My Week 122: Racists Are Stupid, Spoiler Alerts

Friday: Racists are stupid.

So I’m probably not telling you something you don’t already know about racists with THAT title. I just wanted to reaffirm it for all of us. Oh, I’m sure there are some of them who claim to have high IQs, but still, they’re stupid in the ways that matter. On Friday night, Ken and I were watching TV and a show called “Marketplace” came on. It’s kind of an investigative news show, and it’s on CBC not Fox “News”, so you know it’s totally legit, because the CBC never lies. I think that’s actually their motto or something. Anyway, the show hired actors to portray white supremacist/neo-nazi types (by the way, spellcheck just told me to capitalize the “n” on nazi but I’m not going to, because nazis don’t deserve capitals. Then spellcheck tried to autocorrect the “n”, and now I’m worried about you, spellcheck.) They had fake T-shirts printed which said things like “White Power”, “White Pride World Wide”, and “Make Canada Great Again”, then they went to three places to see how many Canadians would buy them. First, they went to Alliston, Ontario, the home riding of current Progressive Conservative Leadership candidate and alt-right queen, Kellie Leitch. She’s the one who wants to screen immigrants, refugees, and visitors to Canada to make sure they have “Canadian Values”, values which, as evidenced by Marketplace, many Canadians don’t have themselves. Several people in Alliston bought the shirts, and Marketplace tried to interview them afterwards, without much success, except for one woman who said, “If you want to come here to support Canada, then support Canada—live our way. You know, if you’re not happy with it, keep it to yourself, celebrate your own way but don’t change who we are or what we stand for.” And Ken and I were like “Huh? Who is she talking about?” And this is why racists are stupid. The first thing I did when she said that was look up “Are immigrants to Canada happy?” According to a recent study by Statistics Canada, of the 43 immigrant groups who’ve come here, only 3 said they weren’t as happy as they were back home. One, Columbia was discounted, because they weren’t really happy in Columbia either. The other two were New Zealand and The Netherlands. So, is this who she’s referring to? Does she think wind turbines are the insidious Dutch way of trying to convert us to their crazy windmill religion? Or does she believe that New Zealanders want us to start speaking their own weird language (which is English, but maybe she thinks it SOUNDS foreign)? I jest, of course—you and I both know that, although she didn’t say it, she meant non-white people.

Another intellectual giant explained his purchase that in this way: “Different races are trying to change our way of life that’s been going on for hundreds of years”. HUNDREDS. Canada has only been around since 1867, so is he talking about the Neanderthal way of life? I could understand this logic if he was a member of the First Nations, but no, he was just a stupid person. This whole idea of “Our way of life/don’t change who we are” is, again, alt-right propaganda. It usually rears its ugly head around Christmas, where social media is full of memes like, “If I say Merry Christmas, how many people aren’t afraid to say it back?” The answer is NO ONE. It’s CANADA. The Southeast Asian guy who owns the gas station on the corner of my small town had free coffee for all his customers on Christmas Day. The Muslims in the International Language School I used to run gave us Christmas cards before the holidays. No one is trying to change your way of life, scared white lady. Except maybe the atheists. After Christianity, which makes up 67% of Canadian religious affiliation, the next largest, and growing affiliation, is non-belief at almost 25%. All those other religions you’re so worried about make up 7.2 % of Canada’s population.

The second woman who bought a shirt said this gem: I am anti-immigration. I believe that we have to worry more about ourselves. Close the border completely. Don’t let anyone in. It’s MY opinion.

When the reporter questioned her further, she said she had nothing against non-white people; in fact, she “has a lot of coloured friends”. Somehow, I doubt that, just like I doubt her ability to get herself dressed in the morning without a little help. As I always say, her level of stupidity is so deep that I would get the bends trying to come up from it. I don’t know how long she’s been in Canada, but she should be happy that people didn’t have that attitude when HER ancestors came here. Could you imagine what Canada would look like today if the founding fathers had said, “OK, we’re good. No one else gets to come in”? We’d be a nation of 30 blind guys with no hands and tiny penises. Also, there would be no Tim Horton’s. Again, do your research, silly girl. Canada has a declining birth rate. Without immigrants, we will have no skilled workforce within 25 years. If you really want to close the border, you better start having lots of babies. But this is the thing that Kellie Leitch won’t tell you: Canada already has a very stringent screening process for immigrants, starting with “Find out if you’re eligible to immigrate to Canada”, which I just tried to fill in and pretty much failed because it kept telling me to fill in a particular field, which I did, but it kept saying to do it again and again until I gave up. So guess what, Canada? This 37-year-old single dude from Azerbaijan will NOT be immigrating any time soon. (I’m not sure where Azerbaijan is—it was just the last country that started with A and it sounded cool).

I was watching SNL last night, and the host, Aziz Ansari, referred to the new phenomenon, the “kkk lite”, people who don’t dress in creepy costumes but who hold the same kind of attitudes. Except until now, they just pretended NOT to be racist. Now, they feel empowered to buy racist T-shirts in public, and say “It’s MY opinion,” like they have the right to be morons. I was on Twitter yesterday, and I saw Richard Spencer, a self-proclaimed “white nationalist” or “kkk lite” guy, get punched in the face while he was being interviewed by reporters. First, why the hell is ANYONE interviewing this douche-canoe? Why does anyone care what the little weasel thinks? Second, he looked really hurt, not physically but like EMOTIONALLY, after he got cold-cocked, like he wanted to cry because he couldn’t believe it had happened. Personally, I can’t believe it doesn’t happen more OFTEN. And the fact that he didn’t believe he deserved to be punched in the face for being a racist twat tells you how stupid he is.

Imaginary conversation with the kkk lite.

Me: Why are you dressed like a cheap-ass ghost? You know Hallowe’en isn’t until October, right?
kkk guy: I’m not a ghost. I’m a wizard. A grand wizard.
Me: Whoa there, Hogwarts. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. You haven’t done any magic yet. Can you turn lead into gold? Where’s your wand? Is it hiding under your Ikea bed sheet?
kkk guy: Ergh. Immigrants are taking all the good jobs.
Me: What? You can’t even do a card trick. You’re a sh*tty wizard–an immigrant could do YOUR job better.
kkk guy: Please don’t punch me.

But it’s not all bad. For every racist who bought a T-shirt, whether it was in Alliston, downtown Toronto, or Barrie, Ontario, there were plenty of other people who confronted the actors to tell them they were offensive, called the police, or yelled at them to f*ck off with their racism because “This is Canada.” Let’s hope so.

