Lost With A Moral Compass


by Fielding Goodfellow

Following my expulsion from a private, religious school which my parents truly believed would set me on a clear and direct path to a cabana on a pristine beach in the after life, I entered high school as a free man, and left as one incredibly fucked up high school graduate. Over the course of four years, I am almost certain that I was wasted every day. As a result, most of my high school memories have dissipated, much like a fog bank settling over the shore line.

While the regular cast of thousands roamed the bleak, concrete hallways, engaging in self deprecating mating rituals with assorted cheerleaders in short skirts and knee high socks, who brushed them off with a flip of their hair and a turn of their head, I was  engaged in a psychedelic lunch break with draft dodger turned English teacher and drug dealer, Mr. N., or some bizarre sex ritual in the back of a Jeep Wrangler with Madame S., the French teacher who I am certain worked part time as a stripper at The Algonquin Tavern.

I suppose it was just my good fortune to have entered the corridor at the exact moment head cheerleader and dating expert Marilyn Garland, bent over and displayed her upper middle class, wonder bread ass to Fitzroy Simmons, a science nerds who had stopped to gawk. “You can keep looking.”, she said, “but you’re never gonna get this.” After a cursory glance, it occurred to me that nobody around wanted to get that.

“Don’t flatter yourself.”, I told her as I walked by. “No one wants that pasty white, bony ass. Put it away.” Fitzroy laughed. Marilyn stormed off with her band of mindless, professional virgins who I have been led to believe went on to find success as frigid wives of suburban accountants, and I was once again in the office of school Vice-Principal, Mr. Brackett.

It was the usual exchange of ideas, one that we seemed to continually rehearse. Mr. Brackett sat behind his desk, tapping his hand with a yard stick, pointing out that I was  disrespectful, immoral, and destined for a lifetime of failure. I disagreed, and expressed my concern that he was ignorant, belittling, and an asshole. I was suspended for three days, and the customary call to my parents was made. As I went to retrieve my belongings from my locker, I ran into Madame S., and I told her what had happened. “You’re just so adorable.”, she told me. “Let me give you a ride home.” I met her at the Jeep. “You drive.”, she said as she tossed me the keys. Now, if you have never had a blow job while driving a manual transmission Jeep with the top down, I suggest you try it at least once. It was wonderfully fulfilling.

My father’s only concern was that he had been called by the school. It didn’t matter to him what I had or had not done. He really didn’t care. He just did not want to be called. “I don’t understand why you keep getting caught.”, he said.

“I don’t get caught.”, I informed him. “I just choose not to run away.”

“Well”, he advised, “that’s getting caught.”

“Not really.”, I replied. “That’s surrendering. I am trying to make a point.”

“Which is?”, he asked.

“That I am right, and they are full of shit.”, I told him. We never understood each other. He neither shared my sense of justice or responsibility. The battle was fought over many years, with his frequent reminders that he just didn’t understand me. I let him know that it was alright, I wasn’t really looking for understanding, anyway. What I was really seeking was the freedom to think my own thoughts, and to live my own life. His only request was that I lived a moral life.

Many years later, following a night out, when the paranoid delusions invade the deepest recesses of my thoughts as I attempt to sleep, I realized that I had very matter of factly pissed away most of my life. Wallowing in the effects of years and years of uninhibited hallucinogenic consumption and random acts of various erotic mayhem, I realized that I was plagued with a sense of melancholy. I had discovered, much to my father’s chagrin that morality is a sham. Behind a facade of transparency, it has been driven into the shadows under a veil of secrecy and deceit. It manifests itself as the law of the land, but in reality it is merely the masturbatory fantasies of those who sit on the far right. I have participated in enough protests to have discovered that those liberal, left wing social democrats who take to the streets and gather in the squares to voice their disapproval, wind up being corralled like cattle and detained in the name of decency and public safety. I have come to understand that morality is a word used to dupe us into conformity. It is used to stifle self expression, and entice the masses to join in and march in the great military parades. Morality is insanely immoral.

We are, after all, human beings with the freedom of choice. So whose morality are we being asked to accept? Morality does not stop us from hurting others, but in fact encourages it, provided those we wish to harm are without morals. It is not morality that should prevade our existence, but responsibility. Responsibility to ourselves, and to our fellow man. We all have a responsibility to take care of each other, that is the essence of being human. Morality gives us the option to fuck up those who are less fortunate and marginalized, once we convince ourselves that they are immoral. The white shirt, suit and tie bufoons who reign supreme by virtue of their ability to make promises that they have no intention to keep, dictate what is moral as they shove the poor and destitute deeper into the holes that have been dug in an attempt to bury all of the unwanted refuse this society has created.

