Author's note: The Hank Grimeses among you may prefer to skip this entry, composed as it is of tales of Unlikely Love, Remarkable Timing and Unpunished Sins. The author accepts full responsibility for any arrogance, smugness or unwarranted horn-tooting that may be contained herein.
(Before I truly begin, this atheist begs your indulgence while he abases himself at the sandal-footed and irony-minded Dame Fortune, Who - along with the numberless and un-named Hockey Gods - is the non-existent diety to which Young Geoffrey comes closest to believing. Let us pray ...
Sweet Dame Fortune,
My pleasures are fleeting
Pray do not punish me
For celebrating such
Before they occur.</i>
I know, "The Song of Solomon" it's not, nor even "The Song Remains the Same." But I digress (thank god for lj-cuts, eh folks?).
It's been a busy, eventful and exciting week ...
Monday was a wonderful day. I awoke early enough to do some tidying up prior to the arrival of L, my gentlewoman caller, once again playing hooky from school. Over 5 or 6 hours we slaked our mutual lusts (and slaked them again, and again), giggled a lot and presently managed to shower and clothe ourselves for a trip to Kensington Market, where we coffied and dined and, most importantly, managed to talk more than we have since our first meeting at Rhino's.
As strange as it may sound, I like her better and better, the more I get to know her. There is enough compatibility going on that I am begining to grow confident I will end up being quite hurt when she finally decides she has had enough of me.
Ah well, such are the dubious pleasures of being a dirty old man. Meanwhile, I am enjoy the less dubious pleasures tremendously. Also meanwhile, our emails grow ever-more affectionate, with the "L" word being cautiously bandied about, as if we are two savages cautiously examining some curious plastic and metal doodad that we fear may be dangerous but that is nevertheless intensely fascinating.
We finished the day with Chinese food and a slow stroll down to Queen Street (slow in large part because of our propensity to neck while walking, a most enjoyable enterprise), where L bought a Globe and Mail to read on her way back to her wealthy hacienda in Rosedale.
In Kensington, we first stopped for a coffee at the head-shop on Baldwin (who knew that unpreposessing strore-front hides a delightful cafe-with-patio in the back!). L ran into an aquaintance who invited himself to join us. He proceded to regale us with his tales of internet-porn (he dresses in drag and sets up before his webcam, from which throne he orders supplicants around for money; I'm not clear why he bothers with the drag, since he further claimed that he makes more money when he admits to being male. In any event, hearing his tales reminded me that my perversions are of a relatively tame variety) and flattered me immensely almost as soon as he sat down.
"This is Geoff," said L, and I shook hands with he-whose-name-escapes-me.
He gave me a quick once over, than glanced at L. "Is this your boyfriend?" he asked her.
I shot L a questioning glance, as we have not yet really discussed the precise status of our affair. Presently, she shrugged at me and said "Yes," to him.
"Wow," he said, once more looking at me closely. "You're quite a bit older than L, aren't you?"
Not much embarassed, but not entirely comfortable, I acknowledged the fact.
"You must be at least my age," he said, narrowing his pale eyes. "26? 27?"
I laughed, and L joined me in that. "You're a sweetheart," I told him, suddenly enjoying myself.
"You're not 30?"
Er, no. I could not help but string him along until he finally guessed progressed to the correct figure.
Of such tiny pleasures are walls of happiness mortared.
Though I have forsworn the (illegal) demon weed for a while, my War Against My Liver continues apace. Following a final kiss and mutual fondle before my sweet L borded her streetcar, I headed home to find a message from Vern, wondering if I cared to join him for a pint.
I returned the call and, after the requisite vows that we would only have "a couple" we met at Rhino's to test our resolve.
Around 10 or 11 we were joined by Helen and we carried on our debauchery until close to closing-time, at which point Helen surprised (and delighted) me by throwing me a farewell hug before she and he entered the hansome cab.
