small town roughs

Image from Baby Animal Zoo

We had just finished setting up our tent in among the buildings, although the buildings were in the wrong configuration. It was a farm I’d never been to before, in the disguise of one that, were I a bitter, unforgiving soul, I would charge with having taken too many lives. A couple of fox kittens trotted in to the clearing we’d chosen, and allowed themselves to be handled and played with, their mother, beside a bin, watching warily with bared teeth.

The kits trundled off and we zipped up our flaps and made our way into town for a bite at the Chinese café. And this is where things got weird. Upon arrival, the owner’s son – a young guy who looked just like his father 40 years and 100 pounds earlier – glared at me and told me I had some nerve showing up there. I told him I didn’t know what he was talking about. Didn’t really even know the guy, except that my father had pointed him out to me.

He said, “that case you left caused a lot of problems.”

“What case?” I asked. I mean. The last time I’d been at the restaurant was nearly a year ago, at harvest.

“Don’t play innocent with me, bitch. The case you got from -” He cut himself short when he saw the kids behind me. “My mistake,” he said, still glaring pointedly at me. “I have confused you with someone else.” Then he leaned toward me and whispered “You come and get the case later. I don’t want your problems.”

Mystified, I let the children go ahead of me as he seated us between the window and the top of the staircase in a part of the restaurant that has never existed.

“What was that about?” The Fenris Wolf asked.

“I have no idea,” I told him, although there was something in the back of my head, some niggling thing that seemed to indicate that Lord V would know what this guy was on about. Which, of course, in the manner of these sorts of things, is probably why he was already waiting for us at our table.

It had been a while since I’d seen him, and although he hadn’t changed much, I was struck by how inertia can hold a man to a place and keep him just “same” enough so as to be nearly on the edge – but not quite – of stagnation. Still a fine fellow. Still quick as a whip. The kids didn’t recognize him at first, but that changed soon enough. We ate our dinners and were joined by the Tall Man and that, altogether was Quite Nice.

Then “Kenny, the Chinaman’s Son”, as the townspeople called him, came back to the table carrying a small red plastic case. The kind that would have held a portable typewriter perhaps, or that a child might have used as a suitcase. He glared at me again, recovering quickly enough for a smile at the others at our table. “You forgot this last time you were here,” he said, and tucked the case between my chair and the table leg. “Don’t let them find it,” he whispered as he bent to wedge it in there. “And don’t come back.”

I knew, as my foot nudged the corner of the case, that it was full of drugs. Nothing major, really, just a pound or so of weed. It was enough to put me in the clink, of course, but, predictably, it wasn’t mine. It had been left behind by someone whose table was near mine, someone I’d known as a teenager, but whose life diverged drastically from mine after the summer we were both 14. “This isn’t -” I began, but Kenny was gone.

I excused myself for a moment, rose from the table, and went downstairs to find him. I needed to tell him the case wasn’t mine, that he should just call the police and have done with it. The main floor of the restaurant was dark, the only noises coming from the basement kitchen (which has, of course, never been there). I followed the sounds, heard low voices speaking what I assumed to be Chinese. I chastised myself for never asking where Kenny’s family was from; which of the Chinese dialects/languages he spoke.

The sound of the door chime snapped me out of myself, and I ran up the stairs. A half dozen men stood by the till, their backs to me. They looked like a cast of characters from a true crime expose on the Tong. I slipped around the corner and upstairs to our table. I took the case, my purse, and my jacket.

“Be silent,” I whispered, “take your plates, your things, and come with me.”

This must be the first time in the history of having a family and friends listened to me and did exactly as I said. We all filed in to a little-used upstairs prep kitchen. Several staff members were there, shuffling nervously and glancing at one another with wide eyes. Through low windows we saw a half dozen souped-up cars with tinted windows, left running. I told the children to get under the long stainless steel table and work themselves in behind some boxes.

