Women of the Corn
Updated: Jul 28
Reluctantly - well, desperately - I agree to host a curated bachelorette for which I drive forty-five minutes to Lake Erie to collect them.
The moment I meet the six on the deck of a cottage I sense the worst: they're dead - bloody dead, even oblivious to the sound of waves hitting the shore.
"So beautiful here," I say, the sun gleaming off the water. "Why would you leave this? I feel guilty taking you away."
They stare at me.
Normally chatter and forced inquiries about the agenda but nothing. Nothing but blank eyes in cute summer clothes without a heartbeat among them.
Not knowing what to do I excuse myself to wait for them at the van where soon appears the world's most youthful walking corpses. Not even walking - can't even open their mouths to talk. I study these long-faced ladies but can't tell for sure who the power brokers are. I believe the bride-to-be may be controlling the mood. . .
Average all around. Average names, average personalities, average ambitions. No consciousness of anything. Five in relationships but none, it seems, overjoyed about it including the bride. Dead Girls with Deadbeat Boyfriends from the cemetery of "Harley, Ontario."
"COME TO HARLEY" would be their sign - too lazy and inconsiderate to add the "WEL".
I fear what's coming with no way to break them in or break me out.
One lands the unfortunate position of passenger seat - because now she has to talk.
Are they stoned? I wonder. Don't seem to be. Just from Harley, Ontario. "Near Brantford," comes what I believe to be a voice out of the wind through the windows. I think she mutters something else too. Yes, seems her mouth is moving. Excited, I lean in.
"Can you turn on the radio?" she says.
They'd rather engage in a familiar song than an unfamiliar person - or even each other.
"Know any strip joints?" she says.
"For girls or guys?" I ask to keep her "talking."
"Doesn't matter," she says.
"Throw me a tenner," I joke, "and I'll dance for you!" to which barely a smile comes then disappears as if laughing might cause heat exhaustion.
I make another attempt: "Then you'd be tossing another tenner at me to throw my clothes back on!" She laughs because I'm putting myself down - nothing funnier to these types than a man putting himself down.
In the rearview five dead ladies waiting to be deader - deep as shot glasses and bored by existence.
I continuing working it: "So you're a physiotherapist at a hospital?" I learn. "Any recovery stories?"
"Yeah, lots," she says.
"Okay. . ."
"Okay, what?" she says.
She proceeds to talk about a patient who'd had a stroke and whose paralysis "went away" over eight weeks.
Nothing but wind - and paralysis.
I'm in trouble.
They fall out of the van for the hike and, as all bachelorettes, I round 'em up and ask each what she loves about the bride. They utter one or two un-unique traits - their faces praying for the winery to happen.
The ladies don't get into the river on a hot August day.
The ladies don't get into Lower Falls on a hot August day.
This neither impresses nor draws them in. They're dreaming of a strip club
Unlike most groups the ladies stand around watching me in the waterfall - on a hot August day.
Not from Harley, Ontario (one week prior)
One of them reluctantly joins me then shouts under the falls: "I don't like the water on my face!"
She returns to the rest snacking on vegetables from Tupperware. That's what they are: Tupperware, empty plastic bins that keep air from getting in and flavor from getting out.
I try to sympathize with their inability to relax. I pour them wine but never again. I'd stocked two bottles but they neither appreciate or deserve it.
Second waterfall? Having none of it.
"Don't want to mess our hair," one says. "Want photos at the winery."
Right - to record the moment you're not experiencing, to flaunt to all who see through you.
I plunge into Upper Falls and stay a long time not wanting to emerge. They snack on carrots as if it were recess - glued to each other by fear of each other.
What they are not doing
"We're not water people," speaks the bride.
Right - you're corn people, detasseled by fads to keep you from being anything but corn.
Getting out of the water I turn to the group. "Quit worrying about what each other thinks. Do something different. Like be yourself."
My words, though harsh, have fallen on deaf ears - of corn, and ignorance - of who they're being and who they are.
I'm dreaming of the best group ever
I look at them packing up their snacks in silence, all kernels of the same corn packed in Tupperware to keep them from spoiling into non-conformity.
Back to the van I plead: "At the winery you have to be fun."
"Aren't we fun, Ken?" comes a voice.
I text a warning to Nina at the winery and apologize upon arrival. I flee to seek respite at a cafe. Upon return they are smiling. Seems Nina has turned the crowd.
"Laughter, Nina?" I joke. "From this group?"
"She served us wine!" they say. "You made us hike!"
Ha and Ha and Ha and Ha and Ha and Ha - together at last.
I drive them fast, in the passenger seat a different girl now, a loose talker softened by wine.
"Have a girlfriend?" she asks.
"Sort of," I say. "A long-distance friend who visits often."
"Still banging?" she asks.
"Everything is about sex," she says, "except sex. Sex is about power."
I cannot wait to push them out of the van. I lean over and tell her that they don't know how to live.
I pull in front of the cottage and off-load the Ungrateful Dead, each of them vaporizing in the humidity of a beautiful evening.
I drive off thinking - one day - they'll all be middle aged Women of the Corn on their second husbands smoking store-bought pot with miserable teenage children watching Disney and believing the government.
Off-Brantford Ghosts, all of them - white lifeless lackeys addicted to self-consciousness.
So goddam sad.