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I went out with a guy who supplied sound for travelling bands who did not want to schlep their equipment around. Got to see lots of bands playing. That night it was “The Dillards,” famous for “Duelling Banjos,” which was used in the movie deliverance. My boyfriend felt guilty because I had to sit by myself at the band table. Soon as I was halfway down a beer, he sent another. So I would guzzle the one I had before the next one got warm. The night ended with me throwing up in the parking lot, surrounded by “The Dillards.”
Somewhere I read that dogs on average have the IQ of a human two-year-old, so I have always operated on the assumption that they can understand a lot more than they can vocalize. Of course, dogs cannot really vocalize at all. Another theory I heard is that humans were able to develop a language simply because, by luck, their tongues and throats developed in a way that allowed them to form many sound variations. Although, ala chicken vs. egg, I am not sure whether the ability to develop language led to greater intelligence or greater intelligence led to language creation.
I was always very sensitive to good oral hygiene, so even when I was in desperate financial straits, working in theatre, I would go to the dentist once a year. Were they somehow daunted, believing I had a ‘glamorous’ career? -- provoking both dentist and hygienist to feel the need to boost their own egos by relating their lavish vacations to me while I was their helpless captive in the dental chair? Obviously they did not realize I lived in a basement bachelor and my most exotic get-aways were drives to visit my parents when I could afford the gas.
Even into our twenties my girlfriends and I would concoct stories together before going out to a bar, so that later, when questioned we could corroborate. When we were younger it was to make ourselves appear more exotic and interesting. Later the object was to develop stories that would allow us to effectively blow persistent guys off, because there are many who simply will not give up. Once a friend and I thought we had the perfect story: we were lesbians. When we got to the bar we found out, with horror, that somehow it made guys even more interested.
I wonder if somewhere in Athens there still exists a pizza named after my friend, Ellison. We went there on a student trip during which breakfast and dinner were provided, but we were on our own for lunch, so we went several times to the same pizzeria near our hotel. The first couple of times we went Ellison charmed the guy behind the counter to put a new combination of toppings on hers. The third time we went, the ‘Ellison Pizza’ had been added to the menu on the wall. Now that is certainly something of which to be proud.
Unbaptized babies do not go to Hell, the nuns said; they go to Limbo. That is where animals go, as well. So I was told when I was asked. In Limbo you live in nothingness, and although at least not the agony of Hell or Purgatory, neither is it the joy and elation of Heaven. The big goal was Heaven I was told over and over, but it seemed like it was almost impossible to get in there. And, after all that effort, I was pretty skeptical it was such a great place. After all, there would be no animals.
Mom calls us the blind Pollaks – no ‘c,’ – har har. There is a penchant for puns in our family. I have to say the spelling our name has caused many headaches over the years, because people just need to put that ‘c’ in there. I will patiently spell it out slowly for people when I give them my email address. When the messages do not arrive, I know immediately why – the sender was not listening. When I stress no ‘c’ and people get annoyed, telling me they heard me the first time. Even then, often the messages do not arrive.
Gawd I hated the yellow Happy Face when it hit the market back in the 70’s. The only thing good about it was that you could tell people were straight-laced-trying-to-be-hip if they were sporting it. Nobody with any amount of cool used it. By the eighties, however, it had taken on an air of nostalgia for me, and I began to use it ironically. And then, in the nineties, its new punctuation iteration hit the internet as a very useful shorthand and I started using it regularly in my emails to indicate wry humor. : )
It’s the stars’ extravagant dresses I watch at the Oscars, although even that’s getting boring since now even that part of the show is coordinated by committee. Once, when actresses were allowed to express themselves you could let go a whoop at spectacles like Celine Dion’s backward tuxedo, Cher’s bondage costume with feather duster headpiece, or Geena Davis’ pouffy mini skirt with a train. Now it is polished, elegant dress after polished, elegant dress, as Oscar monitors its every move to ensure the fawning public detects no chinks in its glittering Hollywood façade of perfection.
I had some good laughs with V. when we worked together in New York and Banff. She was fun to work with because her mind percolated with creative ideas. But even so, she relied on the charm of her sparkling blue eyes and blond hair. Some years later we found ourselves working together again on a Toronto production. Her looks had faded. Now when she pulled her face into a cutely, impish expression, it no longer had the same effect. Her old tactics were rendered useless, and she had become bitter and frustrated. She no longer knew how to operate.
