Thug Lite

My epic weekend has been followed by long days of work.  Well, so far just two days. I’m not toiling away in a sweltering cotton field, but you know how it is.  Aren’t we all more fabulous while not at work?

So…the writing feels a bit like a homemade airplane, sputtering and failing to reach great heights. Mostly it sort of hovers over the runway with the same kind of awkward rigidity of a teenaged boy getting a girl’s bra off for the first time.  Fumbling like fuck.

But fear not bitches, it can only get better from here.

Can I call you “bitches”? Are we friends like that? I don’t know. YouTube recommended Curtis Mayfield’s soundtrack to the film”Super Fly” to me, which I feel is the website’s way of saying “I respect the hell out of your taste, here’s something groovy for you while you don’t write your blog”.


Funnily enough, I also have a plan to “stick it to the man”, so that’s just another thing that Super Fly and I have in common.  Otherwise it’s nothing but guns, drugs and hos.  Or is it ho’s? Or hoes like in gardening?  I can’t remember I missed that day of Pimp School.   I also missed the course of pimp ultimatums, when Fat Freddie doesn’t have his money, up and coming drug kingpin Priest warns him that either he is going to get his money by robbing someone or he will put his wife out on “whore’s row”.  Now that is one hell of a threat.. in fact, it’s kind of a lose/lose situation. I bet Fat Freddie never thought, “Could I get a full time job and pay you back in weekly installments?” He’s like “Honey? You still got that dress you wore for Halloween last year?”   Don’t worry, there’s a song on the album “Freddie’s Dead”, so you just know that someone popped a cap in his ass.

Am I saying that right? Pop a cap? Like am I actually shooting him in the butt, or is ass a general term?  Are people still getting jiggy with it? Is that still a thing?

I’m not even going to lie to you, when I came here tonight, feeling like one major blah-ger, I was going to write about James Spader in Pretty in Pink.

JamesSpader_4209Don’t you just want to knock that ashtray right off his knee into his smug face in the same way you’d like to sweep an arm across a cluttered desk to make out with him on top of it.  “Pretty in Pink” James Spader confuses me.

tumblr_lu2ev4qhap1qzoaqi“I can’t do this right now James Spader, I’ve got a blog to finish”.

It’s 8:30 at night, and this is not usually my style to post so late.  I actually just received a phone call from my mother, demanding the whereabouts of said blog.  “Mom–I’m writing about pimps, R&B concept albums, and I cannot figure out out to spell ‘ho’ –just back off!”  And then I talked to her for twenty minutes while surfing the internet for pictures of various pimps and thugs…and young James Spader.


But that’s the beauty of blogging, sometimes you think you are going to write about Beyonce and Jay-Z’s “Bonnie and Clyde ’03″…


And you write about “The Shining” instead…


You think it’s scary when you read my edited thoughts, you should see what it looks like inside my head…


You better believe that’s not alphabetized.

The disorganization and time wasting is all part of my plan for sticking it to the man.

tumblr_m4610cmJCS1rn4ypvo1_500All Images Courtesy of Google

Parton Ways

Several years ago, I played an embittered first wife in Arthur Miller’s play “After the Fall”.  I was meant to deliver this line, “I am a separate person”, with stoney certainty, but at the time, I didn’t quite understand it.  What does that even mean? Of course I’m a separate person, I’m standing apart from you.  But I’m married to you, so I’m connected to you? Either way…you’re leaving me for a thinly veiled version of Marilyn Monroe?

after the fall

But the play wasn’t about Louise, the nag, the shrew–it was about his second marriage, with Miller’s most famous wife, Marilyn Monroe, the red-hot mess.  (Before he can possibly consider marrying his third wife, the breath of fresh air).   Now, I love me some Monroe, my heart breaks for her, but historically speaking–Monroe was not a spectacular wife.  She just wasn’t. She was a selfish star who self-medicated with pills and champagne.  She was mentally ill, and wasn’t properly cared for.  Of course, Miller tried his damnedest to save her, but it was a truly impossible feat.  It would have been so easy to love her, but it was have been impossible to sustain that affection because it would have been like trying to fill an eternal void with all your precious energy.

miller monroe

The issue for Miller was that he was at a great height in his success, he was a beloved playwright with a Pulitzer Prize, and catalogue of important work.  But under Monroe’s spell, his work dwindled.  His sanity suffered.  He lost himself in trying to keep their relationship afloat.

miller behind monroe

He worked on her projects, followed her everywhere and even wrote the last film she ever completed, “The Misfits”.  By the end of filming, they flew home on separate planes, and their marriage was over.