I slid the case between a cooler and the wall and myself crouched under the table. The Fenris Wolf, The Tall Man, and Lord V stood and watched out the window. Voices from downstairs rose, fell, shouted. Footsteps on the stairs in the dining room. The tension in the prep kitchen was palpable. I saw beads of sweat on the temples of every person in that room.

Then, as quickly as it had begun, it was over. The cars squealed away from the parking lot, the employees in the prep kitchen wilted like unwatered seedlings, and The Tall Man exclaimed “what the fuck was that about?”

I woke, thinking this would make an excellent start to a NaNoWriMo novel. Some names may have to be changed to protect the intercedant.

It’s been….

IMG_3863.JPG

I dreamt of you last night. We were in the garage in your home town, sitting on an old brown couch with a bunch of our friends. Your sister was there – in fact it was her I was visiting, dropping off some of your abandoned things and collecting some of my own. A few discs, my old books, a scarf.

Then you showed up with your lover. We weren’t expecting you home, your family and I, and it was uncomfortable. Mostly I just wanted to leave so that you could get on with your life but it had been so long since I’d seen your date that I thought it would be best if we at least had a few minutes to catch up.

IMG_7787.JPGI tried to be nice, accommodating. I tried to stay out of your way. On the surface it was because I knew you just didn’t want to be near me, but deep underneath all the bravado and posturing it was because seeing you hurt. I couldn’t look at you because it hurt so much. And we hadn’t even been lovers.

You kept glaring at me until finally it was too unbearable. I rose to leave and made my farewells. I quietly said goodbye to you, looking away. “I talked to a few people from your past, you know,” you said. Your voice was clipped, your mouth hard-set.

“Pardon?” These were the first words you’d spoken to me in so long. I wasn’t prepared.

“Yeah. Chan told me all about how you treated him. I talked to Vin too, and Marie. I know your MO. You’re not as clever as you think you are.”

“I-”

“Don’t try to argue. That’ll just make you look even more pathetic. Just go. Leave me and my family alone. You’re a horrible person, and I’m sad I ever let you sucker me in to whatever that was.”

I opened my mouth; I was going to apologise, not argue. I knew you were right. I’d tried to apologise so many times, but some things can’t be fixed.

I woke knowing we are so far apart, even further than the distance between us. I woke with the sound of your voice resonant in my ears. Even though I knew I had done everything I could do, I woke thinking I should have done more.

What a shitty morning.

Shaking my confidence daily

“Desire” by Pino
http://www.pino-artist.com


I was just thinking…wondering, actually, how many blog posts I’ve begun with the word “Sometimes”. Because I was just about to begin this one with that particular adjective. Not that that matters; I was just wondering.

This is tough to explain, but I’m going to try to do it anyway. I became very close friends with a clever, vivacious girl who was quick to laugh and whose company I enjoyed very much. Looking back now, with the clarity of many years and rather a lot of distance, I understand that I was in love with her a little.

A lot.

I didn’t have a lot of language to describe the feelings I had for the girls and women I had crushes on. It’s not that bisexuality wasn’t a thing, and it’s not that I would have been afraid of the label. At that time, I was fairly active with LGBT folks…but rather it’s that I wasn’t prepared for how that relationship changed. How it went from ‘casual acquaintance I met through a friend’ to ‘someone I couldn’t stop thinking about’.

I fantasized about her frequently. This seemed normal to me also. When watching a romance plot in a movie, I usually fancied myself in the male’s role, and my friend – my crush – as the female lead. She was one of the first of my female friends I was physically and emotionally attracted to in a romantic sense. My feelings didn’t trouble me, but I wonder now if that’s because I didn’t recognise I was falling in love, or if it’s because of something else.

We spent most of our time together for a summer, and when I was home from school, I spent my free time with her. I’d ditch my boyfriend to see her, and didn’t clue in when he got jealous of the time I spent with her. I..don’t clue in to a lot of things.

