February 2003

 

The rumors of my life have been greatly exaggerated…

Or

Make Me Your Excuse…

Whichever is easier for you…

All the world’s a stage…

William Shakespeare

Warning: There is some repetition here. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

So it seems that I have been running about making a devil of myself again. In many, many ways no less. In all honesty, I am more than a little amazed at all the trouble that I seem to be able to squeeze into a day. And not only is it the really good kind of trouble, but also a great deal of it.

When I find all the time to do all the things I hear of myself doing is beyond me. Not only do I manage to be able to be a misogynist, a racist, terribly ignorant, insensitive, a remarkably shallow human being interested only in getting laid and serving my own terrible ends, but I also apparently am capable of acts of manipulation that would make most secret service agencies blush. This is all, of course, according to various sources who, while their reliability may be suspect, certainly say these things with enough vigor that there must be something to it.

Generally I seem to have become one of the more terrible creatures on the planet.

It’s a gift really.

However, there are certain laws of time and space that do not take kindly to being broken involved here. Sadly, I would not really be able to complete all the dark and evil tasks I set out for myself unless I possess some previously unmentioned set of super powers, or I am, in fact, a fictional character.

Having just gotten over a vicious head cold and still being unable to perform a tune up on my dilapidated vehicle without the assistance (and by assistance, read: pay someone else to do it) of a trained mechanic, I can only assume that I have no super powers.

Therefore I must be a fictional character.

OK.

I can live with that.

That’s the only real explanation that I can come up with. You see, I seem to be capable of much more than the average bear. A great deal more. Far more than simply wearing a tutu and balancing a multicolored ball on my nose while riding a unicycle (truth be told I still can't get the unicycle bit down...).

Plus, fictional characters are always far more interesting. They are capable of so much more than the average human being, simply because their thoughts and motivations are limited only to the imagination of the person creating that character. Needless to say, the stories I have heard about myself of late are testament to the wondrous power of the human imagination.

Some people say that imagination is dead. I am inclined to disagree.

There are other benefits to being fictional. Not only do others get to enjoy the drama that my life seems to have become, but I get to enjoy the show as well.

And what a show it is…

I have become the Hollywood drama for many of those that have the unfortunate luck to cross paths with me. The casting is simplicity at it’s best. You have the evil villain (Yours truly, I will have to grow one of those mustaches that villains are constantly seen fiddling with), and the protagonist/victim. (I have found that in today’s world people have decided that these two roles are more or less interchangeable. In fact, people usually prefer to act because of a perceived wrong rather than simply due to the heroic measures required of them.)

All you have to do is add water and stir, and I become the destroyer of whatever dreams the person I have encountered once possessed. I begin to unveil Machiavellian schemes so complex, no motive is even discernable or, for that matter, even required, I just create and unfold them because that is my dark and malevolent nature.

And, as a "real life" fictional character, I have benefits that most other characters, being relegated to one form of media only, do not possess. I am seemingly real. And in the spirit of this day and age, I am fully interactive. I can exist inside a person’s life and leave them little to no options but to do things that they would never normally consider. For reasons that I will keep to myself, there is nothing more I enjoy than the havoc that, when heated to a boil, flies even out of my apparent control. This is for no other reason than that the seeming loss of control hides my true motivations better than anything else possibly could.

And I am an endless fountain of entertainment for those who need new and exciting gossip! Being capable of whatever evil a person discussing me can imagine, the possibilities for my past, present, or future atrocities are more or less endless. They are. as I said earlier, restricted only by the imagination of those that bring me to life.

The irony is that if someone complains about my fictional self, they never seem to take a look at the fact that they are the ones that opened the metaphorical book, ignited their imaginations, and brought "me" to life. But that’s OK. The fictional character that I have become is incapable of doing anything of his own volition really. I am controlled only by the author/audience, who are in fact one in the same. As such, I can't really get defensive, because I have no actions of my own to defend.

Thus the irony. I am merely a puppet to perform for whomever wishes to take up my strings and have me dance. The evils that I visit upon all that I victimize are evils, ultimately, of their own design. I do not write the scripts, I am only a character. I have no imagination, I am merely a work of fiction.

Perhaps that is why I seem to be the antagonist of choice for so many people (protagonists). The protagonists, being the writers of their little drama with me cast as the devil incarnate, create and have me visit upon them whatever evil acts they have conjured up for me to unleash. The best part of being this spectacular character is that almost all of my evils are discovered after the fact. This means that while my fictional self is running around two days ago creating all sorts of trouble, I have to put forth absolutely no effort in the present. The fictional part of me is quite the time traveler, did I mention?

