The Silence Of The Yams

 

After an ill fated attempt at minimalist living, my wife had forged ahead and dug her heels into a newfound healthy eating lifestyle. It seemed that she had gone vegan. Just like that. The announcement came as a surprise to the entire family. “She’s gone crazy.”, one of my daughters voiced at the secret meeting we held in the backyard.

“She’s not crazy.”, I told them. “Let’s just give it a try.” Desperately hoping that this too would die a quick death, we joined her in the madness of a meatless life.

Every day she would send us pictures and recipes of meals that she found on the internet, each one captioned with “What do you think about this?”, or “Doesn’t this look good?”, in an attempt to involve as many of us as possible in the meals without meat campaign she had launched. We never responded, not one of us.

“What is this?”, I asked as we sat down to dinner.

“Portobello burger.”, she answered. “It tastes exactly like beef.” She was wrong. She was very wrong. It tasted nothing like beef, and even with all of the barbecue sauce, mustard, horse radish and onions, the taste of the mushroom still jumped up and shouted “This isn’t really a burger.”

And then, after reading an article on their health benefits, my wife discovered sweet potatoes. She figured out how to incorporated them in almost every meal. There were pies, and casseroles, and pastas. There were salads, and soups, and stews. After a few days, the rest of us were growing restless, feeling helpless against the onslaught of beans and vegetables, so when she went out with friends one evening, the rest of us headed off to Napoli Vince and dined on the meat lovers platter. There was veal, and sausage, and lamb and steak, and not a bean or a yam in sight. And it was so good! “Why can’t we do this all of the time?”, a daughter asked.

I knew why, but I didn’t want to ruin the obvious joy that illuminated my children’s faces. “Why don’t you just tell her we’re not going to eat veganese any more?” my youngest daughter asked. Why not indeed!

Upon my wife’s return I was ready for the showdown. “So what did you guys do tonight?”, she asked.

“Not much, really.”, I answered.

“How was dinner?”, she continued, as she headed into the kitchen. We all started to panic. We forgot to get rid of the meal she had left for us, sweet potato and lentil stew, in our haste to return to our primal inner carnivores. “So, what did you eat?”, she stated as she returned to the living room. My daughters left, like rabbits running from the fox, leaving me alone to face the Spanish Moroccan in a one on one battle to the death. She was already wearing her battle gear, that ‘I know you did something you shouldn’t have’ face, with those dark, unblinking eyes, arms folded across her chest, and her left leg a little turned out with the foot below it repeatedly tapping on the floor in 2/4 time. I took my position directly across from here, careful not to seem too confrontational while at the same time, demonstrating a complete lack of wrong doing. My hands were in my pant pockets, and my eyes were intentionally avoiding any eye contact with her.

“Well”, she said, “what did you do?”

“Can we sit down and talk?”, I asked.

“You can sit if you want.”, she stated, “I think I’d prefer to stand.”

“No.”, I replied. “I really need you to sit down so we can talk.” When we were both seated I realized that she looked even more upset than when she was standing, but there was no way I was going to ask her to stand up again.

“We don’t want to be vegans.”, I told her. “We just can’t live on rice, and beans, and sweet potatoes.”

“Millions of people eat like that.”, she replied. “What do you mean you can’t?”

“We don’t like it.”, I answered. “We just don’t like it.”

“Well”, she answered, “I could change a few things around, and maybe use different spices.”

“No”, I told her, “its not the seasoning or the spices. Its the lack of meat. I appreciate you trying to keep us healthy, we all do, but we have to come to some sort of compromise. You can’t just dump all of this on us at once.”

“Okay”, she responded. “I guess you’re right. It is a big change to have to deal with all at once. So what did you guys eat tonight?”

“We went to Naploi Vince’s.”, I told her.

“Did you bring me anything back?”, she asked.

“Actually, no.”, I informed her. “But there is a veal on a bun that just needs to be heated up, and its all yours if you want it.” She hoped out of the chair like a jack in the box, and dashed to the kitchen, placing the sandwich in the oven, and I swear I could hear her salivating from the other room.

“We should do this a couple of times a week.”, she said.

“We can.”, I replied.

“Its so good.”, she added, with a mouth full of food, savoring every nuance of this most perfect of sandwiches. I watched her as she continued to eat, taking in all of the sounds that indicated just how much she was loving it.