Where is the responsibility we have towards our fellow man? Where is the sense of duty to help those in need? These qualities, an integral part of what makes us human beings has been relegated to land fills across the planet in order that the rich and powerful may continue to be rich and powerful. I  don’t profess to have all of the answers, but I do know that I do not screw others because it is immoral, but rather because I have an obligation to help, not hinder, to enlighten, not confuse. I don’t want what others have, nor do I need it, but the constraints of morality force even the meekest of men to become sinners. The new found morality will not lead to happiness, or peace of mind. Happiness will be found in doing what you love, and being who you really are, without seeking acceptance from anyone other than yourself. Those who expound morality are immoral.

I regret nothing, although there are times when I wish I could have said something a little more appropriate than “Go to hell, you fucking whore.”, at the settlement hearing with my first wife, but it was said and done. I have tried to spend my life as a champion of the underdog, the guardian of those who are unable to help themselves. When no one wanted to hang out with Fitzroy Simmons, who was taunted, teased and bullied his entire academic life, I looked out for him, and offered my friendship. Madame S., well, she needed to feel love, and I desperately wanted to be the one to give it to her. My refusal to knuckle under to the intimidation tactics of Mr. Brackett served to demonstrate to others that authority exists only because we give it permission to.

I went on, after University, to work with children and adolescents with mental health and behavioral issues, guiding them to a life of self reliance and self acceptance. Not bad for a disrespectful, immoral, failure. Recognize your responsibility and your duty to give back, and stop listening to the moral right. They’re all just fucktards.


Remembering Charlie Garrick

by Solomon Tate

“I guess it hasn’t really been that bad.”, Garrick said to Dr. Perlmuter, the cardigan clad Psychotherapist who bore a striking resemblance to Tim Curry. “I mean there have been many potholes, and a whole lot of wrong turns, but it’s really been pretty good.”

“So why are you here?”, the doctor asked.

“Well, out there may be okay”, Garrick answered. “But the shit in my head freaks me out.”

“Well, we’ll have to pick it up right there next time.”, he said matter of factly, “I’m afraid we’re out of time.”

The good doctor was right. They were out of time. Two hours and seventeen minutes later Garrick stepped in front of a train at the St. Patrick subway station, ending the life of a good man.

Charlie Garrick was 54 years old. He spent 30 years as a reporter for a group of small, community newspapers. He had written a book, but came to the realization that he could say everything he needed to say in 2 or 3 sentences. ‘The Decline of Modern Culture’, which he wrote in 1998, consisted of 250 pages, of which 249 pages were left blank. On the 2nd page Charlie wrote “The tyrannical web of deceit that has circumvented the universe has been left to run amok, unattended for far too long. Stop the fucking lying”. He was right about it,I mean  he really didn’t need more than 2 or 3 sentences to say what he needed to say. ‘Stop the fucking lying.’, pretty much said it all.

Charlie Garrick was my friend. We served two tours of duty together in rehab, during which neither one of us could muster the courage to achieve any measure of success. During our conversations, usually held over a couple of pitchers of beer and numerous tequila shots, he spoke lovingly about his children, and passionately about Taoism. Charlie believed that life just is. Nothing more needs to be done. If we could all accept our lives, commune with nature, and seek and want nothing, all of the world’s problems would cease to exist. I don’t really understand much of it myself, but he was certain it was right. “Be like a river.”, he said. “All it ever is is a river. It flows, and nothing more. And in doing nothing but being a river, it carves through solid rock, creating valleys, and massive canyons. Pretty impressive for doing nothing.”

We sat at The Brunswick House one afternoon, many years ago contemplating life’s purpose, as 2 incredibly naive young men were prone to do. I was a psychology major, infatuated with opportunities to delve into the psyche’s of troubled souls, and help them change to live more fulfilling and positive lives. Garrick, reluctantly chose his major in his 3rd year. He opted for a combined major in history & English. He stated that since man was destined to repeat the past, someone should know what the hell had really happened, and be able to write about the dangers of repetition.

