Thursday, April 30, 2015


Here's to all the Real men out there:

Boys play house. Men build homes.

Boys shack up. Men get married.

Boys make babies. Men raise children.

A boy won't raise his own children. A man will raise his and someone else's.

Boys invent excuses for failure. Men produce strategies for success.

Boys look for somebody to take care of them. Men look for someone to take care of.

Boys seek popularity. Men earn respect by knowing how to give it.

Boys quit and walk away when things get hard. Men will promise to love you through it all.


Once upon a time there lived a man named King. Nobody really knew for sure what his real name was, but it seemed he had always been called King. Perhaps it was because he was so popular in his community; he was well liked, did anything for anybody, and was well-respected, or perhaps it was because he was the master of his domain, private, and well-to-do.

In his early years, he was a womanizer, a drunkard, and his main source of revenue was working as a logger. He was a free-spirit and he enjoyed his life. He worked in many parts of the country and everywhere he went he made friends and allies. He fathered many children in his time, even he did not know the number, and he had many sexual partners. He was resourceful and intelligent, even though he did not finish school, and he was a jack-of-all-trades. Everywhere he went people waved and yelled his name, for he was well-known.

He had tried to settle down with one woman, and had several children with her. As time went on, though, he was unable to tolerate her many moods and became drawn, so, once again, he took to the road and its freedom, leaving the poor waifs behind to fend for themselves.

As time went on, King became old and worn. He had been in several car accidents—due to drinking—which were now causing distress in his body. He had squandered away his riches. He was no longer able to work and, therefore, decided to finally settle down in one place. He chose the place where he had been raised, where his mother had owned land. He cleared the land, built a cabin, and settled in. King became a recluse.

Many years went by and the people of the community, and maybe some brother or sister, began to wonder what ever happened to King. Word got around and rumors and stories began to circulate about his disappearance. Most people just figured that he had gone away to some corner of the country and had finally settled down with some fair lady. No one knew that he had settled in the land just outside of the community. And that was that and years went by.

One night, a member of the community walked into the local drinking establishment and ordered a cold one. The barkeep noticed that he looked grim and asked him what was wrong. The man guzzled the glass of cold beer and ordered another. When he had quenched his thirst, he told the barkeep that he had been driving home when he noticed a white sign in the woods, just off the main road. This sign had not been there before and so he stopped, backed up and parked his truck, and then got out to take a look-see. At first, he thought that it might have been a joke, some kids were fooling around, but as he got closer he noticed a dirt road, and, being the curious fellow he was, followed it. A few feet into the woods and the road became wider, much wider, and he walked that road for about twenty minutes. He came across a large clearing of land, about two acres, and at the far end was a large building, like a church, although it did not have a steeple, with rows of windows on both sides. On the other side of the field, to the right, was a small house.

The barkeep poured him another glass of beer and pulled up a chair, as he found the story to be captivating. Apparently, so did a few other patrons of the bar and they gathered around the man to hear the rest of the story.

The man went on and told them that he had stood there for a long time, sweating in the heat of the afternoon summer sun. He wondered what he should do. Should he walk up to the house and find out who lived there? or should he just turn around and go back to the truck and forget about it?

His decision was made the moment he caught sight of an old man with a long white beard and hair coming out of the woods to the left of the church. Behind the old man was a small black dog. When the dog began barking the old man looked up and saw him. The old man waved to the stranger, “Come, come and have some tea with me.”

The man, whose name was Joe, was a friendly person, so, he smiled and waved to the old man and followed him to the house. The dog stopped barking and started wagging its tail as Joe approached.

When Joe got closer to the house, he noticed that the house had some strange writings and sayings on it. They seemed Biblical. Although Joe had never been a church going person, he recognized the verses. He became uneasy; he did not want to be in the company of a raving lunatic who preached of God and the second coming.

They entered a small porch and the old man placed his walking stick in the corner. Joe was very thirsty and asked the old man for a drink of water. The old man was kindly and pointed to the corner where he kept the good drinking water. Joe drank from a small dipper and when he was finished, the old man invited him to sit at the kitchen table. Joe sat down, and the little black dog lay at his feet.

The kitchen was not fancy. There were no cupboards with expensive dishes, only shelves with enough tableware for about four people. A fridge and large freezer lined one side of the kitchen, a stove and counter with a sink lined another wall, and in the middle was the table with four chairs. A wood stove lined the other wall with a small microwave cart in the back. Socks and towels were hung behind the wood stove on a small clothesline. The living room was decorated with an old sofa and chair, and a small TV on a stand was hooked up with old fashioned rabbit ear antenna. There were no pictures on the walls, only a clock with hands that did not move. Perhaps it was broken or the batteries were dead.

