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i like to listen to music when i drive any distance. my car, a 2017 Volkswagen Jetta has a pretty good factory audio, and i have Apple Music. That software platform is pretty good and because i recent bought some Julien Baker and Flock of Dimes and wanted to listen to the CD i'd just bought, their algorythm decided that Dave loves to listen to women singer/songwriters with decent production values.  So once the album finished it fed me an array of women who front bands.  Which to be fair was good driving music.  It's pleasant, rhythmic, and the songs i did not know are usually songs I'm glad to hear.   And because i had chosen feminine fronted bands, they generally weren't songs that made me want to depress the gas pedal.  I just sit in my car, let the miles slide by, and listen.  

But of course, as i was listening to music i was reminded by the smooth contralto voices of what was absent from my car, namely another person, specifically a life partner.  A girlfriend or a wife.   I am alone. And i have come to accept that i will always be alone, and will probably die alone and be lightly mourned.  There are worse fates in this world.  I haven't divorced anyone, fathered any unknown or abandoned children,  but when i go home i will be greeted only by my cat, Professor Fate, and he will want to go outside after a couple days cooped up indoors where he can stalk no prey. And i will sit down in front of my computer and try to write something that few if any people will ever read.  

Really, i chose this life, if not explicitly, certainly through passive-agressive neglect.   The truth is i have alway feared letting anyone get to close to me, because of a deep seated fear that if i allowed that familiarity, it would only leave me more vulnerable.   Oh, there have been moments when i wanted to reach out, but in the end i always held back,  certain it would end in disappointment, and most certainly that did in fact happen. 

The truth is that to love someone, you must first love yourself.  And to truly love you can't hold back, you have to go all-in on another human being.  Because it's hard to love anyone,  and if you aren't willing to give it that extra push over the cliff love needs,  you won't keep it.  I certainly have not.   Granted some of the things that went wrong for me were most manifestly not my fault, but at the end of the day i'm 65 years old and the one constant in my relationships is me. I must take responsibility for my own failures. 

And as the miles pounded away beneath my tires and the bands switch, and now they're playing Big Thief which i love and other music that Apple thinks i might like to purchase (from them). And i think back to the mistakes i made.  I think of Lisa, my first truly major crush. I remember the night at the bar when she came up to me and asked "Wy do you like me when i treat you like shit?"  I tried to logic my way through it because i didn't know what to do and watched her sucking her dates tongue not fiteeen minutes later.  I've had forty years to think about that night and think about it I do, and i have finally come up with the answer which was simply to tell a woman who was deeply damaged that she was special and unique and that was enough for me.   I thought of Stacy, my first steady lover, brilliant and eclectic, a joy to be with and smart as they come.  But when i met her she'd been damaaged too badly by abusive relationships. i could only be a Transitional Man for her.   Now she's married and happy, but she wasn't ready then, and that's okay because healing takes time and cannot be rushed.  She's married and happy now, and I'm glad for her if a bit wistful.  

Of course i've made my share of mistakes as well. It's not all been circumstance, and i will not name the people whom i so disappointed because of my own inadequacies. Every single thing that has gone wrong in my life is my fault and no one else's. i know this and so it doesn't bother me so much to sit at the bar any more.  I may dream of a do-over, but they're a thing reserved only for Hollywood.  As one of my characters said, "There's no going backwards, only forward."  And so i sit at the bar, sip my beer and think about the next story i will try to write, becasue at the end of the day, it's what i have.  And i think it will be enough. 

Oyez! Oyez!

Bill Paul died this weekend from natural causes. He was 66.

If you didn't live in or near London, Ontario, you probably didn't know Bill. He held the unofficial position, if one can hold an unofficial position, of Town Crier. He founded Laff Guards and, with them, clowned, painted faces, made balloon animals, and entertained folks. Bill kept a birthday book of thousands of people he knew or had encountered: my wife and I were among those he would phone and wish a happy birthday.

He gave talks and, for years, hosted a radio talk show covering local events and personalities. I was on it a few times.

And he turned up at every local event. Parades. Conventions. Music festivals. Book festivals. Free Comic Book Day. Charity events. New Year's Day levees. If something big was happening in the region, you could expect to see Bill, cheerful anachronism in colourful garb, his tricorne and bell and his burly beard. During the down time created by COVID, he was at work on a new outfit, hoping to cry in events for years to come.

Joseph O'Neil, a close friend of Bill's, said, "Imagine that you're going downtown and all of a sudden, you know, the courthouse or a major building disappeared," he said. "He's like a fixture."

His funeral will take place later this week. A piece of history has passed. The world has just grown a little less entertaining and charmingly idiosyncratic.

If there's an afterlife that requires a town crier, I'd like to give a reference.

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