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.

Terror On The Information Super Highway

 

It started in the middle of the night, coming out of nowhere, so there was no time to prepare. And now, 2 days after it began, there was no end in sight. It was relentless, gnawing at us like a rabid coyote. The anxiety was thick enough to breathe, and the silence was deafening. And then, out of the stillness, a small voice asked “When is it going to stop, daddy?”

“I don’t know, honey.”, I answered helplessly. “I just don’t know.”

“What are we going to do now?”, my wife asked, seemingly as frightened as my daughter was.

“I don’t know.”, I answered, racking my brain for some way out of this nightmare. “The only thing I am sure about is that I can’t play another freakin’ board game!”

“We have to do something.”, she stated. “Look at us. We’re like animals, here!”

“Its okay.”, I assured her. “It will all be okay.”

“It will never be okay, again.”, she sighed.

Deep down I knew that she was right. It never would be okay, again. It never could be.

“Why don’t we take the kids and go to your mother’s?”, I suggested.

“Can we?”, she asked.

“Why not?”, I said.  My wife paused for a moment, and then looked at me with those black, Moroccan eyes.

“So, why didn’t you think of this days ago?”, she demanded to know.

“I’m not particularly fond of your mother.”, I answered.

“You are going to come with, right?”, she asked.

“She doesn’t have the room for all of us.” I told her. “I’ll be okay here.”

“I don’t think so.”, she said. “You’re not sending me with all of the kids while you stay here and do nothing.”

“I’m not going.”, I insisted.

“Well then, neither am I.”, she stated.

“Well,”, I told her, “the only thing left to do is plug the modem back in, and surrender.”

“What do you mean?”, she asked.

“This is harder on us than it is on them, I think.”, I suggested. “I hate to give in, but there’s no other way to get out of this nightmare.”

“Are you sure?”, she asked.

“Yes?”, I said with some reluctance. “I’m sure.” We called the kids into the kitchen and sat them down at the table. “Your mother has something to tell you.”, I informed them. She sat there as stoic as a statue, and I couldn’t help but wonder when he pigeons would come to land on her. She folded her arms across her chest, and sat back in her chair.

“Your father and I have been quite upset by the way you have all been abusing our good nature. We pay for the internet, and we expect you to respect our rules about using it. We would like to believe that you have learned a lesson here.”  She paused, and leaned forward, looking at all of them one by one, as they sat around the circular table. Boy, she was good!

“So, today,”, she continued, “we are willing to bring the internet back, but with conditions.”

“What conditions?”, one of the kids asked. Good question, I thought as I wanted to know what these conditions were myself.

“No streaming, no game playing, no social media, until all of your homework is done. Agreed?”

There was, what sounded like a somewhat reserved heavenly chorus response of “Yes”.

“And”, she added, “all of your devices are put away by 10 o’clock, every night. Agreed.”

“Yes.”, came the reluctant chant.

My wife continued to look them in the eye, causing them to look down at the table. “If this happens again”, she continued, “there will be no internet. Ever. Your father and I will change the password, and we will have the exclusive use of it. You will have nothing. If you need it for school work, you can go to the library, or Tim Horton’s, or any where else you want and use their wifi. Are we all  clear?”

“Yes.”, they said.

“In one hour”, she added, it will be working. Now, go and clean your rooms.” Like antelopes running  from a lioness, they ran up the stairs faster than I had ever seen them move before.

“You’re very good.”, I told her.

“You’re just figuring that out now?”. she replied.

“I guess so.”, I told her. “That look worked great on the kids.”

“Not just on the kids.”, she stated.

“What do you mean?”, I asked.

“How do you think I get you to clean out the garage, cut the lawn, or anything else I want you to do?”

“Just so we’re clear”, I answered, “I am not afraid of you.”

“I don’t want you to be afraid of me.”, she replied. “You just have to be unsure about what is going on in my head.”

“Well”, I told her, “I just assumed that it wasn’t much.”

“Pretty funny.”, she said, as she stood up from the table. She walked past me, and almost whispering said, “You might want to sleep with one eye open tonight.”

“I always do.”, I reminded her, as I pulled her towards me, and gave her a hug. “Sometimes I keep them both opened.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tall In The Saddle

I love horseback riding. Always have. In fact, when my wife and I first starting dating, I took her horseback riding. I suppose it was partially to impress her, but also to see what she looked like on a horse. I love cowgirls. All the way back to Dale Evans, and up to Sharon Stone, In ‘The Quick & The Dead’. My wife to be had never been on a horse before, and requested an older, very slow and very sedate horse. With assistance, she climbed aboard, and off we went.

