Four Things An Introvert has Trouble Dealing With

Introvert hiding in a sweater

I’ll be fine just here, thank you.

Many of us in the land of blog have declared ourselves to be introverts. These are a few of the ways that my own introversion manifests itself in my day-to-day life. Can you relate to any of these?

1) You’re in a small group situation. Finally you’ve not only managed to think of something to say (a feat in itself), but plucked up the courage to actually say it. You wait for a pause, start, and one of the following things happens:

  • Someone else starts talking at the exact same second that you start. You immediately stop talking and berate yourself severely for getting it wrong.
  •  You’re mid sentence and someone else in the group interrupts you. At this stage it’s not so easy for you to stop talking. You’d given yourself the pep talk – Come on, you can do it, just start talking, stop being silly, just do it!, you’d launched into it, and now you’re into the home straight; it actually takes a different kind of confidence to stop at this stage, and you don’t have that, so you just keep going, desperately hoping for a freak lightening storm to arrive and throw the power out.
  • You’re half way through your story when a couple of others in the group start up their own separate conversation. You’re faced with the harsh reality that you just weren’t interesting enough to hold the whole group’s attention (but you knew that anyway). There is now only one person listening to you, and clearly they’re only being polite. All you can do is stare intently at that one person, trying your hardest to act like you were only talking to that one person anyway, whilst racing through as fast as you can to get to the end of what you want to say.
Girl hiding her face in her hands

You can’t see me right?

2) You tell someone that you will email or text them, and they say “Or just give me a call”. Just? Just?! No no no no, emailing is a “just”, texting is a “just”, giving someone a call isn’t anywhere close to being a “just”.

3) Someone is blocking the way that you want to walk. You say “Excuse me”, but horror of horrors, they don’t hear you! You’re pretty convinced however that everyone else in a 5 mile radius DID hear you and they’re all wondering why you don’t just say “Excuse me” again, a bit louder (Ha, as if THAT’S an option). There’s only one thing for it, you must pull out your phone, tap the screen a few times while looking slightly concerned, and make a little “ooh” noise. This indicates that there is something on your phone alerting you to the fact that you no longer need to go in that direction, but instead need to turn back and go in a completely different direction. Keep looking at your phone while you execute the manoeuvre. No one will suspect a thing.

4) You’re in a large group situation, maybe a party, or the dreaded “Refreshments and networking” section of a conference, or as I like to call it, the “Refreshments and stand there awkwardly wondering how soon is too soon to go back and sit in the conference room ready for the next talk” section. You’re pleased that someone you’re reasonably comfortable with is talking to you. And then from nowhere they decide to throw you to the lions by doing one of the following things:

  • They say “Anyway, I’m just going to go and say hi to a couple of people”, and off they go, leaving you standing there wishing you possessed that superpower of being able to just go and say hi to a couple of people. If you’re at a conference, you’re lucky, you will probably have been given some papers, these papers are your new best friend; there is no limit to the number of times they can be read.
  • They say “Come on, I’m going to introduce you to a couple of people.” This has the exact same effect on you as if they’d said, “Come on, I’m going to take all your clothes off you and parade you around naked for a while.”

Introverts unite

Seriously, how do we get through the day?


Image credits:
Girl in sweater –  Nguyen Hung Vu
Girl hiding face – Matthew Loberg
Introverts unite – Kappy V11

Sometimes We’re the 9 and Sometimes We’re the 1

A nine and a one talking

Recently a fellow blogger, who is a writer, commented that 9 out of 10 friends who say they want to read your writing never do. She wasn’t complaining, just acknowledging that that’s how things are. Mostly she wanted to make the point about how much we should value that 1 who does, and we really should.

Whether we are writers or not, we’ve all experienced that same thing in one scenario or other – those 9 out of 10 people who say they will support something we’re doing, and then don’t. It’s natural to feel let down, but actually, if we flip it around and are completely honest with ourselves, we’ve all been that 9 too. Probably many times. Each of us, within our circle of friends, family, friends of friends, colleagues and neighbours, we all know people who play in a band, or act in plays, or compete in sporting events, or sing in bars, or make and sell crafts, or organise fundraising activities, or make films, or recite poetry, or paint, or yes write. The list is endless. We all know many people who each really need those in their circle to step up and actively support them in their endeavours.

