In Search Of

Prompt: Word of the Day*

grape scissors

Envy, in the junk shop looking for grape scissors, spotted the oddly exotic wooden candelabra and asked Chester what it was.

“It’s for Kwanzaa,” Chester told her. “You know, celebration time if you don’t do Christmas.” Chester had not yet taken down the shop holiday decorations: the flashing red and green fairy lights above the cashier, the tree decorated with white and blue baubles, and the sinister mechanical Santa that posed menacingly on the counter top.

She felt drawn to the kinara, but she’d felt drawn to inanimate objects with mysterious pasts for some time now, and with her frequent visits to his shop she and Chester had become ineluctably friendly. She knew he lived with his mother and that their relationship was amiable, he was allergic to cats, he loved modern classical music, and had an aversion to barbers.

He however, knew very little about Envy, except that she was a plain little thing, wore an engagement ring, paid full price for items he was fully willing to be bargained down on, and was constantly in search of something. She didn’t seem like the “I’ll know it when I see it” type. She was too precise, too serious. He’d seen the facade drop only once and noted that it was as fragile as the antique glass balls on his artificial Christmas tree— in danger of shattering into a million irreparable pieces with only a slight jog. In Envy’s case, when Chester told her the old joke about Santa’s reindeer when she came in just at closing on Christmas Eve. She’d laughed like a delighted toddler.

There was a strange cathexis about her, for sure. Her deportment was hesitant but eager, reserved but outward-looking, shy but not cowed. He was half-tempted to pursue his relationship with her, even as friends, but his epiphanic discovery that he cared more about objects than people steered him clear of following that irresponsible instinct.

In any case any desire to spend more time with her shattered like the aforementioned glass ball when her fiancé entered the shop.

“Envy!” Was she deaf? “I’ve been looking all over for you. It’s on, our party is on, I got the Midsomer Room and they have Chilean sea bass!”

She looked like a Chilean sea bass, caught in a net. “They have it?”

“Well, they can order it. But we have to confirm by tomorrow.” He grinned. “C’mere!” and before she could move closer he had picked her up in his broad embrace and pulled her off the floor. “Can’t wait, babe!”

Envy’s scowl dissipated somewhat as she was mercilessly adored, but the wariness around her eyes remained.

“Chester,” she said when she was released. “This is Bob.”

“I’d inferred that,” said Chester pleasantly. “So Envy, did you find what you were looking for?”

She sighed inaudibly. “No, not yet,” she said. “Keep an eye out for me, will you?”

“I surely will,” said Chester. “Nice to meet you, Bob.”

“You too,” said Bob. He suddenly pulled out a business card and scribbled something on its back. “By the way, here’s the number of my barber— a great guy! and reasonable too.”

“Thank you,” said Chester, taking the card and dropping it into the wastebasket behind the counter, out of sight of Bob and Envy.

As they opened the door and let a gust of cold wind rattle the interior of the shop, Chester could hear Envy whispering, “Yes, it’s better, but still…!”


*courtesy of a Word of the Day calendar gift that I just opened.

Ho ho ho, ho.

cartoon santa in dressing room


Merry Christmas to all who celebrate! And to those who celebrate another time, please accept my good will as I raise a glass of grog (or alternatively, a nice cold glass of prosecco) in your honour!

Peace and love,

~~FP

Dear Santa. Grrr.

Prompt: Christmas card


Dear Wednesday,

It seems like only a year ago that I sat down and wrote Christmas letters to far-flung family and friends, regaling them with the perfection that was my previous year and wishing them even a fraction of the utopia that is the life of Fluffy.

This year I’ll treat them (and you) to a slightly different analysis of the year that was; i.e. the main occurrences in 2019 were these: 1. My dog died and 2. Men suck. 3. I got old. These do not seem to be the usual joyous events lovingly described in Christmas letters, but that’s the challenge. How to make convince people who don’t really care that my life is a exuberant dream that they should envy, when the news seems less than ebullient?

My dog was a very good dog, a black and fluffy dog. He got old before I did, and so we had to set him on his journey to the Rainbow Bridge. Sad? No, because a dog’s afterlife is a certainty: they go to a green meadow in a heaven where they can run and play with other animals, indulge in delicious treats, get belly rubs on demand, and in general  enjoy the kind of blissful existence they deserve.  People may go to heaven, hell, purgatory, or, more likely, nowhere to spend their eternity, because people are imperfect. Dogs are full of nothing but love and should (if they are not) be the centre of the Universe. If you disagree with me, you have never had a dog.

