Victor is all excited. He finds a deal on the net for an Air Canada trip to Toronto for only $68! He buys our tickets and we’re all set to go June 24th and come home on June 28th. We have never been to Toronto before.

He finds a great deal on a motel. We don’t waste money on hotels; you just sleep there, after all.

So we’ve got a king-sized bed, non-smoking, in the Super 8 above the Chinese Cultural Center in Chinatown.

On the airplane, the flight attendant asks me where we’re going. I say we’re going to Toronto, thinking it’s obvious, since that’s where the plane is going. She says, “You mean you’re not traveling through Toronto, you are going to stay there? Now?”

“Sure,” I say, “why not?”

“Well, the G-20 is there at the same time, and those meetings are known for outsiders causing violence,” she says.

“Seriously?” I say.

“Oh, yeah,” she says, shaking her head.

Well, I think, we’ll be in Chinatown; we’ll be out of the trouble.

When we get off the plane the airport is like the Tower of Babel.


So many people in all kinds of strange clothes speaking so many different languages, all of us walking back and forth and back and forth and back and forth, the snaking line that lasts forever to Passport Control.

(When we get to Passport Control, the officials are all wearing Kevlar.)

Then we go to pick up our bags. We have the only suitcases which are not fully sealed in pink saran wrap. We are not pushing carts full of taped over boxes and bags. We’re just rolling two small suitcases.

(The baggage handlers are wearing Kevlar.)

Then we enter the mayhem of an octopus-like line which feeds many lines into one long line to Customs.

(All the customs agents are wearing Kevlar.)

Taxis are not yellow in Toronto! We finally line up for a taxi and got a taxi driver who didn’t speak English, just like home. Toronto doesn’t look any different from a biggish city in the States, except there are Moose everywhere.


(The taxi driver was not wearing Kevlar.)

When we get to the Super 8, we find out that we have to wear special yellow bands around our wrists to prove we are bona fide tourists.


The museums and many tourist sites are closed, as well as the whole lake area of the city, for the sake of the muckety mucks.

Well, not a problem, I think, we can just walk the city and see what it looks like and see what is open. There are lots of interesting people around and about like Mr. Peru:



The next day we




This is what Victor likes to do on vacation.

(The meter maids are wearing Kevlar.)

We stop for a latte and the Frenchy French guy asks us if we heard all the commotion. There was a bomb scare on the corner. There wasn’t a bomb, so we didn’t hear anything.

Everywhere we walk there are people gathering and police gathering, with piles of apples, for energy.



A police car is on fire down the street. We go the other way. Many policemen are on foot, running up the block. We hurry across the street.

Some group — an offshoot of the peaceful financial Luddites — has a name with “Black” in it. They are not peaceful. They all have backpacks and blend in with the crowd and then apparently change into black. When they wear the black clothes, they put on their balaklavas and start swinging heavy objects at the glass windows. Starbucks, banks, record stores, Foot Locker, random small businesses, are all getting trashed.













We go back to the hotel. On the news there is yet another police car on fire. The police do not have permission to do anything. They just keep backing up. These are the most polite policemen on the planet. Canadian policemen don’t want to bother anyone, even evildoers. Police on foot, police on bicycles, police on motorcycles, Police in vans rented from Budget, police in school busses, in Greyhound buses and, my personal favorite: The MOUNTIES!



(All the police wore Kevlar, but the horses didn’t appear to be wearing any.)

Firetrucks are wailing down the streets, one after another. Ambulances are wailing down the streets too. People stop us and say, “These are not people from Toronto, or even Canada, doing this, you know.”

They seem embarrassed. Canadians are really nice.

Take a look at this store and tell me they are not the cutest!




There is a commotion up ahead.  Paramedics are taking a stretcher out of an ambulance. A huge, Canada-size white guy is comatose on the sidewalk. His legs are in shorts and the skin you can see is covered with weeping sores.

“Anyone know this man here?” says the ambulance lady.

All the vagrants walk away as though they never saw him before.

“You just left him here like this?” she says.  She is disgusted with people. She’s obviously seen too much of this sort of thing.  Even in Canada, it happens.

On the third day it’s pouring buckets out, but off we go on our 8 to 10 mile forced march. Luckily it stops raining for a while and is just spitting until later in the afternoon.

In case my kids are worried because they happen to see the news, I email them.

This is my email:


Dear Kids,

We’re fine.

Been quite a day.

Tell you about it when we get home.

Love, MOM


This is what Sara writes back:


Oooh! Drama! Can’t wait to hear about it. I hope you were charged with civil disobedience along with the anarchists! It’s about time the authorities were alerted to the societal hazard that you two represent. I’m just saying.



This is what Victor emails to all the kids:


Subject: Mom’s day of rage

Sara, et. al.

Mom was not charged with civil disobedience but….

Here’s what happened:

We were walking down College Street where some of the largest gatherings were taking place. There was a large crowd of young folks full of energy (no black clad thugs, just kids with honest, if misguided, ideas.) Before I knew what was happening, Mom had ripped off her shirt, fashioned her bra into an ersatz headband and was running down the street yelling “Freedom now” harkening back to the protests of yore. Well, with all the violence, the police were not amused. She was charged with “public indecency” rather than civil disobedience, taken into custody for several hours and the released after being fingerprinted, photographed and made to pay a substantial fine. I believe she was released because the authorities felt that seeing herself on the local evening news was punishment enough. At least she stuck to her principles and feels she “has made a real difference.”

An interesting vacation.



The next day, round about LA waking up time, we get a call on our cell phone from Lenore.

We told the kids to email us if they needed us, and only to call in an emergency because it is 71 cents a minute to call Canada from the States. We think something is wrong with Lenore.


“I got your email,” Lenore says, quiet and serious.  “Does mom have a record now?”

Lenore, my sophisticated child, (with a doctorate,) is completely taken in by Victor’s joke.

Please take a moment to read Victor’s email again.

My daughter believed this of me.

This is me:



Do I look like an anarchist to you?

I have nothing more to say.

TAGS: , , , , , , ,

IRENE ZION has been married to the same curmudgeon for 40 years. She has 5 children, none of whom sufficiently appreciates her. The one you probably know is Lenore, who frequently gives her mother hives. Irene paints oil portraits and makes her own frames. She has been described as an outsider artist. Most of her paintings creep people out, especially her family. She finds this to be greatly satisfying. She writes non-fiction for TNB and loves every minute of it. She is writing fiction now too, but is too chicken to show it to anyone. She has two golden retrievers who will inherit anything of worth she leaves behind. Her kids will delight in dividing up her famous cork collection and her notorious stockpile of bubble wrap.

180 responses to “The $68 Deal”

  1. Zara Potts says:

    You look like a total anarchist to me, Irene!
    A subversive heart definitely beats behind that ladylike lavender tee shirt!

  2. Gloria says:

    I love the line “a huge, Canada-size white man.” ha ha ha ha Because I totally get it. Canada-size. I’m going to start describing the size of objects based on geographical locations.

    I so hope that you really did what Victor wrote. Please lie to me and say you did, even if you didn’t.

    When you wrote up above that there were some thugs that put on their baklavas, I think you meant balaklava. Unless they really did put on delicious, nutty, filo dough desserts. In which case, they don’t seem nearly so scary as you make them out to be.

  3. Irene Zion says:

    Thanks for the tip, Gloria,

    (Although, now that I know, I sort of like the picture in my mind of these thugs putting Greek pastries on their heads and covering their faces with it!)