I will quit with that particular train of thought before if becomes more paradox riddled than the "Terminator" series (although I am looking forward to the third in the series..A female Terminator... I may have found my cabana girl!).

Regardless, in light of the fact that I have now realized that I am a fictional character, I am going to dedicate much more of my time paying attention to and enjoying the show that I have become and what evils I have been up to. Seeing as I have no recollection of them myself (remember, they are the products of the author/audience), I think it will be both challenging and interesting to see what dastardly acts I have been up to. Everyone else seems to be willing to tell these stories to no end, so I will make sure I hear that which I can, and since I believe that any good form of entertainment should be shared, I will update you on the latest and greatest as they come along at the end of every Reprisal.

I sincerely hope that I will be as entertained by my antics as everyone else has been. My only regret is that for a while, I missed several of the first few episodes because I was upset at what I was hearing that I was up to. All these terrible (and yet wildly entertaining) things I had no knowledge of. I hope I didn’t miss anything too juicy…

Oh well…

Worst case scenario, they should have re-runs at some point.

I really shouldn’t be doing this…

Let me tell you a story. One that I shouldn’t, but will anyway. I have been listening to far to much Blue Rodeo and Sarah McLaughlin to simply let the mood pass.

So let me tell you a story.

I have put a great deal of thought into exactly how to tell this story, and whose version I should tell. I think that I have decided to tell my version, and I will do my best to tell it well. I may fail, I may not. That may not even matter.

It all comes down to winter. There’s a crispness to winter that for me at least, defines memories much sharper than any other season can. Perhaps because with the other seasons you may not notice the weather. Winter doesn’t give you much of a choice. When winter decides it’s going to be cold, it grabs hold of you and doesn’t let you go. Whereas with summer, the most the season can do is make you sweat, winter crawls inside you and can chill you to the bone, if not deeper. While it can, winter becomes a part of you.

Don’t get me wrong, I hate the cold. With a passion. I am a raging wuss when it comes to extreme temperatures. However, the fact that I hate it is completely separate from the fact that it seems to have a crystallizing effect on my memories. My disadin for the lower temperatures doesn’t change the fact that once the mercury dips below a certain point, the images of certain ghosts from my past become a whole lot sharper.

What I have come to realize recently, is that when something becomes sharper, it cuts you a hell of a lot easier.

There’s always a girl isn’t there? For some reason, all of my favorite stories that actually belong to me involve a girl. And usually me losing her. I suppose that the fact that I am as of yet unmarried and currently single dictates that all girl stories that have taken place so far must end in a seperation of some sort.

As one of my favorite authors in one of my favorite books was prone to saying, "so it goes"…

What has always amazed me about these stories is the fact that not the fact that there is loss, but the fact that it usually seems desperately tragic at the time and there is a great deal of firebombing and various other scorched earth tactics employed by both parties. It is only in the last couple of months that I have gone through a breakup that didn’t end in the fiery cataclysm I have come to expect. It was nice in a strange way, in that it was a taste of normalcy. Normalcy is not something that usually appears in my life.

Again, "so it goes".

It would seem that the digression gods have momentarily taken hold of me. I apologize for that and will do what I can to ward them off in the future.

To be clear, this story is not about how I lost one of the women that I have loved. It is quite the opposite. It is about how I got her.

This story takes place one winter, many, many years ago. Many, many years ago. That phrase sounds so out of place coming from a mind as young (comparably to many…) as mine. It amazes me the fact that I am only 26 and yet there are times when I think back and I find myself feeling so very old. I have come to the conclusion that age varies in time and according to different situations. There are moments, like when you are playing peek-a-boo with a small child, that you are incredibly young. Then there are moments when you find yourself thinking about lost loves late at night in the middle of a winter that is simply not cold enough to bring those ghosts back to life, even for a brief moment. In those moments you can age immeasureably.

Sorry, those digression gods again…

I can remember that night like it was yesterday when it gets cold enough. If I close my eyes, I can take myself back through time to that moment where years of impossible dreams passed through some previously impenetrable curtain to take shape and form and become real. This is something that dreams generally have no business doing, taking shape and becoming real, but that night they decided not to mind their own business. And I thank the digression gods for that.

