My Week 135: Leo Causes a Rift in the Universe, the Maple Leafs Save the Galaxy, and Other Musings

Things that make me go Hmm….

Last week was a long week, what with me getting up at 5:00 am and battling traffic to get into the GTA every day, working until 5, and then battling traffic to get back home again. I thought to myself, “If I had to do this every day for the rest of my career, I would gouge out my own eyes. And go on disability because of the blindness.” That might sound dramatic, (like when I said the other day that I didn’t want to go to lunch in the rain because “I don’t dry well”), because if worse came to worst, I could just quit, but that’s how much I absolutely f*cking hate driving on the 401, which gets more and more absurd every year, with traffic slowing down randomly and creeping along simply because of “volume”, which is radio-traffic-report lingo for TOO MANY GOD-DAMN CARS ON THE ROAD. And believe me, I would take public transit, if there was any available to my off-site work location. I would ride a BURRO ON A DIRT ROAD to my work location if that was possible (and if it got me there by 7:30, but burros are notoriously tardy, so…)

At any rate, I had a LOT of time in the car to ponder the state of the increasingly bizarre world. And it IS bizarre. And becoming more so every day. Why is that, you ask? Well, let me tell you exactly why, based on a theory developed by me and my work partner L one day early last year (I can’t remember who exactly said which bit, but this was an approximation of the conversation we had one gloomy day after Donald Trump was gaining traction in the polls:

Me: The world is going crazy. It’s like living in “backwards land”.
L: I blame Leo.
Me: Leonardo DiCaprio? Why?
L: When he finally won the Oscar for Best Actor, it ripped a hole in the universe.
Me: You mean like, an anomaly that destroyed the fabric of time and space?
L: Yup. It opened a portal into another dimension.
Me: Which will allow Trump to win, because that’s what has happened in a parallel universe?
L: Exactly.
Me: But “The Revenant” WAS pretty good.
L: Not THAT good.

And while we both have maybe watched a little too much Dr. Who, the theory makes sense. After Leo got his Oscar, celebrities started dying, Brexit happened, and Trump became the President-elect. And that’s just a drop in the bizarro bucket. I googled “the strangest things that happened in 2016” and got like over a thousand hits. When I did the same for 2015, I got 5 hits, and then “Weird and Wonderful Things that Happened at the Zoo”.

So yeah, 2016 was an anomaly, and although, right now, 2017 is like “Hold my beer”, because it’s just as f-ed up frankly, I think we’ll be seeing a course correction soon. Right now, the Toronto Maple Leafs are in the play-offs. The last time this happened was 2004, the year that the Mayans predicted the world would end. And it didn’t, because the Leafs made the play-offs and closed another time/space rift that occurred in 2003 after Roman Polanski won an Oscar for best director, subsequently allowing George W. Bush to win a second term (and apparently Meryl Streep gave Polanski a standing ovation—this is true because I checked with Snopes.com. And now I think Meryl Streep also has something to do with all of this, like she’s an interstellar, cross-universe traveller whose only job is to stir sh*t up like she did in 2003, and again at the 2017 Academy Awards where she slammed Donald Trump and started a war with North Korea. OK, that hasn’t happened YET, but who knows if it’s all part of her insidious plan?). Long story short, I am convinced that world events are simply the machinations of the dastardly Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences trying to mess with the space/time continuum. Luckily, we have the plucky heroes of Canada’s favourite hockey franchise, there to win the hearts and souls of the galaxy. They might never attain the Stanley Cup, but what’s that in the face of saving the universe?

Other Weird Things:

The Carlton Cinema audiences don’t understand drama:

The Carlton Cinema is very close to where I live in the city, but I have to stop going there, because the audiences are f*cking me up and making me think I don’t understand movies. A couple of years ago, my brother and I went to see a film there, purportedly a drama, but the audience kept laughing so hysterically that I got all stressed out. I asked my brother, who has a PhD, what was so funny, and he said, “I don’t know.” Then a while ago, within the same two week period, I saw both “Split” (M. Night Shyamalan’s film about a man with Dissociative Identity Disorder who kidnaps three girls), and “Get Out” (a psychological thriller by Jordan Peele). In both cases, the audience members at the Carlton laughed their asses off at every single scene, and I was soooo confused. Until last night, when I re-watched “Split” with Ken, T, and his girlfriend, and NO ONE LAUGHED, stupid Carlton Audience. You need to grow up.

When Doors Don’t Open:

Yesterday, Ken and I went out for Round Two of stool shopping (when I was finished writing this post, I asked Ken to read it and tell me if I needed to add anything, at which point he said, “A ‘stool’ joke. You really missed an opportunity for humour there.” OK, honey). At the third store, we approached the doors and they didn’t open. I stood there, completely befuddled and disoriented, until Ken said, “You need to pull the handle. Welcome back to the 1900s.” It was like the time the battery on my car fob died and I had no idea how to get into the car, until Ken reminded me that the key would still open the lock on the door. His timing was impeccable, because I was seriously considering just smashing the window in so that I wouldn’t be late to work.

As a side note, we didn’t find any stools AGAIN, which prompted me to say very loudly and angrily, “F*ck stool shopping. I have some fabric and a staple gun. Let’s just fix the ones we have.” Which we did, and I didn’t even need the fabric because once Ken repaired the broken seats, I got out-voted by everyone who thought the leather still looked really good. Even though I was like, “What do you want, this old leather, or this REALLY beautiful fabric?” and then I was accused of “being manipulative” and “trying to sway popular opinion with my adjectives.”

My Bluetooth Speaks Better Italian than Me:

The other day I needed to call a co-worker to tell her I was running late because of highway “volume”. I tried using her first name twice, but the Bluetooth Lady in my rental car just kept saying, “Do you mean ‘Margaret’? Do you mean ‘Marion”? (those are my aunts), and I was like NO!!! So I said my co-worker’s full name, but because her last name is Italian and the Bluetooth Lady was already struggling, I said it phonetically. And then the Bluetooth Lady said, “Do you mean _____?” and pronounced her last name with a perfect Italian accent, like she was schooling me or whatnot. And I was like “if you can figure this out, why did you have so much damn trouble with a perfectly easy to understand FIRST NAME and then claim you couldn’t understand my commands?!” She would fit right into the Carlton Cinema crowd.

