Creative Wednesdays – Resurrection

It’s Creative Wednesday! If you have a moment and you’d like something short to read, one of my flash fiction pieces is currently featured on Spillwords Press. It’s called “Resurrection” and you can read it by clicking here. If you like it, maybe you could give it some stars. Thanks!

Wigging Out

Last week, I mentioned that Ken had worn one of my wigs to a meeting and that I was planning to wear one during a virtual meeting to which my friend Elaine from Elaine’s Blog asked to see me in it. I did indeed wear it for “Wig Wednesday” where I encouraged my team to wear wigs for our daily check-in (some of them did—it wasn’t just me, you know). Here’s how I hoped I looked:

Here’s how I really looked (difficult to be cute when all your best reading glasses are back at the office):

But I’ve always loved wigs. I grew up in an era where it wasn’t unusual for women to wear them frequently, and every department store had a wig department, with all kinds of exotic looks that a young girl could fantasize about. My mother had at least two wigs that I remember, and my brother and I used to put them on, jump on the beds and pretend we were rock stars. And by “rock star” I mean Donny and Marie Osmond, who were very popular at the time. Being the eldest, I always insisted on being Donny, relegating my 5 year-old brother to the role of Marie. But he had a great singing voice, and it was a hell of a lot higher-pitched than mine. My brother has a very nice baritone now, but I still sound like a bagpipe-playing duck caught in a trap. We were too young to listen to actual rock, of course, whose musicians all looked like they WERE wearing really bad wigs. I remember going with our mother to visit one of her friends who had an older son. He took us to his bedroom and showed us a KISS album. “This is the best band ever,” he informed us solemnly.
“They look like girls,” we giggled.
“You’re a fag if you don’t like KISS,” he told my brother. We didn’t know what that exactly meant, but it sounded like he was being insulting so I defended my brother the way only an eight year-old can. “No, he’s NOT,” I said, and we left him alone with his precious “men wearing wigs and make-up”. And I’m glad I live in an era now, where your sexual orientation is no longer the fallback for musical criticism. Or at least it shouldn’t be.

Back to wigs. In retrospect, I’ve had a lot of wigs. When I was a teenager, I had a long ponytail hairpiece that I wore on fancy occasions. As an adult, I’ve had more than one hairpiece that made my hair, which is thin and fine, look like it had a substantial bun at the back (not unlike the hairpieces that hipster guys used to give themselves the dreaded “man bun”). Then, I branched out into “musical theatre”, which is to say that I began to take part in the Christmas assembly at the school where I used to work. Every year, the staff there lip-synched the songs of contemporary or well-known music stars. The first year I did this, I played the role of—guess who?! The lead singer from KISS. Full face make-up and a curly, long black wig, complete with a black leather costume and platform boots. It was an exhilarating experience, and now I know why KISS did it for so many years. Then we were sent home due to a terrible snow storm. I got my car stuck in a snow drift a block away from my house and flagged down a pick-up truck to help push me out. When the guy got out of his truck, he stopped and stared at me kind of fearfully, at which point I realized that I’d taken off the wig, but was still in full KISS make-up. “I was in a play,” I tried to explain, but I think I would have been more believable if I’d been wearing the wig.

Over the years, I’ve donned a long brunette wig to play Lorde, the blonde wig seen above to sing along to Taylor Swift, and “gotten my wig on” for Hallowe’en on several occasions. But I’ve never actually bought a full wig just to wear. Until a couple of years ago, that is. I’d gone out for dinner with a friend, and we may or may not have indulged in the $5 drink special more than once. On the way back, we went into the underground shopping mall near my building to get some wine. Then we passed the Wig Store. We were window shopping and talking about how much fun it would be to try on a couple, when the owner came out. “Come into my shop! I have something that would really suit you,” she enticed us. Well, being as tipsy as I was, I wasn’t hard to convince. The next thing we knew, she was pulling hair off plastic lady heads, whipping out hair nets, and getting us to try on all kinds of things. When she popped the “Cleopatra” over top of my own short hair, I was sold. Of course, “Cleopatra” is a bit of a misnomer, unless the Queen of Egypt had blonde highlights, but I knew I had to buy that wig. And I did. “What are you going to do with it?” my friend asked. “I’m going to wear it home on the train on Friday and surprise Ken!” I said, which seemed like a great plan at the time.

