Category Archives: Friends

The Logistics of the Illogical and Frankly Stupid (re: “I Love You”)

“Cindy. I love you. But [HORRIBLE THING SAID ABOUT ME WITHOUT REMORSE].”

Has this ever happened to you?

Why not just tell me to fuck right off? That would have been preferable. It would have been so much better.

Not, “I love you.”

And don’t call me by my name. Don’t use my name and “I love you,” so you don’t have to feel bad about that horrible thing you actually wanted to say in the first place, but were too cowardly to do so without some desperate preface.

In any case, the love, the particular love cited here: it was not mutual. We weren’t that good of friends, not to warrant that.

That horrible thing; it didn’t have to be true to be effective, if that’s what you were going for. But you cheapened it with “I love you.” That horrible thing could have stood well enough on its own and maybe we could have worked through it…

JK, JK, JK!!! You and me? We’re done. Oh, we are so over.

So I’m just left to conclude that what we had when we started was already less than what we ended up with.

In other words, we made some excellent progress, you and I.

 

 

 

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Filed under Friends, Friendship, Language, People, Relationships

“My Love, My Love”

“Here you go, my love.”

“Thank you, my love.”

“My pleasure, my love.”

Oh, my love! My love, my love, my love!

They didn’t always do that, this couple I knew. I think they were trying it out, all this my love, my love, adding it to the repertoire of their L-O-V-E, which included (among other things) light (and heavy) petting, hair twirling, hands in each other’s pockets, random back rubs; big, wide smiles. Little quirks, neat tricks. Things to pull out during a lull in the night.

A friend, who was also witness to this romantic display, asked if they were like this all the time.

I don’t know. But I said that it did remind me of a parrot, an African Grey, I once saw at a pet store.

“Hello! Hello! Hello!” it said to anyone who approached the cage. It made a big show of it too.

“Hello! Hello! Hello!”

Did you know? African Greys are among one of the most intelligent birds on earth. They have been known, for example, to outperform children as old as 4 on certain tests, and can learn and build upon a rather impressive collection of words and concepts.

“Hello! Hello! Happy Birthday!”

Did you know that?

The pet store Grey didn’t. At least, I don’t think so.

So it was easy to be charmed by the bird, with its precious words, cute mannerisms and bright, shiny feathers. So it was easy to just go with it, enjoy the show – my love, or no.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Birds, Emotion, Friends, Pets, Relationships, Ritual

The Very Best Humanity Has To Offer

I see people doing all sorts of things riding the subway:

  • People clipping their fingernails/toenails, often with clippers (sometimes without).
  • People fighting (usually men, and mostly with a lot of chest-beating, cussing and not all that many punches or kicks or jabs. Some food throwing, though).
  • People (usually but not exclusively couples) making out with each other, touching, groping, exchanging fluids, etc.
  • People eating outlandish food (by this I mean lidless bowls of soup or large, unwieldy sandwiches, and just today I saw a man eating from a neat pile of pistachios balanced on his crotch).
  • People sleeping, busking, crying, laughing (sometimes uproariously).

Also, this:

Three people huddled together though isolated from the rest of the riders, who backed away to give them much-needed space. A young woman with a grim-faced friend each kneeling on the floor on either side of her, an imperfect symmetry reminding me of a renaissance painting in form, composition and mood.

The woman was very sick, or extremely drunk (at a certain point, I think these states of being are rather indistinguishable, if not interchangeable). One of her friends held open a half-full plastic grocery bag under her face, which swung as the train swayed back on forth on the tracks.

The contents of the bag sloshed within, reeking and terrible.

The other friend had cupped his hands and remained in waiting, in case the woman vomited again and missed the grocery bag. His hands did the work of redirecting the flow to its proper place.

“She’ll be alright,” said the friend holding the bag. “We just need to get her home.”

The other friend said not a word, made no move to wipe up the mess in his hands.

The woman vomited again, into the hands, into the bag.

I admit. She did seem to look better after that particular volley, though I cannot say it was the same for the bag (or the hands).

They got off the subway at the next stop, the friend with the bag passing the bag to the friend with the formally cupped hands so that she could help the young woman up without getting too much vomit on her. It was a wordless exchange, and therefore wonderous.

I have no doubt they got her home.

I have no doubt they made sure she was OK before they left.

