Complimental illness.

I feel like complaining, because I think complaining is something done best when you’re riding high and life’s going pretty swell right now. See, people who are really suffering don’t really complain. They’ve got no time to worry about how things could be better, they just need to make it through the shit piled on front of them. I have the luxury of vantage from a privileged position, so I’m gonna survey the landscape and snipe off some unimportant easy targets.

I’ve started to get over people complimenting me on my accent. I understand, it’s something different from what you’re used to. You like it? That’s great. You think it’s cute? How lovely. I mean that. The thing you have to realise is that I’ve got no strong soapbox here. I’m complaining about people being nice to me. So now that you understand that I understand, let’s continue. It’s not new, fresh or original. I’ve heard it many times. I understand that people are crappy at small talk (I know I am), but if the way the words sound when tumbling out my mouth is more important than how those words interconnect and create meaning, then I’m failing to provide worthwhile conversation. In complimenting my accent it says to me that my personality is invalidated as intriguing when placed next to the fact that I happen to have been born on a distant landmass. I recognise that your love of my voice doesn’t override the person behind it, but in my mind it certainly adds the stipulation of “I’d be less invested in what you’re saying if I didn’t like your lilt”.

I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’m complaining about something that gives me a distinct advantage in this society. People want to talk to me and they’re gonna more readily accept what I say. People treat me better than your average dude on the street. It opens me up to opportunities that’d be otherwise lost. I get that.

What I’m facing is what I assume good looking women face on a regular basis. While it’s technically a positive thing happening, you’re being complimented, you’re bored/tired of hearing it and it isn’t exactly a conversation you want to have. Oh, so you like my accent? That’s great, but that doesn’t exactly get us anywhere. What am I meant to say? “Thanks, I made it myself”, “My dad gave it to me”,or “Thanks. I’ve been practicing heaps”? Because they were almost fun to say the first time. Almost. The big difference between my compliments and compliments based on women’s looks is that my complimentor generally doesn’t see themselves as entitled to anything because of their compliment. The idea that just because you said something nice to someone, they owe you reciprocal attention and/or affection? Gross. Mine issue is less about people looking to get something from me and more people scrabbling for something to say to fill empty air.

So that’s my complaint, the fact that something positive happens to me on a regular basis and I don’t feel like I’m allowed to complain about it. Though I just did. So there?

Steak, your reclamation.

I’m fascinated by Detroit in an abstract sense. I say “abstract” because I know virtually zero about the situation. Every little thought currently rebounding around my skull is based in supposition and the charmed way my mind sculpts the world around me. My “knowledge” of Detroit (that could be increased massively by a 5 minute googling) is that the city has basically collapsed. Essential services have been retracted from everywhere outside of the downtown core and close suburbs. Running water, public transport and electricity don’t apply outside of a certain centre radius, which is a bummer considering that h0uses are plenty cheap. Who said our generation will never own property? A one-two punch of disenfranchisement and ill-equipped law enforcement (and probably 15 other factors I haven’t come close to cosnidering) has enabled crime to soar, leaving it a severely shit place to live.

However much truth there is to my version of events, isn’t that still fascinating?

Whatever’s happening down there, a formerly buoyant city imploding seems unreal in this day and age. If anything’s gonna bring it out of this rut, it’s likely gonna be a massive sweeping revolution as opposed to incremental growth over time. Detroit’s resurgence seems like an inspiring This American Life episode in the making. It kind of makes me wish I knew more about economics and the impact of societal events on a city’s fiscal lifeblood. It’d be riveting to track exactly what happened in order for Detroit to arrive at its current situation. Like some zombie contagion that started off small then grew exponentially, Detroit seems like it must’ve crumbled step by step, until those steps became strides, leaps and bounds towards catastrophe.

What I’m most taken by are notions of how to turn things around. If life were sci-fi (3D printing exists, I’m not convinced life isn’t sci-fi) I’m sure Detroit would become the epicentre for medical experimentation and gene splicing. Taking advantage of the desperate and needy, we’d either finally have Soylent Green or ways to grow additional limbs. Detroit could be the first city to resemble the MCU. The X-Men and other genetic abnormalities could rise to combat/commit crime in a world who hated and feared them. So much possibility.