Like when she moved out of her house and started dating a fellow, I was ragey. I didn’t know why I was ragey, but I was. Now I realise it’s because I was jealous. Granted, that fellow was a total douche, and he treated her horribly. But she also developed this habit of ditching the people who cared about her the most in favour of someone she thought was cooler, or who would be more fun. We’d make plans together, and at the last minute she’d cancel them because someone she’d met through her boyfriend wanted to go drinking. Or she would put off making a decision about spending time with her “best friends” until she heard whether or not the plans with the ‘cool kids’ were going ahead.

I accepted this behaviour, for the most part, because I loved her. Because I forgave what I thought of as little idiosyncracies, little slights. I tried to pretend I wasn’t upset with the way her boyfriend treated her. My standards might have been skewed. I might have thought fairly regularly of all the ways I’d treat her better than her boyfriend did. Even as I was stepping out with a new boyfriend of my own.

broken-heart-photo-from-www-21stcenturypoets-com_1Eventually, she broke my heart. It still hurts. It hurts more than almost all of my failed romantic relationships, partly because I never did tell her how I felt about her (very similar to the first person I fell in love with, actually). Partly because I was, and am, shocked at the utter disdain with which she treated me at what would become the end of our friendship.

She accused me of lying to her about a trivial thing. She accused me of being selfish and unthinking and uncaring of her own situation. She came up with every excuse in the book for why she could not uphold her end of a shared living arrangement, when if she had simply told me she’d changed her mind about part of it, we could have come to an alternate agreement. I don’t know if that would have salvaged our relationship or not, but I like to think it would have made a difference.

At the end, she had neither the grace nor the bravery to be honest with me, nor to be straightforward. She had her parents deal with uncomfortable details like the actual breaking of the contract on her behalf. I should be very clear here that nothing romantic ever happened between us, and I never told her how I felt about her – mostly because, I suppose, I never knew myself. So to this day, I don’t really understand why she did what she did.

I spent weeks – months, more likely – in tears because of what I thought of as her betrayal. My lover was confused; to him, it was a simple change of plans. He acknowledged that she’d been rude and petty, but he didn’t understand why I was so upset. So angry. So sad. He said, “just let it go; it’s not worth your time or all of this energy and emotion. She’s not worth it.”

I suppose I’ve never forgiven her either. It seems so trivial on the surface; she broke a promise and that ended our friendship. She never apologized. In fact, she claimed our falling-out was my fault for not understanding what she had not made known. Not even a simple “I’m sorry” unless it was followed by “but you”. No apology for breaking the promise, not for hurting me, and certainly not for breaking my heart (she never knew she held it in the first place). She was brazen and self-centred. She was a narcissist and a hedonist. She was quick-witted and full of life and beautiful.

She’s not worth it.

I didn’t then, and still don’t, open my heart easily. When I do, I tend to give everything. I trusted her implicitly and explicitly. I believed in her. I respected her. I suppose what hurt the most was that she could just…cast me aside so easily.

victorian_house_by_sarah3318 I mention this now because I dreamt of her last night. It was the first time in many, many years I’ve dreamt of her. I visited her in a sprawling, Victorian home near the sea. Many of the rooms were made up like nurseries, and when I asked if she was expecting, her eyes filled with tears and I suddenly knew she’d miscarried.

She was not as young as she was the last time we spoke; she’d aged, just like I have. I know her husband, and halfway through the dream he came home as well and we shared laughter. But I was uncomfortable with him. I felt like he could tell just from being near me that I had loved his wife once. That more than likely, I still did.

Her back was to me as she prepared desserts for us to share, and I watched her. She still moved with an awkward sensuousness, that of a dancer forced to wear heavy workboots. She worked without speaking, and I took in every movement, every nuance of broken grace. I felt my throat tighten and heat come to my cheeks. I bolted from the table, up the stairs to the bathroom and washed my face in cool water.