The old man seemed like a peaceful soul. He was very content and easy-going. He talked about the weather and how the woods were so full of mosquitoes, but none bit him, and how a body needed exercise. Joe agreed and smiled, but he felt like something was not quite right about the old man, and so he watched him as he went about the kitchen. He happily filled the kettle with water, got some mugs down from the shelf, and opened the fridge for milk. The water did not take long to boil and he poured the hot water in a pot and added some tea bags from an old tin can. He placed the pot on the table along with the mugs. He poured for Joe, he poured for himself, and then sat down.

As they drank their tea, the old man offered Joe some homemade banana bread. The old man knew a thing or two about baking, Joe thought, as he spotted some freshly baked homemade bread lying on top of the freezer. The old man noticed Joe’s interest and offered him some hot buns. Joe was hungry, for he had been in the local town all day looking for a good set of brakes for his wife’s car, but found none. He was frustrated about that and hadn’t stopped at the usual take-out spot for food. Now, he was famished. The old man had a bottle of fresh strawberry jam, that he had bottled himself, and offered it to Joe. They both were enjoying the freshly baked goods and fruity jam with delight.

“This bread is better than my wife bakes,” said Joe.

The old man laughed a hearty laugh. “My Father in Heaven taught me how to bake, that is why everything is so good.”

Joe stopped chewing and looked at the old man. There was something in his eyes that made Joe nervous, and a funny feeling came over him. He dismissed his feelings, buttered and jammed another fresh bun, and continued to eat.

“Do you see the sun, how bright it shines?” the old man asked.

“Yes,” Joe said. “It is a very nice day.”

“That is my Father in Heaven looking down on us. You see, I am the second son of God and I am the light and the way. No one comes to the Father but through me, the Holy Ghost. The Eagle has landed. For who will believe in me shall have everlasting life with the Father in Heaven.”

At first, Joe didn’t know how to react. He kept chewing his bread and drinking his tea, trying to think of words that would not upset the old man, or worse, make him want to preach a whole sermon. At last, he said nothing, just nodded.

The old man kept talking, since Joe didn’t object, and told Joe what happened to him in the woods a few summers ago.

“I was walking through the woods, one day, as I did every day, when I came across a large circle of burnt grass that I had never seen before. As I walked closer to the middle of that circle, every hair on my body began to stand on end like I was holding a ball of electricity, and I felt like I was becoming lighter. My feet lifted off the grass and I was rising into the air. The whole sky became like a lightbulb of a lighthouse, very bright and powerful, I could feel my body shaking. The light was so bright that I had to close my eyes, and when I opened them I was in the presence of God. He took me to his home, the sun. You see, the sun is God’s home.”

Joe drank the last of his tea. The old man observed him, waiting. When Joe didn’t say anything, the old man went on.

“He told me that I was his son and that I was going to be responsible for spreading his words so that people could be saved.”

Joe was silent. He wanted to talk, but found that he was unable to. As a matter of fact, he was unable to move. His eyes were transfixed on the old man, there was something in his eyes, and he could not look away. The old man went on about God’s work and Joe sat there, like a stone statue, listening, no, absorbing, every word. It was like a hunger that could not be satisfied. The more the old man told him, the more he absorbed, and the more afraid he grew. He desperately tried to move his arms, his legs, his mouth, but not a muscle on his body even twitched.

The old man spoke of demons and devils and how the government is filled with such entities. He talked about war and famine and disease. He spoke of plagues, nuclear war, and the second coming. He convinced Joe that he was the second son of God, and Joe believed him. The last thing he spoke of was the seven signs of the Book of Revelation. And when the old man was done of his sermon, Joe suddenly, was able to move again. He looked out the window and saw that the sun was already gone from the sky.

“Would you like some more tea?” the old man said, as if he had asked for the first time.

Joe felt like he had just come out of a trance, but didn’t convey that to the old man. He was puzzled, thought that the heat had gotten to him. “No, thank you,” he managed to say. “I should be getting home now, my wife will be worried.”

The old man got up. Joe offered his hand and he shook it without hesitation.

“Come to see me anytime,” the old man said.

“Thank you for your hospitality. What did you say your name was?” Joe said.