    In the old days, Gloria, in the old days…remember, I was a hippy, for real.
    But just back then, way back then.

  4. Jude says:

    It’s those round John Lennon glasses that completely give you away!

    • Irene Zion says:


      I saved all my old glasses.
      All you can get now is those narrow rectangular ones, which aren’t big enough for my bifocals and look bad on my face.
      I still have the pair I wore when I met and fell head over heels for Victor, October 11, 1968!
      ( I was a little wild back then….)

      Must be really good to have your baby back!

      • Jude says:

        I love your glasses. And yes, it’s so good to have my baby home!

        • Irene Zion says:

          Thanks, I look dorky in the rectangular ones, so these are old, old, old!
          Places are starting to refuse filling them with my prescription now, though.
          I’m desperate!

          I’ll bet Zara has tales to tell that will come up for the next ten years!
          Lucky you!

  5. Sally says:

    Don’t know about Lenore but I can totally believe it! That’s one of the things I admire and enjoy about you – you just never know what you might do.

    • Irene Zion says:

      Well, Sally,
      It’s true that you really never know what I might do, for the most part, but I have some kind of body dysmorphic disorder and the idea of running topless in public is just not going to happen.
      (I think I could do it if I believed I looked good that way….)

  6. dwoz says:

    oh, my goodness! Nobody told me you were a HOTTIE.

    I can completely imagine you DESTROYING those corporatists and their military-industrial-police enablers by zapping them with your weapon-like nakedness.

    oh, and that person that told you that it wasn’t Canadians doing the protesting? Lying.

    Look at that picture of the graffiti! “Fuck corporate rule, A” (the “A” being a phonetic spelling of “eh”)

    They’re totally Canadien, eh?

    • Irene Zion says:

      Okay, DWOZ,
      Now you’re on my favorites list!

      On the other hand, the reason I could never do anything like that is that my nakedness is “weapon-like!” That is not a flattering description.

      That’s pretty good about the “eh?” but I think there was more written actually that we couldn’t see from across the street.

      (As if Canadians would write that! You’re funny!)

    • Irene Zion says:


      I looked at that picture in the super-big size and I’m afraid I have to admit that you are right. There is nothing else there except the big “A.”
      Either it is what you said, or they were not finished writing when the police chased them off.

  7. Great perspective into the scene, Irene. They’re called the Black Block, btw, and have been spray painting genitalia on Banana Republic and Cinnabon since the early nineties….

    I love Mr. Peru. Seriously. “Actor. Genius. Hispanic Hammer.” …I so want to party with that guy.

    • Irene Zion says:

      Thanks, Sean,
      I couldn’t remember their name for the life of me.

      I didn’t know that they have been spray painting genitalia on businesses. That’s pretty funny.
      I wrote a whole TNB piece on the Penis Houses of Bhutan, back in TNB 2.0.
      I’ll send you a picture or two or three, if I have your e mail.
      Mine’s: [email protected]

      Don’t forget that Mr. Peru is also a DANCER!
      There’s one other word, that I can’t quite make out.
      It appears to be “SPORTSMAN!”
      Now, that makes no sense, but in this context, maybe it does.

      • Well, mostly they’ve been smashing stuff and agitating in general with unclear aims, unless you can construe a little mob violence as “anarchy”…..I know a number of people who are convinced Black Block are undercovers who break a few windows and draw a penis on Vinyard Vines so that the news cameras will only report that instead of the point behind the protest itself, or the fact that pretty much everyone else was peaceable. It’s possible. On the other hand, those same people think Cheney was behind 9/11.

        Anyone can be a SPORTSMAN….Mr. Peru appears to be a SPORTMAN, which is taking it to another level entirely….

        • Irene Zion says:

          I didn’t know any of this stuff.

          Okay, I’ll bite. What is a “SPORTMAN?” I don’t have a clue.
          (I guess my brain just supplied the “S” so that it made more sense to me.

  8. Jessica Blau says:

    You and Victor are BOTH hilarious! I love his email!

    Here’s something you should know about Toronto: Wherever a man is allowed to take off his shirt, a woman is allowed to take off her shirt (and bra) too. So if you had disrobed from the waist up and run down the street, you would not have been arrested for public nudity.

    Did you go to my favorite restaurant, Southern Accent? What did you see? Where did you eat? I lived in Toronto for several years. My daughter’s a little Canadian. She’s got a Canadian passport and everything. And yes, very nice people, eh?

    • Irene Zion says:

      Jessica Anya,

      We loved Toronto!
      Chinatown was amazing! I could do a whole post on the fruit available alone!
      St. Lawrence Market was breath-taking, I wanted to take the whole thing and plop it down in my yard.
      The Distillery is a very interesting place too.

      Most of the restaurants were closed, even a Chinese one that was recommended to me, or they were full of muckety-mucks. On the last night, Nota Bene opened and we ate there and it was amazing. When we left, though, the doors were locked and they were only letting people out, not in anymore because there was yet another huge demonstration half a block away, even after all the political muckety=mucks had left! It was exciting though, because I finally got a picture of my beloved MOUNTIES!, even if it was from the rear….

      We ate Chinese food every other night.
      You know how you tell if you are in an authentic Chinese restaurant?
      Shoe prints on the toilet seats.
      I swear this is true, on my children, I swear.
      We don’t have good Chinese food in Miami, so it was a huge treat. I had live fish plucked from a tank and steamed every night. Can’t get fresher than that!

      My mother was from Manitoba.
      I still have cousins there, but no one has email!
      That has to be just my cousins, one of them lives in a city called, (I am NOT making this up,) “Six Persons.”

      People outside of our family and friends do not know how funny Victor is. He’s very shy. He’d be totally embarrassed if he knew I posted his email. He won’t know though, cause he doesn’t read my stuff. He has people on the floor laughing all the time. He’s quite bawdy.

  9. Debby Fishbein says:

    I’m so very happy that Victor is coming out of retirement and getting a job as a travel agent. Please put me on his mailing list.

    • Irene Zion says:


      If you are looking for cheap fares and room rates, Victor is the guy for you!
      Honestly, usually there aren’t riots in the places we go to on a shoestring,
      this was unusual.

  10. dwoz says:

    If you HAVE to dine in Toronto, the only real option is Mildred’s Temple Kitchen. Absolutely brilliant cuisine.

    • Irene Zion says:


      NOW I’m getting recommendations, when I’m long gone from Toronto!
      Telling me where to eat in Miami, would be more useful!
      I’ll keep a list, though, for the next time we go.
      Toronto is a great walking city.
      I’m not sure exactly why that is relevant, but we do walk to and from restaurants as long as it isn’t cold.

  11. JM Blaine says:

    Only in the Zion’s world…
    Can you really embrace
    the insanity?

    Love Gustave Dore.

    • Irene Zion says:


      I agree with your first statement, but I’m not sure to which insanity you refer.
      (Notice how totally grammatically correct that was. It was for Brad. A little giftie.)

      Yeah, a good friend put me on to him, he’s new to me.
      Amazing pieces!

  12. Slade Ham says:

    I’ll be honest, Irene. When I read his email it I didn’t question the veracity of it at all. There’s a bit of anarchist in all of us.

    With that said, I adore Toronto. I’ll be back there in October. I have walked a million miles on those streets despite the incredibly efficient subway system.

    • Irene Zion says:


      I can understand friends and other folks believing it, but my daughter?
      She’s really taking a ribbing from her siblings, I can tell you that!
      Yeah, there’s quite a bit of that in me, I’ll admit.
      But I wouldn’t break people’s stuff.
      One poor guy had a record shop, seriously, vinyl records. They totally trashed the whole store.
      What would the point of that be?