The voice at the door moments later was her husband’s. I told him I was fine, that I’d be down in just a moment. On the way back downstairs, I touched every wall and turned every doorknob. Then she was there in the nursery with me, laughing at something I’d missed, and although I wanted to laugh with her, I was overcome by her cruelty once more. I turned my back on her, told her husband it had been good to see him again and wished him the best.

I woke with the familiar pain of her turning away from me searing my chest. With the knowledge that the reason it hurt so much was because I loved her. That I was having to accept how much I cared before I could ever accept that there was no way she could have returned my feelings. That it was precisely because of how deeply I loved her that her complete disregard of me (not just of my feelings, but her complete turning away from me) tore me up. Essentially, she broke up with me, and we’d never even dated. She made it very clear that her new friends were cooler, more exciting, and more dear to her than I was. And it was easy for her to do that. It was easy for her to just…walk away.

It has never been easy for me. Not since that day nearly 20 years ago when her father phoned me up and told me that she had changed her plans. She’d lied to her dad (a man I thought, up until that moment, a great deal of) and had told him that I’d pressured her in to making a decision (I’d not talked to her more than twice about this, and neither time had I demanded anything of her), so when he had me on the phone, he berated me for being unfair to his daughter. He told me he thought I was better than that. He told me he never thought I’d treat his daughter that poorly. I didn’t even try to defend myself. I just listened to what he said, tears burning paths into my face, and said “all right,” at the end of it all.

I have seen her once since then. Twice, if you count last night’s dream. We were never again friends. I lost far more than she did.

 

Insane in the Membrane

So, one of the things I love is swimming in lakes. I also love swimming in oceans. I have never tried swimming in a sea, but I’m sure I’d love that too. We’d spent the day kind of at the beach. The boys were all fishing, and the water was so clear that I could point to schools of fish and say “there’s a school of pickerel heading your way; huge jackfish, two o’clock”. I think I even saw a sturgeon, but it’s tough to tell because it was pretty deep in that particular part of the lake. It was as clear as the lake in Prince Caspian; as clear as Thoreau’s Walden Pond. And it was golden in the sun and emerald green out where the sturgeon hid.

And I have to tell you, the guys were awesome. They’d rigged up a rather intricate (for beach-side horsing around) pulley system by which they’d drag us on an inner tube through the water, via an ATV on the grassy shore. We had…a considerable number of collisions. Nobody seemed to mind. I was the only girl there. And in case you’re wondering if the fellows from Duck Dynasty are as awesome in real life as they are on teevee, I’m here to tell you that they most certainly are.

After our day at the lake, we went back to Phil and Miss Kay’s house where everyone was staying for the summer. In the middle of the night, I woke up because I had to go to the loo (owing to all the water I drank at the beach of course, and throughout dinner), but I didn’t want to wake anyone by flushing so I snuck outside to use the biffy in the back. Of COURSE they have a biffy in the back. Have you even ever *watched* that program?

Well at one point, I walked by a tree that was covered in cobwebs. I didn’t really mind; I skirted around it, but by the time I was on my way back, I was in an alley and the tree was in the middle of the alley and there were high, dense caragana bushes to either side of the tree so the only way I could get past it to get back to the house was to duck underneath it. On the one side was a ridiculously enormous spider that kept *looking at me* every time I considered ducking under its web. It looked at me with malicious intent. It was all “go ahead, emmer-effer. Walk under my web. I mean, this spider was GIGANTIC. At LEAST the size of both of my palms put together. And it was sentient. So…

I didn’t want to take my life into my hands, so I examined the other side of the tree. It was covered in cobwebs, but it looked a lot safer, so I blasted through and began brushing the cobwebs off as I walked up the path to the door. Under the orange glow of a sodium lamp, I noticed that bits of the web were still clinging to me. I tried brushing them off, but they moved. It didn’t take long for me to realize I’d walked through the spider’s nest. I was now covered in millions of baby sentient spiders.