Insects as Art and Neil Hedley:

This morning, Ken and I were watching the news (on CBC, because I no longer watch CTV since I got into a Twitter feud with a dude named Neil Hedley, who’s an announcer with some radio station called Zoom-a Radio, which I have never even heard of nor listened to, like most people, I imagine. The fact that CTV chooses someone like him with zero political knowledge and the thinnest skin possible makes me dismiss them as a serious news source. My Twitter feud with him started when Trump tried his initial Muslim ban. The news anchor asked Neil why he thought that Trump had only targeted 6 countries, to which Neil replied, “Maybe he knows something we don’t know. He’s the one who gets intelligence briefings.” So I tweeted to him that perhaps he had fanned the flames of racism by implying that the six countries were guilty of something more than NOT having oil or Trump Towers, and he just went off on me like the baby he apparently is. And he never did clarify what he meant, although he claimed I “missed his point”. Of course, the very next week, he made fun of Eastern Canadians by mocking them with a stereotyped accent but I left it alone on the grounds that he really is too stupid to bother with. People like that will never be self-reflective, only defensive. Kind of like what’s happening all around the world right now.) Anyway, Ken and I were watching CBC, and there was a story about a woman who has a new exhibit in an art gallery. Her “art” is pinning insects to the walls of said gallery in different patterns. Real insects. Dead insects. That she buys on Ebay. The art gallery owner was ecstatic and claimed that her exhibition was “perfect for Canada’s 150th birthday”. I said to Ken, “If I went to a graveyard and dug up a bunch of corpses, and laid them out in a Fibonacci sequence on the floor of the Art Gallery of Ontario, I could be famous too.” The Canadian Mint also put out a special $3 coin to celebrate our 150th. Not a coin worth $1.50, which might make SOME kind of sense, but no, three bucks. Except it costs $19.95 to buy one.  But if you think insects and nonsensical monetary denominations are yet another indicator of a world gone mad, just remember that the Toronto Maple Leafs are the REAL Guardians of the Galaxy, and one day they will save us all. Go Leafs Go.

My Week 134: Failing at Adulting, Toronto the Weird

Thursday: Failing at Adulting 101

Currently, I’m working off-site at a large convention centre with approximately 1500 strangers. They’re all adults, ostensibly—well, they mostly LOOK like adults, but based on the last couple of weeks, some of them really aren’t sure what being an adult means. The first thing that always strikes me each year (because we do this every year around the same time) is the fact that, at the end of the day, people, I mean, like, grown-ass human beings, will RUN from their areas to the parking lot to get into their cars 10 seconds ahead of everyone else. Yeah, I get that it’s hard to get out of the parking lot when 1500 other people are trying to do the same thing, but where the hell are you going that you can’t sit and listen to some tunes for 5 minutes while the police (yes, we actually hire police to direct the traffic) sort that sh*t out? They RUN. It’s unbelievable. We have to put up signs that say “No Running In The Halls” like it’s elementary school, and then stand there like hall monitors, yelling, “Slow down! You’re going to get hurt!” But wait—it gets better. Here are the top five craziest things that prove a lot of people really need a maturity check:

1) The two women who gave one of our supervisors the finger when they tried to sneak out early. He called to them and reminded them that the work day wasn’t yet over, and that was their reaction, as they laughed and walked out the door anyway. The supervisor in question is a sweet little retired guy. Unfortunately he couldn’t identify them:

Me: OMG—who were they? I have no problem firing them tomorrow!
Supervisor: They were girls. They were wearing coats…
Me: Well, that narrows it down.

2) The guy who almost hit another employee who was walking to his car, then screamed at him to “Get off the f*cking road!” The pedestrian was quite shaken by the experience, but again, couldn’t identify the driver in his panic to not have both legs broken by the guy’s bumper. Luckily, the experience didn’t shake his sense of humour, and a couple of days later, he offered to get down on the floor and let us “drag him back to his chair United Airlines style” as a way to stop other people from trying to sneak out before the end of the day. We were sorely tempted, trust me, but we’re a Crown entity, so try explaining THAT to the Queen when she sees it on Youtube.

3) The people who, when asked on a survey to offer suggestions on how to make the work experience more positive, wrote things like, “footrests for everyone”, “reinstate coffee at lunch or I’m never coming back”, or “let us leave early”. I guess it’s the little things that matter. The REALLY LITTLE things. (By the way, we provide free coffee and tea at both morning and afternoon breaks).

4) The tiny woman who failed to pass her qualifying test three times (in order to work for us, everyone has to pass a test after intensive training) and refused to leave. Her reason (which was delivered in whispers):

Tiny Woman: Do you not understand? This is not fair to me. The other people in my group passed because I explained all the answers to them.
Me: If you gave them all the answers, then why didn’t YOU pass?
Tiny Woman: You don’t understand.
Me: That makes two of us.

She was whispering-ly adamant, and we almost had to call security to escort her out.

5) The icing on the cake came on Thursday. One large group of people (about 250 of them) were completely finished their work about 15 minutes before the end of the day. Their manager asked me if they could leave early, and I was like, “Well, it’s the afternoon before the Easter long weekend, so tell them they can go if they all exit out the cafeteria very quietly so that no one else sees them leaving and gets all distracted.” So she made that announcement, and after reading the above scenarios, you can probably guess what happened next. The second she put down the microphone, people started running out of the room, heading towards the main exit. My colleague and I hurried after them to start diverting them towards the cafeteria, at which point this huge guy comes barrelling towards me:

Me: I’m sorry, sir, but you’ll have to go out through the cafeteria.
Man: WHAT!!! WHY DO THEY GET TO GO THAT WAY???
Me: Well, they didn’t listen to instructions. We need you all to go out through the cafeteria.
Man: THAT’S NOT FAIR!!! THAT’S NOT FAIR!!!!!

And then he screamed something at me like, “Do as I say, not as I do!” and I seriously thought he was going to hit me because he literally had to walk 30 extra feet to get to his car.

But it gets better. Because of their riotous departure, the other groups in other rooms also started running out, until the whole scene resembled something from Dante’s Inferno, and God was like, “Nooo! You NEVER let them out early!” and I was like some sad-ass angel yelling, “I know that NOW, GOD!” But what I really wanted to do was scream, “THIS IS WHY WE CAN NEVER HAVE NICE THINGS!!” to the backs of the multitude, who I will never let out early again.