      It’s a wonderful walking city! I know cause I walked it all!
      The graffiti is really beautiful there.
      Not like the kind you see here with basically lots of squiggly initials.
      I have lots of photographs.

      They have a subway system?

  13. Tim says:

    I really don’t understand how you can be an adult anarchist, Ma. Just makes no sense.

  14. Goddammit I spent ages writing a long comment here and the internet died…

    Trying to remember what I wrote…

    Something about finding Victor’s letter very, very amusing.

    Also, your daughter knows you better than I do, so I’m going to have to side with her on this one. I think that perhaps Victor wasn’t joking… Maybe you are an anarchist. Maybe he was just exaggerating slightly for comic effect.

    • Irene Zion says:

      Sheesh, David,

      No one is believing me.
      This happens to me all the time, Victor tells a tall tale about me and everyone believes every word out of his mouth.
      It drives me crazy.
      Even he didn’t think any of the kids would believe him!
      He is funny though, really funny.
      Never marry anyone who doesn’t make you laugh.
      Trust me.

    • Irene Zion says:

      I know what you mean about the internet and the site itself.
      I worked forever to try to line up even more pictures of broken shit next to each other so it didn’t take up so much room, but what I got is what I got, I gave up after four million tries. Why one picture isn’t in the middle is a mystery to me, since I kept hitting left then middle then right. Why would just one of them move left?
      No one asks me computer questions, that’s for sure!

  15. cecile lebenson says:

    I love this story. Your descriptions are exactly how your lens sees things in the most humorist way. Love your daughter for believing in what I know she knows is not true but just enjoys jerking your chain. Way to go Lenore.

    • Irene Zion says:


      I promise you that Lenore believed it.
      Victor was on the phone with her trying to calm her down.
      The kids have all marveled that she is that gullible!
      God knows, though, that girl does enjoy jerking my chain.
      Always has.

  16. Becky says:

    Yeah, Irene, I ditto David and Lenore.

    Given the sorts of strange things that happen to you and your family on what appears to be a semi-regular basis, I did not consider Victor’s story TOTALLY unbelievable, and I’ve only known you for a couple of years or something. Lenore has been a witness to these weird goings-on her whole life.

  17. Still in Illinois says:

    At first I thought you wrote “balalaikas” and I was expecting that you were going to say that they suddenly started playing beautiful music.

    But, hey, wasn’t the experience worth at least $68 dollars?

    And I believe you, we all do. . . . . . . .

    • Irene Zion says:

      Still in Illinois,

      There are so few people in the world who would consider “balalaikas” to be the word and to think that anarchists burst into music and song while protesting. I am proud to know one of them!

      I actually looked up the correct spelling, but not the meaning, which is how I had pastry smeared on the anarchists faces by mistake.
      Woolen hats of any kind are not something we need to know how to spell in Miami Beach.

      Yes, the experience was absolutely worth it.
      I could do a post just on Chinatown alone.

      You’re sweet.
      Be my friend?

    • Uche Ogbuji says:

      No! People No! You’re just not getting the code. The protesters were from Lake Baikal. You know! Lake Baikal, Ruuski style…

      • Irene Zion says:

        one of the two keepers of the “how to put pictures, even moving ones in the comment section,” these are hard words to spell. They all look the same to me.
        So in your version, the anarchists come from a Russian region around Lake Baikal.
        Why that lake? Are they particularly grumpy there?
        Does burning cars and breaking glass and whatever is inside stores make them happy?
        It’s a mystery to me.

        • Uche Ogbuji says:

          Good questions, all. I think the only answers are embedded in the lyrics of their rallying cry, “malaika”:

          Malaika na ku pende malaika
          Malaika na ku pende malaika
          na me nee sen yeh yehn
          ekka na mum see oh

          Never mind those who claim it means something about “my angel”. That is just their misdirection tactic. The lyrics really mean:

          Fuck the police
          Coming straight from the underground
          Young brother got it bad ’cause I’m brown
          And not the other color so police think
          They have the authority to kill a minority

          Apparently the Lake Baikal prefecture is known as the global fount of police brutality, and the anarchists have overcooked the response a bit.

        • Irene Zion says:

          Well, Uche,

          The only problem with what you said is that you can see enough of the balaklava-faced people to see that they were all pasty white people.
          Smelly ones.
          You could even tell on TV. Pasty white. Smelly.
          So I see a fly in your ointment, there.

        • Uche Ogbuji says:



          Back to the drolling board… 🙂

  18. Andrew Nonadetti says:

    Dearest, Doctor Ruth was a sniper for the Israelis. Of course you look like an anarchist! How sad for those poor, permissionless Mounties. All dressed up and no crowd to mow.

  19. Irene Zion says:

    Now, Anon,

    Here I thought my mild-mannered picture would be proof enough.
    I knew about Dr. Ruth. She kicks butt!
    Toronto spent 1.2 Billion dollars on security!
    It would have been cheaper to do nothing and spend the money to clean up the anarchists’ mess.
    I’ll send you a funny picture, cause only Brad and Uche know how to put a picture in the comments section.

    • Uche Ogbuji says:

      I think we should send Dr. Ruth after bin Laden.

      • Irene Zion says:


        We just saw the Joan Rivers Documentary.
        At one point in a stand-up she said something like this, (you must imagine her saying this,)
        “How hard can it be to find Bin Laden?
        He’s on dialysis.
        There’s one plug in Afghanistan!
        Just follow the wire!”

        The woman is something apart from the rest of us.

  20. As a daughter I think I have learned through the years that my mother is capable of anything… in the seventies when my brother and I were in Catholic school, no less, my mother went to Washington and marched for abortion rights. This is the same woman who ran the lunch program, arranged the flowers for the church and drove several elderly nuns to their appointments. She was by no means a radical. When she returned from Washington we were asked to leave the school. And so we did. My mother, a woman of convictions, never looked back. I only hope my own daughters will think of me what Lenore thought of you… moms’ are capable of anything. Even the kind with cute bobbed haircuts wearing purple tops and round glasses.
    xxo ~ r

    • Irene Zion says:

      You know, Robin,

      I hadn’t thought of that angle at all.
      I guess maybe I should feel good about it instead.
      Okay. I’m there. I feel good about it.

    • Judy Prince says:

      Robin, totally in agreement with you. My son has a full and entertaining repertoire of Weird Things My Mother Did To Embarrass Me In My Youth. Even stuff I’d forgotten. Children remember everything, but they get it wrong a lot. No matter; there’s sufficient weird and embarrassing true stuff to permit our children decades of stories. And then their children can carry on the tradition. heh heh. 😉

      • Irene Zion says:

        I’ve noticed the same thing.
        I have a memory of an incident or occasion and they have a totally different version.
        I know I’m right, of course, but they don’t believe me!
        It’s frustrating, like we should have filmed our lives as proof!

        • Judy Prince says:

          You are a true chronicler, Irene. I feel the same about wanting to get video and audio representations of everything.

          Re our kiddies remembering something different than we do, it’s a losing battle to try to set the record straight. My son still maintains (and tells everyone) that I forced him to do his own laundry when he was 3 years old—-and to do mine, for which I paid him a miniscule wage.

          A different sort of disconnect of memories happens with siblings. When I told my older sister that her recollections of our father were wildly different than mine, she said—and it makes sense—that her memories were from a different period of time than mine. For example, she recalls his reading us bedtime stories, and I don’t remember his ever reading to us, but his work life had changed and he wasn’t available at our bedtime when I came along.

