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A Strange Imbalance

March 30, 2017 Leave a comment

This endless thing between men and women takes many varied forms. With some exceptions, a man wants a woman. Also with some exceptions, a woman wants to be wanted by a man. This seems like a very workable setup… but it isn’t, and I don’t know why.

I’m old now, so I know a lot of stuff. I didn’t age in a simple, secure way, so my adventures have shown me much about a wide variety of subjects. I have been tormented by the typical male animal need to mate with as many females as possible. It’s an annoying compulsion, which I believe must be forgiven. We are, after all, simply highly developed primates, with the natural instincts of any mammal. Female people also have the ebb and flow of desires, and when the male/female balance is there, it’s like the meaning of life. No form of animal instinct is stronger than the need to mate.

Sometimes, while walking my dog or sitting in my car at a traffic light, I see a person that appears to be unattractive. He might be obese and red-faced. She might be shuffling along in tacky garments, grey faced with depression. I say to myself, “Did that person ever experience the feeling of being desired?” Probably not, I conclude, but then why stay alive?

Whenever I have been desired by a woman and enjoyed the comfortable intimacy, I have thought to myself how splendid it is. How wonderful that this lovely, fragrant person shares herself with me as I do with her. We make love with each other, not to each other. I’m sad for anyone that has not enjoyed the feeling being desired.

All My Friends But One Have Died

March 29, 2017 Leave a comment

It’s something one is unlikely to think about until one is very old. The people and pets that have occupied your life begin to die off. Several pets pass during our lives because their life span is about 15 to 25 years. Cats, dogs, horses, fish and birds live a full life in fewer years than do us primates. I admit that I enjoy being older than most people, and I love the phrase I stole from Gloria Steinem: “Most people my age are dead.”

I suppose my condition will decline before I pass away, but for now, on the cusp of 80, I’m okay. I walk, I drive, I played with my Doberman until last week, when she died of old age, at twelve. I guess I’m one of the lucky ones who inherited good genes. It’s true that I take 16 pills a day, but in my defence, I never felt the need. Each medication came into my routine when doctors had me tested during annual examinations. One of Canada’s true blessings is the health care system. They apparently realize it will cost a lot less to strengthen the age-weakened than to let them fall apart and then have expensive care to keep them going.

So Joey died first, leaving a troubled wife with three young children. He was extremely, morbidly obese, and it killed him. I believe his food addiction was because he was only about 5 feet 4 inches tall, and might have led him to take on size in the wrong direction. We’d sometimes meet for lunch in a favourite deli. My bill would come to six or seven dollars – his bill would be about ten or twelve dollars. He once told me that when he had business lunch appointments, he’d go early, eat first, then eat again when the associates arrived. That’s not all. After the lunch meetings broke up, he’d stay and eat again, alone. He was a witty, humorous friend, and I did my best to get him to control his diet, but it was impossible, and he died at 44.

Mitch died next, at seventy. He had lived a tough guy life, had been convicted and jailed when a young man, for robbery and again for marijuana marketing. He was a wonderful, colourful guy whom I completely trusted. He had much higher moral standards than do many police personnel. His wife had died from cancer decades before. One of his sons turned out to be gay, and voluntarily disappeared from Mitch’s life. Very sad. His other son, however, is a fine, handsome man, married with children that thankfully Mitch got to know before he died. The son is a successful television writer and producer.

Dave died most recently. He was never quite right, emotionally. Although very intelligent, remarkably articulate and good-looking, he could never have a typical relationship with a girl. He liked girls, and they certainly liked him, but somehow, he couldn’t ‘feel’ the mutual emotion. Frankly, he enjoyed prostitutes, and felt friendly toward them. Obviously, they represented sex without emotional stress. He declined as he aged, as I heard when I lived in a distant city. He spent 10 years like a vegetable on his aged mother’s sofa. He had been a late life child. His two older brothers and one older sister didn’t sympathize with him, which is something I never understood.

The oldest brother took over the family business, a successful retail store in a priceless location. Jack Nicholson once shopped there for things to wear in “The Last Detail.” The eldest was really just golfing while letting the business die.

