La version française de ces histoires se trouve sur En direct de l'intestin grêle

Wouldn't it be great if these stories were true? Unfortunately (or fortunately) they're not; they are just the product of my overworked mind. All characters and events are fictitious and if you think you recognize yourself or somebody you know in these stories, it was not my purpose and it is purely unintentional. In the meantime, I hope you will enjoy reading this blog. Feel free to link this blog wherever else you hang out on the Internet and to post comments below. I enjoy hearing from you.


Saturday, May 28, 2011

The hippie, the network administrator and the Monopoly board...

Cathy was a short, slim, attractive, 42 year old brunette hippie in glasses who wore funny hats, a bit like Annie Hall.

We hooked up at the students’ pub of the university – where she was taking philosophy classes and I was booking bands – after having a passionate discussion about Arthur Schopenhauer’s values.

I argued that Schopenhauer brought misery to his own life because of his negative frame of mind, she insisted it was impossible because good old Arthur liked poodle dogs.

poodle, dog
Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) was a German philosopher whose pessimistic approach to life rendered his relationship with humankind difficult. He took solace in the company of poodle dogs. According to some, this led to tensions between the German and the French which provoked some of the bloodiest conflicts of the 19th and 20th centuries in Europe. Image: luigi diamanti /

Cathy told me that, several months before, she had separated from her husband of 20 years. Together, they had two beautiful children, a boy, 12, and a girl, 9, who were the sunshine of her life.

However, we live in difficult times. Her ex-husband, Günther, a network administrator, had lost his job with a large computer hardware manufacturer that closed its doors shortly after the technology bubble burst.

He was now working – though for a more frugal income – with a smaller company that maintained data centres for local clients. He worked on call and often had to go on site at any hour of the day or night to fix technical problems.

Because of this, Cathy and Günther agreed to keep living in separate rooms in the family home until they found a purchaser. They would then divvy up the family’s estate to move on with their lives.

I am always impressed when people act in civilized ways despite life’s challenges.

One Wednesday morning after Cathy spent the night at my place, she found out her cell phone battery had run out. I suggested she used my phone to call the nanny at home, inquire about the children and make plans for the day.

After this was done, we had breakfast, grateful that life made our paths cross. Then, I walked her to her car, we kissed tenderly and promised to get in touch and see each other again before the weekend.

On Thursday, Cathy called saying that a cousin invited her and her children to spend a few days at a cottage on the slopes of a trendy ski resort. She would be back by Sunday and would be delighted if we could spend Sunday evening together.

As much as I value the virtue of negating desire, anytime a lovely lady is delighted to spend an evening with me, I am delighted too.

Later that night, I received another phone call:

— “May I speak to Cathy?”

Surprised to hear a man calling for Cathy at my place I asked to whom I was speaking.

— “This is Günther, her husband...”

There is nothing more exciting than receiving a call from your lover’s ex-husband.

deer, etching, mountain, antlers, buck
A husband whose wife cheats on him is said to be "wearing the horns" because, as a horn-bearing animal does not see the horns on its forehead, the cuckold does not see the infidelity of his mate while it is obvious to all. The shame of wearing the horns is not related to the unfaithfulness of your companion as much as to not knowing what everybody else does. Wearing the horns has always been quite common throughout human history. I've worn them, you probably have as well...

“I would appreciate if you keep away from my wife,” said Günther. “Do you enjoy breaking up couples and messing up their family life? Now, let me speak to Cathy, I know she’s there.”

As confused as I felt, I tried to explain that it was not the way things were, at least that was not the way Cathy explained her marital situation to me. I told him I had no affinity with the traditional backdoor man, in fact I kind of despised weak characters who went after married women.

There was a long silence at the end of the line, then I heard a painful sob: Günther was crying...

— “I know I could have done better,” he said, “I know it’s not a sufficient reason but I can make it up, I... I...” And he began to weep uncontrollably.

It’s always embarrassing to listen to a man cry especially since I felt somewhat responsible for his breakdown, yet I felt helpless.

I tried to explain again that it was an honest mistake on my part, that I would discuss the situation with Cathy next time I’d talk to her...

— “It’s useless,” he said, “without her, my life is over, I’d rather end it...”

Self-pity is the worst companion you can pick: I’ve seen its devastating effects. That’s why I worry when someone talks about hastily ending his or her days, especially when the future of young children is at stake.

So I said:

— “Listen, you’re upset, it’s understandable, but don’t do anything foolish. Let’s talk it out.”

And then, some crazy idea came to my mind:

— “Are you doing anything right now? How about coffee? You know that little café off Main Street? The Bitter Cup? Let’s meet over there in, say, half an hour?”

Günther needed some convincing, but I finally got him to agree. I figured if I could get him up and out of the house to go somewhere else, maybe he would forget about his crazy ideas for awhile.

So we met at the café, he talked for a long time, I listened, and in the end I convinced him to postpone any harsh decision until I talked to Cathy.

Sunday afternoon, Cathy called on her way back to town. After the usual enquiries about the weekend, I said:

— “Cathy, we need to talk about Günther...”

I explained the phone call I got from her husband, the discussion we had, and his frame of mind.

— “The son of a bitch! He had no right to call you! How did he get your number?”

I told her he picked it up from the call display after she called home using my phone.

— “You should never have made me use your phone! What were you thinking? Do you understand what I will have to go through now because of your lack of judgment?”

— “Cathy, I...”

But it was too late, she had already hung up. I called back; her phone was off.

Around supper time, the phone rang; it was Günther.

— “May I speak to Cathy please?”

I told him Cathy wasn’t here.

— “She came in earlier, dropped the kids and left," said Günther. "She was furious and she’s not answering her phone. What happened?”

