Interesting developments this week in the parallel world of the soaps: apparently, three characters from The Young and the Restless recently visited Saskatoon. First was a woman named Daisy, on the run from her past; next, two men chasing after her. I read a plot summary online and, boy, Y&R looks like fun: Secrets! Jealousy! A character by the name of Chance! But why would the writers decide to set a scene in a motel room in Saskatoon, Canada? Here’s my guess: because for the writers of Y&R, Saskatoon is a synonym for the back of beyond.
I may not be young, but I am restless. I asked my author, L, if she’s ever considered letting me move somewhere else. Say, New York. I’d love to live in New York. I mean, I do appreciate that she got me out of Flat Hill, and I do appreciate that she’s let me spend most of the current novel visiting Vancouver (albeit not as a permanent resident), but why am I bound to Saskatoon?
She refused point-blank to move me to New York. Bloom where you’re planted, she said. Oh, spare me, I said. She can’t understand why I wouldn’t be happy in Saskatoon. It’s a beautiful city, she argued. And it is. It has its own unique mix of failings and redemptions, she argued. Yes, it has. It has its quirky scenes, the same as anywhere: take the man with the golf clubs last week on Saskatchewan Crescent, hitting balls across the street toward the riverbank, and his big black lab fetching them back. This would be one thing in summer, but it was minus fifteen that day.
It’s true – Saskatoon has all those things, and I love the place as much as she does. But there are other places I might love just as much, given the chance. New York, say. I do have to admit that some of my reasons for wanting to move are shallow. I’d like to live in a place that people from Elsewhere know how to spell. A place that doesn’t sound like, well, like a joke to people from Elsewhere. L accused me of being easily defeated. Say it out loud, she said. Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. If people from Elsewhere don’t hear the music, that’s their problem.
In response to my argument about people treating us as a joke, she brought up Newfoundland. How, for years and years, the extent of what The Rest of Canada knew about Newfoundland was what they heard in jokes told at the expense of Newfoundlanders. But look – and she started listing that particular hinterland’s who’s who: Sue Sinclair, Lisa Moore, the Michaels Winter and Crummey, and now George Murray … I could go on, she said.
I said she needn’t. I changed tack, back to Y&R. I told her loads of folks from Canada who don’t typically watch soap operas tuned in this week to see what The Young and the Restless would get wrong about Saskatoon, and the answer was: the cops. Where they should have had a city police force, they had Mounties. In dress uniforms, no less. I showed her all the chatter about this on the online soap forums. She pointed out that red serge makes good TV. Always has. Who’s going to let the facts get in the way of red serge? But look, I said. Look at the publicity! Did I have a point, she wanted to know. Did I think that, if she were to set a novel in New York, loads and loads of New Yorkers who don’t typically read novels by writers from Saskatoon would rush out to buy hers just to see if she puts a state trooper in Manhattan?
I suppose not. So I won’t be moving to New York? I said.
Enough! The stuff of story, she impressed upon me, the stuff of life, large and small, happens everywhere. It happens in Saskatoon with every bit as much intensity as in New York: Who is out to get you, and why? How awful does a secret have to be in order for someone to keep it to herself for thirty years? What is the cascade of sensations when you bury a thumbnail in the rind of an orange and burst the fruit open in your hands? What are your excuses for being the person you are, and do they hold water? I could go on, she said.
I told her she needn’t. I took a deep breath and said, in response to her barrage of questions, Are you talking about me?
You, sure. I’m talking about you, me, your sister Pen, anyone. I’m talking about all of us.
Watch Always Under Revision in mid April for a guest post written by someone inside a work-in-progress by Jeanette Lynes.