“Food sex, right?”, I asked her.

“Uh huh.”, she said between bites. And while she continued to eat, I disposed of the lentil and sweet potato stew she had left for us. When she had finished her sandwich, we headed to bed and laying there, I heard her say “We have to go to St. Lawrence Market tomorrow morning and pick up some veal. Oh, and we should get some hot Italian sausages, and beef ribs. I want beef ribs.”

“Okay.”, I said.

“And on the way”, she continued, “we should drop off all of the bags of beans and legumes in the donation bin for the food bank.”

“Okay.”, I repeated. As I drifted off to sleep, I couldn’t help but thinking that I had just dodged another bullet, well not just me, but my kids too. I haven’t seen a sweet potato for a few months, and everyday I am grateful for that. I do however, spend some time, usually at night when the insomnia takes over and leaves me awake and agitated, wondering about what frightening idea from the lunatic fringe she will embrace next.

 

 

 

 

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Passed Over

 

The celebration of a holiday steeped in tradition and family was pre-empted this year due to several family crises. My wife suggested that we do it in a week or so. “We can do it then, right?”, she asked.

“I don’t think we can.”, I informed her.

“Why not?”, she asked.

“I think that a Passover Seder must be held on Passover.”, I answered.

“Who says?”, she queried.

“Well”, I replied, “6000 years of history and tradition, and several bus loads of Orthodox Rabbis en route to a Hassidic convention in Monsey, New York.”

“Are you sure?”, she inquired.

“Pretty sure.”, I told her.

“Well”, she said, “that sucks.”

“Indeed.”, I agreed.

So, with all of the preparation, the cooking and cleaning, the purchasing of seder specific foods, and the table being set, one of my sons, the chef, called to let his mother know that he could not attend as there was an emergency at work. I had no idea what a kitchen emergency could be, short of a fire, but he was clear that was not the case. I suspect that either the sous chef burnt the beef wellington, or some one screwed up the marinara sauce, so he had to go and rectify the problem. “Well”, my wife said, “everyone else will be here, so it will still be okay.”

We headed out to the store to pick up a few final items for my vegetarian/vegan son, and had to visit 3 different supermarkets to obtain the specific foods he would eat. With the morning gone, we began the final organization of food, seating, and Passover paraphernalia. There was another call, this time from my vegetarian son, stating that he was in the E.R. at a local hospital. It seems that he was experiences chest pains through the night, and had been transported by ambulance to the hospital. I went down to check out what was going on, being asked to bring him an orange juice and a chocolate chip muffin, and upon my arrival I found him in a room, not hooked up to any piece of equipment whatsoever. ‘What the hell is going on?”, I asked him.

“I don’t know.”, he said. “I was having chest pains, and my arm felt kind of weird, so I called 911.”

“What did the doctor say?”, I asked.

“Nothing really.”, he replied. “They took blood, and did a chest x-ray. We’re waiting for the results.” He asked if I could go to his place and pick up his boots and socks, as he arrived only with his slippers. I suggested that he get his wife to bring his stuff over, as I was not delivering his shoes.

When the doctor arrived, he was very sure that it was a cardiac event, but more than likely anxiety, or perhaps a pulled muscle. He was discharged, and I gave him money for a cab home, and I headed home myself. At home, I informed my wife that neither he, nor his wife would be attending the seder, as he was going to sleep as he had been up all night. I was told that while I was at the hospital with my son, one of my daughters called and, since neither of her brothers were attending, she didn’t think it was worthwhile coming down, and with my wife’s assistance, put a plan in place to conduct the seder within the next few weeks.

In the meantime, there was a fridge and freezer filled with food. The pantry was bursting with items to be served along side the main courses. There was chicken and brisket, roast potatoes, candied carrots, soup, fricassee and meatballs, gefilte fish, and a host of Moroccan dishes that my wife had grown up with. “What are we going to do with all of this food?”, I asked as I surveyed the abundance of food that had been systematically organized and arranged in the kitchen.

“We’re going to eat it.”, my wife said. “And what we can’t eat, we’re going to freeze.”

