Sons & Mothers

 

Not only are my kids moving out, but those who are on their own, are now considering moving away. I waited for years to get them the hell out of my house, but I am having mixed feelings about their relocating to different cities.

My wife informed me that my eldest son and his new wife are moving to Hamilton, on June 1. While it is not that far away, a mere 45 minutes down the QEW, I have reservations about this decision.

“Are you kidding me?”, I asked her.

“No.”, she answered. “They’re going to Hamilton. Houses are much cheaper there.”

“Well of course they are”, I advised. “Its freakin’ Hamilton.” This was very disturbing to me. “Hamilton?”, I asked again, hoping that I had misunderstood. Just hearing myself say it, sent shivers down my spine.

I called my son. “What the hell are you doing moving to Hamilton?”, I demanded an explanation.

“Ya.”, he said, “We just can’t afford to live here anymore. Its killing us. We have to find somewhere that’s more affordable.”

“There’s nothing in Hamilton.”, I inform him.

“I have friends there.”, he said. “There’s a bunch of stuff to do, if you live downtown. So we’re going to see some places this weekend that are right downtown. Near the clubs, and stuff.”

“And don’t forget the drug dealers, crack addicts, prostitutes, homeless, and runaways”, I told him.

“We’ll be alright.”, he told me.

“Hamilton?”, I questioned again. “Its like Canada’s version Buffalo & Pittsburgh, only worse!”

And now, my other son is planning on moving to Belleville. That’s right, Belleville, Ontario. population 50,000. Situated in the beautiful middle of nowhere, halfway between Where The Hell Is That?, & Can You Even Get There By Car?. “Houses are really cheap in Belleville.”, he advises me.

“I’m sure.”, I agree. “They’re even cheaper in Iroquois Falls, but I wouldn’t recommend that you live there either.”

He informs me that his live in girlfriend is having a difficult time securing a position as a teacher, and has applied to The Hastings & Prince Edward District School Board. I ask him where he plans on working, and he begins his ADHD laden dissertation.

“Well”, he said, “I could find work cooking in a golf club, but I don’t want to turn 50 years old and still be on my feet all day, cooking. I’m going to get a job at a gym, and take a training course to become a personal trainer. The course is short, so I can start working on building up a clientele right away.”

“How many gyms are there in a town of 50,000 people?”, I ask.

“I don’t know.”, he tells me.

“How many personal trainers are there in Belleville?”, I continue to probe.

“I don’t know.”, he responds.

“Well”, I said, “Sounds like you’ve thought this through.”

“I don’t know why I even tell you things.”, he states.

“Because I’m the only one who tells you what you need to hear. There’s no reason for you to move to Belleville to buy a house. You don’t need a house. And you certainly don’t need to follow Cruella Deville around the province while she looks for a job. Let her go to Belleville. Tell her to send you a postcard. Go visit on weekends. I don’t give a shit. But I think its time you took your balls back from her, and made a decision that works for you.”

My wife had been standing in the doorway, listening in, as usual, to my conversation with the boy. “I think that you’re being a little hard on him.”, she said as she walked into the room.

“You told me to talk to him.”, I reminded her.

“Yes, I did.”, she replied, “but I didn’t want you to yell at him.”

“I wasn’t yelling.”, I corrected her.

“I heard you.”, she said as she rubbed the boys back.

“You realize that he’s 32 years old, right?”, I asked.

“Yes.”, she replied. “What does that have to do with anything? What do you want to do?”, she asks him.

“Go to Belleville.”, he tells her.

“Listen to your mother.”, she begins. “That girl doesn’t know what’s best for you. If you move to Belleville you’ll be too far away. We’ll never see you.You need to stay here. If you need help, we can help you out.”

“Do you understand what your mother is telling you?”, I asked the boy.

“Ya.”, he said, somewhat dejectedly.

“Well.”, I tell him. “My advice is to go and pack. I’ll drive you to Belleville myself.”

Later that evening, when we were alone, my wife reminded me that I have 3 daughters who, one day, may decide to move away.

“Its okay.”, I tell her. “I may finally have a chance to use a bathroom around here.”

“You an joke about it all you want,’, she stated, “but it will drive you crazy.”

“That’s okay.”, I said, “I’ve had an enormous amount of practice living with you. I’m pretty sure I’ll get through it.”

