Nipples

I was lounging on a Cuban beach two years ago, talking to a couple I had met the day before.  The fellow looked at my chest and said “So, you’re really glad to see me.”  Huh?  Then I looked down at my nipples and saw that they were sticking out some.  But they’ve always looked that way.  And then I forgot the whole thing.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago when the weather got warmer and I started wearing t-shirts again.  I looked in the mirror and there were my nipples, showing some under the T.  And in this version of Bruce, it wasn’t okay.  Here’s this nice little Buddhist guy, very familiar with letting things be as they are, starting to obsess about natural bumps on his chest.  Whatever happened to nipple peace?

This skewedness continued on its merry way until yesterday.  “Go down, you stupid little things.”  And that was pretty irrational, since my nips always seem to look the same.  Conveniently ignoring that relevant fact, I went to my laptop and Googled “normal male nipple”.  I then discovered that there isn’t any such thing.  We guys come in all sorts of configurations!

Undeterred by such variance in the male chest, I sallied forth into several Internet articles.  One plastic surgeon described “the perfect male nipple”, with the areola being such-and-such a diameter, and a nipple height of 3-4 mm.  Being alone in the house, I whipped off my shirt, went to a kitchen drawer, pulled out a ruler and proceeded to do the measurement.  6 mm.  “See?  I’m abnormal!”

Oh, Bruce.  Get a grip.  Just accept that you’re an absolutely perfect male specimen, except for nipple height.  Actually, aren’t we all perfectly ourselves, even as we regress from the mean of human features?  I think we are.

There’s the Six Million Dollar Man, and now we have the Six Millimeter Man.  Both absolutely fine examples of the male species.

I woke up this morning, put on my “Shine A Light Upon My Day” t-shirt, laughed at my nippled self, and sauntered over to the Belmont Town Restaurant for brunch.  Nobody stared.  They pretty much didn’t notice me.

Get my point?

 

Thumbs Up

I walked into the Belmont Pharmacy today, supposedly for no useful purpose.  Actually I figure saying hi is quite useful.

Suzanne greeted me and we blabbed a bit.  About what I can’t remember.  But I got really excited about something.  In a fit of verticality, I threw my arms into the air.  Unbenounced to me  (Wow.  I don’t know how to spell that word.  Excuse me for a minute while I take a SpellCheck break.)  … …  Now, where was I?  Oh yeah …  Ouch.  Apparently the word doesn’t exist.  All I got back was “undenounced”.  I’m pretty sure that’s not the same.  Okay, let’s try Google  … …  Ah hah!  Unbenownst  →  “without the knowledge of”.

I realize that was a lot of further ado, so let’s cut to the chase.  My right thumb smashed into a plastic sign hanging from the ceiling.   My soul yelped and my thumb gushed red.  Darn blood thinners.  They’ll get you every time.  Quick like a bunny, Suzanne passed me a paper towel.  I love it that Bounty is the quicker picker-upper but I guess I needed three-ply.

Suzanne didn’t have any Bandaids except for those nestled in boxes for sale.  I didn’t want her to break open a package so I headed to the Diner, grasping said digit.  Chrystal saw my scarlet plight and got me a couple of Elastoplasts (I’m an equal opportunity adhesive bandage guy).  Being a righthanded dude, I couldn’t get the paper off so I approached a table of local women and Sue did the deed.  Off to the washroom and soon I was well covered.  I decided not to go with the flow.

That’s enough dramatics, Bruce.  We’re not exactly talking heart surgery here.

Much of the rest of my day was humbling.  I was a whiz at peeing but how does a thumb deprived human get his pants done up again?  Then I was trying on winter boots at Mountain Equipment Co-Op.  I couldn’t shove my insoles down deep but Janique came to the rescue.  She just about had to do up my laces but I managed a loose approximation of the task.

You know, the thumb is an awfully valuable tool out there in the world, not that I was aware of the fact before today.  I was fumbling, again and again.

Somewhere along the way, in a quiet moment of digital repose, a thought crossed my frontal lobe:

What did you learn today, Bruce?
Do you avoid all exultations in the spirit of painfree thumb wholeness?
Or do you throw yourself into the air whenever a deeper spirit moves you?

