Home

It was a smooth funeral as these things go…

4 Comments

The rear swing door of the black hearse sitting in the horseshoe-shaped driveway was already gaping open like a Domino’s pizza oven, impatiently waiting for the deceased’s delivery.

hearse door ajar

Sun rays were prying their way between the clouds, trying desperately to make this final day bright. Alone, I hesitated a second at the tall, heavy oak door of the generic staid but stolid funeral home – I pulled it open. Within seconds, a tall, dark-suited bespectacled man approached.

Did you know the deceased well?

He was dignified and compassionate in his well-honed professional approach to terminal matters.

Very, I said, grinning in a sheepish, modest sort of fashion.

In fact, I AM the deceased.

I spoke this in a breathy whisper, hoping he would pick up on the discretion I wanted for such an unusual occurrence. He barely blinked when I said it though…How often does this happen? This guy was a pro. He slide-stepped a quarter turn sideways and gestured with a sweep of his arm that I might like to enter the chapel.

I was worried that I would be noticed when I passed into the dimly-lit open hall so I sat down quickly on one of the empty long wooden pews at the back of the room.

Funeral chapel

Fortunately, in churches and funeral homes, people don’t turn around to look behind them. You only look left, right, or forwards. I think it’s some religious rule, maybe even a commandment–  that you don’t turn around unless they start to play “Here Comes The Bride“, and then it’s rude NOT to turn around.

Music … I love music. Jim Croce’s “Time in a Bottle” was just ending and the distinctive guitar picking of James Taylor began softly echoing off the high wood-panelled ceiling of the chapel – “You’ve Got a Friend”… I closed my eyes and absorbed one of my favourite songs.

I was adjusting my pant leg when a woman’s voice coming from my right whispered, “Are you the dead fellow?

My eyes were just adapting to the low lights of the room. Surprised, I turned to see an elderly woman scrinching her way, sliding gently towards me on the bench. She looked familiar, but only in the way that any woman of her age might remind you of your grandmother. She was squinting at me through her thick eyeglasses.

How did you know that?

– Well, you might think its a bit strange, but I come to a funeral here every week. IF there’s a funeral on a Friday. I have bridge club on Thursday and my daughter comes to help me out on Wednesdays. The other days just don’t feel like funeral days to me. I don’t know, maybe it’s because I’m Catholic. Fridays feel like a funeral day.

She slid her hands slowly over the knees of her dark dress to straighten the pleats that had been disrupted on her slide towards me.

– I never know the dead person, but I enjoy a good funeral. I get to see and hear the sum of a person’s life in about a half hour. I learn a lot about what’s important to different people. Sometimes it’s all just religious rigamarole – sandwich without a filling – almost like the dead person never existed. But sometimes, there’s a whole gourmet dinner laid out of a person’s soul. It makes me see my own life better somehow. I like those ones.

She fell quiet when she spotted the man in the dark suit, the same one that greeted me at the front door, approach the podium at the front of the room.

man speaking at funeral

He paused at the metal-faced lectern, looked down quietly at his notes, then slowly looked back up, and began:

One of the great benefits of living for a number of years, is that we absorb and observe and enjoy the things that make our time as humans on earth special and memorable. We experience the multitude of stages that constitute a life. Birth, childhood, teen years, first loves, fast cars and vehicles, first jobs, the stresses and great joys of family life and interacting with people that surround us. We see beauty, and pain, in so many forms, often those things that we glance past in early years become the treasures of our later lives.

-If Larry was with us here today, if he was sitting right here in this chapel at this moment…

He glanced with a small ironic smile towards the back of the room where I was sitting.

– if he was here, he would want us to reflect on the things that mattered greatly to him and at least take them into consideration in the living of our everyday lives. 

Hallelujah brother, I wanted to yell out.

But I didn’t want to distract the modest crowd of mourners and well-wishers who had broken away from their daily existences to say a final farewell to a small piece, a fragment really, for most of them, of their lives. Aside from close family, a funeral, at its most basic level isn’t really about the person who has passed. A funeral is about how each of us reacts in the moment, decides our own personal life course, and editorializes how we’re doing so far.