Tuesday was work. I somehow made it into the office only 15 or so minutes late and managed to struggle through what turned out to be a very busy day. I turned in early that night, so as to be ready for Wednesday evening, a scheduled one-on-one with Helen.
Helen, it turned out, had been held up at work and arrived (yes, at Rhino's) about an hour and a half after our planned assignation. (About a half-hour after she was due, I checked my voice-mail and returned her apologetic call, insisting - quite honestly - that it was okay, these things happen, and won't you please relax. Nevertheless, the came bearing a bouquet of yellow tulips, a gesture that was at once utterly unnecessary and very, very sweet.
Our talk ranged far and wide, from the concrete to the abstract. A plurality, however, centered upon my ... "relationship" with L. She has reservations but, in the end, seemed to think it is ok, provided - as she seems convinced I am - that I am not trying to take advantage of my (apparent) advantage in the realm of our power-dynamics.
And, once again, I found myself home, well-watered and with only 4 or 5 hours to repair the damage before I must hie myself to the office once more.
I must backtrack to Monday.
I seldom have my telephone's ringer in the "On" position, but on Monday it was, in case L might call before her scheduled arrival. Once she made her appearance, I quite forgot to return it to its natural state. And, naturally, it rang at a most inopportune time. I drew my lips away from whatever part of L's anatomy with which they had been in congress only long enough to curse the infernal machine and then returned to my duties.
Only much later, just before we went off to Kensington, did I check the voicemail.
As my Gentle Readers are well-aware, I am not happy in my job and have been contemplating the updating of my resume and the launching of a serious search for alternative employment. For the past couple of weeks, my thoughts have turned to Web Networks, the company that saw me move from the world of "office support" (that's "secretary", in plain English) to that of low-end computer-geek.
Imagine my shock and pleasure when I listened to the message awaiting me.
"Geoffrey, this Oliver from Web Networks. Please give me a call back. I'd like to talk to you about an employment opportunity ..."
Well. Long story short, I found myself shaking hands with Oliver on Thursday afternoon. Our meeting lasted for close on 2 hours, during which time we waxed philosophical and historical and also discussed said "employment opportunity".
Web is a very small, non-profit company that provides web-hosting, site-development and other sundry internet services to a market made up primarily of "progressive" and arts organizations. My first 6 months there were the happiest of my life as a working Young Geoffrey - I was surrounded by smart, passionate people, who not only enjoyed their work but who cared about the broader context in which they were doing it. (Why I left is a long story, best left to another day.)
We left with positive feelings and a decision that we would "sleep on it" and meet again on Monday morning. The job itself is still, at this point, not entirely defined. Maybe half the time answering phones, doing support work; the other half, something like technical writing - getting to intimately know Web's products and documenting my experiences so as to be able to provide useful guides for customers. I might also find myself helping customers with designing and building their sites and the applications within them. The very fact the job is still in the process of being defined is exciting, and much of what is already clear sounds like a lot of fun.
Trying to restrain my sense of optimism so as not to leave myself open to serious disappointment, I am nevertheless extremely hopeful that Monday will see me agreeing to work there.
Following my meeting with Oliver, I took a wander down Queen Street in seach of thuthtenance, and found it at La Hacienda, whose doors I haven't darkened in many years. I set myself out on the patio out back and enjoyed the damp warmth of the evening. While there, I decided to fake off work the next day, in order to be sure to get to Peterborough prior to 7:00 PM. (I also, incidentally, spotted an old flame, one Sally, who quite broke my heart many years ago; she was busy lighting candles on someone's birthday cake and either didn't see me or didn't recognize me. Since I had nothing much to say to her, I opted to forgo initiating a pointless round of "How are yous?" I found it strange though, that the sight of a woman who once excited such powerful feelings of lust and affection now left me entirely unmoved; but such, I guess, are the ways of the human heart.)
Why Peterborough? you may ask.
