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My Brother and I are Assholes

My brother Paul followed through on his promise to spend time with me a few Saturdays ago. Well, I say “spend time with me” but what it really was, was him sitting in between me and his new boyfriend. So, it wasn’t like it used to be when he would come in from New Orleans and we would sit at the bar at Pamplona, huddled together giggling, people-watching and venting about our lives in general.

This time it was awkward. I liked his boyfriend at first. He seemed funny and down to Earth and his family was hilarious. But the more times I was invited to “their” house in Breaux Bridge, the more it seemed like Paul’s life wasn’t his own. He had, once again, melded himself into someone else’s life. Even at Paul’s birthday party, the crawfish was cooked and eaten the way his boyfriend’s family did it. The music was country. It was like Paul was a guest. His daughter and I didn’t feel comfortable.

Then came the comment at Pamplona. Somehow we got into a conversation where Paul was jokingly asking if it was ok that he and his boyfriend call their black dog the n-word when they called him in from outside. I assumed this was a joke. “No,” I said laughing. “That’s not ok.”

Then the boyfriend, speaking softly with his somewhat hoarse voice so I had to lean in to hear him, started spouting some conservative, Fox News talking points about how he didn’t think it was fair that white people were not allowed to say that word but black people are.

“Uhhhh,” I stammered. “Yeah it is. Makes perfect sense to me,” I said.

He continued on about how everyone was too sensitive and got their feelings hurt; the spoon-fed snowflake theory that is popular with right-wingers these days.

“Well, if you call me a cunt right now I’m going to be offended and say something about it,” I retorted.

He kept going and I just repeated, “Yeah, no…I don’t agree with that. Uh, sorry, I’m going to have to disagree with you there.”

Meanwhile, my brother sat silently, just looking from one to the other. I looked at him thinking, What the fuck are you doing? He doesn’t even share the same values as you.

A few days later, as I was clearing out my belongings in my apartment, I came across a painting Paul said he wanted so I texted him, saying I would leave it in the hallway if he wanted to pick it up.

“I don’t know when I can come by,” he replied.

“Do you want me to give it to someone else?” I asked.

“Ok. I’ll come by tonight,” he texted.

Oh, so, you do have time to come by after all, I thought.

I went to get some dinner downtown just to avoid seeing him.

“Are you home?” he texted later.

“No.” I replied.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

When we were planning the Mansura trip, Paul said he was working that Sunday, which I knew meant he had to drive to Lafayette twice that day to walk the dogs at the vet he works for.

When we were driving back, Shawn, Amy and I, in Stephen’s car, Paul called Stephen. He answered, put him on speaker and informed him that everyone could hear him. After asking about the visit he said, “How was Marie?”

“Um, I’m right here,” I said from the back seat.

“Oh, Hi Marie,” he said. “We should spend some time together before you leave.”

“Well, you have until Thursday,” I said.

“I’m off tomorrow.” he said.

“Ok,” I replied.

“Why don’t you call her and make plans later,” Stephen advised.

The next morning I had bills to pay, a few loose ends to tie up and I wanted to go to Jefferson Island again. Around 9am, Paul texted, “Ian and I are going to a coffee shop if you feel like joining us.”

“Sorry, I can’t right now.” I replied.

Now, I know I could’ve gone and met them. And I know I’m being kind of a dick by not taking him up on his offer to spend time with me. But the last minute planning pissed me off. My friends have planned going away dinners for me. They’ve made every effort to spend time with me when ever they could. And here was Paul, three days out asking me to join him right then and there, without giving any consideration to the fact that I might have plans already.

Later that day he texted, “Are you free in the next few hours.”

“I’m on my way to Jefferson Island with a friend,” I said.

Ok, the friend part was a lie. One told to emphasize the fact that my friends are planning their time with me.

“I thought we agreed to spend time with each other yesterday,” he texted.

“You said you had the day off and I said, ‘Ok.’ I’m sorry if you misunderstood.”

I told him that other people have made plans to see me since I had only had a few days left.

“Got it.” he replied, the universal, two-word phrase for “Go Fuck Yourself.”

The truth is, I know I’m being just as much a dick as he is. I’m being stubborn and chicken shit. I would rather avoid him than have a confrontation and I know that if I see him there will be a confrontation. I’m doing that bitchy thing that I do by punishing him because I’m pissed off and hurt by how he lives his life. Is it fair? Probably not. Am I going to cave and be the bigger person? Nope.

I’m tired of being the big sister who has to smooth things over and be unconditionally forgiving. Fuck it. Just like the youngest child that he is, Paul has a sense of entitlement and a lack of empathy for anyone else than himself that, for me has reached a point of infuriation. If he wants to smooth things over, he’s going to have to put some big boy pants on and think about someone else for a change and make it happen.

I don’t have to be the better person all the fucking time, goddammit.

 

Ok, fine. I’m hardly ever the bigger person. I know I’m being a dick. But fuck it. I get to be a dick to my little brother if I want to.

I never said I was perfect.

