Van Morrison was crooning on the radio as we drove along the highway from Halifax to our Big Valley. The scenery was breathtaking and was nearly undisturbed by other motorists. We were in our little cocoon of a car and enjoying a gorgeous drive. Why then did my belly feel sick and dread? I was coming to the realization that this feeling and this music was linked to a bad memory. I told Dean that Van Morrison was incredible – an incredible icon of a musician and lyricist but I really did not like Van Morrison.
Why? he asked.
His music reminds me of an asshole I encountered when I was nineteen.
Do you want to tell me about it? You don’t have to, if you don’t want to, said Dean, being sensitive and sweet and kind, as was his usual.
I said, well, I’m into it now. May as well…
My story began and I can’t believe I had never told him this one. We have been married for thirty years!
When Mom and Dad got divorced, Dad and his new wife bought a motel in Niagara Falls. He was therefore unable to help me with my University fees at Waterloo U. I left school and headed back to Barrie but not before applying to get into the Canadian Armed Forces. For a while I stayed with my Mom (and her drunk of a boyfriend) in her tiny apartment but, this wasn’t ideal. Since I had found a full-time job at LaFayette Restaurant, I decided I had enough money to get a place of my own.
I found a room for rent in a house just down the street. It was walking distance to my job. The room was large and bright and had a shared kitchen and bath. The owners were a young Asian couple. There was only one downfall of the room – it was an attic bedroom with an open staircase leading up to it but there was no door – neither at the bottom of the stairs nor at the top. I wasn’t super bothered by this because the house was quiet and the couple was very sweet.
For a few weeks it was fine but then another boarder moved in. Cue the ominous music. His name was Charlie. He was small, skinny, unattractive and he did not smell good. His mannerisms were awkward and he was opinionated and outspoken with a strange cackling laugh. He was instantly overly familiar with me as his eyes travelled the length of my healthy, curvaceous body and my long dark wavey hair. A few days later he would remark that I really needed to lose a few pounds. Yes, back in the 80s some men used to openly make remarks like that. They would police women and try to ‘keep them in line’ with hurtful, personal remarks. What a fucking jerk.
The next thing that happened was I was watching tv in the living room when he came and sat down too close to me. Yuck, I thought. There was only one ottoman and he put his feet up and made sure to caress my feet with his, by accident. Ew. I moved away and shortly thereafter, I went up to my room. I could hear that he had switched to playing guitar and was belting out some, you guessed it: Van Morrison. He would play his guitar and sing Van Morrison every chance he got. I think he thought it was cool and that he would attract me. All that happened was it made me hate a great musician.
Late that night the worst happened. I was asleep in my bed, up in my attic bedroom. Suddenly I became aware that someone was in bed next to me. Uninvited! When my eyes opened and landed on his sneering but hopeful face on the pillow next to mine I nearly lost my mind. I jumped out of bed. My body involuntarily shuttered as I did a little dance to get his cooties off of me and simultaneously thanked the lord that I was wearing pyjamas. I screamed at him to GET THE FUCK OUT!!! Perplexingly, he seemed surprised.
I called the police and this bastard somehow convinced the cops that I was the problem because my bedroom had no door. I mean, what was I asking for without a door on my bedroom? What could you expect of a red-blooded male? The misogynistic pig cop actually went along with this pervert’s thinking but not before he questioned me in such a way that shamed me instead of the pervert. The perv stood there watching this procedure in which the cop actually asked me how many sexual partners I had had. What the fuck?
I was in shock and had a pronounced sinking feeling of hopelessness. Now I would have to move again. I had basically no money and no help from parents or anything. Moving again was daunting.
For some strange reason, probably to help make me like him, which it did not, the asshole had given me a set of glass, nested, lidded mixing bowls the previous week, which he said he had found. (Whatever!) Before I left the house with my bags packed, he asked for the mixing bowls back. To borrow a phrase from my hero the fictional character of Ruth Langmore on the hit tv show Ozark, that’s the calibre of fuck-nugget I was dealing with.
I am still troubled by this all these decades later. But if I could go back and do one thing differently, I wish I had walked up to the pervert to return the mixing bowls, smashed them on the floor and then taken his shoulders and kneed him in the balls- really hard.
I still can not handle the music of Van Morrison. What a shame.