When these people tell us about their thing, it really is so easy to say “Well next time you’re doing X, let me know and I’ll come to watch!” or “Hey, I’d love to look at that and give you my opinion when you’ve finished it.” And we mean it at the time, or hopefully we do anyway, but do we follow through on it every single time? Chances are we don’t. We can’t. In our desire to be supportive and encouraging to people we know in their endeavours, we can over-commit ourselves with these promises. The reality is we all have busy lives and we just don’t have the capacity to actively support everyone in our circle, in all of their endeavours, as much as we would like to. Maybe we should think more carefully about our words if we’re not completely sure that we can commit. Maybe it’s better to just say “That’s great, I really hope it goes well”, rather than “That’s great, I’ll try and come along”. We’re not letting them down with the first one.

Many times of course we are actively supportive, we are the 1, and it feels good doesn’t it. We’re pleased to be able to actively support. But we just can’t do it all the time, and that’s what we need to remember when we’re the ones on the other side wanting active participation and support. So as well as greatly valuing the 1 who supports us, we should remember that we’re really all the same. Sometimes we’re the 9 and sometimes we’re the 1.

Just some random musings on a Friday. What do you think? Agree? Disagree?

An SEO Expert Walks into a Bar, Bars, Pub, Tavern…

Cortana and SiriThe SEO joke was told to me by Cortana, it’s not a joke she made up herself, she’s not THAT good, it’s not a new joke either, you may already have heard it in fact.

Before I carry on, I should first say that this post was inspired by one on Susie Lindau’s Wild Ride, she had a quite a scoop, an ACTUAL interview with the ACTUAL real person who provided the voice for the ACTUAL Siri. Oh yes! If you didn’t see it, you must hop on over and read it, but not yet, read my post first, ok?

Well, it got me wondering. There is much fun to be had interacting with Siri or Cortana, but which one of them is funnier? We have both Cortana and Siri in our house so I wanted to find out which one would be funnier if I put them to the test.

I started off by asking Cortana to tell me a joke, and you’ve seen the result of that, so what did Siri come up with when I asked her for a joke?

SIRI: What did one iPhone say to the other…hmm, I used to know this one.

Ok, I’m not sure if it’s a very funny joke that I don’t really get, or if the joke is that Siri can’t remember the joke? Or if she just really can’t remember. I went for another round and asked them each for another joke:

CORTANA: What kind of underwear do clouds wear? Thunderpants.

SIRI: If I told you a joke in my language, I’d have to explain it.

So again, Cortana told an actual joke, whereas Siri didn’t, unless what she said is meant to be funny, in which case, well, humour is in the eye of the beholder, or something like that right?

I tried again, tell me a joke!

CORTANA: Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit, wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.

SIRI: The past, present and future walk into a bar. It was tense.

Well that round goes to Siri. Sorry Cortana but it’s really stretching things to call that a joke. Siri, you gave us a chuckle – I have heard that joke before, but that didn’t stop me chuckling again.

I tried for some more jokes, Siri decided she didn’t want to play anymore and kept saying that she didn’t know any jokes, personally I think she just feels that joke telling is beneath her, she has a point. Cortana was happy to oblige though with a couple more…

CORTANA: What did the zero say to the eight? Nice belt.

CORTANA: The barman says, “We don’t serve time travelers in here.” A time traveler walks into a bar.

Those aren’t bad, but really, I was hoping for more. I then rephrased things, rather than asking for a joke, I said “Tell me something funny.”

CORTANA: What do we want? Time Travel! When do we want it? It’s irrelevant…

SIRI: Siri, get Siri-ous. Ha ha!

Cortana clearly likes time travel humour. Siri, well, I expect she was just being ironic.

Then finally I went in with the ultimate question. I asked Cortana if she was funnier than Siri, and I asked Siri if she was funnier than Cortana…

CORTANA: I suppose the answer’s yes in at least one parallel universe.

SIRI: I’m afraid I can’t answer that.

Sorry Siri, but Cortana’s answer was way better than yours there.

Well there we have it folks. My sophisticated piece of research concludes that overall Cortana wins when it comes to being funnier. Or at least when it comes to being specifically asked to be funny, which is not necessarily the same thing.

Do you use Siri/Cortana or any other similar voice assistant? If so, do you actually use it for useful things, or just for entertainment?

