Toronto
3 min

Hiss ‘n’ ride, park ‘n’ fly

Imagination is my best friend

Credit: Xtra files

Here I am, high above the Atlantic in my economy-class, British Airways flight from Pearson to Heathrow. I have never travelled overseas, and I am surprised at how calm I am. I’ve never felt so spookily lucid; somewhere close to Greenland I gained the gift of prophecy.



The young woman sitting in front of me? Next year she’ll be forced to wear adult diapers that will be audible with every step she takes, but somehow this sad fact will bring her a lot of peace. The surly flight attendant with Bell’s Palsy who still thinks he’s the shit? Next week he’s going to eat a sandwich that will turn him retarded.



I could go on and on, but seers can go blind from too much sight. I have to be careful. What I will do, then, is turn this new-found psychic acuity inward, and confront something that’s been tugging on my moral shirt-flaps of late: Why do I write?



I have to ask, because I seem to have misplaced the blazing aesthetic that once made Yoko Ono snap her wraparound sunglasses in two and scream “I’m such an emotionally vampiric try-hard next to Greg Kearney! Oh, John, Sean, Kyoko! I suck so bad! I need to be shot in the head on my doorstep! It’s not all right!I don’t see rainbows!”



You see, when this (not at all unsettling save for the invasive smell of hay and the shouts of “flying is so gay” and “where are we?” coming from the cockpit) flight lands, I will have to return to a short story that I’ve been working on. It’s called “What’s Happening, Anyway?” It’s awful. The plot concerns someone turning their head slightly to the side. I’ve tried to spruce things up by adding “yee-haw!” to the end of every sentence, so it now reads like Annie Oakley saying tentative Can-lit things in between orgasms. I’ve been writing it for a year and a half. It’s one paragraph long.



Maybe Joyce Carol Oates would just keep plugging along undaunted, but this conceptual stalemate has really given me pause. I’ve never been the kind of person who says, “Writing chose me,” as if I was some sock hop wallflower fatty dragged to the dancefloor by art.



I’d never abdicate responsibility for leading a self-indulgent life. Booze chose me, sure, and repeated bouts of genital, rectal, optical and nasal gonorrhoea. But writing? That was all my fault.



Perhaps I’m not meant to be a writer. I do know that I’m an artist of some sort. I was a very creative child. I had an imaginary friend named Ann who was a stay-at-home mum and a Christian. The fantastical adventures we’d get up to! Remember “The Sitting On The Couch Adventure,” Ann? Remember “The Was That The Doorbell? Huh. Guess Not Adventure?”



Now I am secure in the knowledge that I am at least an artist, if not specifically a writer, as the plane bounces through turbulence so bad that I’ve inadvertently gone to at least third base with the old woman next to me. To quell the mild anxiety I’m feeling, I am going to muse on the various art forms, and then pick the one that will best showcase my talent.



Painting. I’ve had a lot of painter friends over the years, which is strange, because painters tend to thoroughly investigate their sensibility, whereas I am a debased gadabout who never thinks about anything. I failed my second-year philosophy course at York because my final oral presentation, ostensibly concerning Nietzche, was comprised entirely of clucking and gasping sounds. Anyway, I hate painting. It’s messy and dumb. Next!



Music. I’ve always wanted to be a singer/songwriter, and have tried everything to become one, including wedging myself into Ian Tyson’s rural mailbox (a fun side-note: He subscribes to Teen People). Unfortunately, smoking has destroyed my ability to speak, let alone sing, and I’ve been so romantically malnourished that my love songs have titles like “He Shit In My Hair (A New Beginning).”



Once, though, at a party, Mary Margaret O’Hara mistook me for Hayden, and I felt very much a part of the music community, just one baby step away from sharing fashion tips with Jane Siberry (“‘One More Colour’, Janie, and you’ll look like a Siegfried and Roy pillow fight!”). But Mary Margaret was really drunk and her hair was combed over her eyes, completely obscuring her vision, so….



Dance? As if. Have you seen Karen Kain’s toes? Probably not. I’ve heard that when Karen steps out of the shower, she turns her head away gagging as she dries her feet, her face contorted like a junior coroner’s in the middle of their first autopsy. And I have such pretty feet.



Ummm, what other art forms are there? I’m trying to think of some, but the plane has inexplicably begun to plummet. People are crying and making noisy deals with God.



What the heck. I’ll make one, too: Let me live, God, and I’ll stop this moot lollygagging and write the best damned “Yee-Haw”-centric short story that has ever been!



The plane has stopped plummeting. I’ve forgotten my deal with God and remembered – filmmaking!