My mother had this mirror that made you look fabulous. All mirrors in the world should be like that – or maybe not. When I used to go visit her, I would come back feeling very pleased with myself. My illusion would be shattered when I returned to Toronto and realized I still had the lumpy body that was the product of having undergone two pregnancies. I wonder which is worse – having the confidence of believing your body is better than it is, while others secretly snicker at you; or living with the reality, and knowing full well what others think?
The designer thought the thick, overly elastic material of unitards that could be bought commercially masked the lines of the human body; he said wanted every nuance of the beautiful and graceful dancers’ bodies to be apparent. So we bought the thinnest, supplest spandex available and made the unitards for the show in-house, working for weeks to costume the large cast. At the first dress rehearsal the dancers revealed a nuance the designer had not counted on. Raised legs revealed views fit for Hustler magazine, complete with tampon strings, as the material became remarkably transparent under the bright stage lighting.
Cindy was five years old when Honey joined our household. A tiny rambunctious kitten, whose playfulness endlessly annoyed the dignified older Cindy. At first Honey held Cindy in deference, but once she grew larger she tried to seize dominance. She might have managed, but for the humans who thwarted her plot. She thought she could drive Cindy out of the house by systematically pissing everywhere Cindy held sacred. But when it came to the couch, Honey overstepped the mark. We had already tossed a several rugs, but we were not ready to start replacing our furniture. Honey found another home.
Terry and I had been going out for some time and I was starting to feel stifled. So I suggested we take a break and see other people. I knew Terry would head straight for Denise because he had always thought she was cute. I was not sure I wanted to get back with Terry, so it was a relief that there was somebody already there for him. A few days later, Denise took me aside and related in scandalized tones that Terry had approached her for a date. “But I would never do that to you,” she assured me
I had just moved to Toronto and I was staying with friends until I could find a place of my own. It was a gorgeous fall day and I was sitting at the bottom of their front steps drinking a beer and enjoying their front garden. A police cruiser made its way up the street, and passed by the house. It stopped by the front gate and the window rolled down. The police officer stuck his head out. “You’ll have to go back up on the porch with that,” he called to me, “those steps on are city property.”
I started a diary in my early teens and carried on with it until I was around 30. In this faithful journal I recorded my daily activities as well as my dreams. I thought I would then be able to relate my life to my dreams and thus interpret them. What I learned from all my research is that dreams quite often bear no relation at all to one’s life as the brain is simply trying to sort through the shitload of thoughts it is storing. And anyone who thinks there are any useful messages in dreams is probably deluded.
She took care of me one afternoon – I think there was nobody else available and there were urgent circumstances. I was just four years old, but I remember her place quite clearly. It was in an old, somewhat run-down building and her apartment was very sparsely furnished. She gave me milky tea and mincemeat tarts for lunch, and sat across from me in her sunny kitchen quietly watching me eat. I never met her again. I was later told that, more than once, this distant, eldery aunt had prepared for the end of time by giving away everything she owned.
I knew the only kind way to break up was to be downright cruel. Leaving a door open just invites unfounded hope. He said, “Lets just be friends,” but he thought I would come around if we hung out together enough. He thought he could make me love him, but the shared chemical spark was not there. The one-sided spark just leads to an imbalance that inevitably breaks somebody’s heart. My own heart had been broken enough times after being strung along. I realized I had to nip things in the bud and allow him to greave and move on.
I have defiantly stopped sneaking my purchases into the house. I admit I am prone to retail therapy, even though it is hypocritical because I loathe consumerism. Often when I put on something new, Steve will level a disapproving eye and say, “When did you get that?” I know he thinks I spend too much on clothes. Although he, too, is being hypocritical because it is evident that he enjoys being out with me when I am looking good. And I figure he probably spends about the same on beer each month. We all find ways of justifying our weaknesses.
In elementary school, there were guys I hung with from time to time because I was a bit of a ‘tomgirl’ and I enjoyed stuff, like marbles and scrub baseball, that my group of girlfriends were not interested in doing. In grade five a guy named Ken was walking me home daily, so I had the idea to invite him to my birthday party. That caused a few ripples in the school gossip circuit especially because Kenny arrived with a bouquet of flowers. The first flowers I ever got from a guy – and it made me feel so grown up.