The idea I had that I thought would be pretty rad is if the city was inundated with hippies/hipsters bent on turning Detroit into a new sustainable urban farming metropolis. Living off the land, reclaiming the earth back from grey, polluted civilisation. The formerly smoggy automobile manufacturer could pivot to foster new life. Livestock, food-bearing plant matter and harvestable crops could exist in the same general topography as a bleak cityscape. Wouldn’t that be bitchin’?

Ultimately it’s all bystander speculation for my own entertainment. Like Serial, when thinking about this kind of thing, it’s easy to forget that at the end of the day you’re talking about a community and people that still exist. Just because the situation is enthralling, that doesn’t mean it fails to affect real people in the world. What would they benefit from more than I’d enjoy the opportunity for knowledge?

I have… seen things you wouldn’t believe… I used to lurk /b.

Hi kids. Welcome to today’s instalment of Curmudgleon Corner. This entry is brought to you by equal parts fading relevance and inherent disinterest. I might even throw a smidgeon of wilful dismissal for good measure.

My slowpoke nature with social media is nothing new. I think the only thing I was ever ahead of the curve on was OK Cupid before it was a dating site. I think I filled in a bunch of quizzes, then eventually found my quiz hub to be a nexus of online connection. I never had a Myspace page. I joined Facebook only after it was apparent that it wasn’t leaving any time soon (and flat out refused to participate in the insipid act of trading “pokes”. I had a Bebo briefly in order to access my brothers’ travelling pictures. I got a Twitter account last year, but only at my editor’s insistence. I’ve never Vined, I think I posted 3 or so Instagram pictures. Snapchat seems dumb and not worth investing time in. I still look at Youtube as a repository for short clips as opposed to a viable content distribution network. I mean, let’s not kid ourselves here, TV in the not too distant future is gonna be a combination of online streaming and peer to peer distribution à la whatever Bittorrent is in 15 years. The smart thing would be to adapt to this changing world by going with the flow and embracing the obvious direction in which we’re all travelling.

I mustn’t be that smart though, clearly. I value longform communication, which seems to be increasingly outmoded in today’s quick-stim rapid fire society. Despite my lack of smarts in adopting these mediums, I’m not a total troglodyte. I understand the use of each platform, they just don’t appeal to me. They’re about correctly utilising conventions, right? Twitter is about instant wit. Instagram is about the placing the mundane on a pedestal of exceptionality through shared experience. Snapchat and Vine are about pushing back against restrictions to create something larger than life.

Still, my innate response to most of these is to sigh or roll my eyes. In my head these things are stupid and meaningless, while in reality they hold increasing validity as time passes. I overheard someone in publicity today complaining that an overly lengthy hashtag wouldn’t trend. Co-workers discussed how to get more followers on their Facebook business page Others complained that their boyfriends never knew what to gift them with, despite the fact that it was obvious had the boyfriends ever cast an eye to their Pinterest board.

It all sounds so trifling to me, but if I don’t adapt I’m gonna be left behind. People do place importance in these things, there’s an unbelievable amount of commerce tied up in them. Forget paid blogging, I’m sure there are paid Twitterers. There’s high quality programming being created for Youtube with millions of views. Monetisation of attention has always been and will continue to be a very real thing. All the while my old world beliefs will be lost in time like tears in rain.

I think Abe Simpson said it best:

“I used to be with it, but then they changed what *it* was. Now what I’m with isn’t *it*, and what’s *it* seems weird and scary to me. It’ll happen to you…”

Though did anyone else notice that’s exactly what I did in the first paragraph?

I don’t explicitly know why, but the idea of my “number” popped into my head today. Look guys, I hang ten all over the net. Things swim across my path constantly and I can’t always remember where I was when I caught a glimpse. It could’ve been any number of blogs I read occasionally (especially when procrastinating over choosing a writing topic) or something on Reddit. In the hopes of getting this poly thing off the ground, I’ve been spending time checking out OK Cupid matches (and sending out predictably unreciprocated messages. It happens. These gals are getting 80 or so a day, I don’t take it personally). I’m sure something there could’ve sparked the thought. Nonetheless the thought was sparked.

