I don’t drink. I’m not anti-alcohol, I actually don’t like to drink. I do, on rare occasions such as ceremonies, take a small amount of wine. I have also, when working in the hot sun, enjoyed cold, European beer, like Heineken.
The problems come in when other people like to drink. I was working in advertising creative for 30 years, and drinking is part of the profession. I don’t like to drink, because of the taste, and the effect it has on me. I just don’t feel good after just a sip. I’ve been told that I lack an enzyme that deals with alcohol. No problem – I don’t like to drink anyway.
I know of a man, now deceased, who was president of a large ad agency. He was a prick. I remember during a heat wave, he walked around the offices without his pants. He just went around in his light-blue undershorts. This same asshole liked to drink at the office. He had a small refrigerator in his office, almost filled with his favourite beer. It was all at the back in the fridge, because the agency had a German beer account. The Canadian beer the asshole liked was at the back, and the client’s beer was visible at the front of the shelves.
Most of the guys above plebe level were often required to stay late to have a beer with the pres. They all had trouble with their wives because of the late returns home. I never attended, and this made trouble for me. On one occasion, a junior executive said to me; “What’s the matter, are you too good for us?” Another remarked, “Are you on an AA 12 step program or something?” It’s as though not liking to drink is impossible. On the other hand, when we were away on a company trip, I lit up a joint in their presence. The whole bunch of them shrunk back like they feared the smoke would enter their bodies and render them insane.
I guess it’s each person to its own poison. Those experiences caused me to think about drinking and all its aspects. Many people get mean. Some get weepy. And I also think that many drinkers are ashamed of the habit. Most of the drinking places I’ve seen are dimly lit. Many are populated by hustlers and strippers. The whole environment seems to me like a low-end activity.
I recognize the elegance of good wine with a good dinner, beautifully presented. I’m sure that scene is less than 30% of the alcohol consumption overall. Anyway, I’m glad I never did drink much, and still don’t. Maybe that’s why I’m in pretty good shape at 80. Weed seems to have done me only good; calm moods and reduced pain. Win-win.
I work hard from time to time, trying to believe there’s a God or even gods, as there seems to be several. So far, I’ve been unable to do it. I test the concept of this omnipotent something, spirit or… I don’t know what. “Have faith,” they say. “Nonsense” I say. At the same time, there is a large collection of physical evidence that evolution, not god, is the reason for everything.
I think about the mosquito, tiny, annoying, and potentially lethal. When god said Let There Be this and that, were a pair of mosquitoes included in the creation? After all, a mosquito is a very complex creature. It flies, it seeks flesh which it penetrates with a miniscule tube. It takes in the victim’s blood and takes off with it to lay eggs by the thousand. It is only the pregnant female that stings, because it needs blood to procreate.
I think to myself, that’s a hell of a system god designed there. What made him even think of that? And why? What overall function can that have in the balance of the fishes and the creatures of earth? Besides the suction tube, wings, and the body that can balloon full of blood, the mosquito has several legs. Each leg has several knee-like joints. These are tiny appendages – did god design them, or did they simply ‘become’ when god said, “Let there be…”?
The mosquito has equipment to help its species continue. Did god assign the ideal physical characteristics? It’s much more likely that over the span of time from the big bang up to now, that chemicals and conditions of every possible kind, melded and mixed in heat and cold, created all things on earth, including the mosquito’s knees.
I live in a seedy little village in the midst of fertile farmland. The nearest shopping is about 20 minutes’ drive away, so I go up and down the secondary two-lane several times each week. Enjoying the quiet, scenic drive, I get to thinking. For instance; although there are vast, cultivated fields lining the highway, there are also massive stands of trees. Deciduous and coniferous trees, growing like weeds by the millions.
I remember being unhappy when I learned that a European country, locked in a horrible war, was suffering through a cold winter. The news said people were breaking up their furniture and their house interiors to burn for desperately needed heat and cooking. At the same time, I’m driving along thousands of kilometers of road, and forests sit idle on both sides, proliferating each spring.
It’s out of balance. One society has none, another society has an excessive abundance.
I know a woman of extraordinary beauty, from flowing hair to tiny feet. She’s also wealthy, thanks to a successful father and a successful ex-husband. Unfortunately she is without intelligence. She’s actually stupid. Somehow, it’s out of balance.
I know another woman, plain, poor complexion, rather square torso and stumpy legs. From a simple, working-class family, she works at a menial job, in a windowless space where she is seldom seen or heard from. She’s bright, intelligent, well read and reliable. She’s out of balance, within herself and compared with the stupid beauty.
