epiphany

Oscillating and pulsating, on and off, -OR- “What we talk about when we talk about extremely personal hygiene, assuming we’re tasteless enough to talk about it at all, and we are.”

bidet

Campers, I give you herewith:

The dashboard for an electronic bidet’s remote control.

Oh, you heard, cupcake. Oh, yes you did. Stop going “LaLaLaLaLaLa” with your fingers in your ears.

I have so much to share.

Don’t ask me how I stumbled across this treasure. I do not remember. Any more than the bathrobe-wearing 85-year-old dementia sufferer remembers how he ended up on the midnight bus to North Bay with egg-yolk in his chest hair and clutching a box of wet wipes.

(I would like to say I found it “on the computer”. This is how my Luddite friends would respond to the question.  And I don’t complain, much, because at least they’ve remembered that “the computer” isn’t “the TV-looking thing with all the pictures on it”.

(But it’s a losing battle as their trembling white senior-knuckles gradually give up their hold on the crumbling cliff edge of the twenty-first century, and they slide back! back! into the abyss filled with IBM Selectronic typewriters—whose golf ball technology replaced the gentle thwack-thwacking of individual keys with the sound and sensation of being shot point-blank in the forehead with an assault weapon—carbon paper, correction fluid, avocado-green kitchen appliances, orange shag carpeting and push-button princess telephones.

(That was their defining era, the fork in the path when they shook their heads at “progress”, took a just-invented Valium and called Bell Canada for return of their “perfectly good” black rotary dialler.  To get an idea of what Bell Canada was like back then, think Glenn Close in “Fatal Attraction” but without the wife to stand in her way.)

Now let us return our gratefully wandering attention to the dashboard in question.  I may be remembering correctly or I may not, but I think it was the options for “front cleansing” and “rear cleansing” – and their shamelessly derivative Keith Haring-inspired icons – that made me stop for a moment and really think about my life up to this point.

Specifically, my total mismanagement of the whole euphemism quandary, including the words “fresh” and “man-scent”, and those countless times when the other person waiting for the elevator opted to let me go it alone.  Always happy for another excuse to lie awake at 3 A.M., wide-eyed and counting the holes in the acoustic ceiling tiles.

Also about: “Deodorizer – on/off”. This instantly raises the bar on what I previously counted as torment, for I have never known a torment quite like the torment of wondering who would choose “Off”.

Also: “Wand cleaning”.  Let me just say that again:

“Wand. Cleaning”.

For the combination of those two words—the wizardly, Harry Potter-ish and oh-so-phallic “wand” and the quotidian, practical “cleaning“, conjuring as it does Mrs Aquino from up the road who wears her support stockings rolled to the knees, and which all but forces your reluctant little face into the fact not just of something NEEDING cleaning, but WHY – well, let’s just say that, in the game of word association I play with myself, “wand” elicits the response “injury“.  As in, “Get this guy to the ICU – it’s a wand injury, poor bastard. And page the plastic surgeon on call!”

Also: “Oscillating / Pulsating”.

This is almost past the point of what the human psyche can bear, because with those two words we’ve crossed a line in the sand that I thought uncrossable.  I must finally face the cold fact, namely:

There is a machine that offers more options for the tender care of my nether regions than my ex-boyfriend did.

WAY more options.

And you know what?  Somehow, I always knew.

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Still notwithstanding after all these years.

 

“A Beaver in Polite Company”

(An Absolutely Epic Ode
for Canada Day, July 1st, 2016)

1.

O, Cana-DA!

O frozen fatherland,
I sing of thee –!

From the depths of my igloo
(Or in summer, a teepee)

While moms in babushkas from Hudson’s Bay
Bake their collective, corn-syruped way
All beneath a stunning display beavercoin-500x505
Of shimmering Northern Lights,

Eh?

(For it is enshrined in the
Charter of Rights
And Freedoms
That …

“… WHEREAS the provision of
butter tarts, 

Being an essential service,
May not suffer even the slightest pause …”

To make a summary:
Federal laws,
While exempting pecans
From the “Notwithstanding” clause,
Have ensured every mother will
Obtain her degree from
Butter Tart University,

Majoring in raisins.)

Welcome to Canada,
So cold in December,
But then we remember our
National Winter Sport,
Played on ice, with a puck.

Yet so hot in July,
It takes all our willpower
To manage even a

Nice game of lacrosse.