On Friday, at the end of the day, I was starting to get a little nervous about my plan. Would it be obvious? Would people think I was weird? I took Cleo into the bathroom and maneuvered it onto my head. It was a little harder to adjust than when the wig shop owner had done it, but I finally got it looking symmetrical. When I came out to get my bags, a few co-workers were still there. “Wow!” said one, “It looks so real!” “Your husband is going to LOVE it!” said another. This made me feel a little better and not quite so self-conscious. On the train, when the drink cart came around, the female conductor did a bit of a double-take, mostly because I order from her every week. “I’m wearing a wig today,” I whispered. “That’s OK,” she said, like I was asking her permission, but she did assure me that it looked very natural. So I tipped her, which I don’t normally do, because technically she’s not a waitress, and because the train is such a big rip-off in the first place. 

When we finally got to the train station, I saw Ken through the window. I couldn’t wait to see the look on his face. And sure enough, when he saw me, he looked away, then back in confusion, then surprise. And then he frowned.

Me: Do you like my new look?
Ken: What are you doing?
Me: I wanted to surprise you.
Ken: Oh…
Me: What do you think?
Ken: Yeah, I don’t like it.
Me: You get that it’s a wig, right?
Ken: I like your hair short, though.
Me: It comes OFF. It’s a WIG. My normal human hair is still underneath.
Ken: Oh. It makes you look really different. I don’t like the bangs…
Me: Never mind.

I understand Ken’s reaction because he does the same thing when we’re out shopping. If I see something cool and ask him if he likes it too, he always says “No”, even if he does like it, because he’s worried that if he agrees with me, I’ll buy it. It’s taken 30 years to get him to understand that I just like to window shop. So I think he was concerned that if he said he liked the wig, I’d never take it off. We’d be like 90, and in a retirement home, I’d still be wearing “Cleopatra”, and all the old guys would want to “play Bingo” with me because I had the best hair. At any rate, I kept it on until we got to the store where K worked. Her reaction was a little more favourable—she laughed pleasantly, hugged me and said it “looked good”. And then we got home, where Titus met me at the door.

Titus: You’re home! This is the best day ever!
Me: Do you notice anything different?
Titus: Is that Swiss Chalet chicken?! Can this day GET any better?!
Me: So nothing?
Titus: Your hair grew. Give me some french fries!

Virtual Reality

(Before we begin this week’s trip into lunacy, I was thrilled when I found out yesterday that one of my pieces of short fiction would be appearing today in The Ekphrastic Review. Click here to read it!)

So this week, I’ve been busy researching other jurisdictions as part of my job, and I have to tell you, there is a HUGE uptick in sites devoted to armadillos. I was on one website that had an environmental slant, and it was literally cartoon armadillos everywhere and all I could think was “Who in their f*cking mind is going ALL IN on the armadillos? Are they like the next (and at this point, I asked Ken for something that was really popular and isn’t anymore so that I could include a clever analogy, and he said, “Pet rocks” and I said, “Something more recent—duh” and he said, “The bucket challenge?” and I was just about to ask for a divorce when he said…) “The woman yelling at the cat meme?” so I guess I don’t have to look for another husband yet. At any rate, I learned more about armadillos than I ever thought I would need to know and apparently they’re very cool, eat a lot of larvae and are also a good indicator of how well the environment is doing. But then I was like, “What do armadillos really look like?” so I googled some images of them while I was about to start a virtual Zoom meeting. Did you know that they’re actually very cute in a weird and sassy way? And at the same time, I was desperate to do what everyone else I know has been doing, and that’s to have a virtual background on my Zoom screen, and I finally figured out how to do it, but as the meeting started, I didn’t have anything except the picture of the armadillo that I’d just googled, so I USED THAT.

