My May Monkey

May’s monkey is When we are not ourselves: describe a time when you were “out of character.”

The first thing that comes to mind is tonight because I’m drawing a blank. Normally, if you give me half a chance to spin a yarn about myself I’ll go to town and back on that ticket. But this one is a toughie.

Here’s one: this isn’t so much a time when I was out of character as a phase. It was the second half of last year, when after two decades of repeating the mantra I’ll live in the city or I’ll live in the country but I’ll never live in the suburbs, Martine and I ran out and bought a house in Longueuil. (For you non-Montrealers, that’s a suburb.)

I’ll spare you the details, as that has been one of the recurring themes on the blork blog for the past six months. However, I’ll abbreviate and say that so far it has been a very pleasant change. I love the quiet, the open spaces, and the lack of congestion. I love having a back yard, a deck, and a barbeque. Perhaps most importantly, I love that I don’t have neighbours thumping over my head, under my feet, or through the walls. It’s just me and my beautiful Martine.

I am, however, occasionally haunted by memories of the 16 years I spent in and around the Plateau. And it seems like I hear that old Rush song, Subdivisions, on the radio at least three times a week since we moved.

Any escape might help to smooth
The unattractive truth
But the suburbs have no charms to soothe
The restless dreams of youth

I console myself by thinking “they’re singing about Toronto.” Or I think about times like yesterday morning when I was waiting for the bus to take me to work and the air was clear and the sky so blue and the trees so green that I could barely believe it. The only sound was a distant lawnmower (ubiquitous in these parts) and mourning doves coo-cooing in the trees.

As I search my noggin for other examples of being out of character I can think of a few odd times, but then I always manage to come up with a reason why that action or behaviour is not out of character.

The problem is that I have somewhat reinvented myself a number of times, to the extent that I once wrote up my life history as of it were a software release schedule:

Beta blork: thirteen years of public school
Blork 1.0: unemployed Cape Bretonner. Product recalled for reengineering.
Blork 2.0: College student.
Blork 2.5: University student.
Blork 2.6: Upwardly mobile yuppie in the making.
Blork 3.0: Quebecker
Blork 3.1: Married Quebecker, underemployed.
Blork 3.5: Career guy.
Blork 4.0: Total product revision: Non-married art student.

The result is unclear. On the one hand, perhaps I know myself so well that nothing seems impossible or unexpected. Travel guide photography? Plunging into a burning building to save an old man? Take a three day road trip on a couple of hours notice? Standing up in a board meeting to bust a top executive for egregious behaviour? Done them all. So my character is bold and brazen, right? But I’ve also suffered losses due to laziness, sloth, and fear. In fact, that seems closer to my daily reality.

On the other hand, perhaps this thing called blork is such an unformed clot of mud that I don’t know myself at all and everything I do is a surprise to myself.

I think it’s that second one. On a daily basis I’m filled with wonder about my activities, both standard and unusual. Wow, I’m on the Metro’s yellow line! Hey, I’ve got an office job! Jeez, did I write that? Woo hoo, I’m in the ocean! Yowser, she’s showing me her boobies!

On it goes. Every day a new surprise. Every day another mystery.

4 thoughts on “My May Monkey

  1. Ooo, Uncle Blork! Uncle Blork! Tell us the one about busting the top exec! Pleeeeeese?

  2. Yeah, I’ll tell that story someday. It’s probably not as dramatic as it sounds (it wasn’t a corporate exec, it was a university exec). The most interesting part of the story is the effect it had on me — a nervous twitch that lasted for at least 15 years!

  3. True. Only when I sensed I was being scrutinized (job interviews, first dates, important meetings, etc.)

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