The second brother was a successful pharmacist with a thriving store. Both brothers were, bright, humorous storytellers, as was Dave. The sister was just cold. She had married a foreign hustler, lived with him in Rome, in luxurious accommodations while driving around the ancient city in a Lincoln Continental convertible. The hustler husband eventually got nailed and was jailed. His wife, the sister, came back to Canada and existed as an obese welfare recipient.

I had a hobby farm in the mountains when in my sixties. I kept horses there. Dave had always been a riding fan, and had even owned a horse and beautiful tack, saddle and all. I heard he was living on his mother’s sofa, so I got in touch with him and brought him out to the farm. I gave him simple chores in horse care, in which he’d been educated, and set out to restore him to normalcy. I kept him there for six years, paid him, housed him, got him his drivers’ license back, paid income taxes to gain him pensions.

Dave declined even at the farm, doing the work he dreamed of. Finally, I gave up and took him back to his oldest brother. I drove away and have no idea what happened after that. Somebody sent me an obituary on Dave. I’d never seen one like it. There was a big photo of him, smiling, in a suit jacket and shirt and tie. I’d never seen Dave dressed like that in thirty years. I’m baffled by where the photo came from, and why. Why was he dressed like that, and why had an emotionally challenged failure gained this final notoriety? I’ll never know, and I’ll always regret that I was unable to re-light his life.

My dearest friend is still very much alive. We live about 350 miles apart, and speak on the phone two or three times a day, sometimes for more than an hour. He’s 8 years younger than I am, at 72, and we share a tenuous connection that stretches back fifty years. He and I are the survivors. I will likely go before he does. Although my mother lived to 94, his grandfather lived to 109. He’s also very active. He plays tennis almost daily, and in winter, is a successful competitive snowboarder.

I’m much more sedate. In our day, we were both amateur race car drivers, and I’ve done a lot of wilderness camping. I even lived in a wilderness cabin for four years, lacking telephone lines, cell towers or Internet. It’s a pleasurable, all day job just to survive out there. Now, in my home in this small farm village, I just draw pictures, sculpt clay, paint canvas, and most of all, write stuff like this to relax.

I’d Prefer to be a Seagull

March 29, 2017 Leave a comment

When I was a kid, I used to stand out at the end of the pier in front of our cottage at Thunder Beach, on Georgian Bay. I’d stand with the wind at my back, so the seagulls could hover in front of me with the wind beneath their wings, so to speak. They’d line up in tiers, five or six levels high, dozens of wings gleaming in the summer sun.

I’d toss bits of bread up in the air to them. One golden beak after another would snap my gift out of the air and zoom off, while the next gull filled the space. It was a wonderful feeling, standing less than 3 feet from a soaring cloud of gorgeous birds.

They weren’t always soaring; sometimes they were walking on the beach. Waddling, actually, and picking up tiny edibles from time to time. Sometimes they were floating, comfortably bobbing over the waves. At will, they would rise from the surface and gracefully power themselves to… anywhere they want. They can literally go anywhere in the world. They can fly on a breeze, and if they’re tired they can sit on the water. If they want to avoid a storm, they can walk under a tree. If they’re hungry, they are capable of either scavenging or hunting. So, I’d Prefer to be a Seagull.

I’m a seagull on a weekend, walking along the beach at the foot of Toronto. Not only is this a lovely place, where people can stroll together on the boardwalk, but also, a law protects us seagulls. People can go to jail for hassling us. Cool, eh?

There’s a lot to eat along the boardwalk. People drop pieces of hot-dog bun, or a kid drops an ice-cream cone, and there we are, earning our keep. We pick up and consume the dropped things of others. When we’ve had enough, or some kids bother us, we just glide out to sit on the cool waters of Lake Ontario. The water’s clean, with things for us gulls to hunt, as well as scavenge.

The only thing wrong with the Toronto Beaches neighbourhood, which is gorgeous, by the way, is that winter comes to Toronto. It’s not serious, like Montreal or Buffalo, but it’s winter, and Lake Ontario freezes in places. I’d rather not stay by the city and live uncomfortably, even though there’s plenty to eat, even in winter.

I spread my broad, beautiful wings and lift off. I could go to Spain, or Australia, or anywhere. It’s no problem for me, the seagull. I can stop anytime, anyplace, to rest or eat. I think I’ll glide over to Malta for a few months. I’ll be “The Maltese Seagull.” Take care of yourself.

