A poignant plea caught my ear as I visited Victoria’s new indoor market last week. Two women were bent over a plate of tacos and guacamole with corn chips. One of the women was marshmallow pale and her eyes were bloodshot with fatigue. She sighed, flipped a nubby brown scarf over her shoulder, leaned across the table and said: ‘Can’t we just talk about shoes?’
No surprise there I guess. Wilma and Betty were big on shoe talk back in the Flintstone era. But this week the plea hit me with the force of a Louboutin to the solar plexus. Sometimes we want to set the serious stuff aside. That woman certainly did. Right now, I do too.
I’ll admit it: I’m drawn to the dark stuff. My books inevitably end up being a mix of light and dark. Life isn’t all sunshine and I don’t think it pays to pretend it is. But these last few weeks the happenings have been grim: hundreds of thousands of people killed or impacted by typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. The impact is being felt in my city where many residents are worried sick about loved ones overseas. On a national scale, the mayor of our largest city has been embroiled in a Molotov cocktail of addiction, out-of-control rage and alleged ties to organized crime with widespread calls for his resignation. On a personal level, a dear family friend died a couple of days ago and a step aunt is facing her last days too. Needless to say, the nightly talk around our dinner table has been as heavy as braised short ribs and sweet potato mash, though not nearly as satisfying.
I guess that’s why I found myself repeating the plea from those anonymous women the other night: can’t we just talk about shoes?
Or maybe coffee beans? Okay, maybe not coffee because Teen Freud is sure to point out how child labor and exploitation is rampant in the cultivation of coffee in Colombia and Guatemala. Then how about we talk about the cute new puppy next door and how it falls on its bum every time it walks up the (basically negligible) hill between our houses? No, Teen Freud, they did not get it from a puppy mill. Yes, Teen Freud, it is a pure bred Bichon Frise; yes, we are aware that there are many abandoned, mistreated and mixed breed dogs in the world.
As a matter of fact, I’m painfully aware of all of it. I read the papers (or those that are left). I surf the ‘net (too much sometimes). I talk about it and think about it and live it. We all do. Our first two dogs were rescues from an abandoned litter. I’ve witnessed (up close and way too personal) the devastating effects of addiction. I’ve grieved more than one loss.