Monroe was a rapidly wilting flower, and nothing could be done to change that.  I think she was convinced that marriage could save her life, but that’s a pretty lofty expectation for any relationship.  But Miller wasn’t without fault, he had told reporters that Monroe would make fewer pictures now that they were married: “She will be my wife.  That’s a full-time job”.  And that’s a mistake old Joe DiMaggio made as well, that marriage would somehow tame Monroe’s ways.  When in fact…I think marriage brought out the worst in her.  Anyhow, she and DiMaggio didn’t last a year, and her relationship with Miller failed after five years.  They split in 1961, and she died the following year.

unhppy monroe

Being married to Monroe would have been an all-consuming gig, and it would not always be rewarding.  (Louise ain’t looking too bad now eh Arthur?)  Demanding to be thought of as a separate person is not a crime.  It’s not a crime to demand that your spouse all but dissolve into your own being, but it’s certainly a misdemeanor.  In marriage, perhaps a bit of separateness is  needed for longevity.  Now married, I am just learning what that means.  We belong together, we live, eat, sleep and travel together, but we are still separate entities.  I think of marriage as a kind of three-legged race.  You are bound to each other, and are trying to run in a unified order in the same direction.  But what if you want to go in opposite directions?  Is that the fork in the road that signifies the end of your marriage?  That’s a perfectly terrifying thought.  In your marriage…or in any long-term relationship, there are decisions to be made.  These range from, “where are we going to order our Chinese takeout from?”, “which grocery store will we shop at?” “what movie are we going to watch tonight?” to “where are we going to live?” “how many children are we going to have?” “how will we spend our money?” “if I become a famous [insert profession here] will you accompany me to [insert award show, press junket, photo shoot here].  These are serious questions, and when the answers vary, it’s cause for concern.

picnicrace1946As a couple, my husband and I are polar opposites.  He is a strong silent type, and I just won’t shut the fuck up.  I want to be onstage, and he’d prefer to be behind the scenes.  I’m a social butterfly, and he’s a solitary bear.  He’s a sturdy structure, and I’m a twister swirling all around.  Our unifying quality is that we are both stubborn as  hell, and we often lock horns.  Our marital three legged race can be a challenge, I want to go one way, he the other.  But we don’t want to break up, fall apart, get divorced.   Is it possible to remove that tie and change the game?

These conversations have been occurring more frequently: “your thing doesn’t have to be my thing”.  Of course, I’ve never been married before, and obviously all my relationships failed before I met my husband, so I’m no expert on how to get these things right.  I love him deeply, I am committed to him, but I still belong to myself.  How do you successfully live your life as a spouse without letting go of your personal goals.  How does that important role not engulf you?

wedding photo

Last night, lying in the dark, thinking about my marriage, my husband, myself, my thoughts turn (naturally) to Dolly Parton.  Hasn’t she been married for ages to a man that has nothing to do with her career?

Dolly-Parton wedding

Yup. Dolly Parton has been married for a staggering 47-years to Carl Dean, whom she met at a laundromat when she was 20 years old.  Dean has absolutely nothing to do with the public aspects of her career.  She explained this in an interview with Oprah–another gal that knows a bit about being a “separate person”.  She and her partner of 25 years, rarely appear together publicly, and prefer it that way.  They also never married and claim that is what kept them together.


As for Dolly and her camera-shy husband, they learned quickly what worked for them:

“Early on in my career, I’d won [Song of the Year] in 1966, and I asked him to go with me. … He was so uncomfortable…He said: ‘Now I want you to do everything you want to do. I want you to enjoy every minute of your life. But don’t you ever ask me to go to another one of these things. Because I am not going.'”

And so, she never pushed him into partaking in another public event ever.  What is really interesting is that in exploring these ‘separate’ relationships, I’ve noticed an abundance  of criticism and suspicion.  Open marriages, secret lesbianism– Parton is rumored to be in a homosexual relationship with her best friend, a rap Oprah has also dealt with. God forbid it has anything to do with being comfortable in your marriage and and confident about going your own way.  And it is just that–she wanted to go this way, he wanted to go that way, but at the end of the day, they wanted to come home to the same place.

