Monday, 7 December 2015

Make them cry

It was the second last day of Carla's visit with her sister Angela, Angela's husband George and their two children, three-year old Marie and ten-year old George Junior.

Junior, as his family called him, was a smart-mouthed, malicious little monster. The kind of kid who thought nothing of ripping the legs off spiders or the wings off butterflies. The kind of kid who, if he hadn't already, would someday take a shovel and smack a live frog like it was a baseball.

Carla was the only one who called him Georgie. Georgie Porgie. Georgie Porgie, puddin' 'n pie, kissed the girls and made them cry / When the boys came out to play, Georgie Porgie ran away!

Carla knew it wasn't right to taunt a child, let alone hate one. Nevertheless, she despised her nephew intensely.

After a shopping trip with Angela—during which it was left to Carla to amuse an unamuseable Marie while her sister tried on outfit after outfit in store after store asking each time whether this or that made her look fat—Carla grabbed a beer from the fridge and retreated to the guest room.

Carla kicked off her shoes, twisted off the beer cap and took a swig. She toed the door shut. She opened the balcony doors and took a seat on one of the wicker chairs outside. She looked out at the ravine for a minute then reached beneath the chair and retrieved an empty beer bottle, her ashtray. She smoked a cigarette and popped the butt into the empty bottle, then took a pack of chips from her purse, opened them and wolfed them down. She gargled with beer to dislodge the potato mush that stuck to her teeth.

The sun was setting and the afternoon had grown cooler and windier. A sudden gust blew the balcony doors inward and Carla started at the sound of a door slamming. She turned and started again. Sitting in the middle of the duvet, picking his filthy fingernails, was George Junior.

"Christ! You scared the shit outta me!" Carla grabbed her cigarettes and lit one.

"You said shit! You said shit!"

"Make yourself useful," Carla said. "Go get me another beer."

"Get it yourself. 'Sides, Dad says you drink too much of his beer."

She knew it was wrong to want to scare the bejesus out Georgie Porgie but she did. Oh God, how she did! Short of backhanding him with all of her rings on, she thought, frightening him half to death would be the next best thing, maybe even better. It might do a little long-term damage. But how?

And she knew that that was even more wrong. A smack is a smack. Most kids get over those. Scarring a psyche was just plain mean.

Once George Junior realized that his aunt wasn't going to say anything about him saying shit, twice, he said, "You're not allowed to smoke in the house."

"I'm not in the house, am I?" Carla said, a little nastily. She blew smoke in his direction but the wind shifted and the smoke drifted to the other side of the room. She adjusted her chair. She watched her nephew pick at his fingernails a while longer, using the time to entertain a few pleasant scenarios, well, pleasant for her, when he said something that gave her a delicious idea.

"My mom's got enormous knockers. What happened to yours?"

Carla savoured the moment. The anticipation of his terrified white face. He might even cry! Or wet himself. She dropped the cigarette in the beer bottle and heard the heater sizzle as it hit the bottom. She stood up and faced her nephew.

"You really want to know?" she asked. She stood framed in the doorway, the wind ruffling her dark curly brown hair. She glanced over her shoulder. Thunderclouds were piling into one another and she could smell rain in the air. Far off she heard a low rumble.

At the thunder George Junior looked up from his fingernails and past his aunt to the slate grey sky. An ever-so-slight look of panic crossed his face but he recovered and shrugged. "Sure."

"It was about ten years ago," Carla began, lighting another cigarette. "The year you were born, in fact."

George Junior didn't especially like his Aunt Carla. She called him Georgie Porgie and although she had never said it, he knew that she hated him because he was fat. This was, in fact, not true at all. Carla despised him not his weight. She was, however, the most interesting relative he had. She smoked and drank and wore "outrageous outfits," according to his mother.

"Do you know what a mammogram is?" Carla asked.

"Yeah," he said. He didn't. This wasn't turning out as interesting as he'd hoped. When she hadn't freaked over him saying shit, he had upped the ante with knockers, but she still hadn't taken the bait.

"Oh I don't think you do," she said. She smoked her cigarette, biding her time. "A mammogram," she finally continued, "is a medical procedure. Women have it done to see if their br—knockers are healthy."

George Junior's eyebrows twitched in puzzlement but he kept his questions to himself. Sheet lightning lit up the sky and aunt and nephew silently, and unknown to the other, counted the seconds.

One, two, three, four, five. Thunder.

"Turns out, mine weren't. Healthy that is."



One, two, three, four. Thunder. A little louder this time.  A little closer.

"That's hard to explain but I knew for sure when I had that mammogram." She paused and her nephew didn't disappoint. Children could be so easily led.

"Why? What happened?" George Junior sat up on his knees. He leaned forward, his fingernails forgotten.

"I had to go to the hospital and have them checked by a machine."

Carla stepped into the room and moved toward the bed.

"A machine?" George Junior tried to imagine what a machine that checked knockers would look like.

"Hmm hmm. A machine."


One, two, three. Very loud. Tree branches thrashed dangerously in the wind and Carla could hear her sister's wind chimes jingling frantically on the porch below.

"They put my knockers in the machine. It was like a vice," Carla said, coming up to the edge of the bed. She bent over her nephew, grabbed her small breasts in her hands and squeezed them together.


She stood up.


"Flattened 'em!"


"Blew 'em out like a tire!"


Carla clapped her hands together in front of her nephew's face as the thunder boomed. George Junior screeched and fell backwards off the bed.

