Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Dinner and a Show

I have these neighbours. The type of neighbours that never say hello unless you say hello first. They do not appear to know your name, that is until they find themselves stuck in a snowbank and need a push to get out of the tight spot and then your name flows like honey off of their lips. They religously attend church every Sunday. She teaches Sunday school classes. Her hair is always coifed. She is always dressed up, never in jeans and always has gum in her glum mouth which she chews as a viseral display accompanied with a scowl on her imposing face. He, has a loud booming voice that likes to use when dealing with his children. He swaggers when he walks and always has his keys in his left hand. His arms are placed a foot from his body when he walks, thereby taking up the entire sidewalk space with his being and his importance of being the master of his clan. He is on the board of directors of the church and for a first glance he is appears to be the pillar of our community.

This couple also come with replicas. They have three children who have never smiled since my husband and I moved into our home thirteen years ago. They sneer as they walk single file behind their parents. They do not walk side by side but prefer to disassociate themselves from their siblings, and parents by walking single file as they slumpinto their home. There is no outward happiness in this family. No happiness, no light.

Their house is prestine. They rake their leaves in the fall.They shovel their snow to the property line in the winter never helping out either neighbours on either side by shovelling a tad more. They mow their lawn and trim their bushes. They covet their parking spot which is directly in front of they house even though they have a garage in the back and a laneway to the side. They drive everywhere, even though we are steps from all modern conveniences.

Whenever they talk to each other,it is with loud, abrasive voices,that screech through the air and draw attention to their plight of existence. There is an annoyance in each sentence lurking in the air, when they talk with each other.There is always a loud shrill from the mother to 'Shut up!' and the Father always blusters that he 'Needs Peace!' and then he always adds his childrens' names to enlighten his congregation of five who can bring him this inner enlightenment...DAAAAAVVVIIIID!!!!!!MAAAAATTTTHHHHEHWWWW, LINNNNNNDDDDSSSAAAYYYYYY!!!!... He vociferates their names like a mantra daily.
And the kids always retort with a curse for each other with the various swear words of the day, and the obligatory rolling of their eyes as the scowl, in retort to their parents demands...

They are self sufficient.They are self reliant. And they would never help a neighbour as they have no social responsibility to our neighbourhood as they do their duty by going to church. Their pennance to society is done elsewhere.

I have labelled them... The nickname I have given this self-sufficient, self-reliant family is the Belligerent Bunch.

A few years back I had a run in with the Belligerent Bunch. I wrote them off as humans. They now only have a monikker. And are an annoyance to my relatively carefree existance.

My daughter had a sleepover and a few nights ago and Boy Wonder and I had our world as our oyster. We contemplated going out for dinner but settled on a romantic evening with a video and Indian food being delivered in.

We ordered our food and poured the wine in anticipation.

While sitting with glass of wine in hand, talking to each other, we hear a car door slam and with delicious, mouthwatering anticipation we bound to the door with money and wine in hand.

But it is not our tardy delivery boy with our dinner.

Instead it is two drunkards looking for their long lost buddy and have their sights geered toward the Belligerent Bunches' House.

They get out of their taxi and yell to each other.

They have caught our scrupulous attention.

Are you sure this is Marty'ssssssssssss plaaaaaccccccce???? as they look at the prestine house.

'YAaaaahhh, !' and with that the drunkard falls into the driver's side to pay the cabbie.

'Looks different then I remembered it?'

My husband turns off all of our houselights so we can sneekily watch the Belligerent Bunches' show.

The second drunkard becomes disoriented and turns around. He loses his friend who is but a few steps away in the cab. But remembers that he needs to pee, so he walks a few steps, loses his balance, stabilizes himself on the Beligerent Bunches' car on the passenger side. His back it to the cab his let hand is on the car the other hand is fumbling with his trousers. Drunkard Two relieves himself on the passenger side door.(according to my Dad and all his cop friends, this action while it may seem offensive it is not an offence in the eyes of the law, as long as it is on the passenger side....Go Figure!)

Drunkard One is now out of the cab after paying. He can not see Drunkard Two as he is leaning on the car as he urinates. So Drunkard One thinks that his 'buddy' has already gone into the house and is reunited with Marty. He swaggers up the stairs to The Belligerent Bunches' house throwing himself to the top stair and balancing on the doorbell with a mighty push.

Not satisfied with the doorbell, Drunkard now flings open the screen door and uses the prestine, virginal, brass knocker with reckless abandon.
My husband and I snicker in anticipation.


Belligerent Bunches' Dad turns on the light. He looks through the curtain but does not open the door.
Belligerent Bunches' Dad turns off the light.

Coooooome oooonnnn Jooohhhhhnnnn!oooooppppppennnnnn uuuuuppppppp!

'Dere is no John Here' bellows Mr. Belligerent.

'Yessss, dere isssss!"Coooooooommmmmme onnnn he jussssssst went innnnnn...Drunkard One insists.

