Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Predatory Female

The lovestruck fool goes where Seduction calls –
Tasty game for The One who enthralls.
Easy prey for the necrotic heart,
Of a predatory feline acting a part.

He's a squirrel lured to nest on the open sea,
Love is a sleek fin that encircles hungrily.
But the squirrel isn't made to endure the ocean's rhythm and roar,
He must be enticed to leave the safety of land and shore.

Pulled by the temptation of undulating tides,
His flesh prickles with wanting as Love collides.
The squirrel swoons at the glint of a sharp tooth,
Love continues her courtship lithe and couth.

He yields his mind to appease a primal urge;
Love sees her chance and closes in with rapturous surge.
She lunges and thrusts to capture her helpless feed –
Just another fool consumed by his own lovesick need.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

The Human Pincushion

Through a series of unfortunate accidents I dropped a box of pins and needles in a dimly lit area of my carpeted living room. Lizzy witnessed the whole thing and without moving to help me pick any of the pins up, knowingly said, “Dad’s going to step on one of those pins”.

“No”, I corrected as I desperately crawled around on my hands and knees, “we’re going to pick them all up. No one is going to step on a pin! Now please help me!”

I think she reluctantly picked up ONE pin, but upon doing so, shrieked in pain as if she had been stabbed with a harpoon and gave up.  She told me she was just a kid and it was dangerous for kids to pick up pins. Besides, she pointed out, she wasn’t the one who dropped them.

Insolent child.

Still, even without her assistance I thought I had gathered up all the pins.

I was wrong…as tends to happen.

Sure enough, a few days after I drop the pins, I get a frantic, angry phone call from John. He is in agony. He has stepped on a needle and it’s inserted so far into his foot that only the eye of the needle is poking out.

I can hear Lizzy, the little traitor, in the background saying, “I told mom this would happen.”

I don’t know why I’m the first person John calls in such situations. First remove the needle and if you need medical assistance, go to an Emergency Room. Do not call me. I cannot help you.

But of course he is not phoning for help or advice. He, with his little sidekick, Lizzy, is phoning to place blame.

In a barely controlled voice he asks me if I know why he stepped on a pin.

“Because you don’t look where you’re going?” I answer helpfully.

“NO!” he screams abandoning all pretence of self-control. “YOU dropped pins on the carpet and didn’t pick them up!”

My cell vibrates at the intensity of his rage.

“Where are you getting your information?” I ask, as if I don’t know.

“LIZZY told me!!!”

“Lizzy is a child,” I say, “who are you going to believe, her or a grown woman?”

John cannot believe my lack of contrition and yells, “HER!”

“Does it really matter why at this point?” I ask. “Don’t you think you should remove the foreign object from your foot before worrying about who is responsible? Also, you have to be responsible for your own feet. Surely, you can’t blame me for where YOU decide to tread!”

In frustration he hangs up.

A few days later he has stepped on another one of these pins and I receive another one of his phone calls.

It occurs three more times in the proceeding weeks. Each time I am not home and each time he phones me to vent his frustration and demand that something be done. Short of ripping up the carpet, I don’t know what more can be done.

He doesn’t know either, but he does know that with every pin that punctures his foot, his resentment for me builds, as does his fear of entering the living room. His god, the TV, is in there, though, so I’m not too worried about it. It isn’t like he can avoid his place of worship.

A few more weeks of this and he tells me he can’t take it anymore. He does not think he can survive another pinning. And even though I have not admitted (and never will) to any culpability in the matter, he is still suspicious that the scatterbrained clumsiness I am notorious for is responsible for the pins. Because of this, he thinks it’s only fair I offer up some sort of restitution. Failing that, it would give him great satisfaction to see ME step on one of these pins and collapse to the ground writhing in pain, develop an infection and possibly die.

I tell him that is a terrible thing to wish on anyone, and as punishment, he's left me with no choice but to put The Curse of the Pin on him.

“You already DID!!!” he sputters.

I suggest to him that if it was me who kept stepping on pins, I’d start wearing slippers. Or I'd avoid the area where I suspected the pins were embedded.

For some weird reason, even though it fills him with dread, he cannot keep himself away from the vicinity of the pin carnage. This perverse fascination is in fact why he keeps stepping on the pins in the first place. Look and ye shall find.

In a shocking departure from his usual behavior, eventually he does listen to me and takes to wearing slippers. He also makes an effort to stay away from the area in question, but he simply cannot do it for long. Even so, for another week he is fine. No more pinnings. It seems he has managed to retrieve all the wayward pins with his foot.

“See?” I brighten, “something positive has come out of this. Now no one else will step on a pin because you’ve retrieved them all with your foot! You’re a super great humanitarian”.

He does not think I'm funny, and my words of praise do nothing to dissolve his simmering rage, which he’s been trying to contain since I put the Curse of the Pin on him. Although he openly scoffs at such things, he isn’t fooling me – not with his “controlled” rage or his disbelief in my abilities. Secretly, he isn’t so sure my curses aren’t real. 

I AM about to stick a pin in your voodoo doll. Brace yourself.
~ Lala

And sure enough, a few mornings later he wakes up with a stabbing ache in his back. This is nothing new, mind you, and as a rule I more or less ignore his physical complaints. He worries and complains about back pain incessantly because when he was 19 he got into a bad car accident and fractured his spine. His doctors at the time warned that as he got older he may start to experience chronic lumbar pain and other associated symptoms.

As a result, John is constantly on high alert to ANY discomfort in his back no matter how minor or imagined. This time, however, he says it is “different” and excruciating enough that he can’t go to work.

For the rest of the day, he slobs out on the couch moaning about how he needs to go to the doctor and get some painkillers, but he never makes a move to actually do this.

It is not until later in the night at maybe 9 or 10 o’clock that I get another one of John’s by now customary phone calls while I’m out. From his pressured tone and rapid breathing I know immediately this has something to do with pins.

