Beautiful Woman

Ten years ago I pulled a rental van up to my new rental house Peterborough, Ontario. I’d been told that a woman named Catherine, who lived in the house next door, had the key. And, sure enough, she did. I seem to remember that we flirted a little on that first meeting, but I might be making that up.

I moved in next door, and, over the course of the summer, Catherine and I got to know each other. I was working insane hours at the Peterborough Examiner, Catherine was working as a disability rights advocate, artisan, collector of hubcaps, and hostess for a motley collection of rabblerousers who would ramble in and around our two houses to play guitars, drink beer, and generally enjoy the summer. I’m not sure I knew quite what to make of her.

Over the course of that summer we gradually got to know one and other, spurred on partly by the subtle matchmaking of our friends.

That fall, on October 5, my little brothers turned 19 and I invited them, and our grandmother Nettie, up to Peterborough for the weekend and threw a birthday party in their honour. The party ranks as one of the more surreal experiences of my life: Johnny and Steve were presumably off somewhere enjoying the pleasures of legal alcohol, our extended network of friends and hangers on were everpresent, and Nettie, who’d brought her mandolin, started playing duets with our friend Irene, who’d brought her accordion.

At the tail end of the evening Irene needed a ride home and, on the spur of the moment, I invited Catherine to come along for the ride. In the heady surreal atmosphere of that night, after dropping Irene off at her house, we shared our first kiss (Catherine’s idea; I happily agreed). Ten years later, we are still together.

When you are living in sin over an extended period of time like we are, you need to come up with a somewhat arbitrary date for the start of your relationship, and we have choosen that night, October 5, 1991, as ours.

So, happy anniversary Catherine. Thank you for 10 wonderful years.

Oh, and happy birthday Johnny and Steve! And Nettie, up in heaven, I hope you’ll strum a chord or two on God’s mandolin for us all.


steve rukavina's picture
steve rukavina on October 5, 2001 - 18:41 Permalink

That was indeed a kind of magical evening, although I saw it from a different perspective. While you were romancing and Nettie was rocking the house, Johnny and I, with assistance from your friend Dianne, were making concerted efforts to legally purchase alcohol at every licensed establishment in the Peterborough core area. I remember that I, on this critical day of days, had left my photo ID in Toronto. Johnny had his ID, and we finnagled our way into many bars by explaining that we were twins, and so isn’t the one ID good enough? Of course we had no idea of your heady amorous liaisions, but this is a happy day for me too. Not only because it’s my borthday, but because it’s the anniversary of the day that our family gained it’s first official “extended” member for our generation. What I got out of the deal, aside from a considerable hangover, was a wonderful and sweet sister. Happy anniversary.

Oliver Baker's picture
Oliver Baker on October 8, 2001 - 22:51 Permalink

Happy Anniversary, Peter!

(and to Catherine too, of course)

Oliver Baker's picture
Oliver Baker on October 8, 2001 - 23:08 Permalink

The wages of sin could be worse, by the way. My own anniversary, unless it is supplanted by a more appropriate wedding day, is April Fool’s Day.

Christopher Ogg's picture
Christopher Ogg on October 10, 2001 - 19:43 Permalink

I always enjoy your stuff but every now and again I read a piece that gives me a big happy smile. This piece was really nice and thank you for sharing it. Congratulations to you both and long may the mandolin winds blow around your windows.

Tim Piper's picture
Tim Piper on February 25, 2004 - 02:12 Permalink

Come to think of it old boy, October 5th, 1991 was around the time Diane and I got “married”. Remember? You were there. October 19th, 1991, actually. You made the invitations. Sure it was over soon after but what the hey. You guys lasted. Way to go. I hope in some way I contributed to your love thang with Catherine just by being there. But that might be wishful thinking. You know Peter, you were the first confidante (around that same time) for me vis a vis my secret crush on my eventual long term and present love, Pauline.