Department of Bad Trips

“The Great Canadian Pamphlet”

by Frank Allbritten


Ever since I was a little girl I wanted to write “The Great Canadian Pamphlet.” I was inspired of course by the great Canadian authors of the past; authors such as Harold Loder, Irene Pike, and it almost goes without saying that I, like so many others, was completely smitten with the phenomenally fluid prose of P. Smith Lorenzo. These authors were able to define their time through timeless stories. The hot-tempered oil baron from Quebec whose unquenchable taste for quiche quickly does him in. The circus contortionist lost in the Canadian wilderness who discovers a tiny tunnel and squeezes through it until she arrives at a Canucks/Maple Leafs game (they ended up tying). The man from Montreal who falls for a 62-year-old nymphet from California named “Oldlita.”  All these tales are burned into our consciousness, whether we heard them from our parents or were handed them coming out of the grocery store. They’re profound, they’re entertaining, and they’re five little leaflet-sized pages or less.

I felt that these works, however essential, did not speak for my generation. I wanted a pamphlet that addressed people of my age, but at the same time transcended situational boundaries. I wanted a pamphlet that showed all the sex, drugs, love, death, and syrup of the Canada that I was familiar with. I pictured P. Smith Lorenzo sitting at his typewriter, a bottle of whiskey at his side, electrified by his Canadian experiences and translating it as fast as he could onto the page. After I spent all my money on a typewriter and a bottle of whiskey, I was embarrassingly forced to go home to my parents to procure a meal. “Well, at least this might be good fodder for when I write my pamphlet,” I thought, hungrily gulping down a pancake.

I left my parents’ house 3 weeks later and immediately set to work. I passed four months sequestered in my cabin, chasing the dream that was always just inches out of my chapped, greasy fingertips. No one ever said this was going to be so hard, and for that I developed a grudge against everyone for not telling me that. I tried to use this bitterness to fuel my composition, but more often than not it just ended up fueling my carving of things such as “Kill!” and “Argh!” into my coffee table with a buck knife.

Frustrated, I set out for a walk. I walked among the towering trees and the shivering chipmunks. The sun began to set, spraying a shimmering light through the crystallized pine needles. I could see my breath, which was normal, and I could smell my heartbeat, which worried me a little bit. A gentle peace came over my mind, and I gingerly made my way back to the cabin, like I was possessed by a very lazy spirit.

Upon returning I sat down at my desk and began to write. The words flowed out of me like glorious ink-urine. All my senses shut down; I was at the mercy of this creative energy that had taken hold of me, and I wasn’t going to return to earth until it was finished, or until there was something good on TV. At one point my eyes rolled back in my head and I started speaking in tongues, a sure sign that what I was producing was gold. Some time later, after I had finished, I collapsed into my bed and slept for what seemed like 20 hours.

When I awoke, I hurried over to my pages to see what I had written the previous evening. To my complete surprise, it was all in Chinese. I flipped through the pages; there must have been 150 pages, all in Chinese. The next day I took it to the local university to get it translated.

“Oh, this looks delicious,” Professor Uzo said.

“Delicious?” I was baffled.

“Oh yes, you have quite the list of delectable recipes here. I’ve seen better, more comprehensive lists, but this is pretty good.” I asked Professor Uzo if he could get it published. “I’ll see what I can do,” he told me, and winked with one eye, then the other, and finally with the first eye again. I left quickly.

The Good Chinese Cookbook ended up selling around 25,000 copies. I had failed to achieve my pamphlet dream but still enjoyed the status of published author. I was recently contacted by Hollywood to turn my cookbook into an action-packed summer blockbuster, and with that kind of money I expect to forget what the word “pamphlet” even means.

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