I am correct.

It seems John had reached around to scratch where his back hurt and in doing so pricked his finger on something sharp. There was blood. He nearly fainted when he realized what it was.

It was the tip of a pin.

You have no idea how disappointed I am that he never went to see that doctor about his “ailment”.


Every time I think of this whole pin situation I am thrown into a new fit of laughter. As a consequence, John has stopped speaking to me.  He is beside himself with  anger that I’m not taking it more seriously. He says with utter conviction that if he hadn’t felt the pin when he did, he probably would be dead right now.




Ignoring the fact he had wished "figurative" death on me only a few days ago, I laugh and say, “Don’t be absurd. You can’t die from being stabbed in the back with a pin. A knife, sure, but a pin? I don’t think so, there Pincushion”.

I’ve now taken to calling him Pincushion.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Deafening Silence

There were 12 children in total, some step-siblings, some half and some full — all mashed together like misfit puzzle pieces forced into a distorted family portrait.

Papa Phil did not father all twelve, but they all had at some point been under his care. The women who gave birth to these children, two of whom were once Papa Phil's wives, had all been lost to one of booze, madness or death.

Papa Phil knew he could not raise a brood of motherless kids by himself, so he took yet another wife, Muriel, when the youngest of the dozen was still in diapers. Muriel herself could not get pregnant, but desperately yearned for a baby and was thus immediately smitten with the youngest of the children.

The older kids, none of them Papa Phil's biological offspring, were more or less ignored by Muriel and terrorized by Phil. But it was a silent terror. Silence like this is loud and oppressive — it defies logic and the laws of nature. The unsaid things are the scariest things — the things no one wants to acknowledge.

The silence was therefore free to slip in between the ketchup sandwiches made with stale bread, through the soiled sheets, and around the creaking floorboards late at night when children should be soundly sleeping. They should not be wide awake concentrating with every cell of their being on some bedroom wall shadow until the silent thing is done.

Silence becomes an odd comfort when it accompanies everything one does. It is like a prison guard the prisoner comes to rely on, even after the bars have been left unlocked and the guard eliminated.

Maryanne, a middle-aged adult now, resented the guarded silence. Her siblings, by comparison, went on seemingly unscathed with a regimented existence. Maryanne could not understand their refusal to talk about what had happened to them because it consumed her. She could barely handle it, the thought of Papa Phil having gotten away with his crimes, aided and abetted by muteness. 

There did, however, come a day when she could no longer tolerate the dead air and spoke up. The power of confession, what really should have only been the therapeutic passing of an honest moment, created a dystopia Maryanne could not have anticipated. Who would have thought that with the mere utterance of a few words that so much human misery would scream forth from the silence like a million unleashed demons.

There would be suicide, addiction and homicidal rage. There would be financial ruin, prison, insanity, agony and death. All their carefully patched together lies, their precariously assembled lives, decimated by truth.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Mormons are in the Building

Belinda calls me over to the window. She looks concerned as she watches a Mormon twosome approaching the building. They always march in pairs.

"Why would the Mormons be here?" she says in a near whisper.

She sounds scared.

"Well, there are numerous reasons why they could be here, Belinda. It's not like there's a law forbidding them from entering the building." I laugh. "Why? Do you think they're coming for you?"

It turns out the thought has crossed her mind. 

They seem to seek her out where ever she goes, especially at her home where they come knocking on a regular basis, which is partly her own fault. If you feed a stray it will invariably come back. Sometimes, if you don't set up firm boundaries from the outset, the stray will go further and muscle his way right into your house. Make himself at home. 

But make no mistake. 

He is not interested in having you domesticate him. He is using you and will come and go as he pleases. But you're an innocent and will think with self-satisfaction that he's grown to love and respect you. He has not. He mocks you when you aren't looking. 

The Mormons kind of work like that, although I imagine their devoted "foot soldiers" are for the most part unaware that they are mocking anyone. They believe they are the righteous ones and that it is the rest of us who are confused, not them. Also, they have a manual of strategy and are prepared with circular reasoning to confound you if necessary.

If you're not careful, eventually, if the Mormons are successful with their door-to-door, boots on the ground strategies, they will lead you right from your home into theirs, which is more of a lair than a "home". You won't know what hit you and they will have another brick for their wall.




I don't know how effective their approach is, and I would be interested to know their success rate, but you see Mormon and not to mention Jehovah Witness pairs everywhere so they must be catching at least some of their prey. But they are nice enough people, so if you are going to be drawn into a cult-like scenario anyway, you could do worse.

Belinda, however, is too much of a contrarian to ever be lured into a cult or be persuaded by fundamentalism of any kind. She will never be one of their caught prey, but it doesn't stop them from trying. They mistake her natural curiosity, compassion and willingness to listen and engage with them for weakness they can exploit. But Belinda is no saint and as it turns out she's the one exploiting them, even though exploitation was never her intention and she feels bad about it. 

After Belinda's initial introduction to the Mormons, which amounted to several hours-long conversations standing in her doorway, she wanted them to leave her alone. She had no plan to use them for her own means. She isn't that kind of a girl. Belinda is a giver by nature, a leaver, not a taker.

Basically, the Mormons charitable ways were changing Belinda, corrupting her.

And it wasn't that she didn't enjoy those early marathon conversations with them, helped by the fact they were mostly young, attractive, affable males in handsome suits who darkened her doorway. But it was getting to be too much. There are some repetitions in life that are pleasurable every time you experience them like laughing at a repeat episode of The Office, but the same conversation with self-assured religious weirdos intent on converting you is not one of life's pleasures – at least not as far as Belinda is concerned. 

Personally, I enjoy the weirdos. 

But you have to have boundaries. Even patience has a right to die, especially after a long life of self-control. She gets tired. Give her a break. 

