The very definition of….something….porcine?

Have you ever lived inside a moho in the winter?  In unceasing rain?  On someone’s lawn?  Have you ever lived with an invalid who really cannot move more than a few hundred feet?  Who needs attending to?  Have you ever had to be a care-giver when your more natural inclination is to just punch people in the face?  Well, have ya, punk?

(OK, there is a dark side to care-giving.  Who knew?)

I am NOT yet fully stir-crazy – not really – but I am shaken.  That thin remaining thread of my civility is only because my cell mate is Sal, the loveliest person to have ever walked the planet.  I have NOT punched her in the face.  Not yet.  I might have punched Mother Teresa by now, but not Sal.  I have not even thought of punching Sal in the face (not yet, honest)….but, I must admit…I have often thought of punching the very NEXT person I meet in the face.  That has to say something…..

….it means the staff of Save-On Foods better watch out.

This care-giving thing is….well, a bit of a challenge for me.  Mostly because of the ^%$!#$&*! dishes!  Sal is easier to give care to than anyone else but I am now getting ‘cooked’.  I may even be verging on ‘burnt crisp’.  Care?  “I don’ stinkin’ care, amigo!” I am now fully capable of putting kids in cages.  ICE should hire me.  If ‘they need care’, I say. “Lock ’em up!”  “Build the wall!”

Being a care-giver is NOT what it sounds like.  It is NOT about care.  It is, in truth,  being a servant!  It is ‘complete subordination’ to the eccentric whims of the invalid whether or not those whims are important or even necessary.  “I need to quilt” means, take her to the fabric shop and help her buy fabric for quiltsAND then participate in the choosing of fabrics!!!  “Be nice!  Smile!”  Care has been replaced by subservience.  I am now just a ‘servant’, a ‘domestic’, a ‘toady’.  I am a hand-maid.

Someone should write a book…..

I am not sure.  I am afraid to look.  But I think my dick fell off.  

Sal is worth it.  OF COURSE.  She is great.  Really great.  I mean that totally.  Sincerely.  I love her dearly.   Honest.   And I am revealed as just another face-punching pig.  Oink!  I should be ashamed.  And……..I am……….kinda……..but, you know…the species didn’t grow to dominate the planet by being care-givers now, did it?  Right now I am feeling more of a bond with Ghengis Khan.  Even Stalin.  Florence Nightingale?  Not so much.

I had no idea my veneer of ‘nice guy’ was so thin.  (Well, actually, maybe I did.)

Sal is healing.  It is wonderful.  She is healing faster than the doctors expected.  She is remarkable.  A marvel.  Truly.  She seems to get more motivated by the day.  Wants to go home.  Doesn’t want me out in public (how considerate).  I wonder what her  exceptionally high level of motivation for ‘getting us out of here’ might be….?

 

 

 

 

Purging the deep state…and recruiting the swamp

……In the 70’s I worked at the Alcohol and Drug Commission.  My task was to establish treatment clinics around the province.  Of all treatments for addiction, the 12-step AA approach and models based on that are the most successful and Detox units are a very valuable adjunct.  If you read those last two sentences, you might be inclined to think that the Commission was focusing only on alcoholism but that is not so.  The treatment centres were intended to handle the addicted afflicted by whatever was their drug-of-choice.  Basically, the therapeutic community model is the one we were promoting.

But the conservative-bent Socred party would have none of it.  They didn’t think any treatment fashioned on AA was needed.  They hated the idea of a ‘community’ of addicts.  They did not think alcohol was a problem, anyway.  They wanted to ‘go after’ heroin addicts exclusively.  And, when they got in power, they installed an ex-police officer at the head of the Commission and his instructions were, ‘Kill the AA-based programs.  Develop treatment programs for addicts in prison.  Then arrest them, force them into treatment and that will solve the problem.  Oh, and while you are at it, get rid of all those liberal do-gooders that are currently employed by the Commission’.

Our new big chief decided to ‘purge’ the ranks of the staff by restricting their work to virtually nothing.  We were told to be on time (or be reprimanded on record) and take our breaks and lunch precisely as told (or be on record) and leave but not a second before quitting time (or be on record).  Anyone staying late would also be reprimanded (on the record).  The writing was clear: they would document us in every way they could and use that documentation to fire us.  And they would push us by not letting us DO anything.  The perceived deep state (they thought anyone who didn’t believe as they did were NDP) was to become moribund and hog-tied so that they quit or could be fired.