So, there we were, sitting tall in the saddle, as we paraded along the trail, with me riding behind her, watching her back side straddle the horse she was riding. I was certain that it was going to be an exciting ride!

After riding down the trail and across the stream, we stopped to rest the horses. Standing beside our horses, as they grazed on the wild grass, my date turned to me. “I don’t think this horse likes me very much.”, she said.

“Why would you think that?”, I asked, as I watched her horse nuzzle up against her leg.

“He doesn’t listen.”, she informed me. “When I tell him to slow down, he goes faster. And now, he just keeps stepping on my foot.”

“He’s playing.”, I stated.

“No.”, she replied. “He’s an ass. There’s something not right with him.”

“Maybe he’s freaked out by the white jeans you’re wearing.”, I offered.

“What’s wrong with my jeans?”, she asked.

“Well”, I postulated, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone wear white jeans to go horseback riding. It just can’t turn out well.”

As we mounted our rides again, we were informed that we could run them across the field, as fast as we felt comfortable. I was off like a shot, racing through the grass and the bushes as fast as my horse could run. I turned to see that my date was flailing around on her pony, rocking from side to side, with a look of terror on her face. I rode over to her, and settled her horse. She dismounted and stood beside the horse, staring at him, with eyes that I was sure could kill him, right there and then.

“Its okay.”, I told her. “I have the horse.”, as I grabbed on to the reins.

“I am not getting on that messed up animal again.”, she said, as she sat down on the grass.

“You may want to get up.”, I advised. “You’re going to get grass stains all over your ass.”

“I hate horseback riding.”, she informed me. “I’m never doing this again.”

“That’s okay.”, I told her.

“I’m sorry.”, she stated. I reached my hand out to her.

“Come on.”, I said. “You can ride back with me.” I pulled her up onto my horse, and she sat behind me. “Just hold on tight.”  I pulled on the reins of her horse, and led him back to the stables. As we approached the barn, we were greeted by a stable hand.

“Something wrong?”, the young lady asked.

“My horse is an idiot.”, my wife said as I handed her horse’s reins to the hand. “He didn’t listen. He did whatever he wanted to do. He’s an ass.”

“Apparently, he is not as calm and sedate as we were led to believe.”, I added.

“I’m so sorry.”, the woman apologized. “I can give you a pass for a free ride next time you come out.”

“No, thank you.”, my wife responded. “There is not going to be a next time. Not ever.”

“We’ll take the pass.”, I interjected.

“I’m not doing this again.”, my wife said.

“You never know.”, I said. “We’ll take the pass.”

“What’s your name, honey?”, she asked my wife as she began filling out the pass.

“Just put it in my name,”, I said. “I paid for the ride.”

In the car on our return to civilization, she sat in silence. Not a word was spoken.

“That’s cool that we got a free pass.”, I said.

“I don’t know why.”, she stated. “I am not doing that again.”

“That’s fine.”, I told her. “I can use the pass when I go.”

“You’re going to go without me?”, she asked.

I looked at her, surprised that she thought that I wouldn’t, and I saw those eyes looking at me much like the way she looked at that horse. “Are you telling me that I can’t go horseback riding without you, but since you don’t want to go, I can’t go back at all?”

She said nothing. The next 35 minutes were the longest 35 minutes ever. Not a word was spoken, until I got her home. I wasn’t sure if I would ever see her again. I went back to the stables a few days later, and used the free pass. I rode and rode, racing across the field, through the grass and the bushes, across the stream, and up the escarpment. I sat tall in the saddle, looking out over the valley below.

My future wife called me the next day, and we went out for dinner. “I’ve given it some thought.”, she said. “And I think I would like to try horseback riding again. But with a different horse. Maybe we can go on the weekend. I still have that free pass, so even if I hate it again, it didn’t really cost anything.”

“I’m sorry.”, I told her. “I used the pass a couple of days ago.”

“Are you serious?”, she asked.

“Yes.”, I said. “You said that you would never go back. I went after work.”

“Well”, she said. “I guess you had better find something else for us to do.”

“You know.”, I replied, “if you’re going to be so difficult, and make my life so complicated, we may as well be married.”

“Is that a proposal?”, she asked.

“I suppose so.”, I answered.

“Well then”, she said, “I’m ready.”

I looked at her and smiled. Man how I love this women. It has been suggested that her family has been able to place a curse on me so that I fell hopelessly in love with her, but it really doesn’t matter. We have never been horseback riding together since, but we have shared a lifetime of sadness and joy, happiness and despair, and 5 kids, and have managed to stay grounded and together. I suspect that she is very much like that horse, so long ago. Stubborn, feisty, a little dysfunctional, and I love her.

