Hat-trick

“Hey! Mounds! Hey! Miss Pubic Head!”

BostonHat

Felt Grouser – the hat, not me.

She turned. Saw the culprits. Two 15 year old boys on the other side of the street walking parallel with her.

The blush she felt crushed her with heat and shame. I HATE my hair, she thought.

Slamming the front door, she dropped her books on the front hall phone stand, tromped into the kitchen, and collapsed into the chair at the counter and let her head droop. “Mom, can you make me a hat? Or grandma. Can she crochet one? Fast?”

“Have a look at the wool in the cedar chest. See if you like anything.”

She pulled out a soft grey ball shining with a silver lurex thread. “Is there enough here?”

There was. The next morning a crocheted masterpiece was on her dresser. A cloche. But there were lacy holes. Would it contain her hair? What if all the twirling inverted question marks imitating her curls wiggled loose and spiraled to freedom? Oh well. She pulled it on. Her head looked smaller. Her glasses looked bigger. Her hair was gone!

The love affair with hats began. You should have seen the cap colour coordinated to complement her favourite school dance dress – the flutter sleeved, floral print mini with matching hot pants peeking out, accessorized with platform shoes and a perfect beret. She was Leslie Caron, and the school gym was an MGM back lot. Oh! And a knitted beach cap. Why not wear a bikini and a hat. Why ever not?  A hat for cut-off jean shorts in a faded denim blue, of course. All of them tight fitting and accentuating the curve of her cranium.

She liked how she became someone else with each new topper. The newsboy hat came with sass and a foul mouth and a cigarette dangling from her nail-bitten fingertips. The boater had her floating down the Thames, hailing all she met in an English accent. Oh, the romance! Her fedora helped perfect surreptitious glances from underneath the brim. Sly lifts of the eyes full of surprise when caught.

BigBen

The bonus was when the hat came off and her hair was flat. Beautiful. Smooth. But the best part was the disguise. At least she thought she was disguised. Her signature floppy colourful beret worn pulled back with just a few bangs showing put a swing in her hips.

“You tryin’ to be Bob Marley?” he yelled down the school corridor. “Yer no fuckin’ Marley that’s for sure.” She looked in the mirror in the girls’ bathroom. Who was Bob Marley?

Couldn’t they tell she was Twiggy?

Twiggy

 

 

(I have loved hats since I first wore one in self-defence. This is my latest and my newest favourite.)

Lillie&Cohoe

British Columbia Milliner, Lillie and Cohoe. A milliner for god’s sake! I feel like an extra in My Fair Lady.

Bus rider

menomama3:

Written by my beret wearing, Cigarillo smoking alter-ego.

Originally posted on wuthering bites:

The bus came. Joni Mitchell sang “Help Me” on her iPod as she sat down next to a blue eyed man. I’d like to be wooed, she thought. Staring into the window, she saw her reflection, then his. Their eyes joined. The bell pinged. “My stop”, he said and left.

(Written in response to the Weekly Writing Challenge: 50)

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The people you meet

A dear friend posted this on Facebook: “Have you ever just stopped and realized that if you hadn’t met a certain person your entire life would be completely different.” Of course I clicked “like” because I thought of her and a few other friends who shaped those impressionable teen years, those pivotal numbers between 12-16 when everything changes forever. Or at least it felt like it at the time. Sometimes it still feels that way when I look back. If I hadn’t met her, I wouldn’t have hung out in a particular group of friends. If I hadn’t hung out with those friends I wouldn’t have met my French kissing American boyfriend and moved briefly to the U.S. of A. and eventually escaped to Newfoundland to reinvent myself.

Some people claim this is destiny; that the choices we make are an ordained plan and simply meant to be; that we meet everyone for a reason; that everything happens for a reason. I sincerely hope not!

There was a lot of chaos that lead me from place to place: An alcoholic father, a disrupted family life, a despairing mother. All conditions out of my control. Divinity in drink? Divinity in depression?