– Highly spiritual but not a typically religious man, Larry suggested in his final requests that I put in a good word about 5 things that stood out for him and that made his own existence special and noteworthy.

spiritual path

  • Love of creativity. Creativity surrounds and envelops us every day. Almost everything we touch from simple kitchen gadgets to fancy cars is there because another human conceived and made it. Our medicines, our clothes, chocolate bars. You name it, simple or complex, it needed creativity. Music, sculpture, yes even Fifty Shades of Grey…they all originated in the amazing mind. We need to observe and appreciate the good and great we’ve created and be mindful of the not so good. But more importantly, we need to be an active participant and create within our own sphere too. Create a garden, create a meal to be remembered, create a poem, create a pair of socks. Perform some idea sex and create something totally unexpected. Absorb others’ creations but take the time to make your own little masterpiece too.
  • Love of at least one other who loves you back. The warmth of another’s love and respect is what makes humans human. It grounds us, it gives us purpose. Giving love to someone else lifts up the poorest beggar to the richest monarch. It can’t be bought, it can’t be sold, but it’s more valuable than the Crown Jewels.
  • Love of health and activity. Our bodies are striated top to bottom with muscle. Bone and blood and muscle thrive on movement, active movement. Our mind muscles and our body muscles all feel better when they’re exercised and strengthened. An internal global sense of health and well-being starts with active movement.
  • Love of the unknown…fearlessness. Stepping to the edge of the metaphorical ledge makes our heart race and our soul sing. Horror movies are so popular because thay take us to the edge of our comfort zones, creating a sense of exhilaration, but pulling back and leaving us drained from a cathartic high. Taking ourselves to the limit or into an area that intrigues but intimidates us at the same time is a fantastic journey that puts LIFE into life. I’m told that Larry confided once that running marathons or learning another language in a strange, exotic locale filled him with fear. But, living and pushing forward into that fear is exhilaration exemplified.
  • Love of the senses. This is a world replete with sights, sounds, smells that can overfill our senses, and yet we often downplay or ignore them. We need to learn to slow our breathing and absorb the plethora of beauty in all its forms that surround us. The smoothness of pine needles, the scent of seafood in a crowded marketplace, the roar of a jet piercing the sky overhead, the glitter of the setting sun rays caressing the lake surface at sunset. Our lives can be so much richer when we take the time to appreciate the exquisiteness around us.

– So, Larry asked that we all retreat within ourselves today and reflect on those things we feel an affinity, a love, a respect, a passion for in our days and years living this amazing miracle that brought us to this place, this time, this world that evolved from no one yet knows what or where.

Oh, and one more thing. Larry wanted me to add –  eat some chocolate … always eat some chocolate!

Life can be as simple as that sometimes.

coffin crisp

The time felt right for me to leave.

The old lady next to me turned and nodded knowingly with a small smile. Leaning in slowly, she bussed her lips against my cheek and whispered, “Thank you for the lovely soulful meal you made for me today. I’m going to think about the things that were important to you. I’m glad we had this chance to meet.

I stood and took one last look over the group of my friends, my relatives, my life. Some were smiling, some were gently wiping beneath their eyes with white handkerchiefs. The ladies dressed in mixtures of short and long skirts, with sweet floral smells and red lips. Men in dark suits, some in clean blue jeans and open necked shirts, a disjointed harmony of style and generation that spoke of honour and fashion.

To my own surprise, I felt good. It was a bittersweet moment knowing that my own few eternal seconds had come and passed so quickly.

I turned and pushed my way through the door of the chapel. Instantly, a brilliant white light shone through the upper windows of the funeral home, the sun had won its skirmish with the clouds.

I wasn’t sure where the white light led but I felt a robust attraction to first one exit door on my left and then an equally strong pull towards an exit door on the right. On each door a sign was posted prominently on its surface. The one to the left stated:

Buddha awaits your reincarnation

The sign on the door to my right said:

Chocolate Eternity

I hesitated and thought deeply.

SERIOUSLY? All of life’s philosophies come down to this?

Maybe death can be as simple as that.

I paused for a moment longer then smiled a little smile and stepped confidently forward. I’d made my choice.

With all my strength I threw open the door.

2 more doors

F*** Summer Solstice !!!

6 Comments

Canadians love their 4 seasons, right?

Summer solstice

Rippling heat waves rise and wiggle a belly dance over the searing white sand at Sunoka Beach.

Even though my eyes are closed I can feel and see the excruciatingly bright orange sun’s rays burning through my eyelids – squealing gulls whirl and dance in the air currents overhead. The sand forms a warm, comforting cup around my laid out torso like an Ikea futon.