'Dere is no John here sir, Leave my porch! You Sir, You Do NOT LIVE HERE!' blares Mr. Belligerent.

Now, our drunkard who is still peeing the rest of the 24 on the car and is looking for his friend. He can not find where the voice is coming from. Talking about Blind Drunk! Drunkard Two since he can not find his friend, and opts to leave. He swaggers down the street using each car and friendsly hedge along the way for support.

But Drunkard Buddy Number One does not see this. He thinks his buddy definitely is pulling a fast one on him and is inside the Belligerent Bunches' House.

'Coooommmme AAAWWWWNNNNN...'

Through his powers of drunken observation, Drunkard One concludes that his friend must have gone into the house the back way. He turns around and looks at the stairs. Swaggers, sways, stumbles, while he thinks of how to get down from the porch . He sums up that he can not negotiate the stairs and opts to throw himself off the front porch and lands in the bushes. He slowly pulls himself up, brushes off the offending shubbery off of his hair and jacket and heads towards the back yard in search for John.
Joaaaahhhhhnnnnn... Joaaaaaaahhhhnnnn!!!!!!!!! Come on buddy! where are yaaaa???? said Drunkard One 'Lemme in...'
And with that Drunkard One starts to sing 'Ode to Nova Scotia' at the top of his lungs and with the pride of a time-tested and true, maritimer.
I guess the Ode to Nova Scotia opens doors in someplaces but not with the Belligerent Bunch that is for certain.

I do not know if it was the song, the peeing on the car, the destruction of the bush or the insistance that' Joaaaaahhhnnnn was in da' house..' But the police arrive.

The police pull up. And one of the cops bounds out of the car and addresses all the darkened houses with eyes peering out of darkened windows. (Glad we are not alone.)The policeman gets out of the car stands in front of his car with the lights still ablaze causing his figure to seem like a vaudville performer. He does a circles and turns to all of the houses while points to his wristwatch for affect. In great thespian style announces to all the darkened houses with eyes peering 'Pretty Good, eh? Six minutes people... Six minutes... Your tax payers dollars... Six minutes'

And with that he goes to get Buddy in the backyard.

Another police car arrives a minute later with the Drunkard Two slumped in the back of the cruiser. A cop who is four foot five tall gets out of this cruiser and is hysterical with rage. His voice is high pitched and shreiking 'I trusted you guys, I put you in a cab and I pick you up again?????'
And then the first drunkard who is being brought to the front by the great thesbian cop says. 'Never trust a drunk man listening to a leprechuan.'

and with that all the other cops laugh.

and then I can see my delivery guy heading up my stairs.

And all the cops stop their conversation of 'what to do with the dynamic duo' and have diverted their attention to my delivery guy walking up to my darkened house. I sheepishly answer the door and pay the guy. And slink back into my house.

I know it was childish. I know that it was such a 'bad form' neighbour moment. But my husband and I howled. We could not stop laughing. Maybe we should get out more???
For days we have gone around saying in a deep, booming,articulated, voice 'You sir, You sir,,,,, you do not live here!'

And I do not think I will ever hear the Ode to Nova Scotia without thinking of that night.

And when I think of the Belligerent Bunch I now think to myself....

Sometimes,misery does deserve company!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

The Dance of Innocence

There are places and times, songs and people that can make you transcend the boundaries of your present and can send you catapulting back, pulling back time, as you fall, it erases all wrinkles and jaded behavior and leaves you just as you were, in the blink of an eye or with the mention of your name, no spa, no drug, no fitness regime could be so powerful to turn back the clock of life.

It was a cold, damp, autumn day, the air permeates through my layers of clothing and causes me to shiver as I prepare to leave the grocery store.The black clouds swirling overhead are beginning to threaten rain which has caused my mood to become more glum than it already is. I am laddened with 50 pounds of groceries distributed through ten plastic bags that are dangling from my wrists. And the wind begins to pick up just as I leave the confines of the store. I feel old. I feel haggard. I feel put out by the evils of northern living. I am not having a good day.

I think, I hear my name being called, but the infuriating sky and my plight with life really has my entire attention.
I ignore the call of my name and adjust my focus to my daughter who is walking about as if it were a balmy summer day. Her head is ahead of the clouds and she is dreaming of unicorns and sunny beaches, when I have to raise my voice to bring her back to the land of cold and miserable.
My dreamer is walking along side me in a t-shirt, with her coat in hand and not a care in the world. And I am a bit envious of her as we plod on.

I have now resigned myself to the fact that I am going to be soaked even if I rush my dreamer along, I continue to curse Caelus of the sky, when I hear my name again.

And this time I look for the person to accompany the voice, for it certainly is not Caelus, as he is mocking my misfortune.

I know the voice and it takes me back in time. I momentarily am not the haggard, baglady with blue hands, with my dreamy side kick daughter. I am instead a fifteen year old school girl. All, in the sound of a voice, that has said my name about a million times...

