Can you recall a time when you were taking in a performance somewhere, perhaps a play or an opera, and the artist spoke to you? Maybe you’ve read a book and identified strongly with the protagonist. The writer seemed to know your every thought and feeling and expressed it through her work.
I had this experience yesterday morning as Jelly and I were ambling along in the neighbourhood, enjoying the brisk, sunny morning. As Jelly looked up at me adoringly, I thought of Robert Munsch, the Canadian children’s author best known for his Love you forever. In this story, a real tearjerker, a mother cares lovingly for her son as he grows up, their roles reversing as the mother ages. I’d like to say that Jelly’s adoring looks on our walk prompted the association, but that wasn’t it at all. I know she won’t take care of me when I’m older.
We kept walking and, suddenly, one of us had to go. Had it been Jelly, she wouldn’t have shown the same discretion as I; she would have chosen the most pristine lawn and squatted. I may be full grown, but my urge is often childlike. Yesterday, it came on quickly and fiercely, as it sometimes does, and I started to panic. Don’t assume it’s poor planning; it’s the many medications I’m on. I wondered whether any neighbour-friends might be home. Scratch that. No one is home during the day.
And so my mind drifted to a lesser-known Munsch classic, I have to go! In this story, parents go through the trouble of dressing their son in layers of winter gear and load him into the car, at which the b0y says he has to pee. As the parents remove the winter wear, the child’s urge passes.
My desperation directed us straight to the local community centre. People must pee there, I thought. Then a lovely but unfamiliar resident greeted us warmly. It is a friendly neighbourhood after all. I wondered how this stranger might feel if I asked to use her loo, but my social appropriateness got the better of me. Instead, I thanked her for the pet’s pets and off we bolted.
We arrived at our destination, a lovely building with plenty of washrooms. I pay my annual dues reliably yet I have never used the facilities. Jelly and I approached, only to find the door locked to protect the precious preschoolers within. We had made it this far, yet a doorbell stood between me and relief.
And so I rang, and I waited, and I waited. I saw lights on and heard boisterous children but no one came. Because I did not want to leave evidence of my presence outside the door, I rang again, hoping someone would rescue me from my increasingly compromising position. Finally, a lovely young woman came to the door, determined I looked like a danger only to myself, and allowed us both in so I could use the washroom.
Today’s lessons? Always depend on the kindness of strangers. Persistence pays off. Oh, and you’re never too old to read children’s books.