Every time the spinning, twisted body turned my way its eyes met mine and said something like “not cool, man” or “that was a little much.” Or I thought they did. The thud of the deer hitting the truck’s grill woke me from a near dream state. It skittered across the road and into the ditch like a venison dreidel. I’d just killed something. Someone to something else. It probably had a family. A deer mortgage. A doe mistress. I’d taken it all away. The grill sneered. It picked the hair from its teeth. The blinking amber lights on my roof didn’t mean warning: wide load ahead anymore. They said:
Got one. Got the fucker.
I rolled down the window. Crisp January air whipped and squealed through the cab. My eyes refused to stay open. This wasn’t safe. I needed to go home. I needed the money. “Watch out for deer.” I called into the radio.
Portrait by Andrea Hooge for #POBEshow 2015
“Lights!” He shouted at me as he biked past, like I wasn’t aware that I didn’t have a light on mine. Maybe I enjoyed pedalling through the night like a relatively fit Polish phantom. Sure, it’s dangerous, but I feel like I’m a responsible enough––fuck. “Camera.” I should have said “camera” after he said “lights.” That would’ve been funny. Imagine if the lady he was cycling with had said “action!” That would’ve been amazing! I’m sure we all would’ve stopped and turned around to share a laugh and recap how funny it all was.
Then he would probably apologize for being patronizing by saying “lights,” but go on to explain that his mother used to ride at night with no lights until she hit a raccoon that had been scuttling across the road and fell and knocked out all of her teeth––every single one! And since they didn’t have much money growing up after his father walked out she couldn’t get them replaced so she would only make puréed meals for dinner. Pureed ham sandwiches. Pureed Farfalle with red onions, tomatoes, thyme and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Pureed etc., etc. It would be a heart-wrenching story and I would ultimately respect his viewpoint and accept his apology.
Portrait by Ali Bruce for #POBEshow 2015
“It’s not hard, which means it isn’t cancer. Cancer is hard.” The doctor said as he washed his hands. I had never thought about the density of a disease before. Which were the soft ones? Lupus sounded pretty squishy, same with pemphigus. Celiac was a toss up.
“It most likely a ganglion cyst, which are completely normal. Just keep an eye on it. What finger was it on again?” I told him and he scribbled onto a piece of paper that he put into a manila folder with my name on it.
“The ring finger, huh.” The doctor looked at me before expelling an intrigued “hmm” and wishing me good day.
As I biked home the lump on my finger pushed into its neighbour like it had fallen asleep on an airplane. What the hell did “hmm” mean? Was there something curious about the cyst being on my ring finger? Or was he surprised that someone from my generation still subscribed themselves and their digit to the increasingly antiquated institution of marriage?
Maybe this was all just a sign that marriage wasn’t for me; my body had stood up when dared to “speak now or forever hold your peace.” If so I wouldn’t be too torn up about it. Marriage has always looked like the gaudy ribbon at the finish line of a race I don’t want to run through. Why celebrate your love while it’s still happening? How vain and impatient. Throw a party when your spouse dies or you get a divorce. “Look how far we made it!” is much more impressive than “look at us doing this thing we’ve been doing consistently for a while.”
Political leanings aren’t genetic. My mother’s belief in Harper’s inflated economic record isn’t something I have to swallow and extol. I can throw it out like my Sunday school parables and call bullshit on our Prime Minister walking on water (that he’s dying to have supertankers run through). There’s no cognitive dissonance––muzzling scientists, robocalls, senate scandals, etc, after unfortunate etc, are bad with a capital PC, and I can (and will) vote in opposition. But why can’t my mother or father see fit to do the same? Are they swayed enough by bland Conservative propaganda (PROTECT OUR CHILDREN) to not see the evidence that the human shaped tub of margarine with hair in office is trouble? Or am I not giving them enough credit and they’re the ones cunning enough to see through the partisan attacks to the truth, a truth where the best option for Prime Minister of our goddamn country is personal friends with Chad Kroeger.