Thursday, February 11, 2010

Coffee break

In my woodcarving class on Wednesday we take a half hour break for coffee. It's a three hour class once a week, and to me half an hour for coffee seems like a long time. I'm paying for a carving class, not a coffee break! But I'm the newbie here, most of these folks have been in this class for many years, and they take a half hour break for coffee. One guy, he doesn't even come here to carve anymore, he just arrives at coffee break time and leaves right after!

At the beginning of each class Ruth, our teacher, always makes a few announcements. Sometimes stuff about the school, sometimes about our class, sometimes about other students she has. Today she tells us that one of her students in another class just died. A young woman, maybe early 50s, she was enrolled this term but she told Ruth she had terminal cancer, and I guess she wasn't kidding. Ruth thought she seemed very alive and active, it was hard to believe that she was gone so fast.

It seems like most people who enroll in one of Ruth's classes only leave via a funeral home. She always tells us when one of her students dies. I think that must be very strange to have your students die on you.

Today, Bill arrives a little early with two big boxes of doughnuts. Not just any doughnuts, SanRemo doughnuts. that's the little bakery and deli up the street from Mimico Adult Ed. He sets himself up at the coffee table and reads the newspaper while we carve, waiting for coffee break. Bill says that he has all his own tools at home, and he only occasionally needs advice or help from our teacher, Ruth, so there's no point taking up space in the class except for coffee.

Soon we are all gathered around the coffee table, five women and seven men. The big news today is Adam Giambrone, the City Councillor for my ward who is running for Mayor of Toronto. Or was. He is officially out of the race as of today because he is accused of and has admitted to having an affair with a woman while living with another (he's not married). Not that that is illegal, but it has made the news and a lot of people are upset about it. So at coffee today we talk about sexual impropriety and other misbehaviours, the things men do that are rather unsavoury, and the things that women do that are rather unsavoury. There are a few jokes.

At a certain point one of the men says, It says something about our society that we can have this conversation now, in mixed company, without name calling or embarrassment or hurt feelings. I don't think we could have had this conversation twenty years ago. We are a bit surprised by that comment, but we all agree with him. We probably could not have had this conversation in times gone by.

For all the unpleasant things going on in our culture today, there are a few things that are improving.


Wisewebwoman said...

Yes, I did read about Adam, Annie, and methinks he was in the Tiger Woods class of sex addiction as there were many peccadilloes, one a student.
Your class sounds very interesting, more like one of those happy camps.

20th Century Woman said...

Twenty years ago was 1990. Heavens above, surely we were talking about such things freely then. Even 40 years ago was the time of the so-called sexual revolution, the days of hippies and hair. Thirty years ago was the beginning of the HIV epidemic. I think you have to go back a long way to get to the point when sex wasn't freely discussed in the media and in mixed company.

Annie said...

Hi WWW, it's interesting watching the talk about our Adam, the locals who were dissatisfied with him as a Councillor before all this happened are downright gleeful about his latest misstep. Those who were happy with his service (and they do exist, members of my own household are quite happy with him) are saying nothing and trying to ignore the fuss.

20CW, you are quite right! 1990 seems almost yesterday, I have a hard time realizing that is 20 years ago! I imagine the rest of us at that coffee break feel the same way, so no one called the fellow on his remark. I don't know how far back you have to go really, but I know that there are few places I would have had that conversation with those people in the 1980s. Not so much the conversation about sex---yes, that was a fair topic---but more the conversation about who is in the right and who is in the wrong when things go awry. For example, what people were saying in the 1980s about AIDS, and who or what was to blame for that...