Have You Ever Met Your Doppelganger?

October 10, 2018 Leave a comment

It’s said that everybody has one. An identical twin to which you are not connected is called a doppelganger. I’ve seen mine. The first time was on a public transit platform at about 1:00am. I was sixteen, returning home from a movie date. The tram stopped right in front of her building, so I dropped her there and continued a few blocks to the platform.

I had to leave the tram at the loop and catch the next bus north to get close to home.  The doppelganger was not going the same way as I was. His tram arrived before my bus. We looked at each other for a moment and he said, “We look alike.” I said yes. We nodded at each other and he boarded the tram.

Since then I’ve seen him shopping for groceries in a supermarket and lining up for concert tickets to a Bruce Cockburn concert. We just nod at each other and carry on with what we were doing without more contact.

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My Friends Didn’t Like Me

October 8, 2018 Leave a comment

I had no idea. I’m 81 years old, and I just found out that my friends from high school and beyond did not like me. How can one be friends with a person one doesn’t like? I just learned a while ago that I was disliked. I found on Facebook a friend from our late teens to middle 20s. All he said was, “Yeah, I’ve thought of you over the years, too.” He then cut me off and blocked me. I was shocked and upset. I had been living far away, in different places for about 45 years, but the memories are still warm for me.

Could it be that no good deed goes unpunished? I trace my memories from those days, and I begin to realize that I was more fortunate than my buddies. I honestly didn’t notice it at the time. We were in the same neighbourhood and went to the same high school, and I just didn’t notice. I realize now that I lived in the best house, had the best cars and we even had a summer home on a lake. My brothers and I each had our own powerboat.

My friends lived just a few blocks away from my house, where my brothers and I lived with our parents. The only reason why my life was better than my pseudo friends’ lives was, I guess, that my father was smarter, or worked harder, or was luckier than were my friends’ fathers.

Our home was a large, center-hall corner house with a double car garage at the back of the large back yard. We each had our own spacious room, beautifully furnished. Danny’s home with his parents was a below-ground apartment in a four-plex. Irv and Balsky lived in a nearby working-class neighbourhood. Most households had one car, my household had three cars, all new, all top of the line.

In my recollections, I can now notice the resentment in their eyes. Two of them needed transportation to help with their university-based lives. I did not attend any university. I had two, small, older economical cars for which I had plans as a hobby. Instead, I gave them the cars, one British car to Fred and one German car to Danny.

I pictured myself in their needy position, and this “friend” casually solves my problems. I, as a “needy”, can’t help but feel some resentment. “I’m desperate and he has cars to give away,” I might tell myself.

I’m 80. Most of my old friends have passed away. It seems they weren’t real friends anyway. I can’t change my ways now because it’s too late. Maybe I should not care about it, because I was doing the right thing. I was the victim of a unique bigotry against inherited good fortune. Perhaps it is true that no good deed goes unpunished.

A victim is not a sinner.

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One Can Live Too Long

September 11, 2018 Leave a comment

It becomes too much trouble to stay current on the steady flow of innovations in software and hardware. I wonder why people line up to get the latest gizmo. They can get it tomorrow without the lineup. If they’re out of stock, they’ll have more on Thursday.

One grows gradually into solitude. The associates that one encountered and sometimes befriended and sometimes loved begin to die off. One expects the people from the past to live more or less as one’s self lives. Strangely, almost all of them have passed away. The girls from high school, the young men and women that one dated or lived with are no longer in our society.

You look around yourself. You don’t know anybody. Nobody knows you. The shared experiences of life are now yours alone. From the time you “hooked” a chocolate bar at the corner store to the time you built a raft in the ravine and the time you drove to Florida with nothing but a borrowed credit card.

Thousands of experiences once shared, now cached in just your own fading memory. Passing one’s self along to others is a way to make a mark.

Tell the truth to children.

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All Jews Suffer When Some Do Wrong

June 15, 2018 Leave a comment

I was 16 years old in 1953 when, on June 19, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed for espionage against the United States of America. My family name is Rosenberg and my parents, my brothers and I are all Canadian born. We always lived in Toronto, yet we were under threat because of the Rosenberg spies in the USA.

We had nothing to do with it, of course. The only knowledge we had of it was from news out of the USA on our radios, televisions, and in our newspapers. In spite of our lack of any kind of connection to the spies, we received threats in the mail and on the telephone. “When the Rosenbergs die, you die,” was the message.

I remember two plain-clothes policemen being in our home on that day and a few days afterward, just in case somebody actually attempted something. Nobody did, of course, in gentle Canada and “Toronto the Good” as it was called in those days. I guess it was called that was because of our adherence to Sunday closing laws and the absence of alcoholic beverages except for government owned stores and the need to have a permit to purchase beer, wine and liquor.

My father received an envelope in the mail. It contained a newspaper story about the execution across which the sender had scrawled with red crayon, “Jews, the most hated race on earth.” I already knew about that kind of bigotry of course, because of the aggression I’d experienced in school and on the streets.

I find it especially ridiculous because, although I am of Jewish heritage, I don’t believe or practice any religious rituals. I am certain that there is no God and there is was no son of God. There was no meeting between Moses and God, nor does Mohammad or any other holy figure represent God. To have faith is to have a flawed belief system. Far better to have faith in one’s self to achieve or fail on one’s own.

We make our own mistakes and learn our own lessons. I have been against religious teachings since I was a teenager. Without any help from God, I have been successful and enjoyed good fortune all my life. I am 80, I am healthy and active, and have never prayed for anything, yet much good has come to me. I have often put myself in harm’s way in my quest for adventure, and always escaped harm without any God’s help.