In other words, if you are going to have weirdos, especially religious ones, in your life, be kind, be amused, be willing to accept they might have some insight to share, but do not be a doormat. Or as I like to call a female trapped in the role of lipsticked-android, one programmed to obey and conditioned to accept abuse: a Dormata.

To avoid becoming a Dormata yourself, you unfortunately have to at some juncture allow your patience to run out, release your inner wolf to bare her teeth and override your programming. You must have it within you to slam a door in someone's smug face, hang up a phone mid-sentence when you realize the superiority of the prick on the other end is beyond reason, and scream at a person whose willful stupidity has reached a level of absurdity that no longer amuses you and now pisses you off. 

And if all that fails, you're sick of taking the highroad alone, and you don't have the brain or inclination to think up some Machiavellian scheme that will ruin the person's life, make him question his own sanity, and have him end up in a mental institution or destitute and living in a rodent-infested hovel, shove that asshole down a flight of stairs, along with all his belongings and a few of your own you no longer want. Kill two birds with one stone that way.

You will also help out the oxymoronic men's rights movement by justifying their insipid arguments and otherwise "hilarious" jabs that, for instance, there is a critical need for transition house funding to shelter an epidemic of raped and domestically abused men. Keep them safe from all those scary single mothers wielding a mop with one arm and doing biceps curls with the weight of a nursing baby in the other.

But don't actually kill a bird or a person and there is no epidemic problem of women raping and assaulting men. People are way too literal.

As for Belinda, she is too decent of a person to even be rude to a Mormon never mind physically hurt one. Her favorite tactic when dealing with potentially awkward social interactions is avoidance, which I support. Despite the bravado above, in reality, until I reach the point where my patience runs out, I'm more like an accommodating Dormata prone to avoidant behavior than a rabid wolf foaming at the mouth for a fight, although if I'm pushed hard enough things can get ugly. There is a lot of suppressed rage swept under my doormat patiently waiting for an opportunity to express itself.

With regards to Belinda, a woman who is neither abuser nor victim, when avoidance is impossible because the Mormons, for example, see her peeking through her curtains, she reluctantly answers her door. But she likes to steer their conversations away from dogmatic themes to secular ones. Up until recently, this worked well and the Mormons would follow her lead. 

They would spend most of their early conversations discussing topics such as the weather, geography, tourist attractions, local wildlife, the state of the public school system and "children these days".

At some level Belinda knew their willingness to skirt the real reason they were talking to her was because they were first establishing a good rapport ( an essential ingredient in any relationship where one side has an agenda that doesn't include brute force) before going in for the final kill. 

So she was not particularly surprised when they started slipping in their true agenda between commenting on the rain with interjections about "God's plan", suggestions that her "good feelings" were a direct result of the Holy Ghost working on her at that very moment, and testimony of the divine authority of one Joseph Smith. Most alarming to Belinda was their mention of the second coming, which they seemed to imply could happen at any moment. Did she have her spiritual house in order?

To help with that spiritual order, they invited her to pray with them and Belinda, feeling like a deer caught in headlights because she isn't the praying kind, apologized, saying she couldn't pray right now because she had groceries in the trunk of her car that she had to bring inside. Her ice cream was melting. 

They offered to bring the groceries inside for her and that was how it started. From then on, any time the topic got a little too "religiousy" Belinda would say she had to go. They would respond by offering to do something for her, she would reconsider that she really "had" to go just yet and would relent, allowing the Mormons to do chores for her, which they did with a smile. How could she resist such cheerful, free labour? She couldn't, especially since her house was looking pretty spiffy as a direct result of their volunteer work.

Nevertheless, there came a day when she had had enough of the Mormons. Belinda had no more errands for them and she was worried if she continued to let them come around she'd end up at their church because she had no more excuses left and didn't want to hurt their feelings. She felt she was at risk of becoming an accidental Mormon.

As a consequence, the last time they asked if there was anything they could do for her, which by this time she felt guilty if she didn't come up with some chore for them, instead of drumming up business in her own house, she blurted out that her brother, Jimmy, had recently bought a house across town and needed help with renovations.

Fast forward many hours later and Jimmy is furiously trying to get a hold of Belinda. It is an angry text, phone call, knock on the door and email Belinda has been expecting. She doesn't answer any of this and ever since has been in self-isolation-lock-down mode. Nothing will make her open her door again. Nothing. 

She knows she no longer has to feel guilty because the Mormons are occupied with Jimmy now – Jimmy, who like Belinda, having been raised in the same household by the same parents, finds it hard to be mean to nice people, no matter what their cult-agenda. At least she thought the Mormons were busy with Jimmy until seeing them outside our window.

"You really thought all their time and energy was being spent on one potential convert, Belinda?" I look at her doubtfully.

"Yes, I did. His house needs tons of work." 

She seems to be hyperventilating and goes mute, her mind slammed shut by sheer panic. 

I reassure her that we are behind three password-protected, security doors. The Mormons aren't getting in without permission and there is no conceivable reason to give them permission. She is safe.

Then the phone rings. Belinda screams.

Damn Mormons.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The Frozen Watch

Theresa's watch is frozen at 6 o'clock. It has been stubbornly keeping the same hour for 40 years. When asked why she holds onto the timepiece, Theresa says, "Why, it's a good watch! It still keeps the time."

Then she smiles and starts humming. No one is sure of the tune. Her eyes glaze over and just like that Theresa is gone, lost in the ancient maze of her disconnected memory.

The Meadows staff and occasional visitor do not pay Theresa much heed. She is a harmless, crazy old woman now, her mind scrambled after years of powerful psychotropic drugs coursing through her veins and electroshock therapy zip-zapping through her brain. Being tied to a bed against her will one too many times, and being forced into straight jackets when a kind but firm hand would have done, in addition to numerous stints in isolation, further contributed to the loss of her sanity.

"Be careful about spending too much time with those head doctors," she likes to whisper during rare lucid moments. "They're looking for crazy and they ALWAYS find crazy."  She sputters and laughs until the light of cognition goes out and drool escapes from the corner of her mouth.

