Sunday, 19 May 2013

Sweet Caroline

It is a universal truth that no matter where you are in the world--whether on a crowded dance floor or alone in a padded room--if you sing the first two words of the chorus to Neil Diamond's Sweet Caroline, no fewer than two dozen voices will holler back: Ba, ba, ba.

Seeing Red

Mike pedals his screaming yellow mountain bike down the hot black arterial.

A side street. A Passat, painted that ubiquitously boring grey of all cars today.  A driver fails to look left. Turns right.

Mike brakes hard, avoiding the rear door by a hair.  Adrenaline fills him. He sees red.

Driver continues, oblivious.

A pity, really. The 28-year old, whose last act in life was to touch up her frosted pink lipstick, had so much to live for.


Susan was the neighbourhood's old biddy and a fiercely protective birder. In the woods where she lurked, spying on birds, Susan flushed out teenagers caught smoking, drinking and carousing; she would upbraid berry pickers and ball players and the owners of unruly dogs. She was killed, while striding after a standard poodle and its owner, waving a bag of feces before her, when a sugar maple branch fell and conked her right on the head.

The Teapot

After a day of rain, it had taken well over an hour to get the fire going. Towels and bathing suits hung over canvass-backed chairs and the firewood laid out to dry. While my sister crouched in the bushes to pee, I tossed tea bags and boiling water into my teapot. I saw her scan the skies, stand and rush back to the campsite, pants undone, a wall of water pursuing her. She rushed frantically, to and fro, throwing towels and suits and chairs into the van. I stood beneath the tent awning, holding my teapot, watching it rain.

Bare Bears?

Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear
Fuzzy Wuzzy had no hair
Fuzzy Wuzzy wasn't fuzzy,
Was he?

I had never heard of a bare bear until learning from a man on the bus about the hairless Chihuahua bear of Borneo. My fellow passenger told me that it has eyebrows, shivers continuously, has a fondness for designer handbags, and always looks "a bit shifty." The things you learn on public transit.

Obey the Butterfly

Vintage butterfly
Natural History
of British
James Duncan, 1840.
Jim hated butterflies. Whenever he saw one, he would curse it a blue streak then wait for a reply. No butterfly ever responded. One day, however, after a particularly withering tirade at a swallowtail, Jim asked his object of invective a question: "Why do you take my verbal abuse?" "I don't," said the evil butterfly, plunging its razor sharp proboscis into Jim's arm, instantly killing him. You can only push a butterfly so far.


Two skanks battled on Pamela's lawn one Wednesday afternoon in September. Vitriol gave way to hair pulling, which gave way to a spontaneously-choreographed, slow-motion collapse to the pavement. Bottle blonde and Koolaid® blue hair seeped through their knuckles and they lay face-to-face on the warm asphalt, neither loosening her grip. Pamela looked at her watch. Thirteen long minutes passed, then she turned the hose on them.


Frances had a Grow-Up Skipper doll when she was 10 and had no boobies. By raising and lowering one of the doll's arms, Skipper would grow taller by a few millimetres and two boobies would thrust from her chest. Frances would spend hours alone in her bedroom, frantically raising and lowering her arm. She still doesn't have much in the way of boobies, but she was her high school softball team's star pitcher.


We are all  a lot of things; a walking dollar sign should not be one of them. Sadly, our take-it-all world no longer views us as citizens or patients or customers. We are consumers: of government, of health care, of goods and services. We are not names or faces or voices. Yet even as we bemoan the ills of society, and say we understand—or even know—how to fix them, we blithely continue shopping.