“He’s proud of me. He’s just basically shy about things like that. He doesn’t like crowds.  And I respect his privacy. I respect the fact that he loves to be out of the limelight. That’s one of the reasons I think we’ve lasted so long.”

parton marriage

(Wow, they seriously do not appear together in public, pictures of them are hard to find, and those you do see are grainier than a poorly made sex tape).

This is revolutionary thinking.  When Ben comes home from work, I’m invigorated by this concept–that I can have a life that I want, and the husband that I love, and that I have solid evidence that separateness can occasionally work.  I’m following him around the house and jabbering away about Dolly Parton.  A smile creeps across his face when I explain that Dolly happily goes it alone, and her husband happily stays at home.
Now, my husband doesn’t want me to be alone, but he’s relieved at the thought of having his own choices as well.     What I’m learning is that while there is room for growth, people have unchangeable qualities.  And I’m pretty sure that would appear on any ‘Ways to Not Cock-Up Your Marriage” lists:  don’t try to change your partner.  If you marry someone thinking that the ring on their finger will magically make them go against the values they started out with, then it will never work.  For a marriage to succeed for decades upon decades, there needs to be a bit of room; freedom to wander away, and know that there is a place to come home to, and a person who is waiting to hear about what you achieved all on your own.
o and dollyAll Images Courtesy of Google

Sentimental Whack-a-Mole

If you really want to push my buttons, reduce me to tears, make me cry a dozen times, you don’t have to say a word–just turn on “Forrest Gump” and back out of the room slowly; bake for approximately two and a half hours, and return and you will find the gooiest, flakiest, weepiest little pastry inside this cinematic oven.

Ben and I just finished watching “Forrest Gump”, the sentimental 1994 classic film.  And I know that there are some haters out there; I mean, people despise this movie–and people are entitled to their opinion, of course it’s sappy and melodramatic–but people are reviewing it today and accusing it of being cliched.  This movie invented it’s own cliches.

robin_wright_forrest_gumpTo me, this movie is rife with emotional landmines, a sentimental whac-a-mole, a never ending parade poignant moments popping up everywhere, complimented by the best music of it’s era.

Bubba dies–WHAM!


Jenny and Forrest meet in the water at the Washington Monument-WHAM!

water hug

Jenny giving Forrest the peace sign as the bus pulls away; while The Byrds “Turn, Turn, Turn” plays on–WHAM!

Robin Wright Penn
Lieutenant Dan makes peace with God–WHAM!

lt dan

Mama dies–WHAM!

mama fg

And then as the film winds down, the hits come harder and faster.  After the drug abuse, and abusive boyfriends, Jenny comes home! WHAM–happy tears!  And then Forrest asks her to marry him; she says ‘no’, makes love to him in the middle of the night, and then grabs a cab ASAP while ole Forrest is still sleeping, slicked in a post-coital glow.

Ben reckons that this is a “dick move” on Jenny’s part.

And this is where the internet explodes with Jenny-cide, that bitch ran out on him! She’s a tramp! She’s a whore! She’s an addict; a gold digger! Never mind the business with the endless child molestation that set her on this awesome path, she’s the devil, I tell you the devil!  I think Jenny is one of the most tragic cinematic characters; this girl gets a raw deal from the get-go.  Traumatized from years of sexual violence, in an era where one didn’t seek counsel for such things, she had no structure, no self-worth.  She is always running and there lies the symbolism of Forrest relieving his heartbreak by running repeatedly across the country.   Forrest loved her unconditionally, which is the kind of thing that a troubled person runs the hell away from.  So, while the e-naysayers are out there, smack talking this twenty year old classic, claiming that Jenny is a ruinous opportunist, using him for his fortune; I disagree.  She was a single mother, slinging coffee in a diner, she was hardly biding her time to pounce, when Forrest would have had her home all along.  She didn’t want to take advantage; she also told Forrest “You don’t want to marry me”.  She thinks of herself as damaged goods, doesn’t want to be his burden. Jenny reveals that she has some “early 80’s mystery incurable disease” —oh yeah, WHAM! And she dies, leaving Forrest with the kid soon to be in “The Sixth Sense”.

baby gump

And then, just when you can’t take another moment; there’s Forrest Gump’s gravestone monologue, where he expresses all his love and loneliness to his deceased wife.-WH-WH-WHAM!

