Friday, September 29, 2023

Never the Twain I'll meet

HARLEY I'M HOME: Twain aboard her "flying horse." I think the singer
would feel at home on my bike, too.
I hope Shania--when she sees me in the audience next month--doesn't get thrown off her game. 

You forgetting what rhymes with "under" or--worse--instead of singing "no one needs to know right now," she'll be like, "Helena doesn't need to know right now." (Editor's note to editor's wife: Just joking! Ha-Ha!)

can only go up from here

But anything's possible, right? And a lot of people will have ponied up good money for the show. I'd feel horrible if I muck it up for them. 

I'll explain why in a minute but for now you need to know that on Sunday, October 22, my sister Mary and I will be attending the Shania concert at the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto. 

Mary, another Shania afficionado, had been given two tickets to the show by our generous big sister Bertholde and for my birthday, Mary graciously asked me to join her. 

I literally had to fight back tears and I would not write that unless it was true. 

I have the world's greatest sisters. 

Furthermore and I find  this next part hard to believe. I have never seen Shania live. 

I came really close a few times. One morning back in 2013 I was walking through a basement corridor of a Vegas hotel when I heard Any Man of Mine coming from an empty rehearsal space. At about 10 a.m.! Was that really Northern Ontario's own Eilleen Regina Edwards warming up?

SHANIA TWIN: I did not include Stacey Whitton-Summers
in this blog just so I could make another twin pun
but I woulda.
I followed the music, found the room and was greeted, proudly I should add, by a woman about my age who told me she was the proud mom of Shania tribute act Stacey Whitton-Summers, whose voice I was hearing. 

I just remembered. I also once met Waylon Jenning's brother Bo.

I got considerably closer two decades earlier. 

I was working for the Financial Post. A story assignment had me visit the central Ontario village of Midland and while there I was driving a rented car eastbound along highway 12 and heard--for the first time--on the local c&w station Kixx 106 --Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under? I remember the deejay saying that the singer, a newcomer to the country charts, Shania Twain, had recently performed at the nearby Deerhurst Inn, in Muskoka.

My discovery of Shania is a matter of public record, and we have a clipping of it somewhere in the house. Believe it or not, a few days after I got back from that trip, I was approached by a photographer and reporter with the Toronto Sun for a Man on the Street interview. (Who doesn't live for those moments?)

The reporter asked me what music I'd been listening to recently and I said something along the lines of "a new Canadian singer named Shania Twain."

Also working at the Financial Post was a woman named Patty-Lou Andrews. Not only was she my age, she was also Shania's personal friend and helping the rising star with publicity and the press.  

Patty Lou--to whom I immediately took a liking because my oldest niece is Patty Lou and I'm extremely proud of her--then invited me to go hear and meet her pal Shania, who was playing later that evening an hour away, in Hamilton.

Full disclosure? Andrew was single and I wasn't. 

An evening in a bar with Patty Lou, Shania and Peter was a terrific idea but so far out of the question it doesn't even warrant a question mark.

Staying home was the right thing to have done. 



I would have liked to have tracked own Patty Lou and ask how the evening went. Did she perhaps tell Shania about a young editor who thought she was so talented? And then did she show the newspaper clip of my Man on the Street interview and then did they use that to help promote the darling of Area Code 705 to the absolute heavenly heights of stardom?

Am I partially responsible for Shania's success? 

I can't ask Patty Lou. Sadly, she died young, at 46, and Shania included dedications to her on a few albums.

I know. 

I'll ask the singer herself next month when we finally see each other.  

Unless--after she recognizes me--things go south.  


Friday, September 8, 2023

Doing the Iris jig

to me. Iris has always loved looking at books.
You don't suppose she can re...nahh...

This past Saturday morning, at about 11:00, my wife Helena and I were sitting across from each other on our front porch.

Our 16-year-old housemate, Professor Iris Cat--Iris to friends--strode out the front door and walked right between us, heading for the little patch of garden that she finds so comfortable and private. 

Scarcely had her little cottonball face passed our shins when this happened.

Helena said softly, "Iris."

Iris stopped, turned her head slightly but--and in less time it takes to count "one Mississippi" --realized what she'd done and resumed walking as if nothing had happened.

Helena and I looked at each other with that did-you-see-what-just-happened? expression.

Iris answered to her name. 

Ever since she joined our household on our son Michel's 16th birthday in November, 2005, Iris has had us believing she didn't recognize her own name. 

It was like that moment in an old detective movie, when the bank robber who'd been passing as a Presbyterian minister for years gets tripped up by a clever plainclothes detective, and flinches . 

Undercover Dick: "No disrespect Parson, but see the way that woman over there's standing? Reminds me of a poker game. Yeah, that's right. A strip poker game;  one night a lotta years back, in Baton Rouge. With a few of the saloon girls. After we knocked over the First National Bank." 

SEEING IRIS-to-IRIS: Forget about reading books,
what about minds?; Specifically, mine.
Robber: "It wasn't the First National, it was the Union Pacific!" Then realizing he'd given himself away, the bad guy tears off his minister's collar, with: "Dagnabbit! You caught me!"

After 16 years, Iris's jig--an Elizabethan word meaning joke, by the way--was up.

And why am I telling you this now? 

Because she just did it again; she proved she understands English.  

Thirty five minutes ago--at 2:30 p.m--Iris was supposed to have been on the examining table of the kindly veterinarian named Dr. Henry Skutelsky at the Roncesvalles Animal Clinic. 

Not that there's anything wrong with her. 

She simply doesn't want to go to the doctor and must have heard us mention the exact time of the appointment. She's been AWOL since noon. 

We've depleted the entire come-out-come-out-wherever-you-are repertoire.

I pretended to open a can of soup just to make the can opener sound. 

I shook the catnip treat jar.

course she understands everything you say.
I even lay on the couch and pretended to crack a book. I'm currently three quarters of the way through Agatha Christie, A Very Elusive Woman, by Lucy Worsley; a surprisingly lively look at the famous crime writer. Dour and prim Christie was most certainly not. I wouldn't be be surprised if, at some point, the same woman who invented Hercule Poirot turned up in a strip poker game in Baton Rouge. But I digress. 

Typically, the moment I plop down on the couch to read, Iris emerges and extends her left front paw to take my attention from whatever it is that's keeping me from petting her. Not today.

We've looked in every open box, bag and container, including the Molson Canadian collapsible zip-up beer cooler. 

First thing I do most mornings is walk into the front room and pull open the window coverings and the zipping sound tells Iris it's time for her morning skritch. Tried that at around 1:20. No luck.

Often, but not today, Iris can be found sitting on the modem upstairs near the TV; Helena thinks it's because the modem's always warm but I believe it's because Iris knows cats belong on the Internet. She wasn't there, either.

LAST LAUGH: Iris always
gets it.
Here's the thing.  I know why she's hiding so well today. 

Back in June Helena and I were having a very non-judgmental cool-headed discussion about the bad old days and what sort of prospects aging housepets back then could look forward to. Or not. 

When I was young, ill dogs and cats were dealt with quite differently than they are today. I think you know what I'm talking about. 

This was a time when nobody ever paid real folding money for a kitten; in fact, frequently, finding homes for them proved quite difficult.

I figure Iris must have been in the room when Helena and I were reminiscing.  

And today she's hiding like she's never hidden before. Can hardly say I blame her.

I'll let you know when she arrives... oh wait, there she is now. 

The cat came back.