Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A Year of Us

New Year's Day was spent very briefly swimming in the frigid ocean.
I commented that the water was so cold that I couldn't feel my toes, while you believed that not only could you feel your but that I can't feel my toes at the best of times and that it is an area I could vastly improve upon.
We sat together in the hot tub afterwards even though I had a sneaking suspicion that you were encouraging me to either stretch more or at least get a pedicure.

I surprised you with a huge bouquet of fabulous red roses for Valentine's Day.
You blushed and compared the flowers to your glowing heart. I took exception to this, saying that your heart was less red and more pinkish or reddish-brown and that the heart only appeared red because of all of the blood and that though this was a mistake that many people make, as a nurse, you should know better.
You paused momentarily, placed the roses in a vase and then smacked me on the head with your heart-shaped purse which, while quite painful, drew a bit of blood reinforcing my point in the first place.

Spring came and we went to the park to fly kites and enjoy the newly warm weather.
Laying down on the top of the hill, I believed that the clouds looked like fluffy, friendly, cuddly animals while you felt that although the clouds indeed looked like animals, they were either wild, had long claws or would be the kind that would be fairly standoffish and would either be fairly blase about being pet or would probably run away.
I was silent the entire drive home partially because of your lack of playfulness when interpreting clouds on a lovely afternoon at the park and mostly because I knew you were right in your assessment.

With April came showers and we threw on our rain boots and went for long nature walks greatly enjoying the fresh air and the new foliage.
We walked in silence one day, only broken by your poetic exclamation about the peacefulness of the forest. I agreed that the surroundings were both lovely and serene, but felt that this collection of trees and flora were better described as woodlands than forest and that this revealed some of the limitations of your vocabulary.
We laughed over it and then you blindfolded and abandoned me in the middle of nowhere leaving only a trail of breadcrumbs as my clue to get home.

Then there came our friend Michael's art opening featuring paintings of nothing more than series of concentric colourful circles.
I commented that Michael is clearly a huge fan of circles. You disagreed vehemently, believing that he is obviously using his art to make a strong, biting, commentary about the lack of ethics among the candidates for mayor.
We both shrugged and walked home, thinking the conversation was over, but when you awoke the next morning, you noticed that I had drawn fairly vindictive and childish circles with permanent marker all over your clothes and your mayoral voter registration card.

We make our trip to the zoo stopping for the longest time outside the orangutan exhibit.
You laugh and remark that the largest orangutan bares a strong resemblance to my brother. I smile and agree, as the resemblance is quite striking, although I do feel that it is totally unnecessary and mean of you to always bring this up each week we come to the zoo, as you know how sensitive and protective I am of my hairy brother.
We will both remember this time at the zoo because my brother, while performing humanitarian work in Africa, will abruptly run away and join a colony of orangutans.

We spent the summer picking berries and sitting in our yard eating salads tossed with a variety of tasty vinaigrettes. 
I commented that the dressing was excellent as it featured a balsamic vinegar that tastes as if it had been aged for 15 years, while you said that it had clearly only been aged for 10 and that it only tasted as if it had been aged for 15 and that that is how it is with a really good balsamic vinegar.
We smiled knowingly at each other before I went inside and flushed all of your medications down the toilet.

We were enjoying the relative coolness of a late August afternoon by taking a walk in the park.
After a short walk, we sat down to enjoy a picnic lunch and you quickly express how annoyed you are by all of the wasps. I look around while munching my sandwich and claim that they are definitely not wasps and instead are one of nature's treasures, the bee, and that you're mistaking them for wasps is both uneducated, pedestrian and not at all surprising based on your track record for misidentifying animals of all shapes and sizes.
We hastily got up to leave but not before you muttered under your breath how elite I am.

When the calendar flips to September thoughts turn from beaches and parks to school and work.
After a long day at work, I decide to whip up a stir fry. I feel that the perfect stir fry is equal parts spicy and delicious and would make a rustic and solid, if not great, addition to a menu at a local restaurant. In between mopping the sweat off of your forehead and gulping glass after glass of cold ice water, you croak that I must have a very high tolerance for spice, be slightly delusional and take a fair amount of pleasure in making you suffer.
Watching you lie on the couch in a post-meal sweaty stupor, I do feel badly, and after you recover I plan to treat you to a horseback ride as it seems like the thing to do.

Last fall, we formed our own book club and enjoyed reading and discussing literature.
At our meetings, you would wax eloquently about books that had themes of overcoming hardship, coming of age and the illusion of power while I felt that these same books were banal, trite and overly-cliched all the while being fairly uncertain what "theme" actually referred to or where I had put those books in the first place.
Those long afternoons curled up together on the sofa with our books were among the most romantic, perplexing and frustrating times of my life essentially acting as an ongoing reminder that I should have paid more attention in school.

The winter came early this year and we spent the afternoon throwing snowballs at each other, laughing.
After a good hour of defending myself from your overly-aggressive attacks I loudly complain that this feels like a war. You stop and disagree, saying that it is more of an onslaught or a blunder verging on a military disaster on my part than a war, before continuing to pummel me to the ground.
You come up to me and offer a hand in truce, which I gladly take, before you decide to sit on me and use me as a sled to go downhill to where our car is parked.

The holidays are upon us and good will and celebration is in the air.
You come up to me at our annual Christmas party and give me a hug and kiss saying that it is amazing that another year has come and gone. I return your hug and nod my head wistfully claiming that the year itself hasn't actually come and gone as it is more figurative than you seem to realize, before claiming "look, it's over there."
You smack me playfully and lovingly on the head, and more forcefully on the shoulder stating loudly for all to hear "I hope you are gradually becoming either less literal or more attractive as time goes on and yes, I fully understand that time is not actually going anywhere, but I am. Find your own way home."

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Cool As a Cucumber

People are always advising me to go away from the light and, to the best of my abilities, I always do. If you were observing me do this, most of the time you would just see a regular looking dude just inching away slowly from this massive light. However, one time I did it too quickly and incidentally created a new dance move that is all the rage in the clubs now. It would be a reasonable thought to wonder what a regular guy like me is doing with such a large, bright light anyways - it came with the place.

Out of the mouths of babes comes a whole lot of stuff I've saying super-articulately for years and no one seems to even bat an eyelash. So let me get this straight, I go on and on with all of this hyper-intelligent, nae, mind-blowing, for lack of a better term, art and get nothing from anyone. Then this unnecessarily cute, far from hygienic, young person repackages my brilliance into a few monosyllabic, googily-goo and makes everyone laugh and the world seemingly grinds to a halt. Sorry if I am not impressed, babes. It will take a whole lot more to impress me - although you are very cute, I will concede that. Ride that wave while you can.

I am feeling deflated today, mostly because you misheard my request. I asked to be flattered, not flattened. I do admire your desire to fulfill my request as even when I was screaming for you to stop, you were unrelenting in your mission to flatten me. Probably should get your ears checked and learn to think for yourself especially when someone's insides start oozing out of their body. Now that I'm deflated, I would appreciate you pumping me up - NOT LITERALLY! Put that basketball pump down and back away slowly! 

Whenever I'm confronted with a seemingly insurmountable problem, people always scoff at my indecision saying that the answers are so simple and that it's all black and white. I wish! It isn't my fault that when I am forced to choose, I always see grey options  -it's how I was raised! My parents never allowed me to sway all the way to an extreme and instead I was strongly guided  to find a middle, blended ground (which included actually blending the ground in our backyard mostly because the manure and peat moss become better distributed that way for gardening - it just made so much sense). This had it's good points - instead of being forced to choose one of two flavours of ice cream, my father expertly mixed the two together on a marble slab that he designed himself while I stood by bawling (I really didn't want my vanilla and his unsweetened, black licorice root together)  and when I couldn't decide which shirt to wear, my mother would drop everything and cut both in half and restitch them together creating some completely bizarre patterns and shirts (once I was trying to choose between a white, collared, button-down dress shirt and a tie-dyed tank top). It also had it's bad points as even when a situation arose when only a black or white, yes or no type answer worked, I still wasn't allowed to choose one which created much controversy and unwanted negative attention for me growing up. Like the time in the lunch line up when I was asked if I wanted white or whole wheat toast and me being perfectly conditioned, answered "maybe" which led to a stall that resulted in no one getting their lunch before the bell. Or the time at the doctor's office when I needed to have one vaccine and I couldn't select which arm to have the needle inserted in, which led to me receiving countless shots in countless spots on the body from the frustrated and out-of-her-wits doctor (who coincidentally was wearing a grey shirt that day). In times of disarray I often close my eyes and visit a fantasy dream-like world that I imagine is all in black and white. It is so much simpler there compared to their grey upon grey world in which I live. In this imaginary world, all decisions are really really easy as they are actually black or white. Like do you want another piece of white cake? Is that shirt black? Do you like my new white sock? And, when I wrapped this sheet around your face repeatedly did you only see black before you passed out and I put your body in the trunk of the car? (I didn't say this fantasy land was safe, just that the questions were easy to answer without much hesitation.)