I vote for the jump-up

Matilda

On Wednesday, I came to Toronto to see Matilda: The Musical.  Weeks earlier, when I started volunteering in the Grade 6 class at South Dorchester School near Belmont, Tiffany asked me to read a chapter from the novel the kids were studying – Matilda.  Never heard of it.  But I like reading aloud, so off I went into the world of a five-year-old child, her lovely teacher Miss Honey, her wretched parents the Wormwoods (who didn’t give a whit about her), and the ominous Miss Trunchbull, a thoroughly evil principal.

I really got into the various voices.  One day, when the Trunchbull told a kid to “Shut up!”, I really yelled it.  Oops.  Not a few children leaned back in their chairs.

I went to Toronto a few weeks ago, was walking along Bloor St., and glanced up at a banner hanging from a lamppost.  “Matilda: The Musical” it announced.  Minutes later, with the wonders of technology, I had myself a ticket.

The kids at South Dorchester knew I was taking in the drama, the singing and the dancing this week.  Tiffany asked me to send a photo once I had arrived at the theatre.  “Sure,” I replied, not totally sure how to do that on my phone.  But Tiffany coached me and I left town with marginal confidence.

The performance was to start at 1:30.  I arrived around 1:00 and snapped a pic of folks lined up under the marquee.  Eager faces.  As I stood there I realized that the Ed Mirvish Theatre was formerly called the Pantages, where many years ago Jody surprised me with tickets to Phantom of the Opera.  My dear wife.  I remember the grand staircase (similar to the Titanic’s) and being ushered down, down until we were seated only six rows from the stage.

I took two more photos before the show, both in the spectacular lobby.  One was a selfie, showing a beaming face with a “Matilda” sign in the wee background.  Now for some words and my text would float over the miles to the Grade 6’s.

Hi Tiffany and all you kids,

Would you believe that Miss Trunchbull roared up to me in the lobby and screamed “You filthy little maggot!”?  Gosh, and she hardly knows me.

Have fun,

Mr. Kerr/Bruce

Tiffany texted back, saying that the kids had questions about the Trunchbull and that they liked the photos.  Cool.

The musical got going and we saw Mr. Wormwood as an immoral used car salesman, skilled in turning back odometers, and the Missus as a TV addict who lusted for her Spanish dance instructor.  Baaad people.  And dear Matilda was just a book-loving “thing” who wouldn’t go along with proper TV gazing values.

Then there was school.  Miss Honey was a lovely human being with a glorious voice.  Miss Trunchbull was almost as wide as she was tall and spewed venom wherever she went.  (It turns out the actor was male!  Didn’t matter.  He did a great job of bringing forth mean.)

One of the best scenes saw the Trunchbull grab a girl by the pigtails and swing her horizontal, just like in the book.  Actor-wise, it looked like the young one was wearing a neck brace that the old one could grab onto.

Matilda wowed the class with impossible math skills.  MIss Trunchbull led a gymnastics class with yells punctuating the jumps and rolls.  At one point, a small trampoline sat beside a padded “horse”.  The weighty principal lined herself up, lurched towards the trampoline, bounced high, flipped in the air and landed with grace on the padded surface.  Awesome!

Matilda started tipping over water glasses with her mind.  Then she caused writing to appear on the blackboard, words that suggested Miss Trunchbull had killed her brother (and Miss Honey’s father) in order to get his money.  Matilda shone onstage, especially during tender scenes with Miss Honey.  Such joy and such despair peppered throughout the musical.

At intermission, Mr. Wormwood strolled onto the stage.  I texted the South Dorchesterites:

Mr. Wormwood just came onstage at intermission and told the kids in the audience … “Don’t try this at home.”  He meant reading books!  “They make you ugly and give you head lice.”

Tiffany replied:  “They love that!”  Thanks, kids.

At the end, we favored the young actress playing Matilda with a standing O.  It was richly deserved.   I walked out of the Ed Mirvish/Pantages with a light heart.  Waydago, Matilda.  The Trunchbull had no chance against you!  And I hoped the children back in Belmont were smiling.

Death Around The Lunch Counter

The guys at the Belmont Diner usually talk about this, that and the other thing.  Yesterday it was end of life stories.