Saturday: Old Man Kicking Pigeons

I was looking for something to write about and checked my phone, where I keep notes. The only thing I’d put in there recently was “Old Man Kicking Pigeons”. I saw this at Dundas Square, a place in central downtown Toronto where strange things happen on a daily basis. The man was about 6 feet tall, wearing a dress shirt, dress pants, and leather shoes. He had white hair and a neatly trimmed white beard. And he was stomping around, Frankenstein-style, with his arms out in front of him, trying to kick the pigeons that were landing on the sidewalk to peck at crumbs and then running out onto the road to flail at them. Now, you might be all like “That’s horrible!”, but don’t worry because downtown pigeons are clever as f*ck, and instinctively can dodge cars, pedestrians, raccoons, and crazy old dudes. But this wasn’t even the weirdest thing that I saw there that day. There was also a woman dressed as Alice In Wonderland, but she had a rabbit face and ears and was standing on a large box. There was a man with a cat that does tricks like dancing on its back legs or jumping onto his shoulders, which, I suppose is pretty tricksy for a cat, considering Raven just gives me the death stare when I say, “Come here”. There are fire-eaters, proselytizers, steel drum musicians, sidewalk chalk artists, and someone wandering around wearing a poo emoji hat for who knows what reason. It’s like the worst circus in the world, but it’s free (unless you volunteer to pay for the ‘free’ Bible/Koran or give someone money for miming how to get out of a box), but everyone wants to see it. There are actually “sightseeing bus tours” in Toronto, these double decker jobs that stop at Dundas Square and everyone piles out and takes selfies with Alice and the guy with the “The Apocalypse is Nigh” sign (he actually has a very nice smile, which he doesn’t get to use much due to the end of the world coming and whatnot). And all I can think is how cool this must seem to all the tourists. But to me, the coolest thing is that it’s the only intersection with diagonal as well as straight pedestrian crossings, so suddenly the light will change and people are traversing the road in this incredibly orderly pattern, kind of like that city scene in The Matrix, only instead of the lady in red, there’s a homeless guy with his pants down around his knees and Neo is selling knock-off handbags while Mr. Smith is kicking pigeons. Toronto—it’s weird and wonderful, but mostly weird.

 

My Week 133: I Have a Wee Rant About Why Kids Are Important

Friday: It gets funny after the first bit…

One of my favourite sayings is “It’s easier to build a child than repair an adult”. I’ve worked with children, teenagers, and adult learners most of my life, so I can attest to the fact that the saying is absolutely true. About twenty years ago, I taught at an adult high school, and witnessed first-hand the struggles that my adult students went through—the same ones they went through as teenagers the first time through high school, repeating the same patterns over and over again. I had Charlie, a fifty-year-old truck driver who was more comfortable behind the wheel than behind a desk; Lorna, who helped her husband run their own business and was now retired, but who was ashamed to have never graduated; Mohammed and Abdi, two Somali brothers who had difficulty with English but tried SO hard; Jack, whose early experiences with teachers as a child with undiagnosed AD/HD had made him hate school; Linda, whose epilepsy medication didn’t always cut it, and the seizures were still such a source of embarrassment for her that she would skip class for days after one, and so many more people who just wanted to feel a sense of achievement by graduating from high school (Lorna’s grandkids came and cheered when she got her diploma). But they were a terrific group—I still have the card they all signed for me at the end of the year.

At the other end of the spectrum are the wee ones, so fresh and full of enthusiasm, an excitement for living that sometimes gets hammered out of them too soon. The other day, I was remembering something I witnessed about 5 years ago, and which still makes me so upset: I was at the grocery store, and I saw a woman come in with the most adorable looking boy about 5 years-old. As they passed me, I could hear him saying, “Mommy, can I drive the little cart? The little cart? Mommy, can I?” He was asking over and over, looking up at her, trying to get her attention. There’s no way she couldn’t have heard him, but she kept ignoring him until they walked past the little grocery carts that the stores have for kids (so that they can feel like big people) and disappeared into the aisles. I wanted to call after her, “Would it f*cking kill you to just let the kid drive the f*cking little cart?” I mean, I don’t know what was going on in her life that she thought it was OK to just blow him off like he wasn’t important, and maybe she was just having a bad day, but it infuriated me. Just like the other day, when my brother was telling me about a child in my nephew’s grade one class. Apparently, “Eddie” has trouble getting along with the other kids, so while everyone else sits at tables in groups of 5, Eddie sits at a desk by himself in the corner. Every day. All day long. All I could think is “What the f*ck is wrong with Eddie’s parents that they aren’t freaking about their six-year-old being isolated like that?” And while you might be thinking, “Well, I wouldn’t want my kid sitting next to Eddie if Eddie can’t behave”, how is Eddie going ever going to get along with ANYONE if he’s continually isolated? The Eddie of today becomes the Jack of tomorrow, and you can take that to the f*cking bank. But I’m not blaming Eddie’s teacher, although it’s a pretty stupid solution. No, this is down to Eddie’s parents, who NEVER come to parent night, activity days, observation days, weekly skating, swimming and so on. My brother, in the three years that my nephew has been in the same class as Eddie, has ever met either of them. Again, I don’t know their circumstances but I keep thinking of Eddie, skating by himself when the other kids have a mom or dad there, and it makes me sad. Which leads me to the main point, and yes I do have one: I was reading a little while ago about some so-called parenting guru who said that our children shouldn’t be the most important things in our lives. And I was like, “You’re an idiot.” And here is why he is completely wrong.

*Disclaimer: If you think your children are the most important things in your life, but you let them do whatever the hell they want and spoil them rotten, you’re doing it wrong.

1) Your children are responsible for what happens to you when you get old. Treat them well, and teach them to be responsible and caring adults, and you’ll probably end up in an upscale retirement home with people who don’t make you feel terrible when you wet the bed. Or maybe you can even live WITH your children if you went all out and took them to the movies once in a while, rented a cottage in the summer to have special family times, or let them drive the LITTLE CART. Treat them like crap and you’ll end up on an ice floe, or in a nursing home that serves mystery meat and has bingo every single night (yes, I know—some people like bingo. I’m NOT one of them), and they won’t come to visit.

2) Adults have pretty much f*cked up the world at this point. Global warming, species going extinct every minute, Donald Trump, oceans choked with plastic—we OWE them. The least we can do is mentor them and help them see the world as the precious thing that it is, not a commodity to be exploited until it runs dry. And buy them a puppy. Every child should have a puppy. Children who are allergic to dogs can have those hairless Chihuahua things. If you don’t like dogs, either suck it up, or buy them a cat. Or a monkey butler. If my parents had bought me a monkey butler, I would have a PhD in Environmental Science and I would have cured global warming AND cancer by now. They DID get me a kitten, so at least I have two undergraduate degrees. But no matter what the pet is, help them to learn how to be responsible for it.