I have often been compared to a ticking time bomb as a result of all of the plastic surgery I have had which gives me a very flat and metallic look which is actually, if you were wondering, a result of hours and hours in the gym (and evidence that I am not completely sure how to use the equipment properly). I also have a bad habit of absent-mindedly making ticking sounds as I creep around and calling out "IS THAT A BOMB!" before running away giggling. Plus the fact that I am always one perceived slight or one extremely irrational response away from exploding. 

Just like everyone else, I like to look my best and I don't care if it takes creams and exfoliators and combs (that's right not just one comb, I am willing to use two), I am fully prepared to put in the effort. My goal is to be so good looking that I am just about drop dead gorgeous but not quite. I'd rather live and be slightly ugly.

I spend so much of my time staring at that idiot box and I should cut back so that I can watch some more high quality programming on the TV, but I just can't take myself away from watching those idiots! They are just so endearingly stupid and constantly on the verge of doing something profoundly dumb! I also find that after hours of observing these idiots constantly outdoing themselves finding yet another depth to mentally sink to, I feel a whole lot smarter myself. Thank you, idiot box, for accomplishing a task that 12 years of school could not. I have wondered how they got the idiots into the box in the first place, and why they don't just open it and leave - I mean there is a wide, gaping hole in the front.

I am a third wheel. At home, at the restaurants, on quiet walks under the moonlight, I am always the third wheel. I happen to think I am quite good at it and maybe, I'm just saying, I may be so good at it that after a bit more studying and a little fine-tuning with a renewed focus, I believe that one day I can move up to become the second wheel, or at least explore the options for settings where only two wheels are permitted.

I'm not sure why it is so hard to have your cake and eat it too. I mean, if it is a good cake I totally get that others would want some too and if your friends are anything like mine, they are like vultures around cake and it is just not humanly possible to fend off multiple attackers from different angles all at the same time and not drop the cake. I would guess that you should buy your cake and then cover it in a cloak or something and then rush home. A simple white cake box will not be sufficient - those that want to steal your cake will see through that  (the clear plastic top makes that all too easy). Even with a cloak, I wouldn't rush too fast - it will draw unnecessary attention to you. Your friends and other passersby will wonder aloud "Why is he rushing so fast on a pretty regular looking day  - pretty suspicious, if I don't say? Probably is concealing a cake." So, walk slowly but meaningfully, both avoid eye contact so as not to draw any unnecessary attention and also make eye contact so it doesn't appear that you are going out of your way to avoid eye contact as only a cake-horder does that in this day and age and then as soon as you are home and the door is closed and locked, you may resume stuffing your face with cake. Maybe sharing isn't such a bad idea afterall?

Some time in my busy schedule of performing open heart surgeries, eating blood sausages and taking classes at the local community college in blood splatter analysis has finally opened up and I plan to paint the town red. 

I was recently told that I was as heavy as a sack of potatoes. Initially, I was quite offended as I was imagining this massive sack overflowing with enough gargantuan potatoes to barely satisfy a humongous, potato-loving family or group of citizens or just one maniacal loaner who just loves peeling them while laughing at imaginary not-so-funny monologues. After some time, I decided to venture out and explore the world of sacks of potatoes and after months of extensive research and both observing and purchasing for the sake of carrying, many sacks of a variety of sizes and weights, my conclusion was that it is still an insult of the high degree and I will exact my revenge. Looking forward to consuming less starch too as I have either developed a rare skin ailment from consuming excessive starch or I am just caked with discarded potato skins. On the upside, I now have quite the sack collection. My grandfather would be proud (but then again he was quite odd and almost anything I did made him proud).

Last week I was at an all-you-can-eat sushi restaurant and asked if I could have one of everything. I was told by the waitress to "eat my heart out" with, in my opinion, way too much pleasure especially considering the time of day. It also seemed to be a totally strange suggestion considering I had already ordered a ton of sushi and neither I nor her nor my eating companion seemed to be a surgeon capable of performing heart removals with a live patient. And could I even eat my heart once removed? Would I live long enough? What accompanying sauce would best enhance a lightly-sautéed heart? As I thought and thought and thought, I decided that either my waitress had all of these answers or...I looked around and not only had she checked out and gone home, but the restaurant lights were dimmed, the place cleaned and only a man dressed in a surgeon outfit with a gleaming smile and an equal gleaming scalpel sat across from me (his shoes were also shiny but that is neither here nor there). This is why I usually order in and am trying to cut back on expired dairy products.

I am often a bit hot under the collar, which I initially attributed to wearing collars on my shirts. I thought -Hey! If I just stop wearing collars, I will feel a whole lot cooler, and the only downside is having to shop for a lot of new shirts. However, when I switched over to non-collared shirts and turtlenecks, the heat remained. I was tempted to give up, but I have done a lot of that recently, and I was trying to not give in to that particular temptation. My new goal was to be as cool as a cucumber. Step 1: refrain from eating and/or using cucumbers as microphones in front of the bathroom mirror and/or fondling (unless that particular cucumber seems to enjoy it) and/or practicing speeches in front of all cucumbers while studying them. Step 2: spend all of my free time observing the cucumbers both in their natural habitat and in my refrigerator to see what makes them tick and be so cool (note: could probably skip the "ticking" part if pressed for time). Step 3: after completing 500 hours of observations (the minimum time required by my wife, who is trying to catch up on her PVRed TV shows, and for some reason was put in charge of making the rules), go to the library and research "the musical story of cucumbers and how they are far superior to zucchinis (a fact they are well aware of)", "all about our friend, the refrigerator, and why calling her 'fridge' is bordering on sacrilegious", "what storing cucumbers in refrigerators actually accomplishes (you would be surprised)" and "the history of humans and refrigerators seen through the eyes of a cucumber". Step 4: go play some tennis -nothing to do with the project, I just needed a break as I was starting to see cucumbers wherever I turned and they were starting to talk to me, which I quite enjoyed, until they started to encourage me, gently at first, to do some very bad things. Step 5: after completing 500 hours of library research (again the minimum time required by my wife, she stated with what can only be described as glee or possibly greed), start living the part and become as cucumber-like as possible - dress like one (vests, vests and more vests), talk like one (they often have a slight Welsh accent), behave like one (friendly, but not too friendly; smart, but not too smart; and exactingly punctual, totally and completely, smugly punctual all the time almost like it makes you so much better than everyone else) and then see if the result is "coolness". If it is, I will celebrate my new found state of being cool with a refreshing cucumber and yogurt salad and a spanking, fresh hair cut that will be the talk of the town or just make me hear more voices, which will have the same end result. If it isn't and I am still too hot, then I will still eat the refreshing salad but with a fair amount of spite and vitriol and while I will outwardly state to all present, how much I enjoy said salad, honestly, I will be overstating the fact as the salad will be quite bland and so 80s.

I used to walk around the house with a carefree bounce in my step almost as if to say "I don't care where my foot lands, it's all good".  Now? I am always walking on eggshells due to your haphazard way of discarding all of the shells. I miss those carefree days in a way that only a perfectly poached egg can come close to satisfying. Keep those eggs coming, but could you please use the compost!

Many people have told me that an apple a day keeps the doctor away. Man, do I only wish it was so easy. I'm writing this now holed up in my attic awaiting the next wave of certifiably-crazy, body-probing, needle-wielding doctors who are practically frothing at the mouth waiting to inflict pain upon me (or just reminding me in person about my next appointment, and if so, what's with the froth?). Sure you call it a regular check-up, but I can see right through that, you fiends - you just want to extract my kidney, hack at my knee and shine bright lights into my eyes and ears and other places too if it tickles your fancy. I hide in my attic, hurling apples, tower-defense style, trying to keep those doctors with their perfect degrees and slightly less perfect hair pieces out of my house.

I have no idea what like a pie in the sky is supposed to mean and it just makes me so angry! What?!?!?! Like something is suppose to be like a pie floating or flying in the sky?!?! Really!?! Have you ever encountered anything like that?!?!? That's what I thought! What is even like a pie in the first place? A tart, you say? have a point - tarts are quite similar to pies. A quiche? Again, good point, quiches are quite similar to pies as well. Flan? Cobbler?...Alright, so there are actually a fair number of other baked goods reminiscent of pies, I stand corrected. But, that is not my point at all, my point was...ahh screw it, anyone else in the mood for pie right now?

Have you met that guy downtown who is razor sharp? Super-smart and a compelling conversationalist, and I always leave our meetings with much knowledge gained and tons of cuts all about my arms and legs. I can't decide if having my mind blown wide open and filled with brilliant idea after brilliant idea makes worthwhile all of the pain, blood and scars from the countless razors that he insists on not just keeping on his body but waving around as he pontificates.

