for you to say it, but you love me”. And its okay. There are times when I am jealous over you, too.” She looked up at me with those Moroccan eyes, and somehow she made them smile.

“I think we should go home.”, she said.

“Its still early.”, I told her. “There’s another set soon.”

“Well.”, she said. “You can stay for the next set and talk with you girlfriend from Thunder Bay, or you can come home, and find out just how much your wife loves you.”  We didn’t even say goodbye to my friends in the band. We just left.

“I love you.”, she said in the car on the way home.

“I know.”, I told her. “I love you to.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Willowdale Christmas Story

Growing up in a suburb of Willowdale, in the north end of the city in the 1960s was remarkably ever changing. As developments sprung up, and roads were being built, Passer’s Farm stood as a reminder of what used to be. My brothers and I spent a lot of time outside, scouting out the building sites, carrying home bits of lumber, so that we could build a fort in the back yard.

I particularly enjoyed the winters. Crawling around in the snow, tunneling through the moats we made that led to our snow fortress. And while we did not celebrate, my favorite time of all was Christmas, with all of the family traditions that accompanied it. Christmas Eve was filled with the joy of watching  ‘Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer’, and ‘Mr. Magoo’s A Christmas Carol’. It seemed like I had to wait forever for the annual airing of these shows. We stayed up late and watched ‘Its A Wonderful Life’ with my mother, and then retired to our beds. It was strangely quiet on Christmas Eve, so quiet that you could actually hear the snow fall, as it piled up on our lawn, glistening in the pale yellow street lights that dotted the landscape of my life.

In the morning my brothers and I raced outside and shoveled the driveway, so that we could play ball hockey, while my father took the garden hose and flooded the backyard in an attempt to make us an ice hockey rink. It was always uneven, and there were patches that didn’t freeze due to inadequate water placement, but it was wonderful fun, skating up and down the rink, body checking each other into the waist high snow drifts that lined either side. Our laughter seemed to echo across galaxies, as we pulled our heads out of the drifts,  our faces covered in the untainted snow, making us all look like Santa himself.

In the afternoon, we all piled into the Ford Country Squire Station Wagon, to begin the first leg of what had become our family Christmas tradition. ” You guys better get yourselves outside.”, the old man chanted as he stood at the front door  of our house. “I”m leaving in 2 minutes.” The old man hated to be late for the movies. If he wasn’t in his seat at the theatre before the cartoon or the coming soon features started, it was a Christmas catastrophe. We headed off to the Willow Theatre, located on Yonge Street, just south of Finch Avenue, at break neck speed.

“Slow down.”, my mother would say. “Let’s get there in one piece.”

“I been through worse than this.”, my father would answer.

“Go faster, faster.”, we shouted from the back.

When we arrived at the theatre, we ran up the stairs to the balcony, with my mother following behind us, and my father at the concession stand buying us popcorn. There was always a western showing in those days. My father adored westerns. Over the years we watched ‘The Sons Of Katie Elder’, ‘Nevada Smith, ‘The Way West’, and countless others. One Christmas Day, my mother, who was a huge fan of musicals, managed to coerce the old man into attending a revival of “Calamity Jane’.  It was the last time she was ever permitted to select the movie. We sat in the balcony, 1st row, with our parents in the row behind us, popcorn in our hand, and our eyes glued to the screen as six guns were drawn, and rifles were cocked. It seemed necessary to advise the ‘good guy’ that trouble was behind them, or waiting for them around the next corner. We shouted it out with delight, certain that he could hear us, and followed up with the disappointing “if only he had listened”. If there was a coming attraction feature, and it was a western, my father would lean forward, pat us on the shoulders and guarantee that we would be seeing that one. Particularly if the cast included Jimmie Stewart, Randolph Scott, or Audie Murphy.

With the movie over, we piled back into the wagon, and headed out for what was the highlight of  the day. We did this only once a year. We did this every year, but only on Christmas day. As we pulled into the parking lot, the huge neon sign, seemed to scream out at us, beckoning us inside. “Let’s try to behave in there, shall we?”, my mother remarked.

“Oh, they’ll behave.”, my father stated. “Won’t you?”

“Yes. We’ll behave.”, proclaimed the unanimous children’s chorus.

“Okay then.”, he said. “Let’s go.” We jumped out of the car, and ran up to the door. And there scrawled in Chinese Style writing of English letters, were those words we waited all year to see: ‘Sea-Hi Famous Chinese Food”.

If you had never been to Sea-Hi Famous Chinese Food as a kid in the 1960s or 1970s, your childhood was incomplete. Nestled in the Bathurst St, and Wilson Avenue area, it was a cultural phenomenon. Every Christmas Day, for as long as I can remember, everyone who did not celebrate Christmas, for whatever reason, living in the North end of this city, wound up at Sea-Hi for dinner. It became a tradition for hundreds of families, perhaps thousands. It was, without a doubt, the crowning achievement of a Christmas well spent.

As we poured over menus, we would laugh at the names given to the dishes. Things like moo goo guy pan, and egg foo yung brought us great joy just to read them aloud. And, in those childish, politically incorrect times, we found great amusement in ordering in what we considered, Chinese. “I want flied lice.”, someone would inevitably request.

“Stop that.”, my mother scolded.

“Can I have clispy chicken?”, someone would shout from the table.

