Monday, April 30, 2012

Of Wyrms and Women pt 24

[part 1] [part 2] [part 3][part 4][part 5][part 6][part 7][part 8][part 9][part 10][part 11][part 12][part 13][part 14][part 15][part 16][part 17][part 18][part 19][part 20][part 21][part 22][part 23]

Tia and I have been drinking. She’s sprawled out on my couch; I’m sitting on a chair I carried the two steps from the kitchen to my living room. Her phone rang and she pulled it out of her pocket. She checked the front and flipped it open. I keep drinking, but I stop pretending not to listen once she starts talking about men.

“I had a boyfriend once tell me he liked that I didn't wear makeup, but then he tells me that I should get better products to wash my face because I have too many zits. This guy also thought that tight jeans on women were false advertising. He wants girls to be naturally pretty, otherwise they’re cheating.

“False advertising, he called it. Something along the lines of ‘Some girls use jeans to pretend they have great asses, but once the jeans come off the butt sags and droops.’

“This guy also had ideas about how proper women should deal with menstruation, but that's a different story.

“Really, it’s not that interesting.

“Well, okay. This jackass told me, very seriously, that women should only ever use disposable pads, which need to be changed every four hours. He suggested setting a timer, and carrying it around! Tampons, he said, leave fibres that make the inside of the vagina feel rough to his penis. He felt that tampons should be banned completely. He also thinks that a woman's tits are largest during her period, so that she is more likely to want a baby to suckle them, so it is unwise to play with boobs while a woman is menstruating.

“I guess because it will make her crazy for babies?

“He thought he was very empathetic and understood exactly how to be a woman. He delivered this lecture to me after he heard me bitching about cramps.

“Oh, and cramps can be treated with ginger tea, according to his wisdom. But don't take pills, because advil will pollute the body and make a woman unable to stand pain. Cramps are preparation for childbirth.

“How would a woman know what to do with her body without a man to tell her? I wonder what he thought I did before I met him . . . bled all over the floor, maybe.

“I know. Me too, but I didn't want to contradict him. Why bother?

“Hah! He also had opinions on women shaving: they shouldn't, anywhere, unless they are really hairy, in which case they should trim to respectable lengths.

“He had delicate sensibilities, I think.

“Yeah, just like that, in the general patriarch dictator sort-of way.
I get up and go to the bathroom. When I return, Tia is done on the phone. She apologizes for being rude, but I wave it off. We sit and drink quietly.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Of Wyrms and Women pt 23

[part 1] [part 2] [part 3][part 4][part 5][part 6][part 7][part 8][part 9][part 10][part 11][part 12][part 13][part 14][part 15][part 16][part 17][part 18][part 19][part 20][part 21][part 22]

How no one died, I can’t guess. A five-alarm fire, and as far as I can tell, no one was even injured. On the television, images of the firefighters alternate with depictions of the wrecked buildings, black and crumbling. There is a radius around the disaster zone where the heat melted the snow and ice. Further away, where the heat had less of an effect, a layer of soot blankets the snow. The firefighters, in their big yellow coats, poke through the remains, making sure no spark is left to reignite.  I would have thought the snow would have been some protection for the buildings; a natural sprinkler system activated once the roofs caved in. But the snow evaporated too quickly, and the cold froze water in the pipes before it could reach the blaze. Somehow, everyone got out in time.
When I mention to Tia that it’s like some kind of miracle, she gives me a look. She begins to talk about people losing their homes, their livelihoods. She tells me that the apartments there were large but fairly affordable—good for families.

“Can’t they rebuild?” I ask.

“Eventually. But where are they going to live until then?”

I hadn’t thought of that. Tia sees deeper into the situation than I do. There’s a kind of double-loss that happened last night. Some people lost their homes. Some people lost their buildings, their merchandise, their incomes. It occurs to me that insurance will help a number of these victims to re-establish themselves, but Tia probably has a rejoinder to that as well. I don’t bother bringing it up.

The Lair is busy, which is rare at this hour, between the morning rush and lunchtime. I’m not in my usual spot. Instead, I’m sitting on a chair in a corner. I’ve been planted here since I showed up after work to find Tia standing outside offering coffee to the few passersby. Now, there’s a bustle that I’m not used to; a number of regulars have shown up to talk about what has happened, and to see if there’s any way to mobilize. These people are combative. They protest wars, and write letters raging against injustice. Now they’re ineffectually noisy. Who can you take to task over a fire? It seems that there’s little to do except blow smoke. Tia’s comforting some patrons, calming others. She seems to sense the state of everyone’s nerves: shaken and scared, or helpless and angry. It’s like the insecurities of the city have gathered under one roof, and Tia has taken it upon herself to ease the pain. She’s been pouring coffee, and not taking payment. Instead there’s a jar collecting cash for the victims. An offering. There’s a woman on the TV explaining that she fled her home in her pyjamas, and a stranger gave her the thick brown jacket she’s now wearing. She has a sister she can stay with in Hamilton, although she can’t articulate why she hasn’t left yet. She’s waiting to see what happens, even though there hasn’t really been anything to see for the past few hours.

Tia shakes me awake. She tells me to go home, I’m getting in the way. So I go.

I wish I were exhausted, that I could fall right into sleep. Instead, I toss and turn. I get up and open the window. A blast of frigid air strikes my face. I breathe it in, imagining frost patterns forming along the walls of my lungs. Leaving the window open, I get back into bed. This time, I fall asleep. A child that would look like me if I had a big toothless grin, rides a bike in the summertime. Her curls an anemone. Then suddenly she is gone, and a TV reporter explains that although no one has died, it will take some time to rebuild.