Just yesterday, my buddy thrust a magazine article in my face and demanded that I read it and weep, which I did. As I've always said, is there any other way to enjoy a well-researched, properly-punctuated magazine article with impeccable grammar then with a good cry?

Just for once, I want to be on top of the world so others will look up at me or should I say up in my general direction as I'm assuming that if I am literally on top of the world then I'll be fairly far away from everyone else and that they will have to squint, or use a telescope or just take for granted that I am actually there and just go on with their regular lives. I'm sure that at first it will be a novelty and other's will take time to notice or talk about it, and then everyone will just forget about it and resume having fun and I'll be stuck up there on top of the world with no way to get down (they didn't mention that in the brochure) and also, I have a debilitating fear of heights and even if they provide a ladder or a hang glider or something, I am screwed. And I'll have no one to talk to and I'll be forced to create a whole cast of characters to interact with just to fight off the inevitable fall into insanity although inventing, writing detailed character studies and interacting with imaginary characters will lead instead to a gentle walk towards insanity. Also, that pretty girl I used to like to look at through my binoculars from my window, will now just look like a dot from up here, albeit a pretty dot - oh who am I kidding - all the dots will look the same up here and when I think I am looking at her I could just be ogling a dog or a mailbox or that life-sized picture of myself I painted on my roof. She won't even know I exist, which may be step up from the current state, where she knows and only tolerates me because she promised her ailing father not to abhor anyone as it added to her stress. Why did I want this privilege of being on top of the world again? So others would be forced to take a break from looking down at me and have to look up? I take it all back - keep looking down! Resume our regularly scheduled, well-rehearsed relationship where you are up here and I am down there. I don't love it, but at least I can't fall.

I really want to pay lip service! Where do I sign up?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014


Roger had just turned 85 and had decided against adopting either of the obvious stereotypes- grumpy old man or strange smelly old man- instead settling on a hard-to-place accent and Botox. The accent would add an air of mystique and the Botox would give him fuller, rounder lips something he had always wanted since he was a thin-lipped rapscallion burning ants with a magnifying glass.

For many years, Roger had been a method actor engrossing himself in his characters and living the parts off-stage. This involved living the life of an angry mail carrier battling gout, a cab driver who wove intricate and tell-all stories about all of the local hotshot librarians and a flamboyant hair dresser who had a huge collection of belts and used only the best hair gels mostly to hide his receding hair line. Each role usually lasted 6 months to a year but once he was trapped in a really successful play and was forced to live the life of curmudgeonly stamp collector with horrible dandruff for 4 years and was finally freed when the theatre was purchased by a Chinese businessman who converted it into a jello factory. His final role was the part he was born to play - it was the story of a modern day superhero who had renounced all of his powers and decided to move to Idaho to grow potatoes only to fall in love with the slaughterhouse owner's daughter. Why he had been born to play that role was always beyond him - he always silently questioned his mother's total reliance and belief in all things Ouija.

Roger had made his fortune designing fashionable wigs in a time when the bottom had nearly dropped out of the wig industry. Then he lost all of his money investing in the wrong IBM - a friend had strongly suggested investing in IBM and he had thrown all of his savings at this startup, making a monumental mistake buying stock in Intrepid Bison Movers who went under as bison numbers dropped radically when it was discovered how surprisingly tasty they were. Then he made it back playing blackjack only to lose it alll in the tomato blight of '72. He cursed his decision to use his 7 acre property completely for growing tomatoes and also his lack of understanding of the definition of the word blight (up till that time when people said "beware the blight" he always felt that there was just something wrong with them). He was forced to spend the rest of his working years digging graves for medium-sized rodents just as his father had predicted.

Roger starts each day eating a huge bowl of yogurt, a liter of juice, some whole frozen bananas and some blueberries. He then jumps around for a while after - sort of like a smoothie. "It will be a cold day in hell before I give any of my hard earned money to those jerks at the blender store" he'd say. His friends would often start to remind him that there was no blender store, but this was easily the most tolerable rant in his repertoire so they let it go. It was much better than his disdain for the losers who make up the dental hygienist union with their communist desire for everyone to have such white teeth. He also ranted on a regular basis about chicken fat.

He sat at his kitchen table remembering his youth. So many memories involving shampoo - his dad was a key cog down at the shampoo processing plant, his mother believed that shampoo-based home remedies could cure almost any ailment, and the gang of older boys that terrorized the neighbourhood shampooed him against his will on three separate occasions. He also fondly remembered washing his dog Cha Cha in the backyard and ending up covered in an intoxicating combination of shampoo bubbles, dog hair and hemp (his older brother was planning to open up a top-secret rope import/export business out of the garage).

Since he was a teenager he had only used figures of speech when he had become upset. His mother always taught to be good mannered, respect your elders and to avoid all symbolic speech if at all possible. Roger always found this easy until he lost his cool and then he couldn't help himself. The figures of speech started out as overly simple and obvious, like comparing a plane to a big bird or a particularly hairy man crawling in the park to a bear, but as he became more and more upset the figures of speech get stranger and more confusing. Once he compared his worsening mood to an oak tree and another time he claimed he was so frustrated he wanted to "scatter some gravel." Over the years, instead of getting a handle on describing these mood swings, his figures of speech became even harder to understand. After a particularly tough day at work he was "as unhappy as a German nun when her dinner guests did not want a second helping of her store-bought flan". And he infamously stated to the audience upon receiving his honourary certificate from the local community college that his one main regret in life was not learning to fox trot and it made him feel "as disappointed as a quantitative research scientist who only ate goat cheese on Saturdays when he realized that his bow tie was falling out of fashion." While his friends and family wanted him to be more literal and understandable, he was never dull to be around. 

Roger really enjoyed performances of all types - from human and rehearsed to inanimate and improvised and all varieties in between (except for shows featuring domesticated house pets as he felt they were pedantic and superficial). When something was bad he was viscerally angry but when something was good he became so overjoyed that he literally painted his neighbourhood red (actually it was only partially red, as he ran out and had to use some burgundy and burnt ochre). One time he clapped non-stop for 10 straight minutes after a grade 1 thanksgiving performance that was only adequate at best. Another time he wept uncontrollably after watching himself watch the news in the mirror. While his doctor claimed his ears were pristine, he once tried to use his eyes to operate all of his senses while watching a matinee which led to much confusion about the plot, characters and setting - it also led to the end of a relationship when he responded to her query about what he thought about the movie saying that "it tasted bland."

Maintaining relationships was always tough for Roger. He never knew when to laugh or cry or make lunch. Once he made some toast for a girlfriend when all she wanted was a pat on the shoulder- it was excellent toast but that was totally beside the point. He was not without trying- he read books on relationships, went to seminars and would sit on park benches intensely analyzing couples sitting next to him sketching their facial expressions and charting their moods. He once thought he has made a breakthrough after watching a couple enjoy an intimate picnic when he believed he found a direct correlation between the total number of freckles and the ability to read each other's thoughts but he was wrong (they were a deaf couple who loved Greek salad). Another girlfriend once asked him "do you even know my brain?" He sat there, startled, unsure what to say- so he said nothing and returned to his usual Saturday afternoon activity- trying to solve logic puzzles using both irrational thoughts and emotion. After she had left he wished he had spent more time with her brain...he once had a vivid and happy dream which took place on the sunny and stunning French Riveria, just him and her brain. But alas, she was gone and she had predictably taken her brain. Roger spent many of his later years alone, which, while quite lonely, gave him a lot of time to weave tapestries and make wax statues - neither of which he enjoyed in the slightest. "At least I have my health, my new mysterious and hard-to-place accent and my sumptuous lips! Things are looking up! Now if only I had a some sour candies and a slinky."

Friday, August 15, 2014

Go Hide All Of The Knives

You are rinsing freshly picked blueberries.
I am defrosting frozen blueberries.
You beam with a confidence that only fresh berries can provide.

I look across the crowded party and smile seductively at you.
You return my look but mix in an emotional cocktail of doubt, guilt and ignorance.
I decide to make my move as I interpret your reply in as creatively positive a way as I can.

You liberally spread peanut butter on your toast.
I agree with your choice of spread but feel conflicted due to your excessive and wanton use of peanut butter.
You comment that the purchasing and consumption of toast have brought us endless joy and crumbs.

I am updating my profile online.
You notice glaring discrepancies between reality and the information I've just entered that are either accidental oversights, purposeful lies, or confounding examples of the dream-like world I am living in.
I enjoy living in a world of discrepancies.

You playfully mess up my hair.
I playfully mess up your hair in return.
You may grin causally on the outside, but we both know that inside you seethe.