“They used to call me King,” the old man said, smiling.

Joe smiled back and walked out into the cool of the late evening. He walked across the field to the dirt road and when he turned back, the old man was still on the front porch, watching him. He waved at the old man and hurried on. He hoped that he would make it back to the truck before it got completely dark.

When he got to the truck he was shaking, not from the cold, but from something else. It seemed to Joe that he had just developed the worse hangover that he had ever had. He was shaking, his head throbbed, and his belly felt like it was on fire. He started his truck and drove away.

The barkeep got up from his chair. “Are you telling me that that’s where you just came from?”

“Yes,” Joe said. “And the weird thing is that I felt like I was there for a little while, but when I looked out the window it was almost dark.”

“Sounds like the ravings of a lonely old man suffering from regret and disillusionment,” the barkeep said, and went on with his business.

The other patrons began to laugh. “Crazy old man,” they said. “Must be in the woods too long,” they said. A few of them were laughing and a few of them just dismissed it and went on drinking. Joe finished his beer and went home.

When Joe got home his wife was up waiting and asked about where he had been. Joe told her the same story he had told the barkeep. His wife was a religious sort, but could not believe what the old man had said to Joe. She saw it as blasphemy and told Joe that he shouldn’t read too much into it and that a good night’s sleep would clear his mind.

Later that night, Joe lie awake staring at the ceiling. He tossed and turned and when he finally fell asleep, he dreamt about the old man’s words, about Hell and Heaven, and about demons and angels.

Joe woke up the next morning with a splitting headache. He wondered what kind of tea the old man had given him; it had tasted like regular black tea. He went to the bathroom cabinet and found Advil. He took two tablets and went back to bed. It was Sunday, there was no hurry to get up. He figured his wife was at mass, so he went back to bed and slept, all day.

When Joe woke up, he heard angry voices coming from the kitchen. He got up to find his wife and half the congregation of the church. He listened to them for a while, not knowing what they were talking about, until his wife noticed him standing there.

“What’s going on?” Joe said, and everyone stopped talking.

His wife told him that she had told the pastor the story of the old man, and by mid afternoon everyone in the community knew of the old man and what he believed about himself. There was uproar again and Joe put his hands up to silence them, but they would not stop. They were outraged and demanded to know just who this man was and why he was saying such blasphemous things, spreading rumors and tall tales. They wanted Joe to go back and demand that he take that sign down and stop spreading lies.

Joe refused, and when they realized that he was unmoved by their demands, they left. Joe slammed the door behind them. “What were you thinking by bringing those people into my house?”

“They wanted to go to burn down that old man’s church!” she said. “I had no idea they would get so hung up about some senile old man. I had to do something.”

He could see that she felt responsible for the horde and relaxed. “It’s okay, I understand.”

She nodded, then went to the kitchen to prepare dinner. Joe stood at the window, watching the crowd disperse, hoping they would go home and come to their senses.

The next day, Joe was busy working in his garage. Being the only mechanic in the community was quite an undertaking, but when he was overwhelmed he would send his customers to his trusted partner in town. He worked the day away, trying to concentrate on his work, but the words of that old man played on his mind. His wife had called him several times to come in for lunch and then for dinner, but he wasn’t hungry. He decided to give up for the day. Just as he was about to close up shop, the phone rang. It was Kevin, the barkeep. He told Joe that there were some men in his bar who were organizing some kind of posse to find the old man. Joe jumped in his truck and headed for the bar, but when he got there, he found the bar empty, except for Kevin.

“How many?” Joe said.

“At least fifty,” Kevin said. “I tried to stop them, to put some sense in their heads, but they are out for blood. Do you need any help?”

“Yes, Kevin, and grab the shotgun.”

Kevin did not hesitate.

As they drove closer to the place where the sign had been, Kevin spotted smoke. “We may be too late.”

“Goddamn it! How did they get there so fast?” Joe said, driving faster.

When they got closer they could see that the smoke had dissipated and the sign that Joe had seen the night before had been obliterated. Joe slowed down to make the turn and raced past the smoldering pile. The dirt road was wide, but had not been used much; Joe and Kevin bounced around like Raggedy Andy dolls. He wondered now if old man had had a vehicle or not.

They were unable to catch up to the crowd and by the time they got to the field, the church was in flames.

Kevin, who was much younger than Joe, was dumbstruck. He had not known anyone possible of such intentional destruction. His generation had been peace-loving. This was brutal, sadistic.