We have a neighbour named Steve. He is the exact opposite of my Steve. My Steve is tall and strapping, the other Steve is small and scrawny. My Steve is outgoing and friendly, the other Steve avoids eye contact, even though we have introduced ourselves to him. My Steve is generous, the other Steve is grasping – when he has a lawn sale he charges ridiculous prices for garbage. I laughed coming home on my bike, when I was passed by the other Steve, who rides a scooter. Steve rides a bike, and hates those scooters. The other Steve is the anti-Steve.
I am so proud of Sophy. She did not play demanding princess for her prom night. She went out and unceremoniously bought herself a dress at Value Village. I came home and found her making preparations to go out. After she got herself dressed and beautified she checked Google Maps to confirm the route to take by TTC to get to the venue where the prom was being held. I was focused on going out for groceries. It was only after she left that I thought to myself I could have driven her downtown. What a lousy mother I am.
Cherry season is probably my favourite time of year. First of all, it is the beginning of summer and sultry weather stretches ahead for months. And there are black cherries, which I love more than any other fruit. Sweet and tender, the pit separates so from the flesh. Nothing gets stuck in your teeth, like strawberry or raspberry seeds. And they are so pretty with their lustrous dark red skin. The only thing is, I often find when I have enjoyed a bowl of cherries, it is always the last one I put in my mouth that has gone mouldy.
At the party last night, our hostess arranged a belly-dancing performance to entertain her guests. As she moved about the room, I was transfixed by the beauty of the dancer. Her grace was astounding and the perfection of her physic was unparalleled. I could detect not a flaw in her proportions, complexion, hair – even her demeanor. When she looked you in the eye, you thought she was your instant friend; her brilliant smile and flashing eyes were so bewitching and engaging. I wonder if, like many women, she regards herself with a critical eye and wishes she could be better.
The day started sparkling, with sun lighting up the kitchen and the cats sunning out on the porch. Later it got cloudy and dull, even a bit chilly. I lay down for a nap. It was a glorious nap, from which I could not rouse myself, even though I came briefly to consciousness a couple of times and thought I should get up. Finally, near five o’clock, I managed to come to and stay awake, to discover the day had turned sparkling once again. I missed out on a sunny afternoon, but I do not regret the nap one bit.
And now it is a lovely evening. Summer is truly here and the sun is still high in the sky well after seven o’clock. Not a hint of sunset yet. I have been out sitting on the porch and watching the bugs dance in a ray of sun that is filtering through the trees across the street. Bird are twittering and swooping through the air, enjoying the ample meal provided by those hapless insects. At least the final moments of the bugs’ lives were spent taking in a peaceful balmy evening. Life is good for all during gentle early summer.
Writing 100 words a day with a time limitation is akin to rendering a gesture drawing in art, where you have 30 seconds to capture the essence of a pose in life drawing. It is quick and visceral; not product oriented, but the product is often brilliant. Other times it is a toss-away, but it does not matter, you spent little time on it. Often you will spend half an hour doing these quick sketches at the beginning of a life drawing class, to loosen up your hand in preparation for more studied and detailed work. It is a fun exercise.
In school I enjoyed the intellectual exercise of analyzing a piece of literature. Our English teachers led us through pulling apart and inspecting each sentence of, say, a poem, to reveal feats of brilliance on the part of the author. I was amazed what the teachers could infer from a passage that had previously seemed straightforward in meaning. It certainly made me appreciate the skill of the writer. But it never made me like anything more than I had liked it before. And I did not carry on the practice of reading that way once I was out of school.
They saved it for a smile story at the end of the news. Humans can be oblivious that way. Our campaign was briefly successful; we managed to stop air traffic for a couple of hours at JFK. In the end we probably only delayed a few tourists from getting to the beach resorts that are ruining our habitat. Only 150 of our sisters managed to make it to the demonstration. Unfortunately, we are a slow-moving species, but turtles will no longer tolerate being sacrificed for the pleasure of humans. This is not the last time they will hear from us.
It is the thirtieth of June and I am free of a writing group I never wanted to join in the first place. I have pretty much never been a joiner, and prefer to stick to more solitary activities. But I was coaxed into it against my better judgement. It was not long before I felt frustrated and disappointed with the group, but I soldiered on, trying to make the best of it, because I have a tendency to indulge friends. Ironically, it was they who decided I was not conforming to their needs. But, no matter, I am free.
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