Yes, this is Canada.
The Superhero who’s always Clark Kent,
As tasty as we might look in tights;
The land where the indigenous people, Inuit, not Eskimo,
Reportedly have a hundred words for snow,
Where we finish our summer vacations
With full septic tanks
And scratching scars from mosquito bites.

And we all give thanks
We need never go to Mars,
Instead, we head to Winnipeg to experience minus fifty—

—(that’s approximately a nifty
Freeze your ass off, eh?
In American, non-communist temperature systems—

And while we’re at it, kudos to the lady from Texas
Who had heard of us.
Though she thought to visit meant sailing an ocean,
Then maybe —taking a bus?

Y’all got that wrong, ma’am.
But even knowing our name,
And that we’re north,
Shows, at least for a lady from Texas,

Rare devotion)—

And there in The ‘Peg, we play a traditional game
Where, for good luck, you lick the icy posts of metal fences;
Such innocent fun!

Till we find our tongues are stuck,
And, being Canadian,

Come rapidly back to our senses.

CHORUS:
And we all put chains on the tires of  our cars.

We wear plaid shirts, and we wear combinations,
We summer in Muskoka where all Hollywood vacations
and we never never never, I mean NEVER go to Mars!

Land of clear-your-ice, your winter civic duty!
We even declared Family Day in February,
So we can be sure of finding an ice floe
For packing with our elderly, so it will be a nice flow

Up the Saint Lawrence and out to sea.
Frankly, in February,
They’re too cold to
Make a commotion.

“Here’s the snow shovel, grandad!  
Don’t bother with the salt!
Or the commie-red Canadian Winter Olympics toque
That would cover what’s left of your hair!
And remember to leave my St-Jean-Baptiste Day card 
By the leftover tourtière!

Hey, how’s that hip replacement?  
Still hurtin’?”

Ah, Kwanzaa-ligButter Tartshts on fir trees!
I mean, pine!
The ring of the shovel on ice!
Each step a crunch of
Canadian Tire mukluk,
You can be certain!

Mon dieu !  Qu’est-ce qui ce passe ?!??

His asthmatic wheezing, the left arm pain!

“Don’t worry, children, I feel just –fine — !”

As he falls, pardon my French, on his ass!

The sudden thump, the lifeless lump of —

“Here’s your Timmies hot chocolate, Grandad!
Did you decide to have a little nap?
And why did you take off one new mukluk?

Your face and hands are a funny shade of blue!
Grandad?

Grandad??!!  

Holy fuck!!!”

Au revoir!  Goodbye!  Oh, grandad, it’s true!
Nous sommes tous Canadiens/Canadiennes !
We’re Canadian!
We’re – more or less – glad we knew you!

 

2.

O Cana-DA!

Taut muscle + tousled hair + Winner of the Rim Job Thought Experiment = The Person Called Trudeau.

Land of fortitude, of hunky men!
Land of Lumberjacks, RCMP’s!
And a dishy, non-crazy Prime Minister who makes us all weak at the knees,
Whatever his (to an American, anyway) socialist-verging-on-North-Korean proclivities!

Goodbye, general elections!
Hello, seeing Justin
And getting erections!

CHORUS:

Cause…. He’s… the…

Person-called-Trudeau,
Yes! he’s the Person-called-Trudeau!
His dad was Pierre, his mom was Maggie,
He’s working real hard to make legal the “baggie” –
That’s all you have to know, you know?
That’s all you have to know!

And this dynasty henceforth defines our nation –
Wait forty years, till little Emperor Hadrien – the Person-Called-Trudeau for our grandkids’ generation – ascends the throne

By Acclamation?
(Yes, though Trickie Dickie’s a tiny bit too dead to have that conversation – )
By Acclamation!

3.

O Cana-DA!

free-shipping-2013-sexy-royal-men-s-mountie-costume-fashion-canada-mounted-police-uniform-for-ladiesGodless refuge of the Devil’s Own North!
Where atheist gays marry dogs with impunity

And polygamy is mandatory, on penalty of death !

Where Québec’s Satanic priests (The original Hell’s angels),
Are allocated one free orphaned choirboy yearly by the State,

And la biche, one permitted per authorized family unit, is kept “on ze side, heins?”

– or else on a leash –

‘Cause to be célibataire is –
Even for a priest with stale whisky breath –
Too awful to contemplate!

All together, now – !

« Tabernac ! »
« Marie-Joseph ! »

4.

O Cana-DA!

