Soccer Mom

#soccer-mom #lover 

Teresa fixed and tidied herself up in the car mirror. She had just left the soccer field complaining of having a headache and a deadline. She told Phylicia she’d be working at the office and to call her on her cell if anything really important came up. Phylicia would take Hannah home after the game. 

The motel was becoming a regular fixture. Not the worst hotel in the world, but it just didn’t seem right to keep meeting Steve there. But she hated Steve’s place and all the eyes that could be watching. After all, he just lived a few blocks away and he had a very small 1-room apartment. On the other hand, she was turned on by the grimy setting. The seedy surroundings made her feel like she was cheating even more on Charles. She wanted these moral perversions to accumulate. A seedy hotel. An affair. A man, a boy, less than half her age at 20. A muscled boy in fine arts. A shy boy for the most part. But Steve was also intelligent and deep and knew how to bring her to orgasm every single time. That’s priceless. Especially when you hadn’t known what an orgasm was before Steve gave you one. This was the ultimate example of ignorance being bliss.  The ignorance disappeared with multiple orgasms. And the final perversion till now was Jillian,  Steve’s girlfriend, knowing about it. The 2 liberal and fine arts majors knew that this was freedom. 

Teresa walked towards the room with the last perversion in her mind. It got her so excited. Steve opened the door, part of the left side of his hair a newly-dyed aqua. He told Jillian goodbye and undressed. The rest was business as usual. For a cultured and sensitive boy, Steve still hadn’t grasped the art of hugging afterwards. He tried, yet was leery. 

“Why don’t you hug properly?” Teresa asked.

Steve turned his head away.  “It’s Jillian. She thinks long french kisses and more than light to moderate hugging is cheating.”

“But you are cheating.”

“No, Ma’am,” Steve stated assertively. “You’re the one cheating. I’m just exploring my sexual world. ”

“Isn’t Jillian afraid one day you’ll like someone you’re sleeping with more than her?”

“Like me, she knows it’s not a competition.” Steve was ready for thirds and the conversation stopped. There was no talking after this round. But Steve was moving from light to moderate hugging. It seemed sad when he stopped. They both fell asleep. 

——————————————————————-

It was night outside when Teresa woke up. She heard Jillian giggling and looked across the room. Steve and Jillian were on their twin Macs and doing homework. Jillian waved at Teresa. Teresa had slept deeply and was having trouble getting up. She finally saw that it was 8.30 and that she’d missed 2 phone calls,  both from Phoebe, her eldest. She was older than Steve. She had fallen asleep for over 4 hours. 

“Steve,  why didn’t you wake me? ”

“You seemed comfortable.”

“I take my meds at 8. Luckily it’s not too late.” 

She got herself a glass of water and then started getting dressed. 

“I see why Steve thinks you’re so sexy. You have a great body for a woman your age. If you don’t mind, we can have a threesome soon.”

Yet another perversion. But it somehow didn’t seem right. It seemed like a deeper hole instead of another step towards sexual liberation. They’d use her and then shoo her away, like an old feline. 

Jillian was also a soccer mom. That’s how she met Steve. Jillian was 24 and very mature. Her little boy was 4. 

“Jillian, I’ve come to figure out that I’m needy,” Teresa said, surprising even herself that she realised this right there, live. “I’m here to cheat on my husband. Nothing gives me more pleasure than knowing he doesn’t have the upper hand on something. I want nothing more than for him to find out one day and feel hurt. Sure, I enjoy the sex, but if it were not cheating I’d be bored. And I need bigger perversions every time. So yes, we’ll have a menage a trois. Then what?” Teresa felt catharsis. Jillian looked at her and smiled to say she was glad Teresa agreed. Steve seemed to be in his own world, unaware of the past few important minutes in Teresa’s life. 

Jillian came in front of her and kissed her deeply for a few seconds. She then went back to work. Teresa got dressed and was on her way. She told them both goodbye and Steve grunted while Jillian said goodbye wearily. 