(Just for the record, I compiled all the information above by researching it on something called “the internet”. I wish people would use it more often, before they say stupid things like, “Immigrants are taking all the good jobs”, or Kevin O’Leary will Make Canada Great Again.” It’s already great, thanks.)

Saturday: Spoiler Alert

spoiler-alert

In more television news, Ken and I were watching a show last night, and a trailer came on for a new 6-episode mini-series about a female doctor who kills people with a hypodermic needle. The show is called “Mary Kills People”.

Me: Way to give away the ending.
Ken: Well, the whole commercial showed her killing people. It’s not like the title was the REAL spoiler here.
Me: Couldn’t they leave just a little bit to the imagination and call it “Mary May or May Not Have Killed People”?
Ken: At least we don’t have to watch it now.
Me: It’s such a dumb title. Can you imagine if the first Star Wars movie was called, “Luke Blows Up the Death Star”? What would be the point of seeing it? Why would anyone read ‘Pride and Prejudice’ if it was called Elizabeth Marries Darcy? I like the trailer for Cardinal better.

“Cardinal” is another new 6-part series, but I have no idea what it’s about , except that there are two detectives investigating a murder in a cold town somewhere. The trailer doesn’t show much, except the one detective says to the other, “I’m happy to be working this case with you,” and then a block of ice containing what looks like a body is pulled out of a frozen lake. See, THIS is how it’s done, because at the end, I was like “What?! I need to watch this show and find out what happens. And who the hell is Cardinal? Is it the guy? Is it a bird? I need to know.”

It’s a certain fact that people HATE spoilers. Have you ever just seen a fantastic movie and you want to share it with a friend, so you only tell them the beginning? And then they say, “So what happens at the end?” and you have to first confirm beyond a shadow of a doubt that they will NEVER see it themselves, because you don’t want to be the one who spoils it for them? Have you ever accidentally given away the end of a book, and had people look at you like you just kicked a puppy? There are people who deliberately give away the endings of movies just to be a dick, and they’re hated more than racists. And probably get punched in the face more. In fact, I think the only way Donald Trump’s supporters would turn against him is if he finished every press conference with “And by the way, the head in the box was Brad Pitt’s wife. Such a great movie.” So the people who decided to call the series “Mary Kills People” are not very astute, in my books. Unless…maybe the series isn’t really about a female doctor who kills people. Maybe it’s just a ploy to get SOME people to watch because there’s nothing better on, and then those people will be all like, “OMG, it was SO good! I can’t tell you what happens, but it’s not what you expect…Oh god, I wish I could tell you! Are you sure you’re never going to watch it?!” And maybe the body in the lake in Cardinal was put there by a female doctor named Mary. Don’t tell me. Don’t spoil it.

My Week 121: I Want My Dang Cookies, Titus And The Golden Shower

Friday: I don’t get cookies

On Friday, we decided to pop down to Loblaw’s to pick up some snacks. By “we”, I mean my two work partners, L and M, who are always game for a trip to this magical, wonderful place. The big-ass Loblaw’s is remarkable for a variety of reasons. First, it has a Nutella Cafe. An actual coffee bar, where you can buy pastries made with Nutella, and only Nutella, and where it takes three servers 10 minutes to make you a latte. Now, if you don’t know what Nutella is, it’s kind of like peanut butter except that it’s made with hazelnuts and chocolate. So, more like cake icing really. The big joke a few years ago was that the Nutella company was trying to promote its spread as being the perfect breakfast food for children. Just smear it on some white bread, and you’ll be good all day. While Nutella may taste good to some people (not me—I think it’s kind of gross), the problem is that the main ingredients are as follows, in the order they appear on the label: Sugar, palm oil, hazelnuts, cocoa powder. So, not actually very nutritious or healthy. Peanut butter is shaking its head, like, “You should have just stayed a fun food like me. At least I never pretended to be all vitamin-y and sh*t.” The best part is how Nutella tries to hide the fact that it’s junk food. If you go to their website and click on “Inside the Jar”, you end up in a circular search which leads you from “Inside the Jar” to “Our Ingredients” back to “Inside the Jar. Nowhere can you see an actual list of what the hell is ACTUALLY inside the jar. On the “Ingredients” page, all you get is a PICTURE of the jar with the accompanying text, “We choose only the freshest raw material, carefully selected according to a sustainable sourcing and a great attention to their quality.” Many years ago, Monty Python did a sketch called “Crunchy Frog” about an investigation into the Wizzo Chocolate Company, whose boxes of chocolates contained some disgusting ingredients, including, obviously, frogs. When questioned by the police, the owner says this: “We use only the finest baby frogs, dew-picked and cleansed in the highest quality spring water…we use no artificial additives or preservatives of any kind.”

(Cop: Don’t you even take the bones out?
Owner: If we took the bones out, it wouldn’t be crunchy, would it?!)

So, what are you hiding, Nutella?! If you’re really made with nuts, you SHOULD be crunchy.

Anyway, this post is not about Nutella (even though it seems like it just was). No, this post is about how I’m mad at Loblaw’s, even though it’s got a huge Joe Fresh, a liquor store, live music, a Medical Clinic, and at Christmas-time, the middle of the store becomes a giant gingerbread house. It also has the only self-serve checkouts that don’t make you “call the attendant” every time you use them. But on Friday, I needed to get some cash back so I could buy wine on the train (it’s a LEGITIMATE REASON, thank you), and I had to go to an actual human cashier. I should mention here that the other great thing about Loblaw’s is that you can get a points card, and rack up enough points to regularly take $20 off your groceries. I always have my card ready, because I will actually buy things I don’t really need just for the points. So, there I was in the Express Checkout line, all happy because it was Friday, I was getting the little half-cans of Pepsi that I love, and I was getting me some points. The cashier was super-slow and seemed kind of out of it, though, and it took 10 minutes to get through three people with less than 16 items each. Finally, I got my groceries checked through, and let me just remind you that I had my points card in my hand. There’s a sign above every cashier that reads, “If I don’t ask you for your PC Points card, you get a free bag of PC Chocolate Chip cookies.” Everyone knows this. It’s a long-standing and honourable tradition, and 99.9% of the time, the cashier asks. But on Friday, the woman slowly turned to me and said, “That’ll be $10.77.”

Me: Do you want my points card?
Cashier: Oh. Can I have your points card?
Me (excited): Do I get a bag of cookies?!
Cashier: I asked you for the card before you gave it to me.
Me: Uh…no you didn’t.
Cashier: *blank star*
Me: Really?

