My Week 9 – Jehovah’s Witnesses, Weird Ideas, and Girl Lego

Sunday: I worry about becoming a Jehovah’s Witness by default.

So the other day, Ken and I were getting ready to visit his parents. I came downstairs, and he had the door open, talking to someone. Being nosy like I am, I went to the door to see who it was. A woman I’d never seen before said this to me: “Hi Suzanne! Ken was just telling me that you two are about to go on a trip today!” She seemed very personable—behind her was a pretty, blonde teenaged girl who smiled encouragingly. What the hell? Then I realized that Ken was holding a couple of pamphlets, and everything clicked alarmingly into place. See, a few years ago, the Jehovah’s Witnesses came by our house. I was never comfortable with the usual reaction that many people have to this circumstance, which is generally to tell them to piss off and shut the door in their faces, so I politely took a pamphlet, thanked them, and wished them a good day. In retrospect, I think option A might have been the better choice, because now they come by regularly, and they know me BY NAME. Let me just point out that the woman who came to our house this week was a complete stranger, yet she had the intel on us, like a religious Mata Hari. It occurred to me at this point that they quite possibly imagine me as a new recruit. “Her dog licked me this time,” they might report back. “It’s a good sign—tell Jehovah that she could be one of the 144,000, and let Bob know he probably just lost his spot in Jehovah heaven.”

But I don’t want to be a Jehovah’s Witness. That sounds really whiny and self-centred, since I’d be such a victory for them and all, but there are some serious drawbacks to joining them. First and foremost, I like Christmas, and I hear that you can’t celebrate Christmas or your birthday either if you’re JW. What kind of f-ed up religion is THAT? No Christmas or birthday presents? Presents are great—even Jesus got presents. Second, they don’t drink. Right away, I foresee a problem with this—I would almost immediately rebel, and it would become obvious really quickly. “Hey did you see that sign of the apocalypse?” “Uh, no sorry, I was opening another bottle of wine…” (Actually, I just looked this up and they ARE allowed to drink in ‘moderation’, but unless ‘moderation’ means ‘as much as I want’, it’s pretty much a deal-breaker.) And lastly, and maybe most importantly, I could never get Ken to buy into whatever the JWs believe in, so he’d have to leave me. And I say it like that because I have no plan to move, so he would have to get an apartment. But I’m a sucker for door to door salespeople, this is the problem. Once, Ken and I had some people over, and we were drinking ‘moderately’ when a guy came to the door selling golf packages to a local country club. Here’s the conversation:

Me: Ken, this is a great deal. I’m totally buying one of these.
Ken: But we don’t golf.
Me: Yes, we do. We’ve golfed.
Ken: We went golfing once. And you were more interested in driving the cart than hitting the ball.
Me: You’re crazy. I love golf.
Ken: *rolls eyes*

So I bought the golf package. It’s still on my desk, two years later. I think it’s expired. Which brings me back to the fact that, just as I’m a lousy country club member, I would also be a terrible Witness. I would suck at going door to door and talking up Jehovah to people. I think it’s pretty well-known by now, if you read my blog, that I don’t have the best conversational skills. I couldn’t even sell Avon, and people LIKE Avon. I’d be like “We have some great specials this week”, give them a Watchtower and take off before they had a chance to yell at me. (By the way, this week’s edition of The Watchtower is “Satan—is he real?” The article starts, “Like carbon monoxide, Satan is invisible, very hard to detect, and extremely dangerous.” So if my carbon monoxide detector goes off, does that mean Satan is in my house? Should I call the fire department or a priest?) Ultimately, since I just don’t have it in me to be rude to people who are so pleasant (even though they are secretly scheming for my eternal soul), I think the best thing to do is leave a recycling bin on the porch full of wrapping paper, ribbons, and liquor bottles, and train the dog to stop licking strangers. Otherwise, I’ll be coming to a neighbourhood near you soon.

Wednesday: I think about weird things.
Here are some of the weird things that I think about.

1) There’s been a lot of road kill lately, and it made me wonder—exactly how far past the “best before date” does a piece of road kill have to be before the vultures won’t eat it? When they’re like “Ooh, that raccoon smells a bit dodgy—better give it a pass, Frank.” Can vultures GET food poisoning, or is that just their job—to eat what no one else can, like nature’s garburator? I don’t know what it is about vultures, but they creep me out, especially the way you can always tell if there’s something about to die in a field because the vultures are circling, like harbingers of doom. I once saw a vulture fly into an opening in the top of someone’s barn, and all I could think was if it was my barn, I would leave in the night without any belongings, because the vultures were trying to tell me something.