Exhibit A

Paramedics entered a semi-private room in a nursing home.  One of the women had stopped breathing.  She was put into a body bag and transported to a funeral parlour.  As staff were removing her from the bag, she stirred, breathing very shallowly.  Oblivious to the events around her, the lass was returned to her room, none the wiser.  Her roommate made the return trip to the funeral home.

Exhibit B

One of my fellow diners wanted to pay his respects to a neighbour.  He walked into the church and joined the reception line.  As he got closer to the family members, he wasn’t recognizing anybody.  Oh my … he was at the wrong funeral.  A sorrowing wife shook his hand.  “I’m sorry, I don’t know you.  Were you a friend of Bob’s from work?”  “No, I read about Bob in the paper.  We worked together many years ago.”  So said, he slunked to the back of the church, where he signed the guest book as “Fred Merkovicz” – totally fictional.

Exhibit C

One gentleman of the coffee persuasion mentioned his poverty of long ago.  Once a very unpopular man died in town.  His family couldn’t find anyone willing to be a pallbearer.  Our Dinerite finally agreed to help out.  Later the grateful relatives gave him some money.  Seeing the economic opportunity here, he had some business cards made up:  “Have funeral.  Will carry”.  Worked out fine.

Exhibit D

Amid all this hilarity came another perspective.  “I worked in India for a few years.  People died in the street.  A cart made regular rounds and picked up the bodies.  They were burned outside of town somewhere.  It was so sad.  Nobody loved them and they died alone.”

***

Just your regular twirl of words at the Diner.  Hello death.  We laugh and we cry.

The Body Speaks

I was back to Hugh’s Room last night, this time to hear Sean McCann, formerly of Great Big Sea, a very cool Canadian music group.

One great thing about Hugh’s Room is that you can have a drink and a meal in the cozy venue.  My choices were a McCauslan draft beer and squid, more tenderly known as calamari.  It was delicious … for awhile.

As Sean rolled through his first set, and I was moving and grooving with him, I became aware of gooey teeth.  It’s one thing to have a healthy piece of spinach caught in there but squid was another matter.  I rolled my tongue over the offending spots but no go for the supreme release.  Discreetly, or perhaps not, I shoved my right hand inside and grinded away.  Nyet.  At the break, I talked to my server Lina about the angst of octopus teeth and she kindly brought me a shot glass full of toothpicks.  Over the next half hour, I used about ten of them.  The epitome of reserve, I retreated to a stall in the men’s washroom and commenced my day surgery.  Goo remained.

Not to be defeated by a sea creature, and feeling a bit queasy, I decided to get some air.  I walked outside to Dundas Street West, turned right, and ducked behind a brick wall, hidden from Hugh’s but open to inspection by the folks walking in the other direction.  A slender piece of wood emerged from my pocket and began its plunging work.  I was a shadowy figure in the shadows, clearly a druggie, or so I imagined people thinking.

Finally … success!  The coast was clear.  Thank God.

Back in the club, Sean was blasting out some anthems to the delight of the packed house.  The woman at the next table was gushing with her remembrance of the lyrics.  She would throw her arms in the air and then clasp her hands to her heart.  Two tables farther, next to the stage, a young woman in red also knew the words.  My angle to her was different – all I could see was the line of her cheek, and the curve was high, suggesting a big, big smile.  And lots of moving parts as the words poured out of her.

Before the break, I was thigh slapping and singing.  Afterwards, something was wrong.  Nausea grew.  I tried letting it be there, like a nice little Buddhist guy would.  Quite something when occasionally I would be all right with the pain.  Even okay with it continuing for as long as it was happy being there.  But then there were all those other times.  “This is bad.  This must end.”

My oomph was gone.  Neighbours rose to their headtops in bliss.  I rolled into a ball.  “Don’t vomit on this nice tablecloth, Bruce.”  Thankfully, I didn’t.  But “this isn’t me.  I’m zestful and vibrant and over the top.”  Except when I’m not.  “Okay.  This is also me.”

The pain eventually led me to drastic action.  Trusting that no one was watching, I pulled up my sweater, undid my belt, let down the fly a bit and replaced my wooly garment.  Ahh.  Or at least a lessening of the pressure.

At the end, folks rose in a standing ovation.  I slumped.  “But you’re always one of the first to stand, Bruce!”  Goodness gracious.  Will you please be quiet?  I’m having a different drummer day.

