I like to walk the sidewalk like a tightrope

A simile.

My life is like a bus trip.

Not some little city bus ride. Iam a happy guy.

I had an earlier version of this where I said my life was a trip on one of Magic Bus Inc’s wild rides on old school buses. Overland from London to Bombay in 7 to 10 weeks, depending on wars. And in Afghanistan the bus would drop down into a valley, a valley with a six foot ground fog of death, the final moist exhalations of thousands of dying children. And I would ride on top of the bus above this fog. I would rescue a woman too, and spend days just holding her, squeezing her.Squeezing the stench of death out of her, scraping it off her skin and then bathing her with my own sweat having run out of clean water.

And so on. You get the flow.

But my life isn’t like that really. Other people have described their lives in some paraphrasing of the above. They’re fooling themselves too.

My life is like a Greyhound bus trip from Ottawa toVancouver. Not really that long. Not really that far. But enough to seem like eternity along the way.

And stop after stop after stop.It seems like you are always standing still. Except sometimes the bus will make a big jump ahead. Six or eight hours on the road. And then when it finally does stop you have forgotten what that feels like. And you get off the bus and almost fall because the world isn’t rushing by. You spend the 10 minute break just leaning against a wall and people mistake it for being cool.

And the bus windows. The bus windows are my existentialism (to be removedin case of emergency). The toilet at the back that nobody uses, but keeps your bladder from bursting just because it is there. That is my United Church upbringing.

And, Vancouver is like death.I’m not being cruel. I’ve been there. It’s true. A sicklyChristian heaven that is just a bland version of hell.

So the journey’s the thing.

(This is going well, better than I thought. I might be able to upgrade it, call it an analogy).

And back in the days before, back when all of me was always at least half engorged.I was traveling through forests and lakes and life was everywhere and it seemed … I don’t know, it just seemed.

The change is gradual. When you finally realize you are in the prairies you can’t even recall how long ago it might have started. And this is when lots of people (guys especially)hop off the bus, steal a red convertible and head northeast back in search of the Canadian shield.

But I was born in the prairies so I know what to look for. I was born middle-aged, in a geography with no limits but your eyes.

I could go on, but I’d have tostart making things up.

Uncle Carl

My great great uncle, Uncle Carl (on my mother’s side) invented pornographic moving pictures. I mean, history’s been rewritten. He doesn’t get the credit he deserves (not that my mother’s upset about that).His was one of those paradigm shifts.

Before him, pornography had been just about power, and exploitation. Carl invented objectification of women.

Everyone said that Carl hadthe most amazing skin. Iimagine I can see some sort ofglow in the few tinctographswe have of him, but its hardto tell.

Carl’s mother loved him, butshe was shy. When he was aninfant she carried him withher always, and she bathedhim and tickled him and gavehim a million little hugs everyday. But when he grew up alittle, became a little boy, loudand gregarious as boys alwaysare, she realized he wasactually a separate person andher shyness returned.

After the age of seven, the only physical contact she had with him was holding his hand when they walked in town, and occasional kisses on the cheek (one each birthday, christmas, and when departing or arriving from any journey).

And Carl might have seemed gregarious to his mother, but he had inherited her shyness.

Once, when he was twelve, and a new guy moved into town, and before the new guy had ‘learned about Carl’, the new guy played a practical joke (the old pail of water ontop of the door) and got Carl soaking wet. And Carl loved it, it was so palsy, almost like a hug. But of course, Carl didn’t get mad like he should have, and that just left all his classmates even more intimidated by him.

But Carl grew up, and in the end he wasn’t particularly unhappy.

So, from the age of seven, for the rest of his life, Carl never touched another person, except for firm handshakes, familial kisses, and not too tight hugs. He never cupped a person’s face in his hand. I mean, at least physically, at one level.

But then you get into philosophy, and the sex drive.I mean, I have this one friend who has been forgiven for the most insensitive, destructive acts by past lovers, because they all feel he has some uncontrollably strong sex drive. He would die without a regular fuck. Its just a scam they all play on themselves, because he’s cute, and I’m sure he’s great in bed, but that he’d die. Come on now. I mean, who hasn’t sometimes felt like that, but you just masturbate, more than once if you have to, and it all becomes manageable again.