Two Ways I’ve Been a Master Recently, Oh and Some Kittens

A little round-up of three things I’ve done lately (you HAVE been wondering what I’ve been doing lately, right?)…

NUMBER ONE – I graduated from my MA

Vanessa Graduating

Funny story – when my certificate arrived in the post, I saw that it said “Master of Arts in Education”. I then had this conversation with Neil:

ME: Oh, I didn’t know it was Master of Arts that I did.
NEIL: Well what did you think MA stood for then?
ME: I just thought it was the first two letters of Master’s.

Yep, that’s right, I took a whole big qualification without actually knowing what it was I was taking. Fairly typical. But nevermind, I got to graduate at Canterbury Cathedral, and the Archbishop of Canterbury did the welcome address at the start of the ceremony, so it was all rather grand. This was my very first Graduation because we don’t tend to have high school graduation ceremonies over here, and I never completed my first degree, so this was extra exciting for me.

NUMBER TWO – We got some kittens

Our lovely cat Dory sadly died a couple of months ago, and so in January we got a pair of kittens, Freddy and Lola. Aren’t they so cutey wutey fluffy wuffy gorgeous lorgeous? Oh come on, even if you’re not a cat fan, just look!
Kittens called Freddy and Lola

Of course kittens, like babies of most species, pretty much have no sense of danger. Careful as we are, there’s been the odd occasion where, for instance, we’ve been walking down the stairs and accidentally launched a kitten off the end of our foot and watched him fly a little and then tumble down the stairs while we run down after shouting “I’m so sorry I’m so sorry I’m so sorry”. They don’t seem to mind though, they just bounce right back up, instantly forgive us, and carry on chasing a spec of dust or whatever.


Vanessa being interviewed
I was asked by my good friend Mike (hello Mike, you still read my blog right?) to be MC at a regional final for a poetry reciting contest called Poetry by Heart which is for 14-18 year olds. One of the schools taking part had also sent along two students to act as reporters for their school magazine. At the end of the evening they asked if they could interview me (that’s what the picture above is). They asked a series of questions like “How did you get to be the MC for this event?”, “What was it like being the MC for this event?”, “As an MC, how do you think the evening went?” Then they paused and looked at each other, and did this whole “You ask her” “No you ask her” thing, finally one of them plucked up the courage and asked “What is an MC?” Ha! So for anyone else who doesn’t know, an MC (in this context anyway) is Master of Ceremonies, basically being the host, introducing people, stringing it all together, ordering everyone around (well I think that was part of it anyway).

And there we are, see, that’s how I’ve been Master twice. Oh and don’t forget the kittens.

More Stuff I Do That I’m Hoping You Do Too

Following on from Five things I do that I wonder if you do too, and Using my knife as a mirror and seven other quirky things I do, I bring you – More stuff I do that I I’m hoping you do too

1) Have you ever thrown away a food wrapper into a colleague’s bin at work rather than your own because you’re kind of embarrassed about the number of food wrappers already in your bin, and you don’t want the cleaning staff to judge you?

Man denying knowledge of chocolate wrapper

Meme created by Vanessa-Jane Chapman using memegenerator.

2) Do you ever sit and imagine what fun you could have if you were someone’s pet cat or dog, but with the brain you have now? The tricks you could do to impress them, the cute stuff… and similarly, how much fun you could have if you were a baby with an adult brain, do you ever think about that?

3) At least three times per day, do you go to your phone/computer/device with a specific purpose of something you need to do, but instead get distracted by the first thing you see on there, and forget to do the thing you went to do in the first place? Three times a day? Who am I kidding? More like every hour right?

Distracted on computer

Meme created by Vanessa-Jane Chapman using memegenerator.

4) When on public transport, do you ever get up and walk towards the exit, but then realise you’ve made a mistake and it’s not your stop yet. Rather than going back to your seat though, you get off anyway because you would look a fool to go back and sit down right? Far better to have to wait half an hour for the next bus/train, or walk in the dark and rain to get to where you really wanted to get off? At least this way you’re the only one who knows you’re a fool rather than a bunch of strangers you’ll never see again.

5) Do you find yourself questioning everything you’ve ever known about life when you come across someone who doesn’t like either tea or coffee. What, neither? But surely tea? But surely coffee then? No? NEITHER one?!

No Way

Meme created by Vanessa-Jane Chapman using this other memegenerator.

Any things you do that you secretly wonder if everyone else does too?

