B y : D r e w H a y d e n T a y l o r
Sometimes you learn about what’s important in the places you least suspect.
There are times when one feels lost and doesn’t know where to turn. It is at times like these that it’s best to venture onto unfamiliar territory to search for answers. In the play Only Drunks and Children Tell the Truth the unexpected finds Janice after her biological mother passed away. Janice Wirth – born Grace Wabung – learns what’s important from sources she never thought would possess the answers she sought out for. She finds herself in circumstances she would never have even dreamed of, with people who she never thought she’d meet and of course places she didn’t expect to find them. All of which have revealed what she refused to see.
It is interesting how we find ourselves in situations that we ourselves cannot explain. Especially when we end up learning and growing from said situations. It had never occurred to Janice that she’d have to return to Otter Lake. But the unexpected happens when she is greeted by a stranger in her closet and her sister Barb along with Rodney, Barb’s boyfriend, when she gets back to her apartment. They were there to break the news of her biological mother Anne’s death but were stranded in Toronto due to the inconvenient conditions they were left with. It would have never crossed her mind that letting Barb stay overnight would teach her so much about how Anne felt. “Even when she cried, she still loved you. I knew you wouldn’t be back but I couldn’t tell her that. Her whole life had been built on hope, even after you left, she still hoped…when she sent you a birthday card, your polite little thank you card…was on her night table the morning I found her. You were always beside her. Always.” (Barb, pg. 35) Janice had never stopped to consider Anne which hurt her more after Anne’s death. She had always been fastened to the idea that Anne didn’t care and wouldn’t care about anything she did. But with Barb’s revelation came a wave of guilt that she wasn’t prepared for. She learns just how much Anne had cherished even the smallest gestures of acknowledgement she would send to Otter Lake. Along with all of that, she also learns about how Barb felt about their mother’s thoughts on Janice by saying “You were the ideal, I was the reality.” (Barb, pg. 36) to show she felt resent towards Janice for being loved despite never being there. She wasn’t even aware that Anne thought so highly of her. And with what Barb had vented, she knew how unjust this was to Barb who was there all along. When Janice finally decided to go back to Otter Lake, she gets drunk and learns a series of things, Ojibway language being one of them. In their drunken state, it is revealed to Janice a reason why Barb wanted her back so much when she confessed, “Grace, you’re all I’ve got left…My brother’s dead, my father, my mother. I’m an orphan. I don’t wanna be alone.” (Barb, pg. 101). Though it confused her as to why Barb would want her back in her life, she came to realize that Barb was lonely without a family to care for. Being in Otter Lake was a big enough abnormality for Janice, but getting drunk in her would-be home with a sister she thought hated her makes everything the stranger. It just goes to show that you make the best out of all situations in order to gain something from them, which in Janice’s case is getting to know the people she didn’t take the time to get to know.
Getting to know a complete stranger isn’t easy, but sometimes strangers can become important people who will lead you through life. When Janice first met Tonto, he was hiding in her closet which didn’t serve as a great first impression. But after having a morning chat with him about going back to Otter Lake, she learns about what lengths Anne went through to get her back. “From what I heard, she really kicked up a fuss after you were taken…because of her fuss,…