The Mansura Visit

It was supposed to be fun. My sister Vivian had finally moved out of my Dad’s house and we had the whole house to ourselves. Me, my older brother, my son, his best friend and fiancé and Amy showed up in Mansura around 10am Sunday.

We walked in to find a giant mess left behind by my sister and her boyfriend. It looked like someone had walked in and given them 5 minutes to get their stuff and get out. There were boxes strewn about. Coat hangers laying on chairs in the living room. A giant bird stand with a tarp underneath it, both covered in bird shit. (The boyfriend owns a giant bird.) Dirty dishes in the sink, tools missing from the shed and one of my aunt’s best paintings, done from a photograph of mine, gone.

It was disgusting, disrespectful and ridiculously rude. The more I walked around, the more upset I became. I was heading for a full blown panic attack in front of my friend and my son’s guests. I knew Amy would understand and even commiserate. She had a crazy family too but it was still embarrassing for me.

If my mom could see this. She would loose her shit, I thought.

A few things had  Vivian’s name written on them in sharpie. She had little notes on other things that said, “This is Vivian Smith’s.” As if we didn’t know which Vivian it was. She had to include her last name. There was a pile of stuff in the shed with a tarp over it, similarly labeled.

I tried to calm down and concentrate on crawfish. I straightened up the living room so I could feel more at ease and instructed Shawn to go buy supplies. Stephen, Amy and I would go to Cottonport to get the crawfish.

Going to Bernard’s Seafood is a treat all in itself. I waited in line behind a woman in a blue robe with yellow stars on it, slippers blinged with plastic stones and a wrap around her head. She had a box full of raw chicken and other groceries, which seem to be the common method of buying meat from this establishment. She turned to her friend, pointing to the stud in her bottom lip, saying that she had just had it installed a few days ago and she thought it might be infected. Her friend reassured her, “No, it’s ok. I got some hydrogen peroxide I can put on that.”

The store was well stocked with alcohol of all kinds. It was piled up behind the counter, in the aisles and in the coolers. I know from my childhood and from the general manner and appearance of the clientele there that day, that the neighborhood might not be most educated or high-earning in Avolyelles Parish, which is not saying much. Not that my family is any better. Yes, we own a large piece of land and considered ourselves middle class and reasonably educated. But only two of us have college degrees and we’re not exactly the picture of success and stability. After all, I was taking my 40 pound sack of crawfish back to a house that was ransacked by the drug addict sister who was 5 years out of a prison stint and who didn’t have the decency to say goodbye to her father who was a few miles away in a nursing home; the same father she mooched free rent from and even outright stole cash from.

Looking at the woman in the robe and slippers buying beer and chicken on a Sunday morning, I felt no judgement.

We boiled and ate crawfish and bitched and laughed. My nephew even showed up in the afternoon, knowing that it might be the last chance he would have to spend time with this particular group of people in Mansura.

Later in the day, I took the weird box I had made in architecture class, with my wedding ring inside one of its secret chambers and walked out into the woods. (A large part of our property is undeveloped and unkempt and we always called it “the woods.”) I found a nice peaceful spot on a high point, overlooking the small water way that meandered through the woods and placed in the thick leaves. It was an overcast day with a steady drizzle and everything was wet, including my brand new Chucks. I said goodbye to my little box and imagined how long it would take for nature to break down the rosewood or cover the box with vines and leaves. I imagined some future archeologists, hundreds of years later finding that little golden ring, no stones, just a asian looking pattern on it with no context to explain its existence.

Standing there, in the place I used to happily retreat to as a carefree, happy little girl, I felt like a part of my life was really ending.

 

 

 

Everything I Own is in my Car

Well, I did it.

Every possession I have is in my 2005 Honda Element, which is riding rather low.

My son says my gas milage will be cut in half, skewing my budget dangerously.

I hope the old box makes it to Portland.

I felt strange this morning, cleaning out my remaining belongings. I was excited, energized even then all of a sudden I would start to cry. I would never be in that space again. I was really doing it. I was leaving Lafayette. All the loose ends were being tied. In a week or less, I would be on the road.

First a visit to my cousin in Monroe, then to Dallas to the 6th Floor Museum. (I’m listening to an audio book by Abe Zupruder’s grand daughter about the film and its affect on their family.) Then on to Fort Worth to see some of Louis Kahn’s architecture and further down I-20 until I’m ready to call it a night. Then I’m going to the White Sands Proving Ground, up to the Grand Canyon, back down to Joshua Tree, up to the Hoover Dam, across Death Valley and onto the California Coast, not all in one day, of course. I figure the whole trip will take me 10-11 days.

But for now, I was sitting at the Compound, watching a Hepburn flick, my computer on the coffee table, a bottle of red blend rebelliously removed from the wine cooler, a stolen pack of Thin Mints at my side, waiting for Mr. Canada to call so we could catch up.

Tomorrow I might make it to Lake Martin. Sunday a bunch of us are going to Mansura. We’re going to boil crawfish! And then, Wednesday is my last Pamplona gathering. On Thursday or Friday, I’ll make that first leg of the trip.

And everything will change.