I feel some better today, just a little sickly.  No more beer for awhile.  And in the spirit of scientific investigation, down with squid and up with salad.  How about that, Bruce body?

 

 

 

A Balmy Morning

I was motoring along a Kitchener, Ontario freeway on Saturday morning.  Ahead of me waited Lydia Ko and the LPGA golf tournament.  All was well, except for my lips.  Four days of sun had dried them to a crisp, and they were starting to hurt.

Blistex.  The wonderful ointment that soothes and softens.  And the tube was back in my B&B bedroom, forgotten on the dresser.  Oh, silly man.

No worries.  There must be a drug store around here somewhere.  I remembered that the freeway frittered out at one point, with traffic slowing down through a littering of big box stores.  There’ll be Blistex somewhere amid the rectangles.

First though, I spotted a furniture store ahead – The Brick.  At their store in London I had recently bought an off-white bedroom suite for my condo.  Forsaking the urgency of peeling skin, and completely forgetting the marvelous person who is Lydia Ko, I pulled into the parking lot, hoping to visit another incarnation of my suite.  And there it was, in the double bed model.  I touched the wood.  I opened the drawers.  I drooled.

On my way out of the store, I asked two fellows if there was a drug store handy.  “Costco has one.  It’s just down the road.”  Thank you, my esteemed sales associates.

A few twists and turns later, I walked into consumer paradise.  I had my doubts about the Blistex since everything seems to come in Grade A Large at Costco.  I approached a druggie (I mean a drug department employee) to find that the tiny tube I sought hadn’t made it into inventory.  My lips groaned.  I asked her if she knew of another drug store nearby.  She smiled and drew me a map, featuring a return to the freeway, a long looping road, and a few traffic lights.

My lips pursed as I followed the lovely young woman’s directions.  I kept looking for Shoppers Drug Mart on the left but there was nothing.  Then a “Pharmacy” sign on the right.  I veered in.  Smacking my lips in anticipation, I approached the counter.  “No, we don’t stock that product.  Sorry.”  (Sigh)

Back on the road again, I squinted for a Shoppers.  And finally it appeared.  There was even a “Lip Balm” aisle.  I walked down it, glancing left and right.  Nothing again.  Finally, I noticed a rotating display.  I twirled … and there it was: my sacred tube of Blistex.

Out in the car, I applied liberal amount of the goo, coming perilously close to the underside  of my nose and my chin.  All was right with the world.  Except for my cell phone sitting awkwardly in the left pocket of my shorts.  I reached in to adjust things.  My fingers touched something soft.  It was a tube.

Although my intention had been to follow the sweet Lydia Ko for all eighteen of her holes, I managed to see just four.

Strange, this person
Strange, this life

My Surprising Wife

Aren’t human beings supposed to be predictable, regular and measured?  Well … not the one called Jody Kerr.  In this lifetime, my dearest Jodiette hatched a few plans and smiled her biggest smile when they came together beautifully.  Let me give you a few examples:

***

It was after Christmas and the world was cold.  Jody announced that we were going on a trip over the long weekend.  Actually a winter camping trip.  (Huh?)  “That’s right, Bruce, get out your woolies and your long underwear.  We’re heading to a park near Sarnia” (an hour west of London).  As I scrounged through my underwear drawer, bewildered, I heard Jody in the kitchen, pulling out pots and pans.

“But it’s too cold!”

“Nonsense.  Get packed.”

The next morning, we drove north from Union, through St. Thomas, and angled towards the 402, a westward freeway that would deposit us in Sarnia.  Before the 402, however, was the 401, another east-west road (east to Toronto, west to Windsor).  At the last second, Jody points to the right and yells “I want to go there,” that is the eastbound ramp leading to TO.  I obligingly jerked the wheel and a-curving we did go.

“What about winter camping?”

“Still on.  Just elsewhere.”

Gracefully dodging the bulks of semi-trailers, I took us east … past Ingersoll, Woodstock and Kitchener.  As I approached the exit ramp to Guelph – Guess what? – “I want to go there!”  Okay, winter camping in Guelph, I guess.

As we’re motoring north towards the city, we come to a traffic light.  I’m waiting in the left lane on the red when Jody says “I don’t want to go here.  Turn around.”  A silent “What?” in response.  But I’m a dutiful husband, so I turned left, turned around, and back to the 401 we went.