Some critics are awfully concerned with the film’s message, what the ending means–what Forrest’s life means.  ‘How can he be happy?’  I don’t think the movie ends happily; I think Forrest would spend the rest of his life longing for Jenny; but his life would have purpose in being a parent.  This movie says that stupidity equals redemption–I don’t think this movie says anything about stupidity being good or bad, just that this one man had this life, and was in a sense, lucky.  Forrest Gump is a racist.  That’s my favorite.  This reasoning is that he was named after a KKK leader; but his mother’s rationale is that the name is to remind him that sometimes “people do things that just don’t make no sense”.  Which is a theme that continues throughout the picture.  And also, the fact that Bubba is a black man of limited intelligence; but it’s not questioned as much as Gump’s intelligence–“oh, so we are just assuming that’s he’s stupid because he’s black!” they cry.  No, I don’t think that’s the case at all; if they wanted to explore Bubba’s character, they would have made the movie and called it “Bubba”.  And also, it’s two and a half hours long, they can’t luxuriate over every single minor character–is that reasoning enough for you, those who felt the gay and lesbian community wasn’t properly represented?  Sheesh, what are we wanting from our movies besides engrossing stories and excellent soundtracks–laughter and catharsis.  Listen, I don’t want to force my cinematic agenda down anyone’s throats; but I will leave you with this thought–before Tom Hanks signed on to the film, the role was attached to Chevy Chase and Bill Murray before it was offered to John Travolta, and like Dave Chappelle, who turned down the role of Bubba, has since admitted regret for not being involved.  That’s the beauty of hindsight bitches!  But as it says in the film; we make our own destinies– sometimes by accident, and sometimes by choice, and there’s no way of knowing how it will all shake out, until it’s too late to turn back.

Radio Gaga

By the time I get off work on a Saturday afternoon,CBC radio 2 is seriously into their opera.  Which is a shame because I want to get and the car and drive home merrily, singing along to whatever musical trinket they decide to play.  But I can’t do opera–that is a musical genre that seriously gets on my tits.  I would rather listen to gangsta rap than this high-pitched ear-ssault.  As I lower the volume–choosing silence over any other station.  All day long at work it’s Nickelback/Justin Bieber/Rhianna friendly station–the same twelve songs played on repeat Pitbull and his non-singing singing style, and Britney Spears with her fake British accent as she jams with Will. I. Am.


Worse yet, the radio personalities are so upbeat you’d think they were couple trying to shield their nasty divorce from their children, and are over compensating with enthusiasm: “HAHAHA, what a wonderful joke! I’m so glad to be here! Red hot deals! Brand new tracks!  Don’t you just love everything about talking to each other on the radio!?!, Next up! Avril Lavigne!


I’ve always been a big fan of mellow.  I like a mellow radio personality, sounding high or just a little bit bored.  On the CBC 2, normally they speak as if having a chat, their tones are like the music they play– pleasant, but not condescending.  I used to listen to this radio station in Australia where they played music from the 40’s and 50’s.  The personalities were at least 100 years old, and would sometimes just pause in the middle of a sentence…for a significant period of time.  It also sounded like they were playing actual albums, because sometimes the record would skip, and because everyone who worked at that station was so old that there was not a huge rush to remedy the skip, crackle and pop.


But opera! Not the opera.  Again in Australia, there was a huge Opera Extravaganza in a city park.  I wanted to walk over and take a look.  Ben says “No way, opera sucks” (I’m paraphrasing here).  And I accuse him of being ignorant and uncultured (I’m sort of paraphrasing here).  I eventually lured him out of the house on the pretense that we go for an evening stroll, and then once out on the streets, it was: “Oh go on, let’s walk in the direction of opera”.  Ben was not having it, but he’s a good sort, so he eventually let me lead the way to the park.  There was a ton of people there, and we stood on the peripherals.  Ben relents, and says “Fine. We’ll check it out”, his expression defeated. I reckon that gives me a solid fifteen minutes before he loses his patience altogether.  The event begins and there is applause, and then the vice-president of such and such, and the chancellor of blah, blah blah and the mayor of a neighboring city, and then the mayor of Perth.  The hourglass of Ben’s interest released its final grains of sand, and I felt like the poor bastard who has the decide between colored wires while trying to detonate a bomb–(the red one or the blue one? Red or blue, what’s it gonna be?)  We start to inch away from the park, and I’m limping behind, trying to buy time so the show can begin.  And then–the lights changed and the opera began–and it was…absolutely not my taste.  It was instantly irritating.  Ben was more than happy to leave the park, and we trotted away from the singing and the story we did not understand.  As for today, as I arrived home the opera was ending when I pulled into the driveway. The announcer gushed to her co-presenter, “Oh Bob, I can hardly catch my breath, what a magnificent performance”.  Sheesh, pull yourself together lady.