 

I Should’ve Written When I was Happy

I should’ve written the blog that was floating in my head when I was happy. I was so happy. Inexplicably happy. I got fired and I didn’t feel like a complete piece of shit. I brushed it off and moved on. I denied the depression monster the sovereignty over my thoughts that it usually claims when something like that happens. I felt good. I felt confident. I was ok.

But now, the reality of what I’m about to do is beginning to sink in. I’ve rummaged through my things, putting aside only the essentials. I measured the interior of my Honda Element and taped off a section of the back room in my apartment. Only what will fit can come with me. The rest of it has been piled and organized and tagged for a moving sale next weekend. I’m living in a thrift store.

My little brother Paul came to pick up my grandmother’s chifforobe. He walked into the apartment and began surveying for more stuff to take. “For the last time, Paul…no you cannot have the little table, custom made just for me. You’ve asked me three times.” I felt like a dying animal swatting at a vulture.

I never see Paul. As soon as he moved to Lafayette he moved in with a new boyfriend and wrapped himself up in that life. As he looked around my apartment, it seemed to dawn on him that I was moving across the country. He started to tear up a little. I just felt angry. He wouldn’t have even been standing in my apartment if not for the free furniture he was getting.

“When do you want to go for drinks at Pamplona?” he asked me.

“I don’t know Paul. That’s up to you. When do you want to go?” I replied.

“How about next Saturday?”

“Ok, let me know during the week in case I have plans,” I said.

It won’t surprise me if that doesn’t happen.

 

And then there’s Mr. Canada. Things continued between us after his visit. We talk every day and skype every once in a while. But I’ve been getting annoyed with him lately. He loves to get me all riled up. And sometimes I don’t feel like being all riled up. I never know when an argument he’s making is really his or just the devil’s advocate stance, taken just for fun. He always feels like he has to counter and push. I find myself agitated and raising my voice almost every time we talk.

“I’m just telling you about my day, Mr. Canada. I don’t need you to analyze it and tell me what you think I should be doing or thinking or feeling!”

“Is this one of those times when I should just listen and not try to fix things?” he asked.

“Yes!” I said.

“Well you should’ve led with that.” he said. We laughed.

Maybe it’s nothing. Maybe it’s the distance. Maybe we just need to get to know each other better. But right now it feels a little red-flaggish.

Meanwhile I’m pretty sure he wants to marry me.

 

So, I’m nursing a mild case of blah’s. The monster isn’t fully in control. But it’s definitely lurking.

I’m about to get rid of most of my possessions, drive across the country by myself using most of the little money I have left, move in with my pregnant daughter, her husband and the 8-year old and start my life all over again, while a guy in Canada is convinced we’ll be together for the rest of our lives.

Ok, then.

Excuse me while I go get a dip cone.

 

Being a Ridiculous Person is Hard

Everyone loves to watch that character in a movie or tv show…….Bridget Jones or Leslie Knope or Liz Lemon…….the one that bumbles through life saying outrageous things and making horrible mistakes.

Being that person in real life is not a tip toe through the tulips. Sometimes it’s merely embarrassing. Sometimes it means your child’s teacher thinks you’re a nut case. Sometimes it means you spend 2 nights in an Israeli Detention Center.

And sometimes, like last Thursday it means you get “let go” on the spot from a job you already quit.

Thursday morning I uttered the word, “smart ass,” on the altar of a beautiful, old Catholic church in front of the entire school of 5-15 year olds, parents, and teachers and probably the priest.

How does one find oneself cursing on the altar of a church, you might ask?

Well, here’s what happened.

I love public speaking and I’m good at it. I’ve always loved it. Even when I was a shy teenager, I loved reading at mass and later excelled at debate. At my now-previous job I had occasion to give presentations to schools for one of our fundraisers. I loved doing it. I loved getting the young kids all excited and explaining to them what we do. High schoolers were the hardest because they give you no reactions but I liked talking to them too.

So, when my co-worker said she was a little reluctant to give a presentation herself after her first one was not so great….and she asked me if I would do the next one so she could observe……..I said, “Sure. I’d love to.”  It was at a Catholic school. In the church. After mass.

I arrived in the middle of mass and sat in the back pew with my bag of swag. It was a beautiful church. You could see that it had recently been restored, the gold stars shining beneath vintage-looking lighting fixtures. I wondered how old it was.

As the mass went on, students of all ages went to the lectern and read something. I thought about how smart that was, to get kids accustomed to speaking in front of others.

I was extemporaneously writing my speech in my head as I observed.

After mass, there were awards for a geography bee given out and general announcements, including what was for lunch that day.

It was finally time for me to get up there.

I said hello, I asked if anyone knew how old the church was (they didn’t), I mentioned the public speaking thing and talked about the feeling you get in your gut and your throat when you get in front of people.

I congratulated them on being the top earning school in all the schools who participate. They seemed excited and proud. I was doing great. I was personable and engaging. I was giving the best speech of my life!