The concept of attaching value to the number of partners you’ve had is ridiculous. A combination of circumstance, attractiveness, access and chance all come into play, but ultimately don’t matter much. If you’ve slept with a ton of people, great! You likely have a bunch of experience to bring to the table. If you’ve shared many beds or opened your sheets to a bunch, there’s may be a higher chance you know about safe sex measures. You probably know a few fun techniques and positions to shake things up. I’d hope in most cases it’d mean you were more accepting and understanding of a variety of issues that can surface in the bedroom. Or you could’ve had a bunch of terrible sex, I’m not taking anything for granted here. I’ve shared intimate moments with gals over the spectrum of experience. I never kicked someone out of bed for knowing more than I did. Then again, I like learning. It’s 2015 for fuck’s sake. Can we move beyond regressive concepts like slut shaming already? Anyway, take this link. It says things a lot better than I can.

On the other side of the scale, there’s nothing wrong with being less promiscuous. Your sexuality is your own and nobody has any right to take that away from you. If you’re choose not to entangle much value in touch, that’s fine. Don’t let anyone bully you away from your desires, whether they’re to bump privates often or infrequently. Numbers don’t speak to quality of encounters any more than an income speaks to one’s value as a human being. If your more modest number isn’t by choice, it’s less of a big deal then you think it is. You likely have some things to learn before you’re gonna really appreciate its value. That seems like a catch-22, right? A lack of experience because you haven’t learned enough, those lessons being taught through experience. People and relationships are complicated, messy and gooey (often in exciting ways too). There’s no race to become the version of you who can best accept and gift love, it’ll all come out in the wash. Stuff happens over time. You might think I’m talking shit, but if you’d met the embarrassing person I was (in relation to cross-gender interactions) as a teenager, you might believe me more.

So what’s my number then? I’d be burying the lede if I made you trudge through all of that without some conclusive feeling.

Well at the age of 26, when I arrived in Canada my number was 4.

Who cares what it is now? Lede buried.

Reflections on naked ambition.

Because procrastination is one of my most frequent sins, I’ve enlisted external help. Often the most difficult part of this writing is starting. A while back one of my partners told me that while the waffly, meandering stream of consciousness thing was cute, I wrote much better with even the slight (because honesty was obviously her policy here) focus a topic gave me. So let’s try that. Today’s subject comes from my friend who asks:

“What would you change about your body?”


I can’t imagine a time where my own body wouldn’t be relevant, but my pal has some kind of inner sight, clearly. I’d been talking lately about this with people, so it’s been on my mind. See, I recently visited a nudist camp (because where better a place to go in winter) to support a friend’s theatre performance. I had no real issue being naked around other naked people. It took approximately minus two seconds to get comfortable in my own skin. There were folks of all shapes and sizes (one dude with the most impressive “outie” belly button I’d ever seen) and the experience was warm and welcoming. Everyone has different lumps and jiggly bits, that’s totally cool.

What I wasn’t really prepared for was seeing my reflection in a full body mirror. When I turned the lens on myself, those lumps and jiggly bits jumped out immediately. Something so easy to support in other people was a lot harder to accept when faced with my own image. Immediately my eyes scanned to all those parts I feel shame for. My stretch marks, the extra pudge at the side of my waist, the definition that isn’t there. Wouldn’t my arms look better bigger? The shape of my face bothers me. Have I ever not had bags under my eyes? I see blemishes and flaws that, while I knew they existed, I wish didn’t. Upon reflection the only thing I look at and like are my hair and eyes. My hair and eye game is right up there, the only things on a soft body that I actually want to be soft. I should see more indicators of my success. I’m a lot smaller than I was, In my mid-late 20s I look healthier than I have at any other time in my life. These things aren’t what I see when I look. While I’ve been told that I’m a decent enough looking dude enough times that I almost believe it, somehow it’s hard to separate that from this innate emotional rejection of my own body.