I’d like to make this clear I am not a music snob–I appreciate all kinds of music.  In writing this I listened to Feist and Basia Bulat.  But in no way would you describe my taste in music as ‘cool’. This is coming from someone who–just the other day– willingly listened to most of an album that Barbra Streisand made with Barry Gibb in the early 80’s.

barbra guilty

You wanna know what I’m guilty of–I’m guilty of loving cheese.  Give me “Love is a Battlefield”, “Don’t Stop Believing“, and “Jessie’s Girl“.  Give me Electric Light Orchestra, ABBA, Grace Slick in Jefferson Starship, the workout scene in “Flashdance, that bit in “Footloose” when Kevin Bacon dance-kicks the shit out of his bad day.  And that’s generally as how hard I like to rock…which is not that hard at all.  The kids on ‘Glee’ rock harder than I do. Even these guys rock harder than me.

ELPLook at one of the right…he’s loving the shit out of this photo shoot.

So…where was I going with this?  I started talking about opera, but then started looking up cheesy album covers. This is what happens after an early morning and long work day..I start rambling like a boozy aunt who corners you at a family reunion. I see you, eying the door, only half-listening to my meandering anecdotes and plotting your escape.  Fair enough. But first, before I let you go, allow me introduce you to my new boyfriend.  His name is Jim and he loves his life. jim_post_i_love_my_lifeImages Courtesy of Google

Joy Division in the Morning

I have a medical procedure later today and because of that my husband and I have an unprecedented day off together.  Ben, in his excitement to sleep in, forgot to turn off the alarm clock, which went off at 545 am.  And just like that, we were wide awake and could not drift back into a peaceful slumber.  So why get up and go out for breakfast? As we walk through the door, Ben noted that the restaurant has WiFi, and that he’d show me how to access it on my new mobile.  I am slowly learning how to use my phone–I have been so reluctant to get with the wave of cell phone culture, where some people can do everything but make a stir-fry with their tablets–(Oh, Apple is already working on that? Okay, so there’s that to look forward to).  Ben is always encouraging my writers platform, saying the phone would allow me to Tweet anywhere–instead of “sitting in front of the laptop…again”.  Though, I feel reluctant to share everything–isn’t it enough that I tell you all about my marriage, my choice of contraceptives, my darkest fears and deepest hopes…do you need to know that exact moment I eat a sandwich?  (Oh you do want to hear that? Duly noted.)  But, as we waited for our eggs, Ben showed me features on my phone that I didn’t even know I had.  And he explained how to tap into the WiFi.  I didn’t really have any pressing internet business so it was all a bit anti-climactic, but it was good to know nonetheless.

The music playing in the restaurant was heavy, upbeat dance music.  Ben says: “This is not morning music, this is ‘I haven’t gone to bed yet’ music”.  Suddenly, the music switched to John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John singing.  Don’t worry, it was from “Grease”, not from their latest (ahem) album.  The song that followed was Captain and Tennille‘s “Love Will Keep Us Together”.  Ah, delicious musical cheese.


But this reminds me of a Joy Division fun fact (is that an oxymoron?)–I try to explain it to Ben–that someone in the band–Ian? Curtis? Heard this song–is it circa late 70’s or early 80’s? And then wrote “Love Will Tear Us Apart” in response.  Take THAT Captain & Tennille!  Everyone in Joy Division was impressed with the song, not noticing the dark lyrics, and possible cry for help.  He then committed suicide– shot himself? hung himself? While the Captain is probably out there somewhere, tickling the ivories and still wearing that stupid hat, singing the song that drove Joy Division apart.  There are so many factual holes in my fun fact, it was like telling a joke improperly, ‘oh wait–it’s important to know that the elephant was on a bicycle’.  Then I remember–I’m a modern woman, and I’ve just figured out how to access wi-fi on my phone.  And so, I Google Joy Division and get all the facts–he hung himself at the age of 23, in 1980, the night before his band was to go on it’s first North American tour.  You kind of have to feel bad for the band–bags packed and stars reached and then Ian Curtis has a tangle with the washing line, leaving his wife to find him, and causing his band to reconfigure the group into the aptly titled; “New Order”.