Some choices are not ours. Children don’t choose where they live or go to school. Their parents do. Rape victims don’t choose to be raped. Orphaned and abandoned children don’t choose to lose their families. Murder victims don’t choose to die. To say that this is divine destiny is like saying they deserved it. It’s defeatist. It’s just too easy to shrug off and accept.

When I look back and thank my lucky – yes lucky – stars that the course of my life has led to here and now, there are hundreds and hundreds of encounters along the way that occurred by chance. Like when the boarding house my yet-unmet-husband-to-be lived in burned to the ground. He moved into my boarding house where a friend of his was living. What kind of malevolent grand conductor burned one house down to lead him to my house? Multiple people suddenly homeless lead to individual happiness? That doesn’t seem right. It’s like when good Christians say “It’s God’s will that this orphaned/abandoned child from Africa/Asia/USA/Canada be adopted by me.” Really. God planned for millions of children to be homeless, starving and miserable, for families to be divided by poverty and consigned to unimaginable privation so you could adopt? Well then. I give thanks for atheism. Hallelujah for random encounters because if there is a mighty planner, it’s a shitty plan. Give me chance any day. It seems infinitely more hopeful.

It seems to me that while many people in western countries have thrown away the belief in God along with the structure of the church, they have accepted too easily a secular goodness – the teachings of Upworthy. What’s the difference between saying it’s the will of God and “everything happens for a reason”?

Yes, our lives are affected by the people who touch them. Thank you for the positive touches dear old friends. But thank you for the fickle finger of fate, too. Thank you for being able to choose. Thank you for random acts of kindness. Thank you for the excitement of getting up every day and not really knowing what’s in store. There is no destiny, just the simple pleasure of daily life and the people who are present.

Flying fickle finger of fate

Flying fickle finger of fate

Life lessons – The French kiss

Settle your lips against your lover’s. Part them. Tickle the corner of his mouth with your tongue. Touch his teeth and wait a breath or two for his tongue to find yours.

Do you remember your first kiss? I don’t. But I do remember my first French kiss. It was a messy, wet business. It was thumb wrestling except with tongues. Very odd indeed.

Up until that point I was a kissing virgin. I was unaware that a tongue was required in facial coupling. I thought all that was needed were two puckered lips pressed together and smooshing back and forth with the head in a kind of cranial jitterbug. I always wondered why in god’s name my boyfriend’s tongue was poking around my mouth like that. Small wonder I was puzzled when my romantic role models were Gidget and Moondoggie.

Gidget and Moondoggie

Kissing Moondoggie and Gidget style. No tongues in sight.

Then along came my amorous mentor. “You’ve never French kissed before?” He was older than I. Experienced. American. My first foreign lover. Frankly, I’d never heard of “French” kissing and said so. He gave a brief explanation. Really, there’s not much to it, is there? Then came the demo.

We were at the beach, just like in Gidget Goes Hawaiian. In my innocent 17 year old mind, I thought life couldn’t possibly get any better. I had a boyfriend who was in Grade 12. He was exotic and handsome. He’d invited me to his grad dance (prom, as it is now called), and he was teaching me to French kiss, on the beach, at night.

We were leaning against his dad’s 1950’s two-tone blue Rambler station wagon looking out over the silent harbour. Quiet waves licked the pebbled shore while nearby a group of friends were ringed around a campfire talking, smoking, drinking. His hand crept across the warm metal of the car. I could feel his heat sneaking up on me. I was excited about it, too, knowing what was going to happen next. He held my baby and ring fingers in his big hand. I thought I’d collapse in desperate agony of longing. And then he whispered “Are you ready?” I nodded. In the dark, mind you. It didn’t matter. I WAS ready.

His face hovered over mine. I could smell the beer he’d been drinking mixed faintly with soap and shaving cream and deodorant. His cheek brushed mine. My stomach twitched. My lips parted.