Well, I needed to get back to work, and a bag of cookies wasn’t worth causing a fuss over (even if they WERE chocolate chip), so we left. I told L and M about what happened:

Me: I’m so pissed. That woman looked me in the face and outright denied something that we both knew was true!
L: So you’re mad about not getting the cookies that you couldn’t eat anyway?
Me: It’s the principle, not the gluten. Besides, I could have taken them home for Ken. Or shared them at the office.
M: You should write a strongly-worded email.
Me: Meh. I’ll just blog about it.

I DID tweet to Loblaw’s, and their response was that they would share my experience with the store manager, and “sorry for the inconvenience.” I should have tweeted like Donald Trump though: INTELLIGENCE INSIDERS NOW CLAIM THE LOBLAW’S COOKIE PROMISE IS A ‘COMPLETE FRAUD’. SAD! Oh well, at least no one peed on me. And in the heart of the big city, just as it is in Trump Tower, that’s not always a given.

Saturday: Titus gets the third degree

Me: Hey! Who’s a good boy? Who’s a silly fella? Where’s your hippo?
Titus: Whoa! Slow down there, lady!
Me: Why? What’s wrong?
Titus: What’s with all the questions? Is this some kind of interrogation?
Me: No, I—
Titus: Why are you so interested? Do you think I’m hiding something?
Me: ARE you hiding something? The puppy doth protest too much, methinks.
Titus: What could I possibly be hiding?
Me: Gosh, I don’t know. Maybe something like the New Year’s Day Incident perhaps?
Titus: Ken should never have hidden all those little chocolate bars inside his new socks. I’m only canine, you know.
Me: They were nice socks!
Titus: And tasty, too. Anyhow, let’s deal with your questions one at a time.
Me: OK. Are you a good boy?
Titus: I try to be. It’s not my fault if you leave food lying right out in the open, inside hosiery or on top of the stove.
Me: “A” for effort, then. Are you a silly boy?
Titus: Hells, yeah. Wait, you said “sexy”, right?
Me: I rest my case. Finally, where’s Hippo?
Titus: I’m afraid I can’t discuss that with you. It’s part of an ongoing dossier that may or may not be unsubstantiated.
Me: Did you PEE on him?!
Titus: It was an accident. It wasn’t like he paid me to do it. Who in their right mind would do something like THAT?!

hippo

 

My Week 120: Search for a Roommate, The Liquor Store, T and I Discuss Religion

Tuesday: The search for a roommate ends

A little while ago, I found myself in an unusual position. No, this is not a weird sex story, so get your mind out of the gutter. What I mean by that is, “in a situation that I have NEVER dealt with before”. I needed to find a roommate. And before you jump to any more hasty conclusions, Ken and I are just fine. However, in case you’ve forgotten, I work for a secret agency in the heart of the big city during the week, and come home to Ken’s loving, and sometimes sarcastic, arms on the weekend. It was a great arrangement—I have a condo in the city and a house in a lovely small town where the Jehovah’s Witnesses can easily find me. Everything was fine, until just recently, when I accepted a permanent position with the agency, which means they will no longer cover the cost of my urban housing. And that’s OK—I’m thrilled with the whole thing, considering that I work with wonderful people and my position is very stimulating (In an INTELLECTUAL way! God, what is wrong with you people?!) And the best part is that I never have to go back to work with the small but horrifyingly toxic group of people that I used to have to spend most of my day with.

Bob: You’re so mean. We don’t like you.
Marcia: Yeah. You think you’re so great with your “professionalism” and sh*t.
Me: Um…aren’t we all adults here?
Bob: What’s your point? Oh, and if you don’t add me on Facebook, I’m filing a grievance against you with the union.
Me: Sigh. I can’t even.

So it’s a win-win situation, except for the fact that living in the heart of the big city is excruciatingly expensive. I looked into moving into a cheaper condo, but anything cheaper was further away, and the cost of the subway every day offset any savings I might have seen, because right now I live literally across the street from my office. It’s the best commute I’ve ever had in my life. Plus, I really like SkyLab. Being 300 feet above sea level helps put things into perspective. Or not. The other day, for example, I was looking down at the street, and I saw someone walking the weirdest looking dog. Then suddenly, it flew away, and I realized it was a pigeon. Anyway, I decided that the best thing to do would be to get a roommate for my second bedroom. I never use it anyway, and a roommate could help with the rent. That way I could stay where I was. But how do you find a roommate? Was there a magicky noticeboard in the heart of the city where trustworthy people could be found? Well, just like “The Club”, it was elusive. Then I was messaging with a friend who said, “You can advertise on the university Facebook pages—people are always looking for rentals there.”

Great idea, right? So I went to one of these pages, and right away, I saw a girl who was looking to rent a room. I immediately messaged her on Facebook and she sounded super-excited. She said she’d come at 1 pm that Thursday to see the place. Wednesday night, I cleaned the condo from top to bottom because I wanted to make a good impression. I made arrangements to take a late lunch, and I popped over to my lobby around 12:45 to wait for her. At 12:50, she messaged me to say she wasn’t coming. WTF? I had CLEANED!! What was wrong with kids today? After fuming for a bit, though, I suddenly realized that maybe it was my fault. First, some of you may remember me railing on about how I was fiddling with my name on Facebook a while ago, hit the wrong button, and the next thing I knew, my Facebook name was Mydangbog. No, that’s not a typo. At least not here. Yes, I had spelled my own blog name incorrectly, and according to Facebook rules, I couldn’t change it back to my own real human name for 60 days. Well, it was embarrassing at the time, but my friends got used to it, and I didn’t give it much thought after a while. Second, for a laugh, I had changed my profile picture to a shot of me when I was 17 years old, and going through what the kids today might call my “Goth phase”. Third, right after the young lady had initially messaged me, I changed my profile picture to a photograph of the garden house that Ken built me years ago. It’s a barnboard structure, out in the middle of our lawn. So, OK, here’s the deal: You’re 18 years old, and you’re contacted by someone with an incomprehensible name who looks like a vampire. After your initial message, the person changes their profile picture to an isolated barn in the middle of nowhere. If that doesn’t scream “potential serial killer”, I don’t know what else does. The only way I could have made things worse is if I’d started sending her random GIFs of Charles Manson laughing. (I just googled this, and there’s actually a website called serialkillergifs.tumblr.com—Imma save that for future reference). So I forgave her. After that fiasco, I was finally able to change my name back, replaced the barn with a picture of me wearing a tiara (because nothing says “normal” like a middle-aged woman wearing a crown) and got permission to post my own ad on the university’s Facebook site. I got several responses right away, and ending up meeting a very nice student doing a co-op term until the end of April. So if it doesn’t work out, it’s not forever. Well, as long as she never looks in the freezer.