Some people would have the wherewithal to somehow strike up a favourable relationship with the spider babies. I, however, began making that half-croaking, half-whining sound you make when your legs are about to turn to jelly. It’s the “I skipped all the preliminary parts of the flight-or-fight response, and now I’m just going to lay down and die” part of your monkey brain fighting with the “eff that noise, I’m’a light myself on fire first” part of the lizard brain. I managed to get into the house, figuring that all I really needed was a scalding hot shower and that would drown the frigging spider babies. I did not feel the least amount of guilt at annihilating millions of sentient life forms, and I thank you for that, Captain James T. Kirk.

But because Willy and Jase Robertson and I had been out drinking the previous night (after the beach)…well…actually, they were the ones drinking. I was just watching their beards…the lavatories in the house were all…occupied. The only one left open was Phil and Miss Kay’s private lavatory. I didn’t want to wake them, and I knew they’d been watching television (I’d seen it through the window out back as I went to the biffy), so I snuck into their master bedroom and into their en suite.

With the lights on, it became apparent that it wasn’t spiders I was covered in, but millions of strange black beetles with hourglass-red markings on their carapices. Yes, I realise that normally that would be a black widow thing, but these were beetles. I could hear the clicking noise their chitin made as they shuffled their wings. And when I brushed at them, they’d fly away and then land on me again. That’s when they started to bite.

I got my shirt off without all of the bugs getting in my hair, and I managed to shimmy out of my shorts and underthings (I don’t know why I was sleeping fully dressed. It was, quite honestly, the weirdest part of my dream). Just before I was about to step into the shower, the door began to open. I leapt behind it and peered around to see Phil Robertson standing there, scowling his scowly scowl.

“I went outside,” I told him, near panic tears. “And walked through a cobweb and now there’s all these beetles, and they’re horrible and…”

He lifted an eyebrow, glanced at my pile of clothes crawling with beetles, and looked back at me.

“Also, I’m naked. I don’t know if you care about that sort of thing. I don’t.”

He half-shrugged, walked over to the counter and opened what I thought was a cupboard. “Get in here,” he said. “I’ll fix this all up.”

I didn’t think it would be prudent to argue with Mr. Phil Robertson, so I ducked inside this cabinet, which turned out to be cramped, but not entirely uncomfortable. The doors were a smoky glass, kind of like a sauna. I heard a popping sound, then a hiss, and the little room began to fill with smoke. Somehow, I could breathe just fine, and I watched as the beetles began to fall off of my body and writhe on the floor. Some had attached themselves to my flesh, and I had to scrape them off with the side of a piece of wood. I pulled out the ones that had attached themselves to my scalp, and to the back of my neck, taking chunks of flesh with them.

I stayed in the smoker box until all of the bugs were dead and off of my body. When I got out, I showered off and asked Phil how to clean the smoker box out. He just shook his head and said, “don’t worry about that, now”, and shooed me out of his room. I headed outside, eager to sit in the sun. And to my surprise, discovered that the Robertson house was situated on a college campus. A college campus with a large Roman stone amphitheatre. A college campus with a large Roman amphitheatre which was currently being used to produce Monty Python’s “King Arthur and the Quest for the Holy Grail”. Through which production I was now walking.

Knowing much of that particular production by heart, I recited some of it with the actors as I made my way across the stage. At the other side, I found my co-worker, and we sat down together to have coffee. She took one look at me and commented on my somewhat harried appearance. This was when my legs began to itch. I leaned down to scratch them and found that the skin was coming off.

Not in little flakes, either. The skin on my legs had been thoroughly cooked in the smoker, and was now crackling like turkey skin and coming away from the dermis beneath. Underneath, my dermis was pink and tender. I crackled the skin and slid my fingers beneath the rough surface to separate it from the new skin. I noticed, however, that the joint around my knee had come apart – not unlike what happens to joints of meat when they are roasted – inside were several pieces of tinfoil shoved into the joint itself, and the meat around the joint was teeming with maggots.

“Oh, hey, look at this,” I said to my co-worker. “My leg is full of maggots and tin foil and my skin’s coming off! Isn’t this cool?”

