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Rituals

July 12, 2017 Leave a comment

Rituals organize our lives. We ritualize our days, and have special rituals for some days. Monday to Friday, we do our morning ablutions, maybe eat something, and hurry off to the job. Throughout the day, on the job, a ritual of productivity proceeds. The journey to the job and the return to home at workday’s end are also rituals. Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday might be rituals unlike the workday rituals, but rituals all the same. Those of us that embrace religion have even more rituals. It matters not which religion one chooses to follow, rituals will be a big part of it.

A young couple lived a neatly organized and busy life. They lived in a small bungalow with just two bedrooms. They planned to have a family after five years, when they could afford a larger home. The second bedroom was Richard Stern’s office, in which he worked on line for a large transportation company. Mona Stern, Richard’s young wife, was a tax consultant. She worked for a large accounting firm. She was a certified public accountant, and had risen to become supervisor over a staff of nine. It was one of several ‘cells’. The company found that ‘teams’ in separate cells were more productive.

Mona Stern enjoyed her rituals. She’d rise at six in the morning, go straight to the bathroom to relieve herself and to shower. She would wear the outfit she planned the previous evening. In the small kitchen, she would enjoy her orange juice, rye toast and coffee while watching the news and weather report on her tablet. After the weather predictions, the sports news came on. Mona turned off her tablet, put it into her handbag, and left for the walk to the office. It was five blocks to her place of business.

By eight o’clock, Mona Stern was striding happily along Acorn Road, observing the many small, neat bungalows similar to her own. Ancient Oak trees shaded the street until the next corner. The busy rush hour was under way on Charles Avenue as it was every morning. As on every weekday morning, Mona turned right and strode along the narrow sidewalk. Old industrial buildings encroached on the sidewalk. They were remnants of the industrial revolution and had stood empty for decades. Mona ignored the cars lined up at red lights. She enjoyed her walk every morning, and was comfortable in the familiar routine that she had been repeating every morning for five years.

In the next block, an old building that had been a garment factory was to be transformed into luxury apartments, with the high ceilings and huge windows as selling points. The fact that there was a change taking place along her route after five years was just a bit unsettling. It altered the routine walk to work.

There were pickup trucks along the curb. Rubber cones were guiding the heavy traffic into one lane, around the trucks. High up on the roof parapet, people were installing a heavy beam to project out from the building. It was needed to create an elevator of sorts, to carry up workers, equipment, and materials. Mona was annoyed at the traffic clamour, and hastened her pace, to escape the irregularities.

At that moment, the rooftop workers faltered in their job. The beam dropped, slowly rotating top to bottom. It did not hit the sidewalk lengthwise. End first, the beam struck the old concrete walkway, pierced it like a piecrust and buried itself two feet into the ground. It hit the spot where Mona Stern had been, a second before she hurried to get away from the cacophony of car horns and engine roars.

The blasting sounds of the beam demolishing the concrete right behind her startled Mona. She jumped and turned around to see dust and particles swirling around an eight-foot tall steel beam. A nearby worker asked if she was okay, but Mona didn’t answer, she just strode on her way to her office. She used a quicker pace than her usual, ritual stride.

Throughout the rest of her day, Mona Stern struggled to do her work on the Dominica and Bolivar account. She struggled to stay focused while she assigned her team to various parts of her employer’s largest and most profitable account. The dropped beam, and the vast repercussions that might have come had it hit her, invaded her mind. She sat at her desk and analysed the routine that she knew so well. She began to question the wisdom of so regular a routine. Perhaps a change of situation, rather than a predictable routine, would be safer and perhaps beneficial. Mona resolved not to follow her usual, routine stroll home.

The office closed at four-forty-five. Mona Stern took the time to leave her files in impeccable order, her desk clear and the tools of her profession alongside her computer keyboard. She left the building moments after her staff and coworkers departed. In her normal routine, she would turn left and stride the route home. On this occasion, Mona turned right out of the building and strode in the direction away from home, husband, and fallen beam.

With no preparation and little thought, the young woman strode as far as the train station and boarded a train because it was leaving soon. Mona Stern didn’t care where the train was going; she just needed it to be free of routine.

At the point where the train journey terminated, Mona left the train. She attained an apartment, a professional position, and a new life. She fell in love with a co-worker that fell in love with her. They moved in together. Meanwhile, the young husband back home was frantic with worry. It seemed the authorities could not find Mona because she changed her name to Rose Kroll.