For years, it felt as if \you were moving from relationship to relationship, although you could have been staying still and it was the relationships that were moving. Each person had their good points and their bad, although for some reason the good ones were more noticeable early on and the bad dominated as time went on. You yearned for someone who made you laugh, just not too much or too hard. You longed for someone who listened, just not between the hours of 4pm and 5pm - that was your time. And you ached for someone to hold you, or failing that to keep you from falling when standing or rolling off the bed when lying down - when sitting, all bets were off. You believed that you had so much to give in return - money (mostly in small change), a never-ending supply of apples during the fall harvest and stories of great apple harvests from the past during the rest of the year, paint and paint-related accessories and innovative cardboard box designs with a starter sheet of cardboard to make your very own box. You were happy but always a bit lonely, until we met and then you were just happy and always looking for a new, secondary supporting feeling as lonely no longer made sense.

I am picking individual blades of grass with a fair amount of angst.
You, on the other hand, are very cavalier and carefree about it.
I decide then and there to move out of this angst-filled period of my life and to attempt to live with more trepidation and malaise.

You spend one morning vividly talking about selecting and cutting open watermelons for the purposes of enjoying their juicy flesh.
I nod my head, but as a precaution, go hide all of the knives.
You are nothing if not amazingly literal and confusingly euphemistic.

I love talking about personal philosophies over herbal tea.
You love the tea but find my philosophies equal parts nonsensical and pathological.
I contemplate switching over to caffeinated drinks.

You are attempting to get my attention using only your eyebrows.
I am enjoying a wonderful "waking dream" about two dancing caterpillars.
You never know how to react in situations like this.

I can't stop smiling at you.
You can't stop smiling at me.
I decide to go take a nap, exhausted from all of the excessive smiling.

I spent my twenties actively searching for the right person to spend the rest of my life with. I put up signs, made t-shirts and handed out samples of freshly made grilled cheese all in the effort of finding "The One". The grilled cheese was always well prepared but didn't quite help with the romance, and the sheer cost of all of that cheese made it an unsustainable plan moving forward. After years of hitting the pavement which left marks, making the rounds which just seemed like walking in circles but who was I to disobey such a tried and tested expression, and frequenting places people may go and talk to other people and, if all things go well, spend more time, at a future date, talking with one of those people, I was ready to give up. I daydreamed of kissing someone and had to increasingly make sure I wasn't in a public place while daydreaming as the dreams became more and more exciting and risque. I believed that I was a good person and, that if all was right in the world, good people like me should have good things happen to them and that included, but was not exclusive to, meeting a wonderful, beautiful, fabulous person who may or may not be good with numbers. And then along came you.

You are writing a particularly personal diary entry.
I am envious of that diary as I wish you would be particularly personal with me.
You have experimented with writing on me but my love of showering rendered it pointless.

I take a deep breath and slowly breathe out a long sigh.
You also take a deep breath and release a long sigh.
I will always have the satisfaction that I sighed first.

You stare whimsically at the expensive sculpture.
I silently wish that I could be the object of such whimsy.
You have always reserved your "top" and most rehearsed looks for sculptures.

I am enjoying an afternoon in my new kayak on the lake.
You keep reminding me that you are not a kayak.
I finally agreed that it all made sense as I had been wondering for a while about my troubles with buoyancy. 

You yawn and lay on the couch.
I suppress my desire to yawn so as not to appear overly dependent.
You are enjoying the bliss and comfort of the couch and the break from my usual dependence.

We worked. We just did. And not just in the conventional sense of getting along and supporting each other. We went out of our way to work in as many senses of the term as possible which took a lot of care and research, aside from actually working at the same store or business together as that would be far too literal and we wanted to keep our personal and professional lives separated - aside from the huge summer BBQ and then all rules were tossed out the window. It was pretty ridiculous that the company actually transported a window to the function in the first place -we were prepared to be symbolic. We often completed each other's sentences and when we didn't we often had hours of awkward silence. We experimented with just regular silence, but it just seemed incomplete and comfortable and almost fun which only led to more silence, so we implemented a house rule to make it awkward. We were so in love that we danced to the tune of our own drummer - a very exhaustive process and expensive budget item; we sang at the top of our lungs which just led to horribly sore throats and endless trips to the store for lozenges; and we artistically made clay bowls together, our countless limbs intertwined, our bodies covered with clay from head-to-toe and our faces covered with sweat - these moments felt so right that we got married immediately and decided to sell pottery. The pain of past failed relationships drifted further and further into the past as we made positive new memories together. Not to say that all of the pain was gone, we made sure of that with daily pinching and scratching, just that the frustration of dating was now over -we had each other and we would always be together.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

More Questions I Have

Does it get exhausting, after a while, being a question mark? Probably, and I'm sorry "question mark" as much as I'd love to give you a break, I just have so many questions. I tried for a while asking questions without you, but they ended up being boring old statements that no one replied to leading to lots of silence and awkwardness. Then I tried asking no questions and that made me a whole less interesting and unable to find the washroom in public places. Face it, "question mark", this is your world and we are just living in it.

Is it wrong of me to get so much pleasure out of peeling the skin off of grapes with my two front teeth? And if it is, I don't want to be right.

Why does wearing glasses make you appear smarter but wearing 5 pairs all at the same time one on top of the other, make you look crazy? It's not my fault I gave in to the incredible sale the glasses store was having where if I bought four pairs I got the fifth one for free. A pretty weird and totally impractical promo now that I think about it  -I mean who, aside from the incredibly forgetful, ever need 5 pairs of glasses, and yet somehow it worked on me. I guess I'm their target audience and to think I just thought I was a target.

I have been asked all my life if I'd rather be the tortoise or the hare and I've always wondered why I am constantly surrounding myself with people who ask that question - is it random or maybe I seem like the sort of person who needs to be asked that question in order to find my purpose in life or just to be preoccupied so others can enjoy some quiet time or people can tell that I have such a magnificent brain and will give a timeless, articulate answer to this age-old question. Well, after much thought, and understanding that slow and steady wins the race and not being too over-confident like that hare and all of that crap, if I had to choose and was able to choose, I'd opt to be a rare tortoise-hare hybrid; the result of a number of generations of cross-breeding initiated by an overly amorous tortoise and an adventurous and partially blind hare. It would be the best of both worlds and bully to you if you call my answer evading the question. 

If a newborn baby smells so fresh and clean and everyone enjoys it, is there a reason they've banned me from the hospital for lurking around the pediatric area sniffing like a dog?

What is more important - to look good, to smell good, to hear well or failing those, to at least be comfortable for others to sit on and/or tasty in case others get hungry and desperate?

If I had to choose between being really, abundantly, disgustingly, brush-defying, is-he-an-animal-or-just-a-wild-man-who-accidentally-left-the-jungle hairy or having zero hair, sort of like scorched earth after a fire where someone who was quite OCD carefully removed all of the dead grass, cue ball-esque, a freaky cross between an alien species who have evolved beyond the need for hair and an alien species who really understand the intricacies of closely shaving hair, which would I choose? On the one hand if I had tons of hair, I could save a lot of money on clothes, invent a number of new braiding techniques that could gain me notoriety in hip hop circles, and always have a good buffer of personal space, but on the other hand, I would be super sweaty most of the time, windy days would always leave me at risk of getting arrested for exposing myself, there would almost definitely be a minimum of one hair in all of my meals and the sheer amount of shampoo and conditioner required would probably lead me to have to take a second job. And who would hire me? If I was completely hairless I'd enjoy covering myself in wax and just sliding everywhere, increasing my chances of getting the part of the misunderstood weirdo in locally-filmed TV shows, and experiencing life as aerodynamically and as drag-free as possible. However, I'm not sure if anyone I know is ready for someone to have zero eye lashes, eye brows and only the occasional nose or ear hair; being referred to, even with a complimentary tone as "The Mannequin" would grow old fairly quickly and I'd miss running my fingers through my hair in moments of boredom or exhaustion. I guess, after considering the options, I'd like to ask to continue having some hair with the option of either increasing or decreasing the amount incrementally depending on the season.

Why does it seem like every time I genuinely say that I'm sorry there is no one around? And why does it seem like every time I'm a total jerk I'm standing in front of a massive audience dressed like a penguin?

Why do we think so highly of those that volunteer to go first? Isn't it possible that they should think things through a bit more carefully especially when the noises behind that door sound like those of a crazed and ravenous beast.

What happens if I am not only part of the problem but also part of the solution? I know, I am confused as you are! I specifically requested to be a "solution-only" sort of person and I did tip big. But instead, I am stuck both creating the problem and giving lots of helpful hints towards solving it. I enter the room and unsolvable questions and dilemmas appear almost out of the woodwork and as I exit, the codes are beginning to be cracked and what was once though of as overly complex and complicated seem a lot easier. In an ideal world, I would choose to be able to first be all problem all the time, just creating these situations that added stress and strife to everyone and then nip out of the room almost a la Clark Kent and then whisk back in just at the moment where everyone has given up all hope and have headaches, like a beam of sunlight breaking through the seemingly impenetrable clouds with solutions aplenty and have praised showered down upon me. But, alas, I am stuck in this middle ground of just not amounting to very much at all.

