He’s a blue-collar working stiff. An ordinary, run-of-the-mill kind of guy. He works the graveyard shift at the plastics plant off Highway 5. He carries tuna fish sandwiches in a metal lunch box. He watches Hockey Night in Canada and news at eleven. He hums along to Shania Twain singing on the radio in his blue Ford pick-up.
We know this story. We’ve heard it all before. He smokes filterless Players and votes NDP. His favourite drink is a six-pack of Blue. His favourite movie is Fellini’s Amarcord (1974). He makes perfect potato pancakes and first class paper kites that catch the wind when his five-year-old son runs across the grass. He collects ancient Roman coins and once spent an entire afternoon in an art gallery in Venice staring at some Florentine drawings by Luca Signorelli. He plays goalie on the industrial hockey team and has a weakness for kimchi and chocolate eclairs. There is nothing unusual here.
She’s your typical welfare mother. A product of a broken home. She was pregnant at age sixteen. There are promises of child support cheques in the mail, but something always comes up. She reads smutty romances and takes the twins to McDonald’s for their birthdays. Sometimes when Grandma has the kids for a sleepover, she goes to the nightclub with her friends, drinks China Whites and B52s. She comes home at three in the morning on the back of a Black Shadow motorcycle, her arms around a stranger’s waist.
We know this story. We’ve heard it all before. When she was fourteen, she was in the top one percentile of her peer math students. She is working towards her black belt in Tae Kwon Do. She knows all about Bon Jovi and thermodynamics. She can read lips and knows some magic tricks that would leave your jaw hanging. She carves the best Halloween pumpkins you’ve ever seen and can walk across a hotel lobby balanced on her hands.
He’s your basic queer guy — drinks umbrella drinks at the disco, has art deco sideboards, and sleeps with the waiters from the tapas bar. He’s a male nurse at a seniors’ home. He likes techno and kimonos, crushed velvet curtains and silk pajamas. He can talk on the telephone for hours at a time and will admit to crying too easily.
We know this story. We’ve heard it all before. As a child, he had a crush on Houdini and once dated a travelling magician. He plays a mean blues guitar and paints his toenails bright red. He can fly an airplane and ice a wedding cake. He likes watching boxing and the plays of Harold Pinter. When he’s travelling abroad, he spends his time scuba diving and taking photographs of Gothic cathedrals. Ever since he was a kid, he could fix anything you can name: toasters, electric drills, snowmobile engines, etc. If you value your hard-earned pay cheque, don’t challenge him to a game of golf or euchre. If you see him walking home alone, mind your manners, because he has a left hook that could stop a bus. There is nothing here that you would not expect.
Fellini, F. (Director) (1974). Amarcord [videotape]. Homevision Studio.