“Ingredients” courtesy of http://maryellenatmidlife.blogspot.com/2011/11/song-of-serendipity.html (ME is a true original thinker, I couldn’t have dreamed these up if I tried so here goes.)
A couple of ingredients I’d like to see in a story:
- A Canada Line train breaks down underground en route from the airport to Waterfront at 1:11 a.m.
- Inside are: Mom/Dad/teenaged son who just arrived from Peru; Cyndi Lauper; you; and a squirrel in a box
- Everyone’s aware that it will be a while before help arrives because there’s something crazy going on above ground
A couple of ingredients I’d like to see in a poem:
- A struggling artist
- A palette of primary colours
- A reluctant model (you)
MY FICTIONAL STORY____#2____________________________________________________________
The professional male voice over the speakers sounded rehearsed: “Ladies and gentlemen, we will have you moving as soon as possible. Thieves were intercepted cutting copper wire from our main interface lines and this could take some time. Please bear with us. We thank you for your patience.”
“Oh, great, first the guys mess up and leave the airport without me and now this. Ah, well, maybe I’ll get a song out of a good dream,” Cyndi said. I’d been watching her since we left the Airport Station but this was the first time she spoke.
Cyndi Lauper was now trapped along with me and a family of three Peruvian travellers on the Canada Line subway halfway between the airport and the Vancouver waterfront at 1:11 a.m. on a Saturday morning.
“Like we have any freaking choice other than to bear with you,” Cyndi said, pressing a number on the speed dial of her cell.
Someone on the other end must have asked her why she didn’t take a cab.
“First of all, it was you guys who took off without me so don’t get me started about my judgement. The cab would have taken longer to get downtown anyway,” she said.
Then, “Well, I didn’t know the subway was gonna’ go and get itself stuck, now did I?”
And finally, before ending the call: “Alright, I’ll see ya’ when I see ya’.”
I watched her kick back, a veteran of planes, buses and hotel rooms, she meant to take full advantage of her down time. With the pluck of a prepared traveller, she yanked a fuzzy pink sweater out of her backpack and placed it pillow style under her head on the blue plastic bench for two, curling up as an adult can do in such limited space. The ability to sleep anywhere is a quality I’ve always admired. Unfortunately, I may never acquire it.
A Peruvian couple, their travel tags all still fastly attached to their spare, mismatched luggage, sat one on either side of what appeared to be their teenaged son. They seemed alarmed at first but, after the loudspeaker announcement and Cyndi settling down as if every little thing in the world was just fine, they relaxed. I took my cue from Cyndi, too.
The Peruvian trio spoke quietly together but I could not understand a word. When the man’s voice suddenly rose, I started and looked their way. The boy wept softly and the mother was, apparently, trying to soothe him, her long hair veiling both their faces periodically, when the wide-faced father spoke sharply. I don’t know what he said but it wasn’t enough to wake Cyndi who snored on, looking positively cherubic with her mouth open like a sleeping child.
The father’s loud words were enough to halt the boy’s weeping. The father looked across at me and nodded as if to acknowledge he knew the son was disturbing me and he had solved it. I smiled, though the slightly built son wasn’t bothering me at all. What was bothering me was a plain cardboard box in the corner. It was square, measuring about 18 inches x 18 inches and appeared to be abandoned. I was hoping against hope it had nothing to do with whatever was going on up above us.
Well, if it is, it is, I thought. Not much one can do against that. The emergency lights glowed a bright citrine over my still open book and I tried to read but I must have dozed sporadically because I kept jarring to every so often.
Minutes ticked into nearly two hours before the box appeared to move of its own accord. A sound of great chattering erupted that I recognized immediately though the only language I can speak is English. Seconds later, the head of a jabbering squirrel poked of the top of the box and Cyndi leapt up, demanding to know who was determined to keep her awake, for chrissakes. She saw the squirrel and focused on it while speaking.
“Which one of you does that stupid-ass chatter box belong to? Can’t you feed it or something to keep it quiet?”
It struck me how stars and famous people all look just like the rest of us when they aren’t onstage or magazine covers. Cyndi’s pale skin was beautiful but I could see we were about the same age. Somehow, I’d always thought of her as being younger than I am.
“It’s not mine,” I said of the squirrel.
We both glanced at the Peruvian travellers but could see it wasn’t theirs, they were just watching us, their six gleaming, mocha eyes moving from me to Cyndi to the squirrel and back again.
“Well so much for sleep now,” she said, sitting down again.
“I saw you in concert at the PNE last year. You are awesome, I love your new band, too.” I spoke the truth.
A friend and I saw her perform and haven’t stopped talking about how seeing her just wooed us all the more with her intelligent, quirky way of being in the world. At that concert, she told some flashing camera clickers: I’m up here singin’ for ya’ and these guys are up here playin’ for ya’ and you keep flashin’ your stupid ass cameras at us. Why don’t you just be here now? You’re missing out on your own minutes.
Before resuming that set with her band onstage, Cyndi told a story about being one of those clicking camera happy people who one day realized she was missing out on her own moments. Be here now. My friend and I still say that phrase to one another whenever we connect. Gushing isn’t my style but Cyndi Lauper is one of my all time favorite people in the world. Seriously. That much is also absolutely true.
“Thanks, that was a good time. I like your red hair,” she said and we laughed because hers was dyed another shade of uniquely Cyndi red.
“Who would leave a stupid ass box with a squirrel in it on the subway?” she said
We all watched the squirrel nervously poke its head out and retreat again and again as soon as anyone of us moved. Kids and animals, always entertaining even when none was intended.
“I don’t know. Maybe the squirrel is sick, it was quiet for a long time. I’m just glad it wasn’t a bomb,” I said.
I rummaged through my Cotton Ginny tote bag for some gum, found it and offered it around. Nobody wanted any but it helped me from feeling thirsty so I took two pieces and chewed while we waited. The squirrel was busy tearing and chewing on the cardboard and too skittish, thankfully, to come near any of us. We were all so tired by then, we didn’t have the faculties to be bothered about the squirrel anymore. But I was feeling the need to pee swelling in me and kept hoping the train would start moving soon.
Cyndi started singing softly, a bluesy melody that back seated my urinary crisis and took me to places that had me wishing the train would never start again. How lucky I was this night of tired travel home to my downtown apartment from helping a friend living near YVR pack for a pending move. Just imagine. If I’d begged off as I was first inclined to do – who wants to spend their Friday night packing – I would not be sitting here, serenaded by the one and only Cyndi Lauper. Life always works out if we let it… and just don’t resist… too much.
Two and a half hours to the minute after it had stopped, the train lurched forward and we all lurched with it, falling silent as weary travellers do.
Minutes later, we were all at the waterfront station, disembarking into the brisk, indigo night as though we’d never even crossed paths, Cyndi and I with our red hair trailing out behind us as we hurried our separate ways.
(c) November 23 2011 JAuroraMorealist
MY RECIPE POEM_#2________________________________________________________________
Green, blue, red, yellow, orange and purple
My reluctant arts publicity proved quite mirthful
Painted by a tall woman with a Picasso-esque eye
I was nowhere on the canvas, not me, myself nor I
Artists without name aiding one another’s plight
What colour of her, I wonder, should I truly write?
(c) November 23 2011 JAuroraMorealist