Which of you took my beloved purple fluffy ear muffs? I mean, who took one of my pairs of said ear muffs? A man's gotta have backup if you know what I'm sayin'. Do you know what I'm sayin' or is it just me...I have a sneaking suspicion that it is just me.

Why is it cruel to take candy from a baby? I was going to give her something in return! Aren't I allowed to teach my baby advanced bartering skills to prepare them for the harsh realities of the world? Plus, what kind of father am I if I allow my baby to have candy in the first place? A father who does not care about dental hygiene that's who and I refuse to be that kind of dad. So excuse me if I make my baby cry all-the-while placing their lack of future tooth decay on the top of my list of priorities. Great candy by the way.

Does anyone want to join me lying on the couch watching movies, ordering take out, eating chips and relaxing instead of going to work? I tried that last week and now I have time to do it every day!

Disclaimer: I love cheese. And I live in a society where my cheese-loving is both applauded and seen as normal behaviour, aside from those who are either lactose intolerant or just intolerant as it wouldn't matter at all what I did in those people's eyes. Anyways, it got me thinking what if I was a cow who loved cheese? I can only imagine how difficult that would be for me, the cow, who enjoyed eating a product made from my milk, although it would be hard to ensure it was actually my own milk - there are just so many cows. I think you humans would probably see it as an oddity that may draw a scattering of tourists from time to time to my barn on the farm, but it wouldn't be front-page news or even retweet-worthy. Now, among the cow community, I could see it being a bigger deal and I would probably have to consume the cheese when no other cow was watching as eating the cheese would be seen as silent approval of the whole cheese industry which some cows may not be big fans of. I'm not sure what they would want to have happen to all of that milk - don't get me wrong, we love being milked - it feels awesome, let me tell you, but to see the humans benefitting both financially and enjoying the fruits, or cheeses as it may be, of our labour is really hard to handle. So, I'd be living with other cows who would be fairly unhappy about the stealing of the milk and the money - the turning milk into cheese isn't the big crime, I mean once the milk has been taken, do what you want - knock yourself out. And then you have me, the cow who loved cheese, set against this backdrop of unhappiness. I'm sure my cheese eating would be seen, first and foremost, as disgusting - I mean can you humans imagine doing the equivalent from your own milk? I know, right? And second, if it is so good, and the cows can get over the potentially disgusting nature of it, then I may be looked down upon for not sharing. As you can see, life would be full of challenges if I were a cow who loved cheese. Good thing I'm not...yet.

I have always been told don't run into a burning building, so then why did I get chastised for standing outside playing games on my phone while the building was burning?

What is going down and what is up and, more importantly, where are these things happening and do they allow people like me to come in and participate in all that is going down and up and if so, can I either get directions or a ride or borrow some cab fare? I can't wait to be part of what is happening - I am usually the last to find out and, by the time I do, it is old news.

If I had to steal to feed my family knowing that I may be at real risk of being caught and that if caught I would immediately fold and cop to everything and when on trial I would whimper like a baby pleading for mercy and embarrass not only myself but my immediate and extended families and then once in prison I would be seen as the weakest, nerdiest and potential-snitchiest of all and everyone would leave me alone which would be both good for safety reasons but bad as I'd be missing human interaction and have no one who could help me get stuff and then once I was released for good behaviour my once-starving family would have moved on almost immediately upon my sentencing and found a new provider who had access to the finest breads, cheeses and meats and I'd have to settle on washing dishes or taking out the trash or cleaning the latrines and after years of doing this and being hardened by I would probably have lost all sense of humour and faith in human kind and society and I would stow away on a ship and travel the world in search of some meaning only to settle down as a human lab rat finally realizing that stealing is wrong. Would it be worth taking the chance stealing some food for my family or would I have just been better off taking the job that runs counter to everything I believe in that my father-in-law offered me at his bank where I would only rise up through the ranks slowly and steadily from a job in the mailroom up until I was a president who was so preoccupied with my own wealth and status that I never paid attention to my son to even notice that he had fallen in love, got married and had two children of his own only to realise that I had been a neglectful dad just in the midst of time when it appeared that their family was crossing over to the wrong side of the poverty line and he may have to consider stealing to help his family survive and I would offer him a job at the bank like the magnanimous man that I used to be before I took that spirit-sapping job at the bank? It is true what they say - it is important to think of all of the consequences. Only thing, is now I am having a hard time thinking of anything but consequences.

Why is it that every morning when I wake up I have sneaking suspicion that someone has rearranged the books on my bookshelf? It could have to do with this series of detailed, suspenseful, half nightmare/half welcome-relief-from-reality dreams I am having these days involving a species of highly-intelligent, sentient books who travel many light years across the galaxy to Earth and initially befriend the humans and just have a really great time, or as good a time as my limited imagination can summon up for talking, walking, razor-smart books and an average group of humans. My favourite part is a particularly poignant walk in the park with a young, at-risk teenage human and an old, wise book. Everything is going well, until one day while rushing to a restaurant for a brunch engagement, the books happen upon a bookstore and see their brethren sitting nae trapped on these wooden boards almost as if on public display for all to see the titles of these shamed books that can no longer roam free and assemble as they please for purposes of socialization or overthrowing the government. "But, they never could roam free, assemble and socialize" the average humans in the dream say to the alien book species before the war to end all wars begins. The dream goes on and on with hyper-real gore and violence only to end with the humans setting a huge fire and burning all of the books. After the fire is doused, and the book spaceship is investigated, it is realized that they were here to help us avoid our catastrophic, impending doom and it was only our lack of foresight to see beyond our antiquated view of books and shelves that led to their and our demise. The dream always ends with one kneeling human holding a bit of the binding of one of the burned books and weeping uncontrollably. I guess I am lucky that the only symptom of these recurring dreams is the feeling that my bookshelf has been played with.

I have been told that you are only as old as you feel, but what happens if I am completely out of touch with how old I feel? I have no idea how old I feel despite all of those long afternoons touching my arms and the part of my back I can reach, and consequently, have no idea how old I am.

Can seeing the glass as half-full as well as half-empty at the same time be a problem? I also went through a time in my life where I saw the glass as either totally full and totally empty -I'm not sure if my current state is progress or not. Also, in my youth, I had a hard time seeing glasses at all which alternated with days where I saw thousands upon thousands of glasses everywhere. My goal in life is for the people of the Earth to always have plenty of glasses and for them to not have to concern themselves with whether it is half-full, half-empty or mostly full or in the progress of being emptied.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Ideas for Plays: The Dramas Part 2

For those of you who are just turning in, I have done a lot of brainstorming for ideas for plays that I most likely will never write. I may write them, but most likely I will be distracted by other, more profitable ideas (I believe to the root of my core that it is important, nae essential, to give in to distractions). These play ideas fall into three categories: The Dramas, The Comedies, The Weird. What you are about to read are the second set of ideas I had for dramatic plays. One obvious point is that no coherent thought has gone in to the actual production of these play ideas and this has provided me, the playwright, a lot of latitude that I have really enjoyed (I am enjoying some of that latitude right now...yep, it's pretty great. My loose plan, if you were wondering, is to enjoy this latitude and then move on to cracking open some longitude this evening). I haven't had to worry about how that set would actually be created, or what shade of brown the sofa should be or how much wax to use on my character's moustache (the answer would be none, as I just had him shaved before the play began - an awesome experience! If you've never shaved a moustache, you must, even if it is off of a fictitious character from a play that will never exist). I love thinking of these minor details and they help me "create the magic", but since these plays will never actually be written or produced, I've been able to think way outside the box (I actually found it much harder and infinitely more suffocating to think inside the box, which may have to do with the colour and size of the box - it was really really small. As soon as I have a free afternoon, I plan to explore the wonderful world of boxes) and have left no stones unturned (okay - that's a bit of an exaggeration, but in my defence, there are just so many stones and how am I expected to keep track of which ones I've turned and which ones I haven't?!?!? It just is really hard to do is all I'm saying. I wanted to leave none of them unturned and maybe someday I actually will, although I may need some help.) I hope you "enjoy" these ideas as much as one can enjoy dramatic ideas (if you find yourself enjoying them disproportionately, enjoy that). 