Friday: The liquor store

On Friday, I went to the liquor store. This is the opening line of all my favourite stories. Anyway, I went with T, who’s 18 and a half. But the liquor store has instituted this ridiculous rule that unless you’re 19+, you’re “not allowed to handle alcoholic products while in the LCBO”. LCBO is the name for the only place in Ontario where you’re allowed to buy alcohol (except for The Beer Store, which is the provincially-licenced…well, beer store). T looks like he’s at least 19, but I’m a rule-follower, so there was me trying to juggle a 12-pack of Smirnoff Ice coolers and a bottle of wine, while he wandered after me saying, “Just give me the case of Smirnoff—no one’s going to know.”

Me: It’s a stupid rule. I’m complaining.
T: Oh god—you promised you would stop harassing random store clerks with your “complaints”.
Me: I’m not harassing anyone. I’m just pointing out how stupid it is. (To cashier) This is a stupid policy. These things are heavy and I’ve had to lug them around the store and HE’S not allowed to help me.
Cashier: There are buggies when you come in. And baskets.
Me: Putting all this in a basket doesn’t make it any lighter.
T: God no, please stop.
Cashier (sighing): Do you have air miles?
Me: Don’t even get me started on air miles. So, let me just clarify. If I put this in the basket, is he allowed to TOUCH THE HANDLE in order to carry it out to the car, or is that still considered “handling alcoholic products”?
Cashier (exasperated): You’ve paid for the products. They belong to you. He can touch them now….
Me: But we’re still technically in the store—
T: OMG, just stop. She can’t do anything about the policy. She’s just a cashier.
Me: What? I’m simply pointing out how ridiculous this is. I was POLITE. I didn’t swear at anyone.
T: THIS time.

It’s a stupid rule. I stand by that. Good job I didn’t tell her the coolers were for T.

Here’s a sign with even weirder rules. Guess where it comes from:

weird-sign-smaller

 

Sunday: T and I discuss religion

Earlier this morning, I was driving T back to uni. He was scrolling through his phone and said, “Hey—there’s this really funny thread about which religion is the weirdest. Someone just posted, “the one where there’s an invisible man in the sky who’s really interested in what two people do in bed.”

Me: Haha. Scientology is weirder though.
T: What’s Scientology again?
Me: The one where they believe that everyone on Earth descended from aliens that landed on Easter Island in metal tubes. One day, the Supreme Lord Naboo will return from the Underverse to reclaim them.
T: I think you’re mixing in a bit of Star Wars and Chronicles of Riddick there.
Me: Scientologists, Necromongers, whatever. Anyway, Scientologists are kind of like Mormons, but without the orgies.
T: Orgies?!
Me: Isn’t that the point of polygamy? Orgies were the reason a lot of religions got invented. Seriously—watch Sister Wives. I could never be a Scientologist though—I couldn’t follow a religion that didn’t believe in modern medicine.
T: I think you’re talking about the Christian Scientists.
Me: Aren’t they the same thing? I always get confused by the “science-y” part of their names. Although none of them are really scientists when you think about it. Science Fictionists, maybe.
T: People have always believed in some crazy sh*t. Look at Greek mythology.
Me: I know, right? Let’s talk about Uranus.
Both: Mwahahahahaha!

Yep. I raised him right.

My Week 119: Donut Store Memories, A Story Inspired by Eric McCormack

Thursday: Donut Store memories

coffee-with-cream-300x200

When I was in my first year of university, I worked in a donut store to pay for the next year’s tuition. It wasn’t the worst job in the world but the hours were long, and people tended to treat you as if you were inconsequential, or a target for their own frustrations, you know, like “I had a sh*tty day, so I’m going to yell at this poor donut girl for not giving me enough honeyglazed donut holes”. Still, the other girls were fun to work with, the donut maker was this sweet old German guy named Wolfy who would pretend to break a donut and then give it to you as a treat (well, he thought they were treats—we were all thoroughly sick to death of donuts), and the owner treated us really well. It was over thirty years ago but to this day, I still remember two specific customers for two very different reasons. The first was Norm, a guy in his 40s, with bright red hair and a red mustache. He drove a giant-ass Cadillac, and when we saw it pulling into the parking lot, we were all like, “Oh God, Norm’s here.” Then it was bargaining to see who would have to serve him. He would sit at the counter for hours, with his “tea”, a beverage which had to be made to very strict specifications—a quarter cup of hot water, three quarters milk, then drop the teabag in and take it out right away. It was never perfect, and he would instruct us over and over again, until finally the owner told us to just give him the milk and the pot of hot water and let him do it himself, and if he complained, (which he frequently did) she would deal with him. Norm was on disability and took a lot of narcotic pain meds for a back injury, and in retrospect, I think we were the only friends he had, since he spent the majority of each night with us.

(Addendum: Ken started reading this post and said, “Wait a minute! You only had TWO memorable customers?! Excuse me?” So I have to point out that Ken and his roommate used to come to the donut store once a week around closing time to buy the day-old donuts that we sold for $1 per dozen. This was long before we actually started dating, but yes, honey, you were very memorable.)

The second customer was Eric McCormack, the Canadian writer (not the “Will and Grace” actor of the same name), although I didn’t realize who he was until he’d been coming around for a while. He was quite well-known at the time—well, still is, having been nominated for the Governor-General’s Award, and is still publishing in his late 70s. At any rate, when I worked at the donut store, I didn’t know who he was, except that he was a really nice, silver-haired Scottish guy, who always ordered a large coffee “dooble dooble”, which is to say double cream and double sugar but with a Scottish accent. He did this regularly, and seemed like the kind of guy you’d want to know better. When I DID find out that he was the author of one of my favourite short story collections, “Inspecting The Vaults”, I was overcome in the way that only English Literature students can be. He was teaching at the local university so I got to know him a little bit from conversations at the donut store, and once, a few years later, I bumped into him at the grocery store and asked for his autograph, which he gave me with a bemused smile. Then a few years later, I was helping run a writing competition for students in my school board, and we needed a new fiction judge. I contacted him at the university, and reminded him that I was the donut store waitress slash grocery store stalker, and despite that, he graciously agreed to be a judge for the contest, a role he continued even when he moved to Kingston. Why am I telling you this? Because a couple of weeks ago, I had this bizarre dream where Eric and I were writing a story together. I don’t know why—I literally hadn’t thought of him in years, but there he was in my dream. We were brainstorming the plot of the story and came up with what we thought was a terrific first line. Then, randomly, we had to go into another room to finish the story, at which point in the dream I exclaimed, “I know how it ends!” I won’t tell you that right now, because I just wrote the story that I dreamed about, using the first line and the end, and filling in the gaps. So I guess Eric McCormack is my muse? Well, here’s to you, Eric—thanks for being in my subconscious with me:

 

Double Double

She’d always liked a man in a cowboy hat, she thought, trying not to stare at the man who had just now come into the diner. She couldn’t have helped but look up initially; the place was almost deserted, and the bell over the door had chimed in a jarring way when it opened, as if signalling something ominous. The restaurant itself was one of those side-of-the-highway service centre places, places for people on their way somewhere—or nowhere.