Always in the Wrong Flock

March 27, 2017 Leave a comment

I came from an upper-middle class family. Sufficiently ‘upper’ to belong to a top country club, an exclusive yacht club, and to have a fine city home and a fine summer home on a lake. The catch is; I hated it. I liked having a speedboat, a sports car and a free credit card; after all, I was a teenager. At the same time, I hated the kind of people among whom I lived. I hated the country club ways, and the people that gathered there. If you’ve seen ‘Goodbye Columbus’, you get a look at what it was like. It wasn’t for me.

I like simple people. Honest people with car payments and rent problems like average people. So I lived among simple, hard-working people. I became a simple, hard-working person. I worked in a wholesale fabric warehouse, assistant to the shipper. But I was always separate. Most of those people are devoted Christians. I’m a devoted Atheist. I speak in a more accurate way than my neighbours, and it’s obvious to them. I know some things about art, theatre, and music. They know country music, agriculture and animal husbandry. The people in my area tapped the trees and boiled sap into maple syrup. I helped neighbours with that, just for the love of the experience.

After a few years, I had some friends in the area, but still at arm’s length. I dated women I met on the Internet, so I could seek some that were from a somewhat similar background to mine. They were just small social events among people who wanted to spend less time alone. I believe some of the women would like to have formed relationships with me. To avoid misunderstanding, I always made it clear that my intent was to enjoy with her, some dinners, some movies or concerts, some picnics and goodnight. Each always agreed that it was simply keeping company. These women were usually up to twenty years younger than I was, and a relationship wouldn’t work.

I felt fed up with being semi-accepted in my community and in my private life. I decided to change up, although I’m not sure that the wealthy community is up and not down. Especially during the era of Trump. In any case, I sold out and took my talents into advertising. I used my art and writing commercially. I also created and wrote a television series. I was soon able to buy my way into the pinnacle class of Private Clubs. The average member family had at least a billion dollars. I wore the right suits, I spoke the right words and dated the right ladies. Still, I was again on the fringe.

It was the reverse of the simple, hard-working people. These people never worked. They only lived high and wasted excessively on grandpa’s efforts and innovation. They collected art by price more than quality. They supported operas but rarely attended. Their children were ghastly and destined to replicate their decadent parents. I didn’t fit in. I couldn’t stand them.

Finally, I realized that I’m deeply antisocial, and all of these different levels of society don’t fit me, nor I them. I took a job as a lighthouse keeper. Now I sit out there on that rock, the sea around me leaping and dancing, while I make lunch. Sometimes I paint pictures. Sometimes I watch seabirds, plunging and rising with their struggling prey held tightly in their sharp beaks. I have my dog. He and I have an excellent, calming relationship, and all is well in the lighthouse. My flock is me and my dog.

Imagine Your Second Life

March 27, 2017 2 comments

A second life does not mean an afterlife or reincarnation. I want to imagine being me, with the opportunity to live an additional life. I think I’d like to begin at eighteen, knowing everything I know now. I’m eighty years old, and I’ve always lived an interesting life with many challenges and many changes. Changes are naturally traumatic to most people, but I seemed to flourish amid many changes.

I crank myself back about sixty-two years, and I am immediately stuck between a rock and a hard place. As I have grown old, I have learned of lifestyles and career potentials that never entered my mind. In the 1950s, television didn’t present such wonderful insights into the Earth and the Universe.

In recent years, I find myself sitting in front of a television screen and watching wildebeest plunge into rivers amid crocodiles. Cheetahs chasing elegant antelope were also stunning videos. Somebody was there, witnessing and preserving splendid events. I could have been that person, had I chosen to educate myself for that.

But a naturalist cinematographer was not the only thing I’d like to have been. I met people, ‘starving artist’ types, and realize I could be that way, living day to day, being creative among eccentric friends. I could have lived in Paris, and been one of the characters on the streets. But that’s not all.

I would have loved to be a sailor. I would have enjoyed being a steward on a private sailing yacht, or a crewman on an international freighter. I would have loved being an architect, designing buildings. I would have loved being a Park Ranger, living alone on a fire tower in the forest. I would have enjoyed living alone as a lighthouse keeper.