I turn and there he is. My sweet, dear, friend from high school. There he is, my, dear, sweet, Andy.

I do not remember how I met Andy but I know it was grade ten. He was in grade twelve. I knew him in an age of innocence. And that is how we have remained suspended through the decades.

Andy was one of those types of boys who would have the girls in school giggle a wee bit louder than normal in hopes of capturing his attention. And the boys would hang close in hopes of feeding off his positive energy. To accompany the energy came his boyish, good looks. He was handsome. He had striking blue eyes, that he would insist on talking with, and a smile which could melt most the most hardened.The kind of boy who had a certain dress sense of ripped sweaters layered about with army fatigues that was devastatingly handsome. It was his look. Many had tried in high school to replicate this look but came off just replicas.

He had kind eyes and a voice that kind of squeaked when he talked. There was an uncertainty to the real range of his voice but through his voice there was a charming innocence of life. A soft spoken voice that never changed as we aged and somehow it was always reassuring in its uproarious, delivery.

He was always a person who valued his friends. He would do anything for you. He would always stop, no matter how much in a rush he was in, he would always help with whatever the task, no matter how menial. He was a true friend who put value in moments spent together. I can still shutter and some of the favours he did for me without question through out the years of friendship.

Andy would always walk me home from school if it was getting late. He would always have his bicycle balancing both of our heavy knapsacks on his handle bars as we walked and talked about our day. He would always ask me what I was reading and make a mental note of it for the future. And inevitably he would read whatever I recommended. He and I would race on our bikes to various events. He would cycle with me to parties. And many a time we would lock our bikes together knowing with certainty that we would leave the party together as many a time we preferred our company, to that of a love interest at the time. He would always keep a watchful eye out for me as a big brother would, for that truly was the nature of our friendship. We were very dear friends.We were never attracted to each other and I suppose this is how the innocence of our friendship has been rooted in a time of promise.

And as he called my name again, I went through a magnificent time warp. I let go of my anger for Zeus and his dastardly bunch of weather goons, and as I heard my name again the years vanished and I was fifteen again albeit with my nine year old daughter.

Andy ran across the street to meet me with his bike. The years has been good to him. He threw his left arm around me and balanced his bike on his right side as he was prone and gave me a hug while my arms remained at my sides as I still had my groceries. I could see beyond Andy's shoulder as my daughter stood transfixed by this man who was hugging her mom. A person beyond the grasp of fifteen year old innocence.

He pulled away and looked at Scooter. 'Hi I'm Andy.I met you, a long time ago Scooter but you probably do not remember. I went to school with your momma.'
And with that statement wavering in the air, he put out his hand to shake my daughter's.

And he looked up at the sky and said 'We are in for a big storm.' Discounting the clouds, he systematically took my bags from my hands and placed them on the handle bars of his bike and motioned for us to continue on our path.

He walked alongside my daughter and I. And he talked to my daughter, he showed a vested interest in her thoughts. And he shared our past with her. He talked about the silliness we got into. He talked about me helping him with various tests in high school and university, he talked about how we would row at 5am and how unhappy I would be at that time of the morning. He laughed. He would talk about what I wore to the formal and how we danced all night. He talked about the protest marches we went on, he talked about sitting on my front porch with my family in the summers and having lemonade. He talked about how stubborn I was and nudged my daughter and guaranteed her that I was still very stubborn.He told her how I would make him walk for miles and miles... but he claimed he never minded. He told my daughter how I made him better himself and how I really fostered his love of reading. He told my daughter how lucky she is to have me as a Momma. Andy told my daughter that I would open the world for her.As that is what I did for him in being his friend.

When we reached my home he helped bring the groceries in and had to fly as he was late for a meeting. He guaranteed me that he was only two minutes away from my house by bike.

He gave us such a gift that day.

He chose to say such wonderful, beautiful ,things, that made me cry inside. He brought me back on a quick trip of nostalgia.

And he gave my daughter a gift.
A gift because my daughter has the opportunity to see me as a young, girl, before my work, before her dad, before the house, before her, a life outside the box of her existance.

And as he got on his bike and turned and waved good bye, we watched him disappear down the road and felt the first drops of rain. My daughter smiled as she watched him, as he became a mere fleck in the horizon with the black clouds and leaves swirling about.

She then turned to me and gave a me a big hug, and then a big tug and with urgency she looked at me, and truly examined my face.
'Yes Hon,'
'Momma, did you really teach Andy all those things?'
'Ahh, I don't know 'bout that Hon. He always says such nice things'
'Momma, he told me that you are one of his heroes.'
'Momma, you are my hero, too.'

And as the rain started to trickle down and my daughter hugged me again on the front porch, it made me glad of the moment I was having with my daughter brought on by the wind, the rain, and a chance meeting of my past, catching up with my present.

Ain't Life Grand????