Men. I have a father, a husband, brothers, male friends, a beloved nephew… but holy shit, men suck. Think Donald Trump, incels, war-makers, sexual harassers and assaulters, arms dealers, rapists, Woody Allen, and the guy who really set me off, a piece of work by the name of Tommy Callaway, who felt entitled to slap and squeeze a reporter’s ass as he ran by her. What kind of person thinks it is ok to sexually assault a young woman or any woman, and who thinks his utterly cynical and smarmy “apology” is more meaningful than a poop bag? Tommy Callaway, that’s who. Tommy Callaway and, presumably, a huge population of men who seem to think the whole Harvey Weinstein thing, #metoo— and, one assumes, sexual assault in general, is nothing but an overrated joke. How else do you explain the man, his grope, his excuse? Men suck, that’s how. (Yet my father, husband, brothers, male friends, beloved nephew wouldn’t even dream of groping a woman— why are the good men like them never in the news? I know why, because being baseline decent is not newsworthy, so we have to hear about the Tommy Callaways grrr of the world.)

And I got old. I went to bed one night, a dewy, lithe, fluffy young woman and woke up as an ancient relic. To be honest, I am not so much a relic as fighting to wipe that thought out of my head. Every little twinge in my back, every bit of fatigue, every fleeting whiff of forgetfulness is now a reminder the size of a skyscraper that my dewy days are done. The real cherry on the top is the fact that my aging will be held against me, I will become invisible and easily dismissed while guess who will grow old with looks that become more distinguished and whose credibility increases? Men, that’s who.

Well, I hope you enjoyed my Christmas letter! I promise you that my contention that men suck in no way diminishes my great love for them. That’s what comes with extreme old age: you can hold two opposing thoughts in your ancient rattling head at the same time.

Obsessive-Compulsive Santa

cartoon dear santa

cartoon roll around santa


Peace and love,

~~FP

Philosophy

Prompt: Song

college campus

Dear Virginia,

Sorry I took so long to respond to your email, but the campus ISP was down for almost four days. We were also without running water for two days, which was a disaster. The administration tells us these occurrences are extremely unusual, and to happen concurrently is even more of a rarity. Anyway I’ve sat constipated and lonely with dirty hair in my room trying to fathom David Hume’s billiard balls and now think I will just make something up for the paper due tomorrow.

I don’t know why I’m taking Philosophy, though it’s probably why I’m now wondering about everything including the meaning of life and why I am wasting away my youth at this fucking college. Virge, I can hear you say, “It’s only the first semester of your first year, Envy, give it time”.

How do I give it time? My roommate is a raging germaphobe who counts Q-tips in fear I might have stolen one, and she sings “Where is Love” from the musical Oliver in her sleep. Or at least I think she is sleeping. So I can barely stay awake during the day and already struggling with most of my classes, include the ones I should breeze through like Lit and Art History, because my Lit prof is trying to bully me into participating more in class (can you image me participating to begin with? me?) and my Art History class is nothing but a series of slide shows. I get most of my sleep time there. My Spanish tutor thinks his housemate is trying to murder him, so every class is like a scene from a horror movie, where we expect a man in a moustache to jump out from behind a door wielding a kitchen knife.

Let me tell you about my new friends. Oh wait, I don’t have any. Only one guy in my Spanish class has even spoken to me, and I have no idea why he would. He’s gorgeous, you see, and well, you know what I look like.

My roommate just burst in and told me she has food poisoning from the toxins served at the cafeteria. She may be right.

It’s ironic: I picked a college as far away from my parents as would have me, and yet I’m so looking forward to Christmas and getting home and seeing you and even my worthless brother, Cash. I want to sleep in my own bed and eat real food and read a trashy novel and maybe even decide if I want to come back here in January.

Have to run. Roomie is vomiting in the trash can.

Tons of love,
Envy

——–

Dear Virginia,

I can’t even tell you how much I missed you over Christmas break. Words fail me. I’m speechless. And so on. I understand you had to take the job, and lucky you for going to the Bahamas in this weather, but oh lord I could have used a friend.

My brother picked me up at the airport, because he got his driver’s licence back. He really shouldn’t be on the road; plus I think he was a little drunk.

Anyway we get home and Millie takes my bags and leads me upstairs to my room (mother was at a meeting) except it was not my room, it was the small guest room. This room has a double bed, a wardrobe but no closet, and has blue geraniumed wallpaper that matches the bedspread. There are carpet and wallpaper samples rolled and stacked in the corner by the window, and on top of the wardrobe is a stack of old telephone books. It is the overflow guest room, in other words.