Seriously, I thought I was suffocating. Oh, he was capable enough. But dear lord in heaven it was like having a toilet plunger suctioned over my face. I couldn’t breathe! Actually, I believe I held my breath. There was just too much to think about: the tongues, the lips, the chins, the noses, all jockeying for position. It was so busy! All that jostling with the tongues and the free flow of saliva was like being pinioned on a sweat soaked gym mat. All that plus I knew exactly what he’d had for dinner – tuna and onions.

We pulled apart after what seemed like an episode of “Happy Days”. Duration I assumed was like size. It mattered. I nearly fainted from lack of oxygen and was panting like a deep sea diver breaking the surface, gulping air. He took this as a sign of fervent desire and plunged back into my astonished mouth. This time I was ready. With lungs full of fresh air I gave it back. Tongue and all.

 

 

 

“Do or do not. There is no try.” *

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Photo credit: Sideshow by the Seashore

Once a week I write a post for this blog whether I want to or not. Kind of like having sex after being married for 35 years. It can be a grind. It starts slowly, reluctantly even, then gradually it starts to work. The brain and body connect and everything starts to flow – blog-wise I’m talking. Well, sex-wise too I suppose.

Recently I had a spat with a friend about blogging. His point of view is that all bloggers are egocentric, attention seeking narcissists who, if we had anything interesting to say, would write books that people cared enough to read. You can imagine my response.

Urm. Put a shield on my saber I must.*

Perhaps his only experience is on Tumblr where, god knows, there is no shortage of selfies in various states of undress and worse. You tumble in Tumblr and you’ll be wishing sweaty-palmed Lewis Carroll would hand you a little bottle labeled “drink me” so you could go somewhere normal.

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Self-absorbed selfie

I harbour no illusions about my blogging practice. It is yoga for my mind. Without it, be I would not. It is a creative outlet in a life that is filled with long to-do lists and days that puff along like a cold vapour and disappear behind me. It’s a life-blog, blog-life metaphor, for those of you who enjoy such things. Yes, the blog is ephemeral and we bloggers are only as good as our last post, but it’s a record. Proof that I exist. I blog, therefore I am. Virtual graffiti: I was here.

Every day I dip into WordPress where I am humbled to meet ordinary folks with unique voices writing about their lives, their thoughts in fiction, poetry, and prose, through photography and art.  To dismiss millions of bloggers is to dismiss the human need for self-expression and the quest to understand our individual cosmos.

To see a world in a grain of sand
and heaven in a wild flower
Hold infinity in the palms of your hand
and eternity in an hour. (William Blake)

I have learned from bloggers to see the extraordinary in the ordinary; to relish the memories of others and nurture my own; to listen to and ponder the opinions of those different from me; to listen to the voices that might not otherwise be heard.

          Thankful, I am.**

*Yoda
**Menomama3

Ten thousand steps

“The river flowed both ways.”*

Memories. Boy, can they fuck you up. Lead you down a path you never would have gone if you’d just been sensible and forgotten.

Then there’s everything you’ve forgotten. Someone reminds you of a long ago event. Oh ya. I did that. Oh God. Did I do that?! Maybe that’s why I have forgotten the people to go with the memories. The cringing memories. The stomach-knotted, bowel-clenching memories. The strawberry wine-vomit memories.

Then there are the memories you don’t share. Like me and my siblings. I came along later than them. They have shared battles and woes and horror stories of youth I wasn’t there for. I am jealous of those ones. I can’t reminisce with them. Left out, waaa, poor me memories.

Flashbacks. Triggers. A smell, like Coppertone Suntan Lotion and suddenly you’re gone. You’re four. You’re in Hawaii. Sunburnt. The lotion lied. Scottish skin doesn’t tan. You’re lost in a market, hot and scared. A big hand grabs you and you run to your mother who smells like Ponds face cream and Chantilly perfume. She is crying. You’re laughing. You were found.