“Keep it up”, she advised me, “and you might not make it through the night.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Rites Of Spring

 

Ah, spring. The time of year when trees blossom, and flowers bloom. The days when the air smells like a barnyard, and the dogs go missing, to be found days later sitting on the front porch, smoking cigarettes. My family has always been excited by the announcement that spring is upon us. There is much reflection on what is to expect according to the revelation of Wiarton Willie, the rodent weather wizard. There is an equal amount of joie de vivre, when day light savings time is initiated, and the days get longer. No one in my house dares to complain about the loss of 1 hour of sleep.The highlight of this festive time of year, is the much anticipated 1st Robin sighting. What it does to the heart, and soul. How the sight of this bird is so embedded in the family’s collective psyche.

About 2 weeks ago, my daughter squealed with delight, as she came home announcing that she had just seen a robin, perched in a tree outside of our home.

“It seems a little early for a robin.”, my wife said.

“Not necessarily.”, I interjected. “What kind of robin was it?”

“What do you mean, what kind of Robin was it?”, my daughter asked. “The kind with the red stomach.”

“Well”, I asked, “was it a Canadian robin?”

“A Canadian robin?”, my wife repeated, as skeptical as ever.

I informed them both that there were many birds that no longer went south for the winter. Unlike years ago, I informed her, some of the birds stay here, and now, its mostly the people, the senior citizens who migrate south. I went on to explain that these birds, had adapted, and could withstand the harsh Canadian winters. If it was a Canadian robin that was sighted, well, then it doesn’t really count.

“Why do I not want to believe you?”, my daughter asked.

“Because you’re a skeptic.”, I answered, “just like your mother.”

I pointed out that there are geese, and then there are Canada Geese. There are Arizona cardinals, and St. Louis cardinals. There are orioles, and then there are Baltimore Orioles, as well as Baltimore Ravens. Why then is it so hard to believe that there are Canadian robins?

“How do you tell if it is a Canadian robin?”, my wife asked, suspiciously.

“It would be wearing hockey equipment.”, I answered. “But only because its hockey season.”

My daughter stormed off to her room, cursing under her breath as she walked away. “Why do you always have to torment the kids?”, my wife asked.

“I don’t have to.”, I replied, “I choose to. Its like asking why do you have to irritate me? I know you don’t have to, but you like to, right?” My wife tried very hard not to smile. “I know you do.”, I continued. “As bizarre as it is, you like to watch me get irritated.”

“Oh, I do!”, she stated emphatically. “Its so funny to watch you get frustrated, and not know what to say.”

“Oh, I know what to say.”, I told her. “I’m just not stupid enough to say it.”

It was so much easier when my kids were young. They believed everything. None of them ever doubted any of the stories I told them. “You can’t tell them that kind of stuff anymore.”, my wife said. They’re too old for that. Try talking to them about important things.”

I thought about what was important to my kids. Wifi was certainly important, and shoes, shoes were a very important issue for my daughters. I had no desire to talk to my kids about the internet, or footwear, or, in the case of my sons, gaming systems. “I’m not sure there’s anything that I can talk to them about, that they’re interested in.”, I said.

“Well,”, my wife responded, “then just don’t talk at all.”

“I’m sorry.”, I advised her. “That’s really not an option.”

“Do you remember what you told one of them years ago, and the trouble it caused?”, I was asked.

Many, many years ago, when my middle daughter was in elementary school, grade 1 or 2, I had informed her that my family was from another planet, far far away. At school one day, they were asked to talk about their families, and where they were from. My daughter spoke up, and reported that her mother’s family was from Spain, and Morocco, while her father’s family was from another planet, that she couldn’t remember the name of. Well, there was a big tadoo at the school, and my wife and I had to attend to discuss my daughter making up stories, and disrupting the class. My wife was embarrassed, but she embarrasses easily. I informed the school administration that unless they could prove my daughter had been untruthful, we really had nothing to discuss. I was asked by the Principal to confirm that my family did indeed come from another planet. I merely replied that I could not answer a question like that as it could jeopardise the entire mission. We left the meeting no worse for wear, and my daughter received no consequence for the revelation of her family history.

“I remember.”, I told my wife. “And I still think that I should have shot them with my laser.”

“Go talk to your daughter,”, she advised me, shaking her head in disbelief.

