By: Eric Amber
It was the summer of 2005. I had opened the theatre less than a year before and I was
already over it. Building the theatre had taken its toll on me and I was a wreck but it was the break up with a girl I had fancied that pushed me over the edge. I was a mess and the universe was conspiring to rub my face in it.
When I went to the post office one afternoon to retrieve my mail, I found two letters waiting for me. One was an invitation to my French grandmothers 80th birthday celebration and the other was from Master Card.
Normally when you receive a letter from Master Card, you expect a bill but on this occasion it wasn’t. In fact, it was the opposite. It was a gift.
Included in the letter I found ONE ticket to the movies. ONE. Not a pair of tickets. Oh no. Just ONE. Ten years as a valued customer and Master Card sent me ONE ticket to the movies? I guess it’s because they already knew what I used my card for. Power tools and groceries.
Lets be honest, you know Master Card didn’t buy the ticket. It was just a sponsorship deal. That’s the corporate equivalent of RE-gifting.
Cost of sending a customer a free ticket? Nothing. Value of making them feel like a giant bag of shit? Priceless. Fuck you Master Card.
I was sour, heart broken and not in the mood for celebrating but I went to my grandmother’s birthday party anyway.
Her name was Jeanne-D’arc Rodrigue-Pomerleau. It was one of those classic French-Canadian double-double hyphenated names. (Those French can never have too many names).
Her late husband, my grandfather had been the eldest of 19 children. So you can imagine, there was a lot of relatives at grannies birthday.
At the party, I sat next to my aunt Lucille, a part time christian, part time pot head, who kept 3 cash in hand day jobs, while also on welfare. A stereo typical French-Canadian. Why pay taxes when you can lie and get free money from the government? Besides, as she figured it, Jesus was a socialist.
“Oh that’s grannies new boyfriend” she said.
Excuse me? New boyfriend? (I thought to myself, eyebrows raised.)
Ok, sure grand dad has been dead for years but for fuck sakes, she was 80! Grandma had already had 15 kids and two hip replacements. How much sex does this woman need?
“New boyfriend?” I repeated out loud.
“Oh it’s not serious” aunt Lucille replied. “She’s just using him.”
“He drives her to church and sometimes to the hair dresser” Aunt Lucy added.
Bitch! I thought to myself. Does she take out her teeth and blow him in the back of his crown royal after kneeling before the lord?
As a man who had recently been jilted by a woman I cared about, I felt a little bothered by this. If I was using a woman for something, I’d be considered an asshole. Was my grandmother seducing this man for a lift around town?
“Is it true you have a new boyfriend?” I asked her in French.
She lowered her eyes coyly, then nervously drew an invisible circle with her finger on the table cloth.
“Bain, uh, y me tiers des p’tits fleche, mais je dits non” she said in French.
<Translation> “Well, uh, he makes passes at me but, I say no”.
It was true! My grand mother was an 80 year old cock tease. A lying French-Canadian whore! No better than any slut on Sainte Catherine street.
My grandmother is deceased now. I remember her mostly as a tiny, angry, French tyrant. She was Napoleon in a frock and slippers. It may have been because she had 15 kids and lived under the thumb of the Catholic Church her whole life. Maybe it was because her husband was a lazy, poor, uneducated, sex addict who kept her pregnant for 20 years.
My own mother was a bit of the same. She had a fondness for yelling and hitting.
In defence of them, they were survivors. They worked hard to raise families but abuse is abuse. After many generations that abuse becomes endemic. My mother is only 4’ 11’ but she traumatized me.
There is an empty space inside my heart that wants to love my mother, or any woman for that matter but I don’t. I guess I’ve always lacked the ability to bond with women emotionally because I’ve never been able to trust the ones in my life. When I have loved, I destroyed the trust by being like the women who raised me.
It took me years to understand and acknowledge this. Now, I’m in my forties and the hope of experiencing a real loving relationship is fading. The only women interested in me are desperate single moms or crazy cat ladies; and I am allergic to cats.