I have no doubt they remain friends still – or even if not, that it was not this incident that broke them apart.

Regardless, they will always have that perfect moment together, there in the subway.

They will always, at the very least, have that.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under City Life, Food, Friends, People, Transportation

SCM*

*Sweetened condensed milk. It’s one of those substances that I come across without looking for it or expecting it but then it’s there, in my life again.

So. Here. We. Go.

 

1. Open-Faced Sugar Margarine SCM Sandwich

A concoction of my uncle’s making:

1 Slice Any Bread (but best if white bread, the best and worst of the breads)

1 Tub Margarine

Granulated White Sugar, to taste

1 Entire Can SCM

Toast the bread so that the margarine will melt when slathered generously (basically obscenely) over bread. Burn bread, a little, for texture, if desired.

Sprinkle (OK, dump) sugar onto toast.

More slathering, this time of the ENTIRE CAN of SCM onto toast/margarine/sugar.

There. You’re done.

Enjoy?

Diabetic shock.

Enjoy!

 

2. Snack Time

I have a friend who loves SCM so much, there’s basically no stopping him from consuming every last ounce of it every time he gets his hands on it. His indulgent parents (I love them too) sometimes serve him some, especially when he’s feeling down.

They feed him from a saucer. Like a cat. There is often a spoon.

The below is mostly true.

He’ll eat it from the can, he’ll eat it from the saucer, he’ll eat it from a tube (SCM occasionally comes in tube form – easier access maybe? Faster consumption?). He’ll eat it at the table, reclined on a chair, sitting cross-legged on the rug.

(The above was mostly true.)

It never lasts long, the SCM. It’s always gone so fast.

To my friend’s credit, he offers me some every time. But I can’t partake, not of someone else’s pure, unadulterated bliss like that.

There are limits to what we do share and what we should.

 

3. Longevity Forever

There is only one “true” brand of SCM for me, and that’s Longevity Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk (Lait Concentré Sucré/Sūa Ôg Tho).

Google it.

The logo features Shou, the Chinese deity for Longevity:

“According to legend, he was carried in his mother’s womb for ten years before being born, and was already an old man when delivered. He is recognized by his high, domed forehead and the peach which he carries as a symbol of immortality. The longevity god is usually shown smiling and friendly, and he may sometimes be carrying a gourd filled with the elixir of life.”

Or so says Wikipedia. Emphasis added, for affect.

Immortality. Elixir of life. SCM.

Go ahead. Treat yourself.

 

 

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Filed under Animals, Family, Food, Friends

Know What Annoys Me?

You.

Or, rather, dealing with you, the person that is you. Or whoever it is that you become when you annoy me.

Not all the time, but sometimes. Enough? Too much?

Hard to assign responsibility here, and don’t want to give too much credit.

BUT.

Here. We. Are.

Maybe it’s not you or me, but us.

Though I doubt it. You seem fine. I’m just not.

What are we even doing here?

Let’s change the subject…

Lovely weather, is it not?

(You annoy me so much.)

Beautiful day!

(Except when you don’t.)

Think it will rain?

(It’s not a matter of “if” but “when.”)

A little rain never hurt anybody!

(Like the tides, or the apocalypse.)

Hm? Yes, of course, I’ll call you!

That goes without saying, does it?

Oh.

Well.

It should.

 

 

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Filed under Communications, Emotion, Friends, People, Relationships

Ethnic Food

“One thing: I don’t like ethnic food.”

What to do when you’re planning a night out and then you’re confronted by this?

She wanted “non-ethnic food.”

She wanted “food.”

“Regular food” cooked by “regular people.” Food that isn’t too spicy or too smelly or cheap, the kind of food, you know, that isn’t cooked by people from elsewhere.

Who knows where?

Which leaves me to surmise that what she really meant – what she was saying without saying it because, hey, we’re ladies, fucking ladies, after all, adult ladies in polite society – was that ethnic food was outside the realm of her experience as a human person who regularly eats food.

Why be “adventurous”? Why be “worldly”? Why be “exotic”?

We could be “normal.”

We could get “normal food.”

Anyway. This is my roundabout way of saying we are no longer friends, but “friends.”

And not “friends” but “acquaintances.”

People who know each other.

Humans living in a world with other humans where there is food, and we eat it.

How’s that for normal?

Possibly better. Possibly worse.

But good enough, I guess.