Me: Good morning everyone!
Team: Good morn–
Me: I finally figured out how to use the virtual background!
Colleague 1: Very nice. C’est un peu distracting.
Me: Look! If I reach around like this, I can pet it!
Colleague 2: It kind of looks like it’s sitting on your shoulder…
Me: I KNOW, RIGHT?!

But later, I had to have a meeting with our Chief Operating Officer, and as much as I love armadillos, I realized that I should probably have a virtual background that was more normal like everyone else who had tropical beaches or snowy forests. Unfortunately, my default was a gallery of Baby Yoda cookies from when I was doing a Zoom with my family. While it looked quite adorable and yummy, that was no good either. So I quickly found a picture of the garden house that Ken built for us, and then everyone was like “Wow—it looks so cute!” so I guess I don’t have to look for another job yet.

On Wednesday, Ken and I decided that it was important for us to get some fresh air at the end of every day, and because we live in a small town, we don’t have our own mail box—we have to go uptown to a bank of community mailboxes. It was a lovely day, and as Ken opened our mailbox, I looked up at the sky, smiled and said, “I feel like things are going to be OK” and then Ken pulled out the only piece of mail that we had, and it was a letter from the Purple Shield insurance company offering us a FREE WILL-PLANNING KIT and I was like “Sigh. Never mind.” And I don’t know if I’m more concerned about a company taking advantage of a pretty dire situation or the fact that now I have to think about things like “How To Ensure Your Wishes Are Honoured” because the other day, Ken and I went for a drive and we went past a cemetery with a mausoleum and I said, “Ooh, that’s what I want!” and Ken laughed and said, “I’m cremating you, sucker.” OK, Ken didn’t actually say it like that, but every time I say I want my casket to be interred in a mausoleum, he snickers derisively and I JUST KNOW that my last wishes will NOT be honoured. But I warned him that no matter what, I would haunt him and his new, younger wife by dipping their toothbrushes in the toilet and not telling them.

On Wednesday, Ken said to me, “Hey, where’s that wig you have?” I found it for him and he put it on for his team meeting. I was a little perturbed because the first time I wore that wig, he said, “I don’t like you with bangs” as if it was my permanent hair and I had just given myself an ill-advised trim. But I could hear his team laughing hysterically at the sight of him in my wig, and now I’m determined to wear it next week, and also buy a bunch of even nicer wigs, because if we have to work from home forever, who’s going to know whether or not my hair grew, or changed colour or whatnot? And then I don’t have to wash and style my hair every morning for the camera—I can just throw on a wig. This is the one I really want:

But I’m also willing to settle for something less glamorous if Prime can deliver it in 24 hours.

 Lastly, I went back through my notes and pictures to see what I had considered writing about this week and I found this:

Why do I have a picture of this?! I don’t remember taking a picture of this and I have no idea what it means. I am NOT from Chicago and I don’t know anyone who is. I have NEVER called anyone except Ken “Bitch” and only in that fun, drag queen-ish kind of way. Are there armadillos in Chicago? Because it seems like something an armadillo would say. 

 

 

Creative Writing Wednesday – What Remains

I normally don’t post mid-week, but I thought I might start doing it once in a while. You all know I write this weird-ass blog, and that I write novels. I’ve posted some of the short stories I’ve had published in the past in different literary mags, but what you might not know is that I also write poetry. It’s not very good poetry, and I don’t submit it anywhere because it’s not really what the lit mags are looking for, I don’t think, but I like doing it anyway. So today, I’m posting this piece I wrote over the last couple of weeks. I hope you enjoy it. I showed it to Ken and he said, “…Interesting” and then I showed it to Kate and she thought it was about fish migrating. IT’S NOT. Anyway, take from it what you will.

What Remains

We speed along the black river
The wires on shore buzzing
And cutting into our flesh
Across the distance
Full of secrets.
We hide on the water
Tight to the bank
Where the towers can’t see us.
You tell me to slow down
“The faster we go
The more noticeable we are.”