Rose Kroll, formerly Mona Stern, lived with her new husband in a neat bungalow within walking distance of her office. Her new husband began to work from home designing furniture. Every morning Rose showered, enjoyed orange juice, rye toast and coffee while watching the news on her tablet. When the weather forecast ended and the sports news came on, Rose Kroll left the home to walk to her office.

The Lisper of Bright Street

June 15, 2017 Leave a comment

Bright sign

The row houses that line Bright Street were built in 1898. The front of each house was built with beautiful clay bricks, laid with precision by skilled stonemasons. They are not large houses, and most became homes for people who worked in the surrounding industries.

After 100 years of devolution, the homes were on the cusp of being demolished. A real estate developer with a bit of imagination bought up the whole street, in 1998. He brought the homes up to date, with beautiful interiors and contemporary utilities, and offered them for sale. Of course, the close proximity to the business district and public transportation made them very desirable to young management professionals.

Bright Street

Milo Coccio was One of the last people to move into a home on Bright Street. His unit was between homes owned by single women; Jennifer Dodge on his left and Lana Munroe on his right. They first saw Mr. Coccio on a Saturday morning, when he was moving in. Milo sat beside a woman who was driving the minivan that pulled up in front of his new home.

Jennifer Dodge was sitting on her small porch in the morning sunshine, reading Senator Al Franken’s book, ‘Lies and Lying Liars Who Tell Them’. She was slight in build, with pale skin and blue eyes behind dark glasses. She wore white satin pyjamas under a matching robe. She watched with interest as the woman and Milo Coccio carried boxes into the house. She assumed they were a couple.

Seated on her front steps smoking a joint, Lana Munroe saw the couple moving in too, but she could see the family resemblance and assumed they were siblings. Every item that she could see, from the van to the house, was a man’s item. She saw no female items going into the house. She wondered why a big, good-looking man was moving into a carriage trade home all alone. She assumed he was either divorced or gay, although he showed no sign of gayness, but that doesn’t really mean anything.

The next morning was warm and sunny. Lana was seated on her steps smoking a joint, just as she had been the previous day. Milo Coccio stepped out onto his small porch.

“Welcome to the neighbourhood,” Lana called out happily.

“Thank you,” said Milo. He turned and went back into his home. Lana put the remainder of her joint into a coffee can and left for her job at the soda bottling plant, just a few blocks away. As soon as she was gone, Milo took a folding chair onto his porch and sat in the sun. He looked at the separate homes across the street, and envied them their garden.

Jennifer Dodge was sweeping her porch when she saw Milo.

“Good morning,” she said. “I’m Jennifer, welcome to Bright Street.”

“Thank you,” he said. “I’m Milo.”

“Nice to meet you, Milo,” she said. “If you need anything, a cup of sugar or something, please don’t hesitate to ask.”

“Thank you,” said Milo.

“You don’t have much to say, do you?” said Jennifer.

“No,” said Milo. “I am embarrathed by my thpeech impediment. Don’t be offended, but I’d really rather not be asthed to thpeak.”

Lana and Jennifer formed a pact. They would work together to get Milo Coccio out from behind his self-imposed wall of silence. He should get from society the kind of life a handsome, single man should have, lisp or not.

Locked Eyes with a Stranger

June 3, 2017 Leave a comment

I’m sure every mature person has experienced it. You’re walking up a busy downtown street after work. You’re satisfied with how your day went, you’re in no hurry to get home, so you’re enjoying a summer day in the city, as the sun gravitates to the west. A black person (male or female, depending on your preference) comes around the corner in front of you.

Your eyes lock, and in less than a second, the minds of both people scan through a list of familiar analyses. “That’s interesting; good looking; kind of sexy; nice body; moves well; I would have sex with that person.” You pass shoulder to shoulder in silence. The moment has passed.

A man walks into a large store. He seeks some parts for plumbing repairs, but can’t find the plumbing department. He sees a woman, and on her back she’s wearing the store’s logo, so she might help. He touches her shoulder.

“Excuse me,” he says. She turns and their eyes lock. In that instant, flames seemed to fill both chests. It’s amazing, immediate passion for both parties. The woman tries to turn her eyes away from his eyes, but they spring back for a second look. At the same time, the man is trying to ignore the sexual impulse and speak. At last the woman looks away, and the man asks her for directions to plumbing supplies.

The woman is tongue tied, and can barely say “Come.” She moves past him and leaves her department to escort him to plumbing supplies. Following her, he sees that her shape and movements are as enticing as her face and eyes.

She is wondering, “what am I feeling? I could get into trouble with this man”. He is wondering, “this is incredible. Should I make a move on her? I think she feels the same. What if it’s only me, and she just sees me as another schmuck customer”.