I was a bit young to understand all that petty nonsense.  I just tried to do my job.  But, I was reprimanded a few times and I started to see the picture.  In fact, I was so young and so ‘keen’ to do a good job, the new approach made me angry.  One day, I walked into the ‘big cheese’s’ office and started to explain why some things needed doing.  He almost taunted me.

Well, he did taunt me.  And, all taunted up, I began to raise my voice, make strong statements and accused the cheese of destroying the Commissions’ credibility.  After a few minutes of talking futility to an idiot, I was pretty annoyed and finally concluded with, “And I quit!”

His face instantly broke into a smirk.  He had what he wanted.  If I quit, he didn’t have to fire me by some sort of long drawn out, documented way.  He was gloating…until….I added,

“Effective six months from now!”

Annoyed, he said, “Well, having an employee around that is clearly leaving is not good for morale so I will issue you severance for six months if you leave at the end of today.”

I took it.

And that is how ‘purging the deep state’ works.  Firing people from government is NOT easy.  One’s file has to be pretty thick with petty infractions to even come before a review board.  Managers dread firing people because the process requires them to ‘document’ for a long, long time and gather a lot of information interspersed with all sorts of efforts on their part to ‘help the delinquent staff’.  Firing is hard, boring work.

Trump is currently purging the ‘deep state’ from the veritable army of bureaucrats in the US civil service.  There is NO deep state.  There is a lot of dead wood but they are not the target.  The target is those who ‘identify’ as Democrats.  The target is those who have any semblance of influence (mid managers and up).  The target is, essentially, anyone who is NOT a Yes-man to Trump or his appointees.  Trump thinks they are NOT loyal and are thus resistant deep-staters.

And they are very likely NOT loyal.  In fact, the good ones feel a loyalty to their oath and their job and make a point of being apolitical.  The good ones feel a duty to their country, not necessarily whatever narcissist is in power.  In that sense, ‘deep’ means non-partisan, law-abiding, do-gooders.

Trump would have you believe that there is a secret association of ‘deep’ seated/situated bureaucratic power-brokers resisting him.  There is NOT.  But there is very likely a large group of neutral bureaucrats struggling to keep the values and ethics they came in with when they were hired.  They are trying to keep their oath.

If those people get purged, then the ‘loyalists’ and their appointees will infiltrate the bureaucracy just as Trump has done already with the Supreme Court.  Purging the deep state means corrupting the bureaucracy and rewarding the swamp creatures.  To Trump, purging the deep state means frequently firing and replacing the staff.

Is there any doubt about that?

Coronavirus…..

…the disease de jour.

As you know, I poo-poohed the coronavirus somewhat a blog or two ago.  Still do, actually.  Altho Italy and Iran have just had some dramatic events that shook my cynicism.  Iran’s Deputy Health Minister just got it!  So, I am thinking it all over again.

And, worse than just being deeply cynical, I have actually been WRONG on a few occasions….OK, MANY occasions….but usually my stupidity has caused no one any harm.  This maybe-a-mistake by me might be a problem.

The point: I have to re-think.  I could be wrong.   In a more circumspect approach, I have decided to re-look at Coronavirus and adjust my views accordingly.

Approximately 77,000 affected.  Approximately 3000 deaths.  NOT abnormal.

BUT….still it is growing……BUT, still it is NOT growing as fast…..BUT….it is growing quite fast in places less prepared than others.  Canada has been prepared somewhat better than say, Italy or Iran or even the Great-Again USA.  Hmmmmm…..what does all that mean?  I dunno…..I am not a doctor specializing in virus epidemics…..still….facts and formal education have never influenced my opinion…. so I am writing this blog to express what I think.

I THINK WE HAVE JUST NOTCHED UP TO DEFCON FOUR!

…..but what do they say?  WHO.  CDC.  You know?  The ‘experts’ who are supposed to direct us, save us, save the world…you know…THEM?

Almost every ‘expert’ says, “Don’t panic!”  Almost every expert also says, “This panic is mostly social media driven.”  Almost every China-watcher says, “It may be mostly social media driven but the official media has been lying so social media is maybe more honest. Maybe….PANIC?”

Once again: the experts are mostly useless.

So, let’s back up a bit.  We know it is a flu-like virus.  We know that flus tend to come and go and are, weirdly, seasonal.  We know that this one is not yet any more lethal than normal flu or maybe just a bit worse than normal flu.  So, what do we really know?

