Fever Dream

Last weekend, I attended my first live-theatre show since the Before Times: Sweet Charity, a musical I’d never seen before, performed by a group of local university students.

There I sat alone – my would-be companion sidelined with Covid, natch – the audience fully masked. Even the performers wore masks, except when singing a lead part.

A 1960s Broadway musical based on the Federico Fellini movie Nights of Cabiria, the original Sweet Charity came with a book by Neil Simon, choreography by the legendary Bob Fosse, and the lead role filled by Gwen Verdon as a bubbly “dance hall hostess” who meets a shy tax accountant when they get stuck in the same elevator.

The show makes it pretty clear that being a “dance hall hostess” commonly involved an income-supplementing activity for some of the women that, these days, would be referred to as “sex work.”

When the musical number Big Spender started up, a strange familiarity started to come over me. I knew that song. And not just from decades’ worth of pop-culture references. I knew it.

Well let me get right to the point:
I don’t pop my cork for every guy I see
Hey Big Spender! Spend a little time with me.

Wouldn’t you like to have fun, fun, fun?
We could have a few laughs, laughs
I could show you… good time!
Would you like to have a… good time?

Excerpt from “Big Spender” – lyrics by Dorothy Fields

And then it hit me. I sang that song. Back at a children’s arts camp I attended as kid, in one of our group performances.

Was it a bit odd that a bunch of 12-year olds were taught to sing a song about showing wealthy men a “good time”? If it was, we certainly didn’t realize it at the time.

Anyway. That wasn’t even the song that’s stuck with me the most since the show. That honour goes to Rhythm of Life, a mesmerizing earworm that just won’t leave, especially after I listened to this version by Sammy Davis Jr. from the movie adaptation. Check it out, if you dare. And tell me what you think.


Mi español

You are like a muscle
That’s atrophied
But still part of my body
And mind

Or maybe more like a
Buried treasure
Deep down
Or deep up
In my brain
(Or maybe my soul?)

I’m working the muscle
Exercising it even though
Sometimes it hurts

Less often do I start to say something en español
And finish en français
Languages are a funny thing

The journey back to you is a little rough
But I’m finding my way, slowly

Some frustration
A lot of laughter
Need more patience

spray painted letters: "más poesía x la ciudad"
Ciudad de Panamá


As I approach the new self-checkout area at a local supermarket, a clerk comes over to guide me. She is probably at least a decade or two older than me, although my sense of age is probably not as sharp as it used to be.

“Be sure to put your bag on the scale and add each item after you scan it. Do you have your own bags?”

“No, for the avodadoes, you should click the ‘enter code manually button.’ See how there’s a number on the sticker?”

It’s not like I’m new to self-checkouts, but as she deftly corrects a few of my actions, it does facilitate a smoother transaction. Usually I have to click the “Get help” button at least once during these things, but today I don’t.

After it’s all over, I make my way to the exit, rolling shopping cart literally in tow. With its turquoise pseudo-Moroccan tile pattern, I think it’s cute – but by its very nature, it can never be hip. Even the word “hip” is un-hip, I fully acknowledge that.

Even though I leave feeling about a hundred years old, the whole thing was somehow quite a satisfying experience.


Two Years

Two years ago this week, you went on an unexpected outdoor adventure. Racing down city streets, careening along window sills, bouncing off balconies.

You hid out for four days, undoubtedly terrified, waiting.

Then one morning, you plucked up every ounce of your feline courage and found your way back home at five o’clock in the morning. You walked through the door I’d left open and into the kitchen and scarfed down as much food as you possibly could. You looked up at me when I saw you, seeming almost puzzled as I burst into sobs.

Since then, you’ve curled up with me at night while I slept with my elbow tightly around you. You’ve tucked yourself under my arm while I typed on my laptop with the other. You’ve dozed soundly on your bed while I worked a foot away on my desk.

You diligently caught mice in my old apartment and have enjoyed bird- and squirrel-watching vantage points at my new condo.

You don’t meow excessively and you haven’t broken or scratched things, only adding some wear and tear to the couch… a small price to pay for your constant companionship throughout the pandemic.

Sophie, you are a kitty like no other. I ❤️ you.


Diane et moi

On this Fête Nationale holiday in my home province of Québec – aka Fête de la Saint-Jean-Baptiste – there’s been much talk about the promotion of homegrown music.

But listening to a radio show today focussing on the wealth of music generated in this province made me reflect back on one time I was in the close presence of a real vedette québécoise.

I think I was about 15 at the time. I was heavily into acting, obsessed with anything related to performing in theatre, TV, film, and as fate would have it one day, commercials.

My dad was working on a commercial for Coke Diète and they needed someone to serve as a stand-in for a very famous Québec singing star named Diane Dufresne. As I happened to be around the same small stature as the performer, I was well suited to take her place during lighting and camera setups, allowing Mme. Dufresne to swoop in and do her bits once the technical setup was all ready.

Kathryn serves as stand-in for Diane Dufresne in Diet Coke commercial

I remember being quite hot under all the lights, so they let me wear my shorts, alongside the odd bellhop-reminiscent pink hat, and a top made out of the same satiny material the star would be wearing.

I can’t recall much else – it was a loooong time ago – but I do remember feeling like it was a cool, probably once-in-a-lifetime experience. And indeed it was.

Miraculously, the entire commercial is up on YouTube, so if you dare, go ahead and feast your eyes on the marvel of Diane Dufresne shilling for Coca-Cola in the 1980s, in what is probably one of the weirder commercials of the decade.