 

 

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Filed under Food, Friends, People

Shamone (Part 2)

We had veered off the TransCanada highway ages ago, deciding instead to follow the backroads that lined the providence – a network of ragged capillaries that spread out and fed the small places that dotted the landscape.

(There’s more of them than you’d think, these places; places such as these.)

Places that could not rightly be said to compare to the big places elsewhere, but which offered a break from the monotony of the road, nonetheless.

Places whose existence by the wayside remained contingent on their ability to attract the curious, the eager and the weary, and to capture their attention for just long enough, for that crucial moment, or two.

Places whose particular claim to fame included tours of forsaken industry (mines, factories, mills), offerings of historic (or historical) points of interest (a fort, a trading post, the birthplace of some local notable, fictional or otherwise), and (my favourite) roadside attractions toting otherworldly monuments invoking hometown character or charm, standing resolutely in place and steadfastly against time. The quirky, the bizarre, the aberrant, unabashed, on full display, for all the world to see:

WITNESS! Bow Island’s orange-footed, sheriff-hatted, cartoon-faced statue of one “Pinto MacBean,” smile askance, holstered gun at the ready, gloved hand a great, keyhole-shaped oven mitt forever waving to passersby. Erected 1992 to signify “the importance of the dry edible bean industry to the area” (so says Pinto’s commemorative plaque).

 SEE! The World’s Largest Dinosaur in Drumheller. Purportedly the largest. I never verified (it’s not the kind of thing you verify). A nominal fee lets you climb the staircase embedded in this T-Rex’s fiberglass flesh so that you can peer out of her open mouth at people standing not all that far below (you can then, like Pinto, wave to them). Erected in 2000, she stands 25 meters tall and can fit up to 12 people in her mouth at a time.

 EXPERIENCE! The (slightly deranged) whimsy of the stuffed and mounted rodents at Torrington’s World Famous Gopher Hole Museum. The critters are plentiful, and are outfitted in cute little costumes as they engage in various hometown activities, like going to church, frequenting the local pool hall, or street brawling with animal rights activists. Admission also just a nominal fee away (two dollars, but that’s 2009 pricing). Established 1996.

 Witness! See! Experience! Between work, between school, between the responsibilities and expectations of everyday life, between us, we had all the time in the world to explore these places; places such as these where MJ had manifestly refused to materialize.

Now, though.

I found myself quietly singing along here and there as the pavement rolled on under the rusting carriage of Terry’s ancient Corolla, and there was nothing much else to do but stare up, into that enormous Alberta sky, out there, at clouds as big mountain ranges and a blue so intense it made you feel somehow flattered, and somewhat ashamed.

Stephen woke up with a start, then drifted off to sleep again. He kept doing that, never fully waking, not entirely sleeping. It got to be unnerving. “More MJ?” he asked. “Still MJ?” he breathed, then dozed.

Mae pulled back from the window and tilted her head towards the radio.

Terry drove.

No. Nothing much else to do at all but surrender to the vastness ahead and MJ’s omnipresence within, hovering over us, god-like, and with such measured indifference for all his omnipotence that always seemed to me prerequisite to being one amongst the gods.

The songs flowed, one after another as Terry flipped blithely from station to station, managing somehow to prompt no apparent break in the music, failing to rouse a voice from the ether to break the spell and confirm or deny what it was (whatever it was) that was happening.

The whole world has to answer right now, just to tell you once again,

Don’t want to see no blood, don’t be a macho man,

Cause we danced on the floor in the round,

Inside a killer thriller tonight,

A crescendo, Annie.

Celebrity, unleashed! MJ in all his glory, in all his incarnations, from Off The Wall (1979), to Bad (1987), to Dangerous (1991) and HIStory (1995), and on to Invincible (2001).

Thriller (1982).

We should have known.

But since we were drifting anyway, and with no particular destination in mind as the towns blurred together and it became difficult to know for certain which name belonged to which place, which attraction meant what, and to whom, it was, admittedly, kind of nice to have something familiar along for the ride.

We found the Birds of Prey Sanctuary more than we discovered it. Just east of Lethbridge, off Highway #3. Established 1982.

The clerks inside the gift shop were friendly and politely curious. Attentive in the way that clerks are when the arrival of patrons means a long-awaited reprieve from the dusting of pristine shelves and the wiping down of spotless countertops.