We know that the global economy means that virtually any communicable disease cannot be contained unless it originates in a poor country where the citizenry doesn’t travel very much.  Congolese do not compete with the Germans, Swiss or Aussies in globe-trotting.  Ergo, Ebola-in-Congo was kept more contained.  It was, at first, just a horrific local disease.  Then, with ‘complications’, it came out and hit a broader region but still, thank God, it was kept to within a few countries around the DRC (Congo).

But…Ebola in Chicago?  Traveling by way of O’Hare?  That would make the Bubonic Plague look like the sniffles.

So plague is somewhat/very much restricted by conveyance.  If you are ill and travel by donkey, then you infect fewer than if you travel by 737.  China?  Somewhere in between.  In between is NOT good.  Hard to measure.  Hard to envision.  Impossible to control. Experts know even less.

THEN we have China….the land of secrets, home of the inscrutable, a society that thinks from the top down.  They are a government of liars, with a media controlled by government.  Net result: no one knows diddly squat. 

So, where does that leave us?  To be honest, if I was 21 and healthy, I’d volunteer to help others.  If I got the disease, I’d be sick, wonder about my sanity and very likely fight it off, get healthy and then have immunity.  Mission accomplished.

But I am not 21.  And every cold, flu, infection, infestation, malaise and illness that even flies over the local school – which I never go to – will eventually get to me.  Flu is literally the six degrees of separation theory proven out time and time again.  One kid gets sick in Malaysia and six months later, I am eventually laid low.  We are all at risk!

But what are we at risk of?  If it is just the flu, even a bad one, bring it on.  I’ll prevail.  I am old but still healthy.  I am afraid but not overly so.  But, if it is a mutating, changing, alternating form of disease that we can’t seem to get under control, then we have a problem.  We have a big problem.  And living OTG will NOT be the answer.

Let us hope that my cynicism is well placed.

 

 

 

I like it when the blog topic……

….slips into the background and the comment topics take over.  Comments are where the conversation REALLY starts.

Yesterday I wrote about my vague feeling of being duped by ‘the news-of-the-day’ (Coronavirus) when, in fact, I should remain focused on the biggest topic of the past three years (Mafia takeover of the White House).  But that’s just me wondering about me….

People wrote in and the topic morphed to greed and avarice and morality and all that….

Of course, I cannot write about Trump and other diseases all the time.  I am inclined to, I admit, but real life, Off the Grid life, real adventures and the extraordinary derring-do of the Mighty Sal is what the blog title above promises and I really should stick to that the majority of the time.

But I am in a parked moho right now……sitting like a giant lawn ornament on my friend’s front yard….not much in the way of OTG to actually write about.  I am not even really moho-ing.  I am parked!  So, let us today strike a compromise topic: foreign travel.

As readers know, I love living OTG and I will never ‘go back’ to so-called civilization which I now perceive as ‘incarceration-with-more-space’, enslavement but with benefits.  I truly see ‘modern life’ as having most of the real choices taken out.  It seems you are programmed, managed, ruled, taxed, penalized and bored-out-of-your-gourd for at least your typical forty working years – even longer for some folks lately.  (OK, it wasn’t that bad but you get my point)

I honestly believe that even those who love their profession, do not love all that goes with it.  I think we self-restrict with debt and obligations.  I think we believe the First World is the best (and so we don’t have to think what to do, we just follow the herd) and, it is not the best – not for the health and happiness of the majority and definitely not for most of the time.  I truly think that urban life and the money-chase is simply a choice amongst many lifestyles but most people enter that lifestyle unconsciously.  By default.  They are pushed.  And then, over the years feel trapped but don’t know why.

The answer is: you had choices but did not know what they were* so you went with the default position, the office, the cul-de-sac and the dysfunctional family. You joined the herd.

*And you did not know your choices because the TV fed you the system, your school taught you the system, the community ‘sold’ you the system, your country brainwashed the system into you and any free thinking out.  Your peers get cars and girlfriends.  So…you want one.  For many people, a taste of free-thinking came only from a foreign travel adventure and most people do not travel.   

The good news?  Your choices as you age are less but there are still some and that brings us to the topic of travel.  Over 9 million Americans are living as ex-pats.  And more and more are looking into it.  This year alone (maybe it was last year) the number of applications for US passports jumped a record 50%.  People ARE getting out!  Or, at least ‘looking to get out’.

