Alone: A Love Story

Chapter 26 - Caution

Carpenter ants, cotton candy and a passionate declaration.
He'll change his mind, I just know it. He's always changing his mind. (Ben Shannon/CBC)

This chapter is called Caution, a nod to my favourite Bob Marley song,  Caution, from the incredible album Kaya, which came out 41 years ago, in March 1978, but is as fresh-sounding as ever.

This Love Is Not Simple

I love this little vignette, it has some great lines if I do say so myself. But it's also super eye-rolling too. You want to just shout at me Seriously!?! Which is why I poke fun at myself about it.

I can just whisper it into his ear and not feel like a heartbreak soul singer from the 60s, lovin' a man no matter that he can't love her back the way she needs.

But that's who I am. I'm a heartbreak soul singer from the 60s. I'll take whatever he gives me, but sing sassily about it.

The very specific heartbreak song I was thinking of when I wrote this is Baby, I Love You by Aretha Franklin.

If you feel you wanna kiss me, go right ahead I don't mind
All you got to do is snap your fingers and I'll come a runnin, I ain't lyin'
And oh what you want? Little boy you know you got it
I'd deny my own self before I see you without it
'Cause I love you (Baby, baby, baby I love you)
Ain't no doubt about it baby I love you ...

I mean, holy lord if this isn't a paean to submission I don't know what is! The sentiment of this song, and the corresponding way I felt about The Man With the White Shirt is the reason therapy exists. Lots and lots of therapy.

I always wait the same amount of time, as if it matters if he hears me or not. (Michelle Parise)

It Exists!

For all the members of Team White Shirt out there, this is the vignette you've been waiting for. After all the round and round and will-he-won't-he, The Man With the White Shirt makes a huge declaration of love and commitment to me.

But first I set the stage for you, starting this vignette on August 22, 2016, three years exactly from the night we saw each other across a crowded cafe and Kaboom! Kapow! got ourselves into this mess.

Three years from that night, you hear about me and Birdie and our tradition of walking home from The CNE (The Canadian National Exhibition, or as we call it locally, "The Ex")

We'd make a show of who was more tired on that long walk back, who could drag their feet more. Or, who could drive the other crazy with peppy positivity, who could run the fastest.

(Michelle Parise)

The first few years after The Bomb, when she was still so young, I'd carry her the entire way home. Away from the lights and corndogs and rowdy teenagers, through the big archway they call The Princes' Gates, gleaming white and ornate, a 19th Century tribute to fairgrounds.

The Princes' Gates, named in 1927 for Princes Edward and George, is mistakenly called The Princess Gates by many people, locals included. The CNE opened in 1879. (Michelle Parise)

After all this fairground business I reveal White Shirt is there with me and Birdie this time around, and he says "Happy Anniversary" and I say "Holy shit" and then soon after he makes his big ole declaration.

He says, "I want you to be my girl," like it's the 50s, and we're at The Chock'lit Shoppe and he's finally picking Betty or Veronica.

Going against everything he believed about himself and his views on love and relationships, White Shirt decided to try and be in a committed, monogamous relationship rather than lose me or keep going round and round. WHAT! I know! 

And then we kiss, so sweetly it is like it's the 50s and we're in The Chock'lit Shoppe and he's chosen Veronica. Obviously.

Haha, I love this line. Because so obviously I am not a Betty. Fun fact: I have an enormous collection of Archie Comics from the 70s and 80s because my dad would always bring me back a new one when he went grocery shopping.

The Betty and Veronica thing always bugged me. They were always fighting over Archie, even though they were supposedly best friends and even though Veronica was his actual girlfriend.

What was Betty's deal? Not so sweet, you know? But also what was Archie's deal? And if Veronica is as strong as she ... oh wait, sorry, this is a comic book not real life. I will stop now. I mean, who am I to talk?

He's always been so unpredictable, so inconsistent with his push-pull.

(Michelle Parise)

I want this anniversary to be happy, I do. I want to let the happiness in, but I don't know if it's real this time.

That line is a nod to the song Let the Happiness In by David Sylvian, who was the frontman of the 70s/80s band Japan, but went on to a solo career of esoteric, brainy music and collaborations with people like Ryuichi Sakamoto and Robert Fripp.

This song is from the beautiful 1987 album Secrets of the Beehive, introduced to me by my ex-boyfriend The Musician, who was a huge David Sylvian fan. The lyrics feel just right for this part of the story, and all of it, actually!

Listen to the waves against the rocks
I don't know where they've been
I'm waiting for the skies to open up
And let the happiness in

(Michelle Parise)

One of Us Cannot Be Wrong

This tiny vignette, an excerpt from an actual email I sent The Man With the White Shirt, is titled after the Leonard Cohen song of the same name.

But you stand there so nice in your blizzard of ice,
Oh please let me come into the storm

Is there anything better than that line? No, unless it is any other line from the master poet and my hero, LC.

(Michelle Parise)

Sadly, he does. As you find out in Chapter 27!

Want to keep up with Alone: A Love Story? Listen for free on your favourite podcast app. 

About Michelle Parise

Award-winning producer Michelle Parise is the writer, performer and producer of Alone: A Love Story, a book she began writing in January 2013 and adapted into a podcast for CBC in 2017.

She's worked for CBC Radio and Television for over two decades. Michelle was born and raised in Toronto in a gigantic Italian immigrant family where she was surrounded by storytellers.

As a child she wrote hundreds of short stories about her life. Her commitment to honest storytelling started early and is part of everything she creates, continually striving to make connection through shared experience.