This is a fascinating article that’s been doing the social media rounds lately. Reading through it, I was drawn with a combination of disgust, envy and agreement. I could likely count more times I’ve made a snap decision to radically change my eating and fitness (and backed down a day later) than there are sheep in New Zealand. I see these images and think what a grotesque image driven society we live in, then I crave the validation that comes with being a sexually desirable male. The power of reinforced hypersexuality is such that I reject the value of this imagery on principle while subconsciously devouring it. I see people make unbelievable revolutions to their own physique and think what’s stopping me from doing that? Then hit my limitation right away. It’s called discipline, at least when applied to consumption.

This isn’t a new issue I’ve been dealing with. My whole life has been a constant struggle with my own self-image. Nonetheless, despite how it sounds,I think I’ve gained some ground since my move to Toronto. I’ve been considering buying a full body mirror for some time and I can’t think of a much better way to challenge these issues then to face them head on. Plus it gives me an excuse to visit IKEA.

But I didn’t really answer the question, did I? Dragon wings, a prehensile tail, camouflage skin, rapid cellular regeneration and negligible senescence.

Groan pains.

Because I somehow haven’t done this before, I’m gonna spend the next 30 minutes writing haiku. Is haiku the plural of haiku? You’re damned right it is.

Haiku? Highlander?
No matter the number, there
Will be only one.

Did I just fuck up?
That last haiku blurred the lines
Don’t wanna sound Thicke.

They say restriction
It breeds creativity.
Well, who’s the father?

That last one? Two words:
Immaculate conception.
Don’t groan, me-sigh-ah?

Okay, too abstract
Reel it back in there Leon
It’s getting fishy.

So, I have a cold
If my nose keeps on running
I might just lose it.

They say that a pun
Is a clever play on words
So where’s my stage then?

Loving this too much
If I get lost in pleasure
call it seminal.

Let’s say you’re a male.
Last night did you shag or not?
Heh, “Schrödinger’s box”.

This is getting gross.
Head out of the gutter boy.
It’s become a drain.

In my defence, I had no idea it’d get that offensive. Still, if I had to pick a defence that’s the best one, right? Dumb. I need to not be typing right now lest you all self-harm through facepalming.

Has trying to make “radical” happen become a radical action yet?

I’m pretty big on the whole self-love movement. I’m not talking about masturbation here (which is great, I’m just not talking about it right now. Give me 5 minutes), but taking time to recognise the things about yourself and appreciating them. Doing things for yourself because you can, because you want to make yourself happy as much as you enjoy providing that service for the ones you love. Because you should be one of the people you love.

Or maybe I’m just making excuses for hedonism. That’s grand too.

I’m more about finding little things that add a spark to your day, or recognising small successes. I just put on pyjamas straight out of the dryer. Static electricity means my top-hatted, cigar smoking pooch PJs are clinging all the way from my angles to my waist. Everything below my waist feels snuggly and warm. That to me is self-love of sorts.

I just accidentally spilt a dollop of high quality boutique moonshine on my keyboard. Self-love means I’ll resort to silver-lining thinking instead of beating myself up over it. You know what? That’s some pretty potent bootleg keyboard cleaner. My keyboard has been a faithful companion to many a drunken writing night. Maybe it deserves a tipple too.

Self-love. I make it to work 5 days a week. I get to the gym 3 days a week. My fridge is stocked mostly with fresh fruit and veggies and the combination of freezer, pantry and spices means I’ve got no reason to go hungry. I’m doing ok. That’s a success in itself. Some people aren’t so fortunate. Some people have barriers inhibiting them from engaging in a steady routine.  I’ve gotta acknowledge that while still celebrating that in terms of domestic mediocrity, I’m killing it. My anxieties and neuroticisms, while valid in my own head, aren’t crippling. There’s some self-love.