 We race along the black road
Through pine and spruce
And hard rock
Whispering our names.
The tar sticks to our tires
Melting the treads.
Up ahead the wires spit
And crackle out a signal.
You tell me to veer left
“This way is safe.
Drive until dawn.”

 We sift through the black sand
Not on a beach
But in a desert
Hidden under an ocean of stuttering stars.
With desperate hands
We pull conch shells from its depths
And then bones.
They are our bones
The bones of our parents
And the bones of our children.
You tell me to gather them up in my arms
And fill my pockets.
“We’re home.”

The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same

So I’ve been working from home this past week and it looks like I’ll be there for a while longer. I don’t mind—I’ve worked from home before and I know how to pace myself and structure my day. I’m not going to lie and say that it’s been an easy transition—changes in routine have always posed a challenge to me. In fact, any kind of change can throw me into a tizzy—take, for example, Daylight Savings Time:

Ken: So I went around the house and changed all the clocks…
Me: What do you mean, ALL the clocks?!
Ken: I set all the clocks to the right time. It took me ages to fix the ones in the downstairs bathroom. There’s like fifteen of them.
Me: YOU CHANGED ALL THE TIMES ON MY VINTAGE CLOCK COLLECTION?
Ken: Hahaha. Just kidding.
Me: If only that was even remotely funny, KEN.

Because the whole point of the collection is that each clock presents the time when it finally stopped for good—it’s PERFORMANCE ART, KEN. And then the other day, Ken decided that he wanted to fix the ceiling in one of our guest bedrooms because there had been a leak a couple of years ago that caused a seam to bulge. I insisted that he cover everything with drop sheets because of the plaster and whatnot, assuming that he would leave everything just the way it was underneath. BUT NO. It turned out that he took everything off every surface and put things randomly in drawers, and when it came time to put it all back, I just about lost my mind until I remembered that I had photographs of the room and could recreate it exactly as it was.

As you may remember, I’ve written extensively, maybe even obsessively, about the bathroom stalls at work and which one is my current favourite at any given time. So, in honour of working from home, and being able to keep things as normal as possible, I present to you the bathrooms in my house in order of least to most favourite. (You’ll notice that they all have toilet paper. I was at the grocery store yesterday, and there was a skid of bulk TP that came 30 rolls to the pack. The limit per customer was 2, and there were actually people carrying 60 f*cking rolls of toilet paper home. How much do you sh*t, anyway? I stood there for a moment, contemplating the skid, but didn’t buy any because I currently have lots, and I really hope I’m not going to be pissed off at myself in a month. Anyway).

This bathroom is nice, but it’s narrow and far away from my current office space. Also, like Stall 1 at work, a ghost lives in it. This is the same ghost that opens the cupboard doors in the adjacent bedrooms. Also, you can see there’s a small sliding door in the wall—there was a vent pipe inside that led into the closet in the bedroom directly behind the bathroom. Last year, we were cleaning out the bedroom closet and realized the pipe just went directly from the bathroom into the closet floor and stopped there, so we pulled it out and discovered the most bizarre collection of things under the floor of the closet that someone in the past had thrown down the pipe in the bathroom, obviously not realizing that it wasn’t a MAGICAL pipe. There was a pair of boy’s underwear, a love letter written to the son of the previous occupant (“Hi Jordan, If you lik me, rite back” with a heart drawn in crayon. I guess he didn’t “lik” her since he threw the letter into the magic pipe) and a couple of condom wrappers, so maybe he changed his mind at some point? The weirdest thing was about 9 pairs of old panty hose, and I can’t even begin to explain THAT, having not owned a pair of panty hose for over twenty years, long before we bought this house.

This bathroom is very utilitarian, housing the laundry facilities as well. However, the knee-to cabinet ratio is a little tight for me. This is “Ken’s bathroom”. It has a nice shower, but I’m a bath girl. The last time I used the shower was the day I ran a gas-powered pressure sprayer over my foot. Ken carried me screaming into the shower to get the dirt out of my flayed toes because it was the closest bathroom to the incident. So it’s very handy in a medical emergency.