To be fair, 9M is not a huge dent in a 350M population.  A little under 3%.  But, that is 9M who are already officially relocated.  And, really?  That number is easily twice more than that because a huge number simply live overseas for the length of their vacation visa.  Or ‘temporary resident permit’ or whatever.  Many ‘Mericans call Canada their second home without actually committing to residence or landed immigrant status.

Why did/do they leave?

With Trump touting ‘the greatest economy’ (which is so much a lie) and the US long and universally perceived as the land of milk and honey, why would anyone leave?  The reasons are as you would expect…..mostly.  But reason #1 is (surprisingly) l-o-v-e.  Seems people fall in love with a foreigner and then the couple stays in one country or the other.  Nine million of those romantics choose to live in the ‘other’ place.

I forget the ‘countries of choice’ but some were surprising.  Nigeria is right up there but that is likely due to younger Americans working in the oil fields.  Ecuador and Panama and Costa Rica are right up there amongst recent retirees and, of course, Mexico is high on the list from longer-established retirees.  And, so it goes.  The reasons those people give for leaving are what you’d expect.  It’s always cheaper.  Health Care is always WAY cheaper.  People are friendlier, the pace is slower, the wine/cafes/housing are better.  And, naturally enough, there is a percentage of US quasi-political refugees and Canada, Europe, New Zealand seem to get many of them.  So does Mexico, still.

Trump is the likely reason for the 50% record increase in passport applications, tho.  That seems to be what was being said by ex-pat comments.  Still, GW Bush generated more than a few evacuees.  My guess is that, if Bernie gets elected, a lot of rich Republicans will be spending more time out of the country.

Would I leave Canada and OTG?  Abso-bloody-lutely!  But only in January, February and maybe a few weeks tacked on either end.  I have definite snow-bird tendencies.  Well, ‘flightless’ snow-bird tendencies…..(yes, I know that the Dodo was flightless). So, I have been looking.

Panama seems appealing but is getting more expensive (like Costa Rica).  Uruguay is pretty good as far as being inexpensive, rustic, healthy and safe but that is relatively recent, I suspect.  Chile has been a stable, modern and still an inexpensive country for a very long time.  And I have an attraction for Argentina.  For me, the most attractive option would be to go to Santiago, Chile and then travel across the Andes to Mendoza, Argentina.  And I can get to Chile by boat! I can motor-bike (a la Che) from Santiago to Mendoza in six hours!

“Dave!  You and Sal going to Chile?”

I dunno.  Like all our adventures, I have to talk it up.  Lots.  I’ve just started.  And, if I have talked myself hoarse over a long enough period of time to have made a dent in her general interest, she may deign to say, “Hmmm…you been nattering on about Chile for awhile…..waddya got?”

That is when it all really starts.

Intuition or cold-heart?

A lot of folks suffered from the Coronavirus and I watched and listened.  I was even interested.  Very interested, in fact.  Pandemics are fascinating.

Kinda distracting, too, when you think about it.

I hate to admit it, but I didn’t really care all that much about the actual people.  I cared.  Of course I cared.  But not THAT much.  I cared more about Coronavirus victims than I do about Harry and Megan and their Windsor-family troubles, for instance.  But less than I care about people with cancer.  Way less than I care about kids with cancer.

Recently, I found that I cared a lot more about seniors having knee replacements….staying focused is NOT my strong suit.  Like most people, distraction works on me.  And, like most people, distraction is working FOR someone else, too.  Slight of hand – the ultimate con.

And I was distracted.  I was being fed more ‘fear’.  Pandemics!  YIKES!

But, you know…flu kills…some flus kill more, some less…blah, blah, blah….I know that is NOT a very nice thing to say.  But, you know how it is….a guy feels what he feels and he doesn’t feel what he doesn’t feel.  I really didn’t FEEL the fear.  I watched it but I was not all that empathetic.  Shoulda. Coulda.  Wasn’t.

“Why?”

Perspective, maybe. News cycle, probably.  Thick skin, perhaps?   Thirty to 40,000 people die every year in car accidents in North America alone.  Worldwide, 50,000 die from normal flu!  I’ll bet the number of gang shootings and deaths is close to that. Some tragedies are written into the annals of human existence no matter what.  Flu?  A natural event, force majeure.