It was a very disappointing evening for me. At this time of year, my thoughts dive headlong into the memories of childhood Passovers spent at my parents home. Being with family, the traditions, the food, and the hockey playoff games that inevitably were on at the same time of year, and how my brothers and I, feigning a need to use the bathroom, headed downstairs to catch just a few minutes of the game and to at least check on the score. And upon returning to the table, my father would inevitably ask “What’s the score?”. That too had become our family tradition. And when the seder was done, satiated with food and the story of the emancipation from bondage, we headed to bed, taking comfort in the Leafs’ victory over the Bruins.

This year, however, there was no family. There was no tradition. And as I get older, they both seem to carry increased importance to me. “We’ll have our own seder.”, I told my wife. “There’s you and me, and the two girls. It’ll be fine.”

“The girls won’t be here.”, she informed me. “When they heard no one was coming, they made plans to go out with friends.”

“I see.”, I replied. I didn’t really. I was quite dejected, wallowing in the disappointment of childhood memories that seemed gone forever.

“We can do it together.”, she said. “Just the two of us.”

“Its okay.”, I told her. “I just don’t know why its so hard for everyone to get together twice a year. They’re always too busy. How come we’re never too busy? They’re going to forget everything we taught them. But we should eat. At least I won’t have to put pants on.”  We sat at the table, and before we could begin to eat, my wife looked over at me.

“You are a good father.”, she told me. “We’ll be fine, and they’ll be fine. No matter what they forget, they will never forget what’s important. We did a good job with those kids.”

I felt better. She always made me feel better. “I don’t think I want to do this next year.”, I told her. “I think one of the kids should hold the seder at their place. And maybe, we should have a crisis and have to cancel.”

“If that’s what you want to do”, she said, “we’ll do it. It sounds like fun. Its about time we screwed them around.” At that precise moment in time I realized that this was exactly where I was always supposed to be.

 

 

 

 

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..

 

 

 

 

The Old People’s Club

My youngest daughter wanted to talk to me, and so, entered my bedroom. The first thing she noticed were some hard candies that I had left atop my dresser. “Why do old people always carry those candies?”. she asked.

“Its one of the rules.”, I answered.

“What rules?”, she inquired, eager to hear more.

“Well”, I said, “When you turn 55, you get this letter in the mail. It explains this organization, designed only for old people. There are a set of rules we must agree to follow, and a list of where to purchase the things you need to join.”

“You’re making this up.”, she stated.

“Am I?”, I replied. I held up my C.A.R.P. membership card. “This is the membership card.”

“But you’re not retired.”, she informed me.

“No, I’m not.”, I answered. “Its just a clever rouse to throw the young people off of the real purpose of the organization. You think its for retired people, but its just old people getting shit the young people can’t find.”

“Like what?”, she asked.

“Like those candies.”, I replied. “And the best places to eat dinner at 4 o’clock, and lessons on being mean and cranky. Its all part of a wonderful conspiracy to keep you dumb asses away from our stuff.”

“I don’t believe you.”, she stated.

“Well, then,”, I said, “Its working perfectly.”

“I don’t know why I talk to you.”, she said as she turned away to leave my room.

“Oh, honey,”, I told her, “I’m doing everything I can to get you to stop.”

“So I see you found the old man asshole store.”, she said.

“About 5 years ago.”, I replied. “Pretty sure I have it mastered by now.”

She left the room. I was proud of myself.

“Why do you have to screw around with the kids?”, my wife asked. The pride quickly vanished.

“I just can’t help myself.”, I said. “Every time I touch this membership card, it just happens.”

“I think you like being a crazy old man.”, she stated.

“Oh, I do.”, I informed her. “And I am quite fond of the crazy old bitch living in your head, too.”

“Thanks.”, she said, as she gave me a hug, just as my daughter returned to my bedroom.

“Ah, no!”, she stated emphatically. “You’re not gonna get into that old people sex stuff now.”

“”No.”, I answered. “We’ll wait until you leave and close the door behind you.”

“You’re very bad.”, my wife said as my daughter left, closing the door behind her.

“Its true.”, I said. “But I wouldn’t want it any other way.”

“Me either.”, the crazy old woman stated. “Me either.”