I started to give them examples of what the money they raised provided. This much buys 2 of these, this much buys a month’s worth of that etc…

And then I began to tell a little story that I had told the last couple of times I gave one of these talks. It supposed to go something like this:

 

Everyday at X, I see the impact of what we do. Sometimes, I’m walking through the lobby, going to get coffee and I see someone sitting on the couch waiting to be helped. And they have this look on their face, like they’ve just been given the worse news of their lives. They’re scared and nervous. It reminds me of the look my mom had when she went for her first chemotherapy treatment. She was biting her nails and so nervous. But when they come out of their meeting and they’re leaving the office, they looked relieved. Like they know they’re not alone. They have help and support and hope. That’s what we do. We give people hope. And your contribution, no matter how small has that direct impact on people’s lives. 

That’s how it’s supposed to go.

However, for some reason when I got to the part about walking through the lobby, instead of just saying, “getting some coffee,” I added, “and joking with the receptionists….” And then something in my stupid, Tourettes-like brain wanted to add just one more description to emphasis the lightheartedness I have when I’m walking through the lobby so as to more drastically juxtapose the mood to the person sitting on the couch who is having a very bad day. So, I added, “and being a smart ass.”

When that word came out of my mouth, there was an audible gasp from the entire church. Little kids, teenagers, adults…..they all looked at me in horror as if the devil himself were coming out of my eyeballs.

I instantly felt the consequence of my slip. I apologized. I joked that I would need to say Hail Mary’s as a punishment. I apologized again. But I had to keep going. At that moment I was an ice skater who had just fallen hard on her ass after attempting a triple salcow. I had to finish the routine.

So, I continued on, I kept talking about my mom and how we give people hope. I was trying to bring them back around. I took out an item that represents one of the most important services we provide, passionately speaking about how important it was to the people we serve.

But I could see they were still reeling from the fact that I said, “smart ass.” Two girls had not stopped giggling and one woman in front continued to give me a look reserved for only the worst of humanity.

Acknowledging the elephant in the room I said after I had just about wrapped up, “You know of all the embarrassing things I have done in my life…and I’ve done quite a few…..this one is going to go down as the most memorable.”

Ba-doom-ching. Nothing. Crickets. 

I got off the stage and jokingly said to the woman who had introduced me, who seemed to be the only person smiling, “I’m gonna get fired.”

“No…it’s fine,” she said. “You’re in church. We forgive you.”

I met my co-worker at the back of the church, her eyes bulging in disbelief. I walked out to the car laughing and hating myself for being so stupid.

When I got back to work, I didn’t quite know what to do. Should I tell my boss? Should I wait to see if she says something to me. Was it really all that bad, or just fodder for a funny-Marie story? So, I went to my work-confident and said, “Can we have lunch. I think I did something really bad.”

I confessed over lunch and her continued, “don’t worry about it…it’s going to fine” mantra was scaring me. I had really done it this time.

By that afternoon, I could tell by the reaction of my two co-workers that I had to get ahead of it and go tell our boss. When I walked into her office and asked if I could close the door, she directed me the adjacent conference room for more distance. I knew she had already heard. As I closed the door I said, “I guess you already know.”

“Yep,” she said. She was furious.

Turns out, I had no sooner gotten into my car and turned the key of my ignition before an e-mail went out to parents saying I don’t know what…..that someone said smart ass on the altar? That I shamed myself, my employer and House Atreides by my horrible acts? Doesn’t matter. The affect was extreme. The founders of the organization, people I like and respect, had been informed. A two-hour meeting had been convened and though I already had one foot out the door, the rest of me was shoved off.

“Today has to be your last day,” she said.

I admitted to my boss that honestly, I was not upset that the word “smart ass,” was said to a group of kids. Everybody knows those kids have heard way worse at their homes and on the playground. There are some real, honest-to-goodness, serious problems in this world and this doesn’t even qualify in my book. But, I did admit that I was very sorry that I had put her in such a position and I was even more regretful that I caused two people that I like and respect to think badly of me and have to face the ridiculousness of handling angry parents from one of our biggest supporters.

As I walked out, tears in my eyes……I chastised myself. You stupid, ridiculous train wreck. You had one job. All I had to do was not say that one word and I would have rocked it. If only I could go back to getting up this morning and give this day a do-over.

Was it a huge mistake?…..saying “smart ass” when I shouldn’t have. Meh…..but like the time I dropped my passport on the tarmac in Germany, the context of this seemingly innocuous screw up had consequences exponentially larger than any other circumstance.

Telling the story to my son he responded, “That’s hilarious.”

“It’s really not,” I said. “No, no…you’re right. It is hilarious.” And we laughed.

My favorite reaction was Mr. Canada’s.

“I’m a ridiculous person,” I lamented to him, worried that he would get an all too realistic glimpse of the farce that is my life. There is no wizard. It’s just me, fumbling through life, trying to stay alive and out of jail, maintain friendships, and keep a job and not always succeeding.

“I love that you’re ridiculous,” he said. “I love that you’re a little messy and you leave your shoes everywhere. I love that you’re clumsy. I love everything about you, just as you are, you silly woman.”

Just what I needed to hear.

Well, nothing like a horribly embarrassing mistake followed by a letting go to motivate you to pack up all your belongings and drive across the country to a new life.

