I can’t find my reading glasses.
How much fibre is in this?
Why did I come in this room?
How spicy is this – spicy or spicy-spicy?
I might have to have gin tonight.
Oh, you know, what’s his name with the nose and the dark hair. You know.
Explain leaf-blowers to me. I miss rakes and brooms.
Where did the summer go?
I’m so hot. Is it hot in here? Tell me it’s not just me.
Why am I awake at 4 AM?
Remember spiral perms?
This is not an ‘Oldies station’. These are CLASSICS. I danced to this in high school.
Which clicker works the mute?
She hasn’t changed a bit.
Is it Thanksgiving already?
I had such a good sleep – I didn’t even get up to pee.
Why are there Christmas trees for sale in August? Just why?
I’m tired of vampires.
I need a foot rub.
Kale? Sure. Remember when romaine was exotic?
Isn’t that YOUNG for a heart attack? He’s only 4 years older than me.
You can’t be old enough to be a grandmother.
It was perfectly good before they improved it.
I invent stories about strangers. Everybody’s living their own part of the bigger story and I know we can’t truly see anybody else’s truth when we glimpse them in public – even if that line between public and private is smudged by circumstance. In airports, hospitals, and sometimes in Church, people seem more nakedly authentic and it’s easier to simply witness a little moment of another person’s story.
People are fascinating even in the most mundane situations. And I’m a natural born people watcher. I love people and I love stories. Just now: the neighbor across the way ran out to her car with a handful of envelopes. I wonder what she’s mailing? See? I can’t help it – even though I know IT’S NONE OF MY BUSINESS. I have to be completely engrossed in some very particular endeavour in order for this ‘people attending’ to turn itself off. Almost every day I realize I’m actually staring at somebody – it’s just plain rude.
Last Friday, when I was standing in line in the women’s washroom in Metrotown Mall – you know the one near the Old Navy store – I saw a woman come out of a stall with her purse in one hand and a half-full 750 ml bottle of malt vinegar in the other. This is exactly the kind of thing that leaves me curious for days. I’m desperate to know why she was carrying vinegar. And why malt vinegar? And why bring it into the washroom? There’s definitely a story there, but I can’t imagine it.
Later that afternoon, I saw two men and a woman (in their very early twenties) shopping together at Safeway. They were clearly getting staples to set up a shared apartment or house – condiments, spices, cleaning supplies, etc. They didn’t seem to know each other very well, but the tall blond guy wasn’t too pleased (eye rolling and head shaking) that the other guy – the shorter one with really great hair – and the girl were blatantly flirting with one another. Given that scene, anybody could fill in the blanks, right? For instance: they’re University or College students who met during frosh week and, housing being expensive and in short supply, they’re sharing a place because it turns out they all happen to have come from the Toronto area (they had slight accents). And then there was also that woman in the food court who had dressed her toddler in a mini version of her own outfit. They probably spent part of the morning in the Sears photo studio, don’t you think?
Somehow, in this society where it’s possible to live in the same apartment for years and never know your next-door neighbour’s name, and where so few people make eye contact with each other on the street let alone smile or say hello, even a fiction can make me feel a little bit more like I’m participating in the bigger story.
The next time I talk to my neighbour, I’m going to ask her what the heck she was rushing off to put in the mail.
The sex therapist isn’t at all how I imagined her. I don’t know what you might expect when you meet a sex therapist; but, I suppose I was thinking, oddly, of either a jolly grandmotherly woman or a stiff, lab-coat-sporting scientist. Which is weird, because the only ‘real-world’ references I have for sex therapists are the former Canadian talk show host, Sue Johanson from her show that was called Sex with Sue, and American talk show host, Dr. Phil (I’m not sure what his last name is – Oprahson?), neither of whom I ever watched except on occasions when I was stuck in a room with a TV on, and I had no access to a remote (which happens far too frequently). And, what’s more, I don’t even know why I still bother trying to imagine in advance what any medical professionals might be like. Who could have predicted my first pain and rehab doctor would be missing an arm, an eye and an ear? (But that’s a completely different story.)
I guess I never imagined I would be in a situation where I would meet with a sex therapist. I thought they were beyond my ken – like astronauts. Who doesn’t love stargazing and following the phases of the moon? In university, I took astronomy courses to fulfill my math and science credits, so I used to know (and sometimes still do – at age 47 this kind of information isn’t always accessible unless you’re tapping into it on a regular basis) all kinds of amazing facts about the universe.
We all live in the universe, but almost nobody goes into space. We all live in bodies that are designed to have sex, but almost nobody researches human sexuality, studies medicine, and then spends a lot of her time meeting with a variety of people to discuss sex in an effort to promote their sexual health. Who goes there? Well. Me, it turns out. And my husband was there, too.
My sex therapist is a tall, slim woman with a slight British accent and a gentle demeanor. She works out of a run-of-the-mill doctor’s office. If there is anything decorating the walls it’s so neutral as to be forgettable. She has a large window with a pleasant view. And, with her help, we began exploring.
Now, of course, I wonder if I’ll ever meet an astronaut.