“Where you from?” one of them asked.

Terry and Mae and Stephen answered easily. “Ottawa,” they said. “Thunder Bay.” I hesitated, and then answered “Toronto” and then we watched as the clerks’ faces changed accordingly, as if something had fallen into place for them. I suppose they took that as their right. I guess, anyway, that it was at least their prerogative. This is such a big country.

It was by now late afternoon.

Did they not know about MJ?

“Toronto, eh?”

***

We stopped at a place not too far from the sanctuary for dinner. It was famous for its Italian-Canadian fare (that’s what the guy at the gas station said), but it was particularly prized for its gigantic pizza bread: great slabs of hot dough, the rough size and heft of a decorative pillow, leaden with shredded, multicoloured cheese and finished off with a spray of light green parsley not at all unlike the trimmings fired from the backend of a lawnmower.

(The description above, I assure you, does not do justice to the taste).

We settled in, ushered to a booth by an unnamed hostess. Someone looked up.

And there he was again.

Only this time a vision dancing in perfect synchronization with his sister, Janet, in the legendary Scream video, two figures effortlessly swaying, pop-locking and pivoting in zero gravity on a screen affixed to an unassuming corner of the dining room, close (but not too close) to the bathrooms.

“Look!”

The Incomparable Jacksons. The Immaculate MJ. Just east of Lethbridge, off Highway #3.

“Here too!” exclaimed Terry, pointing, eyes no longer heavy-lidded.

Our server, a man with a shining forehead, thick arms and little patience, may have heard the urgency in Terry’s voice. We were, if memory serves, agog. Certainly, I was and Stephen too.

“Don’t you know?” barked the server, snapping us to attention. “You don’t know?” he added more gently when he realized he had it. “He died. Michael Jackson’s dead.” He eventually left us with our food, carefully arranging it before us on the heavy, water-stained table.

“Died?” echoed Mae. “Dead?” she said, tasting the words.

Despite everything, given everything he had been and done and had become, MJ had never done that, never been that before.

It shouldn’t have been possible: Michael Jackson was dead.

Pinto MacBean, however, remained.

Remains.

Annie are you okay? Will you tell us that you’re okay?

It should not have been possible: something of the permanence of life as we knew it had shifted under our feet and left us stumbling for purchase. As sudden as it was, therefore, absurd. It was more than enough.

It was time to go home.

Time to head back and, if possible, redeem ourselves.

“I’ll drive,” Terry said finally, attempting a laugh around a mouthful of bread.

 

END

 

 

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Filed under Celebrity, Change, Death, Food, Friends, Music, People, Places, Pop Culture, THE PAST, Travel

Treasure, Treasure Everywhere!

It was as though we stepped into a daymare masquerading as an antique market.

I do not, as a matter of course or habit, frequent antique markets. Once or twice a year, at most, and mostly because I have a few precious friends who live for these markets – who know all the vendors and all the wares (and about them) and have committed the antique market circuit (it is seasonal; it passes from county to county like a circus and all of its transient allure) to memory.

It’s fun going to antique markets because I go with my committed friends, and I only go to antique markets when I go with them.

As for the rest…

… Not all of the “antiques” live up to the name, or even care to aspire to it. There’s a lot of junk (“vintage” as it may as well be), or borderline junk (or borderline or absolute treasure, depending on how you’d see it) – props from movies no one’s seen (or longer cares about, if anyone ever did), random doll parts (heads, arms, torsos), chairs made of discarded horns, disused and disembodied clown heads, anatomically outrageous equestrian statuary, pharmacological (not to mention gynaecological) implements (both great and small) – most of it hard to keep in the mind when it’s spread across vendors’ stalls going in all possible directions.

When the senses are bombarded by the immediacy of these myriad…things.

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I am convinced that much of the stuff is haunted, or at least cursed in some nefarious way. No monkey’s paws (not yet) but a few purported “shrunken heads” have popped up here and there. The implication of such a thing is bad enough; the sustained drive to covet it…well, what isn’t for sale these days?

The antiques, such as they are – and there is a fair amount of what may be termed “the good stuff” (vintage jewelry, beautifully hand-crafted furniture, some exquisite taxidermy, dishware of various shapes, sizes and hues, cute and/or elaborate butter stamps, etc.) – repeat themselves as you make your way from vendor to vendor. So many butter stamps. Endless bowls and tureens. Tables and chairs and desks just everywhere.