Maybe I can be a different person over there in the rain and cold. Maybe I can get my act together and be responsible and successful and never say the wrong thing or lock myself out or drop my passport. Maybe I can become popular and loved by everyone I encounter.

Meh…..who am I kidding? Look out Portland, here comes a Cajun smart ass with a gift for the ridiculous. You’ve been warned.

Mr. Canada’s Visit Part 6: Back to NOLA

We spent the day in New Orleans again on January 2 before his flight that evening.

Siri, abandoning me again, guided me over the bridge and into Gretna. Trying to get it back on track, I asked the bitch to take me to the quarter. She obliged, leading me to a defunct ferry. It was annoying yet amusing. Thank God, Mr. Canada has a better sense of direction than me, he got us back to Canal street and we found a parking spot….but not before I almost killed us by trying to go down the wrong way and backing up in the middle of the median on Canal.

We ate raw oysters at the Oyster House. Strangely, I have never had raw oysters before. They were magnificent. He snuck pictures of me and we shared a couple of appetizers. He was enthralled by the sauce, lapping it up with his fingers until the plate was clean.

Then we went to choose a psychic in the square. I picked one out and we waited for his current customer to finish as a street performer began gathering a crowd in front of the church.

We each pulled out tarot cards as rain clouds began to gather and the wind picked up. The cards kept flying off the table and the three of us struggled to pin everything down with heavy objects.

The guy told us that we had to ask our ancestors for their blessing and let go of the past. He instructed us to make separate altars representing our ancestors and then to make one together. He also suggested a sexual position. He began to describe it and Mr. Canada said, “Sounds like Wednesday.” I laughed.

It was getting late so we headed toward the car but not before stopping for a Lucky Dog at the stand in the square. It was delicious. Mr. Canada took a surprisingly flattering picture of me eating a giant chili dog.

I drove him the airport the same way we came when I picked him up. I went with him inside until he found his terminal. It was time to say goodbye. I told him how much it meant to me that he had come all that way. I thanked him, kissed him deeply then finally said goodbye, turned around and walked away. I went to the bathroom, found my car without getting too lost and started to cry.

I missed him immediately.

When I got home, I expected to feel that sense of relief you get when a long-time visitor has left. I didn’t feel it. I just wanted him to still be there. I wanted him to be in the kitchen doing his magic. Or sitting with me on the coach, my legs over his, his hands gently stroking them back and forth.

I wanted to run my fingers through his hair and watch him close his eyes, completely relaxed. I wanted to hear his ridiculous shrill, “But why?” when we were debating some point. I wanted to walk around in his pajamas and watch him shave in the tub.

I started looking up flights to Vancouver. I needed to be with him again and April seemed too long to wait.

Two days later, my daughter arrived and my attention was turned towards her, though I talked to Mr. Canada every day.

It was at least three weeks before I could catch my breath and think.

He talks about our future and all the things we might do. He’s sure that we are meant to be together. I don’t know if I can ever be that sure about anybody ever again. But I’ve met my hopeless romantic match and if he wants to jump off a cliff, what the hell….I’ll jump too.

Mr. Canada’s Visit Part 5: Cooking at Larry’s

My favorite part about Mr. Canada’s visit was the night of Larry’s party.

When I knew that he was coming I asked Larry if he would have one of his dinner parties. Larry’s a great cook and he loves to make a big pot of something and have everyone over for wine and food. So we settled for the 29th. Since he had to work that day, Larry tasked his new girlfriend, Tracy with the cooking. I like Tracy. When she met Mr. Canada the night before at the Blue Moon and found out he was a chef, she asked him if he wanted to come over and help her. He asked me what I thought about it and I said, “sure.”

So the next afternoon I packed up my laptop and we went over to the compound. Tracy had her three kids there. Her son sat on the couch playing a video game on Larry’s big screen tv and the two adorable little toddler girls took turns crawling in and out of the doggie door.

I set up my laptop on the big kitchen table and starting working on some freelance work and watched as Mr. Canada naturally took over the kitchen. Tracy was thrilled to have someone to cook with and talk shop. Apparently her ex didn’t like cooking with her.

She would periodically handle some need of one of the kids and I happily helped her out, enjoying being around bubbly little girls.

I had seen Mr. Canada cook already in my kitchen but there was something about watching him in Larry’s kitchen…..he was in his element and since he was sort of teaching at the same time, he talked through what he was doing. It was nice to see him doing what he loved.

He was leaning over a bowl, slowly smushing a potato through a strainer when I looked up from my computer, took my glasses off and watched him for a minute. He was such as odd combination of traits. Tall and handsome. Goofy and silly. Obnoxious and fearless. Tinder and sentimental. He had a voice that could go screechingly high when he was loud……..”but why” he would demand…..and get low and smooth when he was quiet, saying beautiful things to me in my ear. He made me feel like no one had before. I’ve never felt so desired as when I was with him.

I watched his face as he concentrated on smushing potatoes. He looked at me and said, “What?”

“Nothing,” I said.

I think that’s when I really fell for him. At that moment. Something switched. The part of me that might have been holding back, unsure and frightened, decided to let go and jump off the cliff with him.

