I have occasionally used the phrase "gothic horror movie" to describe the recurring themes of my life, and why I felt so at home at Company ℱ, and why I have never wanted to work at RIM or most other companies in my local area (because they are more "gladiator movie" than "gothic horror"). My wife has used "Addams Family
" to describe her first visit to my parents' house.
So you can imagine my interest in last Friday's article
in the Guardian
as the locals call it), which is entitled "How to Tell You're Reading a Gothic Novel". I guess I'd rather see this title as "How to Tell You're Living
in a Gothic Novel". Anyway, let us review their helpful hints:1. The villain is a murderous tyrant with scary eyes
Actually not. I have had a variety of opponents in my life, most of whom did not have especially-scary eyes. One notable exception was that four-year-old kid I met when I was six. Aaaaaah! On the other paw, lots of people have commented that my
eyes are scary, so maybe I'm supposed to be the villain? But I always try to be a good
little monster! I have never murdered anything larger than a flounder
, although I have been indirectly involved in the senseless killings of several innocent dogs (may their souls RIP in Heaven). The notches on my metaphorical pistol refer mainly to the destroyed careers of various evil-doers who were stupid enough to pick fights with me after I told them not to. Just go away and nobody will get hurt! But they wouldn't listen.2. The heroine is a pious virginal orphan, prone to fainting.
I don't know WTF this is supposed to be talking about. What does morphine diacetate have to do with virginity? No swoons for me; Victor Frankenstein I ain't! Though sometimes I wish I could just sleep through the bad periods when there's nothing I can do about my problems. And since when are orphans known for their piety? My father is dead and I actually don't know whether my mother still lives.3. It's set in a spooky castle or stately home.
Not exactly. But this item has sub-items, so let's review those:3a. Built in Gothic period:
No, my house dates from 1870. It's old, but not that old.3b. In a poor state of repair:
Yes, the wooden front porch is rotting and needs replacement before it collapses.3c. In the middle of nowhere:
Well, the city folks think so, but really it's only a 15-minute drive from here to Canada's Technology Triangle.3d. Haunted/cursed:
Not really. My previous house was haunted by the spirit of a little girl who was really, really unhappy that she had to move to Singapore — but I think she was gone by the time we left there, and I have no idea if the folks who bought the house from us thought we were still haunting the place (I insisted on moving to Canada, so the rest of the family got dragged along with me). My sister used to say about our parent's last house together that it was some sort of spiritual way-station because so many non-corporeal entities passed through it on their way to ¿someplace else?
But really the house was just creaky and the spirits had nothing to do with that.3e. Has a fobidden wing and/or secret passages:
Yes! My house has a variety of inaccessible areas. The largest is under the mud-room, which I can shine a light into from the basement walk-out but I never see anything. So far as I know, nothing lives in there except occasionally a family of squeaky little shrews will move in for breeding season.3f. Has a reclusive and/or sinister owner:
Yes, I am left-handed.
-----4. There is (probably) a ghost or monster
[I like the footnote on this item that refers specifically to Southern Ontario gothic
I guess this one applies, but let's look at the subcategories:4a. Ghost:
Not currently, I think. But I was medically dead once and almost-dead another time, so maybe this life is all a dream? The final episode of Roseanne
was the best!4b. Monster:
I sometimes identify as a therian, which is sort of like a furry only totally not.4c. Witch/sorceress:
I'll let my wife answer this one.4d. Vampire:
No, it's a werewolf! Werewolves are not vampires! (*spits into mike*)
Is this thing on? A werewolf, I tell you‼
Sheesh.4e. The Devil:
No, although some people have claimed that I should have "666" tattooed on my forehead. But really, Arabic numerals would make no sense — it should be "DCLXVI" for proper Latin. Sic gorgiamus allos subjectatos nunc.
I said that once (in English) to a lawyer who was trying to depose me.4f. Not really a ghost at all:
It was nice of them to include the footnote here about Scooby Doo
, which jumped its shark in later years when the monsters were reimagined as "real" within the story universe.
-----5. It's set in the olden days.
Hey, we're on Internet time now. I remember the dark ages before Google, before Wikipedia, before Rule 34, when people actually had to get up and go to the TV and rotate a knob to change the channel. So, um, yeah.6. It takes place in foreign parts.
The footnote says this applies if the story takes place in a country that is not where the author was born. So Canada counts. And, BTW, I am a citizen now!7. The weather is always awful.
This is an exaggeration, although there were far too many days with -30° wind-chills last winter. But next year is supposed to be a monstrous El Niño, so hopefully more to my liking.8. Anyone who isn't a white middle-class Protestant is frightening.
Yup. I'm a Jew who lives in a township full of Mennonites. Be very afraid!9. The laws of the land are brazenly flouted.
I can't talk about this in a public post, but there are signs that the laws will be a-changing soon to be more to my liking. The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind!10. People talk funny.
I've been here for seven years and still don't feel like I have a grip on the local accent.11. So which gothic novels are the best?
I don't know, but not the one I'm living in — that's fer damn sure.(p.s.: In case you're wondering, the most important sentence in this essay is the last one for point 6 above, which Wifey wanted to know why I hadn't posted yet to this journal.)