Although  customary in these instances, Charlie left no note, leaving the usual culprits to ask why. All that they could do was to ponder circumstance and speculate in an attempt to rationalize what had transpired. I’m not sure if even Charlie knew why. More important and  certainly more relevant is  how  no one noticed the anguish and desperation that was consuming Charlie. He had friends, and family and it just didn’t make any sense. It never did. Something was eating away at him, from the inside out, and it had probably been going on for years and years.

I hadn’t spoken to Charlie in a few years, and I suppose that should have been some sort of warning that things weren’t right. But we always assume the best, I suppose. People get busy, and their lives twist and turn like a river, taking them where ever the river leads. It wasn’t unusual for Charlie to disappear, but he was pretty consistent in letting us know that he was okay. There was always some kind of smoke signal, a letter or a telegram, and more recently, a text message or an email, simply stating ‘All is well. Glad you’re not here’. But there had been nothing over the last few years.

Charlie had once told me about the time he headed north and spent 2 weeks alone in the wilderness. He said that when one removes himself from the human race, even if only for a short time, it becomes evident that you never really belonged, and no longer wish to be a member. Isolation was liberating, and in isolation, he was able to truly know himself, and to become himself.

But even in his reluctance to be a part of humanity, Charlie Garrick was always there for me, and scores of others. When my wife became ill, Charlie was there, and when my first daughter was born with a disability that required her to undergo 11 surgeries in 7 years, Charlie sat with me at that hospital every single time. He was a loving and caring man who always seemed to put others before himself. Sadly, most people didn’t notice as Charlie acted within the realm of silence and anonymity. He hated the recognition and notoriety that often went hand in hand with doing the right thing so much, that he had refused to attend 3 separate award events in his honor. Few people knew that he sat on several committees that dealt with social issues, or that he taught a creative writing course for marginalized youth in the city core. And that’s how he wanted it. He did what he did, like a river, doing nothing more that just being, and he carved a life of good deeds, touching so many.

And now that he’s gone, I regret for not being a better friend. I regret that I was not there for him when he needed someone. I feel guilt that I didn’t take the time to find out what the hell was going on so that I could at least try to help. I will miss him. I will miss the way he argued with the server at Szechuan Palace that Peking Duck is really only a chicken that swims and flies. I will miss the way  beer came streaming out of his nose like a fountain when he laughed. Most of all, though, I will miss his friendship. I will miss the commitment and dedication he devoted to being my friend. I will miss Charlie Garrick.

A Night To End All Nights

by Fielding Goodfellow


On Saturday night, or most probably early Sunday morning, I sat in Bemelman’s. An upscale Bistro on the corner of Bay & Bloor, it catered to the glamorous, those with celebrity, the nearly famous, and those that knew them. It had become a regular occurrence in the early days of January or February, 1981. It was the time that followed the death of social protest. Lennon was gone, and Dylan was still ensconced in his shroud of born again Christianity, which he wore like a super hero.  It was a time of excess. We indulged in far too much alcohol, inhaled and ingested far too many drugs, and stayed awake for days at a time.  And, I ate far too many eggs benedict. Bemelman’s served some of the best I had ever eaten. There was no longer any dissent. It had faded from our collective consciousness just as it had arrived, over a few beers with an opium chaser.  There were no longer any placard holding, mob scenes, with bra-less socially inept co-eds storming the campus administrative offices. There were no longer marches through the streets, gaining momentum and fervor with every step. And as I sat looking around the infamous eatery, I realized that we had all been had.

Something had gone terribly wrong. It usually did. It seemed as if the world had gone deaf, and possibly blind. The system was corrupt, filled with micro minded Harvard graduates who had been assembled with excess small parts, and suffered from incurable image envy, and no one seemed to notice. And with the future of our little corner of the universe teetering precariously over the proverbial edge, the wolves in sheep’s clothing had convinced most of us that we would not fall into the abyss waiting below, while they had removed themselves from the rapidly approaching cataclysm, by grabbing a pitching wedge to make the short chip shot to the green. And with that shot muffed,  the boisterous call of ‘Mulligan’ echoed across the galaxy. And yet as we hung on to the edge for dear life, not a single call of ‘Mulligan’ was heard. The current status quo of our planet had to have been a mistake, certainly worthy of a do over.

