Kevin Tosca ~ Mature Concern

A cou­ple of tall, healthy, pros­per­ous, fra­grant young Canadians, one from Winnipeg, the oth­er from Saskatoon, in my liv­ing room tonight defend­ing the idea of the week­end and their God-giv­en right to play a lit­tle club music on Friday night.

I calm­ly explained to them that their noise was unnat­ur­al, mod­ern, imma­ture, shal­low. That it offend­ed me like their man per­fume offend­ed me, like spoiled ado­les­cent Toronto offend­ed me, like their entire vul­gar cul­ture offend­ed me.

Basically,” I said, “you’re both­er­ing me and my fam­i­ly pro­found­ly, and you’re telling me you don’t give a shit.”

We agreed on a test. The boys hus­tled upstairs and sum­moned the thump­ing. “Still,” I texted.

Adjustments were sup­pos­ed­ly made. “Still,” I texted again.

Returning, lis­ten­ing, the Saskatchewanian said: “See, the rain is loud­er! The cars are loud­er!” The Winnipegger chimed in, almost glee­ful, with: “I’m breath­ing louder!”

When they left, pout­ing right­eous­ly, sal­ly­ing off to curse the curmudgeons—to bitch, blus­ter, and for­get as the young folk do—my Bulgarian wife, exhaust­ed by the sub­ject, exploded.

Like our new Instant Pot pres­sure cook­er, she need­ed to vent a lit­tle, so I let her fin­ish, then asked if she thought send­ing them that clip from Burn After Reading, the one where John Malkovich men­tions the “legions of morons” he’s been fight­ing his “whole fuck­ing life” before plug­ging Richard Jenkins’ character’s chest full of lead and splic­ing his brains with a carpenter’s axe, would be mis­in­ter­pret­ed in a court of law.

I knew it!” my wife said after we devoured the YouTube clip fif­teen times in a row. “You want to brain some­body again! You do!”

No, they’d pay dear­ly in their own slow, dumb, insignif­i­cant way. This I knew. And this I explained. But what I was secret­ly con­tem­plat­ing at 9:02 p.m. in the dregs of November a hand­ful of hours after their time­less vis­it were the quinces.

Persimmons? Check. Clementines? Check. Pomegranates? Check. But where, in this god­for­sak­en city, were the god­damned quinces?

My six­teen-month-old loved a good baked quince—loved them, that is, last win­ter in France. This Canadian fall? Who knows? We had already been intro­duced to the iron baby will, treat­ed to the hunger strikes for foods he for­mer­ly adored.

So when I final­ly suc­ceed in track­ing down the quinces, I thought with dread, we’ll be forced to con­duct yet anoth­er futile test.

To buoy my spir­its, I decid­ed to peruse one of the books we bor­rowed from the Madison Avenue Library ear­li­er in the day: Curious George. I couldn’t remem­ber the sto­ry, was eager to redis­cov­er it.

By page ten—the abduc­tion page—I knew I was in trouble.

By the end, I blew:

That shit-grin­ning, white-skinned, yel­low-hat­ted, well-off, child-steal­ing, mon­key-rap­ing, zoo-deal­ing, colo­nial­ist sick son of an arro­gant detestable pimp evil bitch! Fuck you! Fuck you! Fuuuuuuuuuck you!”

My wife, hair drip­ping all over the place, ran in from the bath­room. I held up the book—a hand­some hard­cov­er edi­tion, the eighty-first printing—and said: “I need to incin­er­ate this filth.”

Curious George?”

Where’d you stash the lighter flu­id? Where’s my PEACE Zippo?”

But didn’t you, with a clear and dis­tinct dose of nos­tal­gia in your voice, say that that book there is a beloved morsel of the North American child’s lit­er­ary landscape?”

I col­lapsed.

From the enor­mi­ty of it all.


Kevin Tosca is the author of sev­en chap­books. The most recent, The Hug, came out in July 2020 from Holy&intoxicated Publications (UK). His sto­ries have been wide­ly pub­lished in North America and Europe, in such mag­a­zines as Notre Dame Review, Redivider, The Frogmore Papers, Literary Orphans, and Litro. After liv­ing in France, Canada, Romania, and the United States, he now lives in Germany. Find him at