This is the bathroom where I keep the infamous vintage clock collection. I wrote a while ago about clocks, so you’ll remember that I have a lot of old clocks that don’t work scattered around the house, but this bathroom is where space and time converge. Also, I made that toilet paper holder out of an old piano stool base and a curtain rod, and at the time, people thought it was very ostentatious, but given the fact that toilet paper is currently as rare as rhodium, I think it’s a fitting tribute. I like this bathroom well enough, and it’s close to the back family room where we watch movies. You can dash to the toilet and still hear the dialogue if you keep the door slightly open. Much better acoustics than a movie theatre bathroom and much cleaner.

This is MY bathroom, and it’s the best one in the house as far as I’m concerned. It’s like Stall 5 at work, if Stall 5 was never used by anyone but me. It’s technically an ensuite for the master bedroom but it belongs to ME. It also has a balcony that you can sit out on in the summer, which is random for a bathroom, but this whole house has been reconfigured several times over the last 114 years, and apparently the bathroom used to be a kitchen when the upstairs of the house was 2 apartments. Ken and I just renovated it a couple of months ago. Originally, the walls were covered with giant damask roses, which I loved but which Ken CONSTANTLY complained about, so I finally gave in when we found all those doors for free at the side of the road and he proposed that we create a wall of doors. My favourite thing is the stained glass window panel we just installed, and which I promised to take a picture of, because last week when I introduced you all to Captain John Crapper, my friend Bryntin from O4FS wondered why the toilet was in the corner, and a couple of people asked to see the whole room. So here you are. In my favourite bathroom. A constant in a sea of change.

Also, if you’re wondering why on earth we have FOUR bathrooms for two people, let me just say that our house is in a very small town far from the city, and when we bought it over 15 years ago (when Kate was still at home), the price was incredibly low compared to what we could have gotten for the same money in town. Once we both retire, we’re hoping to turn it into a bed and breakfast, or a writing/photography retreat. As long as nobody moves my stuff or changes my clocks, it’ll be great.

Signs of the Apocalypse

No, the title of this post does not refer to coronavirus, or Covid-19 as it’s now being call in order to spare Corona beer from further stock losses. Although, if you want an absolute sign that the end is nigh, take a look at this picture I took at the grocery store on Friday of the toilet paper aisle.

 The fact that people are fighting over TOILET PAPER in the face of a global pandemic is a very good indication that a great many human beings are simply too stupid to live—if hoarding bleached paper to clean your ass is what’s most important to you, then I weep for our civilization.

Anyway. Last week, Ken and I were driving north to see his parents, and to get there, we have to go through this cross-country corridor of weirdness where people with more money than brains spend their time erecting signs, some of which simply boggle the mind. Here’s the first:

1)

Just in case you can’t read it, this sign says, “Don’t B!tch About The Farmer With Your Mouth Full!” and underneath it asks “What’s Your Contribution?” Now, none of this makes any sense at all. First, you can’t b*tch about ANYTHING with your mouth full. If you try, no one can understand what you’re saying and then they get mad at you for spitting potato or chicken or whatnot at them. Swallow first; complain later. That should be the motto of all whiny people. Second, I’m 54 years old and I’ve LITERALLY NEVER heard anyone complain about ‘the farmer’. Like who’s going around saying, “Those goddamn farmers and their CROPS. They should be ashamed of the way they make sure we get calcium from their UNHOLY MILK”. Where did the animosity on this sign come from?! Is it, like, one disgruntled farmer fed up with being kept down by ‘the man’?

The Man: Hey Farmer Bob, your combine is blocking my driveway again. Would you mind moving it?
Farmer Bob: DON’T B!TCH ABOUT THE FARMER, DAN.
The Man: I wasn’t b*tching, I just—
Farmer Bob: IS YOUR MOUTH FULL, DAN?
The Man: What? No, I only—
Farmer Bob: I WILL MAKE A SIGN. WHAT’S YOUR CONTRIBUTION, DAN?
The Man: I’m not giving you any money for a sign; I need you to move your combine.
Farmer Bob: TYPICAL OF THE MAN.

