A Night To Remember…

I will never forget that night.The crowd had been growing steadily for hours, despite the sweltering heat. There was indiscernible chanting emanating from the group stationed beside an abandoned Chevy Impala, as they lit fires in the trash cans that lined the overcrowded street. Placards were held high, swaying back and forth, enticing the local media to begin filming. A communal roar erupted as a stretch limousine with blacked out windows pulled up in front of the office tower that had long served to ignite the activists’ anger. As the vehicle came to a stop, the crowd silenced, as if time itself was standing still. Patiently waiting to see who the passenger was, the group who had been lighting the fires in garbage cans, unable to control their frustration, began a new chant. “Come on out”. “Come on out”, they sang in melodious tones.

“Who do you think is in there?”, my wife asked me.

“I don’t know.”, I replied.

“I think its the security guy.”, she stated.

“We’ll just have to wait and see.”, I answered.

“Well”, she continued, “Who else could it be?”

“Can you stop talking for a minute?”, I blurted out. “I can’t hear anything.”

“That’s because you’re going deaf.”, she told me.

“No.”, I corrected her, “Its because you won’t stop talking.”

A man in a dark suit emerged from the vehicle, carrying a black briefcase, and was led through the crowd who were trying to block the passage into the building, by 4 incredibly large men, who also wore dark suits, accessorized with mirrored sunglasses.

“I told you it was him.”, my wife exclaimed. “It was so obvious.”

“Proud of yourself, are you?”, I asked her.

“Not really.”, she replied. “It was so obvious.”

“Yes, You said that already.”, I reminded her. “Are we done now?”, I asked.

“Don’t you want to see how it ends?”. she queried.

“There’s no need.”, I told her. “You can just tell me everything that’s going to happen.”

“Well. that kind of takes the fun out of it, don’t you think?”, she asked.

“No.”, I told her. “The non stop talking does that for me.” I turned the television off, stood up, and took the dogs for a walk. And that was the last time my wife and I watched a movie together.

A Cabbagetown Horror Story

It is cold where I live when winter comes. The Arctic winds blow insane amounts of snow that seem to pierce your skin like bullets. It is often dangerous, if not impossible to manipulate the roadways, and the sidewalks with the amount of snow that piles up on them. It gets dark early. Usually by 4:30 or 5:00, the street lights come on, and you can see the snow flakes, still falling, glistening in their glow.

It was on such a cold, wintry night that I stopped in at The Cabbagetown pork3Diner, a small ordinary eatery. I was a semi regular there, and with my wife working late, I took advantage of the opportunity. I sat near the open kitchen, revelling in the additional heat emanating from the oven, and began the customary conversation with Nick, head cook, and manager. He talked about the political and economic nightmare that had engulfed his beloved Greece, and I merely nodded in agreement. When he stopped to take a breath, I placed my usual order, meatloaf dinner, preferably an end piece.

I ate my meal. All of it. Not a crumb left. The Cabbagetown Diner had, what I believe was the best damned meatloaf ever created. Nick spoke to me the entire time I was eating. He was returning to his homeland, to work in the family business, and was leaving in 2 days. All I could think about was who was going to cook my meatloaf? I had asked Nick for the recipe several times, but he refused to disclose the secret.

pork1I asked one more time, one final attempt to extract the information. When Nick revealed what he put into the meatloaf, I heard myself scream, but I wasn’t sure-was it only in my head, or did I really scream out loud? He said that he used a beef/pork mixture. Pork! I had never eaten pork. It was forbidden. It is forbidden. I felt sick, and I felt scared. Was I going to go to hell for this abomination? Do I have to gargle with salt water? Do I pray for forgiveness? The guilt, the shame enveloped me like a blanket. Could I ever tell my wife? I mean, I could never go back there. Ever! How do I explain it to my kids? I felt like I was going to throw up! ‘I think I need to go to emerg”, I heard myself say, “Or maybe I should call a Rabbi”.

pig1I have never fully recovered from that night. I have not spoken about it to anyone. Not my wife. Not my kids. Not a doctor, and not a Rabbi. I have never been back to The Cabbagetown Diner, and have walked on the other side of the street ever since. I continue to struggle with the trauma, but believe that I have made great strides in recovery. I am able to look at pigs on television, however I am still not able to attend petting zoos, or farms.