  21. Richard Cox says:

    You guys take the most awesome trips. I’m totally jealous.

    Toronto is amazing. One of the most diverse and amazing cities in North America. I would love to go back.

    Your posts are always a pleasure to read, Lorene.

    • Irene Zion says:

      Lorene is a new one.
      I think you did that on purpose, Richard Cox, you sneaky guy!

      We do take awesome trips, even when we don’t know we’re taking one yet.
      Next time we go to Toronto, we’ll see all the stuff that was closed to us this time, and there’s plenty.

  22. Irene Zion says:

    I am fairly sure that the fading is not into the TNB mist, but rather into the inner reaches of my brain, alas.

  23. Joe Daly says:

    Irene, your style is iced tea groovy.

    To wit:

    A Police Car is burning down the street. We go the other way. Many Police men on foot are running up the block. We hurry across the street.

    Another writer (such as myself), might be inclined to capitalize on this event for three or four overwrought paragraphs. Your approach is way more effective- simple, supports the flow of your story, and made me smile. Even if you actually did stress out, it’s funny to picture you two just taking everything in stride.

    Thanks for the bit about Lenore as well. I’m sure there are more than a few characters on here who will enjoy spinning that to their advantage. 🙂

    • Irene Zion says:

      Hey there, Joe,

      Thanks, I don’t know what I’m doing. I just write. Sort of like how I paint. Never took a class. Thank you for the very, very kind words. They are appreciated.
      I am equally sure that Lenore will find a way to make this work in her advantage. She is a wily one, my Lenore, even if she is a bit gullible.
      (And as Robin said, maybe instead of thinking it’s silly, it’s really a compliment from her that she thinks I’m capable of this. Robin would be a good shrink.)

  24. Judy Prince says:

    I think you may have caught Mr. Peru in a um *private* moment, Irene. He’s totally the dude, though.

    Oh wow, in addition to having the sexiest names, those Mounties are awesome! Men on horses. It doesn’t get better than that.

    That clever Lenore spending your nickel on the phone call to see if her mommy’s got a police record so she can pretend she doesn’t know you. A practical young woman, that one.

    • Irene Zion says:

      Oh Lordy, Judy,

      I have ALWAYS loved THE MOUNTIES!
      I don’t know why, but I even know a song about them from childhood.
      It was such a thrill to actually see them.

      Yeah, Mr. Peru. He’s a “SPORTSMAN” too, you know….

      Lenore is nothing if not newly practical.
      Personally, I think she’s just trying it on for size.

      • Judy Prince says:

        Irene, Mr. Peru says he’s a “GENIUS DANCER SPORTMAN”, as well as an actor and “Hispanic Hammer”, a rare combo, you must admit. I think he deserves an interview—-not to mention a full front view or at least a headshot for his portfolio. Worth another $68 deal?

        This whole idea of the Mounties being sexy…..I think it’s all about men on horses. Tell me, Irene, how did they look *off* the horses? That might be the deciding factor.

        • Irene Zion says:

          Well, Judy,

          It was hard to separate them from the horses, but they were almost all young and built and Canada-Pure type handsome, wearing lots of riot gear which sort of made them look hot, plus the horses, I mean really, the horses…the men on horseback thing.

          Mr. Peru is indeed a man for all seasons, eh? I was afraid to take his picture from the front, he was sort of also a vagrant crazy guy, so he might not have liked it….

        • Judy Prince says:

          Yup, Irene. Might be the whole Mounties package. And now with the riot gear, too. But I still think it’s the horses that sets the stage somehow. I mean even the Elizabethan tilters who were covered completely with armor looked sexy on horses.

          (time for a sigh break)

          Looks like Mr. Peru won’t be making it to Hollywood anytime soon. He should get some cred for creative adverts, at the very least, and to that end you’ve stage-managed him a little, you could say.

          I did think it was sweet of Lenore to inquire about your welfare.

        • Irene Zion says:

          Yeah, Robin got me thinking about it too.
          I think it was sweet of her.
          She’ll probably get a bunch of ribbing about this.
          I should feel terrible, right?

        • Judy Prince says:

          Wait—what did I miss, Irene? What should you feel guilty about? Lenore apparently totally didn’t get her dad’s fictionalised representation of your actions in Toronto. She has known your father approximately the same number of years that she has known you, and she didn’t get his humor in this one instance. Then she did an apparently Lenore-uncharacteristic daughterly thing which was to assume that you did the stuff he said you’d done. Then she did another apparently Lenore-uncharacteristic daughterly thing in phoning you with solicitous inquiries about what she took to be your gross behaviour. The one characteristic daughterly thing she did was charge the call to you.

          And YOU should feel guilty about any of this?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


        • Irene Zion says:

          I know, Judy,

          I think I’m getting soft as I age.
          Like cheese.

        • Judy Prince says:

          I’m glad you know, Irene. What a relief! I love that you’re getting soft as you age. Like cheese.

          BTW, do you like bleu (blue?) cheese? They make something like it nearby where I’m now living with Rodent. It’s called “Jervaulx Blue” (I’m pronouncing it “jer-VOH”) and was named after Jervaulx Abbey where Cistercian monks originally made Wensleydale cheese around 1150. The Jervaulx Blue cheese blends traditional sharp blue cheese characteristics with a creamier texture.

          I noticed the info about Jervaulx Blue because I want to go see Jervaulx Abbey. It’s a bit of a ruin, but what wouldn’t be after 810 years? I found out about Jervaulx Abbey by reading James Herriott’s (Alf Wight) _James Herriott’s Yorkshire_ about the places he saw and visited in his 50 years as a veterinarian in the Yorkshire Dales. The book’s loaded with photographs of the places, and Rodent and I will be visiting York, the city itself, in a couple weeks. It’s where Rodent got his DPhil (the equivalent of a PhD in the USA).

        • Irene Zion says:

          Love cheese of all kinds.
          Victor eats the stuff that’s too smelly like limburger.
          We’re like Jack Spratt and his wife. Whatever I don’t eat, he eats. It’s very convenient.

          How did Rodent’s speech go, after the fact?
          Any interesting write-ups about it?

        • Judy Prince says:

          Cheese is way more tempting than ice cream, Irene. But then I found out that the amount of fat in a cup of ice cream is the same amount as is in an OUNCE of cheese!!! So now, my heart breaks when I eschew the cheeses that Rodent so cleverly and enticingly buys and I make homemade ice cream (sweetened with honey, not sugar) and feel as if I’m doing the best thing.

          Thanks for asking about Rodent’s speech! It was a small part of his book-length study of cant discourse, and he may bring out other bits of it as independent articles.

  25. I don’t know if you look like an anarchist, but I notice you are not wearing Kevlar. So you, horses, and cab drivers are all badass.

    And Victor is awesome. That’s just hysterical. As was your account. Totally bemusing. Sorry you didn’t have a better vacation, but I love that both you and Victor are the sort of people to roll with it and make the best you can.

    • Irene Zion says:

      Damn, Will,

      I hadn’t thought of that! The taxi driver and the horses and Victor and I are badass to not be wearing Kevlar!
      (Go me!)

      I’m glad I finally got to show you all a hint of how funny Victor is. He doesn’t show it to people he doesn’t know really well. He barely speaks. But, brother, if he knows you well, you are in for a night!

