Sign of the Apocalypse: "The 700 Club" and I Agree

(No, this article isn’t about same-sex marriage in Canada. The next one is.)

As you may recall, I mentioned that I was trashing the old love letters from my exes as part of a “housekeeping of the self” exercise. A couple of readers commented that chucking the old stuff might be something I regret later, and Richard “Just a Gwai Lo” Eriksson trackbacked me with a link his post in which he quotes a blog entry by Frank “Doorknob in a Train” Pan:

destroying physical evidence of a defunct relationship is for those

with little control of their emotions or little storage space. i, on

the other hand, do not disagree with the accusation that i am

emotionally weak, considering that i had to break the cd of “diablo 2”

in half in order to stop playing it. to purposely erase someone from my

memory, especially someone i care about so much, is as damaging as

ripping off both of my arms.

Mind you, if you read the part of the entry

before the quoted passage, you’ll note that poor Frank can’t even bring

himself to throw away a Pepsi can that she left in his car. I hope for

his sake that he’s not sitting in the corner of his darkened room, emo

rock blasting on the stereo as he curls up in a ball, naked,

crying and clutching the can, reciting over and over: “This is her Pepsi can. There are many like it, but this one was hers…”

Photo: Pat Robertson

Pat Robertson:

He’s got a direct line to God, his finger on the pulse of the news, a

longevity shake and relationship advice. Is there anything he can’t do?

From The 700 Club’s advice page, Bring It On: Love marriage and Sex, a question about whether you should keep love letters from exes after you get married:

Q: This past weekend my husband and I were cleaning our garage. We got

in a fight when my husband found some old love letters I’ve been

keeping from a past fiancé. He thinks I should be willing to throw them

away, but I think I should keep them, because they’re a part of my past

and who I am. What do you think?

A: You decided to get married to this guy. You didn’t get married to the

fiancé. You got married to your husband, and you and he have formed a

life together. The part of your life that you’re holding onto is an

emotional attachment to somebody you may have had a love affair with.

And I don’t know how far it went beyond that, but your husband has

every right to say, “You belong to me, and I belong to you. We’ve

pledged to each other to live together forever, and I don’t want to

share you with some dead guy or some past fiancé.” I think he’s

absolutely right. That part of your life needs to be put aside. You

don’t hold onto that. I’m sorry. I mean, it may sound like a treasured

memento, but I don’t buy that.

Be sure to peruse the rest of the page. Since it’s the 700

Club, there’s plenty of unintentional hilarity, including a question

that begins “I’ve been married 27 years, but lately I’ve been having a

difficult time with submission.”

(My answer: “Just tell your husband to ‘forget’ the safety word and

turn up the juice on the cattle prod. You’ll learn your rightful place

before too long, honey.”)

It Happened to Me


As the last remaining occupant of my house, a place that has seen many housemates come and go — my sister and brother-in law, Dan, Paul, Kenji, Samantha and finally Robertson — the responsibility of cleaning up any junk left behind by the other occupants has fallen to Yours Truly.

Among the left-behind junk:

  • Some old computer books left behind by Kenji, including the Myst Strategy Guide.
  • Various bits of Dan’s esoteric computer gear, such as a Sparc laptop (encased in steel, heavy and non-functional) and a Symbolics Lisp Machine (even heavier, equally non-functional).
  • A banker’s box of jewel cases for electronica CDs. They are all empty.
  • One large bag of cotton stuffing.
  • The shelf from the desk I have loaned to various housemates. It looks as though it was removed from the desk using a crowbar as opposed to the proscribed screwdriver.
  • “The Chick Stash”: a collection of various herbal teas kept on hand for those visits from charming lady friends.
  • One empty bottle of girly hair care product.
  • A small ziploc bag containing a set of fine-mesh metal discs — presumably filters of some sort — of unknown purpose and provenance.
  • One bordering-on-disturbing manga.
  • A badly-scratched unlabelled CD-ROM containing two smutty videos: one titled facial_table.avi (a surprisingly descriptive name once you view the file) and the other containing a short clip of Alyssa Milano removing her shirt and going topless.
  • 6 boxes of cake mix, 10 cans organic beans. I know that Paul is a big fan of both these foods, but this is too much for even him to eat. I suspect that he has somehow found a way to turn cake mix and beans into crystal meth because that’s what people who buy suspiciously large quantities of seemingly innocent household products (for example, Sudafed) do. There’s something about crystal meth that turns people into MacGyver.