I went for a walk with my daughter, to Riverdale Farm,  and Sugar Beach. It was, after all spring, and the smell of manure permeated the air.

“Did you bring your camera?”, I asked her. “You’ll never know when you just might see a Toronto Blue Jay.”

 

 

Canadian As A 2nd Language, eh?

My new daughter-in-law, has started taking conversational English classes. As she is Japanese, she thought it would be a good idea for her to learn how to speak English like a real Canadian. Prior to her 1st class, she asked me, over dinner, what does it mean when Canadians say ‘eh’. I informed her that the word itself had no meaning, but was more of an idiom of speech, to imply right?, or okay?, often used in sentences like, ‘Its really snowing out there, eh?’, or, ‘ That moose looks like he’s gonna try and steal our beer, eh?’. I told her that it was an essential part of speaking like a Canadian, and she should employ it in her conversations whenever possible. My wife, and daughter, who were with us at the time, we equally encouraging, and we sent the lovely, young woman off to be with her husband, my son.

The next day, my wife received a call from my son. “Did dad lose his mind.?”, he asked.

“You’d better talk to him.”, my wife said, and handed me the phone.

“What did you do to my wife?”, he asked me. All day and night, anything she says, is followed by eh. Can you pass the milk, eh. Its cold, eh. Give me a kiss, eh.” I tried to hold my laughter inside, but it was swelling up like lava in a dormant volcano.

“So, what’s the problem, eh?”, I replied. “She wants to be a real Canadian, and I offered to turn her into one.”

“She’s driving me crazy.”, he continued. “All day and night, that’s all I hear. Eh this, or eh that. Sometimes, its just, Tony, eh? I don’t know what she wants half the time. Its driving me crazy. And I cant get her to stop because she says dad told her to practice using it all of the time.”

I love my daughter-in-law. She’s smart, and funny, and full of life. She’s also cute as all get out. My son found himself a great girl. Its just too bad he has no idea how to relax.

“You need to relax.”, I told him. “Take a pill, or something. If this is stressing you out so much, what the hell are you going to do when I teach her how to make moose calls?”

“Please.”, he begged. “Can you just leave my wife alone?”

“You need to get a sense of humor.”, I advised him. “You should probably go to Bulk Barn, and get a good, Canadian one. And as for leaving your wife alone, well, just grow a pair, eh?”

He didn’t want to speak with me any longer, and asked to talk to his mother. “Why do you have to get him going like that? Why must you agitate the kids?”, she asked as I passed her the phone.

“Its what I do.”, I replied, but she was no longer listening. She was on the phone, promising my son that I would no longer teach his wife to do things that irritated him, and that she would keep an eye on the crazy, old man.

“He’s pretty upset.”, my wife said after hanging up the phone.

“Who?”, I asked.

“Who do you think?”, she replied.

“The boy?” , I asked as I started laughing. “He’s an idiot. What the hell is wrong with your son, eh?”

“My son?”, she asked. “Now he’s my son? And don’t start that ‘eh’ thing with me.”

“Indeed.”, I said. “From now on, not a word. I will behave myself, and sit silently. Be sure that I will no longer willingly upset those who have come to grace our table, but forgot to bring their balls along.”

“Good.”, my wife said. “Its about time.”  I was feeling angst ridden, at the prospect of having to stop my mind from going for its customary walks down whatever road it happened to find itself on.

“Do you want me to start now?”, I asked. “There are a couple of things I would like to address before I put my sense of humor away-eh.”

“What is it?”, she asked, although I was almost certain that she didn’t really want to hear it.

“Well, firstly, I already promised Saori that I would teach her how to cuss like a Canadian. I would really like to honor my promise to her.”

“No.”, my wife said.

“Its okay, You can take your time and think about it.”, I told her.

“No. And second?”, she asked.

“Well, your boob has fallen out of your top. If its intentional, I just want to thank you. And if its an accident, just forget I mentioned it.”

My wife didn’t move. Accident or not, she left her boob right where it was.

“Wanna fool around?”, I asked.

“Will it shut you up?”, she queried.

“Probably not”,  I said, “Its likely that I’m going to cuss like a Canadian. But I’m willing to give it a whirl.”

“By the way, how do Canadian’s cuss?”, she asked as I moved up next to her.

“You’re about to find out.”, I answered. “Let me know if you like it, eh.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pot, Poetry, Philosophy, and Nipples….