And there I was, mesmerized by the fragile egos of pseudo rock stars, artists, film makers, writers, and actors,  far too large to measure. And me, well, I was left wing. Several years at a Liberal Arts University had propelled me into a life of burgeoning Socialism, with an almost phobic distrust for systems, and a fondness for women who wore glasses.  I found myself sitting with a local music legend, who shall remain nameless, doing lines of coke at a table in the back, mixing it up with shots of Jack Daniels. A few celebrity hangers on had congregated by our table, listening to whatever words of wisdom came from this legend’s mouth, and interjecting random statements in order to validate their own existence. We did some opium right at the table, and in the haze I realized that I was just as full of shit as the rest of them. What the hell was I doing here? Perhaps it was the coke, or the opium, or the alcohol, or the combination of everything I had just sent coursing through my veins into my head, but I knew it was true. I was also sure that using Pez dispensers to dispense pharmaceuticals was one hell of an idea. What could be more fun that pulling a Valium, or a Xanax, or a Percodan right out of Superman’s mouth. There was a great deal of interest at Bemelman’s in starting up Pez Pills, and so another glorious idea was born. But like everything else, the nouveau bohemians were excited about, it waned as quickly as it was born, replaced with a new found  interest in spray on tans.

Sitting with a beer or two, while the opium turned the neurons in my head on and off, I noticed Felix Bergman, a music writer and former promoter who had fallen out of favor with the Bemelman Bohemians over  the Great Corn Flake debacle of 1979. The story goes, that Felix had booked a band into one of the top local concert venues. The singer/guitarist of the band as it turns out, was the offspring of a legendary musician, and  demanded Corn Flakes in his dressing room. However, he simply called it the ‘flakes with the cock on the box’. To make a long story short, Felix had purchased some bizarre sex toy and presented it to this budding star. The ensuing dispute resulted in the band refusing to perform and Felix having a 9 inch silicon penis inserted rather forcibly in his anus. A trip to a local hospital was required. As the story circulated among the music community, names were being bandied about, referring to Felix as ‘butt fuck Bergman’, ‘anal Felix’, and the ever popular ‘bend over Bergman’.  We invited bend over Bergman to our table, and after getting him significantly wasted, realized that it was not the Corn Flake fiasco that had ostracized him. He was a dick. Ironic, but true. And not just any dick, but a 9 inch silicon penis that had been forcibly inserted into someone’s anus. That kind of dick. He was ignorant and arrogant, patronizing and pompous, and criminally boring. The legend didn’t like him much either, so we excused ourselves, and left Bemelman’s for the safety of the stretch limo that was at his disposal. He had invited a couple of young ladies to join us on our way out, and well, if you’ve never had a blow job traveling at 120 kilometers per hour, while fucked up on whiskey, coke, and opium, you should definitely try it, at least once.

The night began to wind down, and I was convinced that tbohemianshis life was no better than what was being offered by the douche bags out there on the golf courses, holding their putters in their hands. It was all just smoke and mirrors. There was contempt and disapproval, judgmental assumptions, and ideologies that could be found in every suit and tie country club. Power and greed corrupt absolutely, even if it it is only imagined. Shortly after this night to end all nights, I stopped hanging out with wannabees, and the pseudo stars, and I gave up drugs. Many years later I ran into the legend at a music conference. He was broke and alone, and had a significant drinking problem.  He depended on the kindness of his old friends to help him out. I introduced him to my wife, and he hit on her. It was funny, yet incredibly sad at the same time. But, as it turned out, the legend was also a dick. But, I wasn’t surprised. We’re all the same, really. We just keep chasing the dreams that continue to frustrate and derail us. I have never wanted to play with the Ivy Leaguers. I have always been content to hang out with the bra-less, socially inept co-eds who wore glasses and marched off to the Campus Administrative Office shouting “Mulligan”. And, for the best part of my life, I have been married to one.



The Clown Of Fenlon Falls


by Fielding Goodfellow

I met Neanne sometime in the late 1970s or early 1980s, but I can’t be certain of anything any longer.  I was caught somewhere between the excessive drugs and a a chronic reluctance to accept and adapt to the bullshit that was falling around me in the guise of manna from heaven. When both  joy and despair  danced around my head like Fred & Ginger, tugging at my sanity to a degree that would make any bipolar disorder envious. The effects of the copious amounts of hallucinogenics I had been dabbling in were wonderfully bizarre. Every now and again there would be a flying burrito doing figure eights above the kitchen sink,  or the chameleon who lived next door would bring home a penguin he had recently started dating. And when it all seemed about to implode, she wandered into my world.  She was tall, blonde, and exactly what I needed at the time.