Over The Hill

My children, my loving, caring children, have decided that I should try to find a seniors’ living center to move into. They are very concerned that I am having difficulty with my memory, and my ability to complete basic, daily living tasks. I have ensured them that my memory is fine, I merely choose not to remember things that have little or no interest to me, including their piddly ass opinions.. And as for completing basic daily living tasks, well, nobody, and I mean absolutely nobody, can cook osso buco or make matzo ball soup, like I can.

They have sent me a barrage of links to various programs and centers, each with a specific theme. There are a few outdoorsy adventure ones, nestled in Elliot Lake, about 200 light years from anywhere else, and a couple of far more passive, and sedate ones in the heart of the city. I have confirmed with my wife that this is not happening. Not ever.

We discussed our position with our kids, and informed them that while they may think that they know best, in fact, they still don’t know anything. I requested input from the dogs, the 2 smartest creatures I have raised, and my sons became offended.

“Alright”, I told them. “Here’s what’s going to happen. You’re going to mind your own business, and leave me alone. If you need to worry about something, worry about yourselves. I’m fine. Your mother’s fine. Go home.”.

My kids were silent. They were shocked. My kids just looked at each other, none of them sure how they should respond to the crazy, old man who stood ranting before them. One of my daughters started to cry. She was worried that there would be no one to take of me once they all move on to different cities, to live their own lives. It was all so very ironic.

“I can’t get any of you to take out garbage, or pick up after yourselves. And now you’re worried who will take care of us?”, I pointed out. “If you want to help, go clean the mess you just made in the kitchen. Or cut the grass, or clean the damn bathroom. That would be a big help.”

“We’re taking about what’s going to happen later on.”, one of my genius sons said.

“I’ll tell you what’s going to happen later on.”, I replied. “You’re all going to leave, and your mother will clean the mess you left in the kitchen, and I will cut the grass. Any more thoughts?”

“You’re just being difficult.”, another son said.

“Perhaps.”, I said. “But your mother and I will decide what’s best for us. Until I start walking round the house in my underwear, trying to watch Rocky & Bullwinkle on the microwave, I can make my own decisions.”

” We just want to make sure you guys are alright.”, one of my sons replied. “Its only because we love you.”

“I know.”, I said. “But it would be okay if you spent less time loving us, and more time cleaning up after yourselves. Now, you can either go home, or stay here and mind your own business, but now I feel like taking your mother into the bedroom, and getting naked. When I no longer want to see her with her clothes off, you can look for a place to put me. Until then, we’re good.”

It came as no surprise, really, that they put their coats and shoes on, and left.

“I hope you don’t think we’re really going to get naked.”, my wife said.

“Well, I did.”, I told her, as I headed into the kitchen, trying to improve the reception on the microwave.

 

 

 

 

 

 

When The Kids Are Away…

 

Many, many years ago, when the kids were still small, and there never seemed to be any time for us, my wife and I decided to go away, without the kids, for a mini vacation. We arranged for my mother-in-law to stay with the kids, and off we went. We had reservations at a wonderfully small, all inclusive resort about 4 hours north of Toronto, for 3 nights and 4 days of summer fun.

The drive up was surprising relaxing. We took our time, stopping at farmer’s markets, and shops that dotted the highway. We arrived, and images-6checked into our room. There was a king size bed, a jacuzzi tub, and a terrace that, from our 2nd floor room, allowed for a spectacular view of the lake. There were canoes, wind surfers, and sailboats, and there were no kids. Not only my kids, but no kids at all. It was quiet and serene.

We headed down to the beach. “Let’s go for a canoe ride.”, I suggested.

“Okay,”, my wife replied, “but don’t go too far.”

“It’s a lake”, I reminded her. “We can only go as far as the other shore.”

“No, no.”, she pleaded. “We can’t go way out there. Can’t we just stay close to the shore?”

So, off we went, with me paddling, and her holding on to the sides for dear life. As we began to follow the shoreline, she lost sight of the resort. ” We’re too far.”, she shrieked.

brannonlake3-1024“Not really.”, I said. “We just went around a curve.”

“I want to go back.” So we turned around and went back to where she could see the resort. She told me it would be alright if we just paddled back and forth in front of the compound. After 10 minutes of this nonsense, I headed in, and returned the canoe. “Imagine that,”, I said, ” we wasted time putting on the life jackets. We never got out of 2 feet of water.”