She went to the car and listened to Phoebe’s identical messages. Hannah was at the hospital having fractured her arm. 

——————————————————————-

Hannah had already come home from the hospital. It was after 10 o’clock. Charles looked at Teresa with a blank face but said nothing. Phoebe,  Jillian’s friend, looked at her mother.  She seemed fine but very surprised. 

“My phone was on silent. ”

Phoebe smiled and nodded yes. 

Hannah was on her way to sleep. She smiled at her mother. “Phoebe told me you were busy. It’s OK,  mom.”

The anxiety was making Teresa shake and she felt a panic attack coming. She went into her bedroom and started crying. Charles let the panic subside before he came in. 

“Hannah’s going to be OK fast. It was a sprain. But you’re in misery and miserable. And since we’re sleeping in different rooms for over a year now,  I’ve decided to actively look for a lover. And it’s only fair that you do the same. I’ve thought about it hard.”

“You found someone, right.”

“Yes, Teresa. Debra. She’s an easy catch. But I’ll look harder to find someone who fits your standards,” Charles said condescendingly.

Teresa nodded and Charles left. His slut secretary. Just about Phoebe’s age. Then came the emptiness. This was not imagined emptiness. It was real void. Real nothingness. All she’d worked for all these months just gone. Charles had beaten her again.  

Defining Human Empowerment and Its Misrepresentation in Society and Mainstream Media 

#empowerment #fake news 

The person on top of the mountain is the universally accepted definition of empowerment.  And in a general sense, it is. 

From Google:

The term empowerment refers to measures designed to increase the degree of autonomy and self-determination in people and in communities in order to enable them to represent their interests in a responsible and self-determined way, acting on their own authority.

This is as I’ve always preached —a term I  call “democracy”. And it has never veered from the “Education,  Enlightenment, Empowerment” mantra. And we need to look at the definition carefully. Nowhere is there an allusion to gender. Nowhere is there an allusion to a specific group of people. There is no mention of age. There is no mention of ideology. 

We also need to simplify this by utilizing Maszlo’s Hierarchy of Needs

This is the hierarchical model to be followed on the road to empowerment.  It is this model that most media outlets ignore. With the worldwide advent of neoliberalism, this is being erased as an item on social and political agendas in general. This, for the most part, has brought about austerity measures that are threatening more and more people into falling out of any of these hierarchical needs being met. 

And thus the problem of extreme disempowerment begins. To ignore this state of affairs, the mainstream media is focusing on secondary issues which placate and handicap the masses. It is the job of the empowered to point out the truth and sort through the fake news. 

An image similar to the one above first greeted me in my early teens after I exited the Port Authority bus terminal in New York City. Having grown up in rural Greece and away from downtown Montreal, I had never even heard of homelessness. My young heart skipped a beat, yet shamefully became accustomed to it as part of life. This is not part of life. 

Austerity measures are put in place in order for the masses to forcefully become individualistic for the false notion that it is their only way of surviving. They compete with each other, instead of uniting to get rid of this roadblock. Then, when they do protest, their governments are taken over by special elitist interests and the banks that control and protect these interests. Look at Detroit. Look at Greece. The people spoke, the government agreed, yet the powers above quashed the whole thing. 

The above are astounding stats. Again, an impediment to empowerment caused by the denial of basic human needs and rights. The higher the poverty level, the less the existence of democracy. 

The media tend to ignore these stats. The reason Donald Trump won the election in the US is almost completely based on this. He had the right strategy and appealed to the right people at the right time. And all the opposition can do is talk about Russia connectionsand misogyny.

Someone comparing the opposition and the media cannot be blamed. They regurgitate the same news. And, again to Trump’s credit, this is rightfully fake news. Whether you like it or not, the facts speak for themselves. The sheer perversionof the facts is overwhelming. On too of the regular fear-mongering, there is the sheer non-presentation of reality. Reality is that things are going from bad to worse. In this sense, Trump echoes the European leftists. 