After a while, I went home to shower and change. When I got back, Larry was home and he was fixing something under the sink. The refrigerator was pulled out from the wall.

“What’s going on?” I asked. “Is there some kind of plumbing emergency?”

“Yes, a big one.” Larry replied.

“I don’t know what’s going on,” Mr. Canada said lounging on a bar chair, “but whatever it is is causing Larry to put wine in pot.”

Larry had begun to empty a few boxes of wine into a large pot and apparently Mr. Canada was at the bottom of his first or second glass of wine and feeling pretty good. I immediately recognized that look on his face. Drunk Mr. Canada was back.

“Who gave Mr. Canada wine?” I asked. Tracy put her hands up in surrender. “Erik gave it to him.”

When Larry was all done, he pushed the fridge back and revealed what he had been up to. He pushed a glass against the lever for water in the freezer door and wine poured into his glass.

“Oh my God,” I said. “Larry’s Jesus. He turned water into wine.”

For the rest of the night, when Larry saw me pouring wine from a bottle he would direct me to the wine tap on the fridge. “Yeah, but I know what you put in there,” I said. The bottles had the good stuff.

Guests arrived and Tracy, Larry and Mr. Canada revealed their meat extravaganzas. Garlic and rosemary crusted prime rib and black pepper crusted tenderloin wrapped in bacon. I think there was some cheese and bread involved but nothing green to be seen.

Everyone loved the food and complimented Mr. Canada, who was primarily responsible for it’s preparation. It was quite delightful. One of Larry’s friends was extolling the virtues of the meal in very loud and very cajun terms. “Dat meat is tinda tinda.” It doesn’t make sense if you’re not cajun. 

It was an eclectic group of people, including Amy and Lisa. I invited Mr. Canada onto the balcony. There were other people there, smoking. We went off to a corner and I kissed him and told him how happy I was that he was there.

It had not been long after his arrival that he had proclaimed that he loved me. Of course, I thought he was crazy. In that moment, part of me wanted to tell him I loved him too, but I wasn’t ready yet.

When I was standing next to Erik, he told me he liked Mr. Canada. That they had chatted when I was gone. About rowing and traveling and me. And Mr. Canada really liked them too. That made me very happy.

I was standing next to him in front of the sink, my arm around his waist when he said, “Go mingle with your friends.”

“I can see them anytime,” I said. “I want to be next to you.”

He kissed me and Larry said, “Get a room.”

It was a night I will never forget.

When I fell asleep that night in his arms, I felt content and happy.

 

The next day, we were intertwined on the sofa. He held my face kissed me and said, “I love you so much, Marie.”

“Oh Mr. Canada,” I said. “I love you too.”

Mr. Canada’s Visit Part 4: Pamplona & The Moon

I announced on facebook that Mr. Canada would be available for viewing at Pamplona that night.

We walked over and the gang trickled in. Eric, Larry, Amy and I can’t remember who else.

Despite some pretty heavy smack talk before his visit, he and Amy refrained from having a debate about the rapey-ness of the song, “Baby it’s Cold Outside.”

It turns out, Mr. Canada can’t hold his liquor very well and doesn’t drink often. And he gets pretty silly and even more obnoxious when he does drink. After one cocktail, drunk Mr. Canada was in full form.

I’m not accustomed to being the one who has to keep things in line. I’m usually the one someone else is telling to calm down. The two of us drunk was quite the match.

A couple came in and the guy had hair that jutted out on top of his head. Not fro-like exactly but high. Mr. Canada wanted to go over and ask him if he had stuck his hand in a socket. I protested. He kept insisting. I laughed at him and he ordered another cocktail.

I told him we should go for a walk and I took him out the back door to the alley. I put my arm around his neck and we stayed out there and kissed and laughed until I got him to promise not to antagonize the other patrons.

We went back in and had fun laughing with my friends. He liked Amy and seemed to mesh easily with everyone, though he stayed at my side, touching my legs and kissing me most of the time.

He pretended to order a third drink just to see my reaction. “What? Not another one?” I protested, feeling pretty tipsy myself. As usual he was just messing with me.

We walked to the Blue Moon, kissing along the way. “Get a room,” someone yelled out to us. We just laughed and kissed more.

I got a beer and he got wine. We sat on the back bench, watching every one and kissing. Mr. I Can Tell, was there. He came and sat next to us. I gave him a reluctant hi. Mr. Canada later told me that Mr. I Can Tell stared at him when I got up to talk to someone. He said he wanted to punch him in the face. And when I admitted that I had had a crush on him, like my friends before him, he was incredulous. Between that and seeing Pumpkin Patch, he proclaimed that I had terrible taste in men.

“What does that say about you?” I asked.

“Exactly,” he said, “I’m beginning to be insulted.”

At some point, he reminded me later, I took his plastic cup of wine and tossed it over the side of the high bench we were sitting on proclaiming, “You don’t need this.”

We stumbled home and flopped onto the couch in the dark.

I was so attracted to him. I sat on his lap facing him and kissing him, feeling the effect of too much wine.

“I don’t know if I can finish what I’m starting,” I said.