In this relationship you are "the reader"  -you read. Pretty simple - hard to screw that up, unless of course that is your goal, and then it is very easy. And I write - the MUCH harder job and greater responsibility, I'm just sayin'. So let's not forget who did all the heavy lifting and who lounged around sucking on lollipops while the other person was sweating away trying to create art for arts sake (and also for money and potentially a free t-shirt). It is important to me and my psyche to feel that I did a good job and worked hard - whether I did or not is up to the courts to decide. All joking aside, I am proud to refer to myself as "the playwright". Not entirely sure why, but who am I to question myself? You may say, rightfully so, that I am actually the best possible person to do that questioning and that maybe I should take a break from coming up with new play ideas and question myself for a while about a variety of topics. Not a bad idea for a play! Thanks! So, will I try to get to bottom of why I insist on referring to myself as "the playwright"? I say NO! (sorry, trying to get in a dramatic mood - how am I doing?) There will be no self-questioning here, unless you, the reader, want to question yourself. Could be sort of fun. Make a grilled cheese, eat a pickle, lay back on the couch and let the questioning begin and then, even if I disapprove, what can I do? Come all the way over to your place, disrupt your peace, steal or plead to share your pickle and halt the questioning? I just don't see myself doing that. So, knock yourself out! Just don't come crying to me when you figure out the truth that your parents hid from you all those years ago just knowing that one day you'd figure it out and come crying to me. I know, I know it doesn't make any sense at all. That is why it hurts so much. can't all be funny and plays can't all be comedies. I'm not trying to sound apologetic or defensive (my counsellor says those are learned behaviours), I'm just saying that if all you did was laugh all the time, that would be...bad? Not fair to others? Too much fun? Maybe you'd pull something? So, to help you in your quest to laugh a little less (it will make the laughing even more fun, although slightly less rehearsed and canned) I, "the playwright", will give you some drama. That's right, I'm bringing the drama! (I love how that sounds! Almost as if there is some sort of potluck buffet and I've prepared a big, heaping portion of saucy drama. I just hope I nailed the texture). If you love dramas as much as the next person (with that next person being either me or one of those old dudes who always seems so serious or hopefully someone with extra loose-leaf paper) then you will love these ideas. If you don't love dramas, then you may find this excruciating and it would beg the question why you aren't doing something else and, if you decide to get up and leave, can I have a ride there as I have to meet a guy about a thing. If you sort of like dramas but aren't married to them, then perhaps I can introduce you to this friend of mine who is also heartless (ouch! where did that come from? I must learn to practice editing, or at least look it up in the dictionary some time). Or I can see this as a challenge! Maybe I can change you? Not that you need changing (although you probably do and this would be far less painful then a visit to the chiropractor); you are probably a spectacular specimen of a human, but maybe I can win you over. Allow the winning over to begin! 

...And here are The Dramas part 2

1)      The Tennis Stars – The curtains open on a tennis match which appears to be an actual tennis match between two men who aren't even aware that they are on-stage or playing for an audience. After a particularly exciting point, the players notice that their court is actually the stage in front of a theatre and the audience realize that the theatre was built around a tennis court in the local park. This appears to be a cheap ploy by the producer to just use two random tennis players in the park instead of hiring actors. Upon re-reading the program, audience members realize that the producer discovered the actors by driving around to local parks and watching for dramatic tennis players and found these two. After the match is over, we are taken back in time to see what led up to this pivotal clash. The stage is split in two and, through alternating scenes, we see each man preparing for the match of their lives: birth, beginning high school and the day of the match (while one scene is being shown, the other man is skipping rope or doing push-ups). We learn that each man is nervous about the big match mostly because they have stage freight. One is near retirement, has never won the “big one” and doesn't seem to have “it” mentally but he works so hard. One scene reveals his mental fragility as he completely loses it and needs to be physically restrained during an appointment with his sports psychologist when he is greeted at the beginning of the session. We see evidence of his hard work when he goes a whole week only hitting a ball against the side of his parent's house despite their pleas and screams for him to stop so they can sleep until they call the police who only want his autograph. We also hear a voice over from the player as he sleeps saying that all he wanted in life was to repeatedly hit balls with a racket mostly for science, and that he despises scorekeeping and wishes he could set the numbers free. The other player is a young guy, tons of talent but lets it all go to waste. We see him spending most of his actively squandering his talent, seemingly going as far out of his way to make a mockery of his talent, almost as if he is trying to become the best waster of talent ever. In this sense, he is an unqualified success and also beyond confusing. We learn that he had a troubled youth mostly as he could never remember how to walk to school. He could run there, but his father believed that he must walk or else he'd have to go to work. Both men have other aspirations and completely unrealistic dreams about life outside of tennis (one wants to live on the moon and the other wishes to actually be a tennis ball), and both men have completely realistic and depressing fears about life after tennis (the playwright had considered the title Depressing Reality, but he assumed that everyone would think it was an autobiography). Much of the second half of the play they are seated right near the edge of the stage either talking to unseen reporters/coaches/girlfriends or to themselves in a mirror. The play ends with the two of them, in tears, breaking through "the wall" that divides them and hugging the other. Initially this hug fills the audience with a warm, goose-bumpy feeling but, after it goes on for a while, everything starts to feel awkward.

2)      Waiting For The Girl – The curtains open on two guys waiting somewhere for something (I know, I know, don't worry it may get more specific and better or it may continue to be vague and crappy- that is the way it is with ideas for plays sometimes). The guys are either both tall and handsome or both nebbish and short - the script works both ways (as a straight up, hard hitting drama the first way and as a totally sarcastic, allegorical commentary on the moral degradation of society due to all of those short people the second way). They are seated either at an airport, at a café, at home by the phone or possibly they are not sure where they are sitting and they are actually pretty freaked out about being lost and showing up late for work and having to deal with their confusing, possibly bipolar, boss who doesn't get angry when they are late, no, his reactions are far more out-of-left-field and downright brain-scratching, but never boring, so there is that. After a long scene of them sitting and clearly waiting for something or someone, we learn they are waiting for a girl, and have been for a long time - the audience is getting super bored just watching them wait and the general consensus is that this girl better be super hot or a pretty incredible conversationalist or hopefully both. It also becomes clear that one guy is waiting for the girl and the other is his buddy who is trying to convince him that she isn't coming as he is pretty sure she is washing her hair right now. The next ten minutes goes into how clean and smooth her hair is and how it always smells really really good. This is all well and good, the audience can see that these are two guys who appreciate a girl who takes care of her hair, but then they go into so much detail about the shampoo and conditioners she uses and they even call a volunteer out of the audience and clean her hair for her as a demonstration and the detail is equal parts disturbing and overly detailed for most audience members unless they happen to work in a salon (it all makes sense when you realize that the first act is brought to you by Vidal Sassoon and in the intermission their products sell like hot cakes with the upside being very competitive pricing and the downside being that if the second act fails to impress the actors will probably be literally wearing it). We learn, eventually, that the guy who likes the girl met her the previous night at the library, shared a few words about a book they both reached for at the same time and he took this brief, fairly banal conversation as a romantic proposition and he also strangely believed she wanted to meet him the next day while all she wanted was him to keep a minimum of 100 metres all the time, but in his defence she was speaking partially in Spanish and that is a Romance language. Finally, after it was clear she was either not coming today or never coming, the actors and the audience mutually agree to end the play and go grab a slice of pie.  

3)   The Date – Two people meet for a date and there begins an incredibly unoriginal idea for a play. What's next? They fall in love, then out of love and then back in love? Never heard that one before - keep the fresh and new ideas coming smart guy (wow - why am I so passive aggressive towards myself today? Hey, I'm just doing the best I can with what I got.) Or maybe it is a boy meets girl, girl originally not attracted but eventually falls in love with his brain and how caring he is and they walk off towards the sunset at the end? Is anyone else puking right now or is it just me (why is that always just me doing the puking?) Or maybe this writer (I'm still here, you do realize?) is original and has thought up a unique "date" story that is less predictable and either more gory, blasphemous or marvellously mundane than the average. Well, as the curtains rise, we see the couple on their first date - everything seems normal. She is lovely and is hanging on his every word which is beautiful but may become cumbersome as time goes on an especially if he uses longer and longer words and decides to go for a run or a swim or something where hanging on becomes very challenging. He has clearly just come from a hair cut and we get the sense (thanks to well chosen music by the director) that he is confident, cliched and missing some of his hair. After a few minutes, the audience realizes how this take on a date is different as we hear their inner thoughts every other line. Now before any of us say "unoriginal!" the twist is that the characters speak to each other with brutal and often unnecessary honesty and their inner thoughts are the more civil and polite things that we usually say. But when they are voicing these harsh, critiques to each other they don’t even over react – it is as if the world operated that way (Woah, that is a bit a original! Bravo, playwright, bravo - we did doubt you and you proved that a small fraction of that doubt was misplaced). So maybe the playwright is advising as all to be like that. Maybe the commentary is that we should just walk around saying the absolute truth all the time in a "take-no-prisoners" fashion and let the chips fall where they may. The audience is taking this in and contemplating this brave new world but seem to be struggling with the role of the inner monologues that are sweet, non judgemental and socially appropriate. Are these their true feelings as inner monologues usually are? Or are these being said mostly to appease our sensibilities so we don't leap out of our seats and start rioting? Or maybe the playwright inserted them as he was working on two different plays and merged the documents accidentally on his computer (yikes! did I actually do this? be right back)? Anyways, the two characters are both overly sarcastic throughout, but get more and more polite as the play goes on and at the end the politeness pisses each other off and the date and play is over. The audience is unsure what it all means and the overall reaction is fairly muted but everyone seems to appreciate the fresh take on the overdone date story even though people aren't totally sure what it all is meant to mean. "At least we will always have this experience together," one man will be overheard saying to his girlfriend as they leave the theatre before she instantly walks the other direction.