The news cycle?  News is entertainment.  It sells.  It’s a business.  It can be true.  It can be false.  It is always ‘packaged’ for consumption.  And it is built on ‘making up a story’ whether there really is one or not.  

Thick skin? Like scar tissue, thick skin helps you NOT to feel every story intimately.  It’s a defense mechanism and it biases your thinking.

Perspective: it is a callous-but-learned view but it is kinda how I feel after 72 years of media exposure.

But could it be more than that?  Was I feeling something more?  Was that my intuition whispering…something?

The three influences together? …..the makings of a mark.

The horrors of the war in Syria are being revisited in the region.  THAT is purely man’s inhumanity to man.  Syria is just plain ugly, stupid politics.  But I was distracted from it for a bit… The ‘West’ checked out of Syria (Trump) and now the evil (Turkey/Russia) rises there again…(funny how that topic just slipped off the radar just as the invasion was underway)

Coronavirus doesn’t FEEL evil, it just feels like ‘a natural disaster’ like a volcano or an earthquake.  The natural world.  But Syria feels evil.  Especially since it was the direct result of a Putin/Trump collusion.

I dunno….I’m just tellin’ it like it is for me.  And wondering if I am a cold-hearted bastard or maybe I have just been fooled by yet another political slight of hand?  And here is the part that makes me wonder about my own soul: I still feel more about the evil that is Trump than I do about Coronavirus.  How sick is that?

Stay with me, here…no more about Trump…..(well, there is a bonus at the end)…

Yet another example of a distraction (CBC style): some poor old 96 year old was ‘screwed over’ by Air Canada and the Canadian government when he tried to return ‘home’ from a funeral he attended in Jamaica.  Now THAT really ticked me off.  I was actually feeling more outrage over that!  I was ready to get off on yet another tangent. “I do not care what safety-crap-babble they say to justify that, a 96 year old man is no threat.  Rant, rant, rant!”

Hell, that story made me madder than Syria*.

AAAaaaaannnnnddddddd I was distracted again……!!!!!

Crazy mental exercise undertook: what mentally/emotionally/physically disturbs you the most?  In Sal’s case the answer would be ‘anytime a person is cruel to an animal’, she is made crazy by that.  I think she could shoot people who hurt puppies and kittens.  Me? Just about everything drives me crazy.  My feelings almost always runneth over.  I am way too easy to fool. Mind you, I am NOT alone.

And that’s why I noticed a diminished ‘feeling’ on Coronavirus. 

So: we cannot ‘care’ about all the wrongs in the world.  We might want to.  We might think we should.  But we don’t – because we do not have the capacity, personally.  We can’t HANDLE IT ALL.  We need to focus.  But – and here’s the point (finally):  Crooks rely on that.  Bad guys rely on that!  Lying, deception, subterfuge, dissembling and even smoke and mirrors are all part of their criminal tool kit.  And THAT is our politics today.

Please do NOT misunderstand me.  Trump did not create Coronavirus.  A bat did.  I know that.  But, OMG, did Coronavirus help his causes or what?  Every ‘distracting story’ helps his cause.  Coronavirus is a REAL story.  I know that.  But I can only grasp so much, handle so much, care about so much and the flu is NOT my biggest issue.  It may come to that.  But it ain’t there yet.

Trump and Putin are here now.  We have to FOCUS on that!! 

I should just care about the environment.  Then Sal.  Then my kids.  Then Tyranny.   But I guess I just relate more easily to an old man in an airport simply trying to go home than I do all the other nonsense.  Not fair.  Not smart!  I am too easily distracted. But the politicians rely on that.  

Or: I could just be a cold-hearted bastard – or I could be just another citizen-dupe?

*this asterisk is a warning: the next few sentences are Trump related.  Trump becomes president.  He makes nice with Russia and Turkey.  Russia had just annexed hugely valued parts of Ukraine and then moved to get involved in Syria.  Turkey moved against the resident Kurds (who were, in the past, American allies living in the region).  Trump pulled out.  Turkey moved in.  Russia moved in, too.  Kurds died.  Russia and Turkey now have more territory. Fewer Kurds.  Trump holds rallies.  Trump golfs.  We in the west were not really paying attention…(the US intelligence community was but well, Trump is dismantling that)….this may not be the most sophisticated plan for tyranny but Trump has our attention elsewhere while Putin rolls on in the background.   