Families consist of people from different age groups, genders, and points of view. Nevertheless, they are united by the bonds of blood relations and community. Communities consist of the unity of these clans. One of the most popular and growing communities is the working poor. The working poor are people working full time yet still struggle to meet their basic needs. They consist of people who live paycheque to paycheque and get panic attacks over having to get unpaid sick leave,  a lack job security, not having any funds for their retirement, and dying alone,  among other things. 

The media is manipulating empowerment by equating it to feminism. All this does is cause a schism between feminists and non-feminists. And it pits women against each other. It unequally and perversely empowers neo-feminists to get away with any kind of harassment against others  (especially middle-aged white men and traditional women) while giving them a suit of armour against anything anyone says about them. Indeed, this makes for great systemic bullying, which only adds to keeping others down. This is mostly allowed by mainstream media and society because most neo-feminists are higher up the food chain than most women. As unpopular as some see this paragraph’s point of view,  most women reading this are rejoicing. In silence, of course, lest they be vilified and bullied. 

The worst thing the media is doing is giving almost all its airtime to the neoliberal support of capitalism and the demonization of others. In yet another perverse turn, after months of watching Fox and CNN, CNN offered far more fake news than Fox. Keep in mind that Fox is opinionated in their support of conservatism, yet their reporting is not false. CNN claim their news comes directly from reliable sources. All I ever see on CNN these days are reports demonizing Russia and glorifying the neoliberal agenda. 

So let’s tackle the problem of disempowerment by promoting the truth. I have come out with the plain truth even though it will bring me lots of hate mail. But it needs to be told. 

Let’s concentrate on attaining or having others attainwhat is due to them as humans. Start by going here. 

Mamie Clafoutis Cafe —A Bitter Disappointment 

#coffee #Montréal #mamie-clafoutis 

It was yet another summer 2017 day when my weather app says it’s sunny and humid and on my way to my car I feel light rain dropping and nary a feeling of sticky humidity anywhere. My windshield had a few drops on it but the wipers were far from needing to be used. It’s days like these when going somewhere with no outdoor seating for a sandwich lunch makes sense. And what better place to go to than Mamie Clafoutis on Van Horne Avenue, in Montreal’s second most affluent district of Outremont, right at the northeastern tip of Mount Royal. 

Street parking is free on Sundays on Van Horne because all the shops seem to be closed. The only other place open near the café is a Starbucks. And we know I’m still on a ban awaiting an explanation of why they tell me they have cold Frappé when in fact that’s not what their product is. And all those barristas trying to correct my knowledge of coffee doesn’t help the situation. Anyway, back on topic, I parked and entered Mamie Clafoutis. 

I had mentally prepared myself for a 20 -minute wait to be served. I also knew I had to go to the top floor to see if I could get a seat. All bets were on on the seat. Only 2 tables were taken. I ask the guy tidying up the place what time they close. He told me of their extended hours of 7.30 PM. I guess it’s a holiday weekend and people are at the cottage. At least for the store’s sake. Even so,  that still left me expecting a lower standard than the excellent one I’d had in years past when I came here at least 2 times a month. 

I came back down to the main floor on the screechy wooden steps. I love the sound of oldness. I was glad they hadn’t fixed the narrow stairs. It gave me comfort. I didn’t need to grab a number. I was next after the woman ahead of me. The staff was smaller. The choice narrower.  I asked for something with smoked salmon. I got a very lethargic sandwich. I later noticed it had 2 thin pieces of smoked salmon in it. 

The croissant selection was not bad. I took the cheddar croissant. The young man with the Parisian accent was friendly, yet forgetting to ask me if I wanted to heat either item was unacceptable. These 2 items along with my double espresso long came out to  $17. Ouch. For a self-serve take-a-number place, this is a bit pricey. But we can never complain about price until the product is sampled. 

I sat on one of these chairs next to the piano. I had to eat the sandwich quickly before the coffee got cold. The coffee reeked of mediocrity, seemingly watered down. And being in an inappropriate cup didn’t help. 

