Archive for July, 2012

PC, Please!

Saturday, July 28th, 2012

Check her out! Doesn’t she look like Katie Holmes?

A few weeks back I saw a production of Arthur Miller’s All My Sons.  I’ve seen Death of a Salesman a couple of times, which is one of my favourites.  All My Sons is not, I don’t think, of the same calibre but it does have some lovely moments in the writing.  In particular, the point where the main character says the line of the play and the double-entendre of the phrase is made clear (a moment that was nicely underplayed in the production I saw).  But one of the more striking things about the play were all the seemingly innocuous things the male characters said that made me cringe.  Did fathers really talk about the little, next door neighbour girl growing up to be such a hottie in quite that way?  Perhaps they still do, which is cringe worthy itself, but surely not in mixed company or at least not when it’s your son’s fiancée?  Right?  Right?  It all makes me have a much greater appreciation for the politically correct movement.

Somebody’s Husband

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

For some reason, a picture of Sigorney Weaver seemed appropriate.

Looking at the books displayed in the window of a used bookstore the other day, I was struck with how many titles refer to women in relation to the men in their lives.  The offending title in this particular instance was The Martian’s Daughter (which is not, it turns out, science fiction but the autobiography of John von Neumann’s daughter – go figure).  It put me in mind of finding out how many books are entitled “somebody or another’s wife” (I will have to leave “somebody or another’s daughter” for some other time).  The results are hardly scientific: I put “wife” into amazon.com’s search and came up with 10 books in the first six pages of results.  The titles ranged from The Astronaut’s Wife to Death of the Couch Potato’s Wife (really, the woman dies and she still gets second billing to a couch potato).  I conducted this same test on the word “husband” and did not come up with ANY such titles, even after pressing on to page eight.  It’s enough to put me in mind of writing something entitled The Amazon’s Husband or, better yet, drop the husband and just write about the Amazon.

Game Face – My Questions Answered

Sunday, July 8th, 2012

Let the speculation end, here are the answers to the Game Face questions straight from the author’s mouth (although, of course, at least one of the questions was a “what do you think…” and I couldn’t possibly know what you think, so no insights there).  And, not surprisingly, the answer is “I don’t know.”  I never know what the “theme” might be before I start writing something and prefer not to figure it out while writing it.  The few times I have, the writing has tended to become pedantic, forced, preachy and generally pretty terrible.  But I do sometimes get a kick out of realizing after the fact what was subconsciously going through my head.  This time I think it was – and this is a bit of a regular thing with me – that we suck at knowing what’s going on in other people’s heads.  Or at the very least we tend to see it through the very strong filter of what’s going on in our own heads.  So, in terms of who the dreamer is, I would like to think it could be either Travis or Andi.

Game Face: Part 3

Sunday, July 1st, 2012

Thanks again Kelly and Belinda, and my off-line responders.  My sample is small but there is a gender divide on the Travis question.  Here is the third and final installment.  Final question, “Who is the dreamer?”

Game Face: Part 3

They would have been at an impasse if Cathy hadn’t shown up with the Hungry Man’s Meal and a coffee, which Travis passed to Andi.  It made her inordinately happy.  She always suspected that she was overly susceptible to small acts of kindness.  How little it took.  Far too little.  She reached for the cream to hide her embarrassment.  She struggled to open the small plastic pack.

Now what, Travis thought.  He wanted to reach over and take the cream from Andi and open it for her.  To prove capable in this small but not pointless task.  That’s it.  To be useful.  That’s all he ever wanted.  Someone had robbed him of this.  He couldn’t remember who.  Perhaps had never known.

Andi gave up on the cream.  The coffee was cold.  The cream would have only made it colder.  This, whatever this was, had to be put behind them.  Travis was a work colleague.  It would never do.  Not even remotely.  No, they had to do more than put it behind them.  They had to pretend it had never happened. 

“You don’t watch hockey?” Andi smiled.  It was an effort but she smiled.

Travis smiled back.

Andi was taken aback.  Travis had never done that before.  What was he doing?

What had he done now?  Andi looked frightened.  Like a deer.  Eyes wide, body pulled back.  Christ, you’d think he had said something offensive.

“Ah listen, Travis, about this ‘buddy’ thing.  I know the firm wants us to do it and all, thinks it would benefit us and therefore them, but I don’t think it is.  I mean benefiting us and therefore them, so I am sure they wouldn’t mind if we, ahh, just stopped seeing each other.” 

Andi smile, smile, smiled throughout this little speech making Travis’ hair hurt.  And he saw with sudden clarity what Andi was.  She wasn’t sleek, well-dressed and successful, a pay rank ahead of him.  Yes, she was all those things, too, which was kind of sexy in “I can handle it” sort of way, but what she really was was disappointed.  No, not even disappointed but bitter.  She wasn’t a ball-breaker; she was a bitter girl. 

It was a hard to tell at first through the designer fashions and the shiny hair but she was his wife – his ex-wife – in disguise.  Even though they looked nothing alike – Yvonne was soft and blond, while Andi was all angles from her slightly asymmetric bob to her pointy shoes – they were exactly the same.  Travis, now that he saw it, couldn’t believe he hadn’t seen it before.  He knew.  Andi would have felt like she hadn’t asked for much, a house – no a “home” – love, support and – what was the word that Yvonne had used? – constancy.  And men would have failed to deliver.  Somehow they were always failing to deliver.  No, hadn’t asked for much, no more than what many women managed to achieve the world over, or at least fifty percent of them, but she had been denied even that.  And her dreams had been so small.  The realization that Andi was, well, nothing special, was a release.

Andi smiled again.  Why was Travis making this so hard?  He looked positively put upon when all she wanted to do was make it easier for them.  For both of them.  Well, really just for her.  She didn’t care about him, but he too would benefit from this selfish act.  Surely he could see that.  Instead he looked sad.  Why were men like that?  So incapable of stepping to the plate, sucking it up, and just getting on with things.  Why did they have to be so sensitive?  She could see it in Travis’ whole body, which for once was angled towards her.  And then she saw it.  He was a failure.  Yes, he had been called upon and had failed to make the grade.  She glanced to where she knew a wedding band probably once resided and it was suddenly easy to imagine this womanizer married.  Her: unassuming, undemanding.  Him: ready to provide comfort, to do things, change light bulbs, clear the drains, to be the man.  Her saying he needn’t worry about it.  It was OK.  It was fine.  She’d just call a plumber.  Her with the kids.  Clinging to her knees.  Him ultimately unnecessary.  Yes, that’s what Travis was: dispensable.  It was almost enough to make Andi feel sorry for him.  Instead it released her.

“Andi.”

Travis looked up at her.  Andi hadn’t even realized she had stood up.  Pulling on her coat, scarf, hat, gloves.  Winter, it made quick escapes impossible.

“Gotta go, Travis.”

“See you next time?”  And Travis smile, smile, smiled.

*** 

As the light of the last of the falling stars faded, you shifted your body, but you didn’t come any closer to me.  It was quite and we were silent, letting the darkness envelope us.  And just as I began to relax, to forget, to feel the comfort of solitude that happens only when I’m not alone, you spoke.

“What do you always wish for?”

“Release.”