3) What else is MORE important than our children? Seriously? The stuff that we decorate our homes with? The cars we drive? Our jobs? Getting away from the kids to hang with other adults? When I was a kid, I don’t remember that we didn’t have a lot of money. I DO remember family car trips to little towns on a Sunday, walking through the bush and identifying trees at a local arboretum, going with my dad to the Farmer’s Market on Saturday morning and buying treats for my mom who was sleeping in after a long week of looking after me and my brother. My family (Mom, Dad, my brother and me) spent a lot of time together, learning how to be in the world and how to be responsible for it. I’m eternally grateful to my parents for always thinking “what would be nice for the kids?”, not only when I was young, but as an adult. It didn’t make me “entitled”, and by the way, most young people today aren’t either, despite what the people who make their money from certain parenting blogs, fake news magazines, and internet clickbait try to tell you. Face it—we’re all gonna die. “Things” are irrelevant, but leaving this world with the memories of a day at the beach, or being able to laugh around the dinner table because you didn’t make your kid eat broccoli but gave him hot dogs instead aren’t.

4) To continue, my second favourite saying is “The most important things in life aren’t things.” I’m the mother to a wonderful 18 year-old, and yes, so-called “Parenting Expert”, he is the centre of my universe. I don’t apologize for that. I can buy whatever the hell I want. I can go to the Dollar Store and get crap for my house, save up and buy crap I don’t need, or surround myself with stuff that doesn’t matter. The only thing I can’t buy is a child who is OK in the world. That, I have to work at. I also had to work at GETTING a child, because you can’t just buy one of them either, like a puppy or a kitten (or a monkey butler). Ken and I tried for a long time to have a baby, and we had some tragedy along the way. When my son was finally born, I was incredibly grateful to the universe for that gift. Because that’s what kids are. A f*cking gift. If you can’t see that, if you want to discount children as the most important thing in your life because some dude named Leonard Sax says you’re a failure as a parent because you like to give your child choices and make them a responsible and active voice in the family dynamic, then don’t complain when the nurse won’t make you hot dogs or cry because the polar bears all died.

*I’m really tired and may or may not have had a couple of glasses of wine, one of which I just spilled on myself. Yeah, it’s a bit of a rant. Next week it’ll be funny—I promise.

 

My Week 132: Jeopardy! Real Estate Deja Vu

Tuesday: Jeopardy!

I’ve always been a huge fan of Jeopardy!. We used to watch it together as a family when I was younger, and like all the other games we played together, there were some pretty specific rules. In Trivial Pursuit, my dad had to answer every single question in all the categories for the win, instead of us just picking one, because he’s like the master of trivia AND strategy, and got all the pie slices before most of us even had ONE. In Monopoly, Dad wasn’t allowed to own either Boardwalk or Park Place, because as soon as he got it, he would immediately spend all his money on building hotels, and bankrupting the rest of us. For cruise ship trivia, we always have to wait for my mom’s final approval, because she does a ton of crossword puzzles, and she’s pretty clever with the cryptic clues. Jeopardy! was no different, except we were all bound by the same simple rule–your answer only counted if you phrased it in the form of a question. This was hard and fast—even if you were right, you got “No. You didn’t say ‘Who is…’ so your brother gets the $200.” Of course, this was engrained in my mind, and even today, when someone asks “Who’s responsible for changing the toner in the printer?”, I have to stop myself from saying, “Who is Robert?”

Ken and I always try to watch Jeopardy! together when I’m home for the weekend, but even when I’m in Toronto, we sometimes both watch it, then madly text each other the answer to Final Jeopardy before the Jeopardy! theme song is over and time is up. Last week, I texted him “Godspeed! Godspeed!”, which freaked him out until we were talking later and I clarified that I wasn’t sending him into either the next life or space (This 8 letter word is what NASA said to John Glenn the first time he departed from earth and the last time, when he died. I’m paraphrasing—Alex always says it in a much more elegant way). Of course, I lost all my money because I didn’t phrase it in the form of a question…

I usually manage to do pretty well though, having a semi-eidetic memory, and I sit in my condo, shouting out answers to the different categories whether I’m watching it with my roommate S, or whether I’m all by myself (I had to explain to her that I always yell the answers out so if she heard me doing that, I wasn’t technically ‘talking to myself’ like a crazy person would. I just think that Alex Trebek will hear me better if I say it out loud).

Anyway, I’m pretty solid on any categories involving literature, history (unless it’s US history), popular culture, science, and general knowledge, but I’m pretty weak on geography (except for Canadian geography). I keep meaning to look at a world map, but then I always get sidetracked by more important things, like laundry, or opening another bottle of wine. The other day, the category was “Poison”. This was the resulting text conversation between Ken and me:

About 6 months ago, I saw an audition notice for Jeopardy!, and I immediately signed up. The audition was online, and you had to answer 30 questions with 15 seconds for each one. I did pretty well, and ended up with a score of 24. But I can’t brag too much because I was pretty lucky with the categories. I took a break from writing just now and went to the Jeopardy! website and tried their online practice test, but this time, there were a lot of questions about US sh*t, country names, and mountain ranges, so I got a much lower score, but then to make myself feel better, I took the College Jeopardy! version and scored almost perfect. So yay me—I’m smarter than a teenager. I was actually on a REAL game show once, a Canadian show called “Definition” which was kind of like Wheel of Fortune but without the wheel OR Vanna White. You played in teams, and you were given clues and then had to solve a fill-in-the-blank puzzle to win. I went on with my brother, who has a PhD., and we actually solved several puzzles and got some amazing prizes, like a rocking chair, two Royal Doulton figurines, and 300 bucks. It was a Canadian game show, remember? Second prize was maple syrup so I think we did pretty well.

But as much as I love Jeopardy!, I really don’t want to go on the actual show, mostly because after the first commercial break, Alex introduces the contestants by asking them questions and they have to answer using a super-cheesy anecdotes:

Alex: So, Marjorie, I understand that you have an interesting collection.
Marjorie: Yes. I collect tortilla shells with the faces of famous people cooked on them. You’d think Jesus would be the most common, but I have several featuring Johnny Depp. The Edward Scissorhands one is my favourite.
Alex: I see. How do you keep them from getting moldy?
Marjorie: Well, a lot of them are from Taco Bell, so they last a while, but I also shellac them.
Alex: So they’re “tortilla shell-ACS”. Very good. You have control of the board.

I keep trying to imagine how I WOULDN’T totally embarrass myself…

Alex: So, mydangblog, I hear that you had an exciting encounter with a shark.
Me: That’s right, Alex. I was in Turks and Caicos, canoodling with sting rays, when suddenly someone yelled, “Shark!” Sure enough, there it was. I was all like, “Oh, it’s so cute” but our snorkelling guide was screaming “Get back onto the beach!” And I was like, “Dude—I saw Sharkwater. Sharks are our friends.” I got a good picture of it with my underwater camera before it started coming for me.
Alex: Well, all right then. Sounds like you ‘jumped the shark’.
Me: I don’t know what that actually means, Alex, but OK.