Some places are flooded with water, other places can’t find water. Some people are starving in streets or in wilderness. Other people have food available on all sides. Some is free, most is inexpensive. There is no balance.
Any of us could go on at length about imbalance. In fact, there is no balance, ever.
We’ll call her Morissa, because that’s the name she chose to use when she danced. She was not very nervous, the first time she performed. She knew that she moved well, she knew that she was beautiful, and she was an exhibitionist by nature. Still, her illogical courage led her to make her living with her natural attributes.
She began her career at ‘Le Strip’, in downtown Toronto. It was an upstairs theatre setting. Not a bar. In a bar, the girls were incidental to the drinks, and within reach of the drunks. The girls at ‘Le Strip’ were on stage individually, in the spotlight all the time. They chose their own music, usually the latest hard rock. Morissa was different, and chose some swinging Frank Sinatra, and Count Basie music.
One bad thing about ‘Le Strip’ was the lack of a rear or stage entrance. It was above some stores on Yonge Street. A person, dancer or customer, had to mount the long, narrow staircase to the box office. The route to the dressing room led all the way across behind the seats. The dressing room was at the opposite end, and some men would not take a seat, but stand in the dim light at the back wall, so they could get a close look at the girls as they came and went.
Morissa’s first task was to make the gauntlet run, from the top of the long stairway to the dressing room across the theatre. She kept her face away from the back wall of voyeurs and looked at the girl that was on the stage. She was just finishing her set, and removed her tiny pubic covering and strode around showing pubic hair. She strode back across the stage to the dressing room stage entrance and paused, turned to the audience, and spread her legs to reveal her vagina for several seconds before she darted into the dressing room.
Two seconds later, Morissa entered the dressing room from the other door. The dancer that just left the stage was glistening with sweat. She picked up a white towel to wipe herself down and looked over at Morissa.
“Who are you?” she said.
“Call me Morissa. Do we have to do that?” she said.
“Do what?” the dancer said, while she wiped sweat from between her breasts.
“Show our… uh… private places.” A black girl in a cotton robe was sitting on a stool at the cosmetics counter.
“There ain’t no private parts here, honey.” She laughed and took a long toque on a thick joint. The marijuana fragrance flowed through the air.
The drying dancer was naked, moving down the length of the room to the shower at the far end. She called over her shoulder to answer Morissa’s question.
“No, honey, you can if you want to. This is a theatre, so showing your honeypot is legal, and we get a $25 bonus if we do it for a few seconds. They’d jail you if you did it in a bar.” The black girl blew a cloud of fragrant smoke into the air and beckoned to Morissa.
“Come over here, honey. Take the chair next to me.” Morissa did that, and put her costume bag on a back shelf.
“Maybe I should change my name to Honey,” Morissa said.
“She calls everybody Honey,” said a third girl. She was dressed and prepared to go on stage. She walked to the stage door, and when she heard her music come booming through the wall, she darted out the door and began her routine.
Morissa dug into her bag and withdrew first her cosmetics. These she arrayed randomly on her counter space before the huge mirror. The mirror was surrounded with light bulbs. She chose her layers of costume, one by one. She put them on carefully. She had practiced several times, to be assured that she wouldn’t make a fool of herself in the spotlight.
Morissa sat with the black girl, who still wore only her robe. It fell open, and that was ignored because it didn’t matter. Morissa learned that she was called Blue, and that she was transsexual. They passed a joint back and forth. Blue assured Morissa that the smoke would improve her routine, and she’d enjoy it more. They heard a burst of applause as the dancer on stage finished her routine with a revealing spread that earned her $25 for 5 seconds of exposed vagina.
Morissa prepared for her first performance. She was eager to see the smiling, eager faces in the audience, as they appreciated her body and her dancing. Of course, she planned to expose her vagina. She didn’t care about the $25 bonus. She enjoyed the rush of excitement she gets when she’s sexually bold, anywhere in her life.
Her music began. Frank Sinatra sang, “You Make Me Feel So Young”. Morissa flung the stage door open and strode on her long legs into the spotlight at center stage.
He was very beautiful, even as a pup. He grew up to be a magnificent Kerry Blue Terrier. We lived in a rural area, surrounded by farms. Some were dairy farms, some were beef farms, and most were growing corn and hay. It was commonplace in that remote community to let the farm dogs have their freedom. Each dog most often stayed around its home farm, and occasionally went roaming and hanging around with others.