Self-love to me means laughing at my own jokes, even if nobody else does. At least I “get” me sometimes. Many people don’t. There’s a show that screens called Stalker. It doesn’t rate terribly well. We were conversing at work and I mentioned that it sounded like a dumb show. My boss queried if I knew what it was. I explained that in my own mind, Stalker was a play on the age old adage of “it takes a thief…”. She replied that I obviously hadn’t seen it. For the rest of the afternoon I couldn’t get over how ludicrous and junky my premise was.

Hardboiled Police Chief: We’ve got a serious epidemic here. Violent stalking is hitting an all-time high. We need to crack down non this stat!
Young Rookie: I’ve got a radical premise that you’ll consider, even though it’s outlandish, because I’ve got a great jawline.
Hardboiled Police Chief: You’re on thin ice here Young Rookie.
Young Rookie: You’re not gonna like it and it’s gonna be a source of continual contention between us, but it’s so radical you can’t avoid it. Have I said radical enough to make it a thing yet?
Hardboiled Police Chief: OUT WITH IT ALREADY *Slams desk*
Young Rookie: To catch a violent stalker, we hire a violent stalker. Who better to know how they operate?
Hardboiled Police Chief: I don’t like it one bit, but it’s so radical that it might just work. What happens if they become emotionally invested in our victims?
Young Rookie: That’s inevitable or else we have no real drama, but have you got any other choice? It’s a risk we might just have to take.
Hardboiled Police Chief: You’re a fuck, but you’re right. Only God can save us now.
Young Rookie: And a strong internet cult following. Hey Reddit, how you doin’?

I’m entirely in love with the sheer absurdity of it. I want it to be a thing so I can hate that it exists. If that’s not self-love then I don’t know what is.

In retrospect I might not know what self-love is, making this a load of wank.

Which is self-love, so maybe I do.

King Missile may have been the architects of the future.

I slept 9 hours last night and I feel unbelievable. My skin tingled as I awoke and my throat, which had been scratchy and warm for the last few days, cleared itself miraculously after dislodging a lumpy loogie. Lovely. It’s been dawning on me lately that I might be significantly sleep deprived. I mean, I always knew I was somewhat lacking, but it’s taken a couple of things coming into view to really notch that focus up. Firstly the counsellor saying I needed more. I know 5.5-6.5 hours a night isn’t a ton, but it’s been manageable for the last few years. Coffee has helped. With so many people regularly saying they can’t function without their 8 hours it’s been making me reconsider. I mean, I’ve been functioning, but at what level?

This isn’t the first time I’ve brought up my sleep patterns on this page. They’re a point of contention even in my own inner dialogue. I know it’s better for my physical and mental health to sleep more, but I think of all the things I can’t be doing while I’m resting and trepidation grows. I never have enough time to do all the things I want while I wake, taking another 2-3 hours out of my day isn’t gonna mitigate that. It seems like every night I find myself sitting in front of a blank page at 11pm, procrastinating over starting this writing process. 30 minutes writing inevitably takes an hour, because I continually pivot on what I’m gonna commit to paper. I hope that doesn’t sound like there’s a ton of planning going into these entries, because given the content that’d just be sad. By the time I’ve got some idea over what I’m gonna write it’s usually about 12.30am. If I don’t have any idea, it’s past 1am and I force creativity. By the time that’s finished there are only so many hours left for slumber. Maybe 6.

I could always do another month off coffee and force myself to keep regular sleeping patterns. Last time I made sure I got 8 hours so as to stave off encroaching insanity. Cutting coffee also meant I entered back into the realm of dreams. I’ve been trying to cut back to 1 cup a day and drink a cup of camomile tea before bed. If this sounds like the most tedious domestic shit you’ve ever read, just hold on. Because my dreams have been getting ludicrous again.

Last week I dreamed that I was smack bang in the middle of a Hardy Boys style investigation back home. Paul Scheer and the rest of the How Did This Get Made podcast had been involved in a sinister multiple homicide cover up involving crashed planes, extortion and worse. My friends and I rode around the neighbourhood on our bikes looking for clues, canvassing locals for any info we could get. We lockpicked our way into Scheer’s house only to find ourselves in an industrial meat storage room dripping with frozen blood and questionable entrails. With the sound of heavy footfalls behind us, I awoke.