Fun and Frolics with Food

I wanted to be sure that those of you who don’t follow my Sugarness food blog wouldn’t miss out on seeing the fun I had with this five-minute cooking video I made with my film-making friend, Stacey Morgan, from Morganic Films, and my partner Neil. You’re welcome. Do you think someone will give me my own cookery show after this? They’re bound to, right? RIGHT?!

My Year in 365 Words

Photos of Vanessa's Year 2014
At the start of 2014 I decided to keep a word-a-day journal over the year. It turned out to be quite an interesting exercise. Some days a word naturally presented itself to me, but other days I had to think a bit deeper – either because it was a day where nothing of particular interest happened, or because several things happened and I had to decide which one to pick. Sometimes I tried to find a word that could relate in some way to all the things I wanted to use from that day. Even on days where I did know which one thing I wanted to record, it wasn’t always easy to describe it in one word.

On three similar occasions I broke the one word rule by pushing together three letters and a word to make one word because it was important to me to record those in that way. A few words were used more than once over the year, and I was ok with that; if something was significant more than once, then it was. And as I was typing this up I discovered one day where I had forgotten to write a word at all, and I have recorded that one as “Blank”.

Looking back over them now I can’t remember what quite a few of the words relate to, but nevertheless, seen as a whole, they tell the story of my year in 365 words…

Essay, Hope, Suzanne, Hurt, Voice, Routine, Stereotyping, Panel, Worry, Gender, Conference, Soup, Plan, Octopus, Dentist, Singing, Strategy, Caroline, Cards, Literally, NVivo, Honoured, Theorists, Battered, Bluewater, Confused, Stabbing, Poster, Which, Quantitative, Windy, Extravagance, Putney, Drudge, Coffee, Graze, Reflecting, Meritocracy, Admiral, Swimming, Operations, Surprised, Scuppered, Sleepy, Love, Cost, Booth, Void, Tired, Trimming, Invitations, Dare, David, Filing, Angry, Woburn, Schools, Guy, Lots, Fajitas, Mud, Irritated, Chuffed, Yvonne, One, Sigh, Piercing, Manchester, Hacked, Writing, Deal, Dropped, Duke, Pleased, Productive, Eek, Idiot, Proud, Amazing, Mum, Methadone, Voice, Embassy, Confirming, Strike, Sleepless, Faint, Sofas, Amused, Shortlisting, Stressed, Energy, Continuing, Remote, Psycho, Furniture, Redo, Mike, London, Blue, Emilia, Walking, Grass, Accepted, Struggling, Struggling, Blue, Wondering, Trays, Easter, Facebook, Back, Art, Blackmail, Staff, Masquerade, Delightful, Policy, Parents, Identity, Time, Sarah, Pizza, Stacey, Westwood, Disgruntled, Deadline, Chapman, Changes, Eurovision, Fifteen, Intolerance, Knocked, Disgrace, Preparation, Neon, Luxury, Malfunctions, Arms, Plumbing, Ninja, Pickups, Planning, Anxious, Packing, International, Satisfying, Hectic, Tax, Seven, Relaxing, Back, Overload, Salad, Edward, Dolphin, Dogs, Party, Pam, Unfair, Flowers, Productive, Ruth, Meritocracy, Cancellation, Fondness, Wheat, Pirate, Coastal, Excellent, Refund, Simon, Relaxing, Sue, Pimms, Dresses, Sun, Underachievement, Uncomfortable, Crates, Last, Thankful, Pleased, Face, Delayed, Jamie, Maidstone, Small, Resolving, Appraisal, Progress, Unreasonable, Ale, Torrential, Burgers, Tidying, Hope, Praise, Analysis, Brownies, Bike, Earnest, Dashed, Broadstairs, Apes, Disproportionate, Writing, Horses, Governance, Impression, RIPNaz, Deal, Relieved, Appreciate, Ramsgate, Canterbury, Articulating, Reflections, Slots, Hope, Searching, Squeak, Limbo, Dog, Bronchitis, Rainbow, Healing, Gloomy, Expectant, Unbelievable, Over, Alton, Rita, Water, Back, Washing, Outlet, Quotes, Speakers, Smugglers, Games, Seizure, Enjoying, Washing, Completed, Gag, Absolute, Maps, Jet, Girls, Mount, Intrusive, Nearly, Cocktails, Blank, Pam, Bubble, Planning, Jacqueline, Networks, Birthday, Beagles, Robots, Desk, Orthodontist, Personnel, Happier, Baking, Pondering, Pretzels, Eclairs, Operations, Opticians, Cake, Interviews, Loving, Danish, Factor, Bus, Neil, Lethargic, Dentist, Bagels, Comfortable, Medium, Scrape, Possible, Manage, Oops, Laptop, Rainham, Willow, Score, Berlin, Finalising, Operations, Filming, Exclude, Missing, Mummy, Spread, Dragging, Together, Blood, Pleasant, Jerk, Better, Planning, Promising, Good, Rooms, Fireworks, Cakes, Power, Kicked, Smooth, Communications, Pumpkin, Productive, Figuring, RIPSuzy, Masonic, Works, Bell, Baskets, Disposing, Sad, Game, Zone, Packed, London, Black, Trust, Rolls, RIPDory, Tree, Preparing, Thirteen, Seasonal, Paint, Fluffy, Selfie, Improvement, Mockingjay, Shopping, Manchester, Stollen, Trisha, Coach, Leicester, Balloons, Sixteen, Sneaky, Baileys, Bluewater, Suzanne, Dad, Messing, Christmas, Pride, Sales, Attempting, Wonderland, Indecisive, Bang.