 

 

 

The Hand Is Quicker Than The I

 

“Come in here, quick!”, she shouted. “Hurry!” I ran as fast as I could, fearing the worst. But when I arrived in the bedroom, my wife seemed perfectly calm.

“I need your help.”, she said. I looked down and noticed her hand, under her pants.

“Seems to me you could have used my help a little earlier.”, I said.

“Oh, shut up”, she said, “My hand is stuck. I need you to help me get my hand out.”

“What exactly were you trying to do?”, I asked. “Impersonate Nero?”

“Nero?”, she inquired.

“Ya, Nero.”, I explained. “He was a Roman Emperor who spent a lot of time fiddling as well.”
“I wasn’t fiddling!”, she said., I was scratching, and my finger nail got stuck on my panties, and now I can’t get my hand out of my pants. Hurry up, it hurts.”

“Call it scratching if you want.”, I said, “But if I can’t get your hand unstuck, you’re gonna have fun explaining this at emerg.”

“Just get my hand out.”, she shouted.

“Okay, okay.”, I said. “What do you want me to do.”

“Slide my pants down.”, she said.

“Well, I haven’t heard that in a long time.”, I said, as I began pulling her pants off.

“Slowly!”, she shouted.

When I got her pants to her knees, I noticed that her hand was inside her panties, palm down. “Must have been one hell of an itch.”, I told her. “You know, I have a tool that can fix that.”

“Really?”, she asked. “Where is it?”

I started to unzip my fly. “Stop it.”, she said. “This is serious.”

I did up my pants. “So now what?”, I asked.

“I need you to reach into my panties, and try to tug on my finger.”, she directed. “I think part of my fingernail is caught on some stitching or something.”

“Well”, I said, “This doesn’t look good.”

“What’s wrong?”, she asked, with great concern.

“Nothing’s wrong.”, I said. ” I just can’t see where its stuck. Can you move your hand at all?”

‘”I don’t know.”, she answered,

“Well, try.”, I suggested.

She began moving her hand back and forth. but I still couldn’t tell where her finger was stuck. “You probably should have removed your panties before you started scratching the kitty.”, I told her.

“Can you be serious  for 5 minutes?”, she shrieked.

‘I don’t know.”, I said. “But I can try.”

I grabbed hold of her finger and holding it still, moved the fabric of her panties in the other direction, and released the trapped digit. I swear I heard the theme from ‘Free Willy’ start to play!

“Shit,my finger hurts so much.”, my wife said.

“Well that’ll teach you to start without me.”, I reminded her.

“Its not funny!”, she stated.

“Oh”, I told her, “It is. This is one of those forever moments.”

“Really?”, she asked.

“Yep.”, I explained. “I will be talking about this forever. In fact, I’m pretty sure there’s a story here.”

“You wouldn’t!”, she told me.

“I have to.”, I replied. “Its not everyday a woman gets her hand stuck down her panties.”

“You have your hands down your pants all the time.”, she reminded me.

“Yes, I do.”, I told her. “And anytime you want to write about it, feel free.”

“Its not worth it.”, she said. “Men are always playing with their stuff. Even in public”

“Well,”, I began, “I wouldn’t have to if you put your hand down my pants instead of your own.”

“That’s a wonderful dream you have.”, she said. “Keep dreaming, because right now, my hand is too sore to do anything.”

“Well”, I advised her, “If you should happen to get another itch, I have a bunch of fingers that would be more than happy to provide relief.”

“I’ll let you know.”, she said. “Now, do you think you can stop thinking about sex long enough to take a look at my finger? It hurts like hell!”

“I doubt it.”, I said. “But I’m willing to give it a try.”

 

You’re Doing It Wrong!

“You’re doing it wrong!”, my wife said.

“I’m used to hearing that in the bedroom.”, I told her, “But I’m only making a peanut butter and jam sandwich in the kitchen.”

“But you’re doing that wrong, too.”, she continued.

“Really?”, I asked, with just the right amount of sarcasm to piss her off.

“Yes, you are.”, she continued. “You’re supposed to put the jam on top of the peanut butter, not on the other piece of bread. If you do it your way, jam winds up dropping all over the counter when you flip the slice.”

“Well”, I told her, “I have been making it this way for 55 years. Its how I want to do it.”

“But its wrong!”, she repeated. Wrong or not, I proceeded to complete the sandwich making festivities, and enjoyed building my PB & J, as I have always done.