2) Why would anyone put up a sign advertising an “Animal Zoo”? I saw this sign the other day, and my first thought was “As opposed to what?” What other kind of zoo is there? An insect zoo? Is it to differentiate itself from a Petting Zoo, letting people know that these animals are NOT the type you would want to pet? Like vultures? Anyway, I googled the definition of ‘zoo’, and it can also be this: “a situation characterized by confusion and disorder”. So maybe the sign was a warning. I envisioned people running around a small rural property, bumping into each other, swearing, acting all crazy, no one knowing what was going on. Now that’s a zoo I’d pay money to see, even if it DOES sound just like a shopping mall on Black Friday (see next topic).

3) Whose idea was it to have Black Friday on the same day as Buy Nothing Day? Isn’t this a paradox or something? And in case you’re wondering what Black Friday is, see the definition for ‘zoo’, above. Since when do we have Black Friday in Canada? And why would we want to anyway? I just googled Black Friday (yeah, I loves da google), and the first thing that came up was “The Worst Black Friday Deaths and Injuries of All Time”. AND THERE WERE 40 OF THEM. So Canadian stores are actively promoting an event where people run the risk of getting killed over a discount on a flat screen TV. I foresee 50 years from now, when Black Friday is a culling event a la The Hunger Games—each village has a lottery, and one lucky teenager gets sent to the mall to fight to the death for home electronics.

Saturday: I discover that Girl Lego is really sucky (or maybe super-cunning).

So I forgot to order our Lego Advent Calendar this year (no, this is not a joke). But last night I was on one of those Buy and Sell groups where someone had a new Lego Advent Calendar for sale, and I was immediately all over it. “But”, the woman cautioned, “it’s Girl Lego.” I was like “So? What difference does it make?” and I bought it today. Unfortunately, I was misled by my own naiveté, which had caused me to envision a bulldozer driven by a yellow lady Lego instead of a yellow man Lego. No, gentle reader, the difference is much bigger than that. I knew when I saw that the title on the box said Lego Friends, and the “I” was DOTTED WITH A HEART that I was going to be pretty pissed. Here’s what I bought. Two female dolls, and their little doll house. The “Lego” figures look like Polly Pockets, or miniature Barbies, NOT those awesome Lego guys with the pointy heads you can put helmets and stuff on. They apparently live together and like to cook in their kitchen with the blender and mixing bowl that comes with the kit. They have a pink and purple couch, a pink and purple toboggan, pink presents, and a white kitty cat who is wearing a purple collar with a pink heart on it. And the worst part is virtually nothing needs to be assembled. I could forgive the colour scheme and the cutesy hearts, because assembly is the great equalizer. However, Lego seems to think that girls are too clumsy or stupid to put things together the way boys can, so almost everything is preassembled for them. Anyway, I was shocked that in 2014, this kind of blatant sexism still exists, that according to Lego, all girls like hearts, the colours purple and pink exclusively, kitty cats, and cooking, and have trouble with manual dexterity. But on the box, there’s a warning that the kit isn’t suitable for children under 3—Lego claims it’s because of a choking hazard, but I think this just gives all of us a chance to make sure our little girls play with lots of regular “boy” Lego before they turn three and have to be exposed to the ridiculous world of Lego stereotypes. Then again, when I examined the scene on the box more closely, the two girls are obviously living together, cosying up on the couch to exchange pink presents, and are planning to host a dinner party with their kitty. Could Lego, in an extremely subtle and subversive way, have created the first Lego Lesbian Couple? Kudos, Lego—maybe I was wrong about you after all.

Advertisements

My Week 8 – Grumpiness and Mail Order Catalogue Weirdness

Friday: I am a very grumpy sick person and I know it.

