Sunday, 18 January 2009

My Excuse is... and writer's block. I've not had the muse singing in my ear for this blog quite some time. One day I will get back to this. I do have ever so many stories about both boys and cars. My plan is to finish what I've begun here and someday I will. Until that time, I will continue just being me on 'H in London'. When I post a new entry here I will announce it there.

Thank you for understanding.

Friday, 18 July 2008

Cars: Part 2

I was a teenage smoker. I began at the age of 15 and finally quit for good when I was 28. Well ok, I will occasionally light them for people now, but I never smoke a whole one. All my friends smoked, and we were constantly finding excuses to sneak off to feed our addiction. Ironically, I was also a singer of sorts. I sang in choir, jazz choir, and madrigals at school in addition to church choir and was in a smattering of musicals as well. Thus, I took advantage of the autonomy rehearsals gave me away from my family to sneak the occasional ‘cancer stick’ as we called them. Once I had my driver's license, my parents were only too happy to lend me the car in lieu of driving me to rehearsals. The combination of my adolescent addiction to nicotine and my car curse was a recipe for disaster.

My first mishap due to this combination was relatively minor. I lied to my parents and told them that I had offered to help set up before a concert so that I could have the car and leave earlier. I had a solo in this concert, and my parents had every intention of attending but would come later. I was involved in so many groups at that time that my parents had to choose the more important concerts to attend so as not to neglect my brother’s sports. A concert where I had a solo, therefore, was a must see for them.

Instead of going to set up, I picked up my friend, Paul, and we went to a park to smoke. I figured that I had just enough time to have a quick cig with him and then make it just in time for the warm up. Now, Paul had this really bad habit of not locking the door when he got out of the car. I was constantly nagging him about it every time he would forget. That mild Spring eve was the one time he didn’t forget. As I heard the passenger-side door of my parent’s 2-door orange Buick Skylark shut, I turned in horror and yelped, “Wait!” He looked at me confused. “Did you lock the door?” I asked dreading the answer.

“Of course, you’re always bugging me to do that, so this time I finally did.”

“Shit,” I whispered under my breath and pressed my forehead against the driver-side window. There were the keys still in the ignition and both doors of the car were now locked.

First, we flagged down a police car. He said there was nothing he could do and told us to go call a locksmith. So, we went up to the nearest house, which ended up being a group home for mentally ill adults. We stood in the foyer receiving curious glances from several of the residents while one of the caretakers got the phone book. Upon seeing the phone book one resident went into a rant as we watched wide-eyed. The care-taker said something like, 'Chill out, Charlie," and Charlie went quiet but retreated to the living room muttering under his breath. A locksmith was called and arrived forty-five very long minutes later. He was able to break into the car without doing any damage, aside from the fifty dollars Paul had to pay him. I sped off to the concert, which was well under way at this point.

I snuck in the side door and said a prayer for my parents to be sitting in the balcony as I practically crawled down the aisle to where our choir was seated. The group before ours was on and our director, Mr. Birtsch, kept looking nervously around the audience. I caught his eye and mouthed, “I’m so sorry.” Our group went on, and I sang perfectly. After the concert ended, I explained to Mr. Birtsch what I had done. Then I turned to receive congratulation hugs from my parents, who had come down from the balcony where they had been seated, thank God, and were standing right behind me. Fortunately, they hadn't heard my explanation to Mr. Birtsch. I did my best to distract them and keep them away from Mr. Birtsch. I was unsuccessful, however. My father reached out to shake our director's hand and congratulated him on a fine concert, but before Mr. Birtsch could say anything about my tardiness another choir member interrupted with a question about the music stands from the orchestra and my parents bid goodbye to me and left. When both my parents and Mr. Birtsch were finally out of earshot, a friend of mine told me I stank of cigarettes.

Since I had been able to escape the disastrous consequences from my first fib about setting up before a concert, I figured there was no harm in trying it again. This time, however, my lie was that I was going to help take down the bleachers after the concert. I was not. I was off to meet my friends at Yesterdog, a unique hotdog establishment in Grand Rapids and a favourite hang out place for my teenage smoking friends and myself. Its hotdogs are famous. As a vegetarian I was a big fan of the Veggie Dog, which they still have. My parents, not being able to attend the concert and trusting me implicitly, had lent me their brand new car. It was a luxury sedan of some sort, but I’m ashamed to say that I’ve forgotten its make. I do, however, remember it being a sweet ride. At the time of my choral concert, we had owned it about 3 days.

