Monday, April 11, 2011

Close encounters of the creepy kind.




Sitting in the managing editor's office, while his secretary and receptionist are poring over something I had left for the M.E.--probably my scrapbook of published articles.

They are giggling and, it seemed to me, nigh-on to peeing themselves with laughter.

Silently, I keen, What's the joke, what's the fucking joke?

I check to see if my fly is not undone.

But no. It's something in my scrapbook.

Maybe I'd finally made it as a humorist.

Finally the receptionist, a good looking brunette in a paisely dress, said "Mr.Inch will see you now."

I go through an oaken door and there he is.

Grey. Pinstripe.Established. Comfortable. "Have a seat," he says in a friendly tone.
He looked up from his desk, where he had been marking some copy.

"It was your letter that won me over. You said you had no antecedents."
...It took me two days to realize afterwards that bastards of a feather tend to stick together. But it was mistaken identity.
What I had meant was that there were no powdered wigs in my family--I was a cultural orphan, while his Fine Old Ontario Family was likely wigged-out and even incestuous.
He had probably been born illegitimate.
But likely a Mason. And Masons can prop you up.

But by thirty, I wasn't exactly at the bottom either.
BA MA PHD--almost. Not from colleges I'd care to mention,
but, "Senor, I give you your PhD."...But not the Masonic apron.

There are two ways to get into the Canadian upper class. You either bully your way into it, or you marry into it.
I had bullied my way into Mexican university because I had lots of money and could, sort of, speak Spanish--and half a dozen other languages not related. I was rich because of my father's hard-earned money but a cultural hermaphrodite. You could not draw cartoons of me as wasp in a freshman beanie.
I had no antecedents.

Well, when a Mason meets a grunt comin' through the rye.

Quietly, the grey guy says again. "It was your letter that won me over. If you can write, you can probably edit." He goes to shake my hand. "You're in."

An editor in the family. For the Globe and Mail. I'll take it!

But it was kind of a set up. In six weeks, I was suddenly laid off.

On the way out with my scrap books, I noticed that the girls in the front office were giggling again.

What's the joke, what's the fucking joke?

Almost through esp, the secretary said to me. "It's your name. Why don't you get a decent name like O'Flaherty?"

Oh Toronto in the Sixties! Luigi Orellio had to become Lou O'Reilly.
And in the business culture around the Globe, you had to be at least a McDougald. And probaly a Mason.

What's the joke, what's the fucking joke?

The self-educated man had had a fool for a teacher. He had had no idea
where he was, and among whom he had moved.

And had just gotten the waggly handshake.

But he had studied Masonry.

He had said,unexpectedly to the editor, "My mother is a widow."

And "I have no antecedents."

...And through those two lucky phrases, was again back at work the next day.

What's the joke, what's the fucking joke?

##

7 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

Get a decent name. yeah, like Madonna or cher or snooki.

ivan@creativewriting.ca: said...

Well, it could have been Englebert Humperdinck.

...But if he'd gotten the job, would he soon be singing "Realease me?

...Tough, competitive business.

Anonymous said...

seems to me that there are an awful lot of issues dangling at us all,whether or not we're Canadian...elections here,more questionable military excursions/incursions for Americans,global unrest/instability,Japanese disaster serving notice on the world of our true fragility and dependence upon pure luck for continued existence,spring activities,etc. etc...no wonder most people are not reading/responding as much...perhaps even a hunker down mentality has now begun to germinate...who knows?...your blog was good...almost got a sense that one/some of your readers were taking light potshots at you in a previous blog?...seems to me that the world has gone a little nastier almost overnite,too...do we,as a people, sense our impending and utter end?...no point asking a shrink...they're more fucked up and off the mark than any one of the rest of us...I continue to apply,whenever possible, the "comfortably numb" theory at every opportunity...

Cy Kawtick

Anonymous said...

Hi folks,

Two things:

1. My latest column is up. It's about a challenge we've been mulling over here, how to green the home without breaking the bank on newfangled technology: http://www.thecoast.ca/halifax/sustainable-city/Content?category=957826

2. If you're a Facebook type, and you haven't done so already, please click ye auld "Like" button on the Drive-by Saviours fan page: http://www.facebook.com/drivebysaviours

Many thanks and happy weekend!

Chris

Erik Donald France said...

That is so interesting, Ivan, the class and Masonic angle. I floated the idea of a Canadian Studies course and would probably have come to understand a lot more about the socio-economics of Canada if it had run, but the powers that be had me do Latin American Studies instead. True on the writing/editing craft and arts. Have you read or seen Factotum, the Bukowski gigs? I got a big kick out of them, and probably for some of the same reasons you describe here.

ivan said...

Erik,

I am so behind on reading and viewing the books and movies that explain with such lucidity the notions I'd been having for the past thirty years...Yes, and even the the Buk, whom I'd only come across late in my life.

ivan@creativewriting.ca: said...

PS to Erik Donald France,

Is it a coincidence that all Ontario Premiers (Governors) have been Masons?
The only exception seems the likable "commie" former premier Bob Rae...And I'm not sure about him...
.....................

...No need to take up Canadian Studies.
Our Peter C. Newman has written the definitive book on this, titled, in fact "The Canadian Establishment."
...It's available everywhere, likely your library.