3 years ago, this was the best coffee in town. When you have a French café, you need to pride yourself on this.  The lack of flavour and the faulty presentation made this my worst cup of coffee in over a year. And I’ve had bad ones. But this was worse than all-yiu-can-drink breakfast coffee in rural New York State. And that’s saying something. Tim Hortons is better,  and that’s saying a whole lot. The croissant was dry and subpar.  

This was the gray scenery I have loved. And to their credit, the café has actually added air conditioning. Also on a positive note7, the comfy living room-like setting hasn’t changed. 

Overall, a bitter disappointment that will never have me come back. 

But I still recommend the bread and pastries. Even if the latter have deteriorated a bit, they are still some of the best. 

Servive: 6/10

Coffee: 2/10

Atmosphere : 7/10 

Food: 5/10 

Overall: 5/10

Avoid unless you’re held at gunpoint, but get some of the breads and pastries for takeout.


Don’t Hijack Canada Day

#Canada-day 

It’s July 1st again. Time to enjoy ourselves and be proud of our country.  Sure,  it’s not perfect. But it’s on the top 5 list in almost every category.  We may complain,  but we have it good. I just have to compare us to people living in most countries, where they can barely get by.  I just have to take a look at every country outside northern Europe and parts of the US to see how precariously most people live and how little their lives matter. People come to Canada to escape this. Why else would you live in a cold barren country?  It promises opportunity. 

Then you’ve got idiots like this guy. 

I was driving near my house this morning when I saw some clowns waving their Quebec flags on Canada Day. They had a poster of Prime Minister Trudeau and Ahuntsic Liberal MP Melanie Joly and they had written under the poster “150 Years of Oppression” and “150 Years of Servitude and Colonialism “. The worst thing about this is not the shameful spectacle nor the lack of human decency and respect. The worst part of this is the sheer ignorance of these monkey toads and their lack of proper upbringing and education when it comes to historical fact. 

1. Canada hasn’t colonized anyone

2. Quebecers and the rest of Canadians have been equally oppressed 

3. Quebec and Ontario,  the first 2 Canadian colonies, fought and got to this point 

So trying to ruin Canada Day because you feel you’ve been dissericed is silly. But it’s your prerogat. A prerogative you wouldn’t give to others waving a Canadian flag on your “national” holiday a week ago. Grow up and have some respect. This is wholly a language issue and nothing else. There is no oppression. 

The aboriginal people were oppressed and genocided by the Europeans that came here in the from the 15th century onwards. Recently, they have started to regain their culture and languages. There are so many distinct first nations societies,  and most have a story of untold horror to tell. And they should. I urge them to. 

In order for this country to work and improve, we need to work together and unite. This is as fractured a Canada as I’ve ever seen. Democratically, this is a chance to air dissatisfaction and grievances. It’s a chance to learn of the horrid oppression. I, for one, want the aboriginal people to get what is owed them. This is Canada’s shame, and the progressive government currently in office shines a ray of hope into trying to make amends with the initial settlers of Canada. 

So let’s put those  blue flags of perverse nationalism away for one day. Let’s hope the founders of Canada give the country a chance to become more united. 

HAPPY CANADA DAY TO ALL!!!

Where to Take your Visiting Cousin in Montreal 

#Montreal #tourism 

I was asked to give places I would take my cousin to if he were to ever visit Montreal. And I had to stay away from the obvious. I chose to stay away from the extremely obvious,  but still had to put some musts in just in case. 

Little Burgundy and Griffintown 

I just start this off with a coffee and brunch at or near the Atwater Market. This is in a rejuvenated part of town that has managed to rebuild with the rich and poor neighbourhoods existing side by side. This area was dominated by Jamaican immigrants and by Irish ones before that. Now it is one of the hottest and trendiest places to live at and visit. Its ugly condominiums take a back seat to the old and new cultures. 

This is a mural of famous Montreal jazz icon Oliver Jones. 

And this is a typical house in the more affluent area. 

Just west of this is the Atwater Market,  with the backdrop of people kayaking in the Lachine Canal. There are numerous bike paths,  green space, and people just hanging around and relaxing, with food trucks and some music playing on the weekends in summer. 

