Monday, 12 September 2016


Workers of the World Unit!

A few hours ago while hastily flipping through the now standard skimpy and vacant Monday Edmonton Journal I noted an odd column headline: ‘Seniors should enjoy sex but take precautions to avoid scratching STDs.’ That gave me pause so I turned the page back over. I’d read ‘catching’ as ‘scratching.’ I’d added yet another s and what the hell, dropped in an r to make a proper word in my mind.

The written alphabet renders language, a complex series of sounds intended to communicate thought, visible. I’ve noticed over the past couple of years that I’m prone to garbling the written message from the sender. I’m intimately familiar with all of the symbols that comprise our words but I may add or subtract some in an instant. It’s as if my auto-correct has some type of mischievous glitch. I worry about my brain, cognitive degeneration. I should probably get my eyes checked. I think perhaps I’ve developed a bad habit from staring at computer screens; I scan, I don’t actually concentrate hard enough to read and absorb electronic type as thoroughly as I do ink on paper.

Sunday morning Ann and I attended a funeral. The early hour did not bode well for sandwiches afterward. There were large numbers of mourners and the rite was delayed somewhat as the bereaved families and funeral home staff coped as best they could with the crowd. So I let go of Ann’s hand and wandered around to kill a little time.

The narrow escalator up to the mezzanine reception lounge was reclaimed from the dying Eaton’s department store in 1980. There were display cases of elaborate wooden models of horse-drawn hearses. A framed page of Gothic type explained the sociological concept of the funeral. Most of the pictures on the walls were floral: lady slippers photographed on Prince Edward Island, prairie lilies from Saskatchewan. The sole religious portrait in the space attracted my attention. The rendering suggested medieval iconography, sort of flat and at peace. It was a study of a painting, a mosaic or stained glass. The fellow in the picture reminded me of Brian Wilson in the 70s, longish hair parted on the side, a beard. Certainly not Jesus.

I wasn’t wearing my glasses so I sauntered over for a closer look. There was a little copper plaque about the size of a name tag screwed to the wooden frame. The font was elegant, an ornate cursive, etched. The unfrosted bulb light from the chandeliers glinted off the metal. I read: ‘St. Joseph the Wanker.’ I thought, ‘That can’t be right.’

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