I’m seriously considering getting up and heading to the beach’s snack stand on the riser above me. A light breeze has delivered a salty-scented roiling mix of hot canola oil and French fries with a pungent tinge of vinegar that grabs and tugs insistently at me, like a dog wanting its evening walk outdoors.

A pretty young woman sitting on a towel just next to me smiles and spreads coconut-scented oil in white streaks across the lipstick-red shoulders of her little girl — the fidgety one with sand-coated pig tails and blue polka dots on her white tankini.

Summer has just pressed its way through the revolving seasonal door and is abundantly full of promise — long unending days overflowing with an exploding mixture of blossom scents, insect songs, and Beach Boys harmonies floating past in cherry-red convertibles.

Little girl at beach

Canadians LOVE their 4 seasons.

Correction: Canadians THINK they love their 4 seasons.

I’ve come to realize it’s really just a mass deception, like FOX TV’s reports of WMD’s in my backyard. It’s because we don’t know any different. Or at least that used to be the case before huge airplanes vacuumed us all up and layered us out like cookies on an oven tray on spicy southern beaches each winter.

Changing from hot to cold and all of the temperature gradients in between is all we know and so we accept this in our young’ish years. Then little-bit-by-little-bit we grow older and we tire of ice and snow and shoveling and driving through slushy streets under city street lights.

Black ice gels beneath the heavy snow and we slide uncontrollably into the rear of the car in front. We swear and slam our palm against the steering wheel in frustration. I hate winter, we say.

winter fender bender

But winter isn’t where we began as humans … we started our existence as nomads on hot African plains. Later we adapted by making clothes and shoes to protect and survive harsher climates that were forced on us by changing circumstances. We were bred and evolved in the hot rays of solar heat.

And then we rambled.

And rambled some more, until one day a lost pod of us found ourselves chasing beavers and buffaloes on a whole different continent; a northern continent that blended short periods of Africa-like sunbursts with longer stints of ice-block cold, dark days.

The upshot of all this preamble is that I loath June 21st – we call it Summer Solstice, the longest daylight day of the year for us Northern hemispherites.

I call it Summer Sadness. It doesn’t seem to make sense, but it’s the end of daylight optimism for the year.

I spend my life anxiously anticipating the sweet chocolate cream-cheese icing on my birthday cake, or a tax cheque, or a vacation, or a million things that make me look forward with hope and excitement.

There’s a famous maxim stated by Robert Louis Stevenson that “It is better to travel hopefully than to arrive” that sums up the approach of summer’s leading edge. June 21 is one of those things that, day-by-day I anxiously await and look forward to with trepidation. I want the luxuriously long days to come but then all too soon they peak and I don’t want to let go.

It’s a terrible conundrum. There’s an oxymoron of emotional sensation. Sun, warmth, perfume-smells, cool-warm refreshing lake water… The chirp of the cricket that sends us to sleep, the early morning melodious trill of the red-winged blackbird, the annoying squawk of the stellar jay perched on the nectarine tree at full-sun noon.

Stellar Jay squawking

These are happy moments that the melancholy thoughts of advancing shorter days betray, like the bittersweet notion of a beaming new bride on her wedding day who knows that one day she’ll likely be a widow.

Oftimes we want the seasons to speed along their way and transport us forward to an eagerly anticipated event or time. Conversely, at other moments in our lives, it is our greatest wish to suspend the march of time so we can savour special occasions or sensations.

My most memorable June 21st – Summer Solstice, 1979 – I sat on a concrete curb outside a beautiful park in Interlaken, Switzerland while backpacking as a young man of 21. I was lonely and homesick, wanting nothing more than to be back home with my new girlfriend. I wanted the seconds and minutes to sprint ahead like Usain Bolt – who cared if the days became shorter, all that mattered was the companionship of the one I most wanted to be with.

Many journeys around the sun and many solstices have passed since that day. I still struggle with the push and pull of the passages of season and time.

Now that we’ve seen the backside of summer solstice for 2013, I’ll begin to mark the days and months off my calendar until … yes … the happiest time of the year … Winter Solstice … December 21, the renaissance of the days that grow longer.