The most ironic thing about this sign is that it’s not on a farmer’s field—it’s actually next to a railroad bridge in a swamp, so I guess Farmer Bob has bigger worries than Dan The Man. (For the record, Ken grew up on a dairy farm, and I love farmers, obviously, and if anyone ever b*tched about them in my presence, I would set them straight.)

2) And then there was the sign in a small town we went through that had two words on it: Landfill Cenotaph. There was a single arrow pointing down a side road. So the cenotaph is in a landfill? Or is it a memorial TO a landfill? Either way, that’s not very respectful to our veterans, and it makes Remembrance Day ceremonies awkward:

MC: Let’s have a moment of silence in remembrance of all of those who fought—hey! Can you turn off the bulldozers for one hot second?! Jeesh!

3) One of my favourites is this sign advertising a garden centre in Listowel:

Gardening with Attitude? Do drag queens work there? Surly teens, perhaps? All I could think of was this:

Customer: Hi, I’d like to buy a shrubbery. One that looks nice, and not too expensive.
Garden Centre Worker: F*ck off!
Customer: Wow, that’s some attitude you have there.

4) Finally, there are always the ‘Come to Jesus’ billboards and my absolute favourite is the one that reads, “Jesus said, ‘The only way to my Father is through me’:

Me: Did you see that sign? I don’t believe Jesus said that.
Ken: What? Why not?
Me: Well, don’t you think it sounds a little violent? I never think of Jesus like that. You’ve read the Bible. Did Jesus really say that?
Ken: I don’t remember.
Me: No. From what I know about Jesus, he would have said something more like, “It would be really nice and super swell if you could let me help you find your way to my Dad”. Something non-aggressive, you know. That sign makes it seem like there’s going to be a bar fight, and Jesus is all like, “Hold my beer! You’ll have to get through ME to get to HIM!” like Liam Neeson or The Rock or something.
Ken: OK…
Me: Or John Wick—ooh! Like John Wick 4: The Resurrection!
Ken: You really don’t know much about the Bible, do you?
Me: I saw Jesus Christ: Superstar. I could totally picture John Wick Jesus kicking over those moneylending tables in the temple then pulling out a machine gun–
Ken: That’s not what happened.
Me: But in John Wick 4: The Resurrection, it would be a flea market where unscrupulous grifters were selling hoarded toilet paper and hand sanitizer for outrageous prices.
Ken: I’d watch that.

I was trying to think of what people could do with the hundreds of rolls of toilet paper they bought once the pandemic is over and I have a couple of ideas—instead of hunting for Easter candy, you can hide toilet paper around your house and watch the kids squeal with delight as they locate each one. Or you can do my favourite thing of all—make a Toilet Pirate. Meet Captain John Crapper:

Weather Or Not

I woke up on Thursday morning, looked out my window, and was immediately outraged. “Nobody said it was going to snow!” I yelled. “Where the hell did all the snow come from?!” And my overreaction reminded me, yet again, that weather is arbitrary and weird and, despite the best efforts of every weather person out there, you never know what’s going to happen. For example:

A few years ago, Kate and I were driving back from town and the sky was really dark. Sure enough, the heavens opened up, and the resulting downpour turned roads in rivers, and parking lots into lakes. Literally. People had their basements flooded, and cars were floating in the streets. It didn’t last long, and the flooding was mostly due to backed-up storm drains, but on the news that night, the weather reporters were thrilled, having earlier predicted that a very large storm system might wreak havoc in our part of Ontario. Why “thrilled”, you ask? Because the week before, tornadoes had touched down in cities south of here and there had been NO WARNING from the weather people (we call them “Environment Canada”). In fact, the outcry was ridiculous, with people calling for an investigation into the most “egregious failure” of the year.