It wasn’t the first time I have been been told that I am wrong in the kitchen. In actuality, I think the only room I do not do anything wrong in, is the bathroom. NO. Not true. I have, according to my wife, been wrong in the bathroom as well, but that will be a whole other story.

So, back to the kitchen. I have been informed that I do not make over easy eggs correctly, either. I do not know how to flip them properly, to ensure even cooking without any breaks or ruptures of the yolk. Sometimes, she says that she even finds shell in it! There have been many times when she has given me directions as I am holding a spatula and a frying pan, and it is with great restraint that 1 or both of these items has not been formally introduced to the back of her head.  “Do you want to do it for me?”, I ask.

“No.”, she answered.

“Then go away.”, I tell her.

“You don’t have to be so nasty.”, she says.

“Um, yes I do.”, I advise her, “If you don’t like how I do it, then do it for me, or be quiet.”

“I’m just trying to help you.”, she answered.

“What would be really helpful would be if you just made it for me.”, I said.

“You’ll never learn that way.”, she told me.

There are also huge issues with grilled cheese, as I apparently have the burner set too high, and this makes the bread too dark and crispy for her. And coffee, well that’s entirely an issue that will never go away. She will ask me to make her coffee, and insist that the milk must go into the cup before the coffee. “I don’t like the milk in first.”, I tell her.

“But it tastes so much better.”, she replies.

“I don’t think so.”, I respond.

“No. It does.”, she says. “. It tastes better that way.”

So, I make coffee wrong, as well. And pasta, well, it seems that I don’t make it ‘mushy’ enough for her. I follow the directions, and wind up with wonderfully al dente pasta. She hates it. She says that its too hard. “Why can’t I hear that in the bedroom?”, I ask.

We agree to a compromise. I agree that she is, as usual absolutely right. In exchange, I get to practice pleasing her in the bedroom. I am not sure if she plans on joining me there or not, but either way, one of us is going to be happy.

 

 

 

The Rebellion of 2010

 

Moving with my family was one of the most horrifyingly traumatic events in our lives. My wife and I were busy in our search for a home in the city’s downtown core, while my kids were opposed to leaving their lives in suburbia.

We searched and searched for the ideal home, but everything we saw raised at least one significant issue with my wife. It was  too far from a school, or not near enough to a subway station. There were homes that were too close to the main street, or too far from a grocery store.  And  the search seemed to continue for what seemed like an eternity. After intensive investigating, and viewing, we finally found something she could live with. It was just blocks away from a high school, right next door to a grocery store, a few blocks from a subway station, and about a 1/2 hour walk to a hospital. “Well.”, she said, “I suppose its as close to perfect as we’re going to get.”

“What do we tell the kids?”, I asked.

“Leave that with me.”, she said. “It will be a piece of cake.” Now, I don’t eat cake. I never did. I just don’t like it, but I was almost certain this would not be a piece of cake.

We sat down with the 4 remaining kids still living at home, and my wife broke the news. “We’ve found a place. We’re going to be moving downtown. You guys will love it.”

“What the hell?”, one of my daughters shouted.

“I’m not going.”, my son said. “I hate it downtown.”

“I can’t believe you’re doing this to me.”, another daughter chimed in. “I love it here. I’m not going.”, and she burst into tears. They all got up and left the room.

“Well, that went over well.”, I said to my wife. “Perhaps they don’t like cake either.” And, as I have so regularly been subjected to over the years, my wife gave me the Moroccan death glare, the one that implies “I could kill you with just a blink of an eye.”

“You could have helped out a little.”, she said.

“You said to leave it with you.”, I replied. “Remember? It was going to be a piece of cake.”

“What do we do?”, she asked, “Do we stay here?”

“I think we just leave it alone.”, I told her. “They’ll get used to the idea. It’s not like they have a choice.”

Well, things went from bad to worse, and of course, I bore the brunt of the blame. My son had decided that he was moving out. He had a friend who was looking to share an apartment, and my son was moving in with him. One of my daughters was okay with the move, as long as she had her own bedroom, and we took the dogs with. The 2 other girls were emotionally wrought, filled with anxiety, fear, and hatred. They said that they would not move. They informed me that I could not make them move. They threatened to contact Children’s Aid, and have themselves placed in foster care in order to stay in outer suburbia.

“Its all fixed.”, I told my wife. “We lucked out. One is moving in with a friend, and two are going into the care of Children’s Aid. So we have 4 out of 5 kids no longer living with us. And, just to let you know, there was no cake involved. I substituted pie.”

“Nobody is going into Foster Care.”, she bellowed. “They’re coming with us. It doesn’t matter what they say. We are the parents. We decide what’s best for this family.” She often said we, but in reality, she meant that she decided what was best for this family.