Neanne came from a small town north of the city, and she was a prostitute trying to get out of the life. She was the perfect distraction at a time when I longed to be distracted. We became friends, and when she left the business a short time later, we began a relationship based entirely on each one of us getting their needs met. She needed someone to love her, and I needed someone to keep me safe from the Blue Meanies. She turned me on to all kinds of weird ass sex, and I got her into all kinds of weird ass drugs. Our entire existence as a couple revolved around sex and drugs. In retrospect we were the Sid and Nancy of the bagel crowd. We were either getting high or getting laid, or more often than naught, getting both.

I was working for a small, local record label in those days, working on projects with some larger Independent labels, scouring the land for marketable talent. Neanne went with me to a small community just North East of the big smoke, where we rented a cottage on the lake. We traveled around the area, catching shows at various bars while insanely stoned, and returned to our rented rooms to engage in coitus stupendous. On the third day of our talent search, we ran into an older gentleman, dressed in a suit, looking like a lawyer, or perhaps a bank employee. And while neither Neanne nor I had any idea of who he was, he was certain that he knew Neanne. It seems that during one of his sojourns to the big city, he had enlisted the services of a sex trade worker, and he was sure it was Neanne. Before long, the entire bar was looking over at her, and she was being propositioned by most of the men present, with the server delivering notes and drinks to her. It was becoming overwhelming for her. I on the other hand, was devising a plan to send the giant lizard men who were standing by the car in to eat the little bastards. “I want to leave.”, she told me.

“Okay.”, I said.

As we drove back to the cottage, she had asked if I would take her to her parent’s home, about an hour or so away. I agreed. She talked the entire time, relaying tales of how this sort of thing happens regularly. There was always an ex client who recognized or remembered her and was seeking something now. She had had enough of it, and wasn’t sure if she could stay around the city. Even out here, in cottage country, she was being recognized. I felt bad for her, but man did I want to take her now. It occurred to me that I was getting for free what everyone else had to pay for, and that seemed pretty cool, with a cloud of opium sifting through my brain.

We spent 24 hours at her parents’ home, giving Neanne time to settle down, talk with her parents, and try to come up with a plan to move on with her life. She had decided, with the help of her father, who went off to work each day with a lunch pail in on hand, and a bible in the other, that she was going to find God, and devout her life to helping others. A noble quest, indeed. But the only thing my drug soaked brain could focus on was how would this interfere in my getting laid.

I understood her need to find something more. I myself, had traveled down that road on more than one occasion, seeking God, or a reasonable facsimile. I searched everywhere I could think of, at the beach, in the mountains, at the bottom of a box of Fruit Loops, but found nothing. But Neanne was determined, and I was certain her father had the address to some secret location where God could indeed be found.

I stayed with Neanne until she figured out that she wanted to be a  clown. “Are you serious?”, I asked her.

“Yes,”, she said. “Its perfect. I would make people happy.”

“It seems to me that your previous occupation made people happy too.”, I replied.

“I can’t do that anymore.”, she said. “It didn’t make me happy. And besides, I think I love you.”

The sarcastic laughter and comments from the giant lizard men sitting in the back seat of the car, startled me at first. “I really need to stay straight long enough to know what the hell I’m doing.”, I thought.

We parted ways shortly after, I mean I didn’t love her. I loved the sex. And while, at the time, I didn’t know there was a difference, I figured it out. Neanne did indeed venture into the world of clowning. She got pretty good at it, and eventually started her own business providing floppy shoes, baggy pants, and big, red noses, to parties, school events, and children’s hospital visits. I saw her a few years later, and she was happy. I was happy for her. I traveled on, discovering new ways to antagonize the universe, and simplify my life.  I moved on to new worlds, discovering that while there was no need to search any longer, it was still wonderfully exciting to look for the prize in the box of Fruit Loops.



It Was A Great Ride.