Time froze for Theresa with the ring of a doorbell. It was her neighbor at the front entrance of her house. He was cradling in his arms what seemed to be a limp, bloody animal – road kill, maybe a dog. Theresa could not tell. There was so much blood.

She does not know what happened after that. It is as if someone came along and hit the eject button right before the climactic scene of a suspenseful movie. The psychiatrists call it "psychogenic amnesia", but Theresa doesn't understand their psychobabble. She pretends to listen intently, if her sedatives don't make it too difficult to concentrate, but in truth she is wondering about her son, Billy.

She sneaks a peek at her watch: Oh dear, it's dinnertime. Billy is officially late. He should have been home at least 15 minutes ago, so he'd have time to wash up before supper. Billy's father will not be pleased.

Theresa looks up at Dr. Smith, "I'm terribly sorry sir, but I must go. My son is waiting for me, and I still have to get the pot roast out of the oven.”

She attempts to get up to leave, but in her chemical restraints she finds her legs don't work like they once did . She doesn’t struggle or fight to stand. Her spirit was effectively dulled long ago. Instead, she relaxes back into her chair and calmly folds her hands into her lap, but not before checking her watch again. 

She sighs, "What could be keeping Billy?"

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Beautiful People

Brittany needed another $100 for the Louis Vuitton handbag she had to have. Every credit card was over its limit and she had exhausted her other usual avenues for borrowed money, except Lilith, her sister.

Lilith had a fat savings account, but despised what she referred to as "the beautiful people".  She wouldn't allow anyone to use a dime of her money, not even a dime that earned interest, towards beauty propaganda. And as far as Lilith was concerned, Louis Vuitton was propaganda.

The worms will live in every host. It's hard to pick which one they eat the most
The Beautiful People (source).
Brittany did not understand Lilith. Lilith was beautiful, despite the thick-rimmed glasses that overwhelmed her otherwise lovely features, or the matted hair she never brushed, or her refusal to wear deodorant, apply cosmetics, or wear figure-flatting clothing that emphasized her lithe frame rather than hide it under bulky cable knit.

Perhaps Brittany wasn’t as smart as her sister, but it seemed to her Lilith's contempt for beautiful people was like a wealthy person's contempt for wealth. Don't lecture the poor money can't buy you happiness if you've never been starving, and don't tell the ugly beauty can't bring you popularity if you've never been marginalized by ugliness.

What cruel twist of fate, thought Brittany, was this? She should have Lilith's beauty. She should be the one with all the buckets and barrels of disposable income. She should possess Lilith's ingenuity and shrewd business sense. It was all wasted on Lilith! Oh the things Brittany would do if she was Lilith!

"Of course you don't understand anything! And you could never be me," Lilith suddenly shot out, interrupting Brittany's bitter ruminations. It was as if Lilith could read her mind.

"You're nothing but a slave," Lilith continued, "who doesn't know the strength of her weakness. You support a master and don't realize you're doing it...with your expensive fashion you can’t afford."


Brittany felt mildly insulted even though she had no idea what Lilith was talking about or if she should be insulted. Lilith's insinuations and subtleties were always so confusing and exhausting to Brittany. Normally at times like this she would simply tune her sister out or walk away, but she really, really wanted that hand bag. Brittany would grovel, if necessary.

Lilith picked up on Brittany's desperation and in a rare act of seeming compromise offered, "I'll tell you what, if you pick all the blackberries in my yard and do the canning, I'll give you the money for your meaningless...trinket."

“That sounds like a lot of work," Brittany complained, "and I don't know how to make jam!"

"That’s fine," Lilith replied as she thrust a recycled ice-cream bucket towards Brittany. "I'll oversee everything you do. If you want the purse bad enough, you’ll do what I say — you’ll do the work."

Brittany hesitated — some part of her feeling like she was making a pact with the devil, but that was silly. 

Brittany took the bucket.

Friday, September 11, 2015

The Ashes of Alfred

Alfred was dead, but his ashes still carried the blame for present day miseries. There was much speculation regarding the madness of Alfred. Some said he was schizophrenic and manic-depressive, while others argued he was simply a fucked up alcoholic. Most everyone agreed, however, that at the root of Alfred's problem was an inheritable genetic code that could be passed along to those who came after him like a hot potato nobody wanted to be left holding when the music stopped.



Jean knew firsthand the far-reaching impact of Alfred's insanity. She, like all his descendants, was scrutinized for even the slightest hint of mental instability. Jean, who considered herself a time traveler of sorts -- an amateur family historian -- could not accept the gossip. She was obsessed with uncovering the truth about her great-great-grandfather.

It was impossible to reconcile the handsome man in the black and white photo with the madman Alfred was said to have been. He had a James Dean smile and a flirtatious tilt to his jaw that gave him an aura of charisma. Indeed, it was rumored he could exude such magnetism that people became light-headed just from being near him. This was the man with whom Jean's great-great-grandmother, Marla, had fallen blindly in love.

But Alfred had a dark side.

He was prone to severe melancholy, paranoid delusions and hallucinations. He used moonshine to silence the chatter inside his head, but it only made things worse, especially for his wife and children, who were terrorized by his psychotic rages.

The situation grew so desperate that one night Marla slit her wrists, attempting to divert Alfred's attention from their baby girl, as he tried to drown her in a barrel of rainwater. He was convinced the infant was demonically possessed. Both Marla and the baby died on that black, bloody night, and Alfred was locked away in an insane asylum until he took his own life. The remaining children were orphaned off to relatives and their lives forever tainted by their father's sins.

Jean had to discover for herself if Alfred's madness was truly inborn. She was thus compelled to travel back in time to the Saskatchewan farm where Alfred was raised. There, she found Ruby, 101 years old, who was in possession of a child-sized coffin meant for Alfred when he was eight. Jean looked at the coffin, as if it was a time machine, and listened to Ruby describe how Alfred was expected to die of rheumatic fever, but miraculously survived.

