This Is the Way

Fall, 2022 / No. 50
Matthew Daley

You have to do it like this. But this is the way you have to do it.

Then you need to ask us to put the special stamp on it. Don’t forget that part. We have the special stamp, but you have to ask us for it. You need to submit your stamp request at a precise but unspecified moment in the process, and if you miss that moment, we are not responsible for what might happen as a result.

You can do it another way, but that way is more complicated. But that’s the way you’ll have to do it if you don’t take our advice about doing it the first way, exactly the way it’s supposed to be done.

To be clear: We have the special stamp, and we are fully prepared to give it to you, but you need to ask us for the right colour or the stamp must remain in the drawer. We’re sorry but our hands are tied. Because of the rules. The rules apply to all of us. You seem to be asking us to flaunt the rules because you seem to think the rules do not apply to you. That way of thinking is wrong.

If you tell us in advance that you need two stamps, which you might, but we can’t tell you definitively at this point if you will or if you won’t, then we will make a note of that. But we will only make a note of it once. You should not ask us again after that. We need you to understand that part. That part is very important. One stamp, two notes. Remember that, or you might as well rip up your application and start over. Although you can only apply once, so starting over is not an option.

You need to change your way of doing things because it is too collaborative. There are too many people involved in your project and we don’t know what they’re all doing. They could be doing things we don’t approve of. They could be using their own stamps! That would be one of the worst possible things. But we think you know that already. If there is an unregulated stamp you have not disclosed to us, there needs to be a line item about it.

We are supportive of the potential of your project, as we have stated. As we have stated many times. We will indicate our support often and enthusiastically. It’s a good project. We plan on supporting it. But we need to support it in the way that is correct.

If you need our signature, just ask. The signature is not the same as the stamp. As we have already explained to you when we cited B. Reg.1002/46. That was the part about the signature not being the same as the stamp.

We will say it again: The project is good. It will be good and beneficial for all involved. We are supportive of the end goal of helping you get this project done! But only if it is in alignment with all of our policies.

We will not say anything bad about the project. But the way you are doing things, that is the problem. The way you are doing things is not in alignment. As we have explained. As we have explained very clearly, and outlined in the document we gave you with next steps and recommendations and then you came to us and said, “What?” And we said, “It’s all there.” And you got a look on your face that communicated something we did not understand, so we sent you the document again.

If you lose either version of the document we provided to you, we can’t be held responsible for your mismanagement. You seem to think you’re above the rules, but just a reminder that the rules apply to everyone. Just because you are doing this project that is good, the goodness does not extend to you. That is quite likely the heart of the matter here, which no one is talking about even as that heart is beating out its insistent and undeniable thumping rhythm in the background. The goodness of the project stands alone, without you. If you forget that part, we will remind you.

We are supportive of this project that addresses important themes. We cannot officially give you our support in writing on official letterhead until you get the stamps in the right order and in the right colours and you do those other things in the ways we have outlined. But we are absolutely in alignment with agreeing that the themes of the project are important and necessary. We all feel very enthusiastic about those themes and what they represent, both now and in the past, and also in the future, if people keep believing that these themes are important.

But you should know that even if this project didn’t exist, there would be other projects to address those themes. Because those themes are becoming more common now, which is, of course, a good thing. We can all agree there’s no getting around the importance of those themes. If there was, we would not be having this discussion!

Things used to be easier before the important themes emerged, that’s for sure. But even in those carefree days, the rules were in place for a reason. And that reason is: So we can all agree. So we can all have the same standard applied across the board. So there is no special treatment, which no one should receive. Because, whoa, once you start with the special treatment, then where does that end? There is literally no end to the possibilities of what might happen if you open that can of worms. Keep the can closed, please, we don’t want those worms wriggling all over the place and making our papers slimy! Ha ha, no, but really. This is why we need the rules.