I was 12 years old that summer. The heat was unbearable. We spent most of our time hanging out at Mitchel Berman’s house. They had a swimming pool in the backyard, one of those above ground oval pools, that served us well that summer. I had been sitting on my front lawn, waiting for my friends. I saw Mrs. Berman standing on her driveway in one of those summer dresses and as the sun shone on it, I could see through it. I couldn’t help starring at her, hoping, maybe even praying that she would turn a little to the left and step into the sunlight. I really had no interest in girls prior to that summer. But there was a girl at summer camp, Sue Perlmutter, who introduced me to her breasts. She was abut a year or two older than me and there really wasn’t much of an introduction. But there was Mrs. Berman, a fully grown woman, now standing directly in the sunlight, which pierced through the flimsy summer dress, revealing her shapely thighs, and undergarments. I was sure she knew that I was watching her, and when she called me over, I was terrified that I had been caught doing something wrong. To make matters worse, I was now sporting an erection. I walked over to her trying to hide it by covering it with my hands, but I was certain she knew exactly what I was doing.

“Well”, she asked. “How was your summer at camp?”

“It was good.”, I informed her.

“And I see that you’ve grown up quite a bit.”, she said, glancing at my hands trying to hide my boyhood.

“Really?”, I asked.

“Oh, yes.”, She answered. “You seem taller, and older, I think. Do you think you could help me carry these bags in? Its just so hot, and they’re so heavy.”

“Sure.”, I said, realizing that I was not in trouble.

We entered the house, the house where I had spent countless hours, hanging out with her daughter and the rest of our friends. “Can I get you something cold to drink?”, she asked as she put her bags on the counter.

“Sure.”, I said. “Thank you.” I watched her as she turned toward the cupboards, and reached up to retrieve a glass. Her dress rose high up her thighs, revealing an exceptionally round bottom. She brought the glass down, and poured me a glass of lemonade.

“It is hot in here. Isn’t it?”, she exclaimed as she wiped the droplets of perspiration that had formed on her neck and chest. “Maybe I should go change.”, she stated and she left the kitchen. I stood up and put my now empty glass in the sink, just as she returned, wearing shorts and a halter top. The erection I had when I entered the house returned with a vengeance.  She had removed her bra, and her hardened nipples stared at me from beneath the fabric, as her breasts bounced lightly as she walked towards me. I tried to cover my embarrassment with my hands, but it was too late. She had noticed.

“You really have grown up.”, she said as she took a step closer.

“I have to go now.”, I said, as a wave of fear and uncertainty swept over me.

“Are you sure?”, she asked, as she undid her top and let it fall. I felt paralyzed, unable to move.  She took my hands and placed them on her perfect breasts. They were nothing like Sue Perlmutter’s. These were soft, and full. She moved my hand across her nipples, and I felt them harden under my touch. “I wish you’d stay.”, she told me as she leaned in and kissed me. I had no idea what I was doing, but I really didn’t care.

Mrs. Berman reached her hand down and touched me, causing me to jump. “it’s okay.”, she whispered. “Everything will be okay.” She led me into her bedroom, and showed me things I had only read about. She taught me how to please her, and seemed to instinctively know how to please me.  For the next several years I spent a couple of days a week visiting her, helping out around the house, while her son, and my friend, Mitchell attended Cub Scouts with his father.

I don’t know if she told any of the other neighbors or not, but shortly after our first few meetings, some of the other women in the area began talking to me and looking at me differently. Before long, I found myself providing sexual favors for three ladies who lived in my neighborhood. It was a difficult balancing act, and the time and energy involved in keeping my activities secret from my friends and family was more draining than pleasing these women. When I was fifteen years old, it came to a screeching halt. It was when I was fifteen years old that I first laid eyes on Wendy Glassman.

Mrs. Berman has long since gone, but I am forever grateful for all that she taught the 12 year old boy. I have never forgotten you, or the things you showed me.

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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.




I Am Not Amused


As we raced through Donovan’s Gap travelling at speeds of up to one thousand miles an hour, or so it seemed, my wife, who was sitting beside me, had her hands firmly gripped on my right arm trying to hold on. I sat with my eyes and mouth tightly closed, trying to keep the force of the wind from ripping my face off. I could feel the sweat dripping down my face, as she dug her finger nails into the now raw flesh of my arm. And despite the terror, and impending doom that had swallowed me, I noticed just how nice she smelled. But that momentary olfactory sensation was short lived as we careened down a steep curve, banking to the left, and tossing us like rag dolls into the side of the car, and bouncing us back into the other side. My wife threw up just as we came to a screeching stop on the other side of the Gap.

“Well”, I said as we exited the car. “I’m never doing that again.”

“Are you kidding?”, she asked. “That was amazing! Are you afraid, or something?”

“It’s not something.”, I replied. “I’m definitely afraid.”