“Darling,” my mother says when she gets home, flushed from her success in choosing the theme for the cancer gala, Greece, Ancient and Modern, “we are converting your bedroom into a clay room, you could say, since I am learning to sculpt and throw pots.”

“You are? Why my room? What did you do with my stuff?” Honestly Virge, I was well and truly devastated.

“Your room faces north— the light is right, and it’s bigger than the the um, overflow guest room. I didn’t think you’d mind really, your little room was so fussy and dated, you know, with those posters and pink things and that koala bear.”

What did you do with Cocoa?

“Darling.” My mother smiled indulgently. “All your precious belongings are in boxes in the garage. Millie was very careful to pack everything.”

“Even the jewelry I made?”

“Oh,” said mother. “Did you mean to keep that?”

“Why couldn’t you set up your clay room in the basement? There’s tons of room.”

“Sweetheart, I’m not a basement kind of person…”

God, my family. Nana Appleby and my father’s cousin Uncle Gary had been assigned the actual guest rooms, even though Nana was only staying overnight Christmas Eve. I can’t begrudge her. She turns 101 in February. Uncle Gary though, what an asshole. I can only imagine he is paying to stay with us, since no one likes him.

So the decision whether or not to return to college became no decision at all. I see now how that can happen. When you have two shitty alternatives, you choose the one you are not in the middle of.

And semester two couldn’t be worse than the first. I found out the name of the guy in my Spanish class. Marcus. He’s adorable.

Tons of love,
Envy

Cherish is the Word

Prompt: Cherish

merry christmas rabbit

My Christmas presents this year:

  • “Happy” perfume
  • Terry’s Dark Chocolate Orange
  • Computer headset
  • Poncho
  • Red gloves
  • Tablet stylus
  • Beatles’ Eight Days a Week documentary DVD
  • Sketch-a-Day Journal
  • The Interpreter of Maladies (novel)

What I cherish:

  • My family, friends, and dog
  • Chocolate

Literally

Prompt: Saintly


Hello Wednesday!

Doesn’t it sometimes feel like the really good people have gone underground, and so we have to put up with the terribles in the news all the time?

News fit for television and Internet tends to be sensational, allegedly sexy, and catering, so they say, to the lowest common denominator. Who sets that bar except the people feeding us the news?

The news media is currently under fire from the current American administration, which, if you adhere to to the belief that “the enemies of my enemies are my friends” means that the media are our great allies. And some of them are.

The media shapes our outlook and our attitudes in profound ways. We are under the impression that daily life is more perilous than ever, when the opposite is true. We are well informed on the lives of celebrities, but wallow in ignorance about relevant issues at home and abroad.

I don’t think the media reservoir that spews out trivia and hysteria and the pricks of life masquerading as trends, will change until we demand more and better. It’s hard to demand more and better when you don’t even know what the options are, however.

May I present a couple of my favourite cartoons, tenuously related to today’s prompt, saintly, and one that is completely unrelated, yet seasonal and delicious?

cartoon bibilcal writings


cartoon son cooperating


cartoon don't need a tree


Until we meet again…

~~FP

Caramba! Que pasa?

Prompt: Bounty

santa-tejanos

I couldn’t find a credit for this gem of a take on the classic “Night Before Christmas” poem, but I love the life and spirit of it.

Tejano Night Before Christmas

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the casa,
Not a creature was stirring — Caramba! Que pasa?
Los ninos were tucked away in their camas,
Some in camisas and some in pijamas,

While hanging the stockings with mucho cuidado
In hopes that old Santa would feel obligado
To bring all children, both buenos and malos,
A nice batch of dulces and other regalos.

Outside in the yard there arose such a grito
That I jumped to my feet like a frightened cabrito.
I ran to the window and looked out afuera,
And who in the world do you think quien era?

Saint Nick in a sleigh and a big red sombrero
Came dashing along like a crazy bombero.
And pulling his sleigh instead of venados
Were eight little burros approaching volados.

I watched as they came and this quaint little hombre
Was shouting and whistling and calling by nombre
“Ay Pancho, ay Pepe, ay Chucho, ay Beto,
Ay Chato, ay Chopo, Macuco, y Nieto!”

Then standing erect with his hands on his pecho
He flew to the top of our very own techo.
With his round little belly like a bowl of jalea,
He struggled to squeeze down our old chiminea,

Then huffing and puffing at last in our sala,
With soot smeared all over his red suit de gala,
He filled all the stockings with lovely regalos–
For none of the ninos had been very malos.

Then chuckling aloud, seeming very contento,
He turned like a flash and was gone like the viento.
And I heard him exclaim, and this is verdad,
Merry Christmas to all, and Feliz Navidad!