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notes on a whiteboard

Alison Kuipers wrote a good novel a few years back that consisted entirely of notes between a girl and her mom with conflicting schedules -- the kind of notes that get stuck under frig magnets or scribbled on bulletin boards. I enjoyed the story of love and loss and humour and growing up, but couldn't help wondering how it would have played with male characters. Would a boy and his dad express their feelings and interests through notes? Well, Ed and I have been sharing a kitchen and white message board for more than a year, and the answer is ... well, what do you think? We Scrimgers are not afraid to communicate. The board is often full of writing. We are not fond of feelings, however. Or should I say we are not fond of mushy feelings. No LOVE YOUs or TAKE CAREs. But we do not mind expressing our displeasure. The suggestion WASH DISHES was up there for two days when I was away a few months ago. When I came back the dishes were still undone, so I turned a suggestion into an order by adding an exclamation mark. WASH DISHES! Came downstairs the next day and Ed had added a third screamer and a curse: WASH DISHES DAMMIT!!! I confronted him later. He was yawning and I was making coffee. What is going on with the dishes? I asked him.

I'm waiting for you to do them, Dad.

I was surprised.

That was my note, I said, pointing to the white board.

No, I wrote it, he said. I hate the dishes piling up. See, there, that's the way I write my M, all loopy like that.

Huh, I said. I was sure I remembered writing it. I did the dishes and rubbed out the note. Later that week the board was co-opted to record the results of home-made crokinole tournament played on our dining room table. Ed and his friends picked countries to represent, and I was interested to note the progress of Macedonia (Ed) against Brazil, Sweden, and Cote D'Ivoire. Not the stuff of story, eh? I know. Not many movies of the week based on these plot lines, specially when people's choice Macedonia went into a tailspin and finished fourth. Currently we have a shopping list on the board. You could read it as a poem, I suppose. Or a piece of cryptic prose. HOT SAUCE, BREAD, FEAR. I know where to find hot sauce and bread, but wonder about FEAR. What does Ed want with it? And where can I buy it? Unless it's BEANS.


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