I thought Dorian was an elegant name for a country dog. I got it from the famous classic book, “The Picture of Dorian Grey.” I should have thought it through, as you’ll realize if you have read the book. In Oscar Wilde’s novel, Dorian Grey is constantly out on the town. He drank to excess, he smoked a variety of weeds and drugs, and engaged in a seemingly endless numbers of sexual encounters with women, girls, and boys. It seemed to not matter to him that his life was a continuous debauchery. In fact, if anyone attempted an intervention, he simply convinced them to join his depravity.
My Dorian grey was a lovely guy, and an adventurer by nature. Many nights, while I lay asleep in my bed, or my television chair, Dorian was out. He’d be running with other rough and tough country dogs, chasing cats, including some lynx, racoons, and occasionally a bear, I believe. Still, he’d return home in the morning, spry and happy, having apparently suffered no punishment for his aggressive antics. I felt like he’d had his way with every available bitch in the county.
On the other hand, I’d wake up feeling spent. It was as if I’d been carousing and fornicating all night, like Dorian did. I didn’t always fully recover, and by the time I was 45, I was like a man in his sixties. At the same time, Dorian was 19, and still as spry and lively as a pup. Finally, I realized that I was Dorian’s “portrait”, as in the novel. Dorian, the anti-hero of the novel went on carousing throughout his life, while his handsome face in the portrait, in a locked room at home, grew increasingly aged as time passed.
There was no violence. There was no noise. She leaped from our bed, which urged me to get up as well. I walked out into the hall. Shadow stood at the top of the stairs, looking around as if not knowing what to do. I walked past her into the bathroom. She followed me in after a moment. She lay down on the soft carpet, in her usual way.
Almost immediately, she stretched out her front legs. That was not usual. It seemed to be happening against her will. Something about it did not appear to be a move she chose to make.
She rolled onto her side, uttered an embarrassed apology, and stopped breathing. I felt for a pulse. I felt none. I rested my hand on her beautiful, deep chest of smooth, glossy fur and felt no sign of breathing. She was warm, and I regretted that she would soon grow cold
She’s in the ground now, in the corner of our garden. We had a guy with a backhoe come with his big machine and dig down through the frozen ground. We buried her in her long-time green blanket. We will need some time to get over the loss. I’m grateful that she passed before I did. I was worried about what might happen to her if I died first.
I took the Szentendre train twice each week. Early Monday mornings I stood at the station near my home and waited for the train to take me into Budapest, where I was an assistant professor of anatomy at Semmelweis University. Friday evenings I caught a train back to Szentendre. Between the two short train rides, my life was bland, grey, boring, and repetitive. In Szentendre I did my grocery shopping in the open market and prepared my meals for the week in the city. I was able to rent a cheaper flat in the city if I didn’t need cooking facilities. In Budapest I spent most of my time in my flat, and the rest of my time with my students.
Last autumn I began to wonder about my life. I had been on vacation for the summer, and the return to the routine of city life and work was objectionable to me. Weekends at home were no better. Lonely days and nights, some so lonely I just sat around my house and cried for hours. It took all my will to go to the train station in Szentendre that first Monday morning in September. The usual scattering of people was there, waiting for the train to Budapest. I kept my eyes down as always. I was not in the mood for idle small talk. My spirit was in turmoil. I wanted to be left alone, to avoid social contact. At the same time, I wanted love, affection, attention, and sex.
My husband… my former husband… was a dentist. He had run off with his office assistant three years before. I didn’t see it coming, and it put me into a deep depression. I wasn’t interested in anything, and I simply buried myself in my work. It had not always been so, but I was thirty-nine years old, living alone and longing for love. I would have settled for any old fool of a lover, just to be touched by a warm, tender hand again. I was grey. My hair, my complexion, and my spirit were all grey. I was a colourless lump of average looking, depressed, slightly overweight middle-aged female meat, and I felt like shit.
The first week back at work was the usual mess of misunderstandings and scheduling conflicts and what have you. In spite of the lonely, empty house in Szentendre, I was looking forward to getting home to my garden and my sculpture studio. I like to make pottery or sculpt animals and human figures in clay. It’s just a hobby, but it was satisfying in a way, and helped to pass lonely hours. I worked in my garden during Saturday and Sunday mornings and in my studio on weekend afternoons and evenings.
