Headnote: Here in Canada, trade with Cuba is perfectly legal. We ship them steel locomotives, they ship us leafy cigars—much to the chagrin of Yankee imperialists. In fact, adding further chagrin, the head communist, Fidel Castro, was a pall bearer at our prime minister’s funeral. (Pierre Trudeau) At least my good U.S. cousins can take consolation from being so patriotically anti-communist! … Because it’s a pity they can never know what a truly good cigar tastes like.
…Ya, but only the good die young. I bet delinquent capitalists secretly sneak behind the boardroom to puff on contraband communist cigars. You think?
Got right-brain humour?
From writing fast?
At the writer’s centre: As we mingled putting our coats on I overheard someone going into the next room and saying my name. “Sean had good humour today,” answered by “Yes, we could hear you guys laughing.” So, I can seize the excuse to be lazy! Today I won’t spend man-hours crafting my weekly essay. But first:
As you may know, I meet at Friday Free-Fall with other writers. We write with a timer going, then we STOP, (with a one minute warning) and then around the long table we read aloud what we just wrote.
We gather to use our creative side, to write without editing for once, and to crawl out of our lonely garrets to come and mingle. By free-fall I mean someone calls out a “prompt.” Then: Get writing! No pausing, no stopping and no looking back to make corrections.
Of course, when you are “falling” so swiftly, it’s easier to be melodramatic than dramatic, easier to miss the funny-bone completely than to be slightly amusing. Writing in mid air makes any humour twice as funny, “if you could be there,” than if it were carefully crafted at a remote desk.
Well. I’m not saying my pieces will bring you a smile: Someone else did. Here goes:
Every day I would see Mrs. Pringle walking down the alley in her sensible shoes. Plock plock plock. She would pass east; and passing west was the flower girl, still energetic this early in the day, walking skipp, skipp, skipp, The sun would shine, and the air would blow nice smells from the bakery as I sat at a cutesy iron table, with a decent wooden chair.
Every day I would sip my coffee and think elevated noble thoughts—coffee does that, you know. And I would watch those people go by. I would think how formidable Mrs. Pringle was, in her prim outfit. I wouldn’t dare talk to her. At least, not in the here and now. Someday.
And I would watch that sprightly flower girl. I wouldn’t dare talk to her, not when I am a dull flowerless middle aged man. She probably drank lemonade or organic tea. I would talk to these ladies one day, maybe, perhaps. Then one Wednesday morning, when the sun was particularly bright, I thought: Why wait?
Oh, course I had lots of sensible reasons to wait, or never talk at all… but… if I felt permission to talk some day, then now was the day. So I shouted, “Hello Mrs. Pringle!” And she stopped, stopped dead, turned her body to look at me, and I could tell her face was not used to smiling. A beat went by. Then, in a reserved voice, “Hello” she said.
At this point the flower girl was coming by. She saw Mrs. Pringle stopped still, and so she slowed, glanced at me. “We’re practising our hellos!” I said wildly.
I love being a tourist at the seaside. Fresh air, the sound of seagulls going “scree, scree”—you never hear them inland where I live. The sight of sparkly waves, and all the real locals—and one of them was doing Tai Chi. Wow. Everybody knows that you travel to “meet the locals.” Although, maybe some of them were travellers like me. That Tai Chi lady looked like all her clothing was brand new, not like a tired local.
When I say tired, I mean that none of them looked up. Not at the exciting freighters passing in the distance, not at the mountains looming so close. Not at nature’s creatures of the air, wheeling and soaring on the air with their God-given wings. No, they all seemed to look down, or at least straight across. “How curious,” I thought.
Many, both young and old, had yellow sun hats. This being a school day, there were no big children, only the littler ones. A line of perambulators were lined up on the sidewalk. That’s what the locals call a stroller. Pram for short. I just took it all in, casting glances back at the prams, and forward at the mothers on their beach towels, bent over their little devices. Lord knows what they were texting and gawking at. This while the little ones were delighting only God and me. The mothers were missing out. But hey, what do I know? I was a tourist.
A helicopter breezed by and I looked up. It was a Royal Marine helicopter—that was all the time I had to squint at it, because then I was really squinting. Some poor seagull, seeing that metal monster, had the—how can I put this politely?—had his innards scared out of him. And since gravity pulls innards down, and I was looking up… now I know why the locals never look up.
See? Actually, at that point I couldn’t see very well— but, see? Being a traveler can be educational! You learn things. I’m going back, as soon as I buy a sun hat.
For variety, sometimes we “write a list.”
(prompt-) of how to get along with in-laws
Laugh at in-law’s jokes.
If your in-laws have stone faces and never joke, then be God-fearing and charitable.
Remember that some people can only smile a bit, and some laugh inside.
If your mother-in-law has a yappy dog, don’t kick it.
At least, not where she can see you do it.
But if you can terrify the dog, then she’ll be amazed at how well it behaves around you.
Don’t waste your good Cuban cigars on Father-in-law.
In fact, don’t light up unless he does.
Then bring out your drugstore cigar, and that’ll shut him up.
But stop before you get sick, because that will give you away.
life is wonderful
Life is wonderful if you are a tourist. You can pick up stories of seagulls, pick up a bored sister of a tired mother, You say, “OK, you watch over your darling as she takes her nap, while we’ll just go outside so we can shout at each other.” Is that rude? No, mothers need their rest too, and their friends deserve a chance to be restless.
As for the friend, I can’t tell you about her. I mean, I can, but then the rest of my story would be anti-climax. For I travel to meet the people, and her I got to know very well. A little rushed, but well. So I better tell you about something else, like goldfish.
I went into an office building, and there was a canal right on the bottom floor. How bizarre. It had wonderful waves, and bubbles, and it disappeared into a tunnel at both ends. So people could still walk across the floor. The most wonderful thing was that my Australian drinking buddy didn’t abandon me when I commented to the security guard, “Ah, those luscious fish. I just want to pick one up and take a big bite!”
The guard said, “You need to kill your appetite. Try this.” And he gave me a free cigar and stepped out side with us to smoke. But it was a fire door, and he closed it on us, locking us out.
So I shared my cigar with my drinking buddy. But it was a drugstore cigar, so all he said was “Ar-r-r-rg! Time for a drink!”
(Princess) Alexandra Writers Centre Society
at the new C-space
the renovated sandstone King Edward school
~This truly was written last Friday (Jan 25). I’m joking about being lazy. Someday, shall I do another free fall post?
~I’ve never tried to free fall at home on my own, but you, dear reader, may find FF at home rewarding, if only as a confidence booster showing you too can write, and that you can do so without needing a big block of time. …Most of us at Friday FF don’t use a keyboard like a working stiff, but rather, a pen and pretty notebook like a writer having fun.