There are times I question why we’re together — you and I.
Sometimes you make me feel like a speck, a stain that has ruined your favourite shirt.
It started in the summer of 1989 in St. Pete’s Beach, Florida.
The Gulf Winds Resort.
The kind of place that was teeming with winter-worn Canadians and drunken mid-westerners. All of whom were in search of sun and the perfect bloomin’ onion.
Standing poolside amidst the smell of coconut oil sizzling to the rhythm of the waves lapping on the beach across the street, you heard a voice:
And that’s all it took to begin the ritual. You started wrapping me in linen as if you were swaddling a baby. Hiding me from the violence of language, and the artfully skilled purveyors of shame.
From that point on it would be over three decades before I felt the warmth of sun on my back, or the wind as it traced its way across my chest, or the freedom to stand proud.
That was all lost.
You began to feel things. Physically.
Stomach cramps in science class with Mr. Mallam. Sweating bullets outside the library. You’d run to your grandmother’s house in Buckmaster’s Circle — through the soccer field next to Bingo Country — the Valhalla of the St. John’s Bingo community. A soccer field where just night before they had burned half the neighbourhood straight down to the fucking studs to commemorate Guy Fawkes Night. Pelting first responders with rocks and other pieces of scrap that lay around. As if to say “stay away, this mess is ours”.
Meanwhile, as you sat in the smokey living room watching the Young and The Rest of Us (your Grandfather’s favourite joke), you were imploding, like one of those worn down buildings you’d see on the American news.
Corner by corner, floor by floor, you began to sink inward.
You began to dream of escape, that somehow you could crawl through that small space that lay beneath your solar plexus — that spot that can make you disappear with one swift blow.
But you couldn’t.
And that’s when it began. A relentless barrage of fries, candy, chips, ice-cream, pizzas, Pepsi, Coke, Orange Crush, Quick, Apple Jacks, popcorn, Pringles, Sour Candies, Joe Louis’, Flakies, Twinkies, custard cones, hot dogs, Whoppers, Big Macs, Double Big-Macs, Quarter Pounders, Double Quarter Pounders, Arch Deluxes, Pizzas, Chicken Crunches, Big Marys, Bacon Deluxe Combos, Double Bacon Cheeseburgers, Baconators, Chicken Nuggets, Chicken Fingers, Chicken Tenders, Chicken Fillet, Popcorn Chicken, Double Downs, Macaroni and Cheese, Blizzards, Large Caramel Sundays, Peanut Buster Parfaits, Big Turks, Oh Henrys, Charleston Chews, Mirage bars, Kit-Kats, Flakes, Coffee Crisps, Big League Chews, Hubba Bubba, Nerds, Pop Rocks, Dweebs, Fun Dip, Popeye Cigarettes, Runts, Jaw Breakers, Sours, 1-cent candy, Swedish Berries, Jewb-Jewbs, Fruit By The Foot, Duncan Hines cake batter, Jello powder, Junior Mints, Cheesies, Doritos, Tostitos, Philadelphia Cream Cheese, Popcicles, Fudge Sticks, Phantoms, Rockets, Screw Balls, Strawberry Shortcakes, Dixie Cups, Drumsticks, Chippers, Slush Puppies, Slurpees, Rice Crispy Cookies, Nanaimo Bars, Pineapple Upside Down Cakes, Coconut Cream Pie, Black Forest Cakes, After Eights, Teen Burgers, Mozza Burgers, Mamma Burgers, Papa Burgers, Root Beer, Pineapple Crush, Ginger Ale, stuffed crust, deep dish, hand tossed, buns with cheese, buns without cheese, Timbits, jelly donuts, chocolate eclairs, baguettes, meatball subs, onion rings, nachos, hot wings, battered wings, dried wings, wet wings, desert pizzas, tacos, Italian sausages, Cracker Jacks, M&Ms, Reece’s Pieces, and anything else that would squeeze into your mouth.
I was your very own private compost.
Fertilizing you’re loathing of me.
So, yeah — thanks for that.
But what you forget is that I walked you through all of that bullshit.
I dragged your bones past Bingo Country, and through streets of Toronto, and beyond the back alleys of Seoul. I even went so far as to carry you through the church procession that lead to your Brother’s burial.
I’m the one.
While you were twisting in the wind with whatever the hell it was that you had on your mind — I was hard at work.
And in the dawn of the now I’m the one that stands you up in front of that mirror, that pries your eyes wide open to see the man that’s taking shape.
And I know things are getting better between us.
I can sense that.
I can tell by the way you look at me in the waning hours of the day. But every now and then, I catch a flicker of doubt.
And it shakes me.
Fortunately for you — I’m strong enough to take it.