“You know.”, she continued, “the best way to conquer fear is to face it head on.”

“It’s okay.”, I said. “I’m not really interested in conquest. I’m good with just survival.”

“Is there another ride you want to go on?”, she asked, with her sultry voice in perfect form.

“I’m good.”, I replied. “Think I’ll just keep my feet on the ground for now.”

“Oh, come on.”, she pleaded. “What about Death Zone.”

“No thanks.”, I said. “That last one was as close to the death zone as I’d like to be.”

We wandered around the park, as she identified every ride designed to separate a man from his genitals. “How about that one?”, she excitedly asked.

“Why don’t I get you a funnel cake?”, I suggested.

“I love the funnel cakes here.”, she stated, as joyous as a 5 year old.

We headed to the food area and purchased 1 funnel cake, with every topping known to man, a blue raspberry candy apple, and a soft serve chocolate vanilla swirl ice cream cone. “Do you want some?”, she asked as she shoveled funnel cake into her whipped cream covered face.

“No thanks.”, I said, as I continued eating my blue raspberry candy apple.

“Aren’t you going to offer me some?”, she queried. I did, and she accepted, and I never got the apple back. We continued to wander the park, as she marveled at the myriad of rides that were strategically placed throughout the grounds.

“Let’s go on that one.”, she said. I turned and looked, trying to discern the fear factor. It appeared possible. Not too high, and it didn’t seem to move all that fast. It was called Timberwolf Falls, a rather innocuous name that mentioned neither death or terror. I studied the ride, watching a canoe shaped car travel up the tracks, reaching the peak, and then falling down the track into a pool of water. Seemed harmless enough, and I could swim. And, there wasn’t much of a line up.

“Alright.”, I said, as she jumped for joy. “But this is the last one.” She grabbed my hand and raced me to the ticket booth.

“Hurry up”, she shouted as I purchased two tickets.

“She’s just a little excited.”, I informed the woman in the ticket booth who was now watching my wife jump up and down in the line. We didn’t have to wait long, and then we were next in line. My wife’s excitement seemed to increase exponentially in relation to our position in line. The closer we moved to the front, the more animated she became.

We entered the canoe. She sat in the front, holding on the sides and rocking in her seat. An employee came by to ensure that we were securely locked in our seats. And then we started to move, the slow, deliberate crawl to the top of Timberwolf Falls. It was at this time that I began having second thoughts. It didn’t appear to be so high looking at it from the ground. And why did we need to be locked in our seats? As the canoe reached the peak, it stopped, as if pausing to say a prayer before its final descent into oblivion. My wife was squealing with delight, shouting “come on already” in anticipation of the impending climax. And suddenly, without warning, the canoe moved off the peak, and began its journey, at ever increasing speeds, into the river that seemed to be waiting for our demise. My wife threw her hands in the air, shrieking, as I held on to the sides of the canoe with every ounce of strength my trembling body could muster. We hit the water, and an enormous wave created by our impact washed over us. My wife laughed with joy, wiping water off of her face with her hands, while I gave thanks to any superior being who would listen for our survival. When the canoe arrived at the exit, I couldn’t get out fast enough. I was soaking wet, from top to bottom.

“That was so awesome. Wasn’t it?”, she asked. “Did you like it?”

“It wasn’t all that bad,”, I told her. I think I wet myself, but getting soaked, no one will ever know.”

“Ah, honey.”, she told me as she gave me a hug. “We don’t have to go on anymore rides today.”

“Thank you.”, I replied. “Do you think we can go and sit down somewhere?”

As she began to walk away, I noticed that her white jeans had become almost transparent since they got wet. “You know”, I said, “I can see through your pants.”

“Are you kidding me?”, she shouted, as grabbed my jacket and wrapped it around her waist, trying to cover as much as she could. “Maybe we should just go home now.”

“Or”, I said, “maybe we should go to a hotel and spend the night without any kids.”

“Do you really think you’re up to that after all of the stress and excitement you just endured.”, she asked.

“Well, I think it will be okay.”, I answered. “Provided you do most of the work.”

“So pretty much the way its always been.”, she quipped.

“Very funny.”, I said. “Now lets go find a hotel room and get me on a ride I really enjoy.”

“Well”, she replied, “I suppose its about time you got to pick a ride you want to go on.”









A Christmas Flashback


“Where have you been?”, my wife asked me.