So Carl. Carl had a sex drive. That he dealt with. And considering he couldn’t even imagine kissing someone, let alone sex, he saw no reason to be self conscious. He had nothing to gain or lose. I mean, he was shy, it was hard to talk to anybody, but it was no easier to tell someone about what he had ordered for breakfast, than to tell them about his late night virtual world.

I have a portion of a letter he wrote to his friend Wilfred Franklin:

“I can remember, as an adolescent, when I would have dreams during my sleep, dreams of sex, and these dreams would be so intensely physical. I would feel the woman’s skin, and feel all of her textures. I was amazed, I couldn’t imagine where those sensations were coming from.They were all so real, they had to be based on memories, but memories beyond my recollection, memories beyond my life. As I have grown older these physical dreams have stopped. Now my dreams are purely visual. I see the bodies and the acts and they are beautiful and sensual in and of themselves. I must admit to you, my dear friend, that I have not been able to give up all hope of ever being with a woman, in this lifetime, but I have certainly lost the ability to even fantasize such an event. It seems easier to imagine that the world will end tomorrow in one of those fiery cataclysms described by Wells. So, although it must have been a slow process, I have realized that now the objects of my sexual desire are no longer women themselves, but merely the images of women. I have had to bypass my skin.”

So it wasn’t that Carl made the first pornographic movie.He never made any. It was a letter he wrote to WilfredFranklin that made Franklin make the first movie.

Before this, pornography excited men because it was proof that somewhere their sadly ideal world existed, where real women would walk around naked, and smile, and do exactly what men wanted.It was an aid to imagining real physicality’s, real touches.

But Franklin was a technical genius, just beginning to understand this new media, of moving pictures, and how much easier it made fooling the mind into an alternate reality. And he was intrigued by Carl’s new found mode of sex, and became determined to find it himself, through his art. And he did.

Carl never watched any of Franklin’s movies. He was a bit too much of a prude.

I’ve been told that I have my uncle’s skin. I don’t know.

But pardon me if I don’t touch you, it’s not that I don’t want to. It’s all a bit confusing.

A Few Reasons Why I Hate Myself

1) I don’t want to be defensive, nor make this seem more important than it reallyis, it’s just something that I noticed, …, that although I am heterosexual (which again,I don’t want to imply is important (I mean it is to me, and has been to a few women, but that is not the topic tonight). So, anyway, I’ve noticed that although I’m heterosexual, I only ever usethe phrase ‘Fuckin’ Cocksucker’ when referring to an attractive man. It’s not this fact that I dislike, but that I am unwilling to dwell long on the reason for it.

2) You know wet noses.Animal wet noses, dogs and cats. I’m sort of addicted to them. I mean I like the animals too. I can scratch them and pet them for quite awhile. And I always let them come to me. So it is their choice. But I just love the feel of a wet nose against my hand. So I am constantly touching it, even when I cantell that they are sort of trying to avoid it. I mean, I’m never holding them down or coercing them with anything other than continued affection – I’ll pet you if you let me touch your nose. But I am in a power position, so it still reeks of exploitation. I’ve tried various mechanical wet noses but none of them have that perfect combination of texture and temperature: not a sponge, more like an almost infinitely finely packed brush and cool but no sense of chill. I’ve been trying to break the habit, but no luck yet.

3) I make good money. It’s just the nature of my profession (software engineering, not writing), no inherent skill on my part. And I don’t give as much as I could to charities. And although I realize salary is unimportant, I nonetheless seem to find many occasions (like this) to mention it.

4) Sometimes I wonder how my relationships with my acquaintances would change if I believed in the whole Jesus story, literally, and knew that it was I (in a previous life)who had been staying in the last free room in that inn. Let’s imagine Joseph actually had a reservation. He was that sort. But maybe I was feeling a bit queasy from some sweet curd I’d had in the afternoon and decided to extend my stay one night. And I was a regular customer there. I traveled for business.So out goes the pregnant woman into the stable. Which is a pretty important bit in the story, so in some ways it makes me as much the father as God. Well, maybe that is extreme, but as much as Joseph at least. What did he really do besides keep his mouth shut and not knowhow to bribe the desk clerk?Anyway, when I wonder about this I realize that feeling some sense of kinship with God wouldn’t make me feel anymore disconnected from the mass of the world around me.