We spent the rest of the afternoon on the beach, drinking beer, and watching canoes, sailboats, and windsurfers disappear across the lake. We returned to the room and changed for dinner. She seemed distant and consumed. “I have to call home.”, she said. “I have to check on the kids.” And why not, I thought, it’s been 12 hours!

Everything was fine. She hung up the phone, and burst into tears. In between the sobs, she was able to tell me that she hated the resort. She didn’t like being so far away from the kids. What if something happened? It would take forever to get home from up here.

I went to the front desk, to see about a refund. None was available. We packed the car anyway, and headed back through the Near North of Ontario, through pine trees and maples, past farms and towns so small they don’t exist on any map. ” I have an idea.”, She said. “What if we find a hotel close to the house and stay there for a few days. It could still be fun, but I’d feel a lot better being closer to the kids.”

 “Correct me if I’m wrong,”, I said, “but wasn’t the whole idea of this trip to get away from the kids?”

“I know.”, she replied. “I just can’t relax being so far away. I’d feel better if we were close to them”

“Well, it’s a good thing we didn’t end up going to Vegas.”, I said.

 

After driving for 4 more hours, we were having different finding a room on a long, holiday weekend. Several hotels had no vacancies. We were forced to settle on The Emerald Isle Motel, the motel which coincidentally, during my high school days, I had been to with several female classmates, and a blonde French teacher I shall refer to only as Mademoiselle Nips.

When we got into the room, she called her mother to check on the kids. She spent the next 3 days calling her mother and verifying that the children were all still okay. 4 times per day.

We did have some fun, though. We went to Wonderland and Pioneer Village. We visited Klienberg, and St. Thomas. We saw the Elora Gorge, and revisited Centre Island. And through it all, she seemed happy. I, however, just wanted to sail, canoe, and lay on a beach, with a beer in each hand. Over breakfast on the last day, she thanked me for understanding, and for bringing us back to be closer to the kids. She took my hand, and gently squeezing it asked “What time do we have to be out of the room?”

I looked up at her, and she was smiling. “Not yet”, I said.  She winked. Man, how I love that woman.

 

Days Of Crime & Roses

 

I grew up watching TV Westerns. My father just couldn’t get enough of them. I watched them all, curled up on the floor, laying beside him, eyes glued to the legendary adventures of those larger than life heroes. More than anything, I wanted to be a cowboy. I wanted to ride into town on my horse, gun at my side, just wanting a drink to wash down the trail dust.

When I was about 5 or 6, my father bought me a cowboy set; holster, gun, hat, and Sheriff’s badge. I couldn’t wait to strap on the holster, drop in the gun, and, donning my way cool cowboy hat, practice my quick draw. “You forgot to put on the badge.”, my father pointed out. images“Do you need some help?”.

“No. I don’t want to wear the badge.”, I told him.

“So, you want to be the bad guy?”, he asked. After thinking about it, all I could muster was “Uh huh.” And so began my foray into a life as a desperado.

One afternoon, while looking for adventure, I found my mother in the kitchen, baking cookies. With her back towards me, I crept up to her, gun drawn, and sticking it in her back, shouted “Put your hands up, and move away from the cookies”!  She screamed, and dropped the tray of cookies on the floor. I gathered as many as I could, and got out of Dodge. No posse followed. This was so easy!

That evening, the sheriff, who had heard about the robbery, came looking for me. He found me with the cookies and told me to never do that to my mother again. I tried to explain, and he reminded me that he was still sheriff, and I would obey the law or find myself in jail, or worse.

Unable to continue on this path to a life of crime, as temporary as it was, I was led into the world of Superheroes. With a towel as a cape, I climbed the underdog-pointingantenna to the roof of the house, and stood there, looking out over the city, and my brothers playing in the backyard. The fluttering of my cape in the wind must have distracted me, as I lost my balance and fell down to the ground. My brother ran to get my father, who standing over me, asked if I was alright. I checked, and everything seemed to be working fine. “Of course”, I informed him, I’m a Superhero. I can’t be hurt”.

“There will be no more flying around here.”, He said. “No more Superheroes. Do you understand”

Dejected, all I could mutter was “Yes sir.”