Cowboy hats reminded her of her father, and she could never see someone wearing one without immediately thinking of him, his blue eyes crinkled with laughter, beer in hand, making a clever joke and not yet slurring his words. He always wore one when he went out, incongruous as it was with his upbringing, background, and career. He wasn’t a cowboy, wasn’t even a farmer; he was a bricklayer, among other things, things which he took on when brick work was scarce. Or when he’d lost yet another job. Still, he always managed to pick something up—his nickname was Cowboy Jack, and people always gave him a break because he was good with his hands when his hands were being good.

The man wearing the cowboy hat sat down at the counter, nursing a large coffee handed to him by a waitress in her late teens or early twenties. The girl looked a bit sour as she’d filled his cup with double cream and sugar—no wonder, working in a place like this at this time of night. Her hair and makeup seemed out of place with the brown and beige polyester uniform she was wearing, and there was a novel and an open binder at the end of the counter where it looked like she was trying to get some work done. University student earning tuition, no doubt. The waitress was on her way back to her homework when the man said something to her. She looked around and her face broke into a big smile. She said something as a rejoinder, quick and witty, with a nod of her chin, and they both laughed, his shoulders shaking with mirth.

Her father. She sighed. It had been a while, through the never-ending cycle of “I love you” to “I hate you” back to “I love you” and then finally to “I love you, but…” He’d been a great dad in so many ways, except for the staying sober part, and as the years went on, that part got smaller and smaller until it was a thin slice sandwiched between bouts of drinking and fury that never seemed to end. The letters came once in a while—“I’ve been going to meetings. Can I see you?” but there was work, and Luke and the kids, the grandkids he’d only seen a couple of times. The guilt had eaten away at her, but she’d lost the ability to trust his good intentions years ago. Then the last letter came, a few days ago. It was funny, it struck her, how time seems to linger, circles around you, whispers in your ear that there’s no rush, until suddenly there’s no time left.

The man at the counter swivelled on his stool, then got up and walked towards her table. He was thin, thinner than she remembered, but his eyes were the same under the cowboy hat, blue and crinkled at the corners. He stood in front of her, hesitant, holding tight to his coffee. She looked up at him and smiled.

“Hey, Dad. Merry Christmas.”

 

My Week 118: Any Way The Wind Blows, Christmas Fun

Thursday: Who Has Seen the Wind?

Sorry this post is a bit later than usual—with Christmas falling on the weekend, I was too busy unwrapping presents to do any real writing. Yes, yes I know that the point of Christmas is something other than material possessions, but still, Jesus got stuff so why shouldn’t I? And if you remember correctly, my love of pretty things in tiny (or large) boxes is the main reason the Jehovahs will never have my soul, so I think of it more as an act of self-defence. Also, I like GIVING people things as much as I like getting them, so I’m levelling out the karma in a very satisfying way. As usual, I’ve made my share of holiday gaffes, and here are the top three:

1) I kept forgetting what day it was last week, and on Thursday, my two work partners showed up with gifts because one of them wasn’t going to be at work on Friday. Me? I was empty-handed, having planned to do some shopping that night, so I offered to buy them lunch. Because, you know, nothing says “I bring you the joy of the Christmas season” like a burrito. Well, maybe it does if you’re in Mexico…

2) We had a lovely dinner with Ken’s family on Christmas day. Our sister-in-law AND her daughter are both in nursing school at the same time, and they were telling us about their practical exam, where actors are hired to be emergency room patients and they have to assess them under a time limit. We were like, “They pay someone to act like a patient? That would be an awesome job!”

Ken’s Mom: Ken could do that. You’d be good at that, Ken.
Me: Yes! And he could give them hints if they weren’t sure, like “Psst! Don’t forget to check my prostate.”

Silence.

Sister-in-law: Yeah, that’s not really part of it…
Niece: Um, NO.
Ken: Absolutely not.

Of course, everyone laughed hysterically after a minute, but I had definitely demonstrated a complete lack of understanding about what kind of medicine either of them did.

3) On Boxing Day, everyone came to our house because my mom was sick (she’s better now, thanks). I was responsible for a variety of things, including making a cauliflower casserole, which I love, and to which I usually add bacon in a very heavy-handed way. But my aunt was coming and she doesn’t eat pork or beef, so I had to make it without the bacon, because I don’t think it’s nice to invite someone to your house for dinner and be like, “Of course, there’s nothing here for you to eat.” Unfortunately, the weather was a bit iffy, and she left before dinner because it was dark, foggy, and she was worried about the roads (if you’re Canadian, you will totally get that—we never go ANYWHERE without checking both the weather and road reports for the time we’re leaving AND the time we’re coming home). Anyway, that was all fine, until I took dinner out of the oven, and was like, “Dang! I could have put as much bacon in this as I wanted!” Then I was sad, you know, that kind of sadness you get when you’re in a buffet line and they run out of bacon RIGHT before you get there. The only thing that seemed to help was the thought of wearing a tiara to compensate for the lack of bacon. Luckily, like most people, I HAVE a tiara. So now, in all the pictures from last night, I’m wearing a cardigan, jeans, and a beautiful, glittery tiara. And drinking a glass of wine. Obviously.