Point St Charles 

A place that God seems to have forgotten, Point St Charles is just south of Little Burgundy. It is one of the poorest areas in Canada, but the architecture and street art are amazing and seemingly untouched. I would keep off the smaller seedier streets at night,  but it is a place to walk an hour or 2 around in. 

The Urban Beach 

Then it’s time to get hot and beachy at the Old Port at Montreal’s Urban Beach by the St. Lawrence River. 

Yes, awesome sand and an awesome view, with beautiful people and plenty of room and umbrellas to unwind, tan, and have a drink. But, alas, you cannot go into the water, lest you wish to turn green. 

But it’s a try on a not-so-hot day. Showers are available if you get hot. 

The Lakeshore 

This is the bike path along the Lachine Canal that goes all the way to the western tip of the island, just next to the road that does the same.  This is my favourite drive on the island of Montreal. Nature,  with lots of parks, green space, shore, nice homes, quaint neighbourhoods, and nice places to take a break at. 

Borrowed from Global TV , this is an example of the incorporated beauty of the area. 

These are the pier and lighthouse in Lachine. You can park and fish on the pier. You can go ice fishing in the winter. You can always go in the lighthouse and get a nice view of the water. Certainly worth a stop on your way west. 

There are many municipalities you pass on your way to the other side of the Lakeshore. 

Certainly one of the prettiest places to visit and reside in is Pointe Claire Village, an area that is becoming a bit more trendy but that still has its villagy feel.  You feel that you’re far removed from the city and the suburbs here, although you’re a 5-minute drive away from the heart of the West Island area of Montreal. And real estate is being bought quickly because of its eventual increase in value in the near future. 

This is one of the 2 main streets of the village. This will only be considered off the beaten path for a little while. 

Habitat 67

These strange looking homes were built in 1967 for the Montreal World Exposition. People still live in these luxurious homes. Here’s a million – dollar home. Book an appointment or just visit what you can.

Ile de la Visitation 

Moving to the north end of town is a humongous park that offers biking and hiking trails, picnic tables, and just beautiful scenery. 

I also like to have a nice healthy meal while listening to the small falls. 

Westmount Park

Almost no one knows Westmount Park, which is hidden just west of downtown Montreal and in its most affluent neighbourhood of Westmount. Beautiful greenery, spacious, great place to take a break from whatever you’re doing. 

Place Jacques Cartier and Old Montreal 

Place Jacques Cartier is the downtown of Old Montreal. Great restaurants are not in the square itself, but just a bit over any of the intersecting streets. And you can find anything you want. There are street artists selling their works and also many other activities that you never know existed. 

Finally, you need to go to a club and hang out. 

The Wrestler—Movie Review 

#wrestler #movie #Mickey-Rourke #Marisa-Tomei 

Those who think that wrestling is fake can stop reading now. So can the ones who think professional wrestlers aren’t real athletes, but that race car drivers are. The Wrestler is a film about an aging wrestling icon and his battle to make the right choices concerning, love, family, romance, and happiness. 

Randy the Ram, played perfectly by Mickey Rourke,  was big before wrestling was a multimillion-dollar industry like it is nowadays. He seems to have been one of those admired cult icons on many a teenage boy’s walls. One of those on some popular independent circuit who probably didn’t care about million dollar contracts.  Not that there were that many to choose from in the 1980s, when Randy’s stock must have been at its highest.

The film has a documentary feel when it portrays the promotion, the training, and the interaction between the wrestlers. It’s a glimpse into what we seem to know about them. But it shows how much respect there is in the locker room, even amongst the biggest villains and heroes. Yes, it’s rigged. Yes, it’s acting. But mostly, The Wrestler proves that these are tough and talented athletes that make proessional wrestling into the sport it is. By revealing all this, the film lets us focus on the character of the protagonist. 