Where the word “beaver” is always appropriate in polite company.

Polite company being all of us.

Canadians are so un-apt to make any kind of fuss, Lenin only knows!
Why, we’ll apologize to YOU
When YOU step on OUR toes!

O, Canada, Canada!

Poor we!  These chains that chafe and bind us!
Only a measly handful of banks, who tend, discreetly, to remind us
When our credit’s getting a teensy bit high.

Now what kind of attitude is that?
At this rate, we’ll never make first-class!

I mean, when did we
ever destroy the entire world’s economy?

Moss Park rebuilt, as though somewhere nice to live is what poor people deserve !
The Spadina Expressway, The Island Airport, cancelled – for what?!
Who needs old houses anyway, and parks, and waterfronts – and  — !
Cancelled for sheer lack of
– well, it’s about time someone said it –
Nerve, that’s what!  Nerve!

But that’s us, so lax, no greed!
So callously indifferent to Deluce’s bottom line!

Even considering he’s the man
Who kept us in the dark
About Phase 2, his Porter Airlines plan
To put the runways in High Park.

So lacking in get-up-and-go, that’s we!

So lacking in so many things we need, like –
A casino on Front Street.
A ferris wheel.
Indeed!

Those died with Rob Ford, for Heaven decreed
Not just the one, but three, acts of god.

You wanna know how bad it is?

We’re not even aspirational enough to want
Our own loud, nasty, thin-skinned fraud!

Poor old fat, dumb regular-guy Robbie.
He was good for a laugh as he redefined “shifty”,
Mayoring Toronto like a teen with an I.Q. of 50,
A pipe full of “hard”,
And a not very interesting hobby.

Even then, we didn’t complain.  We just voted.  How boring!
We didn’t even complain when that Tommy Douglas forced us!
Forced us to have health care!

Took our hard earned dollars, of course,
But what’s worse, stole our god-given right of ignoring
the tumors until they’re big as a horse.

Too late it dawned on us:
Yeah, right!  Make us live longer
And then you’ll have longer to fuck us over with more taxes, oh yes,
We’re onto you!  We get the agenda – !

At least the Americans, god bless ’em, didn’t go down without a fight!

And the day of your liberation is so close you can almost smell freedom again!

Soon you’ll have Trump, and he’ll

Cancel your atheist, abortion-reeking
Death-paneled healthcare sort-of system.

Where each year you’re not just robbed of two hundred and change by bureaucrats—
What unbearable duress!—

But robbed of your freedom to declare bankruptcy!

We feel your pain!  But not to worry.
Far, far better, we confess,
To pay fifty grand to the surgeon
Or, if you’re poor, to be thoughtful and die in a hurry!

And up here we’ll be,
In the U. S. S. C.,

Where nothing’s black and white,  just white and red,
Where an evening’s entertainment is lining up for scraps of bread,

And where a Sikh can be a cop, wear a turban on his head!

(Our citizens all disarmed!
Can’t even spend commercial breaks
Protecting our women-folk from stampeding herds of buffalo
Or mowing down traitors – or the occasional homo)

You know for a fact, cause you’ve taken to heart
The incisive reporting you read on Breitbart

That our health-care system, centrally-planned (did
You warn us?  You did!)
Is collapsing five-yearly,

Why, you could see your wife admitted to the crumbling
Central People’s Hospital of Torontokistan while in labour,

thirdworldhospital

People’s Central Hospital of Torontokistan:  Private rooms available!

And not even be issued your visitor’s pass until it’s nearly

Time to greet the first grandkid!

Zut, alors!” cries People’s Revolutionary Atheist Abortion-Assistant Marxist Midwife, Rank 34,

“It is imperative that we find more Jell-O for Bed 4,093, komrad,
48th floor!

Raspberry flavour!!”

And when you can’t take it anymore, Just slip the surgeon
A few crumpled rubles.

If it gets them the Jell-O, hell, oh he might
Do you a favour.

5.

O, Cana-DA – !

The dad of current Person-Called-Trudeau, who coincidentally
Was himself also A Person Called Trudeau, and so on and forth,
Once said
That to live with our restive pal, our buddy to the south
Was rather like sharing a peanut- and shrapnel-filled bed
(Alright, I’m putting a few extra words in his mouth)
With an elephant—

—An elephant with sleep apnea;
Plus the occasional attack of
Restless Leg Syndrome;

And a tendency to, every so often,
Just out and out
Shove you.