 

 

 

 

Day 15……

….I feel like a quarantined cruise ship passenger-rat.  So does Sal.  We are NOT yet stir crazy but we are moving in that direction.  Sal, of course, is better-tempered and nice to be around still (but still crazy after all these years).  I am getting grumpy…..well, grumpier!  But it is odd what is making me feel this way.

The first thing is the bloody physio regime at the hospital.  I could write books about that insanity but I won’t.  You are spared my lament.  I’ll save that frothy rant for the letter-to-the-Health Authorities (including Dix, the minister) and maybe to the admin at the hospital.  I will enjoy that.  My spleen needeth venting.

But, for the medical record, the surgeon was perfect.  Ab-so-bloody-lutely perfect.  More perfect than Trump’s phone calls.  This guy really did a great job.  I honestly do not think it could possibly be better.  Sal could walk normally, without an aid, for at least twenty steps after ten days.  She can walk maybe 500 with just a cane and she thinks of her walker as ‘just plain silly’.  She is way ahead of schedule.  So that is good and, quite frankly, that should be the message.

But, it is not.  This message is much more OTG than you might think.

It’s about acclimating.  It’s about change in attitude.  It is about style.  Most of all, it is about freedom.

When you move OTG, you are faced with enormous challenges.  Those with gobs of dough who have others build for them deal with the challenges using filthy lucre but the vast majority out here ‘do for themselves’.  And, in the doing, they gain a lot of hard-to-measure satisfaction, knowledge, skill, perspective and a huge appreciation for nature, wilderness, trees, ravens, whales and, most of all, blissful peace and quiet.  All of that is kind-of-to-be-expected.

What isn’t realized at the time is that you are also working and accomplishing to the beat of your own drummer.  You work to your own schedule, your own sense of logic, your own style.  You are actually also gaining freedom.  And you are shedding social constraints.

Where before OTG you had to ‘fit in’ with others (and play nicely), now you don’t.  Now you captain your own ship from getting water to making power, from food sourcing and prep to First Aid.  Very quietly Dave was put back in charge of Dave (OK, Sal is in charge but I think you know what I mean).

Living in town (even for just 15 days) means ‘making appointments’ and waiting on others and relying on others and dealing with others……and, in a small town, that is NOT horrible hell.  At least not at one town-day at a time.  But I am now even more ill-suited to ‘civilization’ and ‘their ways’ than I used to be.  I chafe at waiting for traffic lights, lining up to get past construction sites, lining up to buy crap and all the little ‘impositions of order’ that urban life requires.  I can do it.  But it is getting harder with each day.

Don’t get me wrong.  This is not a complaint so much as an observation that I have lost the veneer that was my previous and somewhat civilized social behaviour.  I am now a little bit wilder.  I now no longer fit.  I am quite clearly way out of my new-found comfort zone OTG and I am uncomfortable with the so-called comforts of the city.  Interestingly, Sal is feeling that, too.  “You’ve poisoned me!”

“How so?”

“Well, now I am impatient at what seems like a sea of common stupidity.  Even I want to scream at people who are NOT doing what they should be doing.  I used to just wait patiently and smile nicely but now I get irritated if the cashier is talking to her friend on the phone while I stand there with the money in hand.  I am annoyed that the nurse on shift has never worked that department before and doesn’t know where anything is or what she is doing.  I was there two days and I knew more!  I might even get belligerent someday if this continues.”

“I doubt that very much.  Tinkerbell unhinged is still a sweetie-pie.  You’ll always be nice.”

“Well, this belle is ready to go home.  Like, NOW!  I want squirrels!

And here is the weirdest thing: I am now somewhat off-put by all restaurant food.  I know, I know…what the hell?  But, you see, at home Sal and I eat what we choose, cook it the way we like and take the amount we think we need.  Restaurants don’t work like that.  Which is fine.  Really.  It is actually somewhat interesting once in a while.  But living in the moho means more ‘take-out’ and ‘prepared foods’.  And, after awhile, it kinda feels and tastes ‘all-processed’.  Yuck!  I ordered a medium-size pizza the other night (usually one of my favourite town-treats) and it came from CR’s best.  Almost unpalatable for us now.  Half was all we could eat.  Two people, HALF a medium pizza and even that was eaten out of duty.  We can no longer tolerate too many restaurant meals.  How did that happen?