Theredownload are many, many stories that came out of a camp in Northern Ontario, nestled on the shores of Skeleton Lake. There were tales of pregnancy, missing campers, a camp director who bordered on sociopathology, and his wife, whose fear of onions was legendary within the Ontario camp circuit. No story however, evoked as much interest as the tale of the kitchen boy and the young camper.

It was 1973, or possibly 1974, and while the events have been bastardized, altered by time and fading memories, I will do my best to reveal the events of that fateful summer as best as I can remember it.

Thedownload-1 kitchen boys, often thought of as the lowest  form of camp staff, lived in a staff only dorm on the main road of the camp. Surrounded by all of the camp’s amenities, it became a hub of fun and games. Music was always playing, usually Yes, or Pink Floyd, or the Beatles. Drugs were rampant, and the aroma of marijuana permeated the surrounding area regularly. One day, a camper, a young female camper, arrived at the cabin window. Now, to be fair, fraternization between campers and staff was strictly forbidden, but neither the young camper, nor the head kitchen boy cared. They began talking, and over time, would sneak off and walk through the fish hatchery that bordered the camp grounds. There they discussed Gibrhan and Kerouac, Satre and Camus, and Ginsberg and Dylan. They spent hour after hour talking about life. When the kitchen boy looked at her, he was amazed at her beauty. She was a free spirit, a rebel, with a zest for learning.  She walked barefoot, wore cutoff shorts, and a halter top that fit like a second skin, without a bra. She was rather well endowed, with breasts that gently bounced and floated as she moved, and had nipples the kitchen boy could not look away from. On one occasion, when they were down at the waterfront, she went into the water, and coming out, her pale white t shirt, was completely see through. And while it seemed that she never noticed the effect this was having on the poor kitchen boy, the sexual tension between them was evident to both of them, and everyone else who saw them together.

All5c8a21d67f505f6ecf6ba842428a0128 summer, they were inseparable. They seemed to enjoy each other’s company more than the camp experience itself. Often times, it appeared as though they were the only 2 people there. The camp officials were convinced that the kitchen boy was engaging in sexual activities with this young camper. He was questioned, or rather interrogated on several occasions, with bright lights shone in his eyes, deprived of food and water for hours at a time, and many threats and ultimatums were given.  Kitchen boy vehemently denied any wrong doing, and with his new found spiritual freedom, told them all to fuck off. Unrelenting, the young camper and the kitchen boy continued their relationship amid the turbulence and fear it was causing the camp administraton. On any given day, they could be found sitting under a tree, discussing poetry, or the rise of neosocialism. But never was a word spoken about her amazing tits and nipples. He wanted her, and he hoped she wanted him, but it had transcended the physical plain, or so they convinced themselves. Everytime he beautiful_girl_in_spa_892115looked at her, he envisioned her naked. Others who were there that summer, had said that kitchen boy informed them that every conversation they had, she was completely undressed. In his mind. But the meeting of mind and spirit, the melding of souls had become more than enough for them.

At the end of the summer, the young camper returned to her home somewhere in Michigan, and the kitchen boy was informed by the camp director that he would never be allowed to return to the camp again, in any capacity.

Time passed, and there were a few reunions; a trip down to Michigan to visit her at College, a family trip with her family that allowed them to meet in Toronto,  and a final visit to Toronto many years later. And every time they met, it was as if time had stood still. Each encounter, no matter how brief, felt like that wonderful summer. The sense of oneness, the meeting of spirits and souls, had not waned. It was just another day at camp in 1973, or ’74.

images-1There are reminders of that summer, of that dalliance between 2 souls still left up there. Their names carved into a wall, initials carved into a tree, and the story of the relationship between the young camper and the kitchen boy is still being told, although most of the facts have been mutated over time. Some of us had wondered what became of these 2. Did they ever engage in sex? We decided it was best not to know. The depth of their friendship could only be compromised by a physical aspect. The sanctity of their relationship was best remembered as it was. I can only suspect that after all of these years, they have somehow stayed connected, still bonded by their spirits and their souls, and should they meet again, still sitting somewhere quiet, discussing poetry, and philosophy, amid an abundance of sexual tension, as the kitchen boy, listning intently, has his eyes fixed on the young camper’s nipples. Or maybe that’s just the  hopeless romantic in me.