The kids continued to be adamant about not moving, singing rousing versions of ‘We Shall Overcome’, and  ‘I Shall Be Released’, that came out as “I hate you”, and “I wish I was never born”. Over the following days, and weeks, they began a campaign to try to force us to change our minds. They employed subversive tactics such as ignoring us when we called them, refusing to do their chores, and refusing to clean up after themselves. They kept their lights and televisions on, and stayed up late in the early morning hours, on their computers. They posted on social media just how unfair and cruel their parents were. They left us notes stating that they would run away, and we would never see them again. I bought them suitcases on wheels, like a good and thoughtful father, so their departures would be easier.

As the moving date neared, their defiance heightened. They flat out refused to pack up their things. They would hold sit ins in their rooms so my wife and I could not pack for them. “It’s really a simple choice.”, I told one of my daughters. “You can leave with your stuff, or without it, but you will be leaving.”

“You can’t make me move.”, she replied.

“That’s true.”, I told her. “I just hope the family moving in doesn’t mind having you here.”

By moving day, my daughters had, I thought, surrendered, given that they had packed what they wanted to take with. Once we arrived at our new home, they amped up their disapproval of downtown living by refusing to eat, staying in their rooms, and giving us the silent treatment. My youngest daughter gave up the battle soon after we moved in.

The older of the 2 dug her heels in, with letters expressing her absolute and total disapproval of our parenting style and decision making process. Apparently, she believed that she had rights, which my wife and I had violated. I reminded my daughter that, since she was over 16 years old, I no longer had to allow her to live with me. I could, if I so desired, toss her sorry ass out on the street. She reminded me that she had rights. “Not in my dictatorship.”, I advised her. “You’re not obligated to stay here. You can pack up, and leave. Sail away to undiscovered lands, and start a new life. But if you choose to stay here, remember, this is not a democracy. I am not taking votes.”

“I want to talk to mommy.”, she said.

“That’s up to her.”, I said. “But I will ask.” I spoke with my wife about my daughter’s requrest.

“What am I supposed to say to her?”, my wife asked.

“I guess you don’t want to try that cake thing again.”, I remarked, as her Moroccan eyes darted back and forth searching for her prey. “Just tell her the truth. She will come around.”

“And what if she doesn’t?”, my wife inquired.

“Well”, I responded, “she really has no choice. Where is she going to go?”

The negotiations were long and arduous. Hour after hour, day after day of back and forth bargaining had the parties at a standstill. “Why don’t you say anything?”, my wife asked me one night.

“I am using my silence to confuse and befuddle her.”, I said. “I will talk when it is time to deliver the one crushing blow that will bring this to an end once and for all.”

“This isn’t a game.”, she said.

“Ah, my dear wife,”, I advised her, “but it is.”

About 1 week later, my daughter made a fatal mistake, and I could see the end in sight. She had made plans to spend the weekend with a friend in suburbia. She approached my wife and I, asking for money to finance her trip. I took money out of my pocket and placed it on the table in front of her. “How much do you need?”, I asked.

“$20.”, she said.

“Okay.”, I said and I picked up a $20 bill, and held it in my hand. “Let me explain how this is going to work. As long as you need to come to me and ask for money, there are rules that must be followed. I will always provide for my family. It doesn’t require you to like me, I really don’t care if you do or not. It does however require you to respect me and your mother. Nothing is free. This money is not just money, it is time taken from my life that I can never get back. It is mine. I have the option of sharing it with you, or not. I am under no obligation to provide with anything other than food, shelter and clothing. I don’t even have to pay for your cell phone. In fact, if this continues, I will cancel it. Do you understand?”

“Yes.”, she said.

“So”, I asked, “What do you want to do, because today we are resolving this. The revolution is over, and we now need to negotiate peace”

“Can I use the money you were going to give me to go to see my friends to paint my room instead?”, she asked.

“When do you want to paint it?”, I responded.

“This weekend.”, she told me. “I don’t think I want to see Elana right now, anyway.”

“Go and get dressed, and we’ll go get paint and the brushes.”, I said.

“I’m sorry.”, she said as she walked to her room to change.

“Me too.”, I told her.

“Well”, my wife said, “that turned out okay.”

“Okay?”, I questioned. “That was a superbly executed act of patience, power and control.  I told you not to worry.”

“I am impressed.”, she added.

“Thank you.”, I replied. “And notice that there was no need for any cake.”

