I wandered the mall 

without parental guidance 

to get something festive for my mother

she liked anything we ever gave her

things that remained in their gift boxes 

tucked in a safe place for a special day


I was tempted to take one of those old gifts

rewrap it 

to see if she would remember it

I was too young understand 

treasured memories


did she need atomizers 

bath oils 


I touched sweaters 



clerks would glance at me glance away


I was stumped

I knew all about my mother

she liked to drink tea 


watch TV

make clothes for my sisters

that was an idea – bags of yarn

no that would turn into

gifts for my sisters not her

she rarely wore the jewelry she had

would read reread the same mystery books

maybe something 

for the kitchen


to remind her of her childhood


I wanted one thing that would be hers

she didn’t need another tea mug 

tea pot

more imported teas 

to store behind the one she really likes 


I floated from one store the next 

noticed some woman 

tagging along 

not looking at me 

when I look at her 

I head for the exit she stops me


you find what you were looking for? 

I shake my head no 

I’m not so sure about that – come with me 

kids think you can get away with anything 


we go to the security office

empty your pockets 

she searches my coat 

pats the lining 

tells me what’ll happen for shop lifting 

go to jail – my parents will be ashamed 

we kids are all the same

look so innocent and can’t be trusted 

she finds my wallet 

my money

my dad’s list of things for my mother 

looks like I was wrong honey 

she pats my shoulder 

now you run along home 

I went outside

mom’s little boy no more 


how did I wrap that 

Shopping for my mother was fairly easy for many years until, as the character in this piece, I wanted to be able to get her something besides the Evening in Paris that I usually bought her. Evening in Paris (https://wp.me/p1RtxU-VE) was a drug store scent. Yes, even before drug stores forced you to walk through the cosmetics to get to the vitamins, they were fonts of female betterment products.

There was one Christmas when I did buy her a variety collection of teas from around the world. Each type in its own special little canister – most of which were found a few years later tucked in the back of a shelf under a counter. I may have mentioned in a previous post that after my Mother died in 2002 my sister did find some of the gifts we have given her – initialed hankies, bath salts etc. still in their original packaging, stored in a safe place.

The mall in this piece was the first build in Sydney – a covered one with a Kmart, or was it Kresge’s, at one end and Sobey’s at the other end with shops along the walk between. Those shops were women’s clothing, sports equipment & eventually a book store. There may been a bowling alley as well. It was the only mall for decades & hurt the downtown merchants financially.

It was my shopping destination when I had to shop for gifts. The Christmas in question is more of a vague memory than it appears here – much of this is a composite of what I supposed I was looking for – a completion of many shopping excursions over several years. One year I was stopped by a floorwalker and questioned about my aimless search. I explained what I was looking for & it didn’t escalate beyond that.

She did say she was sorry for stopping me though. After that I was nervous in Kmart for a few months when I went in but I got over it when I successful shoplifted something once. The only time I took such a risk there because was I was good boy. I love the ending though I doubt if at that time I could have thought something that emotionally complex. I had enough on my mind figuring out my sexuality. Something I knew I had no of wrapping. 

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee on my trip to Cape Breton – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet 

Evening in Paris

The smell of home, the smell of the past. Proust’s Remembrance was triggered by a smell. I wish there was a smell that could do that same trigger for me. Music does hold some ‘nostalgia’ for me but so many of those memories have been written over by time. Some disco can take me back to my early coming out days but listening to the Stones or Hendrix doesn’t take me back to my formidable years. There a couple of songs that do that – The Supreme’s Baby Love & The Beach Boy’s California Girls.

spots polka dot fun

A few months ago, on a bit of a whim, I braved the cosmetics counter at Shoppers to ask the ‘expert’ if Evening In Paris was available. This was a perfume I used to buy in Sydney, N.S., at the local drug store, for my mother as a gift. I couldn’t recall the last time I smelled it.


As I expected it was not available. The clerk had never heard of it either. So she looked it up on her smart phone – some empty bottles were on sale on eBay. This told me that it was probably discontinued as well. My next step was to the ultimate expert: Google. Wiki filled me in somewhat – it had been discontinued in the early 80’s – the head notes were talcum powder & rose floral. But it had been reissued in 2010, or something like that.

blackshorts fun in the woods

No online retailer in Canada carried it but there were a few in the USA. But it was out of stock at all of them except, you guessed it, Amazon. So from my local indie drugstore I’m faced with the corporate monster. Shipping to Canada doubled the price :-(. I didn’t need the scent of the past that badly.

red parking fun

But I asked a friend of mine in the USA, who was coming to visit in October, if he could order it & bring it along. He did. It was in my hands by Thanksgiving. Not the bottle I remembered & but it was the scent I knew – very feminine, powdery & damask rose. (according to the web: ylang ylang, violet, cedar, turkish rose, vanilla, peach, musk and bergamot.) Memories resurrected? Some. I’ve put it on myself if I’m not going anywhere just to smell it on flesh. It’s very familiar, sort of comforting but no flash backs to good or bad events. Old Spice is another story 🙂

(2019: I’ll be taking the bottle with me when I visit in August so my sister can sample out & see what memories it might bring her.)


Evening in Paris

Evening in Paris

was it my mother’s favourite

as a boy

I used to buy it for her

for birthdays mothers day

from McVicar’s

the local drug store

couldn’t have been too expensive

in a cool-to-the-touch indigo bottle

some years she’d ask for bath cubes

drugstores in those days

didn’t depend on cosmetics for sales

the selection was very limited

a counter only

not half the drug store

positioned so you had to

wade through those many musky options

before you could get to the chocolate bars

then the prices had to be reasonable

it was just a local store

not a department store

money was limited

I remember there was also


white shoulders

for Dad old spice

and growing teenage boys

jade east

hi karate

Evening in Paris

had been discontinued

in fact perfume is going

the way of smoking and peanuts

smelling good

infringing on someone’s

right to breath free and easy

it’ll become something sinister

only done in private

by invitation only

petals attar of roses