Or last night, when I dreamt I woke up to find my genitals replaced with female bits. Nothing else had changed around my body, just the genitals. I went around the house finding things of increasing size to put in there, which played out more like a wacky montage than anything sexual. I met up with a mostly lesbian friend who I’d always thought would be fun to play with if she was attracted to me. I told her about my predicament, which intrigued her enough to give it a go. Great fun sexy times ensued. Waking up I was filled with this disappointment that I couldn’t just swap one type of genital out for the other. Dear Science, could you kindly sort this out for me? I want to have my cake and have someone eat me out too.

Because that’s one hell of a dream.

Why did the guy cross the road?

I’m afraid of women in public.

Okay, that’s deliberately misleading in an attempt to be intriguing. Sorry not sorry, I hope it worked. I’m not afraid of women in public. I’m afraid of being perceived as creepy or threatening and so I actively seek to avoid women more often than not.

Even the term avoidance seems too heavy for my activity, but as soon as a woman enters my social frame, my behaviour changes. If I’m on public transport I’ll shift around. When a lady sits opposite me on the TTC or stands close during rush hour, I think to myself aww man, now I have to awkwardly look around everywhere else so she doesn’t think I’m staring at her. But doesn’t it seem like I’ve got untoward motives if I’m expending so much energy trying to look like I’m not looking? Am I better to just stare straight ahead? But what if she thinks I’m staring through peripheral vision? Fuck it, just ignore her, ignore her. Isn’t it weirder to not look then look? Why are social dynamics so damned confusing?

It’s tiring, it’s odd and I don’t think I’ve fine tuned my responses yet. I’m surrounded by a social cluster of intelligent women with developed feminist ideals. If you’re surrounded by those attitudes, they don’t just go out into the aether without sinking into your consciousness at least a little. I’m still only learning, but I’m glad that I am. What’s happening is it’s making me reconsider my everyday interactions.

See, I know I’m not a threat to these women. I don’t have it in me to harm or rape somebody, it’s just not something I’d be capable of inflicting upon another. Random women don’t know that though. Even though I’d never do it, I need to understand and recognise that I carry with me the sins of my gender. Most men never would, but that doesn’t change the fact that men as a social group are exponentially more statistically likely to rape. Even though I don’t see myself as a threat, by my very gender I am. If I don’t understand that and alter my behaviour accordingly, my privilege in this situation is to live my life unencumbered while others could potentially feel threatened.

This is the reason I cross the road when I see a woman walking in front of me at night. If we’re lit by nothing but the moon and streetlights, the sound of my footfalls could easily be seen as a sign of impending danger. Despite my harmless nature, I carry with me the threat of the unknown. So I cross the road, or try to walk as far away as possible. If I need to walk around someone to get somewhere, I try give a wide berth. If I do walk past someone, I turn my head to look away from them to try and put them at least a little at ease. Does any of this help? Well I don’t know. I never talk to these girls. I just try to get out of their space as soon as I can.

Now look, don’t see this as an oh woe is me, my life is so difficult kind of thing. I know that these are trifling issues. I understand that it’s trivial and I don’t have to contend with the metric fuckton of shit that women do on a daily basis. I’m not complaining, I just think it’s peculiar, that’s all. I’d rather be mildly inconvenienced by the spectre of rape culture than engage in behaviour that causes women to have to consider it in their daily life.

Because chances are I’ll never really understand what it’s like to have to constantly monitor how you present yourself. By having this constant culture of fear reinforced, social conditioning bombarding you with suggestions that submission is just easier. Being told by society that by merely existing you could be sending the wrong signals. By what you’re wearing. By the way you look. By the mere fact that you’re female bodied and thus people could find you desirable, enough to put their desires over your rights.

I won’t ever really understand. If I did, I think I’d be afraid of me too.

Somebody get me a Noosa, ’cause I tropi-kill myself sometimes.