She did not think it was cool.

Museum Games

The road to home was frightful
But the whiskey was quite delightful
Home we did not go
Let it snow, blowing snow, blowing snow.

His Nibs and I had a mini-versary last night when there were DIRE WARNINGS about the state of the highways around the city. It was all very Stephen King. “RCMP advise you to NOT LEAVE THE CITY. Travel is NOT SAFE IN ANY DIRECTION. NOT EVEN STRAIGHT UP. RCMP further advise you not to burrow under the city like so many moles.”

Okay, those last two sentences totally weren’t on the advisories, but they ought to have been.

We could have taken the roads. We could have crawled home at 50km/h, trying to see the lines on the road and doing our best not to slide off the highway or follow the arse end of the car in front of us into the ditch. But instead we chose to have dinner and stay in a lovely hotel and have a mini-versary. In other words, we took the road less travelled. And that made all the difference.

I woke up in a museum. It was a Western Development Museum type place, with the majority of the exhibits out-of-doors. I woke up in a cot in one of the pioneer-village buildings. Smarty Pants was there also; he was directing people outside on the wooden sidewalk that ran past the little window of the bedroom, down below, on street level. I looked outside into the late autumn sky, and then down at the wide dust-strewn street below and was surprised to see so many faces I knew.

As it turned out, Smarty Pants and I were running a game together. This was either the beginning of the game when people were just showing up, or it was the end of the game when people were slowly dispersing. I ran downstairs to join him, and grabbed two tin cups of steaming coffee from the bartender (played by Kovbasa, who hasn’t updated his blog in a REALLY long time).

Out on the boardwalk, Smarty Pants was leaning against the wall of the Inn, rather than sitting on the long wooden bench below the window. I wondered briefly how I’d seen him here, under the walk-out balcony from the Inn’s second floor, when I’d been looking through the window of a room that didn’t open on to the balcony, but the fact didn’t concern me overmuch, and I soon forgot about it. Smarty Pants, looking debonair in his jeans and striped cambric shirt, wore a leather vest with a Sheriff’s badge pinned to it, and a black Stetson pulled low over his eyes. He was directing traffic by waiting until someone made eye contact with him, then nodding in the direction he wanted them to go. It was amazing.

He took the tin cup of coffee and winced at his first sip. The coffee was hot. “What’s the score?” I asked him.

He nodded toward the smithy. “I’m sending most of them over there to get their equipment sorted out. The ones that are already kitted out, I’m telling to head on in to the tavern here. We’ll get their character sheets and whatnot to them all at once so we don’t have to repeat ourselves.”

I laughed.

“Right,” he said, and winced again as he sipped his coffee. “So we don’t have to repeat ourselves too much.”

Snoozy and her Chairooby were there, Snoozy in her green brocade polonaise and Chairooby in the getup he donned for their wedding (along with some seriously amazing mutton chops). The Geek who Cooks and Marxymark had also come, both in period-appropriate and very fetching costume. The Geek who Cooks (TGwC) wore a lovely white linen chemise, tightly corseted in red brocade, with a full-length red and black walking skirt, while Marxymark had on a bit of a pretentious smoking jacket (if you must know the truth) with ruffed collar and sleeves, a striped waistcoat and trousers, and he had his pipe, which highlighted HIS mutton-chops quite nicely.

…at which point I began to wonder if this was actually a LARP called Muttonchops: the Sexifying…

TUO and R:tAG were there, he in his steampunk tophat and home-made waistcoat and breeches, She in the burgundy …I think it was also a polonaise she’s made, but I don’t remember. Lovely, at any rate. TUO also had The Mechanical Hand and the Ostrich. MrGod2U had a starring role as the town’s mayor, and he was gathering people up in the tavern to hand out their character sheets and to briefly go over some of the background of the game in-character. Wade’s character owned the Inn, and he’d taken up the best table in the Tavern, with Vi on his knee (insert comment here about Wade’s amazing mutton-chops and Vi’s taffeta with the cinched waist and puff sleeves). Des and Miss Cee owned the general store, Des in a striped shirt with arm garters, and well-fit (although somewhat threadbare) trousers; and Miss Cee in a high-collared cotton shirtwaist patterend with tiny forget-me-nots, the colour of which matched the striping on her seven-panel skirt.