She arrives at the plumbing department, waves her hand in the direction of the aisle and takes off back to her department. He gets his plumbing parts and leaves the store without seeing that woman again. He never forgets her, and wonders if she also remembers the moment. She does, and both individuals regret that they let the magic moment pass.

A woman is standing at the vegetable display in a large supermarket. She is opening the small plastic bag that the store makes available in fruit and vegetable departments. From behind her, a man’s voice says, “how does one open these things?” The woman turns, holding her own bag, to demonstrate. She sees his face, their eyes lock, and in an instant, each is aware that they would accept the other as a lover. But not in a vegetable department of a supermarket.

She licks her fingertips and deftly slides the thin plastic bag open. The man copies her actions and opens his bag. He wants to carry on with her, but fears rejection. He goes to the fruit department, and doesn’t see the woman again.

Females Are Better Than Males

June 2, 2017 Leave a comment

I have to admit it. Not that men are nothing, but women bear a greater burden and a greater responsibility in society.

I recall a difficult time in my first marriage. Our second child was a daughter, as was our firstborn. However, this second child had a birth defect, called either Riley/Day or Disautonomia. The child was not responsive to anything, and had difficulty swallowing. Her mother had to give regular blood donations to keep her baby alive, and care for her in every way. Diapers, bottles, crib, bassinet as one needs for a healthy baby. The baby often spent nights in the hospital.

The phone rang at 8 on a Sunday morning. It didn’t wake my wife and daughter, so I got up quietly to answer the call. It was our baby’s pediatrician, calling to tell me that the baby had passed away in the early hours of the morning.

I returned to bed and lay still and silent until my wife awakened. I kept telling myself that the child’s death was best. A disabled child is a burden to itself and its family. This was best. The doctor was a family friend, and as I lay there, I wondered if he had unplugged the baby’s life support equipment so nature could do its thing.

When my wife woke up, drowsily, an hour or so later, I held her and told her that the baby was dead. She wept, she dressed, and she went to start breakfast. Our daughter would be asleep for a while. I showered.

In that whole misadventure, worst thing I had to do was tell my wife that her daughter had died. She had nurtured the baby with all she had, although it was hopeless. She also had the courage to become pregnant again, before it was determined what remote, rare disorder had taken the infant. When we learned that there was a 25% chance that the next child would be similarly afflicted, she stuck with it and we had a healthy son. I had that one traumatic moment. She had endured months of it.

Females are better than males.

10. THE LAND OF MILT AND HONEY

May 25, 2017 Leave a comment

Chapter 10

The awkward kiss ended abruptly. Both Milton Korn and Honey Freed realized what they were doing, at the same moment.

“Sorry,” said Honey. “I guess the smoke…”

“I know. It’s my fault,” said Milt. “Can we just forget it happened?”

“We can be more careful in the future,” said Honey.

“Of course,” said Milt. “Let’s take a break to clear our lungs, and our heads.”

“Good idea,” said Honey. She rose to go to the kitchen. “I’ll make fresh coffee, okay?”

“Perfect,” said Milt. “I’m gonna get some air on the terrace, okay?”

“I’ll bring the coffee out,” she said. Honey had solid ideas about her dream farm, because she’d been thinking about it, analysing it, and planning it for years. Milt, on the other hand, had run into the plan abruptly, and needed to catch up.

Milton Korn sat at the small table on Honey Freed’s terrace and gazed blindly at the array of buildings across the city. His mind was not there. His mind was sorting through the characteristics of his life, and how dramatically they had changed. He wondered why he had been so firmly redirected by his happenstance meeting with Honey Freed.

His mind did not dwell on the farm. Rather, he reviewed his brief acquaintanceship with Honey. Such unlikely commitments were not typical of Milt’s behaviour. Milt took his time with things, as he took his time with his paintings. The thought flashed in his mind for a millisecond that she might pose for him. He noticed her walk as she brought a tray with coffee and bagels. She swayed gracefully on long legs that brought her to the table, and Milt imagined that she’d be quite beautiful when nude.

Honey worried that the unexpected kiss might have changed the characteristics of the  partnership. They had never discussed the stimulation that might come from sharing close quarters in a remote location. They each thought about sex. Milt felt it would intrude into his life too much. Honey thought sex with Milt might be nice. Might be.

The Easier Life of Good Looking People

May 19, 2017 Leave a comment

If you’ve been looking at the coverage of the presidential madness in the USA, you might have noticed that almost all the reporters are good looking. I noticed that all the men wear dark suits and white shirts with tasteful ties. The women, on the other hand, wear simple, tasteful, form-fitting dresses in warm, basic colours. The forms of the women to which the dresses cling are slender and shapely.