Although the aforementioned finds do tell some interesting stories, they don’t hold a candle to another find. Deep in the farthest recesses of the crawlspace storage area of the basement were two banker’s boxes full of “memories” — things I’d collected between 1985 and 2001.

Some highlights include:

  • A notice from small claims court telling me and George to cough up the money we owed to the silk-screening company for our failed attempt to become rich by selling “Frosh” t-shirts.
  • A cardboard star wrapped in blue foil: a decoration from a particularly memorable Havergal College semi-formal.
  • A ticket to a New Year’s 1991 GWAR concert. I somehow managed to convince Robertson to come see the show with me. I believe he had a good time. That concert changed the way I looked at live rock performance forever.
  • Security clearance to be part of the press scrum for the Prince and Princess of Wales’ visit to Crazy Go Nuts University, Fall 1991.
  • My “licenses” from Crazy Go Nuts University’s 1987 engineering frosh week: a necklace made of five beer caps and a purple string.
  • A $150 mini-bar bill from Labour Day Weekend 1986, when I rented a suite at the downtown Holiday Inn to throw a party. It seemed like an impossibly large amount of money back then (I was 18).
  • A collection of notes left for me by various people throughout my university career:
    • A note from Stacy telling me to get in touch with her if I’m not feeling too “laid back”. I can no longer remember the context. Do you, Stacy? (She reads this blog from time to time.)
    • Another from my engineering classmates Lois (a.k.a “Snowbunny Number One”) and Heidi inviting me to help them with their surveying homework.
    • A guest list for a party to be held at Terry’s, Brad’s and Drew’s house, Spring 1992. One group of invitees on the list is simply referred to as the “House of Annoying Women”.
    • A message from George that reads “happy birthday, you old poop”.
    • A request left for me during one of my DJ shifts at Clark Hall Pub. The top entry is in girly handwriting and is a request for ABBA’s Dancing Queen and Boney M’s Rasputin. Below it, someone has written “For the love of God, please ignore above requests”.
  • A carbon copy of a summons written up by a police officer, dated July 1985. The charge: “fouling the sidewalk”.

Strangely enough, I’m planning to throw away the most interesting things: the letters from “exes”. I’d already tossed out those I’d found in a box of mementos I kept in my room, but the lion’s share are in these boxes. These go back all the way to the end of high school.

I read each one. Some made me laugh, others made me wince and one or two just made me sigh.

Most of these letters date from the years spanning 1987 to 1997, after which email took over and any handwritten was relegated to greeting cards. While email is quicker, the medium of “snail mail” allowed many of my exes and those who didn’t quite fall under the category of “girlfriend” (“dalliance”, perhaps?) to show off their creativity. Many of the letters and notes were written in multicoloured ink, on the backs on interesting posters or other unique scraps of paper or had drawings in pencils, coloured pencils, ink and pastel crayons. A few had photos pasted in; some were letters composed entirely out of phrases cut from magazines, and a number were embellished with stickers.

(Whenever a male geek gets annoyed at email written in HTML rather than plain text, I suspect that he never got letters like these.)

Mail attachments in those days were different. One girlfriend sent me some sand from a beach in Spain with a note saying “we’ll do this next year.” Another who worked in a biology lab sent me her DNA sample (I returned the favour later, but without the benefit of lab equipment).

Some of these letters very clearly showed the state of mind of the author when written. One note from a girl at McGill University was written while drunk in blue hi-liter and large letters. Another letter had its writing blurred by a couple of tear stains, although knowing her, she deliberately wept over the paper for effect. Another was a blank Valentine’s day card that a rather clingy one had sent to me to fill out and send to her. She’d done everything but send a self-addressed stamped envelope.

A couple were prolific writers: I counted over 40 from two. They’d both written them over a one-year period.