Oh, I’m still going to enjoy the warm, relatively long days of summer. I’ll lay on the hot sand at Sunoka Beach – I’ll swim out to the buoys 100 meters offshore while savouring the intermingled chilly and warm currents of Okanagan Lake.

But, somewhere in the back recesses of my mind, a little bastard devil will be persistently reminding me that today’s hours of sunshine are fully a hair’s breadth shorter than yesterday’s.

Okanagan Summer morning

Summer morning on Okanagan Lake…

Become a Billionaire Like Warren Buffett … and ME!

1 Comment

LARRY SPEC CARRIER TIFF

“BUY BUY BUY!”, I said in my squeaky pre-pubescent voice.

When I was 10 years old, I took my paperboy earnings and ploughed them into stocks.  I was the Warren Buffett of the kiddy investment world.

Actually, in those heady Great Gatsby-like financial days of the 1960’s, my investing guru was Canadian-Jewish-Doctor-Investor Morton Shulman.

I picked stocks with names like Lake Ontario Cement listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange and I made oodles of money hand-over-fist. I smoked Cuban cigars lit with flaming $20 bills during recess on the playground. I became so wealthy that I could have retired before I ever entered the workforce.

If I had been old enough to own a driver’s licence I would have been burning black-rubber smoke pulling into the Glen Brae middle-school parking lot in my hot red Ferrari. I would have OWNED the student parking area.

Kid with ferrari

After all of the accounting was finished up on my trades, I’m pretty sure that I racked up profits exceeding  $100 over a 3 or 4 year period.

.

It was actually my mother who picked the stocks that I bought but I thought I was the best investor ever born.

I KNEW I was the best investor ever!

I had attitude in all ways. Some was good, some other not so much.

My Grade 1 teacher Mrs. Putns wrote on my report card,

       Works well with class. Independent. Has leadership qualities”.

You can see how obviously clear it was that I was well on my way to becoming a business and investing mogul, right?

Well, soon the train slid perilously off the tracks. Just one year later my Grade 2 teacher Miss McClurkin said,

       An excellent pupil. Larry’s superior attitude needs improving”.

She underlined the word attitude!

Alright, I have ATTITUDE… so take THIS attitude…

boy-with-attitude

I feel a Rick Mercer Rant coming on…

Today, it amazes me how few people take an interest in investing and looking after their finances. They say, “Money is the root of all evil“.

Well, love it or hate it … money in our pockets and our bank accounts is what gives us the freedom to make choices that are for our benefit and enjoyment. Money that also hopefully allows us to help others who don’t have what we have.

Why would anyone want others to choose their destiny?

CHOOSE YOURSELF, I say.

How can you choose yourself if you have a $400 car payment and a $1500 monthly mortgage obligation?

YOU CAN’T.

The easy availability of credit has made many of us indentured slaves to banks and credit unions and department stores and car dealerships and on and on. When the early morning alarm rings in our ears, we can’t just roll over and tell ourselves that we’ll get up early tomorrow

Nope, there are bills to be paid…

Stay with me here. I don’t want to suggest that we should all become lazy sloths and do only the things we narcissistically want to do every day … as glorious as that existence might seem. Life isn’t meant to be a free ticket to undeserved relaxation and a total lack of responsibility.

Life without any shit is a life without any sugar.

sad_little_boy

We become desensitized to joy if we have no contrasting hardships, sorrows, or challenges.

Some people see spending sacrifice as deprivation or punishment. However, even a little self-discipline and forward thinking can allow us to make our time filled with richness and meaning. Live a little today but also peer optimistically towards the future so that you can live a LOT tomorrow.

I’ve always tried to let my money work for me and not the other way around.

I don’t work in a highly paid occupation (medical laboratory technologist) that pays $100,000+ per year. I’ve worked just 3 eight-hour days per week for the past 23 years, since my youngest daughter was born. Laziness was only part of my story!  A big part of my time investment was in being Mr. Mom.

.

Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago. ” – Warren Buffett

.

So … sow some seeds as early as possible and get rich slowly.