I don’t get sick very often, and when I do, I often don’t get very sick. But there are times when I get really, really sick, and this is one of them. I’ve had laryngitis and a death-defying cough since Monday, and at a certain point, I realized that I’m not nice when I ‘m sick. I realized this at approximately 10:30 last night. I was watching TV, and waiting for something decent to come on when I saw a news clip of an American Republican member of Parliament, or whatever they call them down there, criticizing Barack Obama for a new immigration policy that offered amnesty to illegal aliens. He was yabbering on about how it would destroy American, at which point, I yelled, “Go screw yourself, stupid Republican!” and changed the channel. In retrospect, I think my sentiment was dead-on, but this goes to show that I’m just not myself. I don’t even know what a Republican is, particularly, except that they apparently don’t like immigrants. Are they like the Conservatives? Can someone clarify? But the fact that I yelled at the TV is somewhat alarming, especially since I always tell my grade nines that there’s no point in talking to the characters in movies since they can’t actually hear you. So at this point, I looked back over the last couple of days, and came to the conclusion that I must be very sick because I’m very grumpy:

• On Wednesday, I accused the cat of being a diva, and called her an “asshat” for using the litterbox in my bathroom. In fairness, I should point out that she has another, perfectly good litterbox downstairs, but she doesn’t like it as much as the one which is situated in the room next to where I SLEEP. Anyway, she came into the bathroom, and sat and stared at me until I looked and realized the litterbox needed to be scooped, which I did. The second, the very SECOND it was clean, she jumped in and took a fresh dump. Hence the name calling. She didn’t actually hear me though—she was too busy pretending the wall was made out of litter and if she scraped it hard enough, it would magically cover her poo. She does this most often at 3 o’clock in the morning, because who doesn’t love being awakened by the sound of a cat trying to dig her way to China?

• On Thursday, I managed to whack myself in the chest with a chalk brush (don’t ask—even I’M not sure how this happened), and then told the chalkbrush how much I hated it. “I hate you, stupid chalkbrush!” were my exact words, as I brushed chalk off myself, looking around to make sure none of my students had overheard me. They hadn’t (mostly because I have laryngitis and can’t speak above a whisper). Thank god, because how do I explain that one, especially in light of how I always tell them not to talk to the TV, and here I am cussing out a chalk brush?

• Earlier on Friday night, as I was washing my face, something fell out of my medicine cabinet, and my immediate response was “F—ck you! I’m sick of your sh—t!” I don’t even know WHAT fell out, but the epithet-laced response was most definitely out of proportion to the actual event, which tells me that yes, I am a very sick woman, and I need some rest.

The one saving grace is that I direct my illness-driven misery at mostly inanimate objects (except for the cat, and she agreed that yes, she is a diva, and that I’M an asshat for a not cleaning her litterbox out more regularly). Hopefully, I’ll recover from the Black Death soon, and the items in my medicine cabinet can rest easy. But the Republicans can still go screw themselves.

Wednesday: I wonder who exactly buys things from mail-order catalogues.

On occasion, we get mail order catalogues delivered to our house. There’s Added Touch, which features jewellery, clothes, and furniture. Why would I order anything from them, when I can buy the same things from actual stores, without having to pay shipping? We also get Signals, offering logic games and clever T-shirts with saying like “Don’t trust atoms—they make up everything” on them, and Bits and Pieces, which sells really cheap plastic garden ornaments and jigsaw puzzles of kitty cats and thatched-roof cottages. But the icing on the mail-order cake came on Wednesday, when we got, for the first time, a catalogue called Hammacher Schlemmer, which I think is German for “sh—t that you’ll never buy because it’s stupid and way too expensive”. Aside from the assorted remote control spy drones, the ultrasonic jewellery cleaner, and the washable cashmere bathrobe (only $399.95, y’all), there were some really bizarre things available for purchase. Here are a few of my favourites:

Page 5: The Outdoor Heated Cat Shelter, $129.95. It’s a tiny doghouse for cats, which comes with a heated floor. It’s waterproof and can be plugged into any grounded electrical outlet. This, to me, is a paradox. You don’t like your cat enough to let it in the house when it’s cold or wet out, but you’ll pay $130.00 for a cathouse? Do you love your cat or hate it? Maybe it’s like Schrodinger’s cat—you simultaneously love AND hate it—either way, you probably shouldn’t have a cat.