“Go here.”  As in back onto the easterly lanes of the freeway.  And on to the suburbs of Toronto, whose skyscrapers had me thinking about the unlikely likelihood of sleeping in the snow.

Grinning continually, Jody directed me downtown, where we eventually pulled up in front of the Delta Chelsea Hotel.  Oh my God.  Something’s a-brewin’ in my lovely wife’s head.

In the hotel room, I had eyes for only the fancy bottle of red wine sitting on the coffee table.  I poured Jody a glass, totally oblivious to the bottle’s label, and to a few small signs that were posted about the room.  What a silly boy am I.  Good wine, though.

After breakie the next day, Jody and I decided to walk the eight blocks or so to the St. Lawrence Market, an old Toronto tradition of food and craft vendors in a cozy brick building.  But the wind.  And the cold!  We were boogieing down Yonge St, hunkering down inside our clothes, when we came upon the Pantages Theatre.  I had to stop and look through the glass door to see the opulence inside.  “Oh, I want to go in there some day!”  But I was too cold to notice Jody’s reaction.

After munchies here and munchies there at the market, Jody announced that we needed to go back to the hotel room.  A silent “Why?” in return.  So off we went, risking fingers and toes in the holy pursuit of warmth and wine.  No sooner were we well established on the love seat when Jody shared that we had an appointment at 2:00 pm, and it was important to dress for the occasion.  She reached into her suitcase and pulled out … my suit!  “Put this on.”

Visions of a fancy meal flooded me, and I protested – out loud this time – “I’m not hungry, you know.  There’s no way I’m going to some hoity-toity restaurant!”  Jody smiled and held out my dress shirt.  In a half hour, we were both dolled up and ready for the wilds of Yonge St. again.  So cold.  Head down, I really wasn’t noticing my environment.

And then …

“Stop, Bruce!  We’re here.”

I looked to my left, and there it was – the Pantages Theatre.  The doorman in his long red coat was grinning at us both.  Shock and incomprehensibility from yours truly.  The gentleman held the door open and Jody and I entered a world of golds and reds, arm-in-arm.  After depositing coats, we strolled Titanic-like down the double staircase.  Jody so happy.  Me so dumbfounded.  We kissed.

Jody gave our tickets to the usher, and we followed her into the theatre … down and down and down the aisle till we ended up six rows from the front, in the middle.  I love my wife.

At intermission, Jody leaned over and asked “Well, what do you think?”  As our eyes met, there was only one answer … “It’s wonderful!”  So was holding my darling’s hand.

***

Another year, another Christmas.  Or leading up to one.  Jody told me in November that she was taking me on a surprise trip.  On a Saturday morning, we were having breakfast at the Lakeview Restaurant in Port Stanley, and I was plying her with clever questions.  At one point, I got it.  I knew where we were going.

“You’re taking me to Disney World, aren’t you?”

(Wifely face sinking)

“Well, that’s good.  I really want to see Mickey.”

And so I prepared myself, emotionally and physically, for the big Florida show.  Did I have enough t-shirts?  Of course, I love t-shirts.  But Mickey ears … now there was a deficit.

On December 23, it was another trip to Toronto, this time to stay at the Holiday Inn Airport, before catching the early morning shuttle.  As we zoomed down the 401, I reminded Jody of the importance of me getting Mickey ears before we took off.

“We’ve got to go to the Disney store in Yorkdale.”

“Oh, Bruce.  It’ll be a madhouse in there today.  Why don’t you wait until Florida and buy them there?”

“No, no, no.  I need them now.”

Magically, I found a parking space and later returned to it with a new type of hat for my head.  I was so enamoured with my ears that I wore them in the hotel lounge that evening.  The next morning, I was bringing my suitcase down to the lobby (with appropriate Mickeyness), when I saw Jody and the desk clerk standing at the checkout counter, laughing.  Clearly, he was caught up in the joy of approaching Disney.

In the shuttle, my ears sat proudly on my head, much to the amusement of several passengers.  And then the arrival.  I wheeled my suitcase through the opening doors and started looking for the airline counter.  Jody, however, had other plans.

“Let’s sit down.”

“Sit down?  You don’t sit down at the airport.  You line up.”

“C’mon, Bruce.  Humour me.”