“We’re just going to go home.”, my mother offered her final warning. Regardless of what we wanted, my father always ordered the same thing, year after year after year. Vegetable fried rice, egg rolls, chop suey, mushroom egg foo yung, and hot and sour soup. We ate, and laughed, and attempted to use our chopsticks, and when that failed, we inserted them in our mouths and became walruses. There was one occasion when one of my brothers inserted them up his nose. This caused quite a commotion, as one became stuck, and had to be forcibly removed by my father’s tugging, which caused his nose to bleed right there at the table, all over the starched, white tablecloth, and my mother to begin the almost daily ritual of dying of embarrassment. The highlight of the meal, for me anyway, was the fortune cookie, which always seemed to carry some profoundly meaningful Eastern words of wisdom, written on the small, white paper hidden inside of the crunchy, tasteless morsel.  I was certain that those ancient words would somehow transform my future.

The car ride home was eerily quiet. We were tired, and we were full, satiated with enough rice and noodles to carry us over until next year. This tradition carried on throughout my childhood, and one by one, each of my siblings and myself dropped out of the ritual when we entered adolescence. It seems we were more interested in hanging with our friends, than we were in tradition. When I began to have kids of my own, I jump started the whole family Christmas, Willowdale style. It was never quite the same. We would watch Rudolph, but my daughters were frightened of the abominable snowman, and they found Its A Wonderful Life boring, as it was in black & white. Sadly, Mr. Magoo was no longer aired on Christmas Eve, but it did become available years later you tube. We moved north of the city, and Sea-Hi Famous Chinese Food was too far of a drive, so we settled on East Moon. The tradition continues to this day, however we now watch a movie on Netflix, and order in from South China Chinese Food. Sadly, it is difficult to maintain a family tradition in the face of ever changing technology, and free delivery. But those days, all those years of a Willowdale Christmas in my parents’ house, well, I miss them, and I carry those memories around with me like a badge of honor.

 

 

 

Living In The Real World…

 

In an attempt to save even more money that we could put away in the event of some natural or man made disaster, my wife has subtly began her mission to  get rid of Netflix, and install TV antennas in order to watch television.

“What is this?”, I asked. “1963?”

“No”, she said. “I’m just trying to save some money so we can retire.”

“That dream is long gone.”, I told her.

“Well”, she said. “We need to do something. They’re talking about an economic disaster worse than the great depression. People won’t be able to keep their homes, or even have food to eat. We need to start stock piling can goods.”

“Okay.”, I told her. “Go out and buy all of the canned goods you can find.”

“I’ve already made a list.”, she informed me. “I think we should go on the weekend.”

And so, as my wife seems to excel in dealing with these sort of crises, we continue to prepare for them, one after the other. There has been much talk of ‘living off the grid’, and as I have no idea what the grid is, I have been reluctant to give it up. My wife informs me that we would live somewhere, isolated from society, and fend for ourselves. We would create/generate our own heat, and apparently electricity, and obtain our own food through planting and harvesting crops, and hunting & fishing. She has been watching television shows about jut this sort of wilderness living. Surviving as pioneers, with none of the amenities of modern life. “I have no idea how to do any of the things we need to do to survive.”, I told her. “Do they have something like The Home Service Club for off the grid livers?”

“No!”, she said, not amused by my sarcasm. “We would just have to learn how to do things ourselves.” Now prior to this latest carnival of survival, we had dealt with Tiny House living, trailer living, and the ever popular squatting. All I really want is for the damn internet to work properly. I do not want to live in the middle of nowhere in a tent, or a hut, or a cave, surviving on my instincts. My instincts are somewhat limited, not generally useful, and usually only serve to send me to the fridge to grab a beer. I am not certain, but I don’t see that as a big help in wilderness living.

So, the pantry, kitchen cupboards, bedroom closets, and dining room floor are filled with assorted canned goods. We have chick peas, fava beans, peas, beets, tomatoes, potatoes, green beans, assorted fruits, tuna, salmon, and I have even seen canned corned beef. I have never eaten canned meat in my life, and I have expressed to me wife, my reluctance to ever do so. “If it is the last thing to eat, I’m sure you’ll give it a try.” perhaps she is right, but I am still uncertain. I have expressed my concern that the shelf life of this so called meat in a can is over 1 year, when meat in my fridge is only good for 3 days. It is concerning and confusing. Nonetheless, I am the proud owner of corned beef in a can.I did insist that we purchase several cans of pie filling. I was adamant the I have my rhubarb-strawberry pie filling. In the event that I cannot eat canned meat, I will at least have a viable substitute. The shelf life for this product is almost 2 years, so when my wife’s corned beef has long since expired, I will still be eating strawberry-rhubarb pie filing.

“I think we’re all set.”, she said as she conducted a thorough inventory of our food stuff. “Nobody eats any of this now.”, she added. “Leave the pie filling alone!”, she told me.

“So we wait for it to expire, and then have to do this all over again?”, one of my daughters asked.

“No.”, my wife explained, “if it is close to expiring, then we will eat it.”

“And what if the food shortage never comes?”, another one of my daughters asked.

“Oh, it will.”, my wife said. “Sooner or later, it will happen.”

“You need to stop watching the news.”, my daughter advised.

And so it was, and continues. A wait and see game with fate. A cat and mouse game between global economic doom, and expiration dates on cans of meat. If I were a betting man, I would wager heavily on my wife, and learn to develop a taste for canned meat. I just may have to. We have so much of it stored in the pantry.