This particular market, though (Christie Antique and Vintage Show, 26/05/18), and on this particular day, seemed primed for the peculiar and the unsettled.

All of the above-mentioned junk above, with all its attendant weird angles, strange proportions and unreasonable scale. But also brief pockets of lucidity, in which the heads, horns and assorted aberrances receded into everyday folk art, books, china, rugs and lamps.

Daymare (noun): a frightening or oppressive trance or hallucinatory condition experienced while awake.

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Oppressive heat; unrelenting humidity for all that it was a supposed spring day too, though the clouds and gentle wind provided intermittent relief.

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Many “vintage” photographs with dead faces staring out not unpleasantly. A lot of inexplicable nudity (not all of it pleasant). Some tantalizing glimpses of nostalgic charm (in the form of, say, a freezer bag full of He-Man action figures or a neat pile of gently used sets of Operation).

A heady sense of timelessness in which minutes turned into hours turned into minutes turned into that second I looked away and then insides were out and on display.

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Overpriced refreshments, and even then barely enough of them.

On and on as they day wore on, and wore thin.

No relief, and then some.

There’s another CA&VS in the fall (08/09/18) . Rain or shine! Will I be there?

I’m beginning to think I never left…

 

 

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Filed under Dreams, Events, Friends, Interruptions, Places

The Chubbalobster

A friend texted me “Chubbalobster” the other day. Monday of this week, in fact.

I can’t get into the specifics of the Chubbalobster right now. But I will tell you it was a, sort of, brain hiccup we had during our undergraduate years. We were anthropology students strung out on ethnographic method! It was bound to happen – this perfect collision (or is that collusion?) of manic giddiness and prostrate misery that resulted in a thing called (for whatever reason) the “Chubbalobster”…and then just as easily, it seems, utterly forgotten.

But the other day, it popped into his head.

Chubbalobster!

“So what WAS a Chubbalobster?”

Damned if I knew.

He told me that I drew it once. Did I? And then I realized that he was right: I did. I did draw it, once. Once upon a time I drew a – I drew the Chubbalobster. I’d just totally forgotten about it. Or rather, I failed to remember.

Very different.

So I drew it again, the Chubbalobster, to see if I could. But now I realize that this rendering of the Chubbalobster may or may not come close to approximating the original.

Chubbalobster

Doesn’t it? Or does it? I just have no real idea. Neither does my friend. But it is a Chubbalobster if not the Chubbalobster and that will have to be enough for everybody.

Chubbalobster. It’s been years and years. Years since I’ve remembered, years since that particular neural pathway has been fired up, years in which you, Chubbalobster, and for all intents and purposes, did not exist.

And yet, and then: “I think you drew it once didn’t you?”

***

A working definition of Chubbalobster, now that I’ve got some bearing on it:

[Chubbalobster: Among the things from your past pulled from other people’s memories.]

I am not sure if I am comforted by that.

Confounded, surely. Yes, without a doubt.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Animals, Friends, Language, Names, Words

To Death

At a certain indefinite point, I became, and remain, wary whenever someone invokes someone else’s name in relation to my memory of that person:

“Do you remember X?”

Yes, or no. Maybe?

“They died.”

This keeps happening: I learned my mother’s cousin died this way. I learned a friend died this way. I learned two former co-workers died this way. And another friend; they died this way.

One way or another, they died this way:

“Do you remember X?”

“They died.”

I learned a stranger’s friend died this way while she was speaking to another friend as we all rode the streetcar together:

“Do you remember X?”

Yes (in this case, yes).

“They died.”

I say wary. Wary, yes, but not offended, or indignant, or upset. Just primed now, for the inevitable.

***

There are, I suppose, other ways to learn that someone’s died, but they seem to be lacking in conviction (if not intentionality):

I have some terrible news. There’s something I need to tell you. This isn’t going to be easy, but…

Maybe not conviction, then, but something closer to certitude, declaration…substantiation. Status. All of these things and not one of them.

They died.

Alternatively:

They’ve passed. They are no longer with us. They’ve been called home.

Again seems lacking; again seems beside the point.

(Are you sure?)

(“Home.” There’s that word again. Home.)

They died.

If there’s a better way to say it, I’ve not heard it.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Death, Family, Friends, Language