It’s doubtful that there were no plain women applying for jobs of that kind. Obviously, the employers chose applicants with equal qualifications and better physical appearance. Are they really wrong? It’s a visual medium, so the picture should be as attractive and inviting as possible.

When we watch small, local television stations, we often see attractive, young people working their way up toward network jobs. Sometimes, there is an older person that  did not make the grade, or preferred the easier life in the smaller market. Perhaps people that are less good looking make careers in radio or journalism. Perhaps they had made it into a major market when young, and then cut back when older and not as good looking.

Jacketman

I admit that I was a good looking person when I was young, and I know how comparatively  easy was my life. I remember when times of dances, parties, and proms came along, several friends would be concerned about getting dates. Most of the boys liked to go ‘steady’ with one girl. It saved them from the trauma associated with social interaction in the teen community.

When I made calls in large offices, the receptionists always seemed happy to see me. They enjoyed telling me about the current situation in the office. That meant I could go into my meeting, knowing who was having a good day, who had a fight with a staff member, who liked donuts and who liked croissants. It all helps to put clients in the right mood for your pitch of whatever you’re pitching.

Women regularly use their physical attractiveness to get things. The butcher offers a better cut for the regular price. The grocer puts an extra pomegranate into the basket. The boss lets her have a long weekend. Maybe someday, she’d marry the boss.

Maybe the good looking young man in the parking lot will enjoy a relationship with a lady who is a lawyer, or a judge, or a doctor. In any case, if you are good looking, there are still some problems, but life is easier.

09. THE LAND OF MILT AND HONEY

May 17, 2017 Leave a comment

Chapter 9

Milton Korn listened while he ate the meal that Mitch, the albino friend/butler prepared and served. It was a good meal of roast beef, roasted potatoes, and bean sprouts. Across the table, Honey Freed talked slowly, with enthusiasm, about her plans and possibilities for the farm property.

While she spoke, Milt half-listened while he watched her face. It was a beautiful face, oval, tanned, and framed by a tumble of blond hair, streaked with darker shades. Her eyes were a deep, dark blue under neatly arched brows. While she spoke, excited by the visions in her head, her face was fully animated. Milt thought she behaved as if she didn’t know she was gorgeous. Of course she had to know, because people, mostly men, had been telling her she was beautiful since she was a little girl.

Watching the woman’s expressive face, Milt decided that she might be the most interesting woman he’d ever met. They knew nothing much about each other, and he knew that was a setup for problems. He decided it was time to talk about something other than the property and its potential.

“I’m 28 years old,” said Milt. It startled Honey, who was pouring out her heartfelt ideas for the farm, including animals.

“Wha… oh, uh?” said Honey.

“I think we have to know each other, before we go into details of the partnership,” said Milt.

“Oh. Well, what do you want to know?” said Honey.

Milton Korn began to tell his own story. His wealthy family in the legal, medical marijuana industry. His uphill battle to just be an artist, win or lose. Finally, his talent and concepts developed to the point where he can earn a very good living by doing the one thing he really wants to do – paint pictures.

Honey Freed unfolded her own story. Her grandfather developed a magical medical treatment that made him tremendously wealthy. He had only meant to do good for society, and surprised himself by succeeding in the rather high goal he’d set for himself. There was no reason for Honey to seek a career, but she did so because she wanted to be a producer/director. She began by studying broadcasting at Seneca, then acquired a job as a weather girl at a local station. She knew it was her looks that got her the job, and she used her brain and energy to rise to the position of producer/director. Her next goal, after acquiring the farm, was to put together a feature film deal, from script to Hollywood premier.

While they talked, they moved to the living room. They sat together, jotting notes about details agreed upon, and sharing a plump joint. The discussion began to get a bit silly as the drug took its effect. They giggled together about things that were not funny, while they passed the joint back and forth between them.

“I will have a couple of horses,” said Honey, “and some goats, some Scottish Highland Longhorn cattle, many dogs…”

“Hang on,” said Milt, drowsily. “I tol’ you I don’ want to aminals… animals.” He laughed.

Honey turned to face Milton. She put her hand on his thigh, and slid it up until it touched his scrotum in his jeans crotch. She leaned in and kissed him with a wide open mouth. Milton’s inhibitions had also been removed by the smoke. He cupped her breast and responded to the kiss. Honey felt the stiffness in his pants, and moved her hand over it.

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