Ah-technology, as Nora Ephron said “Google replaces memory”…or something to that effect.  I like to think that it builds your memory, remember that time we went out to breakfast, and I learned to use the internet and immediately looked up a dead musician?”  If I had more time before the benzos kick in, I’d do more research, but now I can do it on my phone that I just look it up right after I tweet about the delicious sandwich I just had.  But first–lets have one more picture of the Captain and his overall wearing lady.

c and t

Benjamin Bear

This morning, instead of plunging immediately into the writing, I clean the townhouse.  Scrubbing, organizing and laundering…you know the deal.  Too often my hard-working carpenter husband comes home to find the house in such a dismal state of emergency; as though burglars have broken in, gone through my clothing and makeup, scattered papers and books, and then sloppily constructing a sandwich before escaping.  And often he makes dinner while I finish the day’s blog (even though he realizes I am probably mucking around on Facebook or trying to understand Twitter). My husband is such a supportive hunk of man, but it’s not all selfless devotion; he is laboring under the fact that if ever I hit the ‘big time’ that he would receive “big things”—like a truck so enormous, I would need a fireman’s ladder to climb into it.  He often makes wistful remarks about wanting a truck.  He also makes wistful comments about how a ‘clean house makes him happy’…so hopefully one day I can just cut him a cheque and then he can just drive around in his roomy vehicle whenever creativity occurs and basic hygiene takes a back seat to all else.

I was introduced to Ben at a New Zealand music festival, and eight months later we were married. He was so much taller than me that as we spoke, standing side by side, his words came in and out like a bad radio frequency.  But I thought he was so unbelievably gorgeous that I just kept smiling and nodding when all I could hear was “And…was…music…think?”  “Yeah…” I agree, batting my lashes, “Totally!”  My neck ached from gazing up at him as if he were a dreamy, blue eyed sky-scraper.  Concern crossed my mind early on: if I wanted to kiss him, how could I pull it off?  I couldn’t really sneak a smooch without just mashing my face into his belly button.  But despite the odds, there was an immediate connection.  We spoke all night— from the festival to a café to several bars, and on every sidewalk in between. I asked him whether he felt he fit properly into the world.  His answer was a resounding “no”.  He always feels a bit like the world had shrunken around him as he continued to grow.  And soon I would know exactly what he meant.


We lived in this tiny downtown flat in Perth, with a Murphy bed and a loveseat as a sofa.  The shower head was low and to wash properly, Ben had to bend his knees as if he were a diver about to take a leap.  One afternoon, we were getting dressed before going out.  I went into the bathroom, and as soon as I closed the door, I heard what sounded like the shattering of glass.  I dashed out into the main room, and Ben was tangled up in a sweater, his face frozen in horror, his head and shoulders covered in the snowy dust of the fractured light fixture.  Ben’s arms were crossed and lifted as if tied crudely to the ceiling, looked at me with wild eyes. “What happened?”  “I…don’t know…I was just putting on my jumper and I must have punched the lights”.  “Sweetheart…” I said, leading him to a chair so I could sit him down (because I can’t help him all the way up there). “You are special, you can’t just be putting on jumpers wily-nily” I cooed, gently removing his sweater.  But this is something to look out for—I get a little nervous for him around ceiling fans as well.  And while yes, things are tight for him (see Sharing is Caring), what he cannot bear are the comments from strangers.

x bear

When asked about the worst ever comments, he says: “too many to choose from”.  He hears it all the time, and he has heard it all.  And by virtue, as his wife, I too get bizarre questions.  And who doesn’t love to be asked about your penis size or your husband’s prowess?  We love it.  We welcome it.  And as an added bonus, it’s totally appropriate.  Women do get a little swoony around him and the fact that he is a strong silent type, only sweetens his allure.  The cashier at our neighbourhood shop always smiles coyly at Ben, shaking her head in girlish disbelief:  “You are so tall!” before looking at me, “Isn’t he so tall?”  “Yes, he’s tall”.  I answer, not really knowing how to respond.  Sometimes people are so mystified about his height that I have to check and make sure I didn’t grab the wrong hand in the grocery store and am now at the bank with a Sasquatch.  At nearly seven feet, he’s very aware.  Yes, he’s tall.  That’s a fact.  And I’m small, which doesn’t help his case.  His size is a direct contradiction to his personality, for he is quiet, shy, and his face reddens when he’s paid attention to .  He’s a big gentle bear, and he’d rather you not gawk while he’s trying to do his big bear thing.