Tant pis.

He made the joke, if you check the fact,
Just before enacting the War Measures Act.
Which was itself a shove and a half.
Nonetheless, Quebeckers always have the last laugh, because –

We have to sing O, CanaDA, forever that way.
The word-setting works perfectly – but only en français.
They were first to get their hat in.

Terre de nos aïeux.
Je me souvien

And O, CanaDA,
No matter who may
Shove you:

A Mari Usque Ad Mare!
Or, rough translation from the Latin:

Fuck, I
Love you.

©David Roddis, 20162017


UPDATE:

A reader has made the sniffy comment that my ode is “not very catchy”.

This is the kind of entitled, sour-grapes kind of sniping from political hobbyists that I’m forced to endure these days, and I’m well aware that this goes hand-in-hand with the kind of celebrity I enjoy now that my stats are well above 10.

Bernie Sanders told me to expect this and I didn’t believe him, well, no one did, really, and it’s to his eternal discredit that he didn’t mention this to me earlier.

Yeah, way to go, Trouble-Hair, and I’m just about fed up enough to reveal you stole that campaign slogan from your local Indian restaurant, “Mama Patel’s Tandoori Palace And Head Shop Buy Your Stiffie Pills Heer-Walla”.

“Feel the Bern”, indeed.

WhateVVVVVER. I welcome the completion of our “Giant Ice Palace from The French People” border wall once the sun goes down again, around August, which is when email transmission becomes dodgy, unless you’re with Rogers and never had any to begin with.

But you know, and can I just say, seriously. Try dancing my ode to the tune of that traditional Newfoundland fiddle classic, “Maple Syrup for my Beaver, Welfare for my Cod” and you’ll feel your toes tapping soon enough.

Even Ashley MacIsaac couldn’t piss on that one.

DJR

[PPS:  Justin – Called 83 times since 3AM but goes to VM, WTF???  The percs and the razor blades are lined up and I’m running a hot bath, so if you don’t want this on your conscience you better get your “cul” over here and continue our conversational French. Capisce?

Just tell Sophie you’re “going jogging so you can test drive those new socks.” Yeah, that’ll work.

Ditchez la biche et faites le Switch, baby. Ah, oui, tabernac, Marie-Joseph !!!!]

The Chrysler Building, for the Second Time

brokencup_0005

A beautiful, perfect, plain and pure white cup…

When I first visited New York City, in 2012, I went by bus, and distinguished myself at the end of the 10-hour journey, as we prepared to plunge into the Lincoln Tunnel, by hyperventilating noisily on my first sight of the glittering Manhattan skyline.

This, I reminded myself, was what I had been waiting for all my life: my homecoming to the city that had never been my home, my “Midnight Cowboy” moment.  It was merely a passing inconvenience that, to any casual observer, I was apparently in the throes of a psychotic meltdown or expiring from anaphylactic shock.

Luckily I was in New York City, and no one paid me the least attention.

I stayed in a hotel on the Lower East Side, Chinatown to be precise – I had chosen only the price range on a website that for some peculiar reason made hotel choosing into a kind of location lottery – a hotel whose rundown façade filled me with alarm, yet which, once I’d settled in and gotten my New York legs on, turned out to be not only acceptable, but charming.

This alarm-to-charm switchover was a metaphor for the city itself, and an apt first lesson for a New York neophyte, namely:  That anywhere else, a scary, too-small, sub-standard living unit might be a slum, but in The Big Apple it was a find.

For the next five days I set about living the way I fancied a real New Yorker lived, under the bemused, expert guidance of my friend, John, and heartened by the Looney Tunes capering of his fox terrier, Flora.

I brazened through Manhattan as though it were my private estate; traveled to Brooklyn on the subway (a quick and merciless ad hoc training session, consisting of a demonstrated swipe and a raised eyebrow, both administered by a real New Yorker in under five seconds, took place at my first, unsuccessful, attempt to mate MTA card and turnstile); and  refused to be a tourist, to gawk at Times Square, slouch around in trainers, or purchase tickets to some Broadway show.

I did, on the other hand, at 611 Broadway and purely by accident, find a branch of Crate and Barrel, where I bought two beautiful, perfect, plain and pure white cups and saucers from a deliciously snarky saleslady.

Everything about this saleslady was New York to me, from the nonchalant elegance of her outfit and the asymmetric perfection of her haircut, to her perfectly deployed daytime makeup and important yet self-deprecating jewellery;  when she greeted me with, “Can I help you?”, it was impossible to miss her silky undertone of Let me save you from yourself.