“How,” Kevin stuttered, “how could things get so out of hand so quickly? And for what?  Because some old man has a church in the middle of nowhere?”

Joe rushed out of the truck with the shotgun, while Kevin sat in disbelief.

“You’re too late, Joe.” A voice came through the crowd. Joe did not recognize it at first, but as he shoved his way through the crowd, to the sound of the cackle, it became more familiar.

“You bastard,” Joe said, looking at the pastor with utter contempt. “Why, why?”

Pastor McArthur looked through Joe. “Do you think that we would just lay back and let the Devil live?”

“What are you talking about? There is no devil here.” Joe’s voice rose above the crackling of the fire. “Where’s the old man, Pastor?”

The Pastor turned away and began preaching, and the men gathered around to listen, while smoke filled the air.

Joe ran around the property and called out to the old man. There was no sign of him, or his dog. He searched the house and then ran through the alders nearby.

“Joe, maybe this way,” Kevin said, pointing in the direction of the path behind the church—he had come out of his stupor and was running for the path with Joe at his heels.

They carried on for quite some time, until the sun was low in the sky, but they did not find the old man, nor did they come to the end of the road; it just kept going on. They stopped to catch their breath. They could still see the flames above the treetops.

“I still can’t understand why they would do something like this,” Kevin said.

“I know, Kevin, I can’t either,” Joe said. “I bet that prick, Pastor McArthur, has something to do with it. He’s been itching to cause some raucous for a while now. A few of those men were at my house last night, demanding that I go and find out just who the old man was and why he was saying what he was saying. Shit, I can’t believe Kerry would tell those men that story. I shouldn’t have said anything to her.”

“I’m sure she meant no harm, Joe. And, besides, there were a couple o' guys at the bar last night when you were telling us what happened. They could have easily passed on that story.” Kevin felt bad.

“Yah, you’re right, Kevin, but still, something’s not right here. We haven’t had any trouble like this for a long time now, not since the Blueberry Festival a few years back. Why would the pastor be so determined to destroy this man?”

“I don’t know, but one thing’s for sure, we have to find him before the pastor does.” Kevin straightened up. “I think we should head back. For some reason, the woods are starting to creep me out.”

Suddenly, Joe felt the same way. The sun had set and the sky was growing darker by the minute. They headed back, each wondering where the old man would have gone and if he would be back.

By the time they got back to the field, it was full dark. The church, which had been made of only wood, burned fast and completely. The pastor and his sheep had left. Kevin and Joe stared into the embers, neither one saying a word.  After a few minutes, they went to the house. Joe switched on a light and they searched it one last time. They called the old man’s name, but no one answered, and there was no sign of the little black dog.

Joe dropped Kevin off at the bar, thanked Kevin, and then headed on home. When he got there he was surprised to see that his wife had company, Pastor McArthur’s wife, Betty. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015


I close my eyes. I hear squirrels cracking nuts. I hear mosquitoes buzzing near the creek. I hear the Blue Jay’s cry and the Woodpecker’s peck. I hear the wind as it rustles the new green leaves on the long branches of the Weeping Willows.  

The sun feels like warm mist on my skin. It makes surface blood vessels tingle and brings nerve endings to life. It makes the hair on my arms stand on end. I smile.

I open my eyes and look at the sky. No clouds to play “Name that Shape” only immense light blue. A jet moves across the sky leaving a distinct white tail. I think about “Captain Kirk” and “Horton Hears a Who.” How small I feel at this moment. Then I sit up, something is crawling on my foot. It’s just an ant, and suddenly I don’t feel so small anymore.

I look around. Robins are digging in the ground for breakfast; worms and grubs have been highly recommended. Some kids are running toward the jungle gym, with their parents bringing up the rear, carrying bags with the sunscreen, water, and snacks. They’ll hide from the sun, at the edge of the park, near the trees, where the sun is still warming up the underbrush.

I lie back down and close my eyes. I doze. I am stirred by a distant melody and as the tune becomes louder I recognize it as the renowned melody of “Do Your Ears Hang Low.”  I get up from my blanket and scurry to the end of the park and get in line with the rest of the kids to get a Snow Cone. I am the only adult. I buy all six kids a treat of their choice. They say "Thank You" and then I get a cherry Snow Cone and head back to my fuzzy blanket to enjoy the cool, flavored ice.