I’ve been locked down in Toronto practically since I arrived. Locked down by either funds, time or a more common combination of the two, my sole day out of Toronto was a madcap day spent driving to Deliverance, NY for an errand. Nothing would’ve been awry in speeding up the trip and applying Yackety Sax as the score. It wasn’t much in the way of a vacation, more an exercise in elation, frustration and negotiation. I did eat in a ‘murican (merkin) diner though, so not all was lost.

I have had other trips to the USA. I was lucky enough to be raised in a comfortable family environment. Very lucky. It hasn’t gone unappreciated (kidding. I live in a literal ivory tower. Kidding, I’ve only once spoken to my downstairs neighbour in person and I’m not convinced he doesn’t have a zombie chained up down there. If he does, it doesn’t do much more than snore. More like a zzzzombie. Dumb).  One of the nigh infinite perks of this situation was that family holidays existed. A few of these involved the United States, one of which even involved the 50th of those states.

The trip to Hawaii was based on a cruise around the Hawaiian Islands. It was decadent and to a lad of 15 or 16, righteous (which I wasn’t still saying by that point, given that it was post Y2K. That bug left us all a little shook up. Very little seemed righteous in a post Y2K world). My uncle got refused entry for some reason, which meant I had the cabin – that I was meant to be sharing – all to myself. I wasn’t old or suave enough to make adult use of it, but more than a few calls to room service (part of the all-inclusive entry) were made. Food in general was characteristically American (huge and wasteful) despite the international fare available. There was a special meal in which everything was chocolate. It might sound like the wet fever dream of a small child, but it certainly happened. Set in a ballroom, flanked on all sides by large chocolate sculptures, it was an ode to unnecessarily lavish behaviour. I mean, I enjoyed every moment of it, but that didn’t stop me from shaking my head in disbelief.

As a teenager there was no alcohol, but you had unlimited access to fountain drinks. How I avoided diabeetus on that trip, I have no idea. I do recall getting very well acquainted with a certain Gentleman Pibb. I also recall a 23 hour diner that never seemed to be open late night. No matter what time we went between 11pm-4am they’d just be closing up. Perhaps they were worried about rampant teen hooliganism and shuttered up their windows? I dunno, but I just wanted a burger with a kosher pickle. Regrets, I have a few.

I must’ve been 16, because on New Years I remember Hey Ya being played umpteen times. I know this, because somebody had it repeating on the jukebox while I tried to learn how to C-Walk. I spent the whole night learning from the more able toed members of the teen club and after endless diligence got my moves down. My feet were blistered from carpet burn and swelled beyond a reasonable level. Still, warmed by the satisfaction of hard work paying off, I slept well that night and dreamed of that sweet, sweet cultural cachet rolling on in.

Of course when I awoke in the morning I had all of the scars and none of the knowledge. Clearly I’d been hitting the suds too hard. To this day I still can’t C-Walk. Don’t I feel cripped off?

The on-board comedian (because this was a legit cruise) gave a seminar on the importance of laughter. It was easily the best thing that happened on the whole vessel. I have no idea of the veracity of his story, but to this day it stays with me. It involved a cop specialising in suicide prevention at the Brooklyn Bridge. This guy’s job was to either talk people down from jumping, or just keep them talking long enough for the catch-boat to get underneath and provide a safe landing zone. In the event that someone did jump and land safely in the nets, him and his fellow policemen would hold up small signs with numbers. Like diving judges, they’d award points for technique. Members of the public would see this display and start getting aggressive, complaining about the lack of good taste and decency. The cop would reply “You do what you need to in order to get through your day. So do I.”

The idea of recontextualising life’s occurrences in a palatable form has always remained a concern of mine. Controlling the frame with which I view life has always helped me take some modicum of control over those things that’re out of my reach. Sometimes things happen that blow me out. Left without an emotional toolkit of how to respond, I have no choice but to find the light in the darkness, no matter how dark that light might be. There’s nothing wrong with turning to tears, but humour has always been my favourite use of pain. Even if nobody else gets the joke.

Okay, terrible impromptu joke time…

Q. How does a foghorn in Hawaii laugh?
A. A low ha.