Randy is someone down on his luck. There are 2 people he cares for — his girlfriend  (Marisa Tomei giving a brilliant performance as an aging stripper, yet very grounded ) and his semi-estranged daughter, played stiffly by Evan Rachel Wood. The girlfriend is the only positive influence in Randy’s life,  giving him the courage to approach his daughter and her girlfriend. 

Coney Island in the winter looks surreal, still, almost gothic. And the director uses it as the chilly and heart-warming backdrop of Randy shows his most vulnerable human side to his daughter. 

Randy is a potentially tragic anti-hero who has always been too scared to face his fear. But when you see the end being much nearer than the beginning, there comes a time to face your demons, even if chances are they’ll kill you at the end. Although we don’t know if he becomes a true tragic hero, we are happy for Randy because he has done it his way.

There is also some black comedy in the movie.  Randy, forced to retire due to a heart problem, works at a deli counter in a supermarket. An old lady is never satisfied with the size of her cuts. Randy eventually gets mad and winds up cutting his fingers in the cold cut machine. Lots of blood, but no real damage done.  This is a pivotal scene that allows the hero to come to an epiphany. 

Battered, bruised, and beaten by life, our modern-day matinee idol doesn’t fail to please us. It turns out better than a WWE storyline. 

A must see film. On my top 10 list. 

Rating: 10/10 

One of my Followers Passed

http://wp.me/p6aa0v-fds

This explain by his sister seems apologist for everyone except him, especially her. Don’t tell us how he was not good to you and was resisting help. Tell us he died and say some nice things about this troubled soul. 

I liked seeing him look and comment on my posts. I made sure I paid attention to him because he seemed to need it. Rest in peace, Paul. 

The Taygetos Mountains and Social Discord 

#taygetos #mistras #road-trip 

We set off early from Methoni. We actually had to sleep early Friday night for our 6 AM departure. It was me, Steve, Donna, Xena, and Pete. It was going to be about a 2-hour drive to get there before the touring would even begin. We had 2 destinations in general, but no agenda per se. 

Donna always slept at the same time as her parents, early. Maybe 11 PM or so. So she looked perky, spunky,  energetic, in her unmatching khaki shorts and striped black and white blouse. She had hair a bit longer than the average man. It was much shorter than mine. I was in my Eddie Van Halen phase at the time.  

Pete sat in the passenger’s seat next to Steve. To my left was Xena. A tall, slim, cute girl;always smiling and never a bad word to say. She and Donna were summer friends. They had already climbed the Taygetos peak 2 winters earlier.  Xena talked about it excitedly. Donna nodded and looked out the window. Xena was always informing me to her capacity. She’d have made a great tourist guide. Donna had very clear skin. Like a zitless teen boy. Or like the smooth butt of a toddler. She had a curl over her right eye. She avoided eye contact. I had to make sure I answered Xena when she asked me a question. 

“A bit quicker and less intrusively, ” Donna whispered in my ear.  She kept a straight face on. It took 30 minutes but Donna was finally satisfied. Xena was asleep with her head on my left shoulder. Pete shared his army stories. Steve played some  “amazing ” songs. All was well in the car. 

It was beautiful driving through roads like the ones above. More army stories. Music now down to an acid jazz lull. The clouds were really coming in. Pitch black. There would be no avoiding the rain. Donna woke up and sucked my ear. Xena was awoken by a sharp turn. We were almost at the most popular town of the twin peaks, the ancient fortified city and heritage site of Mystras. It was a beautiful place. We stopped at the kiosk in town and also picked up some tiropites because we were hungry. 

Xena took me to this view. The others were going through mazes nearby. The rain and height had cooled the temperature considerably. There were black clouds overhead. 

“Gothic, ” Xena said.

“Yes,” I agreed, “a veritable Scotland. 

“You’re very interesting. It’s the way you don’t say things. ”

“I see.”

“Do you? Do you see? What exactly do you see?”

“That I don’t say unnecessary things. I’m mysterious. ”

“Yes. Do you see that. ”

“No. You told me. ”

“I’ve always wanted to do it on that big rock there. We’ve got 15 minutes. ”

We proceeded. 