The Rook and G attended. The Rook, playing the Blacksmith (who had, although no one in town knew this but Smarty Pants, MrGod2U, and my own self, Arcane Knowledge) and G was the county judge. Mr. T played the bank manager, The Baron played the local chemist, and Miss Jocie was our teacher, who, bless her soul, also taught Sunday School at the church. Mr. David Gaider ran the local newspaper. My Android was the grain agent. Clark Ferlak was a preacher. Miss Cori was the estranged daughter of a Big City Businessman who’d cut off her allowance. Destitute and stuck in this boomtown, she’d been forced to marry a local rancher, played by Silent Winged Coyote. SWC, in turn, had been kidnapped as a child by the Indians in the area, and when he was returned to his family on the ranch by the dutiful Sheriff (a man who since went missing under mysterious circumstances), had lost the ability to speak.

Jordan and Cindy ran the whorehouse in Wade’s character’s Inn, Emmanuel ran the dry goods store, and Black Pope Marlon IV owned the hardware. Alan was the dentist and my Actor was the doctor.

As people assembled, I began to get more and more nervous. Then Smarty Pants looked at me and said, “You needn’t worry. I hear a duck.”

I said, “What?”

And then woke up. Because I’d set my phone’s alarm ring to “duck”.

Residence

It’s not really communal living, is it? It’s just high-capacity living. I don’t even really know if you can call it “living”. I was 12 when my mother’s friend told me that the best two years of her life were the years she spent living in the dorms at university. I had no reason to doubt her. She lived in a castle.

I asked my aunt if she’d ever been a hippie in the sixties. She said, “I’ve never told anyone this, but in 1968, I found someone’s old basketball jersey in the laundry rooms when I was living in residence. I wore that goddamned thing for two months, and didn’t shave my armpits. That was as close as I ever want to get to being a hippie.”

198o-something, a news story comes out about a midget (or ‘really really short dude’) who was shoved down a rubbish chute in one of the residences. My father said, “Jesus, who would do that?” Turns out it was a bunch of upperclassmen Engineers who thought it would be funny to see if the fellow would fit. All accounts indicated the midget (“really really short dude”) was acquiescent – possibly even encouraging. Of course, now that we have invented terminology and analysis for things like bullying, we understand that there’s a good chance the dude just wanted to have a peer group and was so used to being pushed around because he was different, that he went along with the asinine plan. So, the upperclassmen engineers, who were all soused (from all accounts, everyone in the entire building was three sheets to the wind), stuffed him into the rubbish chute. No one, from all accounts, was sure what the engineers thought would happen when their inebriated patsy dropped several floors and then got wedged inside the chute, but I’m sure none of them assumed it would be a broken neck but not quite instant death. I’m sure none of them assumed he would end up suffocating in the rubbish.

My experiences in residence were certainly not like my mother’s friends. It was most decidedly NOT the best two and a half years of my life. I’m not built to live in that close proximity with so many people. And although it was nice to have food available to me for three squares, I’ve never really been much of a three squares person myself. Plus, the food was, by and large, horrific. I did not find an old basketball jersey in the laundry rooms. I did not live like a bohemian for two months. I never put a midget in the rubbish chute (although I did live in the residence where that happened, for three months).

Imagine my surprise, then, when last night, my co-worker arrived on campus to let me know she was going to use her credit card to pay for my residence fees and my meal plan. We spent some time together getting my photo ID card all done up and finding my horrid little mouse-hole of a room (which, thank God, I didn’t have to share with anyone). Imagine my further surprise when The Actor showed up at the cafeteria.