Here are my 5 best financial“attitude” tips that will get you on your way to the Billionaire’s Box:

  1.  Learn as much as you can about investing if you’re so inclined. Two books I highly recommend to boost your investing know-how are Peter Lynch’s One Up on Wall Street  and The Warren Buffett Way by Robert G. Hagstrom. Knowledge and confidence in what and why you invest in something (instead of HOT TIPS) will kill the nightmares where you worry about how you’ll pay your bills, and have you floating back to those super sexy dreams … but …
  2.  If you just can’t bring yourself to learn about investments then use ETFs (Exchange Traded Funds), not Mutual Funds. The management costs of about 2% yearly that are attached to mutual funds are way higher than ETF’s (usually less than 1%) and give no added benefit. Buy 3 ETF’s (S&P 500, Dividend, and International) with different focuses and let the growth of good companies pay you to sit and watch your money grow.
  3. Buy used motor vehicles with cash and put at least a 20% downpayment on any house purchase. Let the new car buyer absorb the big depreciation loss when they drive off the lot with their new toy. You can put the few thousand $$ you’ve saved into more ETF’s. I’ve never bought a car on credit (mea culpa… I did buy a new Honda Civic once but paid in cash) and I’ve always made at least a 25% down payment on any house I’ve bought.
  4. Save 10% of your take home pay and have it automatically put into an investment account. I’ve made investing blunders – like the time I lost $25,000 on a company that was laundering money for Russian organized crime – but I’ve made a point of always saving at least 10% of my take home pay and investing it in a way that OVER TIME has made it a force to be contended with.
  5.  Enjoy, just not too much! Life shouldn’t be drudgery. If you’ve put aside 10% of your earnings, you’ve earned the right to participate in the amazing things and experiences our world offers in whatever way pleases and gives you the most pleasure (just keep it off the credit cards AND keep it legal, OK?).

Alright, full disclosure time… I’m NOT a billionaire. YET!

Sorry I lied in the title to this blog post. But I also told you I have attitude, and sometimes that attitude makes me stretch the truth.

Choose yourself and live life for you and not the Don Draper Mad Men advertising world out there that wants you to BUY BUY BUY everything TODAY!

It takes self-discipline, strength of character AND attitude to stand up and not be a minion to those interlopers.

Be Bold … CHOOSE YOURSELF…

timeless-investing

 

Sexy Man in the Kitchen

4 Comments

SexyVegeMan

I love to cook, but it wasn’t always thus…

…turning the clock back…

There was a harmony of delicious scent when I excitedly pushed my way through my family’s back door on chilly winter Sunday afternoons.

I was still wearing the ice skates that shrouded my icicly-frozen toes. My friends Larry (yep, another Larry…to avoid confusion, he called me Lawrence, I called him Larry), Dave, Jerome, Hugh and I had just finished a game of hockey “shinny” across the road on the seasonal ice rink the city workers built for us each winter in the school park.

Mom was in the kitchen cooking, the dining room windows were hazy with steamy condensation from vegetable water boiling on the stove and all was well with the world … it just was.

From the living room, I could hear the sounds of the black and white console TV and my Dad’s raucous laughter at something a little tyke had said on “Tiny Talent Time”, a prehistoric version of the many “Idol” or “Talent” shows that litter our current TV screens. If I came in a few minutes later, Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom would have a roaring lion or a soaring giraffe crossing the screen.

There were pan-roasted potatoes with a delicious salty-caramelized outer surface sizzling in the oven. A heady beef gravy smell wafted like a culinary aphrodisiac, saturating every room in the house. The dining table was set and soon an oblong ceramic dish would be laid down with large, dark slices of roast beef that occupied centre stage every Sunday evening in our house like a specially-invited dinner guest. I would feel a surge of pleasure when the plate was placed at the table.

downton_table

I’m pretty sure this is exactly what my family’s Sunday dinners looked like…

Idyllic memories aside, there were some downsides to this heaven-on-earth. Squishy piles of pumpkin-orange mashed turnips that I love so much now were a decided turnoff as were insipid soggy pale-green peas delicately served from a Green Giant tin can.

There are what we call comfort foods.

This is what I would call a comfort meal.

It was a warm, friendly, dreamlike scenario that played out once a week, every week. My parents and my brothers and sisters and maybe their partners gathered around a family table. We shared a roast beef and we shared the stories of the past week, both good and bad. This was the scene of many many middle-class WASP families in Canada of the 1960’s and 1970’s.

There were no cookbooks in sight or for that matter anywhere in the house. Food preparation was something handed down from mother to daughter with time worn recipes (sometimes hand-written on cards) that were part of the DNA of any woman worth attracting a man of substance.