So I sat … light yellow coat, big ears, and furrowed brow.  Jody stood in front of me, with her right hand behind her back.

“Where are we going, Bruce?”

“Disney World!”

“No, Bruce, we’re going to Playa del Carmen, Mexico.”

˅
˅
˅
˅

“No Mickey?”

And there was my semi-lovely wife, whipping out the camera and immortalizing my pain on film.  Oh, the sorrow.  Minutes later, however, I was gobbling up the brochure description of the Riu Tequila Hotel in Mexico.  Gosh, it looked sort of nice.

The vacation was stunning.  Pristine white sand beach.  Awesome evening entertainment.  All sorts of yummables.  And my Jodiette by my side all the time, loving me.  I was a happy man.  Still am.

***

Way back when, in the days before marriage, Jody and I had the thought that we might just be able to afford a down payment for a small home.  There was a new subdivision in Lethbridge, Alberta, and we decided to wander over to a Sunday open house.

We walked in.  I checked out the living room, cram-packed with weekend browsers.  Looked good.  Unknown to me, Jody had gone upstairs to see the master bedroom.  It was a strange design up there.  In the middle of one wall was a large rectangular hole, which looked down on the living room.

My musings came to a screeching halt when I heard …

“Brucio, Brucio.  Wherefore are thou, Brucio?”

Gazing upwards, there was my precious pre-wife, arms wide.

Naturally, I followed suit.  Down on one knee and hands to the sky of Jody.

“Jodiette, Jodiette.  Sweet, sweet Jodiette.”

So we became Jodiette and Brucio
And evermore shall be

I love you, my dear girl

Just For Fun

I went to Costco today to pick up some meds for Jody, grab some groceries, and have my traditional hot dog and Diet Coke.  Only $1.60!  At the snack bar, I’m used to lining up on the left, telling one employee what I want, and then receiving the goods at the right end of the counter.  Well, that’s okay, but how about shaking things up a bit?  For a second, there was no lineup.  I entered on the right and gave my order to the staff person at the till, and then proceeded leftward.  I handed my ten dollar bill over a high display case to a woman who was preparing a baked prosciutto sandwich.  She vaguely reached out her hand to me before realizing that this was all wrong.  I moved to the far left end of the counter, waiting for someone to take my money. Meanwhile, two women wanted to start a line but were blocked by my stationariness.  Big smiles from them – they knew what was happening.  I scanned the employees’ faces and there was no shortage of smiles there either.  Boy, that was fun.

I’d like to say it was the first time I’d done something weird like this, but that would be an untruth.  In 1986, I was a waiter at Fiddler’s, a high end restaurant in Lethbridge, Alberta.  One Sunday afternoon, at a staff party, we decided to have a slow pitch game in a local park.  My turn at bat.  Just for fun, I hit the ball to the outfield and ran like hell to third base.  Seeing the left fielder still chasing the ball, I turned the corner and sprinted for second. Now the fielder was up and throwing.  Faster than a speeding bullet, I motored to first base and slid under the tag of my astonished opponent.  I stood up, brushed myself off, and grinned.  Some of my teammates were laughing.  The more competitive types were glaring.  But heck, it’s called a “game”, isn’t it?

Eleven years later, I got a part-time teaching job at an elementary school.  As well as my main duties, I had to cover a Grade 1 class for one period a week. Usually I read the kids a story.  They’d fan out in front of me on the carpet, and I’d rock contentedly in the teacher’s chair.  One day, I picked a book whose story I knew well.  I turned the book upside down and started “reading”, flipping the pages with authority.  Most kids looked pretty blank. But a young boy named Paul in the front row started pointing at the book. “No, no, Mr. Kerr.  The book is upside down!”  “That’s okay,” I replied, and kept on with the story.  Poor Paul.  Some week later, I branched out.  I opened the book to the last page, and read sentence by sentence from back to front.  Totally incomprehensible, but such a good time.  Even Paul, who stood up, pointed and protested, eventually enjoyed the show.

Is there some deep meaning in what I did?  Probably not.  But why are my memories of these three moments so rich and indelible?