So, I drove to Yesterdog. My friends Scott and Brenda had gone on ahead of me and were standing on the side of the road in front of the restaurant (smoking) as I approached. I indicated and slowed down to turn when—BAM. I was jolted forward suddenly by the car that had just rear-ended me. The entire back bumper of the car was dented and barely attached to the car. The driver got out and accused me of backing into him!!!???? My friends, as I mentioned earlier, were there and witnessed the entire thing. They watched as I followed the offending car into the car park…er I mean parking lot, so we could exchange details. Then as I parked my parents’ new and now and damaged automobile, they continued to watch in amazement as the car that had just hit me simply drove off.

In the end the fact that it was a hit and run worked in my favour. My father didn’t have to pay the deductible on getting the bumper replaced since it was classified as a hit-and-run. I, however, was not allowed to borrow either of my parents’ cars for a month and was told off for lying. Not that I didn't lie again in the future, however.

Monday, 30 June 2008

Boys: Jeff

My first real kiss with tongue, know more popularly as frenching, songging or sucking face, was when I was 14. Until then I had only received and given the innocent peck on the lips. In fact my mother was an instigator of many of those innocent pecks when I was 8. She insisted that I play with and subsequently kiss every classmate of mine who had the chickenpox. Despite my mother's attempts to get me ill early on, I didn't actually get the chickenpox until I was 26, but I digress.

For the sake of their sanity, my parents sent my brother and me to separate camps every summer. My parents also laboured under the delusion that I was some type of musical talent. Thus, I was carted off to music camp when I was 14. This was the first time that the summer camp I was attending wasn't run by the Girl Scouts. There would be boys! I was quite excited. Fantasies of my first kiss from a hunky, young, and musically talented man filled my head as I packed.

When I got to camp, I was hit with the reality of adolescent boys and music camps. There were about 75 kids at this camp and only 20 of them were male. I spent the next few days giving my piano, flute and vocal lessons 85% of my attention but a boy named Jeff took up the other 15%. He had decided that out of the other 55 girls at this camp, I was the one he would go after. I was flattered that his attentions turned my way. He was cute too. We sat together at every meal and secretly held hands at every opportunity. There was one problem. Jeff was about 5 inches shorter than I was, but since I had reached 5'7" by the age of 12 there weren't many 14-year-old boys who reached my height much less surpassed it. However, I was utterly repulsed by the thought of my bending over to receive my first kiss. Even while sitting next to him he was shorter than I was. This bothered me more than the giggling and teasing remarks made by other girls, who I decided were jealous that I had landed one of the few boys at camp. He may have been short, but he was cute.

I befriend a girl named Jan, who was from the same town Jeff was. She told me that I would not be his first kiss and assured me that he knew what he was doing. I told her oh my trepidation of kissing someone so much shorter than I was, but she just laughed. "He's used to being shorter than the girls he dates. Don't worry about it." Somehow that didn't make me feel any better. In fact it had quite the opposite effect.

The last days at camp were upon us and I had still not received a proper kiss from my 'boyfriend.' This wasn't for his lack of trying. I dodged every move he tried to make to avoid leaning over. At one point I was saved by biting horse flies, probably the one and only time I would have preferred to have gotten bitten by a horsefly than kissed a boy.

Finally, the last day was upon us. Our parents would be coming to see us perform and then we would be going home. I was a bit saddened that hand-holding was as far as it was going to go with this young man, but I was relieved that I didn't have to suffer the humiliation of bending over. After lunch Jeff grabbed my hand and said, "Follow me," and pulled me off into the woods. He had obviously planned this and took me directly to a spot that was hidden and beside the little creek, which ran through the camp. We sat down. "Isn't this nice?" He asked. I was getting more and more nervous and not certain of what to say, so I just nodded. I could feel my heart thumping inside my chest and was certain that he had to hear it as well. "Here, lie back," he said and as I started to do so he leaned over me, grabbed the back of my hair, and kissed me.