See? I’d come off like a total idiot under the glare of the studio lights and the intense pressure of Alex’s silver-haired gaze. I’ll just keep playing at home, where I can bet $10 000 on Final Jeopardy whether I have that much money or not.

Thursday: Déjà vu

On Thursday after work, I went to look at a condo in my complex. The agent didn’t speak English very well, but told me, “Just go knock door”. Which I did, but it was opened by a half-naked girl. AGAIN. Not the same one who was in the condo I have now when I first went to look at it, but ANOTHER half-naked girl. Is this a Toronto thing, where you take off most of your clothes when you know people are coming over? Anyway, she seemed completely disinterested in me being there and went into the main bedroom, where she sat at a computer in her half-naked state, then began to wander around the apartment like a scantily clad ghost. So I have zero pictures of the place to show anyone, because I was NOT taking shots of the room with this girl in the background, like she came WITH the place or something. I’m still waiting to hear from the real estate agent, because I had to put in an offer (yes, to RENT) and he was having trouble with the paperwork (‘You initial arrow circle checkmark’), and kept sending me new papers to sign every time he forgot an arrow/circle/checkmark. But I’m holding out hope, because the only other unit available in my complex was an absolute dump. It had been empty for a while (I can see why), and the carpets were filthy, the walls were gouged, and the second bedroom had a curtain rather than a door. The best part was when I asked their real estate why the microwave was listed “as is” and she explained that the handle had broken off, but “it still works fine—you just have to pull the door open from the bottom”. My response was, “Well, I’m an adult, so I’m going to pass.” Seriously, for over 2 grand a month, they couldn’t replace the f*cking microwave? Not the landlord for me. The unit I’m waiting on is very nice though, so here’s hoping that girl puts on some clothes, and then I can show you.

 

My Week 131: I Get “Evicted”, The Hunt for Stools

Tuesday: I make a list

So, last week, my property management company told me that my landlord was putting the condo I’ve lived in for the last 2 and a half years on the market. I was shocked, mostly by the asking price, which was $525 000 for 624 square feet. At that rate, my own house should be worth over 3.5 million dollars, but it’s not in the heart of the big city, but in a small town where people aren’t insane. I woke up last Saturday morning to approximately 40 emails in my inbox about showings that weekend. I was super-pissed off and full of anxiety because I hate it when people touch my stuff. Especially when I’m not there. In fact, I regularly have panicky episodes after our new cleaner has been here, because she moves everything and doesn’t put it back. Then I have to spend ages restoring order to my life, and re-re-arranging all my sh*t. Now, I know that this sounds like a first-world problem, but imagine if all my stuff was a goat, and someone…No, the goat analogy doesn’t really work here, but still. I had a minor panic attack on Saturday, imagining people wandering around my private space and silently judging me. And to make things worse, the photographs that went with the internet listing were taken when the previous tenants lived there, and they were total slobs. So now, people would think I lived like a hoarder. Here’s a quote from My Week 18, where I describe the experience of seeing my own condo for the first time over two years ago, just in case you think I’m exaggerating:

“The actual listing showed this pristine, empty apartment, so none of us were prepared when we opened the door and the place was crammed from top to bottom with someone else’s crap. And I mean CRAP. My dad and brother had come with me because Ken had to work, and they were both like “Oh, look at all the light” and “It’s so roomy” (it’s 624 square feet and costs more than the mortgage for my house), at which point the door to the second bedroom opened and a half-dressed woman peeked out. We were all taken aback, and the agent said something like “We have an appointment—is it OK that we look around?” She kind of nodded, then disappeared back into the room and shut the door. You couldn’t really move around to see much—they were getting ready to move out, but it was like that show Hoarders—there were little pathways between all the stuff (use your imagination), and you couldn’t get to the periphery of anything, plus the half-naked lady was in the one bedroom and we had to ask her if we could look at it. She kind of stood to one side, and there was underwear everywhere, and I was having major doubts about the whole thing. Then my brother was like, “Look—what a great balcony—it runs from the living room all the way to the bedroom!”, and then I realized that we were on the 27TH FLOOR, and there was no way I was EVER going out onto that balcony. I don’t have a fear of heights; I just have an intense fear of falling FROM THEM. But it was the only place left in town, and it was right across the street from my office, which meant no commuting, especially if I launched myself off the balcony and parasailed down to the street (which would only happen if I was, in fact, a secret agent trying to elude enemy agents).”

The pictures were from THAT tenant. And just for the record, here’s what MY condo looks like–calm and uncluttered (some of you might recognize the leather loveseat that I got for free in the big garage downstairs):

I emailed the real estate agent, who basically gave zero f*cks about my angst that people would think I lived in a metaphorical and literal sense of turmoil. Then, when I got back on Sunday night, I was even more upset because my bedroom cabinet and my bedside table had both been opened, and someone had very obviously been sitting on my bed. So even more anxiety for me, but it didn’t much matter because on Tuesday afternoon, I got an email telling me that the place was sold, and there was an eviction notice attached which gave me until the end of May to move out. I was simultaneously furious and sad. Then I had to go home and tell my roommate, S. But at least I didn’t have to move until her co-op term was over. She’s a great kid, easy to get along with, and a hard worker, which makes me think that all the people who whine about “millenials” haven’t actually met one, because any of the ones I know, S included, are just lovely, super-informed, and have no sense of entitlement whatsoever. Anyhow, we had a long discussion about my options and she made me feel a lot better in the way that only sensible young people can do. Later, I went to take my laundry out of the dryer, and I got yet another shock from all the static that having the heat on causes:

Me: Jesus! That’s the fifth time since I’ve been home that I’ve gotten shocked. This place is merciless.
S: See? That’s something you won’t miss about living here, right?
Me: Absolutely. I also won’t miss the fact that there’s only one knob to control the washer AND the dryer, and you have to switch them back and forth.
S: You should make a list of all the things you won’t miss. Then you’ll feel better.

So here’s my list:

1) I won’t miss the extremely dark hardwood floors that show every speck of dust. I clean them ALL THE TIME and they still look dirty. And if you walk around barefoot, the next day you can see where you’ve been, like some insanely complicated dance instruction chart.

2) I won’t miss the refrigerator that makes a knocking sound, like there’s someone at the door. For the first few months, it would make the sound randomly, and I would jump up and look through my peephole, but there was never anyone there (except that one time—see number 5). The refrigerator is a dick, and I won’t miss it.