bear sweater 2

Still, people love to point it out as if Ben has been walking around his whole life wishing for longer legs.  And while sometimes he laughs along, mostly it just pushes his limits.  Recently in a Canadian Tire, this gruff old bastard hollered: “Hey STRETCH, just how short are ya?”  It was a double faux-pas—not only did he comment, but it roused the attention of the other shoppers within ear shot.  Ben’s jaw tightened and his face reddened.  I try to reason that people are curious and inconsiderate in equal measures.  But it embarrasses him, and who can blame him?   It’s occasionally sweet…like that store clerk who loves herself a big ole bear. And I totally get it… after all, I married him.


As his wife and partner, though I make a terrible housekeeper, I am an excellent personal assistant.  His comfort is important to me.  And spatially speaking, I will always work to ensure that he fits.  For example, we are heading to a play tonight, and I called the box office to reserve seats. Of course, it is not as simple as arranging names, numbers and nights, it is matter of specific seating.  We require an aisle row in the far back so Ben can stretch his legs, and I need a booster seat so I can see the fucking show.  With each seated event we go to, arrangements are made, because you do not want to be the poor bastard sitting behind my husband; and he doesn’t want your hatred boring holes into the back of his head.


When we were in Christchurch visiting Ben’s mother, she offered us two tickets to a Don Maclean concert. Though neither my husband nor I were die-hard fans, or terribly familiar with his catalogue beyond “American Pie” we happily accepted the tickets.  The theatre was gorgeous…it also had seating similar to that of a small aircraft.  As we inched closer and closer to the front of the theatre, I interrupted the usher.  I leaned in and mentioned that the seating would not suit my husband.  “The people behind us may not be happy”, I reasoned.  The usher looked up at Ben as if he were a great Redwood tree and her gaze fell back down to his tiny woodland nymph wife.  “You’ll be fine” she declared.  We sat down, and Ben had to splay his legs open therefore evicting my legs, so I crossed them under myself like a seasoned yogi.  He was shifting restlessly, trying to fold his legs in new and exciting ways when the sound of shrieking erupted behind us. “Oh my god…just my luck…look at this…I’ve got the HUGEST man right in front of me, the BIGGEST man, just my luck! Honey, honey-look, look I’ve got the most ENORMOUS man right in front of me…this is just terrible, TERRIBLE!” The woman stood directly behind Ben, pointing and barking to anyone that would listen.  His scarlet skin deepened to a plum colour as he tried further to shrink himself down.  She alerted our good friend the usher and complained about the audaciously tall man who had the nerve to step out in public.  We were angry but we said nothing (see Rebuttal Struggle). Sitting quietly, our hands clasped together, we noticed a woman coming towards us, who was as obese as Ben was tall.  (And in case I haven’t sufficiently driven this point home, Ben is extremely tall).  She squeezed herself into the seat, her brown leather coat clad exterior spilling over the modest space allotted for my husband’s frame.  Jesus, this night keeps getting better and better.

bear sadBen’s legs turned like a sun dial to face me, his face now pressed into my shoulder, and my legs were swung over the lap of the person next to me.  “That’s it!” I declared, “Let’s find you some leg room”.  We unraveled our twisted bodies and searched for a different usher.  I explained the situation: the useless employee, the abusive woman, that chocolaty leather rubbing against Ben’s shoulder.  She was sympathetic but then immediately countered it with: “My god he is tall! What are you two even doing together?”  But this kind of fascination suits, because she took us upstairs, introducing us to a sea of empty balcony seats and leg room as far as the eye could see.  And we enjoyed the concert in comfort knowing that from now on, we would always be sure to call ahead.