After the treat I find that I am hungry and when I look at my watch it is almost noon. I dig out of my backpack the peanut butter sandwich I brought and find the container of water. Ants are crawling over the blanket and I give them a piece of my sandwich, first one big chunk, but then, when I see them struggling, I tear it into smaller pieces. I’m almost finished my sandwich when I notice the blanket is covered with ants. I plunk the last of the bread in my mouth, chug some water, and then jump up and brush myself off, just in case some may have been crawling on my legs and back. I pick up the blanket and give it a good shake, inspect it, then give it another shake before packing it up and putting it in my backpack. I leave the park and head to the bus stop.

Downtown, things are pretty busy, busier than other Saturdays. The warm weather has brought out pale, chubby, glaze-eyed Bramptonians in dark sunglasses, typical after a long winter. Everyone seems cheery enough. I hear laughter coming from the stairs at Rose Theatre. The chairs and tables have been set up in the square and Julie’s Ice-Cream Shop is open. I spot a hot dog/sausage dog stand and immediately regret having the PB sandwich and Snow Cone. No matter, I’m on a diet anyway. I head toward the chess-way and there are people actually playing chess on the tables. That makes me feel good. It’s so nice to see people enjoying themselves on such a beautiful day. I watch a chess game and envy the winner; I’m not very good. I take on the winner and it is checkmate in two moves. I laugh at my loss. He shakes my hand and offers a lesson to which I decline.

My destination is CyclePath on Main where I plan to buy a bicycle. I look around at the different types and styles of bicycles and the price tags make me walk out of the store without even asking any questions. Obviously, bicycling has changed a great degree since I was a kid. Am I really that old?

I head to Strokers on Nelson and find the regulars sucking back cold beer and cocktails. I get a Molson and watch the current pool game. I take on the winner. I drink three more beers—so much for my diet—and win four out of seven.

When I get back to the square, the place is crowded and loud, and the traffic on the street is heavy. I’m getting a headache from the beer and walk over to the Pita Pit and get a Diet Dr. Pepper and Chicken Souvlaki. I eat a few bites and start to feel better. I glance over at Gage Park where it is also crowded. 

I sip my drink and inspect my nails. After a few moments, I toss the rest of my pita, grab my drink, and cross the street to get a manicure and pedi. The massage chair soothes my aching back and my nausea subsides. There's a lady there who has boob-envy, and I sink back into my chair, just a little. If she touches my boobs, I'm gonna smack her. When my polish is semi-dried, I pretend I'm a penguin and do the "penguin walk" to the bus stop, being careful not to scrape my beautifully polished toenails. 

I take the bus to the Bramalea City Centre. When I get off the bus I notice that the parking lot is full. Why, on the first warm day of spring, is everyone at the mall? I go in and fight my way to Metro where I plan to buy a few grocery items and TP. The food court is packed with shoppers, making me think about what to have for dinner, and then it comes to me, shrimp and scallop kebobs on the barbecue. I pay for my groceries at the self-checkout and head home with my bags.

When I get in, I open the balcony doors and let the warmth of the sun come in. Still feels good, but getting a little damp. It’s now after five o’clock. I put away the groceries and start a pasta salad to go with the seafood kebobs.

While the pasta is cooking I chop some veggies for the salad and prepare the kebobs. I make the salad and while it’s cooling in the fridge, I finish the housework that I had started that morning, have a twenty minute workout, and shower.

I’m freshly showered and dressed with dinner on the table when I hear the beep of a horn and look out over the balcony to see my partner. At that moment my son walks in the door.

“What’s for dinner? I’m starving.”

“Looks like your father has Popeye’s in his hand, or do you want fish?”

He rolls his eyes.

“Okay, then, Popeye’s it is,” I say.

When his father comes in, he grabs the bag, says “Thank You,” and goes to his room—teenagers.

My partner has a quick shower and we sit to the table and enjoy dinner. He tells me about his day of politics at work, regrinds, and lazy-ass co-workers. When he asks about my day, I just smile and say, “Same shit, different day," and pop another shrimp into my mouth.

Here's a great marinade for the shrimp and scallop kebobs:

1/2 cup of soy sauce
1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons of honey
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/4 cup of olive oil

Thread skewers with the shrimp and scallops, along with veggie and fruit of your choice, and brush generously while cooking.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015


“What! Where did he take you?” Rose squirmed in the arm chair, trying hard not to make a scrunched face, but it didn’t work, she’d been thoroughly grossed out. She got up and went to the fridge to get another bottle of wine. She refilled her glass, laid the bottle on the coffee table, and got comfortable in the arm chair again.