She had the air that working at Crate and Barrel was somewhat beneath her, but that just for my sake she would conquer her distaste and make a noticeable effort. I indicated the pure white cups and saucers I wanted, and to her credit, she whisked them off the display for wrapping as though no other selection would have pleased her quite as much. It was an admirable performance that somewhat mitigated my failure to have purchased tickets to anything at the Harold Clurman Theatre.

Everyone in New York, or so it seemed, dressed to impress;  walked, talked and ate to impress.  To step out of my alarming-then-charming hotel was to make an entrance, and god help you if you ended up on that stage in sweat pants and Crocs, with sticky palms and searching for your lines like an actors’ nightmare.  I soon understood that no effort I could yet make, no straining at fashion, or feigned worldliness or fast talking, would make the grade; I would never, not yet anyway, pass. The best I could hope for was not to be instantly labelled an out-of-towner.

For my first attempt, that would do.

Five days later, happier and wiser, I was no longer a New York virgin. My budget was blown; I’d seen the Monet waterlilies and Picasso’s “Le Desmoiselles d’Avignon”; I had shopped for food, been asked for directions, and made dinner for John; I’d been to Flatbush and, by the time I’d seen a guy jerking off at 23rd Street Station at four A.M., I felt reasonably confident that I’d covered all of the key New York experiences.  And I had acquired absolutely nothing that could be called a souvenir.

Nothing except those two beautiful, perfect, plain and pure white cups and saucers.

That evening I packed them with care for the bus ride home, taping the tissue paper in place and nestling them in the folds of a sweater so they wouldn’t be jostled. On the Megabus, all through the night, I checked on them hourly, as though I feared they might spontaneously crack and disintegrate as Egyptian relics are supposed to.  Sometime around Rochester I awoke with a start, believing that I’d only dreamed I’d packed them; that I’d actually abandoned them in the Chinatown hotel room.

~

Once installed in my Toronto apartment, my cups exerted a special power.  They created a morning ritual around themselves, made the mundane fact of caffeine addiction into a Zen ceremony. I loved the dark reflective pool of steaming coffee held in the thin circle of white porcelain, loved how the cup felt in my hand, how well balanced, how perfectly it met my lips.  I loved that we, the cups and saucers and I, had finally met, that we shared our secret of New York.

The cups and saucers began to relax, let their hair down, so to speak. The newness and optimism dissipated, and they became subtly but unmistakably aloof—

so that you felt they’d let you drink out of them, but would be hyper-vigilant for any rude noises you might make, and they’d watch to make sure you always used the saucer, so you shouldn’t dribble on your nice pants— klutz! –

– yet they were no less dear to me for all their little foibles.

~

I cherished those cups for the next four years; I guarded them like a father guards his nubile fifteen-year-old daughter. Not everyone got to drink out of those cups. Sometimes I would use one myself, but give my guest a two-dollar President’s Choice mug, just to make my position on their status clear, vis-à-vis my good dishes.

Sometime during the last reign of roommate terror, both the saucers got smashed in the Great Late Night Dishwashing Debacle, a tale too bloody to recount today. I must emphasize: Both saucers.

But I still had the cups.

Now it was like I’d bought my daughter a sports car and she was staying out late driving around with boys and getting home JUST in time so I couldn’t say anything about it.

Then one day — a day like any other day— I was in the kitchen and lo! the spirit of my mother shone round about me and I was sore afraid, and my arm made a great sweeping mother-movement and clattered through the stack of dishes like the rampaging hand of god and swept one of the cups off the draining board.

I actually cried out: “NOOOOOO!”  A great big werewolf howl.  As though howling could arrest the fall.  As though how I felt could change anything.

After all those weeks and months, after four years of caring for and protecting and chaperoning that cup, it was, in the end, me that broke it. Little old careless mother- distracted me.Chrysler-Building2

This is the way the world ends. Love, life, your white cups, your nice pants. Your marriage, your job, your great-aunts and your grandsons.  All the things you care for.

Everything:  All the people you mistrusted! All your wariness and boundaries and push-backs! And then it’s you that messes up!  You!

I actually contemplated smashing the other cup deliberately, right then, just to get it over with.   You know what I’m saying?

You only ever see the Chrysler Building once for the first time.

~

— {For John H. and Flora. Bisous. ♥}