With the train robber and Superhero no longer wanted, I sought out a life as a prankster, much like The Joker or The Riddler, on Batman. Teaming with my childhood friend, Howie, we set out on an exciting adventure. Howie’s older brother had purchased firecrackers, and we animated_joker__by_joker_laugh-d5oivx5had access to them. The question now was, what to do with them?

An idea formed, as if by fate. The Ericson’s, who lived directly across the road from my house, had an amazing array of roses growing at the front of their house. The plan was to plant the firecrackers amid the flowers, light them, and watch the resulting spectacle of color. Stealthily, we moved across the street, and as quickly as possible, strategically placed the weapons of floral destruction. We lit them, and ran back across the road. Just as we turned back to view our work, the site exploded, shooting petals and plants everywhere. The Ericson’s came out of their house, too late to see the event, but stared in disbelief at the resulting destruction. Mrs. Ericson saw Howie and I standing on the sidewalk, laughing with delight at our handiwork. “You rotten little brats.”, she shouted at us. The commotion and the shouting caused others to come out of their homes, including my parents.

Scanning the carnage, my father turned to me and asked, “Did you do it?”

“It was an accident.”, Was the only thing I could conjur up. He took me by the shirt collar, and walked me across the road to stand face to face with The Ericsons.

“Do you have something to say to Mr. and Mrs. Ericson?”, he asked.

136-jailI appologized as sincerely as I could, begging forgiveness, claiming it was an accident, feigning concern, and then was led back across the road by the man who had somehow been promoted from sheriff to judge.  I was sentenced to clean the mess followed by 1 week of solitary confinement, and hard labor. Howie was sent home by my father, and had to deal with his own parents. He gave up the life of excitement and danger, and went on to be an accountant. To this day, he does my taxes. As for me, well, I continued to live on the edge of danger. I was often in trouble in school, for questioning the rules, challenging authority, and refusing to participate in what I had informed the Vice Principal,  was insanely asinine. I was suspended on a few occasions, and had a semester long dalliance with my grade 10 French teacher, Mademoiselle Sherman, all of which helped pave the road I travelled in adulthood. My children have learnt to be free thinkers, and to have their own ideas, ideals, and opinions, and they have always made me proud.

I no longer have the desire to rob stagecoaches, or fight crime, or even to engage in wanton destruction. I have put away my gun, and discarded my cape. Cookies are baked for me whenever I request them, and I realized that I don’t need to climb up to the roof to see clearly. I do, however,  miss the excitement of blowing up the Ericson’s flower garden. That was a good time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s A Scary Night, Indeed!!

So, soon it will be the night when all of the little kids get to dress up as ghosts, halloween3superheros, princesses and a host of other celebrated characters, and roam the streets of my neighborhood, inevitably coming to my home, and incessantly ringing my door bell in an attempt to extort candy. I hate Halloween!

I do not like unexpected visitors, nor do I appreciate uninvited bell ringers! I dislike solicitors, salesman, flyer delivery people, census takers, and political pollsters.  I used to have an issue with religious zealots, but they don’t seem to come around anymore. Or perhaps I am on their “keep away from the crazy old man’s house” list.

halloween2 Anyways, back to the goblins and ghouls who will undoubtedly arrive at my house by 6pm, looking for a trick, or a treat. I am not sure why it does not occur to people that this act or random solicitation might be disturbing to others!  There was a time when, if there was no pumpkin on the porch, or in the window, you didn’t go to that house. Now, they come anyway, squealing with delight,  bothering me as I scramble to find something to put on so I can open the door and  give them a processed piece of edible garbage. What I really want to give them is a good talking to, but my wife reminds me that I should just be nice. They are only children!

I will have no pumpkin on my porch. There will be no ghosts dangling from the trees. There will be no haunted house and I will have no candy to give. I don’t care if the lights are on, do not mistake this as an invitation for you to come to my home. Man, I hate Halloween!!

It is obvious however, that Halloween will continue as usual with hundreds of freaks and fairies parading the streets, oblivious to all social conventions. So, halloween1here are a few tips to make your Halloween safe.

5. Travel in groups. Do not go out alone.
4. Look before you run across the streets.
3. Take an adult with you.
2. Wear something that makes you easy to see.
1. Do not come to my house.

By the way-the Morgan’s, 2 doors down from me, always have great crap to hand out. Feel free to ring their bell at least twice.