Carla crawled slowly onto the mattress and looked over the side. Her nephew was sprawled on the floor, his shirt untucked. He was panting. She leaned over and pointed a finger close to his crotch.

"Imagine having your balls squished. In a vice."

As Carla smacked her hands together again the sharp crack of thunder was a rifle shot out of nowhere. No lightning had foretold its arrival.

George Junior bolted for the door, flailing at the doorknob, and screaming for his mother.

"Oh Georgie Porgie," Carla called after him. "Grab me another beer, won't you?"

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

The evolution of a dust bunny: Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

Day 7

Day 8

Day 9

Day 10

The death of a dust bunny

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Everything is someone

Everything is beautiful to someone
Every inch and every mile, every person every smile
Wherever you might roam, you’ll always find a home because
Everything is beautiful to someone.

Everything is wonderful to someone
The ugliest little dog, a mosquito-ridden bog
It doesn't matter what it is, it could be hers, it could be his
With so much from which to choose, you cannot ever lose because
Everything is wonderful to someone.

Everything is marvelous to someone
A stinky, filthy stock, a piano tune by Bach
It could be anything you dream, or a vanilla cone from the Dairy Queen
With a world of things to see, you are loved just like me
Because everything is marvelous to someone

Everything is beautiful to someone
Every square and every round, every sight and every sound
The trick is to truly see all the beauty that is free because

Everything is beautiful to someone.

Friday, 9 January 2015

Meditations while cleaning house

If there were money in dust bunnies, I'd be a billionaire
I'd grow fat off the profits that grow from the locks of my hair

I'd buy diamonds galore with the fluff from the floor
And cat fur would pay for my house

I'd go on great trips via planes, trains and ships
And I'd spend all my nights getting soused.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

It’s Christmas

I know it’s Christmas if someone is trying to fob off a tin of cookies on me. The cookies I don’t mind, but what’s all this business of giving me tin after tin, year after year? What am I supposed to do with 127 cookie tins of various shapes and sizes? Build condos for the neighbourhood squirrels? Insulate my walls? Sell them on eBay?

It’s Christmas if I suddenly get the urge to poke inflated snowmen and Santas with a sharp stick while simultaneously critiquing my neighbours’ light displays, or lack thereof in some cases. I mean, c’mon—what’s with the houses with the single string of lights? If you’re only gonna do one string, why even bother? It’s not like these people do anything interesting with that one string either, like use it to strangle a garden gnome or give Jesus’ manger running lights.

I don’t hang lights. If I did some schmuck like me would come along and sneer down her nose at my LED splendor. Much better to be the sneerer than the sneeree. Besides, my neighbours can sneer all they like at the mess of my front yard spring through fall.

It’s Christmas if my husband is receiving at least fifteen packages in the mail every day that I either have to sign for, pay for, lug, tug, or drag into the living room, or otherwise deal with. I know all the courier guys by name. One of the perils of working at home, while living with a geek who has an outside job and likes to shop online, is that one becomes a de facto personal assistant. Signing for mail, relaying calls, foiling murder plots, that sort of thing.

I also know it’s Christmas if I need emergency dental work from grinding my teeth so hard whenever I hear “Every time a bell rings an angel gets its wings!” that they shatter. Seriously, don’t you just want to smack the crap outta that little girl in It’s a Wonderful Life? That annoying nasality combined with the icky sweetness of ringlets. I want to punch her hard in the face then set fire to her friggin’ petals.

It’s Christmas if everyone is suddenly nice to me for no apparent reason but then turn ugly the moment I reach for that last Toblerone. Scratch that. I’m not all that fond of Toblerone. I eat it because it’s a sin to waste chocolate, but I’m not fond of how the nougat sticks in my teeth. So ... It’s Christmas if everyone is suddenly nice to me for no apparent reason but then turn ugly the moment I reach for that last block of on-sale Philadelphia™ cream cheese.

But I also know it’s Christmas by some of the cards and holiday letters we get. For a few years, my sister-in-law sent us ones with an evil-looking drunk Santa singing in the gutter on the front. One year, my friend Peter sent one with Adolph Hitler, in classic raised-arm Nazi salute on the front; the inside read “Heil be home for Christmas.” These cards are in return for the odd (and sometimes sacrilegious) Christmas greetings we’ve been sending out now for more than 20 years. Each year, we spend at least a month or so doctoring cheesy boxed Christmas cards with conversation bubbles from the Saturday comics; the inside messages are similarly doctored with the help of donated magazines.

Christmas letters from friends and family far away keep me up to date and with what their children look like or in some cases do. The son of a friend of mine broke his arm three years running and to make up for not breaking it last year, he instead devised a banner with felt lions and bears and the words “Jesus is awesome” emblazoned on it for his first Communion. Apparently, the priest “loved the lions”.

Christmas is the best and the worst holiday of the year. It’s always great to reconnect with friends and family and the food is always good. But there never seems to be enough time to do anything and the season always makes me anxious. We have no children and don’t have to travel anywhere but the stress coming off other people seems to osmote straight into me. Don’t even get me started on the folks who start lining up outside stores on Christmas night for the Boxing Day sales.

Christmas is now over for another year.  I’ll put the Christmas card craft boxes in storage, set aside my sharpened stick for the next eleven months and hope to hell that the leaning tower of cookie tins that I’ve built in the basement doesn’t fall over in the middle of the night and freak out the cats.