Jessie and Denise were sitting on the sofa watching her.

“Are you all right?” Denise said.

“Yah, I just can’t believe it.” Rose took a big sip from her glass.

Jessie grabbed the bottle and refilled her glass. “Where was it?”

“Right here in Brampton.” Denise said. “Not far from here, Jess.”

"It's in the A-section, isn't it?" Jessie said.

"Yes, just off Avondale. I can't remember the name of the street, but the house was the biggest on the street. Why did you say that area?"

"I don't know, I just took a guess."

“I’m stunned, I’m just stunned.” Rose shook her head. “Why would he even take you to such a place, you’ve only been dating him for two months.”

“I don’t know. I guess he just felt so comfortable with me that he thought he could share that part of himself with me. I have to tell you, I was a bit anxious at first, but when we started walking around, it was like nobody gave a damn that we were there. Nobody really took notice. The lights were very dim and the music was really loud.”

Jessie was mostly silent as she listened to Denise tell the tale of The Friday Night Orgy. She couldn’t help but picture the scene and feel just a little tingle. Rose, being the more conservative one of the group, made her feelings of disgust known.

“There’s no way I would have went in. Did you know where he was taking you? I mean, did you know that it was an orgy? Or do they even call it that anymore? And, here, in Brampton, the majority of people living here are from Asia. I mean, I can understand Toronto, but here in Brampton? How did he find this place?” Rose was getting worked up again.

“Yah, I know, Brampton, who knew? The majority of people are Asians from India and Pakistan. How did they get so many white people in one place?” Jessie said, the smile on her face broadening.

Denise and Rose looked at her and they all burst out laughing. It wasn’t what she said, but how she said it.

“Oh my goodness, we’re all going to hell.” Rose became serious, well, as serious as she could get after three glasses of wine.

“But seriously, he just mentioned that his friend was having a party at his home. He never mentioned anything else. So I told him I’d go.”

“So what was it like when you walked in? Were people naked and just doing it on the floor or what?” Jessie said.

“No, there was a foyer when you first walked in; it was a big house. The lights were dim and there was a coat check. Then we entered a semi-dark hallway, where a topless waitress gave us a glass of Champaign. The first big room was the dance floor, and that was when I first saw some skin, a lot of skin. I didn’t think much of the topless waitress, but then I noticed the couple making out on the dance floor. You guys, he was bent over giving it to her right there in the middle of the room.”

Rose squirmed.


“Wait, I have to pee, I don’t want to miss a thing.” Jessie got up and went to the bathroom. Rose covered herself with a blanket and Denise got another bottle of wine from the fridge.

Jessie came back and jumped on the sofa, ears perked and waiting for more.

“Then I saw the booths.” Denise continued. “All around the dance floor were booths with round beds where groups of people were doing it. That’s when I realized where I was.” Denise took a sip of her wine, and grabbed one of the blankets. “It’s getting a bit chilly.”

“Really?” Jessie said. “I find it a little warm.”

“You’re just getting hot from picturing all that in your dirty mind!” Rose teased.

“Well, Rose, I haven’t had a date since the summer past. What do you expect?”

“I still can’t believe that he took you to a place like that.” Rose wasn’t letting up.

“So, Denise, what did you do? Did you leave or did you stay, and participate?” Jessie said. At that, the girls burst out laughing again.

“Well, at first, I didn’t know what to think. I downed the Champaign and headed for the bar. I got a double Bacardi, straight-up, and drank it down. Randall asked me if I was all right and I told him yes, but I was shocked. I have never talked about orgies, let alone attend one. Then, it happened.”

“What? What happened?” Rose was wide-eyed and leaned in close.

Denise sat back in Jessie’s comfy sofa, pulled the blanket up to her chin, and took another sip of wine. “The music stopped. It was only a few seconds, but when it did, the moaning and groaning and screams of ecstasy coming from that place was deafening. I thought to myself, what are they smoking or drinking, or what kind of pills do they have to take to be that carefree with their bodies, with their sexuality?”

They fell silent.

“I don’t think that I could ever be that carefree.” Rose said. “I haven’t even done it with Alex yet!”

“What?” Denise said.

“I’m serious.”

“No way.” Jessie said.

“It’s true. We’re taking it slow. I like the romance, you know? The dining, the flirting, and sexual innuendos, and besides, he told me that he just got out of a bad relationship and doesn’t want me to be the rebound girl.”