3) I won’t miss the scuffed walls that the previous tenants left behind and that my landlord refused to paint. I also won’t miss the peeling veneer on the bathroom cabinets that my landlord refused to repair. I guess the new owners get to deal with that sh*t now. Suckers. You paid over half a million dollars to live in a box, and the first thing you’ll have to do is paint and renovate.

4) I won’t miss the sweet smell of deodorizer that permeates the halls and garbage rooms. It doesn’t do anywhere near a good enough job of covering up the underlying smell of garbage, because when downtown Toronto doesn’t smell like urine, it smells like garbage. Sad truth.

5) I will ABSOLUTELY NOT miss the Serial Killer upstairs who, after an almost yearlong reprieve, chose this past week to begin building another ladybox for his next victim, if the nightlong hammering is any indication. The first time he pulled this crap, I complained to the concierge, who went up at 3 am to make him stop. The second time that I complained about the nocturnal hammering and sawing, he came down to my unit and knocked on the door to explain that he was installing a new floor (at first I wasn’t sure it was the door or the refrigerator, then I looked through the peephole and jumped out of my f*cking skin). Sure, I believe THAT—it doesn’t take three months to install a floor in a 600 square foot condo—you’re not fooling anyone. The previous last time was April 2016, when I complained to the property manager, and she sent him a noise violation notice. The hammering stopped for almost a year, then on Wednesday night, he started around 5 pm, and he was still at it at 4 in the morning. Did I complain? Not me. In fact, my roommate suggested that I encourage him to continue with his “nocturnal emissions” so that the new owners will also have the pleasure of lying awake in the middle of the night and imagining the worst.

At the end of the day though, the list doesn’t matter. I’m still angry and stressed out, because I’ve made the place my home, despite its shortcomings, for the last 2 and a half years, and now I’m in the process of contacting real estate agents about rentals. Transitions are hard for me, but I’m sure I’ll find something else that will become a new “home away from home”. And at least I still have Ken, T, Raven, Titus, and Oscar Wildefish. And who knows–maybe I’ll even luck out, and get a new serial killer upstairs.

Saturday: Buying stools is sh*tty

Yesterday, Ken and I went shopping for stools for our kitchen island. The two barstools we have are old and starting to fall apart, so I decided I wanted new ones. Well, that was easier said than done. Who would have thought that buying two f*cking stools would be that hard?

Store 1: Teppermans

They only sell their barstools in sets of three for some bizarre, nonsensical reason. Also, there are 50 people working there, and they’re too busy flirting with each other to help the customers. Well, it IS a family-owned business, so maybe encouraging their employees to procreate in the mattress section of the store fits into their business model.

Store 2: Homesense

They had the perfect stools, but they were three inches too short. I don’t know if I’m willing to sacrifice style over being able to reach the counter.

Store 3: Pier One

The place was mobbed. Despite that, a sales person immediately came to us and not only offered to show us all the barstools in their catalogue, but to sign us up for the napkin-folding workshop that was about to take place. Ken looked mildly excited (you all know how much he loves crafts) but I was on a stool mission, so no fancy napkins for us today. Then she showed us the stools and they were all like $250 EACH. For a STOOL. I think not, but it explains the excellent customer service.

Store 4: Leons

We asked the sales guy if they sold bar stools, and he said no. Then another, more Alpha Male sales guy said, “Yes we do—they’re back here.” But they all looked too short, at which point, he started mansplaining to me the difference between a “counterstool” and a “barstool”. Turns out they had ZERO “barstools”, but he was “pretty sure that a counterstool would do the trick because our counter couldn’t be THAT high.” Well, it’s a KITCHEN ISLAND NOT A COUNTER, mansplain-y guy, and we measured it, so we know what we’re talking about, but thanks for being a dick.

Store 5: The Bay

They had a stool we liked, but we couldn’t find another one. There were two people working the furniture floor, both like 90, and the one guy was “busy finalizing a sale for a customer” (we looked around and we were the only people even in the place), and the woman in housewares was taking an eternity to wrap a marble cake plate in layers of tissue paper, while she and the purchaser chatted about NOT STOOL STUFF! Then Ken was all embarrassed because I loudly said that it was ridiculous and I didn’t have any more time in my day to wait for someone to wrap and rewrap a stupid cake plate. He claims that “everyone” heard me, and that I made “everyone feel bad” but if it takes you more than 2 minutes to wrap a f*cking cake plate, then you SHOULD feel bad and you should get a job that doesn’t involve wrapping stuff, KEN.

The only good part of the day was that we went to Petsmart and I found the perfect structure for Oscar’s tank. It’s a section of a Romanesque building, and he was thrilled:

Me: Look, Oscar—it’s like the Parthenon!
Oscar: I think you mean the Temple of Athena, sweetie. Still, it has a certain “je ne sais quoi”. Not quite the Aesthetic Style, but a close approximation. Flossie, what do you think?
Raven: Better than Ninja-Fish’s old pagoda.
Oscar: Oh Flossie, you’re such a cheek!
Titus: It has that “Gladiator” sexy kind of vibe. I’m down with it.
Oscar: All agreed then. I shall name it the “Kitchen Coliseum”. Let the games begin!

Hopefully, I’ll be as thrilled with my new digs as Oscar, whose chariot races are keeping everyone occupied at the moment. I’ll keep you posted.

My Week 130: Surrounded by Russians, Everyone Learns French

Tuesday: I live in the Kremlin

On Tuesday night, I was making dinner in my condo. I needed to defrost some soup, so I opened my pot drawer. No, not the “GOOD kind of pot” drawer, like I have a secret stash under the oven mitts and tea towels, but the drawer in which I keep my cooking pots. Although if I HAD a pot drawer, I`d have to call it something else to throw people off, because “pot drawer” would be pretty obvious—I could call it the “spider drawer” because who the hell would want to open THAT? Oh, and just for the record, I don’t smoke pot—I tried it a couple of times as a teenager, but instead of feeling mellow and whatnot, I felt super-paranoid and my skin wouldn’t stop twitching. Nothing was humorous, and everything was too real. So kind of the anti-marijuana experience. Anyhow, I opened my non-marijuana drawer, and everything inside was wet (so probably good that I DON’T keep pot in it), and I was confused. Why was my drawer full of water? This didn’t bode well, and if you’ve followed me for a while, you’ll remember a certain week when a certain woman left the kitchen sink running and ended up with a small flood. I immediately went into panic mode and pulled the drawer further out to discover that the pipe under the sink was leaking quite noticeably. How did this happen? I’d just used the dishwasher the night before and everything seemed fine. But now the pipe was dribbling into the drawer and the undercabinet. I have the number for my concierge desk pinned to a corkboard (made from real corks that I hotglued to a wooden panel and framed in barnboard—I had to drink a LOT of wine to make it and it was a terrible hardship, let me tell you) so I called down. No answer. The dripping continued and my panic increased. It was 6:30 pm and I was wearing pajamas because why the f*ck not, am I right? So I had to change back into my actual human clothes and go down to the front desk myself. I had no idea if it would help because normally a concierge isn’t trained in the plumberly arts, but Ken was 100 kilometres away and I had no tools other than a universal screwdriver, a hammer (in case there’s a fire and I have to break a window), and a sewing kit.