He just laughed and said, “Let’s go to bed, baby.”

to be continued…..

Stories from Mr. Canada’s Visit: Part 3

He talked constantly. He argued with me all the time. He antagonized me and told me lies to see how far he could push me. He reveled in getting me all riled up about something. The more passionate my response the more he would push the other side of the argument. I was extremely gullible at first. But after a while I would catch on when he was messing me and tell him to hush because his argument was illogical and he didn’t even believe it.

He did this to my friends as well. It was fun to watch with Amy who just gave it right back to him and shut him down, but it was a bit awkward with Liz, as she looked at him with her serious face, interrogating his seemingly sexist comments. “But why. Buy why. Buy why,” I remember her saying to him. Mr. Canada didn’t give too shits about what anybody thought of him. Which made him both a joy to be around and exasperating at times.

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The day he made the Korean ribs, I commented that the meat would make a great, next-day sandwich. He feigned outrage at the suggestion of putting the meat he had so carefully marinated and prepared into a sandwich. What? White bread? Mayonnaise and Ketchup? Pickles?!!! My God, Pickles!!?

I made him that sandwich the next day and he hated it and I thought it was wonderful. Then two things occurred to me: 1. I just like eating white bread with mayo and ketchup mixed on one side, then a tomato, then lettuce and a pickle and maybe a little mustard and mayo on the other slice. The meat you add in there is almost irrelevant. 2. Making a sandwich with leftovers must be a southern thing. Anytime we make a good meal with meat we make a sandwich with it the next day. Turkey. Boudin. Ham. Meatloaf. Whatever.

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One morning, we were waking up and sort-of playing with each other when I caught a glimpse of a roach in the corner of the room, near the ceiling. It was a typical tree roach, a common sight in an old house next to a cemetery with a giant oak tree in south Louisiana. They love those trees.

“Is that a roach?” I asked.

“Yes,” he said.

We started making up a story about the roach. His name became Ian somehow. He had a backstory and dialogue. A family and plans for the day. All to be dashed when I decided I couldn’t stay in bed with a roach on the wall. Using chemical warfare, I defeated Ian and threw his body in the garbage. Getting back in bed, the story continued. We were sitting up with our legs over each other as we laughed and made up details about the investigation into Ian’s death. We were unstoppable. The more he said, the more I added. We egged each other on. There would be a memorial in the corner. Flowers or maybe a missing poster. Have you seen this roach? Witnesses would testify that they heard the woman in the bed say she couldn’t possibly have sex with a roach in the corner. Hints of floral scented Raid were detected at the crime scene.

“We are ridiculous people,” I said to him laughing.

“Yes, we are.”

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I got him to watch Home Movies, which is kind of a test. If you don’t think Home Movies is funny, we might not be a match, but if you do….major brownie points. He loved it. After the episode with the pee-canteen, I caught him in the kitchen bend over the counter laughing and saying in that high pitch voice of his, “wee wee breath,” over and over again and laughing.

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I took him to Avery and Jefferson islands. We chased peacocks on Jefferson Island and he found a kumquat. Avery Island was disappointing. No birds. No alligators. He put me on his shoulders and carried me away from my camera bag as I giggled and screamed, “No, put me down,” instinctively trying to steer him with my legs, to no avail.

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And there was the smush. That happened early on, actually. We talked about the movie Man Up, what I consider to be the greatest rom-com ever made. I told him how I loved the scene on the train where Nancy tells Jessica,

“You need to shhmush…..you need to smouth.”

“You want me to…..,” Jessica asks.

“I do. Yeah. That would be great. It’s time.” Nancy answers.

We watched it together and “you need to smush……you need to smouth,” became our inside joke, our secret sign, our cute couple thing to say to each other. He even made into a ring tone and now every time he calls me, I hear that piece of dialogue and answer the phone laughing.

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He took forever grocery shopping. He shops in a grocery store like a woman shops for shoes. I watched him stand in the spice isle for what seemed like an hour. One hand on his hip, the other up to his chin. “Hmmmm,” he seemed to be thinking, “what strange cajun concoctions can I play with.” Completely unselfconscious in his shorts and flip flops. I was watching him when it occurred to me, He’s Mr. Bean. I’m dating Mr. Bean. I’m dating a ridiculous, happy, tall, handsome, sexy, Indian Mr. Bean.

He finally emerged from the aisle.

“You sure you got everything there, sport?” I asked. “You don’t want to go back and stare at the shelves for another 20 minutes?”

“You need to smush,” he said and put his arm around me.

to be continued….

Stories from Mr. Canada’s Visit: Part 2

Almost a month later, it’s hard to piece together a day to day play back. I remember moments, meals, outings…..feelings:

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He cooked every night when we didn’t eat out. Wonderfully crafted meals. Lamb and homemade hummus. Chicken tacos and margaritas eaten on the roof. Korean-style ribs and fruit salad with a dressing he whipped up like it was nothing.

The first night he made the best chicken curry I’ve ever had. We posted a facebook call-out invitation and one of the Persian’s Iranian friends, Amir was the only person to show up. He told us all about his love life and Mr. Canada and I gave him advice like we were some old married couple. It was fun.