“Ohhhhh.” Denise and Jessie said it unison. They both understood.

“Enough said, Rose. Now, let me finish my story. Oh, by the way, who picked the movie tonight? What are we watching?”

“Well, I chose a zombie movie, that one with Brad Pitt.” Jessie couldn’t remember the name of it, but that was okay. Sleepovers at Jessie’s weren’t just about watching movies, ordering pizza, or drinking three bottles of wine. It was also about sex stories, relationship problems, and sisterhood.

Rose spoke up, “Should I order the pizza now?”

“No, Rose, wait until I’ve finished my story and the last bottle of wine is gone.”

Rose nodded and Denise went on with it.

“Well, when the music started again, Randall’s friend came over and gave him a big bear hug. Randall introduced me, and this guy, his name was Mitch, made me feel so uncomfortable; he eyeballed me up and down. I felt like I was a piece of beef and he was the inspector. He whispered something in Randall’s ear then he walked away. When I asked him what that was about he just smiled. He ordered us another drink and took me by the arm and led me down another dark hallway to a small room where Mitch was, now naked, between two women. There was a table covered with sex toys, wipes, condoms, and lit candles. The place reeked of sex.”

“So why did he take you there?” Rose said.

“Randall told me that Mitch wanted to talk business with him. He also told me that Mitch works at Sheridan Nurseries, that’s where they first met. Apparently, they’ve known each other for almost five years.”

Jessie opened the third bottle of wine and poured for all.

“Anyway, when we entered the room Mitch got up from the bed and they went to another room and I sat down on a chair near the bed, which was fine, but a few minutes after they leave the room, the two girls on the bed come on over to me.”

“Oh my, God! This is so juicy.” Jessie said, tucking her legs  under her.

“In more ways than one.” Denise joked. “Anyway, that was it. There was no way I was going to kiss another girl, not one I didn’t know anyway. So I just excused myself and left. I called a cab when I got outside and just went home. He tried to call me, later, but I just couldn’t answer. I still don’t know what to say.”

“You haven’t spoken to him since last night?” Jessie said. "That's why you were so quiet all day at work."

Denise nodded. "It was so busy there, all I wanted to do was get lost in my work. I couldn't wait to get here tonight to talk about it. I feel weird about leaving like that. And I don't know how I feel about where he took me. I mean, what was he trying to say to me, what kind of message was he trying to convey to me?"

“That’s hard to say.” Rose was tipsy, and giggling. “Give me that bottle.” Jessie passed her the bottle and she poured herself another glass of wine. “I think that when you figure out how you feel and you’re honest with him, you’ll both be okay.”

Jessie nodded. “Yah, but it makes me wonder about something. Are you two exclusive? Is he seeing anyone else?”

Denise’s face turned grim. It was obviously the first time she thought of that. She poured more wine into her glass and took a big gulp. “You know what? I’m done. I think I have enough to think about. Let’s get that movie going.”

Jessie gave her a hug. “Don’t worry. I’m sure it’ll work out. Give him a call when you’re ready and, like Rose said, just be honest and tell him what you’re feeling.”

Denise nodded. “Okay, Rose, order that pizza.”

Rose got out the menu and ordered the usual: pepperoni, sausage, and bacon, with extra cheese.

Denise began picking up the cleansers and creams that they had used for their facials and Jessie gathered up the nail polish remover and bottles of nail polish that were scattered across the coffee table.

Jessie staggered across the floor. “Shit, I think I’m drunk.”

“Well, we just finished three bottles of wine, girl.” Rose said, laughing and dancing around the living room in her yellow terry robe.

Denise was feeling better; nothing got her down for long because she knew that she had two great friends who were there for her. She turned up the volume on the radio. Mike Cooper was playing the oldies on 98.1 FM. When the pizza finally came, they were all in and ready to watch that zombie movie.

When they got up the next morning, aspirin and coffee on the dining room table, they all shared their erotic dreams of orgies, zombies, and Brad Pitt.

Monday, April 13, 2015


Parents often ask psychology staff and educators what they can do at home to help their child “do better in school”. While most parents are referring to the basic core skills of reading, writing and arithmetic, a wide range of emotional, social, behavioral as well as intellectual skills are needed for students to learn, work and function successfully in school.

Building on this normal parental concern, the media bombards parents with information about games, tutoring programs, educational computer software, etc. which are all described as being essential for student success. As a result, parents are understandably worried about how to best support their child at home.