Anyway, the celebrations were all lovely, and we got to spend some time with T’s girlfriend, the adorable V. But that’s not what I’m supposed to be writing about, according to the title of this post. What I’m really writing about is Wind Turbines. What the hell is wrong with people and their anger over wind turbines? So, here’s the context: On Thursday, someone posted a meme on Facebook of Santa and his reindeer all tangled up in a wind turbine. It was cute and kind of funny, so I posted this comment: “At least he didn’t get sucked into a coal-fired chimney.” Then I scrolled down and looked at some of the other comments and immediately deleted mine because this meme was originally posted by some fanatical anti-Wind group with sublinks like “Anguish” and “The Truth from Europe” and “How Can I Fight?” and I didn’t want to be attacked by them. (Ken just said, “You deleted your comment? You let the internet win!” No, Ken–I just wrote a whole blog about it, so WINNING.) Now, you might be thinking, what the hell does mydangblog know about wind turbines? Well, quite a bit, actually, because Ken and I had a cottage in the heart of Ontario turbine country. I never noticed them, even though apparently they make SO much noise that people have nervous breakdowns just by being a kilometre away from them. We were a lot closer but I guess we’re just deaf (plus, I have to sleep with a white noise machine anyway, so maybe I just found them soothing). The best comment though was “So many eagles and other birds have been innocent victims of these implements of destruction, it’s not surprising that Santa was killed too.” Implements of destruction? So windmills are like nuclear warheads? I didn’t realize that. But if your biggest argument against a wind turbine is that sometimes birds fly into them and are killed, then you better stop driving your f*cking car immediately, because in the world of land mammals, automobiles are the NUMBER ONE IMPLEMENT OF DESTRUCTION. Seriously, I would rather live in proximity to a wind turbine over a coal-fired factory or a nuclear plant any day of the week. People say windmills are noisy, and I realize that makes them so much worse than a nuclear explosion because when a nuclear bomb goes off, you’re dead too quickly to hear it. So let’s see—a renewable source of energy that has virtually no carbon footprint, but makes a little noise, versus black gooey sh*t that has managed to raise the temperature of the planet by several degrees, comes from dead prehistoric animals, and regularly pollutes our land and water with said same black gooey sh*t that has also managed to raise stock prices on Dawn dish detergent. But you know, the jury’s still out on the adverse health effects of being near a windmill, even though the Dutch did it for centuries and are world leaders in renewable energy production. Then again, they grow a lot of tulips, so… (Seriously, that’s the kind of argument I’m seeing on these webpages, like “The Dutch? What do they know? They’re stupid and they grow tulips.) OMFG, I can’t even.

I don’t know about where you live, but where I’m from, wind turbines and transformer substations are subject to some pretty strict guidelines, and in general, must be more than at least half a kilometre away from residential dwellings, and even further away in other jurisdictions. But people will always complain about something—if it’s not a pipeline breaking and leaching poisonous oil into our water table, destroying wildlife and polluting the environment, or radioactive waste from a nuclear power plant causing decades of genetic mutation, then it’s them damn humming windmills, throwing their terrifying shadows on the ground.

People need to grow up and stop being so entitled, ie: “Muh, I like my car! I deserve to use as much dinosaur blood as I want, until it all runs out, and then who gives a sh*t because I’ll be dead anyway. Probably from lung cancer thanks to all the smog. But at least smog is QUIET!!”

Sigh. Merry Christmas.

windmills

 

My Week 116: Holland America’s Eurodam, Mishima is Pissed, I’ve Got A Little List

Cruising on Holland America’s Eurodam

Well, if you looked up “weary traveller” in the dictionary, you would see my sunburned face and crazy hair, after the night I just spent trying to get home from the cruise I was on with my parents and my aunt, thanks to Delta Airlines, who have to be one of the most incompetent and weird airlines I’ve ever flown on. After a comedy of errors involving plane delays, transfers, flights into cities across America trying to get back to Canada during a snowstorm, lost luggage, closed border bridges, and freezing rain, I finally made it back home to the loving arms of my family (most of them), only to be greeted with this:

Mishima: You’re back. What the f*ck was THAT?
Me: Sigh. You’re mad about last week’s blog. I TOLD Ken to include you. This is NOT my fault.
Mishima: I am the linchpin that keeps this motley platoon together, and no one wants to get MY perspective on anything?! This is as bad as the day I said we should “go over the top” but nobody listened, and we were stuck in a trench for 3 weeks.
Me: Um…that’s not ringing any bells.
Mishima: Lest we forget, baby—lest we forget.
Me: You’ve completely lost me, which is not surprising. Anyway, I’m sorry about the blog, but it wasn’t my fault. I brought you back this cool seashell for your tank though.
Mishima: Is there a tiny mermaid trapped within it, and when I rub the shell, she’ll grant me three wishes?
Me: No. It’s just a seashell.
Mishima: You disappoint me once again, woman. And I’ll bet you can guess what the first wish would have been.
Me: So many options…

But aside from Mishima’s disgruntlement, I was glad to be home. Not that the cruise wasn’t great, because it was. In fact, here are the reasons why I would highly recommend Holland America:

The staff: If you’ve ever felt Downton Abbey-ish, and wished for the more simple days when people treated you like royalty for absolutely no reason, you’ve come to the right place. I was called “Milady”. Every f*cking day. Like, “Would Milady like more wine?” Um, yes. Obviously (and by the third day they stopped asking and just poured it). The general staff on this boat were not only adorable, but they were the nicest people on the planet. The majority of them came from either the Philippines or Indonesia, and I don’t know whether they actually liked us or not, but they always acted like they did. I’ve never seen a more cheerful group of people—they had great senses of humour, did whatever they could to help you if you needed it (like how many times did I have to ask Agus, my cabin steward to let me in the room because my keycard had gotten de-magnetized again?), and had the uncanny ability to immediately remember ALL our names after meeting us only once. A huge shout-out to the crew of the Eurodam (and especially our wine steward, Lester)—you guys were awesome and made us feel like we were all in this together.

Here’s an exchange between my mom and our dinner steward, Tomo:

Mom: Could I have the fried chicken, corn, and salad, but without the fried chicken?
Tomo (confused): Milady? You don’t want the fried chicken that comes with the fried chicken?
Mom: No, I’m not that hungry. Oh, and I’d like Jello for dessert.
Tomo: Well, only if you eat your corn and salad…

The next night:

Mom: I’d like the rainbow trout, carrots, and mashed potatoes, please.
Tomo (deadpan): Without the trout. Yes, Milady.
Mom (laughing): No, I’d like the trout.
Tomo: Of course. If you eat it all, I’ll bring you Jello again. (winks).

Seriously—these guys were AWESOME.

The food: The food was bountiful and delicious. Almost TOO bountiful. A word to the wise—just because it’s an “All You Can Eat” buffet, doesn’t mean you should eat ALL of it. After the first day, I realized I needed to pace myself, because they literally give you food all day, and there are only so many times you can walk the deck in an attempt to burn it all off. Me, I’m not too consumed with food, so I was able to have my cereal and yogurt for breakfast, a salad or something small for lunch, then have a good dinner. But there were people, a LOT of them, who you’d think hadn’t eaten for a week the way they were shovelling down the crab legs and prime rib—at breakfast, no less! I guess for some folks it’s as much a food-cation as a vacation.

