Epiphanies & Elegies: Very Short Stories4.12 · Rating details · 34 Ratings · 7 Reviews
Epiphanies & Elegies is a collection of delightful, accessible poems shot through with wonder, humor, faith, and Irish Catholic heritage. Brian Doyle has injected each piece with perception, insight, and compassion. These spiritual works contain the voice of a father, a husband, a man openly in love with his family, and proud of his heritage. Doyle illuminates seeminglEpiphanies & Elegies is a collection of delightful, accessible poems shot through with wonder, humor, faith, and Irish Catholic heritage. Brian Doyle has injected each piece with perception, insight, and compassion. These spiritual works contain the voice of a father, a husband, a man openly in love with his family, and proud of his heritage. Doyle illuminates seemingly ordinary, everyday events in poems that will immediately touch with the reader with their truth. These warm and insightful pieces are sometimes funny, sometimes poignant takes on the small wonders and inevitable tragedies of life. This book is a delightful addition to the world of spiritual and inspirational writing....more
Hardcover, 143 pages
Published November 16th 2006 by Sheed & Ward
The Elmdale. I never thought Iâd see the day when this storied and wonderful and intimidating dump of a joint would actually be hosting cultural events cultural.
I was here then, the way things used to be. And Iâm privileged to be here now, to take part in this new Elmdale ambience.
Things have certainly changed. This is a different Elmdale, no mistake. Still hard to get used to.
Cultural events taking place.
Music. Drama. Improv. Readings. Ebooks.
Oh, there was a culture here, donât get me wrong. But it was a different kind of culture.
I was one of the founding members of a touch football organization here.
This was our headquarters and conditioning centre. Our training table consisted mainly of beer and Chuckwagons. The Chuckwagons were especially tasty when over-cooked, causing the cellophane wrapping to melt into the Cheese Whiz topping and onto the greenish coloured meat.
It wasnât a touch football LEAGUE, by the way. It was just one team.
We were called âThe Dildos.â
We were aptly named. For two reasons. One: like dildos, we were merely facsimiles. Two: since we were the only team, we played with ourselves.
You may be familiar with the names of some of our regulars from that time:
There was Mike Paradis, master teacher and culture critic;
There was the late Keith Clarke, musician and our official Commissioner of Football;
Bobby Gairns, author, speech writer, aboriginal Order of Canada;
The late Jay Roberts, retired Ottawa Rough Riders player and crime novel afficianado;
Charley Gordon, author and humourist;
Senator Jimmy Munson, who wasnât a senator then;
Peter Connolly, political fixer and executive insider;
The late Billy Cooper, retired Rough Rider and lover;
Bruce McGregor, running commentator and lead singer of Bruce and the Burgers;
Ian Mckercher, teacher, author;
Lawrence Gladue, Order of Canada, sleepy Cree;
The late Ed (Hush Puppy) Long;
The late Frank Long, undercover mounted police;
The late Ray Monnot, Olympian, manager of the PMO;
The late Mike Sheehan, the late David (Snake Man) Aldwinckle...the late, the late, the late....
We had an athletic banquet every year; speeches, game films, awards. We sent out invitations.
Sounds like putting on airs, doesnât it? ... âYou are cordially invited to the Annual Dildo Athletic Banquet.â
I won the same award every year for 15 years. The name of the award was the O.L.D. Nobody could beat me at this position.
O.L.D. stood for Oldest Living Dildo.
I began winning the award in the second year of our franchiseâs existence.
The reigning O.L.D. at the time opened the door for me by dropping dead while he was running for a pass. He was running, if memory serves me, a down-and-out.
With characteristic sensitivity, Commissioner Clarke, in his eulogy, told us it didnât matter, he wouldnât have caught it any way.
We were a proud bunch. Smartly turned out.
Elmdale co-owner John Cowley, also a proud Dildo, unfairly maligned as being a cheapskate, almost bought sweaters for our team.
My daughter, Megan, was also proud. In Grade 3, she did a classroom talk entitled, âMy Dad Is a Dildo!â
I got a call from the principal and had to go over twice and talk to the guidance counsellor.
Yes. The Elmdale. What a culture change!
The rules are different now.
For instance, if you fall asleep at the table, owners Natalie and Bruce Myles will ask you to leave.
It was different then.