While many developmental and educational products on the market are excellent, the following are some suggestions for parents of younger elementary school children, which substantially help with their child’s skill development yet do not require the purchase of expensive materials.

·     Talk to your child, engage them in conversation, encourage and answer questions from your child. This can be done while driving to activities, preparing dinner, shopping, etc.

·     Encourage your child to talk, e.g. relate their experiences, retell a story or film, tell a joke, describe a situation at school, etc. Actively listen to their message and through an occasional question, encourage them to develop their ideas logically and sequentially.

·     Provide books and reading materials. A regular excursion to the community public library allows access to a large variety of books, magazines as well as books on tape. Try to read to your child daily, even if for 5-10 minutes.

·     Give your child plenty of materials to draw and write. Encourage writing through informal activities, e.g. making a shopping list, writing out an address, copying a recipe, etc. Remember that writing is writing, whether with paper and pencil, or on the computer.

·     Play word, board or card games.  Try to set aside some time each week to play a game with your child or encourage them to play with their friends. Such games involve many skills such as learning to take turns, losing or winning graciously, reading, counting, thinking of strategies, etc.

·     Make music a daily part of your child’s activities. Listen to music and encourage them to dance, move or sing.

·     Research has consistently shown that children who sit down with their family for regular meals are more engaged in school, and have less social or behaviour problems. While most families have very busy evening schedules, try to set aside a couple of nights each week for the whole family to sit together for a meal.  Meal time is a perfect occasion for your child to share experiences, talk about school, friends, and activities.

·     Provide the opportunity to develop social skills. Make sure your child has lots of interactions with other children either through participation in group activities (Scouts, sports, dance, etc.) or by encouraging play with neighborhood friends.

·     To help your child develop responsibility and a sense of competence, give them chores and responsibilities at home, e.g. putting away toys, cleaning up after dinner, etc.

Remember that every child is different and variability exists in the various skill levels of each child.  Learning is an ongoing process, so parents should look for ways to encourage their children to experience new things and keep on learning. 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015


Early mornings, low tide

Nylon rope, calloused hands

Herring nets, bait, five pots to a line, ballasts

Seagulls, swallows, sandpipers

Dory, oars, outboard motor, bailing water

Catch a buoy, haul a trap, band a claw

Gaffe, foghorn, flares, life-jackets

North-west winds, choppy waters, seasickness, fog

Thursday, April 2, 2015


    *You eat breakfast and then think about what you’re going to eat for lunch.
*At lunch you lick the trace of dressing out of your bowl after you have finished eating all your veggies, then you eat your Jenny Craig entrĂ©e and lick that container after you’re done.
*You can’t wait to eat your midday snack and when you’re done, you take note the time and count the hours to when you can eat again.
*When you can’t make it to the next meal, you take from your “secret stash.”
*Thinking makes you want to eat.
*Seeing thin people makes you want to eat.
*Shopping for clothes makes you want to eat.
*Fashion makes you want to eat.
*Exercise makes you want to eat.
*Thinking about going on a diet makes you want to eat.
*Everything makes you want to eat.
*You wake up the next morning with crumbs on your nightshirt and can’t remember what happened? (Where did my ____’s birthday cake go? you wonder.)
*At parties or events you never eat, but when nobody’s looking you take a whole platter of food and find the nearest hiding place. You never eat in front of other people.
*You wish you could stop yourself, but you can’t. You don’t even know what you’re eating or how the food gets in your mouth. You’re a starving wolf trying to survive to your next meal.
*You eat and eat and eat and never feel full. There is no “shut-off” switch.
*Your guilt makes you want to eat more.
*When someone says something to you about the way you look, you immediately slip out to get a couple Big Macs and supersize the fries and drink.
*You never go out to social events anymore.
*All you think about is food. All you do is eat.
*Your partner leaves you.
*You lose your job and are forced to get help from Social Services or Temporary Assistance.
*You isolate yourself from the outside world because you think you’re doing fine, but you’re not.
*You use the “Finger Menu” and order in, a lot.
*Every restaurant in a 10 mile radius has memorized your phone order.
*Delivery drivers get paid through the mail slot in the door.
*At 600 plus pounds, when you can’t wipe your own ass, can’t clean up after yourself, are wading through a cesspool of your own filth, you finally realize you need help and call a professional, Dr. Younan Nowzaradan, at the Houston Obesity Clinic and beg for help.