Dispatches

The Acknowledgements

Stephen Smith

In the Acknowledgements I cop to various, well, not exactly crimes, let’s call them trespasses: forgive me. I do some repenting, too, run a few retractions up the proverbial flagpole, the odd refutation. If I make some promises (and I do), it’s on the understanding that nobody is actually keeping track of what gets followed through on, let alone what doesn’t. Before I get around to thanking anyone, I say my sorries, my farewells. Any resemblances to persons living or dead, I disclaim, are purely vindictive. In bidding my adieus, I get some jabs in, and an uppercut. My low blows go lower than intended, and thereby mostly miss the mark. My tears are crocodile. My scores, I settle. The lyrics I quote without necessarily meaning to belong mostly to Bruce Cockburn, so shout-out to him. The parable I include gets a little garbled, then a little teary, it’s the one with the fishes or the loaves that are … lost? I get into a whole thing about whether is there a word for a garbled parable —a garbable? Let me be the first to admit that I’ve never been one to ask permission, I write, please would you allow me that? The little prayer I attempt takes a turn for the worse, then another, and another. You are ahead by a century, I reiterate, and mean it. The italics are mine, I make clear, despite what you may have heard. Joking: I mean Gord Downie, of course, no disrespect to Bruce, in fact, kudos to him. My qualms are also crocodile, if that’s a thing. Is it? Crocodile qualms? The immunity I’m seeking no lawyer has, so far, been able to draft in a way that’s going to hold up in court. I name my muse and my nemesis, but not my friend Lyle, who never liked the limelight. Ask anybody, I suggest. Anybody? I threaten my heroes, but they’re only idol threats. I make a point of listing, for posterity as much as anything, and to boost the word count, a few of my favourite words: jazzercise, gumption, boxercise, lobsterine, tootle. My influences are obvious to anyone who’s been paying attention, but what about my influencers? I throw in an invoice, just to fuck with people, which is to say, I guess, the powers that be. I let this be a warning. Don’t read the comments, I comment. And ask: are you not entertained? I discuss money-back guarantees, the idea of them as well as their history, which is surprising, if you bore down, the philosophy, the whole question of a world without risks, is that really one we’d be happy inhabiting? The moral of the story I hint at without getting into specifics. I go out on a limb, where I perform a little pirouette. Just watch me, I demand, with all due respect if not so much as a by-your-leave to Pierre Trudeau, which I guess is sort of an homage in its own right? We hardly knew ye, I say, or insinuate. Thank you, thank you, I bleat, so very kind, shedding more tears, a sneeze, bowing slightly at the waist, stretching those hamstrings, backing up slowly while sweeping a hand out in a final flourish, stop the presses, the show must go on, see you next time, don’t tell me what the poets are doing, oh Tokyo, I never can sleep in your arms.

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Stephen Smith

Stephen Smith has written for the Globe and Mail, Toronto Life, Canadian Geographic, Outside, Quill & Quire, West End Phoenix and the New York Times Magazine. He lives in Toronto and at puckstruck.com.


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