My niece lives there. Nearly done grade 8 - which astounds me; not quite yesterday, it nevertheless doesn't feel very long ago at all when she was 2 or 3 days old and fell asleep while I cradled her on my chest - this week, she was in the cast of her school play, a remarkably ambitious production of the musical, Annie. As she put it, she played a "bad guy", one Lily, a floozy from "Joizy" (her accent was a delight) who, with her sleazy partner, intended to pretend to be the orphan's parents in order to collect a reward in their name.
The play ran two nights and I caught it on the second. It was standing-room only, quite literally, and - much unlike the stereotype of grade-school productions - was actually fairly entertaining in and of itself. And, at the risk of sounding like an idiot doting uncle, Nuala acquitted herself very well indeed - swaying and strutting like a very nasty piece of business.
Her maternal grandmother and uncle had also come to the production and took Nuala back to Toronto with them for the weekend, so I didn't get to spend nearly as much time with her as I would have liked. Still, what time I had was delightful.
Having forgotten that the "street" they now live on is literally a 2-minute walk from the Greyhound station, I phoned to ask for directions when I got off the bus. Nuala answered and informed me she would pick me up.
So, I lit a cigarette and briefly loitered beside the station until I saw a long-haired blonde vision tossing her tresses impatiently while waiting for the light to change 2 blocks away. When I was sure it was her, I waved and we ran towards each other for a good old-fashioned Mongol hug. We then proceded to her place, an enormous old row-house with a private driveway running parallel to, and shielded from, the street by an unkempt line of trees. The side looks out on a small park, at which a small group of hippyish kids sat cross-legged while a couple of them strummed their guitars.
Anyway, inside Nuala's mum was stressed with doing the dishes prior to dinner preparations, her mum was all dolled up for the big night and Nuala herself was calm as an excited kid can be. Remarkably, she was not excited that her picture had been in the previous days newspaper, nor by the fact she would be going onstage in a couple of hours, but by the fact her grandma and couple of her uncles had come to visit.
After the requisite greetings, I decided to make myself useful and pushed Laurel away from the sink in order that I could tackle the dishes. Nuala, who has long had a marvellous sense of humour - now making a shift from cynicism to irony, with dashes of silly nonsense - made a crack about me doing "women's work", and Young Geoffrey as a "damsel in distress" became a running joke for the evening.
But I fear I wax tedious, as proud parents (and sometimes even uncles) are wont to do. Suffice it to say, I think the world of my neice and am very, very happy that I made the trip to see her play.
Following Nuala's departure (she came home from the cast party smeared with cake; apparently, there had been quite the food-fight after we left) with her grandma and uncle Greg, Laurel and I hied ourselves to The Only Cafe, the only bar I know that sits higher in my pantheon than Rhino's.
We caught up on each other's lives over the past six months, laughed a great deal and - this being Peterborough and that being The Only - I was naturally introduced to a number of people. "You're Tom's brother?" being the most common response to those hearing I was Nuala's uncle (I've never been clear whether that shocked tone is an insult or a compliment).
But I digress.
As a callow youth, Laurel once had a relationship with a much older man, very nearly the same gap as that which divides L and me. I told her about my situation and about my concerns.
She laughed at me.
"She's the one with the power!" Laurel told me, still laughing at my worries that Young Geoffrey might hurt L. In effect, she told me that L is having a good time with me, but that the young are both fickle and self-centred, and that she will most likely leave me with barely a second thought, when the time comes.
And somehow, this was - and remains - a comfort to me. I'm not worried about myself; I've had my heart broken before and I know full well I will "rest a while, then get up to fight again." Hearing from someone who has been in the opposite corner that I am unlikely to do damage to a girl about whom I am coming to care a great deal (and frighteningly quickly!) makes me feel much more secure about carrying on this (probably) ridiculous affair.
Ah, life! As my father likes, to say, "These things are sent to entertain us."
I awoke quite late this morning, hugged Laurel before she staggered off to her first day's work as a barwench at (yes) The Only, then proceded to wash just about every dish in the house before I found my way to some breakfast and thence to a bus back to Hogtown.
And now? Now, I think it's time to find myself some Klezmer music.