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As I was growing up, my father was pathologically mean. I don't mean it in the American sense, evil or nasty in behavior towards others, I mean mean in the British sense, e.g. stingy, not willing to part with a dime, etc.

In fact, when we met his workmates, we finally one year met one guy who was even stingier than him. The man actually took clothes from the Salvation Army donation bins - e.g. rooting around in them BEFORE they went INTO the charity, so he could get the same clothes FOR FREE. He never paid for food, perferring to root around in garbage dumpsters behind grocery stores to get free food, as well as using the food banks, even though he earned just shy of six figures (in the 1980s). My father wistfully said of him that he was a millionaire, and kind of regretted that certain things like a working morality and/or unease at eating food that had been thrown into a dumpster next to rotting garbage kept him from being that frugal.

Of couse, now that he's retired with a very well stocked portfolio of cash, stocks, bonds, 401ks, a full government pension and has multiple income properties and so forth, well, now he's the kind of man who'll think nothing of buying a 21 inch retina Macintosh computer with which to process photographs he takes with his state of the art digital camera. Spare no expense. He also plays in the local old fogey marching band, which means he one day quietly bought multiple trumpets, each of which were at least four grand. My mother hit the roof.

One thing you need to know about me is that I am VERY farsighted. Blind as a bat without my glasses.

And at the tender age of 14, I was showering in preparation of a new school day, and realized via the lack of a towel-colored blur in the usual spot, that there were no bath towels to reach. So I called out to one parent or the other to please grab a bath towel and leave it in the bathroom. At 14 I was uninterested in wandering around the house naked, dripping water everywhere.

"Get one out of the hamper", my father retorted, the thought of using a new towel oppressing his idea that you should reuse clothes and towels until they can stand up by themselves before running that expensive washer and dryer.

"I'm not grabbing one out of the hamper, they are filthy, if you wouldn't mind, please grab me one from the closet, I'm dripping water all over the floor here."

So, angered and annoyed, he went and got a towel and placed it for me to find.

So I went ahead and grabbed it, and started drying off. As I got to my face, I noticed the towel smelt FOUL.

Grabbing my glasses I had a look and sure enough, my four year old brother had wiped his ass with it, covering it in thick brown streaks of shit which is why it was in the hamper in the first place. Guess which pathologically miserly parent decided that someone should dry himself off with human shit rather than acquiesce to a perfectly reasonable request.

Pissed off beyond belief, I charged naked into the kitchen and confronted both startled parents.

"I said get a towel from the closet, not the laundry hamper."

"It's perfectly fine."

"It's covered in SHIT." I waved it in front of him, which caused him to roar with laughter.

"I dried myself off with that!"

He laughed even harder.

"I'm glad you think it's funny, you RAGING ASSHOLE."

"Don't you speak to me like that!"

To which my mother looked at him incredulously. "You handed him a towel covered in excrement to dry himself off with, knowing full well he'd never see it because he needs glasses, what the HELL is wrong with you?"

"Why are you taking his side?"

"Seriously, what the hell is wrong with you?"

I stormed off.

"Where are you going?"

"TO TAKE ANOTHER SHOWER!"

"We don't have time for that! Just get dressed. I'm going to be late for work!"

"You should have thought of that before you grabbed a towel out of the hamper rather than the closet, like I asked you to!"

"No, we don't have time! Just get dressed!"

"I am not going to school LITERALLY COVERED IN SHIT!"

"STOP USING THAT SWEAR WORD!"

"LET THE KID SHOWER AGAIN!" my mother, once again. "You have no right to be angry at everyone! This is all your fault!"

My dad stormed off to start the engine and sit there in the car, passive aggressively aggressively honking his horn every five seconds.

Explains a lot about me, really.

 

A few weeks ago I wrote about my persistent dreams of being inbetween, about the anxiety and rushedness of running from place to place, of the specifically detailed images of being in bus terminals and bus shelters on little towns on I-5 that might not exist but are very important.

Right now I am in Rancagua, Chile, a town that might not exist but is very important. Rancagua is 60 miles from Chile and, is in simple terms, the New Jersey of Santiago. There are two terminals here and when I tried to leave at the one I came in by, I was told there was no buses today. So I walked across town to the other one where, despite the teeming crowds, I bought a ticket on another bus company. At 7 PM, and hour from now. Waiting an hour for a bus isn't that much of a hardship but sitting on a broken, shifting bus station chair with an empty stomach and full bladder, I have to say I won't be relieved until I feel myself sethylene into the seat of the bus.

So I find myself in the exact situation that my subconscious is so fixed on portraying. Perhaps time to learn about myself, or perhaps just time to dream about the feeling of contentment when I close my apartment door.



PS: I got home safe. There are errors in this log, but I am keeping them here as an authentic record of what it feels like to be phone posting from the Rancagua bus terminal, which is not the ideal place for editing and proofreading.