Xena had that love-afflicted schoolgirl look on her face. Donna noticed this as we traveled through some wilder areas. 

“Did you fuck her?” Donna asked. 

“Yes.”

“I guess I win the bet. Look at her face. ”

“How did you know this would happen? ”

“Part of her neediness. I let her move in on my guys. But she doesn’t swing the other way. Then she has this desperation about her the rest of the day. Maybe she’ll even cry. But she asked me last night. She begged even. It’s like a drug. And I haven’t been able to find any underlying issues. No trauma. Great family. Just her lack of self-confidence, I guess.”

The result was having to hold both of the girls’hands and being nice with both of them without acting very familiar. 

“Don’t fuck with me. You guys can go ahead alone.” Xena proceeded to join the guys. 

All seemed well again on our back. It was like a script in Xena’s life had been played out again, I thought, looking at the beautiful mountains and valleys. We would all go home. Take a nap. Wake up. But it would just be the guys meeting that night. I’d find out later that Donna had been there that night for Xena. She comforted her. Yet she let her act out.  I didn’t know whether that was the right thing to do or not. 

My grandmother had sat me down about 20 years earlier and said, “things don’t need to be as they seem. They need to be. That is existence. But it is not our business how they really are. Sometimes you’ll see that not knowing is the best thing. ” She was speaking of my grandfather’s shortcomings, but it is something universal. In this rare case, ignorance would have been bliss. 

The Human Cup Holder 

#human #sexy 

Irene Varga had a nice house — one can say a small mansion.  Her antichambre was almost as big as some Manhattan apartments. She had a Great Dane that roamed around the house freely. Irene had been a widow for almost 2 years and her life of unwavering redundancy had turned into one of semi-retirement.  She still had her charities, but her husband,  Horacio Pimentel,  had made things easier when he was alive.  She sold most of the estate and kept mostly to herself, but always making sure she had extravagant soirées,  usually by the pool. 

“I’ll need 10 cup holders.”

“From where? What’s wrong with the ones you have?”

Irene smiled. “You don’t know what a cup holder is, do you? It’s the latest craze among us older pool party gals. You see, we try and get the cutest cup holders. The cutest little girls, and sometimes boys, to hold our cups and glasses for us. ”

She had her personal cup holder. Her name was Anna. Irene told me she was 20. My mind went to child slavery laws. Irene summoned Anna to come and introduced her to me. Anna had been swimming and tanning in the deep part of the pool directly across from us. She was a somewhat meek girl, looking pleased for no reason and easy to satisfy. She stood facing us with her palms out. “That’s from her being a ball girl at the tennis tournament last year. It’s how they signal when they’re waiting for a request from the tennis player.” Irene gave her the glass she was drinking from and they walked to the kitchen. I was left to do my planning but noticed that Anna was only handing the glass to Irene when she wanted to sip from it. Irene would then hand it back. The one time Irene used the washroom, Anna stood still at the spot Irene had handed the glass to her. It was creepy. But the girl seemed untouched as much as she seemed unamused, like someone who did what she had to. 

“Certainly this is a luxury,” Irene admitted.  

“Apparently, there’s a cup holder registry. ”

“Well, I guess Donna was actually being entrepreneurial for once,” she responded, smiling. 

“Why 10? Who gets them?”

“I thought I’d introduce them and then auction them for the night with the proceeds going to prostate cancer research. Horacio would like that. He would..” Irene’s chin started trembling, but she managed to compose herself. She sent Anna away and the latter was back at the deep side of the pool. 

Irene got the courage to show me her new coffee table, a replica of the picture above. “The idea is the beauty of it, “she explained, “we don’t care about gender. Just about the beauty of it. The beauty of the art of being able to own yet not owning.I’d feel bad owning Anna. But I feel great paying her for it. And all I want in return is nothing. ”

“What do I ask of you Anna?”

“To hold your cup, Miss Irene,” she responded calmly, disappointing me with a Wisconsin accent. I’d been aiming for St. Petersburg.