Coming Attractions

Well, as Facebook will attest and remind – should I ever be mercifully allowed to forget – my birthday is coming up.

“Get plastered, you bastard,” was the line in the cover version of the Happy Birthday song we used to sing to celebrate these milestones. Now, my consciousness-indicator (an app I use to show Jan when I am awake and when I am asleep) goes into the semi-awake mode when I crack my third beer, so getting plastered won’t be on the agenda. (I fall asleep before the plastering can take place.)

The one possible exception was when Jan left me alone with my Irish son-in-law and his dad. James and Tom showed me a thing or two about how to drain a St. Catherines craft brew. Several, in deed. Some parget activity did, in fact occur there among Canada’s rich and famous, but the only manifestation that I could observe was that our stories were truly hilarious.

Speaking of draining…back before I was a son-in-law, and also before I had any sons-in-law of my own, my buds and I used to say, “draining”, as in,

Q: “What are you doing on Friday night?”

A: “We’re going draining. You?”

Other fine turns of phrase from them days:

Paving, being paved, on a paver. This is a lyrical conjugation. Paving is when a teenager with too rich an ingested blend of greasy food and alcohol, must expel a portion of it. When the expulsion takes place out of the window of someone’s car, and the expelled material falls beneath the rear wheel of the slowly moving vehicle – that, eager students of higher learning, is paving.  Being paved is when one is inebriated and is likely to do some paving. By logical extension, being on a paver is – usually on a long-weekend – an extended  period of paving and being paved.

Shaker. A shaker is a party. But, more than that, a really good party. Women, inebriants, a few existentialists, a little knuckle justice. If the shaker were to wane, it might spawn a…

Country Tour. Accompanied by John Prine, Emmy Lou, Kristofferson, Leonard Cohen (RIP) or that lad from Hibbing, a group of teenagers drive slowly along gravel mile roads on the prairies. The car, powerless to refuse, is set in Drive or first gear (if a standard) and it idles along while deep discussion ensues. Synonym: Booze cruise. Disambiguation: when a lot of singing takes place, it may become a “drinkalong”. Related Terms: If the driver falls asleep or is busy paving and the car runs off the road, the vehicle becomes a “tree machine”.

As you can see, mine was a rich adolescence, filled with the type of sophisticated experiences that have made The Simpsons a popular show for 28 seasons.

Anyway. Just before my next birthday – this Sunday – I will read aloud my story, “And So Are They All” at the launch of the seventeenth edition of the semi-annual print journal, Voices. It is published by the Lake Winnipeg Writers’ Group and the event is at the McNally Robinson book store on Grant Avenue in Winnipeg @ 2:00 PM. The story has absolutely nothing to do with paving, tree machines, et al. Here is a snippet:

Second only to the Hedy Lamarr beauty of Em Gerbrandt was the beguiling feminine charm of the Gidget-like Ms. Froese, our teacher. Of course, Ms. did not exist then, only Misses and she was one. Around five feet tall, bobbed blonde hair, saddle shoes, cashmere sweaters and rocket bras. I am sure I had no distinct thought then of that conically constrained part of her anatomy, only that it was soft and pleasing when she leaned over to help you with a problem and she happened to make fuzzy impact with your head or shoulder.

Soon after, another story of mine will be released into the wild. On Tuesday, Nov 22 my short story “South Oromocto Depths” will be published on Literally Stories. It is a story with some connection to the aforementioned tomfoolery, although this perspective is a bit more obverse – it looks at some of the negative aspects of drink. Here’s a teaser:

I padded silently across the cold floor, pulling a hooded sweater over my head. Surveying the scene, hands on my hips like a construction supervisor, I shook my head slowly. The glass ashtray on the blue Formica kitchen table was jammed with white cigarette butts, overflowing. “Alpine” was printed in menthol green font and many butts were on the table. Black ash was mixed into spilled beer, the crummy remnants of a bag of Cheezies was in a large mixing bowl and orange bits also joined with the wet beer-ash mixture on the table.
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The place smelled like bum. A single, long Alpine cigarette was planted in a round-edged pound of butter that rested on its unfurled aluminum wrapper. The cigarette stood proudly up from the butter – a lone palm tree on a deserted yellow beach. Evidence of a few taps of ash decorated the foil.

Today, Nov 17, incidentally, is Literally Stories second anniversary. Please remember that those are internet years, so multiply X seven. Happy Fourteenth, LS!

allfornow – mitch

 

Copyright Mitchell Toews ©2016

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“We’re All Just Here to Fart Around”

Living at the lake and trying to write every day has the combined unintended consequence of making quite a few things seem preposterous.

I mean, really. My existence here is a bit strange in relation to the things we all typically accept as being important. Yesterday I watched a beaver take ten minutes to drag a branch through a culvert under the highway to its lodge in the ditch. It was so absorbed in what it was doing that it did not notice me or maybe just chose to ignore me. I stood close enough to hear it panting. Yes, beavers pant. Why wouldn’t they? In fact, I am almost sure I heard it say, “Holy shit!” when it was finally finished tugging that branch through the tunnel.

So, yes, that experience put things in perspective and suddenly the most recent Trumpism, where he hits a woman with a rolled-up newspaper and yells, “See! It just makes a loud noise but doesn’t REALLY hurt them…”  well, it doesn’t seem any less bizarre but it does increase my relative admiration for beavers.

Anyway, I am determined to have a  good week. Yesterday I transplanted some White Spruce ( Picea Glauca, Manitoba’s Provincial tree) from the neighbour’s yard into ours. At the neighbour’s request — I ain’t no tree pirate. Today I will pretend to be a finishing carpenter and do some baseboards and casing.

On Thursday, a story of mine runs in Literally Stories, a UK-based online short story site. It is my third story on this site so far and I am excited to see the response. I chewed 500 words out of it and made some other major changes and I am quite heavily invested in it! Like my buddy the beaver, I am convinced it is all worth the struggle.

On Friday, I may go and rig up a little pulley system in that blasted culvert.

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Please see my stories on Literally Stories, 

The Fifty Dollar Sewing Machine

and

Breezy and the Six-Pack Sneaker

and look out for Frozen Tag on Thursday, on the @LiterallyStories website. 

 

Copyright Mitchell Toews ©2016