4)   The Meeting – The curtains open on a meeting between three friends trying to make a big decision. They are in a small well lit room that seems to be immaculately designed (the question "who is the interior decorator?" is murmured throughout the audience). The mood among the friends is hard to place (then again the curtains have only been open for a few minutes and there has been minimal dialogue so what's the rush? Relax and enjoy the show and quit pressuring us to answer all of your questions!). One character seems to be the anxious one, another the practical conservative type and the last just can't stop slurping his coffee and seems to be equal parts bored, interested and aloof (although his aloofness is hard to carry off while slurping). The three have snuck away from their respective jobs, wives, 2000 piece jigsaw puzzles and potato peeling to meet covertly and plan. "What are they planning?" is heard amongst the audience members after about 10 minutes watching the friends pace, punch the walls, order in Chinese, and take a break to practice their acapello singing routine for the county fair next month. The audience really is growing impatient and are becoming less interested in sitting on their hands (a strange request made by the director) and bite their tongues (also a strange request and quite painful too). This audience is demanding to know - are they running away? planning to confront the neighbourhood bully? robbing a bank? organizing an amazing three course dinner for their wives? And the underlying question throughout is who designed the room and would they be free to come over to my place after the play and help with the renovations. The first act ends with the three deciding to go ahead with their plan and the audience still has no clue what they are planning. The audience is frustrated and generally feel that whatever it is they are planning it better be good. The second act is a series of monologues leading up to the fateful meeting from act one. The stage is split in three parts each lit differently and each actor sits on a different easy chair with a modern, chic coffee table on top of a throw rug and addresses the audience directly. We learn about each character and what let them to that meeting. The first character gripes and complains about everything but is smooth and biting and is connecting with the audience's sensibilities (an audio tape of his spoken word monologues is available for purchase after the show). The second reads poetry about sunsets and puppy dogs and love lost and "oiling the machine" (it seems to be his own personal poetry and he mentions that books of his poetry are also available in the lobby after the play). The third character refuses to take part in this act and spends his time in stage slurping coffee and drawing hilariously inappropriate nude pictures of audience members with disproportionately sized and shaped features (these too are available for sale after the show or else he will post them online). In the third act they are meeting again and they argue and argue aside from a bathroom break and a phone call one character has to take from his mom (the actor's actual mother called him on his own phone and he decided to take the call during the play). The play ends with the men deciding to go back to their boring unfulfilling jobs, their beautiful sensual wives and their immaculate and modernly designed houses. Whatever it is they were planning can wait for another day. The second the show ends the three actors commence hocking their wares, and it sort of seems like the play was mostly a vehicle to help them with their own art.

5)   The Butcher – The play opens and we meet Joe, a nice, well-meaning, sensitive young man who works as a butcher. In fact, he is the best butcher in town and people flock from miles around to see him and either buy, or at least be in the presence of, the meat. The opening act takes place in his noisy store and it is literally packed full of people jostling for the best cuts of meat. In the second act we see Joe during the off hours chopping meat, singing beautiful songs about hand-made sausages, sawing through bones and splattering blood all over himself and the audience members sitting in the well-labelled "Splatter-zone", massaging sides of beef thoroughly with such tender and care and crying softly with his head down on a pile of chicken skin. Clearly he is a bit messed up. In one scene he draws faces on the pork chops and puts small wigs on them and tries to act out the Barber of Seville with them. In another, he plays poker with innards and upon losing makes a pate out of "that cheating kidney". And in yet another scene, clearly at a psychological and physical low point and racked with guilt and remorse, he travels to a local farm and implores the farm animals to butcher him reserving the tenderloin for his next door neighbour who always seems to be eyeing him and licking his lips. In the end, he continues to return to his popular store each day selling only the best meat and slowly losing his mind. In a questionnaire after the play, audiences will agree that all though they feel badly for his predicament and his clear need for some mental health services, that if the meat is actually that good, then society is for the better. The director auctions off the prime cuts of meat after each show initially meant as a fundraiser for the theatre but instead decides to use the money to go on vacation.

6)   The Break-Up? – The play starts with two little toddlers, one girl and one boy, both excessively cute and endearingly innocent. Immediately the audience is taken with these two babies and numerous people will subconsciously plot to actually abduct them after the show (don't worry, the audience members are upstanding members of society - this is seen to as each person upon buying a ticket is subject to the most stringent screening process possible). They are either the cutest babies ever or award-winning adults cast in the role of babies with a whole lot of makeup on. After a few minutes, it is clear that they not only don't play well together but, as much as babies can, they seem to hate each other and wish the other was less cute so that they would seem even more cute by comparison. There are no physical interactions, just lots of evil eyes and cold shoulders. In the next scene, we see the two again, this time as slightly older kids swinging on a swing set at the park. They still hate each other and the audience is treated to the most passive aggressive bordering on actual aggressive theatrical swinging ever seen and yet they continue to play together. In the next scene they are dating teenagers who constantly put each other down with biting sarcasm and harsh critiques and send hate-filled notes to each other in class. They are seen walking the halls of their high school either holding hands with such malice and spite or sitting in the cafeteria eating with such malice and spite It is a marvel that either can chew and swallow and this usually is greeted with a round of applause by audiences. When the curtain comes up now they are young professionals and are room-mates sharing an apartment. There are actual lines drawn on the floors splitting each room into his and her territories and everything is labelled. We view them sharing a romantic dinner complete with chocolate soufflé, red wine and a candle but no one says a word and the silence and suspenseful theme music creates such a tension that audience members will need a massage afterwards (good news! The producer's brother has a massage clinic set up next door. Show your play stub for 5% off!"). After dinner the two watch a movie sitting as far away as possible from each other as possible (his face is nearly plastered against one wall and she is under the couch) making sharing the bowl of popcorn really challenging. Finally they are married adults whose public displays are intentionally highly embarrassing for the other. They own a family restaurant and spend all day together working side-by-side supporting each other with a seemingly endless stream of cursing, nonsensical metaphors comparing the other to ugly animals, and hugs that look like they would dislocate multiple ribs. As the play ends and it is clear that these two will stay together for as long as they both shall live and will always share a hatred, the audience is left wondering what message the director was trying to send and whether there was a point. Don't forget the discounted massage!

7)  The Counsellor – This play takes place inside a high school's counsellor's office. The first scene is of an empty room as the director doesn't want to shock the audience and rush into things and also he was just too cheap to hire any actual actors (maybe if he cut back on all of the egg benedicts he devours he could afford some?) Thankfully the scene is not that long and in the second scene a student enters stage right (doctor told him the director that he must cut back on the hollandaise) and has come in to see their counsellor for help. Before opening up about the real issues the student tells a long, elaborate, mostly time-wasting story about her fascination with paper and also her concern that she will one day run out and will have many regrets. The counsellor goes on and on about trying to live without regret mostly as it is poor for your complexion and also because her time would be better spent feeling guilty as that is more marketable in this day and age. She nods her head wistfully, while he takes out his note book and starts frantically jotting down notes all-the-while using massive amounts of hand sanitizer. There is a long pause in their conversation and both peer around and look out the window to ensure no one is watching and then they both walk down the hall and into a large adjoining room that is full of pants and many students are hard at work sewing, cutting and folding finished pants and packing them in boxes. We learn that the counselling suite is a mere front for a large, illegal pant making and distribution centre. The counsellor is the boss - a hard-as-nails, take-no-nonsense, insists-on-eating-all-food-in-either-"fingers"-or-finger-shapes man who breaks into an elaborate song-and-dance number (note: this is not a musical, and the song was not part of the play - this actor has decided to improvise) about his ongoing complicated relationship with pants and people who wear them and his desire to not only clothe the people of the world in the finest of pants made from the best fabrics but also to profit illegally from this. The student is taken aback by the song and after gathering themselves for a moment, responds with a song of their own just in case it is a sing-off. The student sings of a world in the future where everyone has equal access to pants and have evolved to a point where visiting aliens won't be able to tell where the pants end and the person begins. The song is so moving, that all of the actors break down and cry all-the-while gently stroking each other's pant legs and murmuring "pants...pants...pants". The songs are so catchy that the play somehow decides to make the full conversion to a musical and the play ends with the entire cast singing a song in alternating verses about the history of illegal clothing rings and how easy it is to use high school counselling departments as a front for illegal clothing rings. Audiences love this rousing number and they are all a buzz so much so that they miss the disclaimer from the director that absolves him of any wrongdoing in case anyone just happens to try this themselves. 