"But he turned strange after that," Ruby confided in a low, gravelly voice, "always talking to himself and banging his head."

Jean, who had been leaning in as she listened to Ruby talk, sat back in her chair now, thinking of Alfred and his fried brain. She thought of how his "recovery" from near death brought him out of one hell that included child labour on a struggling farm and physical abuse from a particularly sadistic father into a new kind of hell. This new hell consisted of long stints in various mental institutions starting from the age of 12 and continuing off and on for the remainder of his life. 

He was  subjected to every kind of "treatment" and shamed with every kind of stigma. He was plagued with all-consuming rage, crippled by overwhelming guilt, tormented with derogatory voices in his head, and debilitated by delusions that were impossible to differentiate from "reality". In the end, this cauldron of confusion was what ultimately killed not only him but his wife and infant daughter.

He was not born mad, after all, Jean thought with bittersweet realization. The world made him that way through virus, abuse and circumstance. His ashes were no more to blame than the dying embers of a previously out of control fire ignited by human folly and stoked by hatred and fear.



And it was then that Jean decided Alfred and his dubious legacy could finally be put to rest. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Banality of Romantic Gestures

A florist truck pulls up to the building as Belinda and I stand at the window watching with interest. It’s curious because a delivery of a dozen red roses was made only yesterday to Megan, who is no stranger to clichéd gestures of romance from good looking, eager young men trying to get her in the sack. But even so, 2 days in a row? For the rest of us even a single incident of an unexpected flower delivery is an impossible fantasy spurred on by Megan’s life.

Belinda, for example, is not as successful as Megan in the suitor department and lets out a derisive "whatever" when the flower delivery boy disappears from sight. Belinda has no problem with Megan, a warm, outgoing girl everyone likes, but it isn't right that she (Megan) should get all the flowers in the world while Belinda gets what? The last gift she got from a guy was a bulk sized package of 4-ply toilet paper. He thought she'd be impressed with all the plies. She was not.

But this is the way it goes for Belinda. 

The men who take a fancy to her are usually flawed in some socially identifiable or physically unappealing way. Like Megan, albeit a slightly older version, Belinda is a warm, inviting person with a pretty face. Unlike most people, however, Belinda possesses that exceedingly rare quality of actually listening without interruption when others speak. She is both inquisitive and humanitarian by nature and all of these qualities combine to create a woman who is irresistible to the marginalized amongst us, whether we are talking mentally "unique" individuals most everyone else finds "off-putting", people with an assortment of ailments that they feel compelled to frequently vent about, or inappropriate men. 

Their inappropriateness is drawn to her like insects to a light bulb. This is unfortunate because while Belinda wouldn't hurt a fly, she has no desire to kiss one.

She also does not want to kiss a dog, which is where the problem began with a man named Rufus. 

She worked with Rufus at a second part-time job she picked up to bring in some extra cash, and an easy flirtation developed between them, as tends to happen when the sexes work closely together. For her part, Belinda was in no way physically attracted to Rufus, but she enjoyed the attention he gave her and his quirky personality – always a precarious situation with the potential for mixed signals and misunderstandings. 

As such, it seemed inevitable that there would come a day when Rufus would attempt to transition from workplace friend to boyfriend material. Belinda, however, was so uninterested in him in any romantic sense that she couldn’t even get his name straight. 

She had always associated the name “Rufus” with a dog and when she thought of a dog she immediately thought of Clifford the Big Red Dog, a favorite fictional character from her childhood. As a consequence, the two names somehow got interchanged in her subconscious and every time she addressed Rufus it came out as “Clifford”.  She never realized she was doing it and oddly Rufus never corrected her. 

Eventually she seemed to altogether forgot his name was Rufus and referred to him exclusively as Clifford. By the time we had heard the last of Rufus, anyone who knew of Rufus strictly through Belinda talking about him had no idea his name wasn't Clifford.

Things came to a head one day when Samantha, a rival of Belinda's who also worked with Rufus, got fed up with Belinda constantly messing up Rufus's name. Belinda had been calling out to "Clifford" to tell him there was a phone call waiting for him, but Clifford kept acting like he couldn't hear her. Belinda yelled out his name louder and still he didn't flinch. Finally, in exasperation, Samantha, who had been listening to all of this, interrupted Belinda, "He can't hear you, Belinda, because you're calling him Clifford! His name is Rufus!" Then Samantha, to prove her point, yelled out to Rufus herself, "CARL!! Belinda is trying to tell you something!!"

Carl was Samantha's cat.

That was the moment when Belinda "woke up" to the subversive nature of not only her subconscious mind but Samantha's as well.

Belinda plunked herself down, stunned with this newly discovered realization. "Well, that's it," she said, "I can't have anything to do with a guy who just accepts me calling him by the wrong name without correcting me. OR a guy who reminds everyone of their pet! I definitely won't be able to date Clifford now, there's just no way. I thought maybe, but not now. Forget it".

"You did it again," Samantha pointed out.

Belinda shook her head confused, "What are you talking about?"

"You called him Clifford again. His name is Carl...oh my god. His name, Belinda, is Rufus."

Later when Belinda relayed what had happened, I attempted to cheer her up, "On the bright side, at least now you can stop feeling so guilty about rejecting his advances. Things are looking up!".

Rufus has since gone to the dogs of obscurity, but to this day when we refer to his memory we snidely, with full awareness, call him Clifford. 

Belinda's latest unwanted acquisition in the male insect department is an insect named Paul who likes her significantly more than she likes him. She finds him incredibly irritating, in the same way a fly buzzing around your ear that you can't get at is irritating. I don't know why she can't get rid of him. Flyswatters are cheap.