My daughter remained with us for another 5 years, before moving in with her boyfriend, who resides in an outer suburban community. She calls her mother everyday, and comes by and visits at least once a month, whether we want her to or not. She learnt her lesson, and I was proud as hell of her for at least attempting to overthrow the powers that be. None of it really matters to me anymore though, as her boyfriend, who we care for very much, has inherited the little guerrilla inside of her, laying dormant, but waiting for the opportunity to jump out and usurp power and control before he even notices that it is gone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Cat Tale

 

Before my wife and kids, there was just me, and a weird ass cat I called Zonker, named after the star of stage, screen, and Walden’s Commune, Edgar Zonker Harris, immortalised in Gary Trudeau’s ‘Doonesbury’ comic strip. Living in our own little piece of paradise, we spent our days on lawn chairs. I was drinking beer, Zonker was downing catnip, as we set out to achieve the perfect tan. Life was wonderfully serene.

When I brought my wife to be over to my place, the cat jumped up at her, and began rubbing up against her. My wife began sneezing, her eyes watered, and her nose became red and inflamed. “I think I’m allergic to cats.”, she said.

“Are you sure?”. I asked.

“Pretty sure.”, she said. “My eyes are watery, my throat is itchy, and I can’t breathe.”

“Can’t you take anything?”, I inquired.

“No.”, she replied, “It will just put me to sleep.” Well, this evening wasn’t turning out the way I planned.

“I guess we should go.”, I said.

“I’m sorry.”, she stated, wiping liquid from off her face. “But I don’t think I can come over, with the cat here.” Now, we had a problem. She was living with her mother, so I knew we couldn’t go to her place. And now, she wouldn’t come to my place, because of her allergy to Zonker.

“What if I locked the cat in another room, and cleaned the apartment, I mean vacuum, spray, everything.”, I stated.

“Well”, she answered, “I guess we could try.”

We went out and got something to eat, and I took her home, with her eyes still seeping, and her nose looking remarkably like W.C, Fields. I spent the next day de-catifying the apartment. I shampooed carpet, swept, vacuumed, and deodorized. I sprayed, bought an air purifier, and washed floors, and bedding. I kept the cat in a spare bedroom, listening to him meow. I shoved a truckload of catnip in there, hoping he would eat himself into a stupor and pass out.

When my not yet wife arrived, she seemed pleased with the effort I had made to remedy the situation. We sat on the couch, and listened to the drugged out cat meow, and charge at the door. “I feel so bad.”, she said.

“Me too.”, I replied.

“I don’t think this is fair for the cat”, she said.

“Oh, right.”, I stated, trying my hardest not to sound sarcastic. “The cat. It’s not fair to the cat. I thought you were talking about something else.”

“Like what?”, she asked. Before I could answer, she started sneezing. Her nose started dripping, and her eyes were running. She started making weird noises, like a seal trying to clear its throat. “This isn’t going to work.”, she added. “I can’t be here. Its either me, or the cat.”

Well, that kind of sucked. I was being forced to choose between her, and Zonker? Interesting, I thought. I had never played ‘pick your favorite p***y’ before. I had no idea what the rules were, but I knew someone was not going to be happy, no matter what I decided. My brain was working faster than I thought imaginable, processing information, and identifying and evaluating scenarios. It was proving to be a much tougher decision than I thought. On the one hand, there was this drug addled cat, who wanted nothing more than the occasional of his back, food, and catnip. And then, there was this wet faced, swollen nosed, coughing and sneezing woman, and when I looked into her seeping eyes, I knew that I was in love with her. “This is going to be difficult.”, I said.

“Are you kidding me?”, she replied.

I knew Zonker had to go. “Pack your bags, cat.”, I said. “You’re out.”

“Are you sure?”, the future Mrs. G. asked.

“It was a tough decision.”, I told her, ” with your wet and swollen face and all, but yeah, I’m sure.”

Now, I will never admit this to my wife, but it was one of the easiest decisions I had to make. The next morning I took Zonker, and all of his belongings to one of my friends, who had no allergies to cats, and had already met Zonker when she cat sat for me several months before. On the drive over I gave him the talk about behaving, and being a good cat. I also apologised for having him neutered. I bought Zonker a going away present, and dropped him off. I went home and cleaned up again. More carpet cleaning, and vacuuming, followed by another round of washing floors, and bedding, preparing for the return of the winner.

I never heard from Zonker again. But they days spent on those lawn chairs with him, will forever be fondly remembered. And looking at my wife and kids, and their partners and spouses, I am almost certain that I made the right choice, even with the soaking wet face, swollen eyes, and red nose.