The passengers: As it is in any situation, you will always meet really nice people that you might normally never have much to do with. Personally, my favourite was Jan, a hulking 77-year-old retired aviation instructor who asked to join our trivia team the first day (trivia is the driving force behind everything that happens on the ship—people literally plan their entire days around when the Trivia Challenge is taking place. The prizes are crap—a cruiseline pin, or a mug, but these people are hardcore, all guts and glory). Jan proved to be invaluable on occasion, knowing the colour that the majority of original Corvettes were (white), or the name of the Wright Brother’s first plane (I said “Kittyhawk”, but he reminded me that was where they took off from, not the name of the plane, which was the Wright Flyer). Our whole team won three times and came in second or third on most other occasions so we were like minor celebrities in the world of cruiseship trivia. On the last night, we won and got free drinks, so it made the struggle to remember how many teeth a shark loses in a year worthwhile.

The room: The room was fantastic, with a great balcony. But the best part was that every night, we’d come back after the room had been turned down, and someone had put a towel animal on the bed. One night it was an elephant, another night a crab—you never knew what you might find. The last night, I walked in, and a towel monkey was hanging from a coat hanger attached to the ceiling vent. I laughed my ass off—I may or may not have been drinking pina coladas during Happy Hour—but it’s the kind of thing that just adds a little bit more to the experience.

monkey

Overall, it was a great trip—we did some amazing shore excursions (seriously, can I LIVE in Key West?), my dad and I went snorkelling together (his first time and my second), I got to pet a stingray, and visited a rum factory. Of course, it wasn’t all fantastic—being aboard a floating hotel with 2500 other people can be a bit of a challenge, and there was a serious lack of on-board entertainment (if you don’t count eavesdropping on people debating over whether or not Donald Trump is great, or will ruin the United States—we stayed out of that sh*t because who wants to ruin a good holiday with politics? Am I right?). So I wrote this little ditty for you, based on Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado, and the song “As Some Day It May Happen (I’ve Got A Little List). Here’s a link so that you can listen to it first (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1NLV24qTnlg).

The song is updated with each production of The Mikado so that it’s contemporary and relevant. And now, you can apply my own lyrics, based on Holland America’s Eurodam and the people who are on MY list:

As some day it might happen that a victim must be found
I’ve got a little list. I’ve got a little list
Of society offenders who might well be underground
And never would be missed
No, never would be missed.

There’s the couple from the lower deck whose stateroom “smells like mould”,
The people who can barely walk because they’re so damned old,
The 30-something single gal who’s travelling on her own
Who talks and TALKS to anyone but “prefers to be alone”
The buffet line enthusiasts who simply can’t resist—
I’ve got them on my list and they never will be missed.

There’s the gentleman from HBO who’s “smartest on his team”,
Whose wife just lets him brag away but always looks quite steamed,
The ladies playing dominoes whose faces seem so grim,
The people hogging hot tubs but who never want to swim,
The man who calls you “Honey”—f*cking misogynist–
I’ve got HIM on my list and he never would be missed.

There’s the smarmy cruise director who won’t pay you any mind,
Until it’s time to fill the survey card in, THEN he’s kind,
The folks on shore excursions who forget their boarding cards
Despite repeated warnings—hey, is listening THAT hard?
The husband-wife piano team who simply won’t desist–
I’m got them on my list, and they never would be missed!

Well, that’s all. I still have my sea legs, and it feels like the whole room is swaying as I’m writing. Or it could be the pina coladas…

My Week 115: I’m away so my husband covers for me

If my wife is away, then the rest of us have a say:

We interrupt this regularly scheduled blog to bring you a special interview with some of the folks often mentioned on a weekly basis. We have here today Ken, T, Titus, and Raven.

Raven: “Mentioned?” You mean “victimized”.
Interviewer: You think you’re victims?
Raven: Well, I am. I’m never portrayed as the hero.
Titus: Did you say sandwich?
T: Nobody said sandwich.
Titus: Isn’t there a hero sandwich? I was promised food if I did this interview.

Interviewer: Well, let’s just slow things down a bit and ask a few orderly questions. Raven says she doesn’t like the way she is portrayed. How do the rest of you feel?
T: I wish I had a name. I’m all for protecting my identity, but I AM 18.
Ken: Do you want your name given when she reminisces about when you were a baby. Like the time I had to change your diaper three times in one 20-minute drive. Man, you just wouldn’t stop shitting.
Titus: He said it. He said the S-word. Where’s the treats?
Raven: They’re in my litter box, dummy.
Interviewer: No one’s eating out of the litterbox during this interview.
Titus: Rats.

Interviewer: How about you Ken? How do you like being mentioned?
Ken: It’s okay, I guess. It HAS caused me to preface our intimate conversations with, “This is off the record.” Otherwise, it ends up in the blog.
Titus: You can do that? Next time I mention a dick joke, I’m going to say that.
Ken: Some things are true. Like every time she hears a noise, I have to investigate. The other night she heard some noise when we were watching TV in the evening. She wanted me to go downstairs and investigate. I told her that if you mute the TV and listen carefully, you’ll discover a logical explanation.
Interviewer: What was the noise?
Ken: It was the doors on a car parked on the street being slammed as people got out and went into the church. I told her and besides Titus wasn’t alarmed. If there was an intruder, he would be running downstairs.
Titus: There was a noise?
Raven: You big idiot.

Interviewer: Titus, how do you like being in the blog?
Titus: I’m with T. I wish she would use my proper name.
Interviewer: What is that?
Titus: ‘Titus the Wonder Dog, Saviour of the Universe, Jedi Knight, Lord of the Yard, King of Drumbo, Protector of those I love, and Master of the Kitchen and all the food in it.’
Raven: Shortened to ‘Idiot.’
Interviewer: That’s quite a title. Can you repeat it?
Titus: No, I forgot what I said. Just call me Titus.

Interviewer: We all know that the blog writer lives in Toronto during the week and works for The Agency. What does each of you do?
T: I’m at university.
Ken: He’s discovering that life is more challenging when Mom and Dad aren’t around to make meals, grocery shop, do laundry, clean the kitchen, and keep things tidy.
T: No. Well, okay yes. You guys should come by more often and do the dishes.
Ken: I’ll send Titus.
Titus: Yeah, I’ll do your dishes. Are there leftover crusts?