      You know, I think we had a better vacation because of all this. It was really exciting! At one point, the last day of the summit in the pouring rain, I stood in my Super 8 window and watched scores of the poor Police, wearing NO rain gear, standing in the street blocking that way out of town. The rain never let up for a minute. They were soaked through all evening long, hours and hours. I wished I had a kitchen to bring them some hot chicken soup or 200 rain coats that are big enough to cover kevlar and riot gear.

  26. angela says:

    great write-up, irene!

    i believe you about shoe prints on the toilet seat. my mother made me squat on public toilets like that when i was kid, not because we were used to squat toilets, but in her mind they were just so filthy. needless to say, peeing in public was extremely stressful.

    • Irene Zion says:


      If only I had had my camera!
      It looked so funny to me.
      Every time I went to the bathroom there were shoe prints on the seats.
      The thing is, it’s absolutely true that in those restaurants the food was freshest and most delicious of any other.
      So now I know that when in a Chinatown, all I have to do is check the bathroom first to see if there are shoe prints on the toilet. If there are, that is where we eat!
      If I knew how to post a picture in the comments section, which is a super secret held only by Brad and Uche, I would put in a photo of a steamed fish that was plucked out of a tank, cleaned and steamed. It was the best fish I ever ate!

      • Judy Prince says:

        I think it’s time, Irene, that Uche and Brad come clean about this secret of putting photos in the comments section. They could begin by putting their own photos in their own comments on the comments section. Maybe even the two of them together in a photo on several coments in several of the comments sections. They could even include a photo of admin who is soooooo cute!

        • Irene Zion says:

          I don’t think they want us to know the inner secrets.
          They are the men behind the curtain.
          We are not meant to know these things.
          They are too complicated for the likes of us.

          Personally, I think Admin is riding a horse!
          It could be Greg Boose!

        • Judy Prince says:

          Admin riding a horse! Perfect, Irene!

        • Irene Zion says:

          We have the same taste, eh?

        • Judy Prince says:

          And maybe, Irene, we’re representative of a whole big group of TNBers—-wow!

          Admin on a horse!

        • Uche Ogbuji says:

          Hate to shrug off an impression of mystique, but I think the true keepers of the photos-in-comments secret are called “WordPress developers,” and are bunkered up somewhere in Baluchistan sending out fatwas rather than fixing the InterWebs.

        • Judy Prince says:

          Uche, when they get unbunkered, tell them to do, as well, like the Guardian and many websites and blogs do with their comments sections: You need only highlight a bit and click for “italics” or “underlining” or “quotes” or “bold” rather than type in a load of gobbledegook in front of and behind the thing you want italicised, underlined, quoted, or bolded.

          WORDPRESS DEVELOPERS, WAKE UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        • dwoz says:


          <img src=”http://www.thenervousbreakdown.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/me.jpg”/>

        • Judy Prince says:

          Test failed, dwoz. Now what? We storm the WordPress Bastille?

        • Irene Zion says:

          Brad and Uche are holding the strings, folks.
          You can’t fight it.

        • dwoz says:

          actually, I’m hardly surprised that it’s not enabled. Not that I have anything against porn spam, but it would have grown up like weeds

        • Irene Zion says:

          Just what are you two pulling here?
          Judy and dwoz!
          TO THE CORNER!

        • Judy Prince says:

          dwoz, what are you talking about?

        • Judy Prince says:

          dwoz, have you been a bad boy—-on TNB?! Wow. And they bounced your bad boy url.

        • Judy Prince says:

          Irene, I think dwoz may have tried to post a photo of himself on a horse. You know, men on horses are sexy and all that. Pore us. Now we’ll never know how sexy his horse is.

        • dwoz says:


          the url I “tested” with is to the pic of Irene that’s included in the story up above. Just to see if I could link it from comments.

          What I mean is, when you have an open comments section like TNB does, the porn spammers find it, and they start posting pics.

          I run an internet forum myself, elsewhere, and we’re constantly battling porn bots. It’s a scourge.

        • dwoz says:

          I do own horses, by the way. And I’m sure my horses are sexier than me. I’ve never looked sexier than when I’m standing in a horse stall, in rubber boots holding a bright shiny shovel.

        • Judy Prince says:

          He sounds innocent enuff, Irene. And the explanation seems logical.

          I think WordPurse should reimburse dwoz for his exercise and expertise on TNB’s behalf.

        • Judy Prince says:

          And fragrant, as well, dwoz.

        • Judy Prince says:

          You own horses, dwoz? Tell me more! That’s the only regret I have, not properly learning how to ride a horse when I was a kid. It’s the most wonderful mode of transport. Next is a bike, natch. Then a glider (airplane). Then a train.

        • dwoz says:

          nah…they seem to have it pretty well covered. And no, I’m nothing like innocent. Pure intentions, maybe, but innocent? um…..then again, I’m not the one who flew from Florida to Toronto to take part in some good honest anarchy….


        • Irene Zion says:

          dwoz and Judy,
          first of all,
          I didn’t know that porn sites post porn on comments sections if it weren’t difficult.
          So, I bow to the powers that be over making it hard.
          I don’t want any porn on my site, for sure!

          I really do want to see dwoz on a horse, even if he has on rubber boots and is carrying a shovel. I’m pretty sure that any man on a horse looks hot, regardless of footwear or implement.

          I was on a horse once with my kids in Mexico. First time. My horse didn’t speak English. It started to run and I thought I was going to die because it was really, really, really high off the ground and it was going really, really, really fast. I just look at horses now. (Especially ones with men on them. Like Judy.)

          I didn’t take part in any anarchy of any kind in Toronto! Can’t you hear me?

        • dwoz says:

          Horses? ok.

          I have the wonderful sense to be married to a woman who is a “horse person.” Not in the bad sense of that category, but in the good sense. A second-level dressage and hunter-jumper.

          Those of you who know “horse people” know what I mean. A typical horse person recognizes only two ways to work with and care for horses…their way, and the wrong way. My wife is not that kind of horse person. I am sort of a horse person…I have ridden casually most of my life, but not with any kind of purpose or anything.

          This will quickly turn into a writing piece, so I’ll stop there and just get to the facts.

          I have four of them. Two thoroughbreds, a Trakehner, and a hackney pony. They’re all rescues.

          Star, an American Thoroughbred, had an interesting past. Off the track with an injury after winning a couple small purses, she was going to be put down for the insurance money by the owner. Her trainer bartered her in lieu of back pay, and took her and two others for his own. He fell on hard times, and ended up living in a shed with the horses, he would eat one day, they the next. They were squatting/trespassing on a quiet back field somewhere. Finally he realized he was killing them, and tearfully gave them up to a shelter.

          Honey, the pony, was found in a closed shed by the sheriff who was investigating a “cat hoarder.” The poor thing was tied to the wall, and had gouged her eye out on a protruding nail. Judging by the 3 feet of manure she was standing in and the maggots in her eye socket, she had been that way for quite a while. She just barely made it.

          Tucker, the other Thoroughbred, had a broken ankle off the track, and the last one, Kinsale the Trakehner, was from a house foreclosure.

          They’re going to make me rich. For every 20 dollars I put in, they make about 3 dollars worth of fine rich manure. I figure I’ll be a millionaire within 20 years, just from that.

        • Judy Prince says:

          This is beginning to sound like _Black Beauty_, dwoz—-you and your wife basically rescuing abused and neglected horses. I applaud you for it. Would love to read a piece on your horse experiences.

          My latest effort to ride a horse was in beautiful central Virginia. I had to cancel my first horse ride bcuz with my bad hip I couldn’t get up on the horse! I made another appointment at another place; the savvy owners sussed the situation, and shoved my backside up and into the saddle after which I had a marvelous slow ride and “take” on how horse-savvy humans handle horses as well as live with and love them.