ImageImages Courtesy Of Google

Goosebump City Baby

“All the ladies if you feel me help me sing it out”…Okay, truth time.  When you are alone—perhaps while cleaning the house or stuck in traffic, do you ever sing along to the radio like you are Beyoncé?  I know I do.  I’m often exploring my vocal range and gesticulating all up in this hiz-ouse.  It’s the musical equivalent to opening your mouth when you apply mascara, I can’t not bob my head or wag my finger sassily in between breaths.


When you are alone, its fair game—who’s going to judge as you sing the chorus into a broom handle, or pointing at various houseplants and photo frames as if you are Jennifer Hudson in “Dreamgirls” singing “And I Am Telling You” in front of a packed house.  (And you-and you—and you too Mr Fern, I’m looking at you –you’re gonna love meeeeee!)


Recently, my concern has grown from when I have to walk the fifteen minutes to pick up the car from Ben’s office.  I take the I-Pod and enjoy a fast-paced stroll to the upbeat music, but what I am struggling with that involuntary ‘Beyoncé finger’, the urge to shake my rump and the impulsive need to burst out in song right on the sidewalk, like I was in my very own musical production.  I struggle to squelch this natural talent of movement and melody, it is threatening to burst through my very being and cause traffic accidents wherever I go.  But where my musical styling’s really shine is behind the wheel, out on the open road.  One of my favourite moments was when I was living in New Zealand.  I had just met Ben, but we were living in separate towns.  I was driving to Hamilton to see him when I heard Michael Buble’s “Lost”, and when the climax of the song peaked, my voice rose up to meet it. Sobbing and singing, my snotty nose threatening to run as I tried to not run the borrowed vehicle off the road. It probably felt better than it sounded…or looked for that manner.  But it isn’t always about being attractive, which is why it’s best to do it alone.

For a time in Australia I worked on a construction site.  My husband worked there and got me a job cleaning the finished apartments. Besides the occasional visit from Ben for ‘work cuddles’, I was alone for many long hours, and it was the company of my I-Pod that kept me sane.  I was often on empty floors, and to pass the time amongst the dust and filth, I would sing my little heart out to Adele, Florence and the Machine, Amy Winehouse, Feist, and of course, the incomparable Ms Knowles. Now before we go any further I want to make this clear: I am not an amazing singer, but I do love to sing.  I love the power of a beautifully executed song, and I can only imagine how it must feel to truly hit those spectacular high notes, and be taken to a place that I like to call “Goosebump City”, a magical place that cannot be found on a map. It can be found in the most unexpected places.


One long ago evening I was watching “The Rose” with my friend Monica.  How she had talked this movie up, and how horrible I thought it was.  “I remember it being better”, she frowned looking at the back of the VHS case, as if for answers.


Bette Midler was fantastic at being the most horrible woman in a pre-Courtney Love era, but the movie was seriously killing me.  But there was still wine in the bottle and so we pushed forth—eventually getting drunk enough to heckle the film screaming “JUST DIE ALREADY” to the television screen.  In the final moments of the film though, she finally appears on stage and sings “Stay With Me”.  Next stop: Goosebump City.  My jaw dropped and my throat closed up a bit as she belted this track out, wild eyed and desperate begging her lover not to leave her.  Oh my god, and then she died onstage and that was the end of the film.  That scene is burned on my brain, which is good, because I can’t find it on You-Tube.  But it was powerful.  Trust me. It was breaking up and breaking down in the most dramatic possible fashion.


Once at a small concert in New Zealand, the singer, a friend who knew all about the broken heart that brought me there, asked me to come up and sing Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive”.  For me singing had always belonged to solitary moments in the car or after six Jager-bombs, not after a whole evening of singing from an actual singer. But hey, it’s a hot summer night in a foreign country, I’m wearing the coral silk sundress that I bought in New York, everyone is clapping and I’ve got nothing to lose.  Oh sweet musical release, I did that song what justice I could, and what delicious fun to sing an anthem of what happens after your lover walks out the door.  When it hurts so bad that you don’t know what to do with yourself—that is when all you can do it sing, go ahead and clutch the microphone (or hair brush or broom handle, or blow dryer in lieu of a wind machine, whatever is on hand) get out that sassy, no nonsense pointer finger and just let it go…and hopefully don’t drop dead onstage while doing so.  But where it is not acceptable is out on the streets, unless you have an open guitar case for the spare change of passers-by, because it makes you look like a crazy person, and that is just not how we divas like to do things in Goosebump City.