But we boys and men didn’t cook. We might help out a bit on the side mashing fluffy potatoes or carrying plates to the table. And on hot summer weekend days, men held dominion over outdoor cooking on the BBQ where clouds of charcoal smoke, beer and red meat encapsulated the spirit of manliness.

danger_men_cooking_

But real cooking belonged to the girls.

In yesterday’s world, men were the bread winners and women were the bread makers.

And yet, something that was taken for granted just 50 years ago, that is, that woman do the cooking, has been totally turned upside down.

Today, I love to cook. Lots of men do.

The reason? Men have finally learned one of the great secrets in life.

Good Male Cooking = Sex

.

I first came to enjoy cooking as a way into a young lady’s pants.

Some guys build big vein-streaked muscles or hunch over greasy car motors to attract cute girls. For those of us non-hulky young fellows lacking any sort of mechanical aptitude, we had to resort to other means to draw sweet bees to our hives.

I developed two strengths that assisted in my often weak attempts to seduce and capture the hearts of young women. I learned to strum the guitar. And … I learned that cooking for the fairer sex could be a powerful aphrodisiac. Go figure.

Women chefs cook with their hearts and souls in pursuit of nourishment of the body and their families, while male chefs cook with their head and their private parts in pursuit of … well, you know. An exception to this is poutingly-hot TV cook Nigella Lawson who has cornered the sexy female side of food preparation. I would devour uncooked scorpions from her fingertips.

My go-to dish was French Onion Soup.

French Onion Soup with Stringy Melted Cheese 500

It was my fishing lure of choice in the sea of attraction. The broth was dark and rich and tantalizingly fragrant, with a hint of fresh thyme. It had the whiff of European sophistication that layered me with a hint of cosmopolitan elan. And there is something very pre-orgasmic about a dish that has a guy and a girl eyeing each other across a table with gooey strings of molten swiss cheese hanging teasingly from a spoon.

I used my cooking skills on one or two (OK, maybe 3!) occasions in my teen and early 20’s years to lure and seduce. Did it always work? I would say yes, although to be honest, I didn’t normally cook for someone until the outcome was almost 100% secured. Cooking just sealed the carnal deal!

Years have passed, and now that I’m older and happily coupled, cooking is a pleasurable part of my everyday existence, and not just BBQ’s! I love to combine spices and flavours to make something exciting to look at, savour, and taste.

My kids don’t see anything sexy or alluring about the dishes I set at the table, which is a good thing. While it’s all simple and straightforward, the colours and textures of foods are still a sensual experience of pleasure.

The sight and scent today of a plate of steaming roast beef at the table takes me inside myself to a warm time of family pleasure and the company of my long-gone parents. I longingly wish that I could make pan-roasted potatoes or apple pie that compared to my Mom’s.

Life has its cycles and rhythms. Yesterday my son in Nova Scotia phoned while walking on his way home from purchasing fresh beets to make Borscht … hmm … could this be his “seduction” dish?

If my kids only knew the thoughts that course through my head when we sit around the table together and I sip a spoonful of French Onion Soup … well, I can hear them now…EWWWWW!

When I grow up, I'm gonna cook sexy food just like Dad...

When I grow up, I’m gonna cook sexy food just like Dad…

 

The Worship of Power and the Need for Love and Admiration

4 Comments

Lovers help each other undress before sex.

However after sex, they always dress on their own.

MORAL OF THE STORY:

In life, no one helps you once you’re screwed.

Frank Underwood

It’s strange, but I kind of like Francis (Frank) Underwood. Frank loves power. Frank loves sex. Hmmm … maybe it’s not so strange after all.

He’s this nasty, conniving, charismatic, shrewd, cruel, pragmatic guy. He makes things happen, occasionally ethically, but more often in a calculated, cold manner. He’s not diabolically evil like Batman’s Joker; he doesn’t really want to destroy people or their reputations, but if accomplishing something he deems important requires collateral human damage, then so be it.

Sex is a currency and an urge that he exercises and uses and loves and loathes, all at the same time. It reminds him – and he needs frequent reminders – of the power that he commands.

Sex is his currency of being someone who matters.

Frank Underwood isn’t wickedly handsome like Christian Grey (Fifty Shades of Grey), but both of these men thrive on a raw sexual power awarded to them by their political or financial strength.