The first Friday night of the new semester, I boarded a later than usual train to Szentendre, because the hectic first week of school left me with some extra duties. Evening was settling in when I took my seat. The coach was empty except for a young man seated across the aisle from me. He looked at me and smiled with a slight tilt of his head. I averted my eyes and stared out the window at the passing scene that was fading in the descending evening light.
I had never seen the young man before, and I wondered for a moment why he had smiled at me. I was one of the first passengers to leave the train. I hurried across the platform toward home, and didn’t see him disembark behind me. When I arrived at home, I made a small supper for myself and did a bit of housework before I went to sleep. Saturday morning, I busied myself with my garden and my studio. The weekend passed with the usual boring loneliness, and by Monday morning I was ready to return to the University. At least I had some human interaction at my job, even though it was only with the students in my anatomy classes or some professors in the lounge.
As usual, I kept to myself on the platform, waiting for the commuter train to take me into the city. Most of the scattered people were reading newspapers or talking quietly to each other. I tilted my face up to the rising sun, closed my eyes, and let the warmth soothe me. I heard the train coming, and I felt the people around me moving about in preparation for its arrival. Someone stood next to me, almost brushing the sleeve of my coat, but I did not acknowledge it.
The breeze from the moving train touched me, and I opened my eyes to climb aboard. I took a seat and looked up to see the same young man I had seen on the Friday evening ride home. He again smiled and nodded at me. I half-smiled in return, took some papers from my briefcase, and pretended to read them. I didn’t understand why the young man noticed me, and I dared not look at him long enough to see if I knew him. I doubted he was a student in one of my classes because I know each of them quite well. I had the impression from my quick glances that he was tall, broadly built, and with a good-looking square face. He had a high forehead under thick, blond hair that he wore tied low down on the back of his head in a long ponytail.
The train rolled into the Budapest station. I did not hurry to leave my seat because I hoped to see the young man from a different angle, when he couldn’t see me staring. I pretended to be searching in my bag for something when he got up and went to the door. His legs were long and his ass was absolutely beautiful. The muscles in his thighs were tight in his jeans, stretching the denim. I could see on the back of his red windbreaker the symbol of the University of Fine Arts in downtown Budapest. He left the train and turned right toward the exit that leads to downtown transportation. I turned right toward Semmelweis University. Before I left the station I stopped and looked back, hoping to see the red jacket in the flowing crowd. I was stunned to see him standing in the middle of the people rushing this way and that all around him while he looked back at me. Flushed with embarrassment, I turned quickly and rushed up the stairs with the crowd and out onto the street above.
The week dragged so slowly, I was insane with impatience for the Friday evening train to Szentendre, so I could see the young man again. By Wednesday afternoon I was beside myself. One of my students even asked if I was feeling well. I hadn’t realised that it showed. I was building up a volcano of curiosity, a lava flow of desire, a fantasy of romance that was ridiculous and I knew it. My mind was filled with visions of myself in my studio, the young man naked on a platform while I drew him and sculpted him and painted him. I saw myself walking around and around him, casually viewing his legs, his ass his arms and chest and finally, his cock, hanging like salami over his plump balls.
Suddenly, in the middle of my final Wednesday class, I had a thought: maybe he didn’t take the train back and forth only on Fridays and Mondays. Maybe he took the train back and forth every day. It’s only a half-hour each way. I spent my weeknights in the city because the University provided a living allowance that almost covered it, and the house was just too lonely to live in alone all the time. At least I could occasionally enjoy a good restaurant meal, or a concert, or just walk anonymously among the strangers in the square.
The final class ended, and I impulsively rushed to the train station and got there just in time to see the train boarding. I looked everywhere for the red jacket, but could not find it. I decided to board the train anyway, and go home for the evening. Maybe the young man had taken an earlier train on Wednesday. Maybe he would be on the Szentendre platform in the morning – with me also there… on the platform. I went up and down through every car on the ride home. I tried to pretend I wasn’t looking for anyone, in case I saw him. It was ridiculous of course, because what other reason could there be for a foolish old woman to be wandering up and down a whole train, if not looking for someone?
He was not there. I walked home on the dusty road, unlocked the front gate and carefully locked it behind me before I went up the stairs to the door and let myself into the house. I felt like a real idiot, going on like this about nothing. I was obviously emotionally screwed up, or I wouldn’t feel weak as a kitten just thinking about…who? Thinking about this stranger who is young enough to be my child. I had to do something to keep busy or I’d go crazy, so I got a bunch of vegetables out of the refrigerator and cut a slab of beef into cubes and made a pot of gulas.