— “I don’t know, I lied, maybe she didn’t have a good weekend at her cousin’s cottage...”

— “Anyway, I have the kids now and I just got an emergency at one of the data centres. The nanny won’t be here until tomorrow morning. I don’t know what to do.”

I suggested he’d take the kids to relatives, friends or a neighbour.

— “We don’t have any relatives or friends in town and I don’t know any neighbours.”

And then, after a moment, he said:

— “I feel awkward to ask, but could you...”

The idea of babysitting the kids of the man who was cuckolded by me was not appealing, but then, what was I supposed to do given his depressed state of mind?

So I said: “Okay, bring the kids over, I’ll watch them tonight.”

Günther dropped the kids at my apartment.

I made popcorn, got out the Monopoly board, and we played the game of acquiring other people’s property, coveting assets, collecting wages every time we passed “Go”, and sometimes ending up in jail.

I watched the kids fall asleep on the couch and was relieved when Günther came to pick them up at 3:00 AM.

I never heard from Cathy nor Günther again.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Meanwhile at the ranch...

Toronto is the largest city in Canada and I always thought it was one of the most constipated until I found a bookstore on Queen Street that made a point to carry at all times the complete works of Charles Bukowski.

Charles Bukowski, Pulp, Ham on Rye, Love is a Dog from Hell, Hollywood, The Most Beautiful Woman in Town, Open All Night, books, Black Sparrow Press
Charles Bukowski (1920-1994) was an American alcoholic, gambler and very prolific poet and writer. Almost 20 years after his demise a new book of his is still being published every year.
I was in the Queen City to attend a music video awards event back in the days when music video stations’ main programming was actually music videos.

I was managing a band and the record label with which they were signed thought it would be a unique networking opportunity.

The streets were crowded around the music video station. The police had installed barricades along the sidewalks to separate onlookers from artists a bit like they do at the zoo to keep visitors from feeding the animals.

The gathering was denser at the check-in gate for guests. I waited for my turn to be let in.

I felt like I was at a corral where they assemble cattle before a stampede. Staffers were busy talking on cellphones and walkie-talkies. Some looked happy and excited, others looked worried and I was dreading the moment those would get out the cattle prods.

Finally, we began to move in the studio.

The place was full with the usual attendees for such a function: music critics, record company executives, video producers, would-be, have-been and never-will-be musical performers, actors, venue owners, band managers, and of course a slew of jet-setters and beautiful people who would look good on camera during the live broadcast and the endless reruns.

Past the buffet tables and bar laid out in the main studio and through a door on to the other side of the building, a huge stage was set up in the parking lot enclosed with a chain link fence for the occasion. Tall towers had been erected in the middle and back of the lot for spotlights and cameras.

Veejays were rushing to interview video artists and performers before the show. Deejays were pumping out techno music; roadies and technicians were making last minute adjustments; dancers in fishnet stockings and low-riding leather skirts were warming up backstage, and the whole area felt as if it was ready to explode.

The video station’s General Manager spotted me and came to greet me.

— “So glad you could make it,” he yelled. “We’re going to have a blast tonight! Did they give you your coupons for the bar?” he added, handing me a roll of tickets to keep me lubricated for a week.

I wandered around the stage area when a cute blonde in Daisy Dukes and a red and white checkered top tied up high over her bare stomach asked me:

— “They say Madonna is going to be here tonight, is it true?”

— “That’s what I heard,” I lied, doubting Madonna would leave her snazzy London spots to attend a PR event in a small market like Canada.

— “That would be so awesome!” she said.

Then I felt a hand on my butt and heard a male voice say:

— “Hey cowboy, looking for a good time?”

I turned around and recognized the bass player from the Tailgaters, an up-and-coming indie band whose music was influenced by Korn and Hole.

I grabbed his wrist, removed firmly his hand from my ass and said: “Yes, but not with you: with her,” pointing at Daisy Duke who had already moved on to other interests.

My eardrums were quickly swelling from the music so I went inside for a drink.

As I was standing in front of a salad bar crumbling under freshly cut veggies, fruits and condiments – including a ranch dressing fountain – I realized the bass player had followed me.
ranch dressing fountain, Hidden Valley Ranch
A ranch dressing fountain. Ranch dressing was first commercialized by the Hidden Valley Ranch, a dude ranch near Santa Barbara, California, in 1954. The Hidden Valley Ranch brand was purchased in the 1970’s by a bleach manufacturer.

— “You’re a nice man, but you seem uptight,” he said, “I could give you a massage that would really loosen you up.”

The words “uptight” and “loosen up” uttered by a Tailgater made me cringe. But when he put his hand on my shoulder, that was too much: I moved away hastily, stumbling in the process and knocking over the salad bar as I fell down.

Baby spinach, romaine lettuce, cherry tomatoes, sliced cucumbers, celery sticks, strips of green, red and yellow peppers went flying. The ranch dressing fountain toppled and, as it collapsed, covered me in sweet, fat and salty sauce.

The security guys rushed over with their cattle prods in seconds. The Tailgater had conveniently vanished in the commotion.

I was summarily escorted off the premises. As the two heavily-built bouncers were dragging me through the crowd to the police cruiser, I heard two people say:

— “It’s a faggot who tried to assault one of the Tailgaters’ band members.”

— “Gee, they should let the fans in instead of inviting these homos, we’d never cause trouble like that!”


Now, when a waitress asks me what kind of dressing I’d like on my salad, I always say:

— “Vinegar, just plain vinegar.”

I met these two guys from Bopp Core Productions on Stickam about a year ago. Obviously they haven't been traumatized by ranch dressing the way I was. Check them out on YouTube.

Samedi prochain : La prostate, vous connaissez?