          You’ve now made me curious as to riding horses here in northeast England. Because land for crops as well as grazing sheep, cows and horses is very near each village and town in most of the UK, many Brits’ lives are engaged in farming and raising animals. I may check out whether someone nearby has a nice gentle horse upon which I can saunter a mile or so. Heaven on earth!

        • Irene Zion says:

          dwoz and Judy,
          I can’t get any closer than here because you’re all stuck together.
          I think you, Judy, should start riding in the English countryside!
          (Hell, even I would do it because it’s so beautiful there even though I’m a total woos about riding.
          I might take someone with me on another horse who could speak it’s language.
          My English might not sound the same to him.)

          Your pony, Honey, dwoz? I’ll bet that the maggots saved her from infection. They actually do use maggots to clean wounds out and keep them free of infection.
          I’m pretty impressed with your saving all those horses.
          I can’t even remember why I was so mad at you once.
          (Don’t remind me.)

        • Judy Prince says:

          That’s it, then, Irene! I’ll make some phone calls and hope to be horsewards soon! I’ll try to get a horse helper who knows horse-speak, too.

          So many times on TNB I’ve written out my wishes or frustrations or probs in comments and have found truths, helps and encouragement in TNBers’ responses. These have led me to direct action, and I’m so grateful for it.

        • dwoz says:


          The maggots were just a sort of timekeeper on the problem. The poor thing was standing there tied, in what had to be excruciating pain, with an eye dangling down the side of her face, emaciated. The vet and sheriff were going to put her down right then and there, but for some reason they decided not to, probably because she wasn’t foundering. Her condition resulted in multiple felony charges and jail time for the owners/torturers.

          She would not be brought inside a building or structure for months afterward, no way. We ended up with her, because in a scene right out of a disney movie, my daughter went and sat in her pen for about 2 1/2 hours straight, just sat like a stone statue, and at the end of the time became the only person that had managed to even touch her since her rescue.

          She’s now fully acclimatized to something approaching normalcy, I can now walk around her body, pick up her hooves, touch her face on the blind side, lead her into her stall and close the door…things that were impossible 2 years ago.

        • Irene Zion says:

          Good for you, Judy!
          We want a post on it afterwards with pictures!

        • Irene Zion says:


          You raised a really good daughter.
          I can’t stand to hear the abuse animals get, so let’s don’t talk about it anymore.
          Hug that sweet daughter for me, eh?

        • Judy Prince says:

          Yes, me echoing Irene, dwoz—-what a wonderful daughter you and your wife have!

  27. Matt says:

    All I’m gonna say is, having seen the video of drunk you doing your onstage shimmy at that TNBLE last year, I completely buy into Victor’s email.

    In fact, I think this post is really just spin control. Propaganda before the Canadian news footage makes it’s way onto YouTube.

    • Irene Zion says:

      Uh hum, Matt?

      I was not drunk on stage. I had had one tiny little drink. The reason I looked drunk is that anxiety totally dried out my mouth to the point where I had trouble opening it. I don’t know how Slade does it. Maybe he has a bottle of water all the time with him and people keep replacing it.

      Oh my goodness, would that be a hoot if it got on YouTube! Honestly, I might have actually done that whole thing had I thought about appearing world-wide as a pretend anarchist!

      (Hey, that was some good cork!)

      • Matt says:

        Uh-HUH. It was all dehydration. Of COURSE.

        And for those at home wondering/concerned about the nonsensical “hey, that was some good cork!” comment, Irene maintains a collection of genuine wine bottle corks. So she can, I dunno, roll around in them when no one’s looking or something. I had one from this bottle of South African red I consumed the other weekend, and I mailed it to her.

        • Irene Zion says:

          Come the big hurricane, Matt,

          No one will be laughing at my cork body suits for the family and dogs!

        • Uche Ogbuji says:


          Now *there* is a picture! 😀

        • Irene Zion says:

          Now, Uche, heart of my heart,

          I will give you that our appearance may be unconventional, but should the storm surge arrive at the same time as high tide, our one story house on Miami Beach will be under water. I have the only two Goldens who will not swim. Even if they did, a hurricane can last too long to swim through it, and Victor doesn’t swim at all; he’s from Brooklyn. I’m from Brooklyn too, but I took the bus and the subway and the bus again to the Y and learned to dog paddle with the best of them. Still. A hurricane can last a long time. My cork body suits for man and dog will save us. Peculiar as we may look, we will survive to return to our flooded house hungry, tired and thirsty to begin the long repairs.

  28. Uche Ogbuji says:

    I’m with Lenore. Examined your Exhibit A photo. You do have that Carlos menace about you, despite being much better-looking than him or his associates or anyone in the Baader-Meinhof gang or The Red Brigade. The only questions is. Good joke, but you can tell us, just us friends. Are the RCMP on to you in fact?

  29. Greg Olear says:


    Death to the venti latte!

    • Irene Zion says:


      You would NOT believe it, but every single Starbucks we passed at the least had broken windows, at the most was trashed inside.
      They might as well have been saying that very thing!
      (I have pictures, but again, I do not have the super-power of Brad or Uche.)

      • Becky Palapala says:


        Do not mess with coffee, Starbucks. That will put you on the wrong side of milquetoast psuedo-anarcho-Bolsheviks like that.

      • Becky Palapala says:

        Next stop: Beard and Moustache Trimmers ‘R’ Us! Damn the man! Free the facial hair!

  30. Melissa(Irene's friend) says:

    Oh, Irene, you bad bad girl.
    I am trying to think Lenore was joking. Then again my daughter believes things I tell her even though they are so whacked they could never happen.

    Just a note for the future…….when things are cheap, there usually is a GOOD reason.


    • Irene Zion says:


      You are so very wise.
      Why didn’t you mention this before we left for Toronto?
      Timing is everything, Melissa, everything.

      • Melissa(Irene's friend) says:

        You would have gone anyway, even with the warnings. I wish I had the time to sew you up a Kevlar jacket.

        • Irene Zion says:

          You sew?

        • Melissa(Irene's friend) says:

          Irene, I sew sort of like I paint , and do my pottery. Sort of Picasso-ish. The Kevlar jacket would have not been in proportion but it would have protected you my dear. If only I had a machine and knew where to get some Kevlar, although I am very good with Gorilla Tape.

        • Irene Zion says:

          I didn’t know about Gorilla Tape, Melissa.
          We have Gorilla Glue. Must be the same company.
          I wonder where one goes to purchase a bolt of Kevlar?

  31. OMG, I love Toronto’s Chinatown, and this sounds like the very best time to visit Toronto, ever, as it is probably the only time to encounter people misbehaving, given the almost scary civility and politeness and rationality of the actual Canadians.
    I love Victor! I love Lenore! I know you didn’t really take off your shirt, Irene, or you would have taken a photo of yourself, at the very least being fingerprinted. I know you would never slack off on a fabulous vacation shot like that . . .

    • Irene Zion says:

      See now, Gina here, knows me!

      I would never, ever let material like that go undocumented.

  32. Gregory Messina says:

    I love the wrist bands that identify you as authentic tourists!

    • Irene Zion says:


      They were not of the quality of hospital wrist bands. They were a day-glo yellow mixture of paper and, perhaps, nylon. They scrunched and wrinkled and were a general annoyance. It was not unlike having a huge sticker on your shirt that said: HELLO! MY NAME IS __________________.
      Trust me, we already looked like tourists.
      We didn’t need to be tagged as such.