“I don’t know.”, I replied.

“What do you mean you don’t know?”, she continued. “You had to have been somewhere.”

“I know.”, I told her. “I was somewhere, but I’m just not sure where that somewhere was.”

“Okay.”, she said. “You’re starting to freak me out.”

“Freak you out?”, I quipped. “How do you think I feel.”

It was a Saturday afternoon. My wife and I had gone out for the day. I had wandered off, as usual, and had somehow become lost. Nothing seemed familiar, and yet I knew I had been there before. It seemed like I had been gone for hours. And standing there, surrounded by the cavern like walls, I was sure that I would never find my way out. Fear and anxiety began to set in, and then the panic hit. Waves of impending doom washed over me, leaving me filled with dread and despair. I realized that I was alone, and had no idea where I was. There were people milling about, but I couldn’t ask anyone for help. I just couldn’t speak. I opened my mouth, but not a sound would come out.

“You always do this.”, my wife pointed out. “It doesn’t matter where we go, you always seem to wander off.”

“This was different.”, I told her. “I don’t think I was here.”

“What the hell does that mean?”, she asked.

“It means”, I leaned over to her in order to whisper, “it means I was somewhere else.”

“Like another store?”, she asked.

“No.”, I responded. “I think somewhere farther away.”

“You’re not making any sense.”, she said.

“I know.”, I replied. “I’ll try to explain, but I don’t really understand it, either. Maybe we should sit down somewhere.” We walked over to the bench that sat in front of a metal sculpture of 3 strange looking women who seemed to be flying, strategically placed over a fountain. “Okay, I’ll tell you everything I know.”, I said as we sat on the bench.

“You were looking at shoes or something, so I thought I’d just walk over to the electronics store. But I never got there. Something happened to me. Everything seemed different, like it had changed in a instant. There were these really bright lights. They were everywhere, and they seemed to blink on and off with some sort of synchronicity. And there was music, but really awful music, like Bon Jovi or something.”

“I like Bon Jovi.”, my wife interjected.

“I know.”, I replied. “And I couldn’t really see anything, I mean I couldn’t make out where I was. I tried to speak, but nothing happened. I just couldn’t make a sound. I could see people, I think they were people, moving around me, but I couldn’t seem to get anyone’s attention. And then, I felt as if I was paralyzed. I couldn’t move. It was like I didn’t have arms or legs. But the lights kept flashing, and getting brighter. There were shadows moving behind them, I thought they were people, but they seemed to be floating, not walking. And then, something got into my mind. I can’t explain it, but it felt like someone was taken information out of my brain. It was so weird.” My wife sat silently for a few moments, thinking about what I had just told her and gathering her thoughts.

“Are you high?”, she asked.

“I sure as hell hope so.”, I answered. “But that has nothing to do with this.”

“Really?”, she asked, as sarcastically as I had ever heard her. “Remember the time we went to Medieval Times, and you were certain that one of the knights had a flying horse? What were you on then?”

“That was different.”, I explained. “Mushrooms, I think.”

“So what do you think happened to you?”, she asked.

“I think I was abducted. By Aliens.”, I told her.

“And what would they want with you?”, she queried.

“Information.”, I answered. “They were getting information and knowledge from my brain.”

“Well”, my wife replied, “Its unlikely they got much except maybe flying horses, and dinosaurs.”

“Dragons.”, I corrected her. “Dragons. Not dinosaurs.”

“Let’s just go home.”, she said. The ride home was one of silent condemnation. She didn’t believe it. Hell, I wasn’t sure if I believed it either. As we turned onto our street, the entire block was lit up. There were blinking lights everywhere, hovering over the houses like low lying clouds. There was a constant hum, as if a giant vacuum cleaner was running.

“It was kind of like this.”, I said.

“Really?”, my wife asked.  “Those are Christmas lights. They’re Christmas lights on the houses. And there are Santa’s and reindeer on the roofs of the houses. And big snowmen on the front lawns. That’s all it is.”

“Then what about what happened earlier?”, I asked. “At the mall?”

“You wandered into the Christmas display.”, she informed me. “With the lights, and Santa and the elves.”

“Well.”, I said. “That makes sense.”

“Ya.”, she replied. “Probably just another Christmas flashback.”

“I guess.”, I replied, as we pulled into the driveway. “You go inside. I’ll be in as soon as I get the giant marshmallow off the lawn.”




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..