Power & Control

 

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

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

“Did you make me any?”, she asked.

“No.”, I told her. “You were asleep.”

“I’m awake now.”, she stated.

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

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

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

“I was just asking.”, she stated.

“Its quite aggravating.”, I informed her.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Yes you were.”, she replied.

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

“It never changed.”, she replied.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Well, no.”, I said.

“And why is that?”, she asked.

“Because I love you?”, I guessed.

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

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

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

“I’d like sex .”, I said.

“Okay.”, she said. “Anything else?”

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

“Of course.”, she replied.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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The Girl From Founder’s College

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Ya.”, I told her.

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

“Are you fucking crazy?”, I asked.

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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..

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Memory #1

My daughters, who have always made me proud, while being somewhat neurotic, were wonderful babies. I think the happiest times I spent with them was when they were infants and toddlers. They are all wonderfully gifted, and each possesses a love for music and the creative arts.

I suspect that I had a large part in instilling this in them. Every night, at bedtime, I would sing to each one of them, a song that they particularly favoured.

My eldest daughter loved ‘Sarah The Whale’, particularly the Sharon, Lois, & Bram version (I could not find a link to that version)…so this is what she got…

My middle daughter, well, she was more into pop, and preferred the Beatles. ‘Til There Was You’ was one of her favorites.

My youngest daughter was crazy about this song:

Such fond memories. I am still listening to these songs, and always enjoy singing ‘Sarah, The Whale” to them now, despite their refusal to listen.