One particularly good one was a poem from a rather gifted English major. I normally run in the opposite direction as fast as I can when approached by a university-age woman who wants to read me her poetry, but this one was quite good. It’s a damned shame that the poem is a searing indictment of me.

All in all, this stash of letters, cards and notes made me realize that although I often had absolutely no clue of what the hell I was doing, I didn’t do too badly with the ladies. (I became way more clued-in later, right around the time I started playing accordion.)

As I mentioned earlier, I’m trashing these. I’ll keep a photo or two, but those missals with lines like “a part of me will love you until the day I die” or “you’d better pick up your clothes before I throw them out, jerk-face” are going.

The combination of moving and an impending new life as a married man have motivated me to do this. I think that when you get married, you should put away those old love letters, especially if you’re still friends with one or two of these exes (or dalliances, as the case may be).

Although I’m sure that some of the stories behind those letters may end up as blog entries, I can’t see any good reason to keep them around once I’m sharing a home with a woman to whom I’m promising me for the rest of my life, especially when she’s leaving so much behind to be with me. I had the experiences, I have the memories, and I’ll have a future with her with which to gather new mementoes.


Anyone Know any Good Toronto Movers?

Let me know! (Feel free tell me about anyone I should avoid.)


A Good Neal Stephenson Quip

Photo: Joey deVilla getting his copy of 'Quicksilver' autographed by Neal Stephenson.
Me and Neal Stephenson at a booksigning for Quicksilver.

I make it a point to check out the Teresa and Patrick Neilsen Hayden’s blog, Making Light, on a fairly regular basis.  There’s always something interesting to read there, and my dendrites always feel a little bushier after a visit.

Making Light has an interesting set of quotes at the bottom of its left sidebar, and this one by Neal Stephenson — who probably rolls his eyes at the “dark prince of hacker fiction” that got pinned on him — caught my eye and tickled my brain (and will probably annoy some of my friends with hippie-ish tendencies):

For a Westerner to trash Western culture is like criticizing our nitrogen/oxygen atmosphere on the grounds that it sometimes gets windy, and besides, Jupiter’s is much prettier. You may not realize its advantages until you’re trying to breathe liquid methane.


In the Summertime

I’ve got a number of projects on the go, both work- and life-related, so posting may be a little light for the next couple of weeks.

Since it’s turning out to be a bright and sunny summer (at least here in Accordion City, anyway — hopefully my friends in Alberta will see sunnier weather), you might do well to get away from the computer more often and enjoy life away from monitors and keyboards. To help, I’m including a seasonal ditty: Mungo Jerry’s In the Summertime [4.5MB, MP3]. It’s from the seventies, but it most reminds the summers of 1998 and 1999, when I was a self-employed consultant programmer working out of my business partner Adam’s apartment at the top of St. George Street.

There’s a rhyming couplet in this song that always takes a number of people by surprise, especially if they grew up in the 1980s or later:

If her daddy’s rich, take her out for a meal
If her daddy’s poor, just do what you feel

It’s practically neo-con make-out music!


Roger Moore’s Fantabulous Eyebrows

So….hypnotic… [Flash required]

Toronto (a.k.a. Accordion City)

Fanfare, or the Lack Thereof

Got this in an email from a friend, and thought it was a much better approach than the standard jeering and booing.

Subject: Fw: turn your back

Hi guys and girls:

You know that this year, as in previous ones, the Conservative Party will participate in the Pride Day Parade. Usually, they get booed and what not by the people, but we were thinking of doing something more symbolic:

When you are watching the Parade this year and you see the Conservatives approaching, remain silent, turn your back on them and let them pass by. No applause, no insults, NOTHING. Do not even look at them over your shoulder. Invite people around you to do the same.

That’s what they want to do with us in Parliament, turn their backs on us, so let’s make them feel the same, ignored, left out. Let’s give the media a nice picture: Conservatives members and supporters parading among a forest of backs and a loud silence.

Please, do it, show them how you feel. And pass this e-mail along to as many people you might think could participate in this.

P.S.: Of course, when the Conservatives are gone, remember to turn around again and enjoy the rest of the parade, hahaha! Happy Pride!!!!