The three to midnight concierge is called Sergei, and my only contact with him thus far had been to say “hello” when I came in every afternoon, to which he replied “hello” back. It was an amiable, albeit succinct, relationship, but I feel like we were both OK with that. I approached the desk:

Me: Hi. Um, the pipe under my kitchen sink is leaking.
Sergei: OK. I come.

With that, he reached into a drawer (not a pot drawer either apparently), and took out a small flashlight and a tiny pair of slipjoint pliers (I totally looked that up—did you really think I know the names of all the tools?), and he came out from behind the front desk. We travelled up the elevator together, me telling him about the leak, and how it wasn’t there yesterday. He walked into my condo with the confidence that Russians seem to have, and peered into the space behind the drawer. Then he straightened up and smiled.

Sergei: Is drainage pipe only. I have pliers to turn off water but is not necessary. Contact property management company and they can fix. But don’t use sink until then. Empty drawer and put big pot under for leak.
Me: That’s a relief—I’ll do that. Thanks so much.
Sergei: Is no problem.

Then he left, and I immediately emailed my property management company and logged a ticket (which I swear to god would be the best euphemism for going to the bathroom that I ever heard—how do I make this popular?! Like, “Excuse me for a minute—I just have to “log a ticket”. Am I right?) Anyway, I got a reply back right away that I would be contacted by the in-house plumber in the morning. My roommate and I spent the rest of the night using the bathroom sink to rinse off dishes, and hoping it would be fixed before the bathtub became the dishwasher.

The next morning, I was in a meeting when my phone rang (it was on silent, because I’m not a dick), so I stepped out:

Voice with thick Russian accent: Hello. I am Alex. The plumber. You have problem with sink?
Me: Yes, the drain pipe is leaking.
Alex: I come at noon. How do I get in?
Me: The concierge can let you into the building…
Alex: No, how do I get into apartment?
Me: Don’t you have a key?
Alex: No.
Me: OK, I can meet you there at noon and let you in. OK?
Alex: Yes, is good.

Luckily I live just across the street from work, so at quarter to twelve (yes, the meeting was still going on), I said to my co-workers, “I have to step out for a minute and meet my plumber. His name is Alex.” I added that for emphasis in case they thought I was ditching them to go eat something, or “log a ticket” or something else that normal people do when they’re not in meetings that last ALL MORNING.

I ran across the street and waited in the lobby. A couple of minutes after twelve, a van pulled up, and I knew it was him because it said “Alex’s Plumbing” on the side. An elderly, tiny man got out and went to the passenger side, where he helped an elderly woman wearing a housedress, slippers, and a leather overcoat out of the van. She was clutching a handbag, and he had a utility light. I was very confused. They both came into the lobby, and I said, “Oh hi—are you Alex?” He gave me a huge smile and said he was, then they both followed me into the elevator.

Me: So…
Alex: We came from Jamaica.
Me: ???
Alex: It was good holiday, but we just came back. This is my wife, Marta.
Me: Oh hi. Did you have a good trip?
Marta: Yes, is good, but weather here is so cold now after Jamaica.
Me: Um yes, I can imagine…

As you may recall, I am super-sh*tty at small talk. Obviously. We got into my apartment and I showed him the sink, while Marta slowly wandered around the living room.

Me: Would you like to sit down?
Marta: Oh nuh, is fine. I stand. I was on airplane for six hours.
Alex: I see problem. Pipe is cracked. I get new trap pipe.

Then he left and there I was, alone with Marta, who kept commenting about the view (“I can see lake”), the size of the condo (“Is so small!”) until Alex got back.

Alex: Anyone got toonie? I need toonie.
Me: I think I might have one? Oh wait, I only have a loonie.
Marta: I have toonie. Don’t worry. Here is toonie.

I was completely befuddled at this point, as she handed Alex the toonie (loonies and toonies are one and two dollar coins, for my non-Canadian readers), but then he clarified that he needed it to “tighten pipe”, and I was like “A toonie is an actual plumbing tool?” but it seemed to work, and within 10 minutes, he was running water and checking for leaks, of which there were none.

Alex: All fixed now. No big problem.
Me: Thanks so much for coming so quickly.
Alex: We were at airport. Not too far, so they call me because I’m the cheapest.
Me: Um, OK. Well, I totally appreciate it.
Marta: Have good day.

Then they both toddled off to goodness knows where. Everything was fine, until later that day when I got an email from my property management company. My phone screen read, “We regret to inform you…” and I was like “WHAT DID THE RUSSIANS TELL YOU?!” but it wasn’t about the plumbing visit, it was that my landlord was selling my condo, which made me want to write back, “It was only a trap pipe! ASK THE RUSSIANS!” but apparently the housing in Toronto is so insane that my landlord is listing my 600 square foot, one bedroom plus den condo at $525 000 and expecting to get more. So I’m probably going to have to move. Maybe the Russians can hook me up with something.

Friday: The language of love

I came home on Friday night and was greeted with this:

Titus: Bonne soir, ma cherie
Raven: Bonjour, tete de merde.
Me: What the hell is going on here?
Titus: Oscar Wildefish is teaching us French. He says it’s the language of love. Check this out—“Voulez-vous coucher avec—
Me: Stop! No more French for you! Oscar?!
Oscar: Oui, mon petit chou?
Me: You just called me a tiny cabbage. WTF?
Oscar: It’s a term of endearment, sweetheart.
Me: Fine, but tete de merde is NOT. Why are you teaching everyone naughty French?
Oscar: Everyone should know at least one of the Romance languages, darling. When I was in Paris with Gertrude, Scottie, and Zelda—
Me: Here we go again. Do all goldfish have past lives?
Oscar: Only the good ones, honey.
Me: You weren’t in ‘Nam, were you?
Oscar: Heavens no! I’m a lover, not a fighter. That was Uncle Mishy. Oh, the stories he used to tell…
Me: Yes. I remember. Well, if you’re going to teach Titus and Raven—
Oscar: Flossy.
Me: Whatever. If you’re going to be their French tutor, keep it clean.
Oscar: Oui, oui madame. Voulez-vous coucher—
Me: Don’t be cheeky!
Oscar: Just part of my natural charm, mon amour.