But Belinda rejects my fly analogy. She doesn't see him as a fly so much as a potato

"He never wants to do anything and he NEVER does anything nice for me. I do all the giving. He's never given me so much as a blade of grass, never mind roses! All he does is lie around all day watching TV like a big, fat, hairy couch potato, expecting me to serve him".

I used to encourage Belinda she could do better than these weirdos and parasitic assholes that tend towards her, and that she should walk away from leeches like Paul  life is too short to waste it on so much bullshit. But I have since come to realize she is addicted to the power she derives from the role of martyr and saviour, that she likes to be needed and relied upon. So now I listen in amusement to her litany of complaints. I'll leave her to do her own self-reflections and arrive at her own life-changing epiphanies in her own time.

Thus, rather than once again tell her she should kick Paul to the curb, I suggest we christen him "Potato Paul" in honor of his potato couch proclivities. I have my own proclivity towards alliteration. I don't know why but I find it infinitely funny. I am ridiculous.

But Belinda didn't think my suggestion was ridiculous: "Yes, he is a potato! He should be called Potato Paul!"

We've been calling him Potato Paul ever since, unbeknowst, of course, to Paul, although Belinda lives in mortal fear she will call him Potato Paul to his face, particularly after the whole Rufus/Clifford/Carl fiasco. She has already caught herself a couple of times, which didn't escape Potato Paul's notice. But he isn't the brightest guy so she was able to redirect his focus easily enough. She doesn't know how long she's going to be able to do that, though. He's gross, dumb and boring (the character triad of a bad man as opposed to the enigma of a good one) but he still has some fraction of a brain in his potato head.

Getting back to the florist's truck outside our window, I turn to Belinda and ask, "What would you do if the flower delivery was for you from Potato Paul? Would you like him more or drop dead in shock?"

"It would depend on the flower," she replied, "but I highly doubt Potato Paul knows my favorite flower is the Stargazer lily even though I've told him."

I agree that he probably doesn't know even though he has been told. Imagine how much richer life would be if more of us were paying attention.

"If he did send you flowers," I muse, "guaranteed they'd be red roses. Not that there's anything wrong with roses, except it shows a complete lack of imagination. Personally, I'd be more impressed by a thoughtful dandelion picked from my front yard. At least that's helpful. My lawnmower is broken. A dozen roses though? We've seen the documentary, we've read the articles. We are both aware of the damage the cut flower trade has on the planet." 

I have to stop myself before I launch into a full-blown soapbox condemnation of why it's wrong for the developed world to exploit the developing world's resources. 

Roses are the prized trophies of the slave trade in the flower world. All the other flowers, who are otherwise envious of the Rose's superior beauty, are glad they weren't born roses. Even the beautiful have an ugly burden to carry in a world where greed is the dominant driving force.

Somebody needs to save the roses!

Good God.

I also have to stop myself because the annoyed look of "here we go again" flashing across Belinda's face does not escape my notice. Nobody likes to listen to me. Sometimes it feels like I will burst.

"I don't know about dandelions," Belinda says, happy I've put a cap on the save the roses speech, "but my favorite roses are yellow ones. It's my next favorite flower after lilies."

Before I can say what my favorite flower is, we are interrupted by a knock on the door. We look up and in walks the flower delivery boy. He has a delivery for Belinda.

We are taken aback at first and then start giggling as she opens the box and unwraps tissue to reveal, you guessed it, a dozen red roses courtesy of Potato Paul. Despite our earlier cynicism, we are both delighted by the surprise and I run to grab a vase from down the hall. 

When I return, Belinda is bent over in her chair in convulsions. It's impossible to tell if she's laughing, sobbing or having a seizure until I get up close to her and see sitting on her desk a bouquet of 12 thorny stems devoid of all but 5 of their heads. 

Belinda is laughing so hard she can't speak. All she can do is point at the flower box still on the floor at her feet. In it are seven decapitated red rose heads. 



When she calms down enough to speak in coherent sentences, she explains that as she lifted the bouquet out of the box, one by one 7 of the heads popped clean off like the tops of dandelions. 

"Mama had a baby and it's head popped off," I say without thinking, my voice trailing off, which causes Belinda to erupt into renewed laughter.

It is so strange, almost like the flower traffickers were sending us (or perhaps just me since I'm the one who will rant about it if given half a chance) a cryptic message that we better shut up about dopey men and the rose slave trade or else

Or else what, I don't know. But whoever they are, they are barking up the wrong tree. We are not afraid of dopey canines around here.

Monday, August 3, 2015

The Ruling Celebrity Class

People are transfixed by beauty, wealth and celebrity,
They need a handsome devil to worship when God isn’t free.
Like goslings who imprint on the first big life force they see,
They’re easily led with no leash or worry they’ll flee.

They believe this is their Providence, their leader,
A giant personality, a glitter-filled bottle-feeder.
An attractive fowl without substance and a painted-on wing,
A kite that defies gravity, a ruse, a replica thing.

But kites don’t defy the law of gravity and replica birds can’t fly,
Eventually kites retreat from the sun, descend and fall from the sky.
And model objects that take flight suspended from a wire,
Are nothing more than the manipulations of a liar.

This world where mortals are elevated as gods is a world of illusion,
Where imprinted masses follow, pulled by need and misled by delusion.
Where tricksters guide, driven by every lust and every greed,
Smirking stewards who cash in as others starve, suffer and bleed.

They neither care nor appreciate the weight of their charge,
Egos that concern themselves with material splendor and living large.
Exploiters of a basic desire for purpose and connection,
Parasites of Spirit whose true intent avoids detection.

But how can they ascend when they’re mannequins with unmovable parts?
Fixed expressions and mechanical hearts?
Embalmed in silicone and plastic, they never look old,
They attend morticians of plasty and gorge on bricks of gold.

It’s where “superficial and shallow” are physical traits of the perfect T&A,
Where respectful language is considered crass and passé.
A bizarro place where up is down and down is “whaddup”,
And demons masquerading as saviors slurp from a footed-cup.