The weather people defended themselves by claiming that 90% of our weather comes from over the border, and that Michigan hadn’t alerted us to any impending storm systems, that it had just “popped up out of nowhere”. Sure, blame the Americans. But frankly, the whole thing is silly, and is yet more proof that we’ve become irrationally obsessed with weather. The mere fact that there is an entire segment devoted to the weather on every single news show is evidence of that. And the first part of the segment is invariably reporting on what the weather was like THAT DAY. I don’t need to know what the weather was ALREADY like—I WAS THERE. Then we move to “the current forecast”, which I ALSO know, because I’m looking out MY WINDOW. Finally, we get to “tomorrow” and the long-range forecast. But for all the technology, the radar, the system trackers, the low and high front graphics on the weather screen, being a weather person in Canada is a relatively simple task and these people are way overpaid, because, let’s face it—there’s not a lot of variation in the weather here:

News Anchor: So Bob, what’s the situation with the weather?
Weather Guy: Well, today it was f*cking cold. Tomorrow, it will also be f*cking cold.
News Anchor: You’re sure right there! What about the long range forecast?
Weather Guy: In a couple of months, it will be f*cking hot, with an increased chance of it getting even more f*cking hot.
News Anchor: Do your magic-y weather skills predict anything else for the near future, Bob?
Weather Guy: The only other thing on the horizon is periods of “when the hell is it going to rain?” interspersed with “when is this goddamned rain going to stop?” That’s about it, Nancy.
News Anchor: Thanks for those insights, Bob. We’ll get back to you later for a recap.

I honestly think we expect too much from weather reporters. Blaming them for sudden weather events is like blaming the sportscaster when your favourite team unexpectedly loses. You’d never do that—it would be irrational to call the Toronto Maple Leafs losing yet another Stanley Cup the most egregious failure of TSN Sportsdesk ever. Yet weather reporters get blamed for all kinds of things. For instance, you’re having an outdoor birthday party and it clouds over then starts raining. Suddenly it’s open season on the weather reporter, with people running around trying to get the cake inside before it gets ruined, and yelling, “Was this predicted?! I don’t remember Bob saying anything about rain! Now the f*cking piñata is all mushy! What the hell is this world coming to when you can’t even count on Bob for a good party?!!”

But you CAN’T count on the weather report. Weather reports are just filler in a broadcast, the same way that talking about the weather is just filler in a conversation. Consider how many times in your life you’ve had random and inconsequential conversations about the weather because you felt like you had to talk about SOMETHING or be seen as anti-social? This happens to me all the time in the elevator at work, when someone I barely know gets on. After “Hello”, what the hell else is there to say, except “Can you believe the weather?” And the other person will say, “Oh, I know. It’s just terrible/gorgeous out there.” The weather is safe and quick and makes us all feel that we’re capable of normal human interaction.

Again, though, I don’t think we need an entire network devoted to the continual reporting of the weather. An entire network, you say? Yes, because not only is every single news broadcast littered with weather clickbait (“Coming up next: Sharon will have some exciting information on the current state of the weather. Find out here first!”), we also have The Weather Network, where you can satisfy your need to know about the state of the environmental nation 24 hours a day. Local forecasts, regional forecasts, national forecasts—hell, you can even find out what it’s going to be like in Madrid tomorrow using an app on your phone (for the record—14 degrees and mostly sunny). My favourite, though, has got to be when, for want of anything else to talk about, there’s a “50 years ago today” segment, where the weather from the 70s is compared to the forecast today, and the reporter is like, “Can you believe it? The high on January 15, 1970 was 3 degrees lower than it is today. What a world we live in!”

A hundred years ago, there were no weather reporters. There was just your crazy old aunt, who claimed her gouty toe could predict when a storm was a-coming, or the one guy in every town who hung out at the General Store chewing on a hay stalk and muttering ominously, “Pine trees are puttin’ out cones early. Gonna be a hard winter.” And they were about as accurate as weather reporters today, who, despite all the bells and whistles, still can’t always predict when a tornado will develop. I like the guy they interviewed after that tornado who said that he hadn’t heard about it, but he looked out his window, saw it coming from across the field, and got his family into the basement. Then he went back upstairs and recorded the tornado with his cell phone. He predicted a tornado almost hitting his house better than Environment Canada did—The Weather Network should hire HIM.