Wednesday, August 11, 2010

FINGERS AS TALONS THAT NO LONGER DIG

Were time a tin can I would crush it with glee. Use my fingers to squeeze every last bit of life out of its smug, seemingly impentrable metallic facade. Drop it to the earth. Force the soul of my shoe finish it off for once and for all.

As a child, in Canada, Coke cans were made of a metal so tough that I would spend minutes on end trying to dent their red glares. Round about age ten, eleven the type of metal was changed, became easier to crease, to curve, to push, to to force an impression like fingers in dough. At that point, every can I drank could have its own coda. Me at the end, belching the burps that only Coke can provide, with the can being crumpled as my one coup de grace. My signature move, that crumpling. Gaze down into those clunky blue recycling bins, and it was easy to spot which cans were from Scott. Diet Coke's crumpler, par excellance. Those old, pre-metal-shift memories of can after can lying misshapen and bent leave me angry, almost sullen, because the bastards who switched one metal for another made me realize that life was changing too quick. The sudden resilience of inanimate objects foreshadowed a time when life would not bend.

I stopped drinking pop over five years ago, telling myself that the syrupy, sugary gunk that I craved was merely an easy injection of caloric goo. But, no. There are other, larger forces at play. The Cokes, 7-Ups, Tabs, A&Ws, Pepsis, Dr.Peppers, Fantas (oh, Fanta, how I loved your sweet fruits with unvarnished glee, coming home from a soccer match on a midsummer's eve, the family all stopping at Avondale's gate, Lakeshore branch, soon to be razed to give rise to a church, and me, with a green bottle of lime to light my way home in the early evening dusk), all were symbols of what my strength could become, my fingers acting as talons, tearing their metallic flesh with what felt like ease. To keep on drinking from unbendable cans was like sleeping in childhood's bed all one's days.

Gradually, inevitably, my strength gave way to the pop taste's true power. Aside from the cans, no longer easily crushed, mundane realities of waistlines and beer bellies became suddenly here, accumulated examples of time's last revenge. Gone went my cans of carbonated bliss. Still are the days when I wander through markets, letting my eyes linger on row after row of colourful cans that once gave me joy. Now their white labels and logos seem like smiles all too mocking, ever-fresh glares that remind me that though they stay still in infinite racks, and though they soon will be drunk and discarded like gum gone too stale, my middle-aged fingers will never, not again, squeeze them and crush them without any effort. Someday, far off, should I fall off my wagon and seek one final sip, I sense on that can's surface an 'accidental' gash will act as a final fuck you.

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