OTG has obvious differences from urban life.  Everyone knows that.  And there are pros and cons to both.  But we have actually changed!  The change is deeper, more subtle than I previously knew.  It took two solid weeks of living ‘the life’ to realize that this is no longer good enough for me.  I gotta get out.  I’d like to get out NOW.  Sal wants out, too.

We’ll see how that goes.

It’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good…

Being 72 is a bit odd for me.  It seems I am suddenly more attractive.  Who knew?

I am NOT what one might think of as a physically attractive man.  Not really.  But I am not a pig-dog either.  I am not even grossly ugly.  A smidge disfigured, perhaps….if you count fat as disfigurement.  Which I obviously don’t.

I am just an ordinary, potato-faced old man who is still surprised when looking in the mirror.  “Sheesh, I do NOT look like Tom Sellek, after all.  I have to come to grips with that reality…..someday.”

But, usually I just stay away from mirrors and eventually slide into my quasi-Tom Sellek mentality.  In other words, I live in image denial.  OK, image fantasy.  And, of course, the attentions of women (or lack thereof) helps to keep my inner Tom in check.

But, lately, woman are flirting with me.  Now, to be fair, they are not really flirting.  They are just being accepting and friendly.  But that is a huge step up from watching them back away or run screaming from the room.  This is NEW, better, gender relations.

Maybe they think men over 70 are safe…?

I recall being scheduled to give an interview with an applicant for a job.  The interviewee was a young Vietnamese woman (this was back in the 70’s when I was helping refugees) and she was waiting in a small office.  The door was open and so I strode in.  As I crossed the threshold I saw her face adjust from a relaxed repose to one of fear or, at least apprehension.  Might have been revulsion.

I said, “Hi.  I am David Cox.” That did nothing to allay her fears and she pulled back into her chair and began to make herself look small while, at the same time, she let out a distinct whimper.  “It’s OK”, I said stepping closer.  “I am happy to meet you.”  And that was it – she curled up in the fetal position and let out a muted scream.  Like most men, I know female rejection but this was more than the normal, everyday kind of rejection.  I was causing fear and loathing…..merely by existing.  

I briefly considered offering her a hug to console her but realized that might result in charges so I simply turned and went to get my Asian secretary who was all of 90 pounds wearing heavy boots and an overcoat.  S went in and made everything nice.

She came out and said that I could now go in.  She said that it might be best that I leave the door open.  She said it might be best NOT to make direct eye contact.  She said it would definitely be best not to get too close or speak too loud.  “Would it be best if we just talked on the phone or have you pass notes?”

“Oh, hah hah.  You are so funny.  She’s just never seen anyone who looks like you before.  She was terrified.  I said that you were ugly but nice.”

“Thanks.  You are truly a great secretary, ya know that?  Ugly, huh?”

“Well, you know….by Asian standards, for sure.  Yuck!  And, I suppose, even by Gweilo standards, you are no Tom Sellek.”

“Thanks, S.  We are done here.  I am going in to see her now.  No more pep talks for me, OK?”

But all that has changed since hitting 70.  I might be entering my ‘hunk’ era.  I think this because older women are smiling at me and talking ‘extra’.  Well, talking, anyway.  And some are talking way extra.  Some have even touched my arm.  And as all men come to finally realize (way too late), women have to make the ‘first touch’ before anything can happen.

Now, to be fair, none of my new admirers are spokes-models, beauty contestants or even under 55.  Most are showing their mileage but, on the other hand, so am I.  So, for all intents and purposes, this is a new-to-me, peer-to-peer kind of flirting.  I have also noticed that they are all single or at least do not wear wedding rings.   Lonely might be an explanation?

Did I mention all the touching?  Again, to be more accurate, one woman touched my arm because she was losing her balance but, still….touching is touching.  “Did you want to get a room?” 

“Excuse me?”

“Never mind.  But you should know that I am taken.” 

“Taken with what?  Coronavirus?  Delusions?  Running a high fever, dear?”

C’mon!  Cracking jokes is just great flirting!

Anyway, I write this because the last few days have seen a major increase in stranger intimacy, outright affection, and there is real longing in their eyes.  Could be madness, I suppose….

Mind you, such behaviour is exhibited most often when I have just played the caretaker card.  “My wife is just out of the hospital.  Surgery, ya know.  She needs a lot of attention.  I hafta be back home soon, you understand.  Gotta make her lunch.  She can’t walk, ya know.  Poor sweetie. But, that’s OK.  She’ll get better.  Thanks for cutting the cake in half, Donna.”