It probably couldn’t have been more perfect, more cliched, or more storybook had we intentionally tried to make it so. We had been friends for quite some time, and she had (at least I thought up until that particular moment) no idea that I had fallen quite madly for her. I was doing the "just a friend" role that I have become so accustomed to over the years. She was simply playing the role of her. We spent a great deal of time together, particularly that winter. It was shortly after Christmas, and we were on our way to a party that was taking place in those tail end days of Christmas break. We had stopped at my house to watch "Mad About You" before we left for the aforementioned party.

Now let me take a moment to describe the night.

It was cold. VERY cold. It was also snowing quite heavily. The collective light of a million lightbulbs in various shapes and intensity was getting caught up in the snow, and reflecting back to the city it came from. In short, the whole sky glowed. There was a wind in the air. It was one of those winds that comes when it is cold enough, picks up little dusts of snow and sends it scurrying about in a manner that I can only think to describe of as playful.

Playful works quite well, actually.

So there we were, standing in the garage, about to leave for a post Christmas party.

Now allow me to describe the garage.

It was an attached garage with a mechanical door. In front of the garage was a driveway that all members of my family had managed to procrastinate shoveling simply because it was so damn COLD. Inside the garage on the right was a makeshift workshop. If it was not one of the more complete in the city, it was certainly the most disorganized. There was sawdust and tools everywhere. The whole place smelled of woodwork and oil. On the left was my parents Honda Accord which has since then (like so many other things from that stage of my life) been cannibalized for parts and crushed in some junk yard after falling prey to an accident involving an object which took a differing opinion on which way was the correct way to go at a given moment. At the time though, it was there, on the left, already started and waiting for someone to tell it where to go and then make it go there. That car was like a puppy in many ways.

The garage door was open, and it looked onto the sky and snow and driveway and playful drifts of snow outside. And there we stood. She was wearing a black full-length wool coat and Doc Martins. She was also stunningly beautiful. I just checked some old photos I have of her to be certain that her beauty wasn’t simply just a case of memory playing tricks on me. Memory does that sometimes to make things that ended badly seem more pleasant than they were. I can say with all certainty that was not the case here. She really was that beautiful, at least in all circumstances I have photographic evidence of. I was wearing a full-length Australian Outback slicker I had just gotten on Boxing Day and hiking boots. I also had reasonably bad eczema on my wrists. Winter has always done that to me. Even then I was an odd little monkey.

We had just finished watching "Mad About You" and eating something I believe was called Cous Cous. We had bought it at a supermarket. She had a thing for strange meals as she always felt that since she was a self described hippy chick, and self described hippy chicks were supposed to eat the oddest foods imaginable. I was her good friend, so I inevitably got dragged along on this little culinary adventure (and many others) despite my more than apparent skepticism. I can say that it was by far the blandest meal I have ever had the misfortune to force myself to eat. I can also say that I will never forget it for reasons that had nothing to do with matters of the palate.

We had walked into the garage, and for whatever reason, when we saw the scene outside all bathed in a color that I can’t describe, we simply stopped and looked. We stood there for quite a while.

And in the midst of all this dramatic perfection and cliché, what in hindsight, I suppose, was the only possible thing that could happen, happened. It was, what I think that you, dear reader, has probably suspected for some time. In all fairness, you have had the ability of reading the situation from the outside. I, back then, did not. What happened then surprised me as much as anything in this life ever has.

She looked up, and faster than lightning can cross the sky, she kissed me.

And what a kiss it was. It lasted for an eternity and yet for a torturously insufficient gasp of a moment. It came as such a complete surprise it disrupted my reality to the point where I doubt I could have done anything other but kiss her back even if my life depended on it. It reached inside of me, and the chill that winter was doing everything it could to make a part of me, was pushed out by a warmth that I have felt only a few other times in my life. It was a kiss that I remember perfectly 8 years later. It was a kiss I will remember for the rest of my life. It was best described, through the eyes of an awestruck teenager, as a little glimpse of heaven.

And as surprisingly as it started, it ended.

I opened my eyes and she was looking at my with a smile that was impish and happy and beautiful and burning it’s way into my permanent memory. And she said, "shall we?" as she motioned to the car.

I of course, being more ecstatic than I had been in my life to that point, desperately wanted to talk about what had just taken place in that garage surrounded by playful wisps of snow. I have always had a need for definition and certainty in my life, and she knew this about me, but she would have none of it. She said only this, which was all she would say on the matter for the rest of the night until I dropped her of at her home that night:

"Just let it be".

I suppose that may be one of the reasons that I do remember it so clearly, because I did let it be. And for every moment she saw me letting it be, she would reward me with another little glimpse of heaven. Right up until I took her home and walked her to her door and watched her disappear into the dark of her stairway.