 Wishing you all the best for 2015!

Christmas Countdown Sundries

Vanessa with advent calendar

Photo Credit: Vanessa-Jane Chapman 2014

Let me start by asking you the question on everyone’s lips at this time of year – where do you stand on Brussels sprouts? And I don’t mean literally, like when you accidentally stand on a cooked one on the kitchen floor and it squishes on to the bottom of your foot creating a dangerously slippery surface on your slipper-sole. No, I am of course enquiring as to whether you love ‘em or hate ‘em? There is a genetic reason why some people hate them (Google it), and the Brussels sprouts hating gene is apparently present in about 50% of people, so that explains why this festive veg divides opinions as it does. Let’s see if the 50% split applies here (I’m in the love ‘em half myself) –

Now that you’ve done that, you might like to read a funny post about Brussels sprouts from the ever-entertaining Mike Allegra.

Now that we’ve covered sprouts, let’s cover this poor man with a hot warm towel!

Polar bear plunge

Polar bear plunge Calgary 2013. Photo credit: Sue Slaght

Fancy doing this icy plunge yourself? Beautiful as it looks, I think I’ll leave it to my amazing blogging friend Sue Slaght from Travel Tales of Life. On New Year’s Day, she and her husband Dave are doing a polar plunge into the icy water pictured above. They are taking part in the 6th annual Calgary Ice Breaker Polar Dip  to help raise money for the SA (Servants Anonymous) Foundation  who work to stop human trafficking. Sue explains more here  and her fundraising page is here.  Good luck Sue and Dave!

Right, so I’ve given a shout-out to Mike, and to Sue, now who was the other person I wanted to give a shout-out to? It’s on the tip of my tongue…think, think, think….oh yes! It’s me! Those of you who don’t follow my Sugarness recipe blog, won’t have seen the recipe for these Baileys chocolates I posted a few days ago –

Baileys chocolates

Photo credit: Vanessa-Jane Chapman 2014

I was rather pleased with how they came out, and with the gift boxes I found to pack them up in. There’s still time for you to make them as last-minute gifts, oh yes there is! Click here for recipe. No, no, absolutely no need to thank me, just send cash.

And finally another question – how come you never hear anything about the tenth reindeer ‘Olive’? You know, “Olive the other reindeer, used to laugh and call him names.”

(I know, groan!).

Well, festive wishes to those who want them, and see you in 2015!

Apparently We Have Black Friday in the UK Now?!

Black Friday
photo credit: sea turtle via photopin cc

Apparently we have Black Friday in the UK now. Turns out it’s been creeping in for a few years, but didn’t enter my radar until yesterday when I happened to catch a TV advertisement for a retailer’s Black Friday deals. This morning I decided to go online to see what Black Friday deals I could find, and discovered that even at 7am, the websites of major retailers were overloaded and I couldn’t get in to them. One site even offered me a queue number to wait in line to see the bargains. That’s right, like at the deli counter! I’m supposed to sit here staring at the computer screen, clutching my virtual ticket, waiting for my number to be called. As if I don’t have anything better to do. You know, like writing a blog post about it instead.