Where eloquence of speech and precision of wit is considered a bore,
And intelligent women assume the disguise of a whore.
Where sociopaths practice the size of their smile in a mirror of lies,
And heavy-breathing psychopaths plot for the day everyone dies.

Where sophisticated psychiatrists consult horoscopes for direction,
And a dumb reality TV billionaire wins a presidential election.
Where a white-veneered dentist named Walter is a lion slayer,
And a sitcom star who drugs and rapes women is a good ol’ player.

Where Harvard graduates give dissertations on the Real Housewives of whatever,
And if you’re rich, philandering is as an honorable endeavor.
Where if you’re a beloved Sinatra-imitator it’s fine to body shame,
And the Wizard of Oz is a celebrity doctor with a fraudulent claim.

They peddle heaven for a price and will tell you The Secret for a fee,
Pretenders who adapt so wholly to their role they believe it religiously.
It’s where from mega cathedrals the worst of men advise and preach,
A place where anti-vaccine Playmates without a clue babble and teach.

They model despicable behavior and say don’t worry about hell,
They dangle an American dream and the herd drools at the ring of their bell.
Viewers tune in to watch politicians perform like jesters on late night,
And a significant number don’t understand the difference between wrong and right.

It’s a controlled narrative that must be hand-fed to be believed,
Where few consider not all is as it’s given or as it’s perceived.
But if the devil can invade the churches, seduce the chosen and make angels fall,
Then Virtue too can infiltrate the enemy’s den and from there answer its call.

Watch now as weapons of cultural destruction become tools of transformation,
Where tragedy compels a trainwreck actress to address a gun-toting nation.
Where a slayed lion named Cecil is carved into a global symbol of action,
And novel ideas that can change the state of the world gain traction.

Watch as a lying Pinocchio converts from what is wooden and hollow,
Into a real boy with a beating heart and a virtuous command to follow.
Watch as mannequins begin to move of their own volition,
And psychopaths master the urges of their condition.

Watch as the practised smile of a sociopath reaches his eyes,
And prostitutes reveal the truth and discard their disguise.
Watch as replicas become what they replicate and break from their tether,
And diverse birds of every feather unite and finally flock together.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Cowboy at my Window

There is a crowd of us standing at my window gawking at a cowboy who has been pacing the sidewalk below for the past 20 minutes. 




Most of the group consists of unattached females who remain unattached by choice and are ostensibly proud of this choice. There is much babble about the joys of independence and not having to answer to anyone.

Yet the instant an even seemingly attractive male is spotted around the building, estrogen-fueled pandemonium ensues. It starts with a pressured psst! and builds momentum until we have a situation like the one we have at the moment.

There are too many women at the window now and sooner or later some excessively eager lady, probably Myrtle from down the hall if she finds out about this, which she always does, will whistle or yell something lewd and draw attention to us.

Myrtle is a problem.

I have explained before how Belinda and I do not like our covert activities detected by those we watch from our window. These friggin women with their suppressed, unmet needs are not helping and Myrtle is the worst of them all.

Belinda is the first to notice the cowboy, a relatively rare sight in these parts. We do not normally see them as up, close and personal as the cowboy we are currently staring at, particularly right outside our window, isolated from the herd for easy, undetected scrutiny.

Thus, because of the rarity of the situation, when Belinda initially notices the cowboy, she becomes so excited that she falls out of her swivel chair in the process of spinning around to tell me about him and injures herself. I jump up to help her, but she impatiently waves me off. Her minor injury is nothing compared to the cowboy.

“Go to the window! There’s a REAL cowboy out there! Oh my god,” she gushes, “I’m flushed!”

As I go to the window to see what all the fuss is about, Belinda pulls herself together long enough to phone Karen from a few floors up to come down immediately. There’s been a cowboy sighting.

Karen will be interested in this. She is off fishermen after being cheated on one too many times, but has a thing for cowboys because, well, who doesn’t? She also loves herself a “silver fox with good shoes”, as she is fond of saying, and is constantly on the prowl for a man, although we suspect this is more talk for the sake of an all-female audience than any real desire to “catch” a fresh one, as she hasn’t gone on a date in years. At this stage of the game, she’s come to realize the reality and the fantasy are NOT the same thing.

Nevertheless, we keep up the pretense and whenever we spot what seems to be a suitable specimen, we have a habit of notifying Karen. Plus, in this particular circumstance the three of us had just, maybe an hour beforehand at coffee, finished a “hot and bothered” discussion regarding the sex appeal of a good, old-fashioned cowboy, with Belinda breaking out in a rendition of Paula Cole’s, “Where have all the cowboys gone?” and Karen insisting Canadian cowboys are every bit as appealing as any American cowboy you can find to the south.

Belinda vehemently disagreed, saying, “If you want the real McCoy, you HAVE to go to Montana”. I don’t know where Belinda gets her information, but I’m pretty sure she’s never been to Montana.

In any event, in light of this earlier conversation, Belinda figures Karen will appreciate the coincidence of a cowboy outside our window only a short while later. In addition to ogling strange men, we are big on coincidences and keep a running tally.

“She will want to get in on the action,” Belinda tells me and I agree.

When she gets Karen on the line, Belinda is downright giddy as she repeats the bit about there being a “real” cowboy down here. But then before my incredulous eavesdropping ears she gets carried away in her description and says something about him wearing chaps and he’s built, Karen, like a scene straight out of Magic Mike!”

Uh.

No, he is not in chaps.

I also don’t know what Magic Mike spoof she must be referring to, but as I take my first scrutinizing look at the spindly cowboy in question I can see why a little embellishment is necessary.

He does not hold up under careful observation.

That however doesn’t matter anymore, as intrigue has now been created and the cowboy effect, much like a bewitching halo effect, has been initiated. At this juncture, Belinda could claim he’s the cover model for a Lori Wilde romance, and regardless of what he actually looks like, no one would bat an eye; the cowboy effect is that strong.