8)   The Rehearsal – The school play is supposed to go on next week and this play is about the final week of dress rehearsals and all of the mishaps that occur. The play focuses on the nervousness and off-stage, behind-the-scenes interpersonal drama of this play within a play. This playwright (that's me!) decided to capture every stereotypical situation and use them to the extreme. That means instead of the actors solely feeling a bit anxious as the tension of opening night fast approaches, half the cast is stricken with such intense anxiety, that they are rushed en mass to the local university hospital for observations and tranquilizers. This also means that instead of one actor cheating on his girlfriend with one of the female leads, the entire cast are all involved in a multitude of relationships that involve almost every single paring imaginable (including some that aren't). The second act only involves behind-the-curtains kissing, breakups, crying and then more kissing and it is so confusing about who did what with him and who is seeing who, that the playwright didn't even try to make logical sense of it. After a while the actors don't even bother going behind curtains. Incidentally, a downside of all of the scripted relationships is that it put a real strain on some of the actual relationship the actors were in before the play mostly as a result of the actors becoming totally confused due to the sheer number of different relationships they were in during the course of this play. Usually the week of dress rehearsals is full of forgotten lines, sets that aren't complete, and an overall concern that the play won't come together on time, and all of these are present in this play as well. One scene is only actors forgetting their lines. Another scene shows sets literally falling apart and falling on actors causing serious injuries (the Worker's Compensation Board has a booth set up backstage). The director had to work hard to avoid too many actually injuries caused by sets actually falling apart and was aiming for something far more artistic. Another scene is the director reading the cast notes and alternating between berating them for being such amazingly horrible actors and literally kissing their feet and wrapping them with the finest of silk scarves (the director has a huge collection of silk scarves that he has loaned to the actor playing the director in the play to dole out as he sees fit). We see a scene where the actors are discussing mutiny and taking over this sinking ship with the voice of reason finally being heard that it is a play not a boat (the confusion being that the play in the play takes place on a boat that is meant to be sinking), despite the overall sinking feeling, which is quite real. The actors go so far as buying some rope to tie the director up with, until they decide to make a really great rope sculpture which is enjoyed by all and becomes a symbol of their unhappiness. We also see a scene where the director addresses himself in the mirror and covers a variety of topics including why he didn't become a doctor as his mother wanted, why he didn't become a lawyer as his father wanted, why he didn't become a director as he wanted (remember, he is only an actor playing a director, which is actually quite a slap in the face and a daily reminder of your own shortcomings for a person who wanted to be a director). He tears his hair out the night before the play opens while giving his final set of encouraging notes. The audience is initially unsure if he is actually tearing his hair out until they witness the yelps, screams and blood. The final scene is the night of the play and the play ends with the opening of the curtain. In the end the play within a play concept created much confusion for everyone, mostly the playwright who just couldn't keep track of having an actual set of actors and director as well as actors and a director in the play. The playwright also cast someone as a playwright, although they had no lines or entrances and weren't actually in the play. Their main job was to make toast for the playwright and to keep the toast coming.

9)   The Job Interview – A man is about to be interviewed for a job. He is VERY nervous and is profusely sweating to the point where it may influence his chances negatively. As the play opens we see him sitting down in the waiting room, bouncing his leg up and down, then jumping up and pacing up and down the room. There are others in the room too, also waiting to be interviewed and they are either very calm or just calm in comparison. Finally it is his turn and he enters the interview room and sits at a desk in front of a woman with glasses and a stern, impatient look on her face. She asks him some basic questions looking bored and disinterested the entire time. His answers are full of stammering and stuttering and most of what he says is nearly incomprehensible. It does not seem to be going well at all and as soon as it began, the interview is over. A few socially appropriate niceties are shared and he turns to leave the room. As he grips the door handle. She jumps up and says "Stop!" He turns overly dramatically and slowly and she whips off her glasses throwing them on the desk and unfurls her hair and they run to each other and embrace and start a very very long makeout session that is either unscripted or just really poorly scripted. Some audience members grow quite uncomfortable watching the two kiss for such a long time and will demand a refund, other audience members feel that they got a fairly good deal on their ticket and a small section of the audience will take out their wallets during the performance and offer tens and twenties to the couple in the hopes that they may take it further. At last, the kiss is over, she retrieves her glasses and hair tie from the floor and he straightens his hair. She touches his face, gently at first, then pawing at it like a cute little bear and then much more aggressively almost as if she is kneading it until she is actually kneading it. He stands there stunned. The nervousness is gone and he turns to the audience and launches into a long monologue about why he is so nervous and it all started when he was a child and his parents rewarded him with chocolate and hugs when he displayed anxiety. He would ask his mother for a hug goodnight and she would refuse and make him ask again only this time with more jittering. He would ask his father for a chocolate bar and his father wanted to see more anguish and caution before he would relent. Retrospectively, he feels that he should have known as a child that this was wrong, but, he loved hugs and even more so chocolate. The story goes on to talk about the years of therapy to deal with his nearly crippling anxiety and chocolate fixation. He had a schoolboy crush on his therapist which he never acted upon mostly as he was 30. We learn about his inability to hold a job as he would want to hug anyone who made him nervous. He talked of the long, lonely nights, sitting in his easy chair just profusely sweating and hoping for a break. His story ends with the present day. Then she steps forward and tells her story. She was raised in a small apartment in the heart of the city by two strict and unloving parents who only showed love for her when she was brushing her hair. At an early age she took a part-time job hoping to save money for some smart business casual outfits with the hope to wear them one day. A pivotal moment in her life was her first eye exam. The optometrist would become her first lover, but it was a love doomed to fail as he literally only loved her for her eyes. The next big highlight came when she left home to go away to school and had saved up to buy her first blazer. The man who sold her the blazer became her lover as well and he was always giving her random pieces of fabric to show his love for her. This relationship also failed when it became clear that she was nothing but a living and breathing mannequin to him. She got a job in human resources mostly as she was intrigued at the idea of seeing humans as resources. She loved her work and was on the cusp of inventing a whole new method of human resourcing mostly involving glue.  And then she met our nervous guy. The play ends with the two locked in embrace and starting to kiss again. The audience leaves happy for the two that they have found each other but also needing a cold shower. It is completely unclear whether he got the job, what kind of job it even was and whether the kissing was part of the interview.

10) Life - The lights come up on a stage with five actors sitting on stools all in a straight-line facing the audience. The stage is bare, their costumes are black and their faces expressionless. There is no music accompanying this opening and the silence is finally shattered by the voice over that says "When it all began they were happy" and we hear the actors squealing with  joy, laughing and practically singing about how pleased they feel until we hear a loud "ding" and they immediately stop. The voice says "Then they were angry" followed by the five actors yelling, screaming and vocalizing all of their anger until we hear the "ding" and all are instantly silent again. After a moment, the voice says "Afterwards they grew sad" and the actors cry, weep and moan about their complete unhappiness until the "ding". The voice says "they danced" and the actors all rose from their stools and danced a beautifully choreographed contemporary routine where they start out moving like leaves blowing in the wind, followed by a change in tempo where they transition into looking like lost wolves in a snowy forest. The music becomes more upbeat and the actors gracefully leap all over the stage holding a variety of colourful ribbons. This stunning section of the dance is followed by the dancers dancing like old-fashioned robots badly in need of some oil until a woman enters vividly from offstage wearing a huge scary mask and emitting a noise that sounds like equal parts cackling and laughing. The others stop, stunned by this dramatic entrance and also because they really need some oil. She oils them and leaves. The music then becomes beautiful and flowing and the actors move as if they are water being poured from a pitcher onto an unsuspecting cat or water being emptied from a large bath or waves slowly lapping onto the beach (all water analogies are apt as there is a sound of dripping water in the music - mostly because someone forgot to fix the tap that was dripping in the background as they recorded the music at the studio). And the dance concludes with the five moving as one hitching and halting and changing directions dramatically almost as if controlled by a large, invisible joystick until they collapse in a heap on the floor breathing as one as the music tapers down to a single, repeated note on a piano. We hear a "ding" and the voice returns and says "Finally, they slept" and the actors are yawning, brushing their teeth and quietly rocking back and forth ending in sleep. The quiet snoring and breathing is interrupted with the loudest "ding" and then blackout. The audience will leave either feeling that the play was a beautifully touching story about the plight of the modern man or that it was totally confusing, unfocused drivel that is evidence of the playwright either running out of ideas, needing medical attention or both.