Interviewer: What about you Raven?
Raven: I have a tightly regimented schedule. I wake up in the morning after sleeping beside Ken for warmth and I go downstairs and yell until he feeds me. I hate when he goes to work and my bowl’s empty. Then I sleep in T’s room for the morning because it faces south and I get the warmth of the sun. Then, in the afternoon, I move to the living room and sleep on the west-facing leather chair to soak up the sun. Once Ken gets home and turns on the fireplace I sleep in front of it until it’s time to go to bed.
Ken: Seriously, that’s all she does. She’s supposed to watch the place for mice and keep them out.
Raven: Have you seen any mice?
Ken: No.
Raven: Job done.

Interviewer: And you Ken?
Ken: I keep busy. I make lists and try and do little things around the house as well as work. In the evening I like to edit photos and read.
Titus: And he cooks.
Interviewer: Is he a good cook?
Titus: I don’t know about that, but he’s a sloppy cook. I eat everything he spills. He drops a lot of cheese when he grates cheese.
Ken: I spend my kitchen time guarding the food against the food thief.
Interviewer: Does Titus like to try to take your food?
Ken: Every single chance he gets.
Titus: Is this about the basil beef? I thought you were done.
Ken: Done. It was still sitting in the wok. We hadn’t even eaten yet.
Interviewer: What’s this about?
Ken: Last year, Suzanne made a wok full of basil beef and before we ate, we ran some up to the store where T was working. When we got back, we discovered Titus had eaten it all.
Titus: It was so good.

Interviewer: What about you Titus? What do you do?
Titus:  I guard things. Like the other day when Ken was at work I had to guard against these people who came to the door.
Ken: What did they want?
Titus: They were handing out pamphlets. I told them we don’t eat pamphlets.
Raven: If it was food, would you have let them in?
Titus: If they had good food….maybe.
Raven: How are you guarding anything if you can be bribed by food?
Titus: But they have food…
Raven: You just don’t get it.

Interviewer: Tell us about a good day for you, Titus.
Titus: One with no cats.
Raven: Piss off.
Titus: Burn. I just burned you in an interview. And I ate your food the other day when Ken forgot to close the door.
Raven: There’s a squirrel outside.
Titus: Squirrel!

Interviewer: Well, we just lost Titus. He took off running out of here.
Raven: And I just dropped the mic.

Interviewer: Maybe I should wrap up. Thanks for your thoughts.
T: Do we get cookies now? Titus said we get treats.

 

Now, here’s a short post from last year:

Elf on a Shelf Rant

Wednesday: I worry about the implications of the Elf on a Shelf

On Wednesday at work, we were talking about the upcoming holiday season, and a couple of people referenced the newest Christmas ‘tradition’—the Elf on a Shelf. This merry little fellow is a posable doll, dressed in a red and white elf costume, which can offer hours of fun for parents, and apparently hours of terror for children. Every morning, the child will get up and find the elf in a new position, having done something clever or naughty during the night. And during the day, there is the reminder that the elf is “watching over you” from somewhere in the house. This, from what I gathered, allows parents to apply leverage to their little ones ie: “You’d better behave—Marcel (or whatever name the parents give the tiny spy) is keeping an eye on you, and if you don’t stop poking your sister, he’ll tell Santa in his daily report!” While this may sound cute and festive on the surface, it has really insidious undertones. Isn’t it bad enough that “Santa” already knows when you’ve been “bad or good”, sees you when you’re sleeping, and knows when you’re awake? At least Santa is at the North Pole, and might be too busy to constantly monitor whether or not you snuck a green bean to the dog. But now, there’s a creeper in your own home, who stalks you every minute of the day and reports back to the Big Guy for even minor infractions like colouring outside the lines or drinking straight from the bottle or whatever. And there are hundreds of websites devoted to sharing things that people can do with their elves. I took a look at some of them and here are the more disturbing places that the Elf on a Shelf can be found. I’m not making this sh*t up—they’re all true:

1) In a Nativity Scene: These irreverent parents replaced the baby Jesus with their elf, named DJ. He towers over all the other figures like a jolly, stocking-capped god. The shepherds look terrified, and the Wise Men look pissed off, like “We came all this way for that?” Mary just looks confused.

2) Trussed up in a toilet paper roll, wrists tied together, and hanging from the shower curtain rod, having been gagged with what looks like his own collar. This might be the first clue that your parents don’t really like the Elf on a Shelf—or that they’re serial killers.

3) Lying in a drunken stupor on top of a picture frame, after having used black marker to draw devil horns and tails on a family portrait. What kind of behaviour are you trying to role model here? Satan worship or vandalism? And then you wonder why, ten years later, your teenager is playing records backwards and spray painting the neighbour’s fence with pentagrams.

4) Reading the Bible: Not that reading the Bible is disturbing, but it kind of sends a mixed message. Does God have elves or angels? Plus it adds another layer to the paranoia you’re creating in your child. Now the little tyke is being watched by the Elf, Santa, and GOD. I would just lock myself in my room and never come out.

5) In the hot tub, with three Barbie Dolls: He looks REALLY happy. Maybe because all the Barbies’ hands are under the marshmallow water. “Daddy, what are all those ladies doing to Buddy?” “Don’t worry, honey—they’re just jingling his sleigh bells.”

There also seem to be a lot of pictures of the elf defacing walls with crayon, gorging on maple syrup and candy, writing on mirrors, squeezing out toothpaste all over the counter, and writing messages in spilled hot chocolate powder, which makes me think that parents are having way more fun with the Elf than their kids are. Sure, sure, I know that kids get really excited about ANYTHING to do with Christmas, and probably get a kick out of the Elf to a certain extent, but it’s all just a little too Orwellian for me, like the Thought Police have invaded Christmastown. If we really want to draw an analogy to 1984, then Santa is Big Brother, the Elf on a shelf is O’Brien, your child is Winston Smith, and your house is the Ministry of Love (which sounds like a very nice place, but that’s where all the torture-y stuff happened, in case you never read the book). Do you really want your children to wake up Christmas morning chanting, “2+2=5”? Santa was always good enough for me, cuz I loved Big Brother. Also, my other worry is that we’re another step down the road to abandoning any actual meaning for ANY celebration, and eventually we’ll just blend Hallowe’en, Black Friday, and Christmas all together into a new festival called “Overconsumption”, where adults wearing elf costumes fight to the death in a two-month long tournament to win candy, toys, flat screen TVs and vegetable steamers for their kids. Overall though, I guess if you want to do the Elf on the Shelf thing with your kids, play up the fun, and tone down the fascism. And the sex. That’s my advice.

(As a side note, I would never have an Elf, but I DO have “Sock Monkey in the Wine Frig”. His only job is to make sure no one steals my wine.)