My mother’s true teenagehood came when she was 45 and learned about my father’s mistress. She took her rage and dragged me, a bespectacled 17-year-old, to a St. Janvier cowboy bar. Was I supposed to enjoy watching her pick up all those Jean Pierres? Was I to study her technique as she necked with a trucker named Denis? How did she do it? I never could. Sure guys asked me to dance, switching from French before I said anything, as if “Anglais” was written on my forehead. But nothing else happened. I was too busy being the adult.
She had a dog that looked like mine.
“Where did your dog come from?” It sprang from my mouth before I sussed that she was a nutter.
“Turtle Island, like us all,” she replied. And fixing a crazy gimlet on me for a once-over added, “I've always admired the wisdom of your people . . .”
I was confused. My people? My people came from a trailer park. And then it dawned on me . . . Big green parka . . . two huskies . . . long black braid. I was her idea of Tantoo Cardinal. It was time to cracker-up my winter look before my real ’Nish friends got wind of this.
This whole mating-for-life thing is for the birds—literally.
Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’m pretty happy with the actual mating part, it’s those long months in between when I’m still all lovey-dovey, and the missus keeps putting me off. Not tonight, dear. I’m brooding.
So, one more season I’ve resigned myself to stick around through all that nesting, migrating, and moulting. But here’s the thing that really puts a crimp in my cloaca: If us mallards are forced to be just as monogamous as anyone else, why is it the so-called Love Birds get all the adulation?
We met during the great snowy owl irruption of ’08. It was the length of his spotting scope that first attracted me. He said I had a great pair of binoculars. Heart aflutter, I blushed like a roseate spoonbill. His sexy loon call, soft pishing and ability to tell a pewee from a flycatcher drove me wild. I dreamed he asked me to merge our life lists. He drove me to the dump to count the vultures. I leaned forward expectantly. Our Tilley hats touched. Then that yellow-bellied sapsucker said: “It’s been fun, Chickadee, but I fly south tomorrow.”
The grey-blue smoke rose in twin channels from her nostrils, like that of a dragon. True Love? Je ne crois pas pour un instant! Marion sniffed and butted out her Chesterfield into one of the square glass ashtrays. Really, dating a 24-year old boy when she was…what was she? Forty-two! Sallup! And waltzing in on his willowy arm at a Knights of Columbus Christmas party of all places. Oh, mais elle manges la bravo, this divorcée, drinking her highball and leaving her hat on during dinner. This May-September circus act would not end well, and she would see to that.
For the 95 minutes of Two Days, One Night, it’s impossible to believe that Marion Cotillard is a member of the struggling Belgian precariat. Not with that opening shot of her slumped despondent on a outsized cushion whose hue so consumately matches her eyeshadow, and whose nubbly weave goes with a 100+ Euro price tag. There’s no need for her to go around begging her coworkers to give up their bonuses so that she can keep her solar panel factory job instead of falling through the cracks in the social contract. The solution is plain. Sell off the cushions, Marion.
Artie told me he’d never even heard of the ghosts at the bottom of Grenadier Pond. You know, all those soldiers who went marching through Howard’s Park on their way to fight the Americans, and they broke through the ice, and they drowned? He said it was bunk, that the battle was in April and the ice today would be a foot thick if it was an inch, and that he didn’t care anyway, because he and Roy Edwards were skipping the rest of the day to go skating, and that I couldn’t come.
That’s all I know, sir.
Based on this front page story from the late edition of The Toronto Daily Star. January 9, 1908. Image based on this by Prawny Vintage.
I saw them leave my sister’s party: two lean and graceful boys spinning out the back door. I tried to disappear, but they caught me with a snowball. Without a thought or a helmet, they jumped on the Skidoo and into the blizzard. Saturday morning the phone rings. My sister is pulled from sleep. I could picture it: darkness; snow in eddies and swirls; the mass of the Skidoo and occupants plus speed plus trajectory; the larger mass of the snow-hidden parked car; the boys, momentarily gravity free, shooting through cold space, pulled back down. She dropped the phone.
Dean Bergeron had a newsy nose and a knack for being in the right place at the right time. He and his Sears Solid State tape recorder were always first on the scene when the newsworthy struck Webbwood Estates. His range surpassed that of any other twelve-year old muckraker. One day he’d pen a frothy piece on Susie Campeau’s birthday soiree, or tug at heartstrings with a cautionary tale involving a dare, a pussy willow and Jimmy Blais’ ear canal. But when his instamatic captured Mrs. Gouin leaving the Knights of Columbus with Mr. Jobin, things got a little hard-boiled.
In Grade 11, The Poor Nam’s Almanac managed to publish three whole issues before the authorities started clamping down. The teacher behind our school’s official newspaper didn’t think we should be using school resources to mock the Red Knight Rider, and the vice-principal, Mr. Putnam, probably didn’t appreciate our homage to him in the masthead. And yet, to our credit, we simply rebranded issue four as the no-nam generic newsletter.
We were ever so cheeky back then: making fun of computer geeks, making fun of the stage crew. We even made fun of the swim team.
But football? No way.
H-two-Osium Subtractum (left)
by Roy Schulze. April, 1978.
“Allahu akbar.” God is great. I’m pretty sure that’s true, if He exists. But really, does He want to hear it every time some whacko kills a cartoonist or kidnaps a schoolgirl or blows a flock of human lambs to tiny shredded bits? I think it must annoy Him, for God must be a deep thinker, given He thought up absolutely everything. It must be galling to have some crazed misguided fool invoke your name as justification for whatever hateful task he’s set himself. In this, no one’s hands are clean. I’m looking at you, holy fundamentalist of any stripe.