Belinda, who by this time is completely under the control of the cowboy effect, gets off the phone with Karen and informs me, as if she’s sharing an important piece of CSIS intel, “She’ll be right down”.

We stand at the window waiting for Karen, taking in the cowboy in all his full glory, replete with tight jeans, spurred boots, tucked in western style shirt, ornate belt buckle and black cowboy hat. But soon enough the sound of Lenore’s high-pitched squeal destroys the spell. 

Belinda angrily shushes nosey Lenore, who has barged in to check out what we’re looking at. She sees the cowboy straight away and turns to Henrietta who unbelievably has also appeared out of nowhere at the window and quips, “I’ll tell ya what, Henrietta, I wouldn’t be kicking him outta my bed if he farted under the blankets!”  

Henrietta snorts she laughs so hard at Lenore’s stupid joke. Belinda also chuckles, but I do not have it in me. This is not the first occasion I’ve experienced Lenore say this, and I cringe every time it comes out of her mouth. It wasn’t clever the first time and definitely not this many times. It’s too much.

I wish Lenore would stop coming into our office.

But then here comes Marge.  She is a round, over-inflated-bouncing-ball of a woman with penguin flipper arms and a plump tomato-looking head, who at this moment decides to accompany Henrietta’s little sound-bite with, “Oh yeah! Ride me cowboy!”

Ugh.

Marge can’t even ride a bicycle or sit in a chair; she just kind of rolls off of everything. To tell you the truth, I’m not sure how she manages to walk. I cannot BEGIN to imagine the logistics of anyone riding her. The thought of it leaves me feeling uneasy and in combination with Lenore’s fart-themed commentary not a little queasy.   

“Good lord, Marge, get a hold of yourself!” Henrietta scolds.

Henrietta only finds Lenore funny for reasons I am not equipped to appreciate. To everyone else, Henrietta is a miserable spinster who despises “amoral” behavior and speech, yet always seems to be around, avidly listening when these “amoral” conversations are going on.

She is also the self-appointed mentor of people who do not know she’s mentoring them. Apparently she’s mentoring me, for example. I had no idea until Lenore mentioned it in passing. I hate Lenore.

Both Lenore and Henrietta are single, like everyone else of course, but it seems to bother Henrietta the most.  She tends to defensively ramble on and on about all the men who wanted to marry her, but couldn’t due to a series of convoluted rationalizations that no one is interested in hearing and only Lenore can follow. I suppose that’s why Henrietta likes Lenore.

But Marge isn’t affected whatsoever by who Henrietta likes or doesn’t like and continues to pant over the cowboy with an unfortunate litany of lecherous statements I do not care to repeat.

The noise level is steadily climbing by the time Karen finally materializes. She is a fit, youthful woman in her late 50s with a confident stride who can be a lot of fun, but in this environment has a no-nonsense attitude. She comes marching into our office with two frightened women I’ve never seen before trailing behind her.

“I brought Betty and Martha,” Karen reports to the room, all business, “they need to see this, too”.

Things are getting totally out of hand with this cowboy. Word of his presence is spreading faster than word of the free mammogram clinic that was haphazardly thrown together at the start of the day.

If they really want to attract more women to a clinic where unpleasant things are done to sensitive body parts, they really should consider inviting the cowboy as bait. Every breast in a 100-kilometer radius would surely follow.  

There are now seven of us standing at the window. This is ridiculous.

And if that’s not enough, Megan, who is 23 and has no suppressed, unmet needs, comes into the office next and asks, “What’s going on?”

Lenore, encouraged by Marge’s string of vulgarities and still vibrating from the high of her own normally well-received signature phrase, rushes to inform Megan of the cowboy, mentioning the thing about not kicking him out of her bed for the 49th time in 10 minutes.

Megan does not laugh.

She pushes past Lenore, takes one look at the cowboy, crinkles up her nose and says to the rest of us, all over 30, most over 40 and beyond, “Eww, he’s old!” and breezes out of the room as fast as she came in, leaving Lenore deflated.  

I note Lenore’s fallen expression and fight the urge to moan and roll my eyes. She looks so dejected that I don’t have the heart to openly belittle her and suggest instead she ignore Megan. I awkwardly pat her on the shoulder and say, “Don’t worry, Lenore, Megan’s young, she doesn’t know what she’s talking about. I wouldn’t kick him out of bed, either”.

Lenore brightens and I feel like a traitor to my own soul. However, I like hurt people even less than I like redundancy, which is probably why I can't stand myself half the time. It makes life problematic as there is no way to get away from yourself. Wherever you go, there you are -- a constant rival you carry with you in your head.

Anyway, the straw that breaks the camel’s back comes in the form of Myrtle. She, as predicted, has caught wind of what’s going on here and comes whistling in. She hasn’t even seen the cowboy yet and is already catcalling.

By the time she reaches the window, her presence has caused such a commotion that the cowboy senses he’s being stalked. Suspicious, he looks up to discover much to his surprise and visible terror, us, a clutch of predatory ovaries, glaring down at him.

He nervously lights what we later decide must be a Marlboro cigarette and anxiously looks around, uncomfortably glancing up every now and then and giving us a better opportunity to make out his facial features and take in the rest of his skeletal physique.

No one staring at the cowboy is a fan of smokers and there is nothing arousing about a skeleton. As a result, the cowboy effect quickly evaporates and a disappointed crowd of sexually frustrated females disperse in a flurry of renewed man-hate, which is nothing more than a defense mechanism. You malign what you can’t have even as you yearn to have it.

Belinda, who is noticeably trance-free now, loses her creepy enthusiasm and snaps at Karen, the only one left with us, “There’s no way THAT cowboy is from Montana! He must be one of your oily cowboys from Alberta. He looks downright sickly”.

Belinda’s disdain is palpable and Karen is thoroughly insulted. Damn cowboys.