Toronto City Council recently banned the use of plastic bags beginning January 1, 2013.
It’s a tremendous source of comfort to me that our elected officials are always looking out for what’s in our best interests, whether we know it or not.
My family of five will no longer be able to tote home our usual 20 bags of groceries from the supermarket in quite as easy a manner.
We’ll either have to use fabric bags, which become easily contaminated with bacteria, or paper bags, thereby costing us more trees.
Trees do grow back, given sufficient time. And cotton or linen can be sanitized with sufficient use of eco-friendly detergent.
I guess we’ll have to stockpile plastic bags for our walks with Daisy-dog. Or they’ll become one more item to buy at Wal-Mart.
Nobody’s quite sure what this will mean for dry cleaning establishments. Maybe we’ll have to wear our fresh clothes home, in layers.
Or fruit vendors. Will those roll-down little plastic baggies become a thing of the past?
But, hey, I’m sure this will all be sorted out in the goodness of time.
The nominal reason to eliminate plastic bags is to improve the environment. But I suspect there’s a hidden reason that goes deeper than that.
And it shows how well certain of our wisest councilors understand our true dark natures.
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There are certain tell-tale signs that let you know if and when you’ve become a hypochondriac.
The following is a brief list. There are many more indicators, but logging them would take an effort that might better go towards looking after my (I mean your) health.
(1) You bought your first coffin when you were aged 20.
(2) You’re afraid you’ll catch AIDS from watching the Playboy Channel.
(3) You don’t make mountains out of mole hills; you make flesh-eating disease out of a paper cut.
(4) You think about your health more than you think about sex. Okay, it’s a toss-up.
(5) You avoid “ladies of the evening” not for any high moral reasons, but out of fear of infection.
(6) Nine of the ten speed dial numbers on your cell phone are emergency departments. The tenth is the organ transplant hot line.
(7) The author’s stomach was feeling too queasy and his head hurt too much to write a number seven by this story’s deadline.
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Regal and relaxed; five foot six or so; in her early twenties; hair in a pixie cut; flawless light brown skin.
Those were some of the phrases that came to Sylvia’s mind as the young woman floated into her store.
Sylvia was alerted by the sound of a bell set off by the opening wooden screen door.
The charmer was wearing a light sleeveless dress with a flower pattern in black and white. It swished and swayed with her every movement.
The stylish sunglasses helped turn her into an exotic and alluring beauty.
One didn’t often get a visitation from such a divinity in these parts. Sylvia had owned the part variety store, part video store, part gas bar, part postal drop-off point, part local gathering spot for the past nineteen years.
She wondered if her guest had anything to do with the unusual event of the previous week.
Sure enough, this was soon confirmed.
The young lady looked around, feigned an interest in some of the sparse merchandise, but quickly sashayed over to the serving counter.
Her voice was soft and mellifluous. “Hi,” she said. “How ya doin’ ?” She removed the shades with a sensual practiced flourish.
“Fine, thank you,” said Sylvia, kindness embedded in her core. “It’s a nice spring day and all’s well with the world. I’d have no excuse for not doing okay. And you? How can I be of service?”
Sylvia’s curiosity was revved up and eager to leave the starting gate.
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“Ogden almost committed a crime today.”
The angel Ecanus was talking with the angel Gavreel in heaven’s lounge area. They’d had a hard day monitoring their charges.
There were still hours to go, but they were stealing a few quiet moments.
“Almost? Is that good news?” asked Gavreel.
“In Ogden’s case, yes. I know we’re not supposed to be proud up here, but I’m mighty pleased,” said Ecanus.
“Ogden’s due for assessment later tonight, right? He’ll be having a major heart attack at a formal dance.”
“ You always amaze me,” said Ecanus.
“Borderline with blemishes. They’re the ones who interest me,” said Gavreel.
“Ogden may have tipped the scales,” responded Ecanus.
“I sincerely hope so,” said Gavreel.
