The day that Expo 67 opened, my mother and my boy friend had a rip roaring fight. It was the summer I was going to be twenty and the country was a hundred years old. That was how old I felt as she shoved Teddy out the door.
“And don’t come back!” she yelled, tossing his high school jacket out after him into the misty late April night.
“That was a bit severe, Shelly” my aunt Carol said.
She had been there for dinner, and had been a buffer zone.
“Go to your room,” Mom said, and for a second I thought she meant her sister.
I just stood there, in the doorway between the living room and the dining area. Teddy had been clearing the table when Mom had blown.
“Maybe Haley and I should go to Expo,” he had said.
And then it was the “no daughter of mine,” lecture time.
“We’ll be married by then,” Teddy had finally interrupted. “You won’t be able to stop us.”
I had thought that Mom was finished, but she was just getting her second wind.
“You aren’t going to be seeing him anymore,” she said.
“That remains to be seen,” I said.
“You’re grounded!” she roared. “No dates! No movies! And I don’t think you’re going to be going to that new college in the fall, either.”
“My tuition is paid,” I said. “I won that award fair and square. I’m going to be a library tech, so get over it.”
She pushed me back into the couch and my backside hit one of the places that the foam no longer covered. She stood in front of me like a scrawny wall, but one that I wasn’t going to get past.
“You listen to me,” she said, and there was a threat to it. “You had better get your nose out of the books. You aren’t going to get a husband out of that. You can’t cook, you can’t sew, you can’t keep anything clean. You’re useless as a wife.”
I tuned out, and thought of the Bucky dome in Montreal, the strange apartment building that Safdie had designed.
“Now!” Mom screamed and I came back to the living room.
“The dishes, dear,” Aunt Carol said.
No matter which radio station was on, the only song that seemed to come out was Bobby Gimby’s Ca-na-da.
This morning when the quiz question on the classical station was what opened on this date in 1967 was posed, Teddy and I broke into song. We were cleaning out the car, which is a disaster. Then he drove me to the new library branch and promised to pick me up at six.
“That Philipino place out on the Danforth?” he suggested, and I nodded, giving him a quick kiss.
My mother had no idea how useful being useless could be.
Lucile Barker is a Toronto poet, writer and activist. Since 1994, she has been the co-ordinator of the Joy of Writing, a weekly workshop at the Ralph Thornton Centre. Recent publications include Memewar, Room, Antigonish Review, Rougarou, Litterbox, Flashlight Memories, Bat Shat, Snakeskin Review, Hinchas de Poesia, Jet Fuel Review, U.M.ph.! and Menacing Hedge.
The Golden Age was the first place short story winner in the Creative Keyboards contest, a project of the Hamilton Arts Council, and will be published in an anthology in December 2011. Poetry and short stories are also forthcoming in Nashwaak Review, Lost in Thought.