5) And this woman I used to work for. A nice person really, a friend too. She thought the world was just amazing, all the time. It bugged the heck out of me. And I took to hiding my little boxes of smarties, rolos, whatever, any little chocolate tidbits I would get for a snack. I would keep them in my top desk drawer, and just sneak them out one at a time when she wasn’t looking. It’s not that I really didn’t want to share. I just didn’t want to have any involvement in making her world an even more amazing place.

6) And I can imagine reading the section above to her, just to be mean.

Just a few of the reasons why I hate myself.

Youthy bullshit

Okay, of course, that is all bullshit. The sort of bullshit that pepsi machine repairpeople don’t have time for.They don’t even notice. Their lives are like television, only faster.

I fell in love with one once, a repair person, not a television. I wrote this for her.


The primordial beauty is a woman rising from the tide pool, hair slick with the extra body of the brine. I want to see you like that, lick back your hair, focus all on your face. But even the bitter taste of your cruelty-freestyle and hold cannot draw enough saliva to my mouth.

But the machine never broke again while I worked at that cinema so I never saw her to give it to her. Probably for the best.I walked by a woman yesterday who seemed to have misunderstood the concept of lipstick. I only fell in love with her a little bit.

Some of the other people I fell in love with yesterday include:

1)A woman about my own age in an elevator in my building. She just had a completed look about her, as if she was dressed exactly the way she wanted to be, and probably had an apartment that had everything she thought necessary in it. I’ve always dreamed of an apartment that looked completed.

2)The silhouette of a woman striding towards me. A long full coat, a hat looking like the chanel version of the flying nun’s cap. Maybe this was really just my love of the sun.

3)My dental hygienist. Not the one that I saw yesterday, another one, from a few years ago. Whom I remember quite well.

4)The young clerk in the 7-11. She’s so friendly. A delicate face, but I’m still confident that she would knee me in the groin if she thought it was appropriate.

5)My grandmother. Not when she was my grandmother(an old woman who died when I was six). To be accurate, a picture of my grandmother when she was a young woman, just before she got married. She looks like she could have walked out of the picture, out of the wheat stubble snowy field, and into the Paris of Gertrude Stein.But she didn’t. Not even close.

6)And while we are at that time period, the now deceased wife of William S. Burroughs.And I don’t think this is any sort of projection of a love for Bill himself although maybe it has something to do with the actress who played her in the movie.

And finally, with three people that I know might hear of this list, but I won’t embarrass anyone by going into any more details about that.

Sharp carbon filament

He always wandered around with two or three sharp carbon filament needles secreted on his person just incase an opportunity arose where he could shove one of them through the fleshy part of a limb of some close friend. Sometimes one friend in particular, but often just whoever might be around.

He would occasionally single out a particular needle for a particular friend. He might spend hours honing it to perfection, making its edge the perfect companion for the contours of the intended limb.But in his more lucidmoments Johnny knew thiswas all about defence anddeterrent. A needle too sharpand specific was just tooperfect an offensive weaponfor that role. It became adoomsday needle that he hadto destroy.

But the only way he knew to destroy them was by eating them. They were too sharp to simply discard in the trash.They might hurt a child or a seagull. So Johnny would carefully chew each needle into dust. This process would take four or five days of constant chewing. He would glut himself before this endeavour because he wasn’t able take in any food or fluids until he was done. There would be too much risk of swallowing a chunk of the filament. Even after the five days, when he swallowed the masticated carbon it would scratch his throat. He would cough up blood for hours afterwards.

He would cough this blood up onto a large treated canvas.He would take swallows of various flavour koolaids at intervals to add hues to the blood. The end effect was sort of a cross between Munsch and Pollock. He never gained more than local renown for these paintings, possibly because he was overeager to discuss their process of creation during interviews.