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We made love almost every morning and slept in, lazily lounging in my bed, our legs intertwined, his hands almost constantly tenderly touching my body. He made me coffee in the morning and sometimes breakfast. I made the eggs since he said over-easy was not his specialty.

We went for walks. I showed him the over-300- year-old oak tree at the cathedral. I think that was on Christmas Eve. We went to Girard Park and I showed him Cypress Lake, the mini-swamp on campus with alligators and turtles and cypress trees. It got really cold for a few days when he was here. Then it was right back to 70s.

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On Christmas morning, we exchanged gifts. He gave me a little photo album with note cards in the place of pictures. On them he had copied his favorite texts and messages exchanged between us. The last one said, “I have a crazy idea. What if I came for Christmas.” I was touched by the time he put into it and the sentimentality behind it. I gave him silver cufflinks with dragonflies on them.

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The sex was amazing. It got better each time. He figured out my body, my likes and dislikes right away. He had this look on his face when we made love…..serious and intense, something of a contrast to the jovial troublemaker he was most of the time.

He told me he loved the way I looked naked in bed, and the way I looked when we made love.

I’ve had great sex with others, well one in particular. I’ve had that fiery connection before but there was always something missing, a caveat. No one I had been with in the past five years was going to be around very long. They were temporary. But here was this man, rocking my world, giving me intense pleasure, loving me with each touch and movement, and he wanted to be a part of my life. He wanted me to be in his life. It was the intent that had been absent in other flings.

I’ve never felt so beautiful and so sexy as when he was making love to me. We were passionate and intensely intimate…..playful and fun. I loved the things he did to me, the way he made me feel. And when we were resting, there was nurturing touches, expressions of love and a sense of peace.

And I think he even taught me a little. He encouraged a tenderness in me that perhaps I had forgotten. It’s been a long time since I’ve been truly nurturing to someone. Probably not since my children were young. It’s hard to express tenderness when it’s neither appreciated nor reciprocated. I think I have to relearn how to be myself in that way. He would run his fingers ever so lightly across my back and body and when I did the same to him, it was surprisingly arousing. Maybe I’m relearning how to give to someone again.

After a couple of days, I started to feel dizzy and fatigued. My brain was already keeping more norepinephrine, dopamine and serotonin floating around in it then it wanted to. With all that great sex, now there was oxytocin and endorphins up there too. I was too happy. It was making my head spin. Mr. Canada threw my brain chemistry off.

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Once he was on top of me and I insisted he take off his t-shirt immediately.

“Too much yellow,” I said pulling the bright shirt off of him.

“Too much yellow?!” he asked later, laughing.

“I’m a very visual person.” I said. “I can’t have that much yellow in my face when I’m having sex.”

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I worked only one day that he was here. The night before the sex had been pretty steamy. I couldn’t get it out of my head as I sat at my desk, pretending to work. I texted him, telling him so. He suggested I come home for lunch. He had packed me leftover lamb and hummus, so I ate that first then told him I would be home at noon. When I walked in he was in the tub. I was a little annoyed. I was feeling a bit randy. I took the opportunity to change into matching blue lacy bra and panties and put my work clothes back on. I sat on the sofa and waited for him and he walked out completely nude. The panties were off seconds later, no attention paid to their prettiness. We had fun on that sofa. That was a fun lunch.

That night when I got home, he had chicken tacos and margaritas prepared and we ate on the roof, lying back and talking when we were done. “Wouldn’t this be nice to do every night?” he asked.

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Sometimes he would bathe while I put my make-up on and fixed my hair and I would look down at his body in the natural light as we talked. He face was so beautiful when he looked up at me with his giant brown eyes and perfect lips.

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We were checking out of the grocery store one day when I looked over and saw Pumpkin Patch standing near the exit. I waved an obligatory hi, hoping not to interact with him. He waved me over. I walked over and gave him a hug. He had put on a lot of weight. Gone were the tight muscles under a cool t-shirt or flat stomach under tight pants. His hair was long and darker and he was sporting a very full beard. He looked very different. The usual how-are-you conversation ensued and Mr. Canada came over with our groceries. I introduced them.

“I heard you were getting married,” I told Pumpkin Patch.

“Oh no,” he said with a look of disgust on his face. “But I am having a baby.”

The three of us then engaged in a very stupid and awkward exchange of jokes about a man having a baby, our common senses of humor forbidding the train wreck from stopping. I finally got us out of there and we walked to the Chinese take-out place at the other end of the shopping center.

“I dated him,” I said as we walked out.

“Him?” Mr. Canada asked incredulously. He made fun for me for dating Pumpkin Patch.

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For some reason, one of our conversations took us to the subject of fairies. I told him about the story of Lady Cottington and her fairy photographs. Brian Froud’s pressed fairy book, based on that story had always been a favorite of Lori’s and mine. He looked through it and laughed. “You should read it, it’s hilarious.”

“Read it to me,” he said. So, as he cooked dinner, I sat on my little hassock, drinking wine and reading aloud to him from Lady Cottington’s Pressed Fairy book. It was blissful.

to be continued…….