  33. Christine W. says:

    Best sixty eight bucks you guys ever spent! Freedom NOW!

    • Irene Zion says:


      You always get it!
      What a great experience for only $68!
      Wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

  34. Simon Smithson says:

    Irene, I’ll do my best to organise drama and chaos in Australia. That way you can come visit!

    • Irene Zion says:

      Oh Simon,

      You don’t need you to organize anything.
      Your being there is enough.

      Australia’s on our list, as well as New Zealand. We only saw the very top right of Australia, and we were on a very otherworldly trip with the Tropical Flowering Tree Society.
      (Now there’s a story!)

  35. Susan Gomez says:

    Irene, I remember the hippie version. I was there too, and had the wardrobe to prove it. I’d never bare these saggy objects I call breasts now, though unless I really wanted to upset someone.
    Several questions come to mind, like: define vacation. Clearly this is a stretch of time we should NEVER spend together.
    As for Baklava, everyone should wear some…so tasty.
    I love seeing the world through your eyes, even clad in glasses of yore. Aren’t you married to a doctor? Don’t they make money? Couldn’t you spend $70 for a ticket and head to a non-war zone? I’m just saying.
    We fly on miles…saves the argument.
    Keep the stories coming…you make my day.
    We’re off this Thurs. via our trusty old minivan, with our 17 year old pup, for the west coast to cool off. It’s in the 90’s in Texas…it is also in the 90’s everywhere we’re headed. Who set the world on fire?
    Keep in touch. Susan

    • Irene Zion says:

      Oh Susan,
      Remember the mini-skirts and the colored tights and all the fun?
      I do!
      The good thing about being flat-chested is that you don’t get saggy.
      I wish I had known that as a flat-chested young person!

      Yeah, spelling isn’t my strong suit.

      We use plenty of miles, but they are exclusively for the kids to fly to see us or to see each other.

      You have a wonderful trip with your husband and doggie.
      Write me all about it.
      We’re driving in August to New York to see family.
      I discovered that I don’t get carsick reading in the front seat if the road is straight. As soon as it gets curvy, or, God Forbid, we’re in the mountains, I turn off my kindle.

  36. Tawni says:

    Oh, Irene. This is so funny. When I got to the part about Lenore believing Victor’s joke email, I laughed until I my eyes teared up. (:

    • Irene Zion says:

      Hi Tawni!

      I did the same thing when she called! I couldn’t stop laughing, because this kind of concern and gullibility is really not like Lenore at all.

      (Isn’t Victor funny? We’ll be married 40 years soon.)

  37. Megan says:

    Irene, since you’re sporting the classic anarchist seriousness in that photo my answer is yes, it’s plausible. Sorry your trip to TO was spoiled. But memorable at least.

    The G-20 was embarrassing but we comfort ourselves by being convinced all those police-cruiser-torchers HAD to be left-wing nutjobs from the U.S. Or it was a police decoy, that’s what the media reported.

    More than the out-of-control protesting, which happens at all G-20s, let’s be honest, we were really pissed at the super expensive “Fake Lake”. Did you hear about that?

    The only nice part was that for one entire week, all the squeegee kids from the east coast disappeared. Guess where they went?

    • Irene Zion says:

      Hello there, Megan,

      Really, the trip was not spoiled at all.
      It was just a different trip than we expected.
      We had a blast.

      I have NO IDEA what the “Fake Lake” is!
      Please fill me in!
      We didn’t hear a word about it.
      (Of course, you have to remember that we’re the ones who didn’t know the G 20 was there to begin with.)

      What are “squeegee kids?”
      And, where did they go?

      I think I may be just as stupid as I appear here.
      All of this is new to me.

  38. Wow, that’s some adventure. I’m so glad you took the time to tell us about it, Irene. Otherwise I don’t think I would believe it.

    Although, I’m wondering if I should, now that both you and Victor have revealed yourselves as pranksters.

  39. ksw says:

    do not judge a book by it’s cover or uncoverd as the case may be caw

    • Irene Zion says:

      You are right, caw,

      Had I been in that video on TV naked, I would be lovely uncovered.
      (But, I wasn’t.)

  40. Andy Antippas
    to Irene

    Dear Irene–for God’s sake, you were in Toronto and, regrettably, didn’t search out Lillian Butter’s squat? Now there’s the true Anarchist–who wears her balaclava on her brain, not merely on her face–think of the post you could have had out of that visit!

    The real issue here are your glasses. You are a genuinely lovely woman (Victor Victorius) whose beauty is belied by those silly specs from 1975. I am a connoisseur of eye glasses, having worn them since I was 16–that is for 107 years– and finding the right pair of round ones is, as you note, extremely difficult–rectangular shapes have dominated for 20 years–I have several pair and when I wear them I feel, perhaps inexplicably, like a lesbian, (not that I don’t have some common ground with lesbians–but I feel uncomfortable, even fearful, broadcasting that to an uncomprehending and confused general public).

    Over the course of these 107 years, since my prescription–near-sightedness–has not changed one eye-ota, I have accumulated about 25 pair of wearable glasses, most of eccentric design, acquired mostly in foreign climes, and therefore not easily stylistically or temporally demarcated. But round ones are the Holy Grail. Our otherwise wonderful trip to Senegal last summer was effectively ruined for me because an optical shop near our Dakar hotel, displaying a fabulous round pair in its window–possibly of Japanese manufacture, was under construction and wouldn’t open until we were well out of there. The pair was similar in design to a metal pair I have from Matsuda–who no longer seems to make any glasses.

    The number of Knights Errant in quest of round glasses was brought home to me in the question period after a paper I read at a symposium a couple of years ago at The American Folk Art Museum. It was a bright, scholarly group and my paper was somewhat controversial and I got some good comments and rejoinders from the audience. Near the end, when the questions were petering out, an elegantly dressed woman with a very intense look on her face stood up and said: “I enjoyed your paper, but I’d like to know where you got your glasses.” Everyone laughed–probably because that was the question uppermost in all their minds. I laughed too, but didn’t answer the question. I was wearing a pair of antique glasses with small round real tortoise frames with gold plated flexible temples which snapped behind one’s ears. I found them in a flea market in Mexico City and, amazingly, they had my prescription. I Know they they are the very pair Trotsky was wearing at tea, on that sunny day in Coyoacan, when that comrade put a pickax through his skull.

    Now pay attention. There are round glasses and there are round glasses. Take mine for example–(and I mean that as a figure of speech, mind you): the Matsudas (20 years old) are all black metal; the Oliver Peoples (15 years old) are plastic tortoise rims with delicately incised metal sides; the all titanium ones (10 years old), ever so slightly oval, are, ominously “made in Germany”–in all likely-hood extruded from a left over V-2 rocket; and my fabulous Trotsky’s, while genuine tortoise, have those gold-plated metal temples–all of which is to say, none of these are the Holy Grail–except in one regard–and this is part of the key–the circumference of all the glasses are smaller than 1 1/2 inches. Anything bigger, even slightly, and with any any metal, you stand in danger of being mistaken for jerks like Edith Head, Yeats, Ozzy, Lennon, Henry Miller, Kurt Weil, T.S. Eliot, that guy Gandhi, and that fellow, Philip Johnson, who always used way too much glass in his architectural projects as well–not to mention Harry Potter and Groucho (with considerable irony, more about him later).