 

 

 

 

 

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Evil Comes To The Suburbs…

When it was just my wife, the 2 boys and myself, we decided to get our first family dog. We went to The Humane Society, and found a puppy. It was a Staffordshire Terrier-Hound Of Hell mix. We took it home, proud that we had rescued a dog from certain doom. We named him Rocky, but as he was the third dog that I had owned named Rocky, he was affectionately referred to as Rocky lll. We had the dog house broken very quickly, and it had become a member of the family.

One evening, we all went out, leaving the dog alone. We were gone 2-3 hours, and returned to find our home torn to pieces. Window coverings had been bitten off and chewed up, sections of laminate flooring had been lifted in the kitchen, and the bag of dog food had been spilled all across the kitchen floor.

“What happened here?”, my wife asked.

“Well”, I said, “either our house was broken into by an interior decorator who hated our decor, or this dog is possessed!”

“You think that little dog did all of this?”, she asked, as the dog gagged, and threw up pieces of forest green Venetian blinds all over the floor.

“Um, yes, I do.”, I replied.

My father, who had been training dogs for most of his life suggested we purchase a cage, and when we go out, lock the dog in the cage. I went to the pet & pet supply store at the local mall, and purchased the cage. We trained the dog to spend time in it when we were home, and he was fine. He would simply lay down, and go to sleep.

Several days later, we went out again. I secured the dog in the cage, and left him with a few toys, and a bowl of water. Two hours later, after a Tex-Mex extravaganza at Lonestar, we returned to find the dog out of the cage, with the bowl of water turned upside down on the floor. There was a trail of dog food across the kitchen and into the living room. There were chunks of wood missing from the frame of the door on the main floor bathroom, and deep scratches on the back door, leading to the driveway.

“Oh, my God.”, my wife said, putting her hands over her mouth.

“This is crazy.”, I said, looking at the dog in disbelief. I examine the cage and it seemed secure enough, but somehow this dog had figured out how to escape. The following day, I ventured out to the pet supply company to return the cage that obviously didn’t work for my dog. I explained the circumstances of my returning the cage, and it was suggested that I try a breeder’s cage which, I was told, was escape proof.  I took the new cage home, and introduced it to the dog.

“Do you think this one will work?”, my wife asked.

“Not even Houdini could get out of this cage.”, I informed her. “If it happens again, he’s gone!”, I added.

For several days we watched the dog in the cage. He was content, and not once did he try to break out. We would go out, and walk to the back of the house, peering in through the living room window. The dog seemed to know we were there, turning around and looking back at us. “How does he know we’re here?”, my wife asked.

“I don’t know.”, I told her. “But this is not a normal dog!”

Believing that the cage was secure, we again went out, leaving the dog in his cage, with toys and water. As we returned home, we all sat in silence, deep in our own personal thoughts about the dog.

I parked on the driveway, and we entered the house through the door leading into the kitchen, and so far nothing  seemed amiss. We walked down the hallway, into the living room, and found the door to the cage still locked, and the dog laying on the couch. My wife shrieked.  I went upstairs to the bedroom, and found trails of shredded linen on the floor. In one of the bedrooms, the blinds had been pulled down from their frame, and several planks of the hardwood floor had been ripped up and chewed. When I returned downstairs, my wife was shaking.

“I want him out now!”, she stated, rather sternly. “This is very creepy, and I don’t get a good feeling about this.”

“I’m way ahead of you.”, I said, as I picked up the dog and walked towards the door. “One of us will be coming back, I hope.”, I responded.

“Well,”, she said, “I’m not sure which one is a bigger pain in the ass.”

I dropped the dog off at The Humane Society, and returned home. As we laid awake in bed, my wife kept hearing the sound of a dog whimpering, and growling. “Did you hear that?”, she asked.

“I didn’t hear anything.”, I told her.

“What if its the the house that’s possessed”, she asked, “and not the dog?”

“Well”, I said, “if that’s the case, I won’t be the one coming back.”

 

 

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.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lock, Stock & Over The Falls Without A Barrel

 

Niagara Falls has always held a special place in my family’s collective heart. Just over an hour drive away, it had always been the go to destination for family outings, and weekend getaways.

The other night, all of my kids and their significant others were over for dinner. As the conversation turned to our family trips to Niagara Falls, the day trips and the weekends, my wife asked if I remembered the first time that I took her there. There are many things that my aging memory has lost somewhere in that time and space that seems to swallow up my keys and eye glasses, but that first weekend in The Falls, is forever tattooed in my brain, and on my right forearm.

We were still dating then, in that place between let’s live together and what the hell is going on with you? We went for a weekend, and now my wife was questioning my ability to remember that trip.

“Well”, I said, “Let’s just go back a lifetime or two. Pay attention boys and girls, this will both shock and amaze you.”