Our Children

On one level of existence, we don’t have any young’uns.  But hey, why stick with just one version of life?  After we got married in 1988, Jody and I decided that we wouldn’t have any kids.  Instead we would do a lot of travelling.  But I can’t help imagining how it could have been …

Fifteen years ago, our reality snapped, and lo and behold, we were parents.  I don’t know how it happened.  Divine introspection perhaps.  Jody and I were blessed to welcome our son Dollop to the planet.  Such a fine lad, and he’s grown to be a quality dishwasher and lawn cutter.

Just before Dollop was born, I remember thinking that having one child was just the right amount.

Two years later, along came our darling Puce.  A brother needs a sister, right? She was so sweet, and still is.  From Barbies to boys, it’s been a long road, and such a pleasant one.  Someday, I’m going to walk her down the aisle.

Just before Puce was born, friends and neighbours told us they were green with envy that we were about to have a daughter.

In 2010, we were both super busy, but gosh – there’s always time for childbirth.  I was holding Jody’s hand in the delivery room as Inkling emerged into the world.  Soon red hair and a fiery personality joined us at the breakfast table.  One of a kind you are, my dear.

Just before Inkling was born, I had an idea that there was a princess on the way.

With the foundation of a really good housekeeping team in place, Jody and I were delighted that Squirm decided to join us … out of the blue.  Unexpected but not neglected, we loved her to bits.  A very active child, she’s always enjoyed life’s twists and turns.  Lovely.

Just before Squirm was born, I remember feeling really antsy.  How would we cope with four kids?  As it’s turned out, no problemo.

We both thought that was it.  For years the Kerrs were a scintillating sixsome.  And then just last week, Santa, the Easter Bunny or maybe David Letterman plopped a new being in our laps.  Imagine – Jody at 54 and me at 65!  Thank you, Somersault.  Seven of us.  Aren’t we a lucky family?  And who knows what this young boy will become?

Just before Somersault was born, I woke up in the middle of the night, absolutely flipping out.  I’ve calmed down since.

So there you have it, folks.  We’re very proud.  I’ll send you a photo sometime.

 

ta-pocketa

It was 1964 and I wasn’t liking much of Grade 10.  A notable exception to the muddy flow of life was Miss Bruce (no relation).  She was our easy-to-look-at young English teacher.  The source of many a fantasy for Bruce Archer Kerr. Plus we got to read a lot of cool stuff in her class.

These days I ask myself what I remember from high school studies.  Not very much of a pleasant nature, I’m afraid.  But there was a short story by James Thurber that has stayed with me all these years: “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”. Now it’s a movie, and I read recently that it doesn’t keep to the story very well.  I don’t know … haven’t seen it.

From the very beginning, I’ve yearned to be a hero, and in Grade 10 Walter was my guy.  Henpecked by his semi-lovely wife, he sought solace in his mind.  As a navy pilot in the heart of a hurricane.  As a renowned surgeon inserting a fountain pen into a damaged anesthetizer.  As a World War II flying ace in a pitched battle with the Germans.

And in each desperate situation, there was the noise of a machine in the background, urging Mitty/Kerr on to victory.

“I’m not asking you, Lieutenant Berg,” said the Commander.  “Throw on the power lights!  Rev her up to 8,500!  We’re going through!”  The pounding of the cylinders increased: ta-pocketa-pocketa-pocketa.

I stood taller after selected English classes.  Never mind the acne.  Never mind the monosyllables with girls.  Never mind the nude swimming classes for a terrified non-swimmer.  Inside, Kerr of the Yukon forged his way through the great northern wilderness.

In 2000 or so, Jody and I bought titanium road bikes.  I had the choice of keeping the frame’s metallic sheen or having it painted.  I chose a blended red and yellow.  The bike shop owner also said that I could have a name printed in black on the top tube.  So yes to that too.  Not “Bruce”.  Not “Road Warrior”.  Certainly not “B Kerr”.  You know what bubbled to the surface of my latently heroic mind.

As senior citizenship has somehow snuck up on me, Walter is alive and well. A spiritual teacher speaking to hundreds in Boston’s Beacon Theater.  A humble Canadian author stepping onto the stage in Stockholm, Sweden to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature.  Roger “Bruce” Bannister circling the Iffley Road Track in Oxford, England four times on May 6, 1954, hitting the tape in a time of 3:59.4, the first human being to break the four-minute mile.  The crowd went nuts.  Bruce acknowledged them with a tiny wave.

I love being in the here and now.  There and then isn’t bad either.