The Docks Driving Range and Drive-In, nestled in the Port Lands, the last seedy waterfront section of Toronto, between the gentrified Harbourfront and the Beaches, has to be experienced to be believed. We have to take the longer route. The most logical turn-off takes us to flashing cherry lights, crowds standing around and police directing cars to u-turn, nothing to see here, folks. We backtrack and drive up to Leslie and then wind around the shore to Cherry Street, past vacant and vacated land and rusted out industrial sites. Left takes you to Cherry Beach; we want right, to Polson Pier. Poison Pier. Urban lore holds that, in less enlightened times, Metro police officers dumped resistant suspects there, and gay bashers, the beaten bodies of their victims. People were immediately suspicious of anyone found wounded on Cherry Beach.

Polson Pier, 2017, features bars, Soccer World, a driving range, miniature golf, old-fashioned go-karts, a marina, and detritus. On summer nights, the driving range parking lot becomes a drive-in movie theatre. Boats sail into the marina behind the screen. Planes soar to and from the small airport on the Toronto Islands, passing low and momentarily drowning out dialogue. The theatre has a food and videogame building, and a separate food truck. The interior of the building includes posted articles on the history of drive-ins. The site gives great views of Toronto, and no one seems to mind that we climb up to the elevated driving range spots to look at the city proper.

They have two screens. One projector fails so we get to see both lead features and no second-run, second-rate back-ups: The Dark Tower and Atomic Blonde. Lots of people die in Atomic Blonde, killed stylishly to a candy-perfect 1980s pop soundtrack.

The top online (anonymous) review of the most prominent Polson Pier bar reads only: DANGEROUS ENVIRONMENT STAY AWAY!

A week ago, one of my friends had to put down her dog, due to cancer. She always had a date when we were young, but she never settled with anyone. She came home to her German Shepherd. Curiously, she is the only one in our group who never knew Kay. Different cities, different eras: they only met in passing. Perhaps that's a small mercy. We had other news a week ago.

I remember Kay for her natural smile and what always seemed a joyful attitude. Kay was impossibly fit and changed openly before going in the water. Kay worked as a flight attendant and was always going to or coming from somewhere. She was a little younger than the social group mean.

Apparently, she suffered quietly from depression for years.

The best man from my wedding sets up a camp chair beside the car. The windows are down, and we have the radio tuned to the drive-in channel. Around us, people tailgate in their trucks and minivans. Quite a few people drink openly, but no one acts in a way that would interfere with anyone's enjoyment of the films. There's a faint whiff from the lake. A car over, someone lights up a joint and it masks that scent. Overall though, lakes and rivers in industrial areas smell a lot better than they did when we were kids. The 1960s and 1970s were good times for industry and bad times for industrial waterways.

The car in front of us has a child, maybe twelve. I imagine she's here for The Dark Tower.

That film is a mess, an adaptation of Stephen King's genre and canon-spanning fantasy series, transformed into a confusing, trope-filled YA adventure. The young Chosen One must join the last Gunslinger in a battle against evil. Idris Elba gives a good performance, though, as the guy who must shoot villains with a gun forged from Excalibur. Bang!

Atomic Blonde rolls up its body count. A bright red stiletto heel becomes a weapon. Charlize Theron and Sofia Boutella make out to electric dance beats. Bang!

The car in front of us leaves after the sex scene.

Sometime after breaking up with a fellow flight attendant, with whom she looked darned cute, Kay married a guy she met through her family. They moved to California and I lost touch. My Best Man's wife and her best friend, a Public School librarian, rented a red convertible and headed across America, with Kay's wedding their ultimate destination. We waved goodbye and then hung out. I think we went to a road house for lunch.

The afternoon before Polson Pier and the drive-in, we were in that most gentri-transformed of T.O. regions, The Distillery. The place went from Victorian industrial to scary-- dilapidated buildings and drug addicts-- to reclaimed buildings, craft beer, upscale restaurants, and exclusive shops. A couple of condo towers rise out over Victorian factories. The detritus there is deliberate, carefully placed items of stressed, found art. I don't know if and when that will spread to here. There's movie soundstages down the street, and you can walk to some really nice beach property. At some point, someone on city council will suggest calling the place something else.

Only one person at the drive-in knew how long Kay had suffered from depression. She hid it from others. The news a week ago was kind of like hearing Robin Williams had killed himself, if one actually knew Robin Williams. There is no good depression. It's not sexy. It's not fun. It's not the new rock and roll.

The Dark Tower assures us there is good and evil, and we must prevail against the darkness. Atomic Blonde twists and turns through its Cold War spy thriller plot, double agents and duplicity everywhere, and death, and there's no clear moral. The world is as shady as an 80s nightclub.

We drive back on the Gardiner Expressway through the lights of the city. Monday I drive home, leaving behind friends who knew Kay better than I did, a woman who put down her dog, Poison Pier, and the ghosts that haunt Cherry Beach.

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