Sixty year old Ogden Beauregard awoke full of beans. Excitement was mixed with apprehension.
His company was hosting a black tie affair that evening for its best customers and he’d need to make a good impression.
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“What’s $100,000?” she asked flippantly.
“It’s $95,000 more than I’ve got,” was his answer.
She was starting to drive him crazy. She had two pre-occupations, money and her research. On neither score, was she in any way practical.
They’d been living together in a basement apartment for seven months while attending Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. Their undergraduate programs were coming to an end and it was time to think of the future.
Hudson Hicks was absolutely certain what he wanted to do. He’d run for president of the student council the past year and been narrowly defeated. It was a minor setback.
He loved politics – the dogma and the out-takes, the drama and debates, the gossip and intrigue, the backroom dealings and the time in the spotlight. They were all “crack” to him.
At first, he’d thought his name was a liability. He’d come to understand otherwise. The manner in which “Hudson” rolled off the tongue conveyed class and “Hicks”, for an obvious reason, carried a common touch.
He’d been accepted to law school in the fall. Graduation in the legal profession was a time-tested way to gain a rung-up on the political ladder.
Hudson intended to make his mark serving the public. That’s where his difficulties with Bea started.
On a personal level, he was smitten with her. The chemistry between them was charged. The sex, dazzling. How could it not be? At their ages, they were lithe, vigorous and eager to try anything.
But was there long-term potential in their relationship? His affection for her could easily lead to a firmer commitment. Would her personality be a good compliment to his aspirations?
He had to admit the answer was no.
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We’re experiencing a winter without snow in Toronto. Actually, it’s been a late 2011 and early 2012 without much of a winter.
In technical terms, the days between December 21 and March 21 are marching by. But they’re scurrying along much quicker without my having to shovel snow and worry about skidding all over the road while driving.
It’s undeniable, though, that these aren’t the manly days of yore when the white stuff was piled up to the rooftops on side streets.
I don’t know how it’s happened, whether thanks to global warming or due to the thermal bubble thrown up when six million people huddle together, but I’m grateful.
I didn’t feel this way when I was a boy. I loved the winter and freezing conditions. It was great to go outdoors and play hockey. Or ski when I reached my twenties and early thirties.
Canadians know the seasons are important. Gorgeous summers and wicked winters are our yin and yang, meteorologically speaking.
There are things we’re supposed to do in winter such as rev up the snowmobile for trail riding or sweep the ice while curling. Spring is reserved for dusting off the golf clubs. Summer’s for swimming and fall is about watching the leaves change colour.
That’s the theory. Never mind that throughout all the seasons and however attired – in light gear in the good months and laden down at double our body weights with overcoats and galoshes in the bad months – most of us spend our weekends and other free time trekking through shopping malls.
I worry about what no snow in winter will mean for the collective psyche.
When I was a child, one of my favorite activities was going to the wrestling matches with my parents. The spectacle wasn’t like it is now, where the object as far as I can determine is for a couple of men, or women, to climb into a cage and try to kill one another.
No, in the old days, it was a low-rent Broadway musical. The performers would dance around the ring and the choreography was at its best when the tag teams took over.
I remember very well Gene Kiniski and Gorgeous George and how they’d try to sneak behind a referee and pretend to gouge out an opponent’s eye. Then they’d touch hands with their partner and switch places in the ring.
They were sly devils and everyone knew they were having a good time.
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With the exception of a section towards the end of this story, all of the events recorded below occurred in one special year. The season and the locales are noted in italics.
Early spring, Barrie, Ontario, Canada:
The first officer on the scene struggled to come up with a reaction.
He thought it wasn’t much of a “scene” per se and there might not have been a crime.
This sort of thing was a common occurrence.
It would have to be checked out, nonetheless.
What a bother on his day off.
What was perhaps most unfortunate was the location. It mattered as much as the event.
The police were always finding abandoned cars. Their hulks were likely to appear almost anywhere.
