The Domestic Opera

translated from the Italian

—The cat won’t eat his medicine.
—You’re making him nervous.
—If I don’t stand here, he won’t eat it.
—Have you tried cutting it in half?
—Yes, I tried that.
—What happened?
—He ate one half, but he spit out the other.

—Did you take out the trash?
—Yes, I took it out. The recycling too.
—Oh, that’s great. Thanks a lot.
—No problem.

—What do you feel like eating?
—I don’t know.
—I could make that potato dish.
—I was going to cook.
—Let’s just have leftovers.

—Is that the cat at the door?
—Yes, I’m going to let him in.
—It’s three o’clock in the morning.
—He’s been scratching for hours.
—I don’t like this.
—What choice do we have?
—We can’t give in to them.
—Go back to sleep.
—There’s a cat on my legs.
—Go back to sleep.
—That’s difficult.
—Go back to sleep.
—We should have got a dog.

—You look great tonight.
—Thank you. I feel a bit dirty.
—Want to fool around?
—No thanks.

The Air Canada Centre

Not my dog. Or seat, either. Not my photograph.

According to Kepler, Scaliger, in Exercises, says that “resin sweated from the timber of ships in the heat of the sun forms drops which give births to ducks whose bills develop last of all the body. When the bills are free, the ducks give themselves to the waves below.”

Something similar occurs with the sweat of hot-dogs cooked in “Burkie’s Dog-House,” in the Air-Canada Centre. The drops of sweat give birth to large, stout men in their middle twenties, with faces full of unshaved stubble. Contrary to the ducks in Scaliger’s account, the men’s “bills” form first, and so from their very beginnings they are free to hold court on a variety of subjects, the first being, “Wow! I knew I should have got the foot long!”, the second having something or other do with the Maple Leafs, and the man’s “boys” (that is, his identical brothers also born from those droplets). An example: “We better get back to the game, boys!” followed by a throaty call from no fewer than two of the gathered members. “Yennnrgggh!”

But one can’t fault them for their jubilant behaviour. The atmosphere at the ACC is electric, contrary to that of the Roger’s Centre, which is empty, concrete, and crushing. “Burkie’s Doghouse” is a good example of this difference, tight-rope-walking on the fine line between theme park and farce, and, as a bonus, the hot dogs are actually worth six dollars (mine came with pulled pork and coleslaw).

There is a certain charm, too, to the tribes of well-fed men who cruise the concourse around the rink, as even if they haven’t changed much from their dressing-room days on the high school football team, they at least dress well and operate according to the rules of “Jock Chivalry.” At the Roger’s Centre the predominant tribe (aside from groups of young women wearing baby-blue Alex Rios t-shirts) seem like they have climbed out of some alternate world where everyone camps out in the backs of grease-stained pick-ups and the chin-strap beard is mandatory. They wear dark plaids and shorts (the baggier the better–for hiding mickeys of whiskey, that is), which are unsuitable in hot weather, so they strip down to stained white tank tops and tie their plaid shirts around their waists. These men seem as likely to “throw down” with you, due to some perceived slight, as treat you with any kind of civility, and owing to the aforementioned whiskey bottles, they are often seen with red faces, flailing their arms about in response to security already leading a long train of their chastened friends to the section exit.  I don’t want to postulate on what kind of sweat they are born from.

The Divider

I wrote this a couple of months ago, by accident sent it to ‘The Gargoyle’, and they made the mistake of publishing it.

They split it into three parts, and re-arranged two of them, for reasons that I can only assume have to do with the fatigue and “senselessness” notorious at their eight hour production meetings. To their credit, they noticed the error and apologised the next week, but I think it’s fitting that they doomed an already weak piece which I really had no business showing anyone. For inexplicable reasons that are my own, I’ve decided to “publish” it here:

“Without knowing what the woman behind the divider looks like, having seen only a part of her bangs, the upper half, and a few stray hairs tucked behind her ears, my curiosity gets the better of me, and I begin to wonder what seem to me reasonable things, such as ‘Suppose she is the most beautiful woman in the world?'”

I write these words out onto a sheet of lined paper torn out of a notebook, which I fold in half and crease nervously, my heart disorienting, beating heavily in my chest, twitching my whole body. Two coughs sound behind the divider–could they have sounded any lovelier?–and I take them as a cue to tip the paper over the top of the divider and into the opposite partition…

The paper is unfolded. A moment, and then a moment longer. In a flash the paper is returned, in the form of a paper ball aimed–impeccably, blindly (for how could she see me behind the divider?)–right in the square of my forehead.

I unfold the paper carefully, looking for the message I know is there–the crumpling only a physical necessity, with the obvious purpose of improving aerodynamics–and, lo, I was right! There is a response:

“Though I have been described as lovely, by parties more knowing than yourself, it seems premature for you to bestow, and for me to claim, the title you have so rushed to grant me.

“Furthermore, you’re creepy.”

Oh, but–! My heart swelled, and its casing shrunk, and I was stung.

“If–if, my intentions, they were–only to share the moment of divine inspiration–that the smallest part of your forehead offered…”

Flustered, my pen crossed itself. I couldn’t complete a sentence, the ink shook with my hand, and… Finally, I stopped writing, without having written anything, and flung the piece of paper over the divider; a gesture of surrender. There was no response. I stood up, and she was gone.

We Don’t Have Snow Yet

It’s the end of the world. Tonight I slipped through chain-link fence and slaughtered a thick stalk of brussel sprouts. The stalk had to be held down at the neck while I sawed through it, an act that–common, I’m sure to all killers via similar means–I found took much longer than I had planned. The midnight train roared by as I stood behind the greenhouse, plucking the limp green leaves from the stalk quickly, and I thought what a perfect place, deafened by the engine, shrouded from the path by the greenhouse, to meet my own end–luckily, this vulnerability wasn’t recognised by anyone else. The train conductor, at least, had honked twice when he saw me, bent over in the garden, a warning to scurry under cover, like a mouse, shut myself up in some hovel and wait for the beast to pass. My heart beat heavily, for this reason, and because I did not obey, I felt as vulnerable as if I was exposed to some hawk in a field.


Yesterday, with a healing wound on my fingertip, I gutted ten fish, which I then split and stuffed. The whole ordeal was agonising, not only because I had never gutted a fish before, but also because they were half frozen, because I worried about the aforementioned “wound”, and because the counter wasn’t clear and I felt like I was contaminating everything. In the end, I felt wasted, not because I committed ten successive murders–though there was that–but because of the ceremony of their preparation, because I was forced to throw out two due to uncertainty, and because unlike other elaborate meals I have prepared, I no longer wanted to eat them.

(We did eat them, though.)