Now I realize that it would be difficult to live another life. It’s been tough enough living this one. However, after stumbling through a couple of decades of ignorance I was led to the creative field by a wonderful YMCA Guidance Test. Thereafter, I became a happy, satisfied writer and artist. All the same, filming on the Savannah…

Dolphins Saved My Life

March 26, 2017 Leave a comment

I can’t tell you the reasons why Bernie and I went to Miami in 1959, because I can’t remember. It was a stupid thing to do. We were both eighteen, and broke at the time. We borrowed a credit card from Johnny Maxwell, a broke, out of work stagehand. We put our stuff in Bernie’s new ’59 Ford convertible and set off for Miami Beach

I vaguely remember having some kind of crisis on the road south, but I can’t remember what it was. I just remember being pulled off on the side of the road in a place where the road was the only sign of humanity. One of us finally caught a ride to the next town and got gas or oil or whatever this brand new Ford needed. We eventually got to Miami and checked into the Aztec Hotel. We met the pool boy there, a short, Mickey Rooney sort of guy. He was wild, and took his job to be making love with any older women and their daughters that stayed at the Aztec. But that’s another story.

Bernie had a prosthetic right leg from the knee down. A Toronto street car had severed it in an accident when he was twelve. I helped him out in the water or on the beach, although he was far from helpless. We were exploring all the tiny creatures in the shallow water close to shore. For a couple of days, the water had been black with a vast school of fish, Mullet I think they were called. I saw a kid about ten years old standing by the water. He had a diving mask, flippers and a spear gun.

I went over to the kid and asked to borrow the mask and gun. I didn’t want the flippers, and besides, they wouldn’t have fit me. The kid didn’t mind, so I took the mask and gun and swam out into the midst of the mullet school. I ducked under and was faced with a wall of fish swimming toward me and gently parting to flow around me. There was no space between fish, the water was totally filled with them. I figured I couldn’t miss, so I just shot the spear into their midst. I guess they felt it coming because they parted just enough for the spear to shoot harmlessly through a tunnel of fish.

Porpoise Protection

I re-loaded the spear gun, and this time took careful aim at a nice, plump Mullet. I nailed it, right through, just behind the gills. Suddenly, a large, dark shape swam past me. I freaked out. What if it’s a shark, and I’m here with a bleeding Mullet. I Saw it again, and it was a shark, about four feet long. They said it was a Sand Shark. I was afraid to make any frantic moves that might mean ‘injured prey’ to a shark. I learned later that a film crew was filming one of Lloyd Bridges “Sea Hunt” episode down the beach a ways, and one of the guys on the crew had a Sand Shark Chomp on his leg. They got him on shore and had to slash the belly of the shark several times so they could cut enough muscles to get the jaws open and free the guy’s leg.

A moment later, another large shape swam past me and almost touched me. It was a Porpoise. I saw two other porpoises, and I swear, the three of them were circling me, keeping a couple of sharks at bay. Apparently, a shark can be disabled by a hard hit in the side from a Porpoise’s snout. Sharks stay clear of Porpoises, although in this case the sharks were feasting on the same school of Mullet in which I was hunting.

I made my way to shore under the protection of porpoises. I returned the mask and spear gun to the kid, and left the fish on the spear for him. I’d had the adventure; I didn’t want the fish. The kid’s parents had the hotel dining room prepare it for their next meal.

After meeting some women and having some Miami challenges, we headed for home, 1600 miles away. At a later date, Bernie and I became independently solvent and bailed out good old Johnny Maxwell.

We Geezers Were Men

March 23, 2017 3 comments

You probably don’t know this scrunched old man. When you a see an old person who looks feeble and weak, remember that person was not always that way. This old man is Jack Brabham, and he wasn’t always old.

jack

Jack Brabham was a simple mechanic in his youth. He sometimes worked on racing cars. He had a better idea: he designed and built his own racing car. When he wasn’t satisfied with the performance of his drivers, he decided to drive himself.

Many old people achieved great, daring, difficult tasks. Some people were driven by need. Some were driven by desire. Some of us just love a challenge. Australian Jack Brabham went after challenges as if they were necessary for life. For him, they were.

jack 2

Formula One Grand Prix racing is the ultimate level and maximum challenge above all other forms of automobile racing. Jack Brabham is entitled to be a geezer… and so am I, although my achievements were much smaller than his were. Jack Brabham was a world champion driver/designer/builder in that most exacting sport.