I didn't know quite what to do. Here I was lying on some sticks with this boy on top of me, his tongue darting in and out of my mouth rapidly. In fact I instantly envisioned a little lizard or turtle's head poking in and out. I wanted to bite it. My eyes were wide open and I realised that they should be shut. Jeff had his eyes shut. I closed them. His hand was rubbing my side up and down almost with the same rhythm that his tongue was going in and out of my mouth. Then suddenly, without warning, he stopped. "There!" he said as if he had completed a chore he was glad to be done with, and he sat up.

We walked back hand-in-hand and my head was spinning. Was that as good as it would get? This was an experienced kisser after all and I was but a virgin kisser. Should I have done something differently? Was I meant to dart my tongue in and out of his mouth as well? Wouldn't our tongues have become tangled if we did that? Was there a possibility of gagging on each other's tongues? All of these thoughts and questions were running around my head as we approached our friends. Jeff high-fived another boy and I sat next to Jan. "Well," she asked, "how was it?"

"Interesting," I heard myself say.

Later, at the concert for our parents I had a solo. I stood in front of the audience of campers and their families and sang, "Time in a Bottle" while looking at Jeff the entire time. My voice cracked not because I was filled with emotion, but because I thought I should be and wasn't. We then said our good-byes and went to our homes. Some letters were exchanged, but I never saw or spoke to Jeff again. I did, however, make certain to practice my kissing technique on a pillow so I would be better prepared for next time.

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Cars: Part 1

I don’t own a car, and that’s a good thing. If I were the princess in some fairytale where an evil witch were to put a spell upon me, my curse would not be to fall in an endless sleep or to be locked in a tower guarded by some dragon. No, instead my curse would be an eternity of bad luck surrounding automobiles.

The curse took hold when I was 11 and in the Sixth Grade. It was my first year of East Grand Rapids Middle School, and I had to walk a mile to school (uphill both ways in the snow). The year previous I had been a safety captain at my elementary school. This meant that I did the schedule for and checked on all the other Fifth Grade safeties (crossing guards). It was quite the prestigious position for a 10 year-old. I had to be nominated by my teacher and demonstrate that I had a complete comprehension of traffic safety rules, a comprehension that evaporated the second I started Middle School.

I would go meet my friend Christina, who lived across busy Breton Road, and we would walk to school together. Christina would wait by her front window for me and once she saw me about to cross Breton, she would go get a banana for us to split on our way to school. Then, I would dash out into the street knowing that I had timed sprint perfectly across so that the approaching car would just miss me. Now, keep in mind that I liked to live dangerously at the age of 11, which may explain my stupidity when it came to crossing Breton Road. I did things like climb trees to the very top where the branches were the thinnest and get pulled by a bicycle while on my skateboard or my roller skates, letting go just in time to careen down the steep hill of Pinecrest at about 20 miles an hour. My knees still bear the scars from injuries of these childhood exploits and my foot still bears the scar of my first run-in with a car.

I knew my timing would be perfect as bolted into the street that cold November morning; however, what I didn’t count on was the car turning right onto Breton Road. Suddenly, I was knocked to the ground. The front tire of the vehicle stopped just at my foot, and my tennis shoe came off. To this day I can see it flipping down the street in slow motion, and I remember thinking that I was lucky the car hadn’t run over my foot. Frankly, I was lucky that aside from a cut on my foot I wasn’t hurt at all.

The driver and the passengers of the car instantly surrounded my while I started to cry and blubber apologies. The people helped me into their car, and one of them ran to a house to call an ambulance. It was at this point that Christina left her house to meet me. Having not seen me get hit by the car, she was convinced that I was getting kidnapped and began screaming for her mother.

Eventually all misunderstandings were sorted and the ambulance arrived. I was thoroughly checked for signs of concussion or internal bleeding, and then I was granted the wish of almost every child under the age of 12. I got to ride to school in an ambulance, going top speed, lights going and sirens blaring. Despite the speed, I knew I was still going to miss the first bell, but I had a helluva good excuse. When we arrived at school, I looked up and saw the faces of my entire homeroom plastered to the window staring down at me. I smiled and waved.

The curse went into remission for four years and didn’t show its ugly head again until I had my driver’s license.