    But consider this elite nobility–Freud, Schliemann, Trotsky, Sartre, Rimsky-Korsakov, Matisse, Brecht–and if I was more certain, I’d add Heraclitus, Socrates, and Plato–all wore the Holy Grail: small lenses with black or tortoise frames and temples–(for us faux-tortoise plastic because some dolts think that every turtle needs its carapace to get around in.) These are the small glass-eyed frames of deep thinkers–who dug deep–into the psyche, into the soil of Troy, into the nature of political man, into the nature of the existential self, into the folk ethos of Russia–(I can’t keep this up)–into the nature of turpentine and oil paint, and under the skin of the House on UnAmerican Activities.

    Where was I? I don’t want to leave you hanging–just two months ago, I found the Holy Grail or rather, miraculously, it found me. An old friend from Baltimore stopped by the gallery and his wife was wearing the Holy God Damned Grail! I got on my knees and made the sign of the cross several times; with tears streaming from my eyes. I begged her to tell me where she got her glasses. She glanced at her husband and they spoke in huddled voices to each other for what seemed an eternity. She walked over to me, placed her hand on my head and said: “It is written that to achieve the Holy Grail of all eyeglasses you must first make a complete spectacle of yourself-and in that, throughout your life, we know, you have succeeded–oh, and you have to give us a 25% discount on any painting we buy this morning.” With uncontrollable sobbing, I agreed. She then said: “I bought them in NYC for $258.00 and another $200 for the lenses.” I relied–“That’s it–you bought them in NYC–what the fuck.” “Here,” she continued, “is how much we love you. When I got home, I Googled the glasses and found them for $100.00 less–and they only charge 50 bucks for regular lenses.” With that, she wrote the website address backwards on my forehead with a green Sharpie me. Later, in front of a mirror, my joy, needless to say, was religious. An Angel of the Lord had come to reward me for my purity, my piety, my chastity, and my years of questing.

    Irene, I know from your name that you are (despite your antics) of a peaceful disposition and therefore prepared to see deeply; that your namesake was martyred for the faith testifies to your piety; and in spite of your countless, irritating children and Victor’s best efforts, you have retained your chastity–you are ready to quaff from the Grail cup.

    Just as the Grail is hidden from the uncouth, so too is the website cleverly hidden from the unwise and the undeserving–go to http://www.eyeglasses.com–I know you are incredulous, but trust your inner, gradually illuminating self. There are still mysteries ahead–like Perceval, you must know what to say when you are approaching the Grail because Satan hovers near and needs to be distracted–without hesitation, type in “Groucho” where it says “style.” Satan thinks–“no threat here, she just wants plastic glasses with a rubber nose and mustache attached,” and goes off to continue whispering in Obama’s ear. You’ll know Satan’s gone when the screen goes dark for a moment and then floods with a dazzling, Holy light and before you stands the shimmering Holy Grail of Round Glasses–one size magically fitting all.

    Soon, with these glasses perched on your nose, like Wordsworth, you will be able “to see into the life of things.” Go, and sin no more with those silly glasses of yours.


  41. Irene Zion says:

    Okay, Andy,
    I’m on it.
    As soon as I can get a mastercard bill that pleases Victor, I will go RIGHT to that site and get me some glasses!
    (You have no idea how hard it was for you to get that web site on the comments section.
    It probably took half a day! Apparently there is porn trying to invade our pristine site!
    I KNOW! Who would have believed it before?)
    Thanks for the tips and we WILL go see Lillian Butter the next time we get to Toronto!

  42. Erika Rae says:

    I’m sorry, Irene, but I’m with Lenore. I believe the email. Every word of it.

    And I laughed out loud at the airport description. Ha!

  43. Irene Zion says:

    Erika Rae!

    I’m 62!
    You believe I would do this?
    I have lost my credibility for good.

  44. Ruthie says:

    I may have been taken in by the frog story but not this time! Sounds like you will have to take another trip to Toronto to get a feel for what it is really like- very European. I would like to see some Kevlar police up close. keep up the great writing. Sounds like Victor should try this in the fiction genre.

  45. Irene Zion says:


    I have loads of Kevlared Police pictures.
    I’ll send you some.
    Wish I had gotten a pic of the meter maids in Kevlar, that was just so funny and I didn’t think fast enough.

    Funny, Toronto just seemed like the States with Moose, not at all like Europe.
    I guess I think of things European being old and ornate, you know, packed with Cathedrals with gargoyles hanging off every eave.

    Victor should absolutely start working in fiction.
    He’s a born liar!

  46. Carl D'Agostino says:

    And we finally got a taxi driver who didn’t speak English just like home – Well that certainly proves you are a Miami gal. Have you tried the court house, utilities, department stores? No Inglee there. Or Good Lord, the hospital? Hey I’m all for multiculturalism but I think I’d like to live in a place where just SOME of the people know who Joe Dimaggio was.

    • Irene Zion says:


      One thing that dopes bug me is having to press a number on the phone for English!

      (I’m afraid for people to know Joe Dimaggio, they also have to be old. Miami Beach and Miami are no longer old cities. People who don’t know who Nixon was live here now.)

  47. Carl D'Agostino says:

    Oh and the mounted mounties. Where’s the red jackets and that dog whatever his name was? I thought Canadians were like them English with traditions and all . They are related right? Now to the horses. Did you know that at the turn of the century(last century) the automobile was hailed as an anti pollution device in New York City? That’s because in a city of several million there had to be at least 100,000 horses pulling everything. And a horse deposits 22 pounds of doo-doo each day. Do the math.

    • Irene Zion says:


      I think they save the red outfits for dress occasions.
      This was unquestionably not a dress occasion.
      You don’t want your Kevlar to be red, then if someone wanted to shoot you, they could easily see where to miss.

      I did not know that about horses being a source of pollution and the car being the solution.
      That is pretty amazing. Thanks for telling me that, oh history buff!

  48. Carl D'Agostino says:

    Nixon? Fate led me to meet the man 3 times and shake hands. June 18, 1965 (my 16th birthday) at the Deauville on Miami Beach, (next to the Carillon and the Cherry Fontenac) in rope line at Tampa airport 1968 and in rope line at Miami airport in 1972. Got his autograph in ’65 at that luncheon for about 100 big timers. He wrote with a purple felt tip pen. I don’t think he remembered me though because when I wrote him in 1973 to be appointed Secretary of State, I never even got an answer. So much for deep friendships, huh?

  49. Irene Zion says:

    Ah, Carl….

    Politicians don’t have friends.
    I got Betty White’s autograph and Bob Hope’s, but I got them when I was a kid and I’ve lost them over the years.

  50. Amy says:

    I could totally see you running down the street with your bra on your head. That picture looks nothing like you!:)

  51. Irene Zion says:

    Amy, love of my life,
    I can understand your believing the first part.
    (After all, I am out there a bit.)
    But that picture was taken in Toronto.
    At the same time.
    Why don’t I look like me?

  52. Marni Grossman says:

    Lenore is obviously on to you, Irene. She’s seen that beneath the calm exterior lies the heart of a revolutionary.

    It’s all in the eyes.

  53. Irene Zion says:

    Maarr nniii!

    All you TNB people are totally ratting me out.
    This was supposed to be about how Lenore does not know me, but you are all on to me, and she’s right, the story was minimally believable, if crazy.
    And that is not a mug shot!

  54. Shannon says:

    i, like lenore, would have TOTALLY taken this seriously.
    but i would have asked, “do mom’s boobs have a record now?”

  55. Irene Zion says:


    I started this off thinking that it was Lenore who was silly,
    now it appears from all I hear that it’s I who’s silly.
    Ah well.
    Such is life.

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