And there are other memories too. The secret memories, the therapy memories. Yes, they stay locked up and given only to your priest, your therapist, your Buddhist friend, to take away the sins of your world.

Happy memories? The balm to restore balance. To make breathing easy. To meditate and contemplate and be grateful for. Baby days and canoeing. Long walks and making love on a sunny rock.

Regretful memories. Forgetful memories. Joyful memories. They pull you backwards even when you’re stepping forwards. Like the river that flowed both ways.

All this flowed through my head as I walked 10,000 steps yesterday – an hour and a half of traipsing through soggy snow, muddy streets. The head is a noisy place.

*This is the opening line of Margaret Laurence’s The Diviners. A line I never really understood until I hit about 50. There’s one good thing about getting older. Literature starts to make sense.

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Sex and the Single Girl – Seniors edition

International Women’s Day has come and gone, again, and I did not ponder the big issues because they are well covered by bigger thinkers than me. No, what’s been eating me for the last week was a story I heard at my regular stitch-n-bitch gathering.

One woman was recalling how she was shunned by married female friends when she divorced her husband. With three young children and no financial means, she needed the support of those friends more than ever, but they were not there for her. Why? She was perceived as a threat. A predator. She might steal their husbands.

Good grief. Is the pool of potential paramours so shallow that we have to turn to our best friend’s mister? No offense to any of my girlfriends’ dudes, but I know WAY too much about them to consider them as mating material – their hygiene habits alone would put me off the scent. Not that I’m in the market. But if I were.

Besides, have you not seen the enormous array of eligible chaps that scroll next to your Facebook page? Uh oh. Maybe that’s just me and the questionable Tumblr sites I’ve visited. Google knows my taste better than me. According to Match.ca there’s a plethora of pleasant men 50+ just WAITING for a call.

Nonetheless, we know the future holds shrinking resources, in quantity, quality, and durability. Unfortunately, men are still dying faster than women making even the curmudgeonliest, unkempt critters desirable. Alas, this will probably have a terrible effect on the already inflated male ego, tricking them into believing they’re catnip to the senior kitties. Make no mistake, old men, you’re not special. You’re just alive.

I don’t think we’re the more compassionate gender (see reference to shunned divorcee above) but I think we are certainly more pragmatic. For this reason, I think old age will require some rethinking on the part of my gal pals.  No more sharpening of claws to keep out the sexy divorcée. Polygamy is a distinct possibility. This could assist living conditions in seniors’ residences tremendously, keep costs down, and help those on limited incomes – all through communal living.  The difficulty would be determining an acceptable ratio of female to male. It is a delicate balance between satisfaction and dissatisfaction. Or not. Just up the tom cat’s Viagra.

Do you remember Sex and the Single Girl by Helen Gurley Brown? Its publication was hailed as a groundbreaking work inaugurating a new feminist wave in the early 1960’s. Sex and the City was a modern homage to the classic “how to” book. (As an aside, Kim Cattrall, the actress who portrayed Samantha Jones in the TV series, wrote an endorsement of the 2003 edition of the book.)

In light of the aging boomer demographic, I think Ms. Gurley Brown’s advice needs to be rejigged. Some of the compelling chapter headings might be revised as follows:

  • Women Alone? Oh Come Now – Exactly, Helen. We’ll never be alone again. All for one and one for all as long as we take turns.
  • The Availables –Anyone upright and breathing.
  • Where to Meet Them – The assisted living cafeteria.
  • How to Be Sexy – Inhale. Exhale.
  • Money Money Money-If you’re in a home, you’ve got money.
  • The Care and Feeding of Everybody-Not to worry. The cafeteria caters to all.
  • The Shape You’re In-How to wiggle out of the Spanx, Playtex Cross Your Heart bra, support hose and into bed.
  • The Wardrobe – No brainer – a bathrobe.

So, ladies, let’s be nice sistas. Let’s watch each others’ backs and support each other like a good double D bra should. We’re all going to need help in the future.