I don’t think I need to tell you that it ultimately didn’t work out. That has been implied from the get go... I also am not at all inclined to get into the why’s or the how’s. I am enjoying the moment far too much. Suffice it to say, she moved to the West Coast (as self described hippy chicks are prone to doing) for post secondary schooling. She was reportedly unable to complete her studies, but she is now a mother of a child, married to a lawyer, and by all accounts, quite happy. None of those accounts are mine, and that is probably for the best, endings being what they were.

There is to be no accounting for me.

Oh yes, the Sarah McLaughlin/Blue Rodeo bit from earlier. We listened to a mix tape on the way to the party that consisted mostly of songs from "Fumbling Towards Ecstasy", but also had the song "Dark Angel" on it. I have drifted back into Sarah’s work of late, and between her music and the little snow and cold the digression gods have allowed us this year, it all got me thinking and feeling about being pricked by memories that were just starting to sharpen after being dulled for some time.

I still hate the cold. I still curse as I walk out to my car and start it (or try to). I wear a big wool coat with many layers. I wear thick socks. And I generally avoid going outside as much as possible.

But I find myself thinking recently, with the lack of cold days that this thing called the Greenhouse effect has brought, that perhaps it is best that I make friends with winter while I can, because like old girlfriends and old cars, winter may not be around for much longer. At least not as long as I might like it to be. At least not as I know it.

I think I’m going to go for a walk soon. The next time it snows. When it’s cold and dark and the only light is that which is reflected off the snowflakes. When there are playful wisps of snow.

And perhaps I will put on an old Australian Outback slicker that I got at a Boxing Day sale a more than a few years back.

And just for a bit, for old times sake, I’ll let the chill into my bones for a bit and see if I can't remember what it was like the first time I was warmed.

Somewhere between the truth and the lies lives my total and complete apathy

The Band.

*Sigh*

In fact, the previously mentioned vicious napalming of paradise has expanded to full blown nuclear strikes. In fact, it has only been smaller tactical nukes as of yet, but I fear it’s just a matter of time before the little red button is pressed and it starts to rain down the big boys. In fact they have already been more or less dropped. In fact what was "the band" is nothing more than a radioactive dustbowl that will one day spawn a band of apes that will utterly ruin Charlton Heston’s day.

In fact.

Ironically enough, I just don’t care enough about the squabbling and rumors and bullshit at all to get into them in detail with anyone. I have even told the previous members of the band that I simply don’t want to discuss things any further, for if we do, the few vestiges of friendship that remain most certainly not withstand another barrage.

"So it goes".

There is however (insert collective sigh of relief) a new band formed and practicing. There are three shows to be played next month, and rest assured, they will be played in spades. And these may even be a little (OK, a lot really) different than what you are used to for reasons that only people that come to the shows and I will know. So if you wanna be let in on our little club of secrets, I recommend showing up and bringing a decoder ring.

And since the devil is in the details, The Shows:

Feb. 8th – Sam’s Deli In Kensington.
Feb. 22nd – Bob the Fish (17th Ave & 4th St SW)
Feb. 26th - The A-Channels Big Breakfast (8 AM-ish)
Feb. 28th – The Dubliner (Stephen Avenue Mall)

Bring all your friends. As I said, it promises to not only be different than what you are used to, but a good time for at the very least, me. As always, you are more than welcome to come along on my good time ride though.

And then there’s all this space to fill…

You should (in theory) have had to wade through a new web page to get to this particular reprisal. There should have been some redesign, as well as a message board should now be up and running. Take a look around. Enjoy yourselves. Feedback is always welcome.

And on the note of feedback, it is with great pride that I announce the first official www.natepike.com contest. Gotta celebrate the opening of the new page in one way or another…

So here’s what it is. As well as a new webapge design, I have recently moved into a new place of living. The walls are frickin huge and currently are almost completely bare. The only things that distinguish my walls from a scene in a Stanley Kubrick film are a few family photos and a picture of a hydrogen bomb detonation. Actually, that may be more Kubrick than I originally thought.

Anyway, I need to know how to decorate my walls and with what works of art by what artists, what photos by what photographers and all that. The person who sends me the coolest idea for artwork/photography wins.

And what is the prize you ask?

That will remain a secret for now. I will provide hints in the next months Reprisal. Don’t worry, the prize does not suck. All entries can be sent here, and please feel free to include examples of whatever artwork you recommend.







The Revolution Is Still Coming…





Oh, and Hi Josh. Now you've been mentioned in a Reprisal...