Yes, it certainly is. I wonder if he also know a little Russian…

My Week 129: Sensitive Startle Response, We Find Oscar Wildefish

Wednesday: I live in a constant state of fear

I have an extremely sensitive startle response. No, not an actual syndrome like “Exaggerated Startle Response” where you go all stiff and can’t move (like a goat, but not as funny), nor do I have “Jumping Frenchmen of Maine” syndrome (yes, that IS a real thing involving a group of French-Canadian lumberjacks, and I realize that my attempt to elaborate on this only makes it sound weirder), or any other neurological disease for that matter—I’m just super-f*cking-jumpy. It’s annoying as hell, but it hasn’t been much of a problem until lately, when I began a new position with the secret agency. If you read last week’s post, you’ll remember that I now have my own office (complete with the awesome mini-fridge that I hauled up there myself), which is great, but also now a lot more people want to talk to me. That is also great, because my co-workers are terrific, but my desk is L-shaped and in the corner. And that means that most of the time, I’m working with my back to the door. I already had a problem with people coming up behind me in my cubicle, but I was in a fairly busy area so there was less chance of sudden noises. Also, my coworkers learned to sidle up towards me rather than suddenly appearing from around the corner of my cubicle wall, to avoid causing me to jump in the air and stifle a scream.

Now, though, I’m in a very quiet office with a door, and people come to the door without me being able to see them first, and I’ve been scared sh*tless no less than 13 times in the last 4 days, through no one’s fault but my own:

Coworker: Oh hey, can I—
Me: Agh!!
Coworker: Oh my god, I’m so sorry!
Me: Don’t be. It’s me, not you.

Of course, the best part is that my Director has the exact same startle response as me, and there’s nothing funnier (or more terrifying) than the two of us triggering each other:

Director: Oh hey, can I—
Me: Agh!!
Director: Agh!!!
Both: Oh my god, I’m so sorry!

It had become a bit of a running joke, to the point that last fall, my work partner L decided that the only thing to do, aside from making us wear bells around our necks was to buy us each a box of TicTacs that we could shake while we were approaching each other. Unfortunately, TicTacs are yummy and I ate all of mine, which kind of stymied the plan. At any rate, the one good thing is that I also now have a super-comfy office chair that has really great “give”, so when I jump three feet in the air, I land on a nice bouncy cushion and get to go “boing boing” for a minute while I’m catching my breath.

But I haven’t always had such a sensitive startle response—it’s gotten worse over the last few years for a couple of reasons I won’t get into. Anyway, here are the top ten things that now cause me to jump in the air, scream, and swoon, aside from people coming up behind me:

1) The text notification on my phone chiming.
2) The TV coming on too loudly.
3) Things dropping. (Like, literally anything—a pencil, a glass, my hairbrush…)
4) Ken walking into a room (but he does it quietly ON PURPOSE).
5) A car appearing in my blind spot (and no, it’s never a great idea to jump out of your seat whilst driving).
6) Birds. They fly by the window with no warning AT ALL because they’re dicks.
7) People sneezing. Someone in my office has a very loud sneeze and it scares the bejeezus out of me every damn time.
8) Car horns. Particularly hard to avoid in the downtown core where taxi drivers will literally honk at pigeons.
9) My alarm. I usually wake up before it goes off, then I forget to turn it off, and then it goes off and scares me. It’s a vicious cycle, and you’d think I would have figured this sh*t out by now.
10) The cat jumping onto the bed. I can always see Titus coming but Raven—she’s stealthy like a ninja.

Luckily, my coworkers are kind enough to try and help me out. On Friday, I heard a soft shuffling outside my office door that started getting louder. When I turned around, it was a colleague, who said, “I thought if I made a little noise first, it would give you some warning.” But I feel terrible that my bizarre reaction to normal human things makes THEM feel bad, so I’ve been trying to figure out how to resolve this. I can’t move my desk because it’s technically a counter that’s bolted to the wall, so I either get a mirror installed so I can see who’s coming up behind me, or I buy everyone in the office a lifetime supply of TicTacs.

Oscar Comes Home:

Last weekend, the official Quest for Oscar began. As per Mishima’s instructions, we were to seek out his nephew, Oscar Wildefish, in order that he might collect the inheritance left to him when Mishima passed away. You may recall that we had few clues, other than “he’s flamboyant, blue, and very witty”. Nevertheless, Ken and I set out to scour local pet stores. There are a LOT of fish out there, let me tell you, and while some of them were blue, none of them were particularly witty. We’d just about given up when we went into Petsmart and made our way to the fish section.

Ken: Oh look–here are some blue fish.
Me: Those are betas. Mishima was a goldfish, so…
Ken: Why couldn’t Oscar be a beta? It could have been like a mixed marriage or something.
Me: Betas aren’t witty. The last one we had was boring AF, remember? Let’s keep looking.

True to form, the blue betas weren’t saying anything. Then suddenly, I heard someone clear his throat:

Voice: Why, hello darling.
Me: Is that you, Oscar? Where are you?
Voice: Yes, ‘tis I, Oscar Wildefish. Look to your left.

And there, in a tank labelled Calico Ryukin Goldfish, was a baby blue, white, and gold fellow with delightful fins that looked like long chiffon sleeves. Definitely flamboyant.

Oscar: I’ve been waiting for you ever since I heard dear Uncle Mishy was unwell. The rumours of his death are apparently NOT exaggerated, judging by your appearance here in “Petsmart”, which is a misnomer if I’ve ever heard one. Honestly, I’m surrounded by dullards. It’s like a Donald Trump rally—non-stop complaining about immigrants every time someone new is put in the tank. I’m absolutely DYING for civilized company.
Me: I’m so happy we found you! Wait—you’re $12.99?! What kind of fish ARE you?
Oscar: Me? Sweetheart, I’m a delight, that’s what I am. And worth every penny. Now let’s go home. Adios, “Petsmart”.

So we brought Oscar home and he’s merrily preening in the reflective glass of his tank as we speak. He’s nicknamed the cat “Flossy” for some strange reason (and stranger still, she doesn’t seem to mind) and he and Titus are planning a picnic once the weather “becomes more charming”. But now, I have to go out and get him some new décor—it seems he’s not overly thrilled with the pagoda and says he’d prefer something “more glamourous”. So, new quest undertaken. I’ll keep you posted.