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September 05, 2008

The Call of Nature

Yesterday afternoon I was down at this beach/wharf called Walker's Hook on the North End of the island pictured above.

I had just got out of the car and this man was there. I said Hi. He said how beautiful it was. I said, Yes, it would be even more perfect if there was an outhouse. I have one he said. You have an outhouse? I said. No, I have a camper. I spy his camper in the distance with a kayak on top of it.

I look at him. I look at his camper. I envision myself peeing in that tiny space, smaller than an airplane washroom, and suddenly hearing the door slam and the camper moving, me trapped inside, my pants down as he drives away and I'm his prisoner.

But, I really had to go. It was worth the risk, even if he was from Maple Ridge. We know how many crazy people live there. But, when you really gotta go...

I managed to do the deed without being kidnapped and very thankful to him. We chatted. Turns out he's on the island because he's here to meet an internet date. Can you believe that?

Why do you want to do that? I ask. What do you mean? he says. I mean why bother? Why not just be alone? Well, because it would be nice to have someone to do stuff with, to go kayaking and camping with he says.

This is true I say and I can feel him looking me up and down thinking to himself that maybe I'd do. He tells me that it's hard to meet women his age who like to do what he does and who can keep up with him. I'm 68 you know. Wow. I say. You look pretty good for 68 and as soon as that comes out of my mouth I refrain from saying the other part which is I'm happy for you but that's about 20 years too old for me. Been there done that. Not on your life!

What are you going to do with her?, I ask. Who? Your internet date, I say. You ask a lot of questions he says. Ya. I used to be a reporter, it's just a bad habit.

Don't you think it's weird that you live in Vancouver and you have to come to this little island to go on an internet date?

She works for Robert Bateman he says. What does she do for him I ask? I don't know. I think she's probably his admin assistant. Interesting I say.

He tells me he's been married three times. Three times I say. Wow. Maybe you need to look at the pattern you keep repeating I say. Well, the first time was for 25 years he says. Uh huh, I say. But the other two were for two years each he says.

What happened? They were compulsive. Alcoholics. I didn't know that at first. I just got caught up in how excited they were to do things with me. That must have been the compulsive part I thought. "I could just throw a pack on them and we could go do things." It sounded like one of those horses you take on a ride down to the bottom of the Grand Canyon I thought to myself. I actually refrained from saying that.

Have you ever thought of getting therapy? I ask, because my friends all know that no conversation with me is complete without me adding that into it. Was one of your parents an alcoholic? I ask. My dad, he says. How did you know that?

Oh you know, the compulsion to re-enact the trauma I say matter-of-factly leaving him looking more intensely at me in a questioning sort of way. I just smile.

At this point, knowing everything I need to know about him, knowing I wouldn't get involved with him if he was the last man on earth unless the pre-nup included about 5years of intensive EMDR therapy for him, I shake his hand, wish him luck with his date and walk away feeling glad to be responsible for me and only me.

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