Don’t worry. We will talk you through them. We think you might even come to love them, if you keep an open mind. The rules are written in a beautiful twisty-turny language that is like a sort of music to us. We have the urge to move and dance and ecstatically contort our bodies into all sorts of fantastical shapes when we sing Statute C-512 (which is one of the statutes that applies to your project, by the way!). It’s as if there are flutes in it, but not the kind of flutes that are made out of metal. We’re thinking more of ancient flutes made by ancient people out of animal bones, and perhaps you could do some research into ancient musical instruments, and add your findings to your documentation. Yes, please do that. Focus on flutes, but maybe you could look into drums too. We have the feeling that ancient drums were made out of animal skins. But how?? This is interesting to us. This is how you can make your application pop. You keep using the word “contemporary” in your application but we want to see more of the old stuff. We cannot guarantee that a permit will be granted if you include a detailed summary of all of the ancient musical instruments that have ever existed and how they were constructed (plus sample recordings of what they sounded like) and with all of your sources referenced using footnotes written in a cute miniature font, but we will say this: It certainly couldn’t hurt.

Something else we are curious about is why you are interested in doing this project.

Yes, we know the themes are important. But aside from that. Who are the stakeholders? Please prepare a deck of the stakeholders. If you don’t know what a deck is, we can’t help you. No, it’s not the thing you sit on in your backyard that is made of wood and that our husband keeps saying he will replace one of these summers, and we say, “Is this the summer, Mitchell?” And he drinks another beer and says, “No, this is not the summer.” But we remain hopeful! There are too many splinters in the old one and we have to wear flip-flops all the time. So, yes, not that kind of deck.

We acknowledge your frustration. We are frustrated too. We want to be able to walk barefoot on the deck and not worry about getting a splinter like the last time. Ha ha, just a little deck humour there. But seriously, we do want to be barefoot.

So! Who are the stakeholders? Break it down for us. This breakdown should be comprehensive and fulsome, and by this we mean it should comprise everything. Use PowerPoint. Or don’t. It’s up to you. But we do like PowerPoint. Or Google Slides are fine too. Except we like the functionality of PowerPoint better. There’s a thrilling feeling of momentum and anticipation that builds during a PowerPoint presentation in a way that is absent from a Google Slides presentation. But whatever works best for you!

Include a clear timeline and specific outcomes. Will the outcomes clearly reflect the important themes, and will those outcomes be clearly executed in a manner that is clearly aligned with our policies, procedures, and regulations, namely L. Reg.12/77-C, which we are bound to uphold by the rules that are in place to uphold us?

You should also be aware that we do not make the rules, and we cannot change them. The rules exist as living, breathing entities that dictate what we can and cannot do. This might sound improbable, but believe us it’s true and it’s reality. And this improbable but definitely true reality can sometimes unfortunately result in awkward situations such as this one, in which we have to explain to you that we cannot change the rules because the rules have all the power. The rules tell us what to do and we have to obey because they have claws and teeth and a terrible temper, and the one time we tried to change them, there were extremely unpleasant and far-reaching consequences for everyone involved that we would prefer not to share with you for your own protection and because that memory is bad so we’ve tucked it away forever where it can’t hurt us. Just alluding to it in these purposely vague and evasive terms is giving us a feeling we don’t like, so let’s move on.

We will say it again: We admire and echo your passion and commitment to this project. Your passion and your commitment remind us of something, but we can’t put our finger on exactly what it is. Something that smells delicious like the pancakes our mother used to make for us when we were children, but then she would smother the pancakes in syrup before she gave them to us. Which you’d think would be a good thing, but it wasn’t, because she put the syrup on about half an hour before she served us the pancakes (was this her attempt at efficiency? If so, it failed) so they were always wet and cold and mushy and we never enjoyed them.

Once again, we urge you to familiarize yourself with Q. Reg. 893/1B, which can be found by accessing the database we alluded to in an earlier e-mail, via the password and username we provided in that e-mail. Although by now that password may have expired, in which case you will need to apply for a new password within the next 30 days, or no dice.

We hope you have been enjoying your weekend so far! How about this gorgeous weather we’ve been having? Wow. It’s starting to feel like spring (finally!) and we have been enjoying the sunshine on our deck. We would invite you over, but we don’t want to.

But we do echo everyone’s sentiments about the themes of your project being important and necessary! We will be toasting the themes of your project on our deck this weekend, while you meanwhile prepare your deck (ha ha, see what we did there?) and then ensure that you submit it in accordance with the way that you need to submit it, or else it will be invalidated and we can’t read it, sorry. Because, as we have mentioned, we are bound by certain regulations, and so are you.

We wish you and the project and the important themes of the project well.


Jessica Westhead is the author of the short story collections And Also Sharks, Things Not To Do, and the forthcoming A Warm and Lighthearted Feeling. She first contributed to the magazine in 2002. Last updated fall, 2022.