For those outside of the US who don’t know, Black Friday is a day of big retail sales that comes the day after Thanksgiving, semi-officially kicking off the Christmas shopping season.  It’s a day-after-Thanksgiving-thing, and we don’t have Thanksgiving in the UK. But as we do love to take on American things over here, we seem to have taken on the day-after-Thanksgiving-thing, without having the Thanksgiving thing.

But wait! I say we don’t have Thanksgiving here, and it turns out I’m wrong about that too. I should have realised what was happening when I started to see Libby’s canned pumpkin for sale in our supermarkets. I did a bit of online searching  and discovered that according to this article in the Telegraph, one in six British people now celebrate Thanksgiving. I had no idea.  The history of Thanksgiving makes it a little strange for us to be celebrating it here, but that’s ok, I’m all for it actually. Friends and Family getting together to share a delicious meal and think about what they’re thankful for. It’s a good thing right? After all, Thanksgiving would hardly be the only festival that is celebrated without much thought being given to the history behind it.

Interestingly, alongside this, I have seen blog posts and comments from Americans, lamenting the demise of the traditional Thanksgiving over there, with families getting together less, and retailers, too anxious to wait for Black Friday, opening on Thanksgiving day itself…hold on a cotton picking minute…do you see what’s happening here? That’s right, we are slowly and very sneakily stealing Thanksgiving from the Americans!  Gradually taking it as our own as the Americans stand there helplessly watching it sail across the pond. Oh the irony.

Back to today. Not wanting to be outdone by our American friends, I already see online news items talking about police being called to calm down surging crowds at UK Black Friday sales, with fights breaking out and arrests being made. I do love a good bargain myself, but I really have no desire to be part of all that. So instead I shall just sit here, clutching my virtual ticket, staring at my screen, and waiting for my number to be called.

What do you do for Thanksgiving, and/or Black Friday? What else do you think us Brits should adopt from America? (If there’s anything left that we haven’t yet adopted).

Finally a quick belated congratulations to Linda Larrabee! Linda is the lucky winner of a $16 Amazon gift card which she won by getting the most right playing Truth or Fiction with author Lorna Lee. Linda doesn’t have a blog herself, she’s just a fan of Lorna’s, and who wouldn’t be, right? If you want to see what the answers were, I’ve updated the original post with the answers in red. If you didn’t win, you can console yourself by reading Lorna’s wonderful book, Never Turn Back, details here. You’re welcome.

Probably the Most Contrived Story You’ll Ever Read

A rose and an open book

On my last post I provided a list of 21 really bad analogies (or mostly similes, but whatever). A few commenters suggested I should write a story incorporating all 21 of them. At first I scoffed at the idea, but then I pondered on it and decided to take up the challenge! I’ve made the font green for all 21 so that you can easily see how I’ve included them. I give you…

The Case of the Unsolved Mystery, Like a Mystery that Remains Unsolved

Some say it was fate that they ended up seated together that night in London. You wouldn’t believe it if you’d seen them but John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met. They were strangers before that night and yet there they were together, laughing and chatting like old friends. She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog makes just before it throws up. I sat two rows behind them. I was drawn to them, compelled to listen in a way that unnerved me. When the curtain went up, they became silent and I turned my attention to the stage. The ballerina rose gracefully en pointe and extended one slender leg behind her, like a dog at a fire hydrant. It was breathtaking, and for forty-five minutes I was focused on the stage alone.

The applause signalled the end of the first half. John stood. He was tall. My guess is that he was as tall as a 6’3″ tree. But as soon as he moved I could see that he was as lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck, either, but a real duck that was actually lame. Maybe from stepping on a land mine or something.

“Gee, you’re like really sort of like tall ain’t ya!” she said. Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever. Yet as I listened to her talking about the first half of the ballet, I could tell that her artistic sense was exquisitely refined, like someone who can tell butter from I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter. It was an interesting juxtaposition. I moved with them as they walked to the end of the row.

“I should probably look for my wife,” he said. There was a sense of reluctance to his words. I studied her face as she turned away from him towards the back of the theatre. I could see that her eyes were like two brown circles with big black dots in the center, and they glistened with moisture that spoke of intense disappointment.

