Hot and humid, air hazy with with hydrocarbon and H20, today could have been taken as a reward - or a viscuous tease - by those who have suffered an unreasonably cool summer this year. For those - like me - who prefer not to perspire 24 hours of the day; who like our sheets dry and forgotten food on the counter still wholesome when we return from the office; and who revel in the feel of a cool breeze wafting through open'd window, it was more an inconstant diety's reminder that - though this summer was an easy one, the next might find Toronto returned to form - That you were a very lucky Young Geoffrey indeed, this year - and that next summer might prove a sweaty horse-tranquilizer to swallow. (Nevertheless, in my hubris, I still dare to dream we'll be blessed with a cold, snowy season of darkness.)
Still, I cannot help but make of this humid day, perhaps the last of its season, the best I can. How can I resist the urge to drink the liquid sights of those for whom heat is not a burden, but an opportunity to flaunt and strut, to display the peacock's tail of youth or the subtle hues of middle-age?
The young Oriental woman, splendid legs - lean and strong - flashing beneath shot, pleated skirt; the shirtless punk astride his bike, proud of his mowhawk, indifferent to the thin layer of flab atop ridged atop his belly; the thin, pony-tailed woman walking her bike in loose jeans and only a thin, white t-shirt above them; and, especially, my sweetie, resplendent in pink skirt and tank-top, with whom I managed to steal a half-hour earlier this afternoon.
(No doubt, I've missed a great deal while penning these words at The 360. But I am not a man who finds it easy to watch and do all at the same time.)
I have been home for a week now, and have been neglecting you, my Gentle Readers. As atonement, you'll find a gossipy update .
When last I reported in, on Wednesday, I had let slip to Jane (Laura's step-mother) that she (Laura) had paid me a visit after school - when she was "supposed" to come straight home. Our plans for Friday and Saturday were rendered both null and void, as punishment for my lapse in paranoia.
Thursday, home late but not too drunk, came the ringing of my phone. It being easily within arm's reach, I answered it directly.
"You were expecting maybe Laura to call?" came Jane's light-accented, ageing voice.
"Hello Jane," I said. "No, I didn't think she'd be calling me tonight."
"'No' indeed. Laura is grounded."
I told her I had expected as much, and added that I understood.
"Geoff, you care about Laura, don't you?"
I acknowledged that I do.
"Well, as someone who is older and wiser, you understand that I only want what's best for Laura. But she also has to be honest with me. She is grounded, not because she came to see you, but because she did not ask first."
I had my doubts as to what her answer would have been but kept quiet, simply acknowledging her point, agreeing that I want Laura to do better in school this year than she did last (my own academic disasters notwhithstanding - though they do complicate my thoughts and feelings on the matter).
"Still Jane, in Laura's defence," I said, affecting a jocular tone I was surprised to realise I genuinely felt, "Laura and I hadn't seen each other for almost 2 weeks."
"I know," Jane replied. "The problem is that Laura didn't ask. When she came home last night, I said, 'So, you saw Geoff.' She started to say something but I told her that I'd talked to you. (And I thanked every god in which I do not believe that she hadn't had the wherewithall to try to trap Laura in a bigger lie.)
We talked some more - well, mostly, Jane talked, while I offered occasional interjections and made small jokes and understanding sounds, largely of agreement, but with occasional , delicate counter-arguments.
A few days before, Laura had opined that Jane is a "control freak", and I was still hoping that she was wrong, preferring the idea that Jane is a dutiful step-mother, maybe too restricting of her charge's liberty for my (or Laura's) liking, but nevertheless acting only with the best of intentions.
And so we were agreed, more or less. Laura was grounded for the weekend, and from here on in, is to come straight home on school nights, the hours of 7 to 10 to be devoted to homework and nothing else - "I know she cheats, with chat programs and such."
We were two adults negotiating difficult territory, she from a position of strength, I from one of weakness. I game I did not much enjoy but that I was willing to play. All seemed (relatively) good: Laura grounded for the weekend, but not beyond; Jane a woman with a sense of humour and one with whom it would be possible to do business. Jane wanted only the best for Laura, and hoped to enlist me as an ally in her efforts to make of her a scholar.
I agreed that I would encourage Laura to aim for strict honesty - and meant it, thinking (of course) that if Jane proves unreasonable, we can consider other options at a later date.
But suddenly, things were not so good.
Out of the cameradery and understand, as I thought the conversation was coming to a close, Jane said, "You know, you were invited to come to dinner on Saturday."
Yes, I said, Laura had mentioned that.
"Well, why don't you come after all, as a surprise for Laura? I won't tell her that you are coming."
I confess: for a brief moment I considered the idea, the thought of a chance to hold Laura in my arms (no matter how near the chapperone) in 2 days, not 9, tempting me as a juicy confession might tempt a bored priest.
But I quickly thought better of it.
I said, "No, I don't think that's a good idea," and delicately, suggested to Jane that, if she wants Laura to be honest her her, Jane ought to be scrupulously honest in return. "Laura might think you and I are plotting against her," I said.
Jane backed away. "You're right," she said, "we'd better not."
And with that, we said our goodnights.
I am pleased with my diplomacy, but less happy to learn that Laura was right about Jane - that she is, at best, a control freak with good intentions; at worst, a not-very-bright game-player, for whom manipulation is a measure of ower, and honesty only a tactic in her own, private, game.
(Meanwhile as I write, I suffer the presence of a pair of stereotypical hosers at my right, loudly discussing in great detail the breasts - good/not-so-good; real/fake; &ct - of passing women.
(Memo to buddies: admire if you wish, but for Christ's sake, have some discretion - there's a lot to be said for it.
(They also disapprove - "I'm surprised they don't get busted for destruction of city property, eh?" - of those who tape posters to concrete light-standards.
(But I digress.)
Meanwhile, Friday loomed - no Laura in sight. I called Vern from the office and we found ourselves - and later, Helena - on the gorgeous back patio at the Cadillac Lounge, where we talked politics and children and rats and love and sex and math; where we caught up on one anothers' lives (that which we didn't already know through our respective journals).
I nursed my beer and only at the very end was I drunk.
Vern praised my home-made pesto to the very heavens - "The best" and "incredible" were only some of his terms of approbation. I enjoyed the flattery but could not help but note he has never been so enthusiastic when it comes to my writing. (Granted, it may be that his judgement is correct. It was very good pesto indeed.)
And meanwhile, thought I got some good advice from my cousin Morgan on the subject of writing while in B.C.(No promises, but my intention still includes a longer report on that trip - if nothing else my extended family includes some remarkable people, whose praises I really do want to sing), since my return I have spent far too much time playing Neopet games, and far too little exercising my creative muscles. And, perhaps worse, I completely forgot to attend my first math class last night. My teacher, the aforementioned Helena, called to berate me this morning and I hereby vow that I will attend next week.
And on that note, as midnight comes upon me, I shall close for the nonce, Gentle Readers.
Until the next time, I remain,
Your obedient servant.