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musing about the Ex and joining a choir

Yesterday my grandsons went to the Ex – a Toronto funfair on every year for the last two weeks of August – with their mum and Thomas. They spent the entire day there and left at midnight. Roller coasters and many fun things and junk food. They loved it. My daughter is a good mother providing all kinds of experiences for her boys.

I, on the other hand, have never been to the Ex. Not once, in the nearly forty years I’ve lived in Toronto. I have also never been to Caribana. I wrote confessing this to my children, concluding, What kind of Torontonian am I? Sam wrote back, One who has never vomited freely into a repurposed oil drum while onlookers laugh.

Exactly. Anna told me the place is full of people wearing vile t-shirts, including a man with one that said, “I love blow jobs.” Classy. I’m a snob, yes, a snob. But still, I should have taken my kids there when they were small; I think they went with the families of friends. Somehow, despite this grievous omission, they have survived into adulthood.

My longtime student Brad has gone to the Ex nearly every year of his life, as he wrote in an essay for class and repurposed for the Globe. Our historian of all things Toronto, is Brad. Love it.

Blowing own horn department: A writer I met briefly at the nonfiction conference in Halifax read Loose Woman and just wrote me:

It was a great story about the growth of a Canadian woman of a certain era and by the end I was sorry it was over. Throughout your book I felt like I was visiting with a contemporary. I am 67 and so many of the touchstone ideas and philosophies about the 70s and 80s were deeply familiar to me. You wrote in a way that made me feel like I was watching you grow as a person from the start. Your voice came across as clear and honest and reasonable and I felt like you could easily have been a friend at any point in your journey.  Even the way you spoke of your insecurities and dumb moves along the way was especially touching. (We all know those dumb moves along the way!) I thought your post script was excellent. You tied up all of the things I was curious about.

Thank you! So good to read.

I’m excited to report that I’ve joined a choir. I’ve wanted to do this for many years but could not fit one more thing into my schedule. This choir rehearses only a few blocks away, but on Tuesday evenings. I teach Tuesday evenings, but since they start five weeks before my teaching begins, I’ll join for five weeks, and if I like it, I’ll try to change my course next year back to daytimes. I am still taking very irregular piano lessons though hardly practicing, but the fact is, I’m singing all the time. I sing harmony with the songs in the Y classes. Time to do so with others.

August is a lovely month. The day was mild and sweet but now, at 10 p.m., I’m wearing a sweatshirt and socks. Winding down. Hard to believe this will soon be dry and brown.



2 Responses to “musing about the Ex and joining a choir”

  1. David Bednar says:

    I did not dare tell the members of the selection committee that I had never attended the CNE before being hired as its General Manager in 1998. I had lived in TO since 1989 and my children had gone (with friends?), but I just could not see the attraction. During the set-up for that first CNE, I looked out my office window to see a female midway worker sporting a t-shirt that read, “I like my Sex like my Coffee, hot and fresh on the kitchen table.” It was obviously a far cry from my previous employment at Shaw Festival and Livent (hired by Rae Ackerman, on advice from Chris Banks, so you know Edgar was involved). However, I quickly came to love the event, foibles and all. There is little to compare to a TO sunset from the top of the Big Wheel. I was profoundly affected by my first Warriors’ Day Parade. As these old men approached the reviewing stand, many using canes, it seemed like a miracle to see their younger selves emerge, their backs straightened, their salutes sharp and quick. It is true that the event is not what it was, but nostalgia always out-shines the present. If you have good memories of the Ex, today’s fair can never live up to them; bad memories can never be lived down. Still, it is one of few events where three generations go together. One of my favourite experiences was meeting a family grouping in which grand parents were visiting from Africa, the islands, South America, you-name-it, and the whole family was at the CNE together. I retired in 2015 with lots of wonderful memories of patrons, staff, and board alike. It had gotten in my blood, as they say. You might want to give it a try, but I would understand if you stay away.

  2. Beth Kaplan says:

    Dave, I remember Edgar speaking of how pleased he was when you were hired. So glad the job worked out so well for you. And now I’m ashamed – so many people, including my own kids and grandkids and writer friend Brad, love the place. I should give it a try. And ignore the t-shirts. Thanks for writing!

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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