It’s Just Like Paris
September 23, 2008
My mother and I have never had the sex
talk. Or at least not as far as I can
recall. We may well have at some point,
and post-traumatic amnesia mercifully wiped it from my mind.
I mean, she must
know I’m not a virgin – I was married after all – but that’s as far as she’s
willing to go. On the other hand, in
her world unlikely virgins abound so I can’t say for sure.
While the only
thing truly shocking about my sex life is that it is entirely non-existent, I’m
certainly not going to go into it here.
She knows how computers work and if she read anything that displeased
His Holiness, she’d tear me limb from limb. Around this house, you don’t Fuck
With the Pope. Although I’m a good 5”
taller than her and quite a few years younger, I’ve been sick and I’m still
And though I’m
not usually a betting woman, I like her chances if she got the drop on me.
I might be able
to outrun her even now, but if I got her riled I’d need at least a half block’s
head start and these days, the best I can manage is a slow lope. She’d be on me like a duck on a June bug
before I got to the corner and the streets would be running with blood. My blood.
save me either. This whole town
is Catholic. It’s like the Vatican
version of Stepford. Every morning when
I look out the window, I’m astonished NOT to see a throng of angry villagers
waving torches and pitchforks, baying my name and throwing wood on a big
bonfire in anticipation of my appearance.
Case in point
and a diversion. I’ll get back to the
sex thing, I promise.
weekend, there was actually something happening here in town.
I know! No, it wasn’t just that we got a new
one of these:
– there was actually an ART show in one of
An art show! I was thrilled! Art! Here!
parts, “Art” is this guy who lives over by the marina. Dave’s brother.
I could hardly
sleep the night before, I was that wound up.
It was like the night before Christmas and I was a wide-eyed little girl
again, afraid to miss a thing.
The next day, I
awoke with the dawn. I dressed and
drank my coffee, almost dancing with excitement. Would the tents be up by now?
Would the paintings be displayed yet?
Would they be re-using the portable toilets from last month’s nearby
Corn Fest? So many questions…
I raced to the
park (or I did the best I could) and as soon as the first tent hove into view
and I saw the throngs that had gathered, I knew I was in for a treat. I could feel myself tingling with the thrill
of it all – did I dare to dream that this would be even better than the
Corn Fest? That cultural delight had
included bad tattoos, screaming toddlers with overripe diapers, their pregnant
teenage mothers, mullets galore and a fight so maybe I was setting the bar a
bit high, but never mind! The Corn Fest
was the product of a neighbouring town:
surely the good burghers of this hamlet could do better
“Bah!” I said to
myself, dismissing the Corn Fest with a sniff.
Of course this would be better.
This was Art. All the other town had was vegetables.
I shouldered my
way into the first tent after reading the banner above it. Hmm…this entire exhibition had been
sponsored to encourage and nurture young artists and every work on display was
created by a local high school student.
The first thing
I noticed was that all the schools were called St. Something or Other or Our Blessed
Lady of This or That. Fair enough. I spent my life in schools like this and
look how talented I turned out to be. Perhaps I might stumble across a work by a
budding Emily Coonan or a young Leo Ayotte. You never know.
Or, on the other
hand, you may find yourself in Jack the Ripper’s brain pan.
The walls of the
tent were festooned with the most disturbing images I’d seen outside of
academic tomes on sexual psychopathic murderers – and in my line of work, I’ve
read a lot of those.
The themes were
mostly religious – there was a whole lotta Jesus. (And I asked – it wasn’t a requirement. Subject matter was left entirely up to the artist.)
A word on the subject of Art. It’s supposed to shake you up and get a
reaction, no matter what the medium.
This, for example, is my favourite painting and I find it absolutely
In the case of
this painting by Delaroche, it’s the story behind it that makes it compelling to
me. I’m an Elizabethan history buff and
the story of this girl’s life breaks my heart.
Delaroche’s rendering is accurate according to the contemporary primary sources
and that makes the painting so moving to me.
But this? This was just Seriously Fucked Up.
There was Jesus
wearing a crown of thorns made of barbed wire and bleeding extravagantly from the eyes, in obvious and
exquisite agony. There was a depiction
of the crucifixion that will haunt me to my dying day – the closest image I can
compare it to is the autopsy photographs I’ve seen of a particularly nasty
murder where the victim was skinned.
There was one of the Sacred Heart with a spike driven through it –
nobody was doing charcoal drawings of Kurt Cobain, that’s for sure. There was a poignant one of a heart with its
wings being clipped by a nun but mostly it was image after image of really
disturbing, hideously violent scenes.
The majority of them referenced the Faith in some way. If you weren’t One of Us, you wouldn’t get
it. And if you were, it became
especially sinister and we Catholics have a pretty high threshold for
gore. Mere gunshot wounds won’t make
me flinch, but I sure found this little exhibition disturbing. I ducked outside again to make sure that
banner hadn’t actually read “Ontario College of Serial Killers Academy of Art
fascinating, in a forensic sense. And
pretty damn scary too.
I began to
wonder if the recent Corn Fest wouldn’t have been more accurately named the
Children of the Corn Fest but I don’t suppose people are going to fritter away
their welfare cheques for that. On the
other hand, based on what I’d just seen, I bet it would be a big hit with the
And to think,
I’d almost worn my “I like you: I’ll
kill you last” t-shirt but decided against it for fear of offending the
locals. It turned out to have been a
wise choice after all – in this crowd, that t-shirt would have guaranteed that
I’d be assimilated into the Borg or something even more sinister.
I lied. I’ll get to the sex talk next time. I’m a little freaked out at the moment and
this is all a Bit Much for a Catholic girl to deal with – sex, torture, death
AND my mother in the same column? I’m
already breathing into paper bags as it is.
But I’m still on that writing tear, so it’s coming. You’ll have to excuse me for the moment but
soon my pretties, soon: my encounter with “Dr. Love”.
Till next time,