This time, though, the vehicle in question was a Mercedes C-Class sedan.
Regardless of the year or condition, that wasn’t the kind of automobile that got left behind very often.
Yet there it was, sitting bold as daylight at the back-end and bottom of the quarry.
Anybody could have cut through the chain on the flimsy gate and deposited the car, stolen or otherwise.
Upon reflection, the entrance was still intact when the officer reached the grounds early that morning.
He remembered getting out of his own standard-issue vehicle and using a key on the padlock.
Maybe somebody had found access from an adjoining property. He’d check that out in a minute.
Could it be there was a body in the trunk? Or was the car used for a getaway in a robbery?
It wouldn’t do to get lost in speculation.
He’d start by running the plates. Hopefully, they’d be in the system and the matter would be quickly resolved.
Almost assuredly the location would turn out to be a coincidence.
The gravel pit was used as a police firing range throughout the week.
That’s why the officer was there, to shoot off a few rounds in a spot that was perfectly safe.
On the floor of the quarry, the sandy and stone-pitted walls would absorb any stray bullets.
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Beginnings oft times are brutal. Unfortunately, so are endings.
In between is mostly a race.
A mad dash to grow up, acquire knowledge and earn a living, whether honestly or not.
Events spin out of control. The passing show’s a blur.
On the final leg, if we’re lucky and fate hasn’t already intervened, we race towards death.
By the time the finish line appears, speed has become an addiction.
That’s not where Frieda was currently situated.
Her world was only beginning to accelerate.
On this night, both sides of life’s conundrum – birth and death – would be in evidence.
Circumstances were intervening, both favorably and with feigned indifference.
Frieda was lying flat on her back in a horse-drawn trailer on a lord’s estate.
She was in pain extremis.
Through no fault of her own one of the most natural things in the world was leading towards a frightful denouement.
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There once lived a king who loved the theater.
His taste crossed all genres – romances, sophisticated comedies, broad farces and stomach-churning tragedies.
He particularly liked historical pieces that featured his ancestors.
Watching his predecessors parade around in crowns and tiaras while engaging in outrageous behavior was a self-centered delight.
The royals’ peccadilloes were well documented and knew few bounds.
The history of his family was filled with crime and passion, mystery and murder.
It was replete with drama and perfectly suited for public staging.
He wished he could have been an actor. Due to the circumstances of his birth, that wasn’t to be.
In compensation, he’d always surrounded himself with an acting crowd.
He liked their heightened sense of drama.
It didn’t hurt that so many of them, especially the women, were such “good lookers”.
Their presence provided a shot of youth. Past his personal half-century mark, he needed to replenish his “juices” from time to time.
To ensure a steady supply of new talent, he established a feeder system for his Theater Company.
Once a year, he sent his only son, the Prince, on a pilgrimage across the country to scour for talent.
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“His brain was trashed,” she said.
“Excuse me?” was his response.
“I don’t know how it happened, but his brain was trashed. You know, like a hotel room after a rock star’s attack of indigestion,” said Corina.
“Wow! Any idea how it happened?” asked Chief Inspector Beige.
“I’m pretty sure I answered that question.” Corina the coroner could turn petulant when perturbed. “I have no idea whatsoever.”
“So it wasn’t a heart attack? Or a stroke, like we thought?” queried the inspector.
“Nope,” was the terse reply.
“No evidence of drug use. Same with alcohol. He was estranged from his family, but his ex-wife and kids swear he’s been clean for a decade.”
“Okay, this is getting weird,” said the inspector. “So what about his brain? Define trashed.”
“It’s been turned to mush. You know how the grey matter is supposed to look like linked sausage, hinting there might be some kind of order in there?”
“You mean the cortex and lobes?” asked Beige.
“Yes. Good to know you were paying attention in grade-school health class.” Corina was having too much fun being snarky to stop cold turkey.
Beige tapped his noggin with his right forefinger. “Hey, I’ve still got all my faculties.”
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