Power to him means magnetically attracting smooth young skin and exposing the hidden tender parts of the women he both desires and hates. So long as he can plant his penis in the fertile feminine fields of those who might find him unattractive or perhaps even repulsive, he can arrogantly perch in front of the mirror, look himself in the eye, and know that he holds influential sway.

So who is this Francis Underwood?

He’s fiction. He’s a made-up character portrayed by actor Kevin Spacey that resides on the Netflix-produced political drama called House of Cards. Underwood is the Majority Whip (ie. boss) of the Democratic party in the U.S. Congress. He’s Washington’s version of conniving JR Ewing (from TV’s Dallas).

Men are drawn to desirable women like little boys to ice cream cones. Women are drawn to famous or powerful men like little girls to Barbie.

Girl with ice cream

.

Sex as a currency is not a new concept.

Women realize this very well.

Women know that if there is absolutely no other way to buy the milk to feed their infant child or pay the overdue rent, there is ALWAYS a willing buyer of sex.

We men will always be there when sex is in play.

There is reassurance and implicit threat for both women and men who know they hold a swollen wallet of currency either through physical attractiveness or power.

Writer David Foster Wallace, in his 2005 commencement speech at Kenyon College said:

Worship power, you will end up feeling weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to numb you to your own fear. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart, you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out. But the insidious thing about these forms of worship is not that they’re evil or sinful, it’s that they’re unconscious.”

frank zoe g string

Frank scouting his Zoe…

In a scene separated just millimetres from rape, Frank Underwood plumbs the literal depths of Zoe Barnes (an ambitious Washington reporter) from behind up against a wall. Within the accelerating huffing and gutteral grunting, there’s no pretense or semblance of tenderness or lovemaking in this sex act. This is pure primal animal pleasure and power privilege.

Frank gets his rapturous moment of physical release and a reaffirmation of his power; in return, Zoe reaps “Deep Throat” insights into the backrooms of political authority that feed her own need for media power.

A perfect illustration in the real world of the appeal of power and fame is the almost-elderly Mick Jagger, who hypnotically continues to attract and make women of all ages swoon. Skinny, outright ugly (in my view!), average intelligence … THIS is a Chick Magnet?

Would any women feel the heat of desire for old Mick if he were a truck driver or a mailman?

So, in the real world where we all live, does power and the need for love and admiration have any true meaning?

I can only speak my own truth and leave it to you to decide for yourself where you reside.

As an example, the very fact that I write and post these blog articles tells me that, as David Foster Wallace says, I am subconsciously seeking love and admiration. If I wasn’t, I would just sit here at my home office desk and pound out my ideas to be saved only to my own hard drive.

But no.

I WANT you to read my stuff. I want and hope that you’ll appreciate at least some of what I have to say. Some of my musings might rub you the wrong way, but I kind of want that too. I have my Walter Mitty moments where I grow my facial hair out a bit and envision myself as some Hemingway-esque romantic writer creature.

I plot out my ideas and write and revise and edit some more, and then … I tentatively hit the “PUBLISH” button that tosses my words out into the internet ocean to anyone and everyone who might care to take in my meanderings.

Mesage in bottle

It’s all very narcissistic and ego driven.

There’s no exchange of money, so I don’t do it to pay my bills.

There are no agendas or advertising that are part of a larger scheme to influence your buying habits.

I’m no better or worse than Sally Field standing on the Oscar stage saying, “You like me“… except I’m saying, “I HOPE you like me“. And in payment to you, I hope that when I explore things about myself, that you are able to occasionally peer within yourself and say, “Yeah, I’m like that too” or “Something similar happened to me last week“… or maybe even “WTF“!

I’m a user.

I’m using you to help me develop my writing skills.

Week in and week out I write so that I can become just a fraction of an inch better at developing imagery and concepts that will make me a better, more interesting writer. Writing that may take me into composing short stories or a novel a bit later, or just supply my own muse in enhancing my songwriting attempts.

I see it as part of a process, and I’m using you to carry me forward. In the run-up to publishing a blog posting, YOU are my finish line.

When I watch Frank Underwood screwing others – figuratively and literally – on House of Cards, I find myself  revelling in some satisfied sensation of moral superiority, until I realize in at least some small way…

Frank Underwood is me … I am Frank Underwood.

He's had sex with 4,000 women, what sets HIM apart?

He’s had sex with 4,000 women, what sets HIM apart?