I feel guilt when a Bernie Madoff or Michael Cohen type Jew does wrong. It’s a traditional burden that most men of Jewish heritage carry, even though it’s nonsense. Ugly encounters with anti-Semitic elements make it part of Jewish life.

The People of Your Life Grow Sparse

May 25, 2018 Leave a comment

I’ve decided to write at this moment, while my feelings are in great tumult. Although my life has kept me isolated from my boyhood pals and girls for several decades, I consider them a part of me, as part of the good and bad adventures we sometimes shared, and the stories we shared about them.

The advent of the Internet enabled us to search the world for old acquaintances. I’m in my eighties. I just learned that Bernie died. He was my closest friend from the age of fifteen to thirty. We were even brothers in law in our twenties for many years because we married twin girls. The news of Bernie’s death has shaken me a bit. I’m two months younger than Bernie, and I’m still here.

I read in his obituary details of Bernie’s final years. He suffered. He was supported by friends but cared for by strangers in several homes where they placed him. It breaks my heart to think of him in squalor. He was a fabulous character. He always dressed impeccably in fine garments. He always wore alligator shoes. He was exciting.

I felt the first impact of loss of past friends some years ago. I was told of the death of my long-time steady girlfriend from high school. At the same time I learned that her closest girlfriend, who I had dated once, was also dead. My “steady” had been a music teacher and the other woman had been a doctor. They’ve been dead for many years.

Added to my emotional burden about Bernie was news of another one of the guys. Marty was seen walking with a caregiver because he has dementia. The mutual friend who told me about it said Marty didn’t recognize her.

I have just one brother. There used to be three of us brothers, but our middle brother passed away several years ago.

My one remaining friend is seventy-three, and an active athlete at competitive levels. He participates in vintage formula auto racing, snowboarding, and tennis. I was never an athlete, but I’m able to do heavy work for short durations. I write blogs or stories every day, and usually do some drawings as well.

Why are Howie, Steve, and me  still here, while our flesh and blood and our friends are gone, physically or mentally?

Luck and genes I would guess.

Ice on the cedars

April 23, 2018 Leave a comment

Ice on the cedars; Powerful wind cracks ice off; Trees bow to the wind

I’m sitting in a darkening house, growing cold. Fierce winds driving an ice storm has killed the hydro power again. It was off in the night through to 10:30 this morning. Then on for a couple of hours and now it’s off again.

When it got uncomfortably cold in the house, we went to Henrik’s house, where he had power and a woodstove. He made us breakfast and I played with Rupert, Henrik’s really lovable Dachshund pup.

Meanwhile there’s the uncomfortable helplessness. The sump pump won’t run. The water pump won’t run. The phone system won’t work without power, but at least we have the cellphone. No Internet of course.

It feels to me like just another day. As you know, shit happens. One deals with things that are one’s responsibility and rides with the things that just happen. Erzsebet has gone to a girlfriend/neighbor that has a woodstove, so I’m peacefully here with you.

I find it strange that most of the village around us had power, but our street does not.

We just got a message from Henrick that Kati’s school went dark now as well, so he had to go get her and take her home. It seems it’s the whole village now. I’ll assume that the power people know about it, and that the power will come on before the ice cream melts.

We’re getting along well. We have the expected aches and pains, especially with the erratic weather. I’ve quit smoking because I acquired a severe sinus problem. I rinse my nose out a couple of times a day, and squirt a tiny mist into each nostril. That only lets me sleep with just one nostril working. The right side seems to have something serious wrong with it.

It’s quite uncomfortable, but all day long, when I’m vertical, I breathe quite comfortably. When I lie down, it blocks up. I can get the one nostril working if I lie on my right side. On the left side, something causes the left nostril to block up too. Sometimes I get up at 2 or 3 in the morning and rinse out my nose. I’m taking it in stride rather than waste time on concern. I figure I’m on borrowed time. Most people my age are dead.

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The Death of Seduction

April 17, 2018 Leave a comment

I have always enjoyed seducing women. To me, women are forever fabulous, and provide society with real intelligence. I mean ‘real’ in the sense that men are inevitably plagued by the need to mate while women are concerned with living life in a sensible, satisfying way. Men usually need the lure of a gorgeous car or a lovely sailboat.

I liken it to a bird of which I’ve read. Male birds of most any species earn the right to mate with the female they desire by exhibiting superior traits. It might be the enthralling mating song, or colourful puffed breast feathers or an irresistible dance routine. The male of one bird species lacks all of those desirable traits. He meets his mate because of his really cool place.

To attract a female, the ‘plain’ bird gathers colourful props, like bits of red wool, a yellow piece of a potato chip bag or a green button. This bird accumulates as much colourful stuff as it can, and uses it to decorate a small area amid ground foliage. When females see his cool digs, some find that it turns them on, and they fly in for a bit of lustful romance.

In the case of people, recent events require a re-thinking in the minds of men. Rule number one: no touching. Actually, I feel unsure about how a man should behave while earning acceptance by a woman. As with most people, I didn’t realize that harassment was so prevalent, nor do I understand what the offending men do to offend.

In the past, I have introduced myself by name. I’d try to get a conversation going about something of interest to her. I’d learn of her interests through the small talk, and then develop as much sincere interest in her for the rest of the dialogue. Now I would come to the line over which one must not step. How to get close without offending?

I used to mention her characteristic that I liked the most.

“I like your hair,” I’d say, if she had hair that I liked.

“That shade of lipstick is perfect with your complexion,” if it was true.

“You look like an athlete,” I’d say if I felt that way.

Today I’d have to hesitate. Would I offend with, “Can we meet for lunch?”