Lin Yutang

Johnny wanted to have the word nice tattooed on his lefthand, one letter per knuckle, just like a biker

Then he would chop the handoff and wear it around hisneck as a pendant

And the hand would be griping a piece of paper, and on that paper would be a list of all the cool people thatJohnny had met in his life

Action and attitude were his dichotomy

Johnny’s dream in life was to invent a new word. His hero was Lin Yutang, 3rd century B.C. in China. Lin invented the word family. There had never been a distinction before between those people you lived with who weren’t related by parents, and those who were.His new word was actually a pun on the words for slavery and suckling. You can’t judge such an act of creation by its consequences. It is a stroke of a god who feels the right to make the world as he sees fit.Johnny could see no reason not to be such a god.

Henry’s Mood Swings

You know, it was a while back I first noticed that Henry’s mood swings seemed to closely track the fluctuations of the prime rate of interest as set by the Bank of Canada. I assumed at first that he must have had much more savings invested in the money market than I would have guessed. But that didn’t turn out to be the case.

I studied him, determined that the effect seemed neither predictive nor derivative. As accurately as I could measureHenry’s mood shifts occurred simultaneously to the changes in the prime rate.

I did notice it was a family trait. In the bathroom at his house was a graph recordingHenry’s grandmother, Mrs.Armstrong’s, attempt at dieting. And this exactly matched Canada’s trade deficit figures. Always ready to make the tough decisions for the good of the larger community I hired a rogue surgeon to kidnap her and perform liposuction, to improve our national economy. He assured me it would be entirely safe for her.And it was. She recovered quickly, with a much reduced weight. But that was right about the time those oil-eating bacteria, developed for cleaning up oil spills, managed to get loose into the world supply, and Canada cut all imports and exports of domestic crude awaiting the development of an antigen.

I took that as a sign to be less proactive. But it left me no less intrigued.

So far I’ve figured out that the dog’s incontinence tracks the success of the government’s early parole program for non-violent offenders. Their Zinnia depicts quality of food at the parliamentary cafeteria (it always looks wilted on meatloaf days). Geoff’s temp work displays the success ofUN peace keeping missions.Barbara’s wart difficulties track the toxic waste reduction strategies.

And, most importantly, their dinner table conversation has turned out to be a concise and thoughtful summary of the major political issues and discussions of the day.Through metaphor of course.It would be difficult to fully describe how the metaphor relates but it seems to be self-evident to most people.Whenever I toss a comment from the Armstrong table into a political discussion everyone seems to understand it. I’m considered pretty smart about all that stuff these days.Which is great. I’ve always wanted to be but it never seemed worth the effort before.The food at the Armstrong’s is great too.

There is an election coming up soon. And for once everyone is asking me whom I am voting for. I haven’t quite decided yet. Henry’s mom makes a great Shepherd’s pie. I could vote for either her or the entree. But their VCR would probably be the most flamboyant and fun prime minister. I’m just not sure.They are having a big roast ham dinner on Sunday.Maybe I will figure it then.

There is a lot of talk about

a new numbering system coming out of the Johns Hopkins applied science department. Apparently in this new system addition works the same as at present, but they have figured out how to benefit from economies of scale when doing multiplication. For example, if you just add two 3’s together you still get 6, but if you are adding five of them together you can do it efficiently enough to actually get 16. And when you begin to add dozens or even hundreds of some number together the improvement in the results compared to the old system can be dramatic.

Word is that the US Department of Defense has been one of the early adopters. Whereas they were previously only able to state that they had a million times more nuclear weaponry than would be necessary to destroy all life on the planet, with the new number system they have calculated they have over six billion times overkill. Even assuming no new production of bombs and the continuation of exponential population growth they should be able to retain the power to destroy the entire world once for each human being alive for the next 20-25 year.

Okay, I’ve danced

around the issue a bit, but I hope I’ve made you think. You’ll remember the next time you are watching a movie about the president of the united states or a man dealing with the dramatic, tragic consequences of his past.

Pepsi machine repair people. What sort of world would we live in without these unsung heroes.

Drama doesn’t make the soda flow.