Scene: a drunk came in. Said he was going to meet his brother here. Hadnât seen his brother for 10 years. Cominâ over from Nova Scotia, he was.
After four quarts of Molson Golden, he put his head down on the table and went into a deep sleep. A bit later, the brother showed up, also drunk.
âSupposed to meet my brother here,â he says. âIâm just in from Nova Scotia.â
âThatâs him over there,â says head waiter, Marcel Lepage. âHow longâs he been here?â says the brother.
âOh, a couple hours.â
Now the brother sits down and has a couple quarts of Molson Golden and pretty soon joins his brother on the table for a deep nap.
A while later, the first brother wakes up and says, âHow longâs he been here?â and goes right back to sleep.
Marcel the waiterâs observations regarding these goings on were always relevant and pungent.
âThese kinds of family reunions are always the best kind,â he said. âYou can get together every 10 years but you donât have to talk to each other!â
Marcel was a noted linguist. His French translations, however, tended to be overly literal. Kind of like the ones you hear during Question Period in the House of Commons these days.
For instance, his translation of the phrase âma mere, mâappelleâ was interesting. Ma mere, mâappelleâmy mother is calling meâcame out, âmy mother, my shovel.â
During a teacherâs strike in the 1970s I got a job at the Elmdale as a waiter. My wife was initially in favour of the idea. Pick up a little extra money.
Marcel broke me in. My first shift here was a challenge. Marcel lent me his leather change apron and showed me where to keep the nickels, dimes and quarters in those pouches around my waist.
I was to start at 6. I was feeling quite on edge and apprehensive. My chief concern was making change. You see, my poetic nature rendered me weak in the area of mathematics.
At five minutes to 6 I went into the can for a nervous pee. I lifted my apron to unzip and all my nickels, dimes and quarters slid out and down into the urinal.
While I was on my hands and knees picking out my coins, two horrible looking bikers came in and, while they were urinating on either side of me, they made a series of lewd remarks that I cannot begin to replicate because now the Elmdale is so, well, lah dee dah!
At six oâclock my very first customers turned out to be the two bikers.
I brought them their beer and when I was finished giving them what I was sure was too much change, one of them threw a nickel on the floor and ordered me to pick it up because, he said, he and his buddy really enjoyed me in that position for obvious reasons which I canât outline now because the new Elmdale is just too lah dee dah...
Do I pick it the nickel and suffer humiliation in front of all the other patrons, most of whom were regulars, or do I refuse and instigate a physical altercation?
Not a great choice for a poet.
Marcel, who was watching over me from the corner, walked over and, with the quick diplomacy for which he was so famous, solved the situation to everyoneâs satisfaction.
He hit the first biker so hard it was said later that they heard his nose crack across the street at the Giant Tiger.
Projectile blood flying. Then, with a sickening thud, the second biker discovered what it was like to have your head used as a battering ram against the door as you took your leave.
It was a terrifying 30 seconds.
Drama and improv!
Marcel then showed me where the mop and pail were kept, and I learned how to swab up the three âBâsâ: beer, blood and broken glass.
Except for my difficulties making the right change, things ran smoothly until around 10 oâclock.
A familiar table of City of Ottawa employees, notorious as practical jokers, called me over and asked me did I ever clean the tables because theirs was very sticky.
In fact, one of their empty beer glassses was actually stuck to the table. I tried the glass and sure enough, it was stuck alright.
Just then very big farmer, a stranger in town, came over and said he could get that goddamn glass off the table. The glass, which had been crazy-glued on there, shattered and ripped a gash up his arm, severing a large vein.
The big farmer then reeled and staggered about like Jimmy Cagney in the prison scene from the movie White Heat, knocking over tables and howling for his mommy.
Then he fainted dead away in an award-winning finish. An ambulance came and took away the big farmer.
I got another pail of beer, blood and broken glass cleaned up and disposed of.
A while later a vicious argument broke out over what channel the TV should be on. Hockey or Lawrence Welk.
Cultural differences in taste.
Marcel, always the accommodating host, anxious to smooth things over, unplugged the TV and told them if they didnât like it they could always go to hell home the whole bunch of ya!
I learned a lot during that first of many 6 oâclock shifts about Elmdale culture.
When i finally got home that night, soaked in beer and bloodstained, my wife drowsily asked how it went.
âNot too bad,â I said. âIâm only down $30!â