Tuesday, October 19, 2004
Did I learn nothing from my childhood? I know the story of Hansel and Gretel. I know what fate could have befallen Snow White and Sleeping Beauty had they not been saved by random chance in the end. Rapunzel was imprisoned by a witch for something her father did. I saw “The Blair Witch Project” and survived. Do not anger a witch.
It wasn’t the kind of hysterical screamy trouble we would get into with Mme Lévesque, my grade 9 math teacher, who would holler at the top of her lungs if someone couldn’t remember the difference between sine and cosine. That kind of trouble just makes me roll my eyes and do whatever it is that got me into trouble, but with more intensity. This was more along the lines of the kind trouble Mrs Brown, my grade 12 English teacher, would give out: low, calm, with a little smile, dripping with beatific disappointment. She could stun and entire classroom into horrified guilt simply with the slight raising of one corner of her lips: Eeep! She’s gonna smile and give us a speech! This was that kind of trouble I got into.
“Really,” she assured. “I am in no way angry at what you wrote.” No? Um, that’s good. “It’s true. I found it funny!” she continued. Something tiny began to squirm in my stomach. “Humour is an excellent remedy for many ills.” Yup. I’m beginning to feel ill right now, as a matter of fact.. “If only …” I knew it! “If only you could have sent me a little link so I wouldn’t have had to discover what you’d written about my blog by stumbling into it. But it was really funny. Really.” Every single one of my Jewish ancestors stood up on their ephemeral spirit legs and applauded vigorously at this magnificent guilt-trip. And the best guilt-trip is the unplanned one that does nothing but speak the truth.
I made my apologies as best I could and figured that was the end of it. But I was wrong, I think, because all day weird things happened to me. First of all, after having just that morning traded quips with Harvestbird on her blog about who loved Hong Kong actor Tony Leung – with whom I have actually been totally gaga for since seeing this film – more (I do – so there, Birdie!). And then, not but fours hours later, I went to see this gorgeous movie, in which Tony Leung played a significant role. American actions stars are so proud when they “pull off” a serious role. Hong Kong actions flicks, unlike American ones, are all about heart and honour. The heroes agonise over practically every life they take, whereas American action heroes gleefully douse their enemies in toxic waste and laugh as they watch their skin melt off. “Hero” really is an incredible movie. It’s a kung fu action movie with a pacifist theme that will make you cry. Much of the tears come from good ol’ Tony, who has made me cry in practically every movie I’ve seen him in (Always the melancholy guys I have to go for – perhaps that’s one of the reasons I’m so surly). And the unexpected treat of Tony’s big, brown, liquid eyes was a pleasant coincidence.
Or was it a coincidence? It may not seem like much, but how often do a Canuck and a Kiwi babble over a Hong Kong star only to have him pop up again that day in a completely unrelated manner? Just bear with me.
All day I couldn’t get my cell phone to work. Then my cable went out for precisely four minutes. None of this along the lines of the time that I was at an isolated cottage in the dead of winter with some friends who decided it would be uproariously fun to improvise a ouija board; after fifteen minutes of ouija the electricity went out for no reason we could perceive. I shivered and not just from the cold. But still odd.
Then the counter for that particular post go stuck at 13 and wouldn’t move. That was a little creepy. Even though I figured out after a while there were indeed thirteen comments when I’d thought there were more doesn’t matter in the slightest. It’s all about perception and I perceives that my day was taking a very strange twist.
This Wiccan witch to whom I refer is kind of like Glinda the Good, but without that weird operatic way of speaking – I assume – and the awful dress with puffy sleeves - again, I assume. All I know about Wicca I gleaned from The Mists of Avalon
about two decades ago; in other words, not much. But it seems to me that Wiccans aren’t curse-layers; their style is more to sit back and watch as people dig their own holes. So there was no curse on me in any Blair Witch sense. It was just my good ol’ Jewish guilt relating everything in my day together; as a happy bonus, the core of the guilt happened to be an individual who is particularly in tune with what I would label ‘the supernatural’ (although she probably just call it ‘the natural’). Lots of stuff to play with! So curse or no curse, the perception was all-important.
This reminds of another movie I saw recently that attempts to question our perception of self as individual units and, well, fails pretty miserably ... although it’s still a fun way to spend a couple of hours (I know it doesn’t sound like fun, but it’s got Lily Tomlin in it). How do our perceptions affect the world around us and, ultimately, do we really exist? Philosophers and religions have been studying this for years. I don’t know much about philosophy but I do know a little about some religions, and they will give you very different answers if you ask them if we really exist. Buddhism says, “Who cares?” Judaism lifts an eyebrow and says, “Such stupid questions you ask.” I don’t know tons about Islam, but I have a feeling it says something similar. Protestantism says, “Yes. You exist. Now get back to work.” Catholicism says, “You exist and your misery lets you know you’re alive.”
I don’t know what Wiccans say. Probably something like, “You exist over and over and over again because life is pure joy!” or something optomistic like that. But I doubt they care so much as to make my day slightly surreal. I did that all on my own. A normal day went berserk because I perceived it straight into the twilight zone.
So to clear the whole thing up I decided to write something in honour, in a way, of someone with some very powerful people skills. You were right, Robyn, your blog did make an impression on me.
And I purposefully made this post extra long so that anyone else whose blog I satirized will get bored and stop scrolling down (go ahead! Scroll down and check. I dare you.): I don’t know if I could stand another day of spirits and existentialism. A free Gmail account to the first six people who read all the way to the bottom of this and leave a comment. No cheating. There’ll be a quiz.
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