The Actor and I had a …well, the meal wasn’t lovely, but the company and the conversation was. I mentioned to him that in watching several episodes (two seasons’ worth, in fact) of Quantum Leap with the boys, that I had noted a resemblance between his own self (The Actor’s) and Scott Bakula. It was a resemblance that was most apparent in the episode where Sam Beckett leaped (leapt?) into the body of a private dick, and gambolled around wearing a fedora.

Most of the rest of what happened is lost now, but I’ve been in this residence and cafeteria multiple times in the last few months. The cafeteria isn’t entirely unlike the one at RCMP ‘F’ Division (Depot), and it isn’t entirely unlike Marquis Hall. The rooms aren’t entirely unlike Athabasca Hall, and they’re not entirely unlike Lady Dunn Hall. But they’re still residences. *shudder*

I’m not sure why I keep going back to residence. I should really prefer not to.

Charity

I’m not sure when “charity” became a bad word. “I’m no charity case” is one of those things people say when their pride gets in the way of common sense when you offer to help them in *something* (not just in financial matters). If you help someone when they need help, you are providing them with charity. What’s wrong with that?

See, because Smarty Pants and his clever family were at the house last night. We had dinner and tried to play a bit of Arkham Horror, but we started too late and eyes were glazing over all around the table. So we quit that while we were ahead.

In a bizarre twist of events, Smarty Pants and I ended up staying in a house with a former co-worker of mine. She had two of her children living with her, a five year old boy and a twelve year old girl. The kids were hungry, because their mum hadn’t been able to find work while her kids had no one to care for them during the day, and any job she did find didn’t pay enough for her to hire a sitter. So she was stuck on the dole, trying to make ends meet, and it wasn’t working at all.

Her mother was visiting last night, and my former co-worker was feeling fairly low. It’s never easy to be a single parent, and it’s nearly impossible when you cannot find work that will support your family. So because Smarty Pants and I were staying at their house (I’m not sure why), we offered to take the kids out to the park for the afternoon so that my former co-worker and her mum could have a good visit.

The kids were excited to be out at the park, and they went nuts on the playground equipment. We took a long walk along the riverbank and ate sandwiches we’d made before we left. There was a public pool in the park, and the I took the kids swimming while Smarty Pants read a book on deck. He’s…not much of a swimmer, I guess.

When we took the kids home, my co-worker’s mother had cleaned the house, top to bottom, and was after getting the kids into ‘ready-for-bed’ mode. Not wanting to be in the way, Smarty Pants and I went next door where the neighbour had a push-mower. Smarty Pants was a little confused as to why only parts of the lawn were cut, so he started farting around with the mower. But then the woman in the house hollered out to leave the silver blades and the matted grass because her husband liked how it looked like snow and that it made him think of Christmas.

We stepped back, and sure enough, in the waning light of the hot summer afternoon, we could see that the lawn *did* look a bit like snow, what with blades made of silver and some mossy-looking white clumps of…some weird kind of grass…But ultimately, this wasn’t what really gave me pause.

What gave me pause was that the house the older couple lived in was the house I grew up in, and that the older couple were Smarty Pant’s parents. His father was watching from the picture window, standing there watching what we were doing. And his mother had pushed open the bangy screen door and was leaning out onto the step.

Smarty Pants nodded his assent and only pushed the mower over the parts of the lawn that had clearly been *intended* to be cut, but which had somehow got missed. His mother hollered ‘thank you’ from the doorway and his father nodded inside the house.

Back at the place we were staying, with my former co-worker, she was getting ready to go out with her own mother, who was offering to buy supper for the family, since they had no food in the house. Smarty Pants and I shared a quick glance and we both knew that we’d be spending the evening at the grocery store, buying brown rice and cases of tinned fruit and vegetables and fresh fruit and vegetables and frozen meat for their family.

In fact, I don’t know what this dream is saying at all, except that I woke with the feeling that Smarty Pants’ parents still do check in on him from time to time.