“Yeah,” she said. “S’pose you should.” I could tell that it hurt the way your tongue hurts after you accidentally staple it to the wall.

“We said we’d meet in the attic bar during the interval,” he said pointing at the staircase that led up to the attic bar. The staircase was set in a wall at the side of the auditorium. The red brick wall was the color of a brick-red Crayola crayon. “Perhaps you could join us if you…” he trailed off, uncertain of his own suggestion.

“Don’t fink that’s a good idea, she might like, you know, get the wrong idea or someink,” she said.

“Perhaps you’re right,” said John. “Actually no. Do come. I’m grateful for the mix-up with the seating this evening because I got to meet you. I’ve actually had the loveliest time I can remember for years. To tell you the truth Mary, my wife has been cheating on me and so I don’t care what she thinks! Can you believe it? 30 years of marriage and it might all be over!” Seeing the surprise on Mary’s face I could tell the revelation that his marriage of 30 years had disintegrated because of his wife’s infidelity came as a rude shock, like a surcharge at a formerly surcharge-free ATM. She wasn’t sure how to respond.

“How’s did yous twos, like, you know, meet and stuff?”

“I was a boxing promoter back then. One day she walked into my office like a centipede with 98 missing legs. She had her brother with her, a young man with great promise. She’d heard I was good and wanted me to help his career. The young fighter had a hungry look, the kind you get from not eating for a while. I took him on, and-” John was in the middle of his story when from the attic came an unearthly howl. The whole scene had an eerie, surreal quality, like when you’re on vacation in another city and Jeopardy comes on at 7:00 p.m. instead of 7:30.

“What was that?” Mary instinctively reached for John’s arm. I couldn’t help but notice that John didn’t look surprised by the noise. And maybe I even saw a slight smile. Maybe.

They ran up the stairs to the bar and I followed. A small crowd had gathered around the body of a woman. I heard the words, “She’s dead.”

I pushed my way through. “Let me through!” I said, “I’m a lawyer.” Her face was a perfect oval, like a circle that had its two sides gently compressed by a Thigh Master. Blood pooled around her head, and next to her was a broken lamp. The lamp just sat there, like an inanimate object. Somehow I knew right away that the woman was John’s wife.

A voiced pierced through, “It was him!” The barmaid pointed at John. “It was him! He hit her over the head with the lamp, and then ran off, I saw him, he killed her!” As if to punctuate her words, a clap of thunder rumbled outside. The thunder was ominous-sounding, much like the sound of a thin sheet of metal being shaken backstage during the storm scene in a play. Others nodded and pointed, “Yes, it was him! It was him!” The voices were unified in their accusation.

Mary shook her head. “No, no! He’s been wiv me all night, it can’t be him, he’s been wiv me I tell ya!”

I gave John my card, “You’re going to need a defence lawyer,” I said. “Call me.” He took my card and nodded. Some say he must have had a twin, but they never found one, nor did they ever find any other evidence to support the witnesses and so John walked free. He and I kept in touch. John and Mary had become close after that fateful night. She grew on him like she was a colony of E. coli and he was room-temperature Canadian beef, and before long they were lovers. And yet their love was doomed. Not six months after their relationship began to blossom, Mary’s mother, who lived in New York, died, and Mary was forced to move there to take care of her younger sister.

That could have been the end of John and Mary except for one thing. Black Friday. It was an American tradition, like fathers chasing kids around with power tools. John had heard of Black Friday, and as an avid shopper, told me he had decided to make the trip from London to New York to scoop up some bargains. He had not long arrived when he chose to take a stroll through Central Park. In the distance, across the grass, he saw her. She saw him. They were motionless for a while, each unsure of what to do, and then they ran. Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers raced across the grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left Cleveland at 6:36 p.m. traveling at 55 mph, the other from Topeka at 4:19 p.m. at a speed of 35 mph.

They spent a joyous afternoon together in Central Park, running and laughing. They bought food and sat at the edge of the Turtle Pond to eat. John made a boat out of his sub wrapper. “This is our love,” he said, “drifting and free, where will it go?” He set the boat on the water and gave it a push. The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn’t.

Some say John confessed to the killing of his wife that afternoon. Some say that’s why Mary walked away and told him she never wanted to see him again. Some say that. But he couldn’t have done it…could he?


Paper boat

photo credits:
Atilla1000 via photopin cc
John-Morgan via photopin cc