I am a visitor milling about in a church, when I see an enormous young woman with red hair. My childhood prejudice against red-headed, gum-chewing women with bouquets of freckles could be easily set aside, but it’s the airy display of bosom – as wide as a Saskatchewan sky – that startles me.
She is a flurry of activity, flinging her girth through the crowded corridor like a battering ram that touches no one, yet spreads a pathway wide and clear. I make way for this Paleolithic goddess, whose chest bursts forth unashamedly.
After the service I drive to Wal-Mart for shopping. As I round a corner at the frozen food section a woman rushes into view, and reaches upward for a large can of something. Her plump face is adorned with piercings that defiantly shout bite me! And her blouse is worn as if it had been torn asunder for all to see her tattoo of a massive skull, encrusted with red roses and wings.
Days later I meet an elderly woman on one of my many walks through Brandt’s Creek Park. Conversation flows easily, and she shares dismay about the values and sensibilities of the younger men and women of the city. She speaks about the municipal election, saying – “…all those women running for office…we need more men in there. A few women are okay…but they should be at home looking after their children.” Bewildered by the impulses that propel many of her younger sisters, she speaks like one who has stumbled into a landscape of distorted forms.
I was a stripling teen when I first heard the phrase generation gap. It provoked a kind of liberating glee that allowed me to explore the destiny of my generation unhindered; all the while knowing that I was safely tethered and could be reeled in if I wandered too far.
In this new civilization being born the distance between my elderly acquaintance and the women I meet on this day seems to widen; hands reach across the canyon but they do not link. Youth has become its own parent, and the voices of those who could reel it in often fall without a sound into the abyss of change.