Archive for August, 2009


Apparently, I am a Cliche

I was sitting at the beautiful bar of the Paddock the other night, drinking a glass of red wine that tasted suspiciously like bourbon, when I admitted to a friend that I had given myself a gift.

“Oooh, look how shiny,” I exhaled as I showed off the exquisite John Hardy on my right hand*.  “It’s my annivorcery next week.”

My friend promptly announced that “right hand bling rings” are so 2005, and had already been the subject of one of those nasty “Diamonds are forever” ads.

Warning: This ad may make you nauseous

Warning: This ad may make you nauseous


Honestly, who came up with this copy?

I see red wine with my right hand?

My left hand talks?  That just makes me think of puppets, for some reason.  Probably not what they were going for.

Raise my right hand?  Wasn’t that a deodorant ad?

Am I doing the Hokey Pokey?  Should I shake it all about?

I’m so confused.

Anyway, I’ll raise a glass (in either left or right hand) to the women who put on the mascara, ride the subway, feed the kid, clean up the dog poop, change the frickin’ lightbulb, close the deal, iron the skirt, negotiate the trade agreement, cure the disease, write the novel, run the marathon and yes, buy their own damn rings because they want something pretty and shiny and it makes them happy.  And not because some ad tells them that it’s alright to love themselves.

Now THAT would have been a good ad.


* John Hardy is a jewelry designer based in Bali, who I am certain relies on the expertise of 12-year old schoolchildren traditional Balinese artisans.


The Second Act

Apologies to those who are sick of the non-stop media frenzy over the death of Ted Kennedy, but I feel compelled to add my own two particular cents.

By the time I became aware of politics and world issues as a teenager, Ted Kennedy had become a figure of ridicule.  A political satirist’s dream.  A symbol of misspent hopes and expectations.  There was a period of time in the early 90s, during the trial of his nephew, William Kennedy Smith, where the phrase “Uncle Teddy” conjured up images of the drunken, lecherous older male relative that exists in virtually every family.  He was a man who had never quite lived up to the potential of his youth, a man who would never overcome the ghosts of the past.

I found myself weeping yesterday as I watched his funeral on television.  I wept because it was clear that this was a man who was loved dearly by all of his family and friends.  Respected by his colleagues and the people that he represented for so many years.   Clearly adored by his wife, who he met later in his life. 

How many of us will be able to say at the end of our lives that we touched so many people, so deeply?  How many of us can say that we rose above our own faults to make the world better for those less fortunate than ourselves?

The truth is, we are all capable of writing our own second acts.  Whether it comes from the redemptive power of true love, or God, or just the plain belief in the better angels of our human nature, we are all endowed with the power to choose our paths. 

There is darkness in all of us.  There are times when we disappoint ourselves and people around us.  We start to believe that our best years are behind us, that potential has been squandered, that painful experiences or poor choices in our past dictate our future.

Ted Kennedy was a man with deeply human flaws, and yet he overcame them to achieve incredible things in his professional and personal life.  He accepted his limitations, asked for forgiveness when necessary, and moved forward.

And now, ladies and gentlemen, if you’ll kindly take your seats…the second act is about to start.


The Sin and Redemption is a fine pub at the corner of McCaul and Dundas.  I knew it was a special place the night I stopped by and saw all of the clergy from St. Patrick’s having dinner…and a few pints.   Teddy would have loved it.


Ode to the Emotionally Unavailable

If I were to be with anyone, it would be you

(I’m so alone)

I wish I was ready for a relationship like this

(I never will be)

When I said I loved you, that was true

(I don’t know the meaning)

Can we still be friends – but friends that kiss?

(I’m so confused)

I just don’t have the courage to leave her

(I’m a coward)

But I always feel safe here under your covers

(I’m hiding)

This time she’ll be faithful and I believe her

(I know she won’t)

Can we be friends, and sometimes, maybe, lovers?

(I want to hedge my bets)

You deserve a better man than I’ll ever be

(I’m looking for something else)

If only I was in a better place in my life

(I’m not going anywhere)

You know that you’re the only one for me

(I’m blaming you)

I have to take this call, it’s from my wife.

(And you think you’ve got it bad)


The View From My Window

(Original posted October 4, 2008)
From my window, I can see an alley that cuts between two buildings. The building on the left is an apartment building with stores and restaurants on the ground level. The building on the right seems to be some kind of commercial space, containing what appears to be some high tech companies, and at least one design studio where I have seen young Project Runway types chatting and cutting from bolts of fabric late at night.

Watching the alleyway is a never ending source of entertainment. Which is not to say that I spend my time glued to my window, but from time to time, as I go about my life, I catch amusing and sometimes poignant glimpses of the lives of other people.

For example, every night, if I happen to be in my apartment around 8 pm, I watch one of the employees of the sushi place, still wearing the little white hat and apron, get INTO the dumpster behind the restaurant, so as to be better able to compact the trash by jumping up and down on it. For about five minutes, he jumps on the trash as though he’s ten years old and it’s some kind of stinky, fishy bed.

Later in the week, I happen to see a young man park his car next behind the apartment building. It’s about 11 p.m., and he is clearly heading out to one of the local clubs down the street. He looks left, looks right, doesn’t see anyone, and heads to the front of his car to relieve himself against the apartment wall. He doesn’t think that anyone can see him. But I see him.

And this morning, as I am making a cup of chai tea and bowl of oatmeal, I watch as a little old man, wheeling a small suitcase, stops at the dumpsters, keenly interested in the clothing and…tablecloths (?) that have been tossed into the trash. He spends a long time looking at a large white tablecloth before putting it into his suitcase. He doesn’t look homeless, it seems as though he is heading towards the market on Spadina, and just happened upon a different kind of stall. One where all of the items are free, and there is no need to haggle.

He sees a little old lady approaching, and he rushes to move away from the dumpsters, walking and wheeling as fast as his little legs will carry him. She is wearing a pale blue coat, and is heading towards the dumpsters. Did he get to the dumpster first? Are these urban dwelling people somehow related to those suburban, garage sale hopping seniors who try to one-up each other by arriving first to the big sale?

I watch for a while as the woman holds up pants, clearly trying to determine the size. My kettle is ready. I make tea, stir oatmeal, tend to the washing machine. By the time I return to the window, she too is leaving the dumpster, with a bag full of items. “What a score”, she must be thinking to herself, in whatever kind of vernacular she employs.

Tonight the city is supposedly becoming “one big art gallery”, courtesy of City Hall and Scotiabank’s pocketbooks. If only they knew about the alley that I can see from my window.