“Its not going to be about sex again, is it?”, one of them asked.

“No.”, I said, “Its been so long, I don’t remember any of that stuff.”

“You’re such an ass.”, my wife said, as she hit me in the arm.

I began my tale of the most expensive weekend in Niagara Falls history. “We left on Friday afternoon and, before heading out on a mere one hour drive, we stopped and had a late lunch, as your mother was hungry. Back on the road, after her cheeseburger and fries, I took her to Niagara-On-The-Lake. We parked and walked down the main street, filled with artisan boutiques and shops. Your mother had ice cream. We dove on to The Falls, and checked into our Hotel, a quaint little establishment complete with a heart shaped Jacuzzi, and water bed, nestled between a Wedding Chapel, and a liquor store. To this day, I am still not sure if the trip to the liquor store is to be made before or after the stop at the Wedding Chapel.

After settling in, we headed out to wander around the falls. As we walked along Ferry Street, she spotted a Taqueria, and decided that she was in the mood for a snack. Two tacos and a white wine later, we were off to see The Falls. We walked along the pedestrian pathway that edged the gorge, and marveled at the international tourists  who ‘ooohed’ and ‘aaahed’ at the wonder of it all. By now, it was rapidly approaching feeding time, and when she spotted the sign in front of The Love Boat advertising Prime Rib, our dinner plans were secured. Your mother had the prime rib, complete with a baked potato, and some green vegetable thing. I had mussels in garlic and wine sauce. We left the restaurant, satiated, and headed back to the room. As we neared our hotel, your mother spotted a 7-11, and determining that we should have emergency rations in the event of a sudden global shortage of prefabricated junk food, stopped to purchase a bag of potato chips, a bottle of ginger ale, several chocolate bars, and a pack of beef jerky.”

“And you had to pay for all of that?”, one of my daughters asked.

“Oh,”, I said. “In her defense, she always offered to pay. I wouldn’t let her. I figured that she was bound to make herself sick long before I ran out of money.I was however, wrong. I had to make several trips to the ATM just to keep her fed. I mean, she only weighed 100 pounds. How much food could she eat?

Anyway, we spent the night in the room where she finished off the chocolate bars, half a bag of potato chips, some ginger ale, and most of the beef jerky. I was starting to feel sick just watching her eat.”

“You should have dumped her, right there.”, one of them blurted out.

“I thought about.”, I said, “but she was so damn cute. The next morning, we went to Perkins for breakfast. Your mother had an order of pancakes, an order of bacon, and order of sausages, toast and coffee. I kept asking myself where all of this food was going, and hoped that it wasn’t some sort of gastrointestinal parasite. We spent the morning horseback riding along a secluded spot on the shores of Lake Erie. On our way back to Niagara Falls, we stopped at a farmer’s roadside pie stand, and purchased a fresh, home made apple pie, although I have no idea how it was made fresh in the back of his pick up truck. On the way back to the hotel, we had to stop at the 7-11 because, as it was explained to me in the car, no one should have to eat apple pie without ice cream!

Lunch was McDonald’s, and there was fudge from a dessert shop that was being saved for later. After visiting several tourist attractions, and The Harley-Davidson store, I took her across the border to one of the best Italian Restaurants known to man, Como’s in Niagara Falls, New York. We both had veal parmigiana, served with pasta, salad, and a basket of bread big enough to feed a small orchestra. After dinner, there was fudge at the hotel.

Sunday came, and it began with breakfast at a local greasy spoon, after which we checked out of the hotel, and headed back to Niagara-On-The-Lake, to wander through Fort George. We left Niagara, and headed back to the big city. We spent the afternoon at my place, and went out to Swiss Chalet for lunch. It was time to call it a weekend, and I was taking her home, when we passed The Towne & Country Buffet.”

“I think you’re making a lot of this up.”, my wife said.

“Really?’, I asked. “You don’t remember going back 3 times for the prime rib? You also had apple cobbler with chocolate ice cream for desert. Remember now?”

“No.”, she said. “I do not!”

“Well, that’s pretty much how it was, give or take a few meals and snacks. After dropping you off, I went straight to the hospital to donate a kidney. I needed the money for the rent, and a car payment or two.”

“That’s a lie.”, she exclaimed.

“Yes”, I said, “that’s a lie.

“I can’t believe you went out with her again.”, one of them stated. I looked at my wife, and saw in her eyes what I had seen so many years ago.

“She’s was worth it.”, I told them. “Still is. But now you know why I can’t afford to retire. I’m still paying off a restaurant tab from 1995.”