Page 60: The Faux Fireplace, $69.95. The description of this item reads: “The removable fireplace decal that instills instant ski lodge coziness to a room otherwise devoid of winter’s most heart-warming tradition.” While the prose is lovely, let’s be clear—it’s a STICKER that looks like a fireplace. You just paid seventy bucks for a giant sticker, friend. It will not warm your room. The flames don’t move. The picture in the catalogue is of a man sitting in a wingchair, staring at the fireplace. Let’s be realistic—he’s staring at the wall. For the same money, you could buy a space heater, if it’s warmth you’re looking for, or for another hundred bucks, you could go to Canadian Tire and buy an electric fireplace with fake flames that actually move. If I was ever going to stick anything on my wall, it would be a life-size Johnny Depp. (I asked Ken if he was OK with that, and he said only if he got a life-size sticker of someone too, but he wouldn’t tell me who because he “didn’t want to be judged”).

Page 64: The Cyclist’s Virtual Safety Lane, $39.95. This ingenious invention consists of two laser beams that you mount on your bicycle to provide motorists a “visual indicator of a cyclist’s riding width”. This is also known as the “target zone”. Don’t people on bicycles already have enough problems with inconsiderate car drivers almost knocking them off their bikes without providing them a clear indication of exactly where you have to drive to do that? I admit, I’m not a huge fan of fanatical cyclists who zip around in their fake sponsorship outfits and torpedo helmets (I went through a post-Olympic phase of yelling “Where’s the peloton?!” out my car window when Ken and I would pass one of them on the road), but still, I don’t like to see anyone get hurt. And neither does Hammacher Sledgehammer, because on page 71, for an additional $199.95, you can also get a Bicycle Rear View Camera, just so you can see who’s bearing down on you and the rest of the peloton.

Finally, the most incredible and most useless item in the catalogue can be found on page 59. For the low, low price of only $345,000 (yes, over a third of a MILLION dollars), you can order a 6 foot tall robot. In the catalogue, it’s described as a “Celebrity Robot Avatar”, and has apparently appeared in movies, TV shows, and music videos. As a purveyor of pop culture myself, I have never seen this robot anywhere on screen. And just to clarify—it’s not actually a ROBOT. It’s a battery-powered, remote control metal can. It doesn’t do anything on its own. It’s controlled with “an intuitive wireless remote that is small enough to escape detection”. You can make it move forwards, backwards, and spin, as well as make it seem like it’s talking by speaking into a “discreet wireless microphone”. What kind of money do you have to make to spend $345,000 on a puppet? For 50 bucks, I’ll dress in a robot costume, come to your party, and have ACTUAL conversations with your guests. That’s right—I’m your robot butler, baby. Your swear-y, plague-ridden robot butler.

My Week 7 – Worst Case Scenarios, and Titus the Dick

My Week 6

Sunday: I get the best birthday card ever:

Specific types of birthday cards are a tradition in my family. My parents always buy me cards with beautiful messages on them, and I always appreciate the sentiments, because they are from the heart, and I love my parents tremendously. My aunts, on the other hand, endeavour to find the funniest cards possible, which are also from the heart, albeit another area of the heart, and I also love them tremendously. This past weekend, my family threw me an early birthday party, and one of my aunts gave me the BEST birthday card ever. I share it with you now, so that you can copy and paste it into any card you want (don’t tell the copyright police). I opened it up and this is what it said:

• Okay, I’m not sure this will work, but let’s try it.
• Act like you’re reading something personal that I wrote in your card.
• After a couple of seconds, laugh as though I wrote something very funny. In fact, tilt your head back when you laugh so it looks extremely funny.
• Now nod your head as though I wrote something very serious and heartfelt. Maybe touch your heart and exhale, but don’t make it look forced.
• Okay, now close the card, look at me and mouth the words “thank you”.

So I followed the directions, and you wouldn’t believe the reaction. Everyone was like “What?!! What did it say?!!” Then I passed it around the room and other people followed the directions too (an Oscar to my brother, y’all), until everyone who hadn’t read it was freaking out. Try it for yourself—it’s better than “pin the tail on the donkey”, that’s for sure.

Wednesday: Worst Case Scenarios are My Life:

So I was talking to Ken on the phone the other morning, and as we were saying goodbye, his parting comment was, “It’s really windy out. Be careful”. And he said it kind of ominously. But this was the completely wrong thing to say to me, because anyone who knows me understands that I go immediately to the worst case scenario any time someone tells me to be careful. In fact, one year for Christmas, I bought T a book called “The Little Book of Worst Case Scenarios”, and I forced him to read it so he would know what to do in case he was ever chased by a bear (make yourself look as large as possible and scream loudly to let the bear know you could take it in a fight. Do not run—bears are, apparently, very gazelle-like), drove a car into a river (find an air pocket, wait for the car to be submerged, then open the door and swim to the surface. T was like “I’m seven years old–why would I ever drive my car into a river?” I DON”T KNOW, T. But if you plan for these things, you might SURVIVE them), or if the bouncy castle he was playing in suddenly became untethered and began to float away (which apparently happens more often than you think, prompting our local school board to ban them from school property. They also banned dunk tanks. Because of all the drownings.) Sorry if that was ramble-y, but that’s the mood I’m in.
Anyway, when Ken said that to me, my first response was confusion, then my mind immediately jumped to one of two scenarios: a) Either he meant that it was so windy that I would need something heavy to hold me down so I wouldn’t be whisked away by a howling gale, in which case I seriously started looking around the house for something heavy to take with me. The dog weighs 95 pounds, but I would have to be tethered to him by his leash, and could I hold on for long enough? Or b) that the wind was some kind of bizarre polar vortex, and if I didn’t run fast enough to the car, I would freeze on the spot, like the characters did in The Day After Tomorrow, which is a great movie, and totally based on meteorological facts. At any rate, when I had recovered from my frightful befuddlement, I asked him, “Why are you telling me to be careful? That’s just weird.”, and he was like, “Because you never dress warmly enough, so make sure you wear a scarf, OK?” At which point, I really felt like saying, “Are you f-ing serious? You freaked me out over a scarf?! There’s NOTHING in the Little Book of Worst Case Scenarios about scarves.” But then it occurred to me that a scarf might be the only thing standing between me and deathly hypothermia, and I realized that Ken must really love me to give me scarf warnings.

Friday: I realize that my dog is a bit of a dick.

So let me just say first that I love my dog. He’s awesome. We got him about 2 months ago, and he’s this big, black Labrador Retriever that another family had to give up. Now I know why. No, just kidding. Titus is actually like the best dog ever, but he has some bad habits that make me crazy, and I’m just going to vent a little.
• Tonight, he licked my pants FIVE times. Seriously. Five times. Do you know why? Because I dropped a Dill Pickle flavoured rice cake on my pants. I picked it up and gave it to him, which apparently is dog-ese for “lick the pants that thing landed on.” (When Ken read this, Titus was sitting next to me and tried to lick my pajamas. When I objected, Ken told me I was like “a human smorgasbord.” He gives the dog a little too much credit.)
• Two days ago, he ate an entire bag of pitas. He has a voracious appetite. Since we got him, he’s eaten 2 full unopened bags of dog treats, a package of tortilla shells, 4 boxes of chicken bouillon cubes and a can of beef bouillon powder, a bag of grapes, a box of cherry tomatoes, an unopened box of Vegetable Thins crackers, and so on and so on. We have learned the hard way to make sure there is no food left out ANYWHERE, because he also has no issue whatsoever with vomiting. When there is no food, however, he will steal dishes out of the sink and carry them around the house, licking them lovingly. (Just for the record, we DO feed him his own food.)
• He likes to sleep on our bed. We’ve never had a dog that wanted to do this. I wouldn’t mind, except that he weighs almost as much as me, and insists on sleeping between Ken and me. And he likes to SPOON.
• He thinks the cat is another toy. She, however, does not appreciate his playful nature. Have you ever heard a very small cat growl from the depths of her soul, like a demon? Titus doesn’t seem to understand her objections to him, and wants to smell her ladyparts whenever possible. Naturally, this is putting up a barrier between them.
You’d think this would be another “worst case scenario”, but he also does this thing like when you’re petting him and you stop, he puts his nose under your hand and flips your hand up, so you understand that he still wants you to love him. And whenever he eats something he shouldn’t, he looks guilty (right before he throws everything up.) And when he jumps on the bed, slides over and puts his head on your chest and his arm around your neck, you’d forgive him just about anything. Well, I would. I can’t speak for the cat.

My Week 6 – Mennonites, Sweary-ness, and Normal Ken Dreams

Sunday: I ponder the wonderful world of Mexican Mennonites

I grew up with Old Order Mennonites. They were always around when I was a kid—at the market, driving along the side of the road, just a fixture on the landscape. I never really paid them much attention. As I got older, I wondered about them. For example, they like to go to auctions and buy pots and pans, and other household goods, I’m assuming to be part of a dowry or something, like “Here’s my daughter, a set of Lagostina cookware, two fuzzy blankets, and a goat”. Also, I often questioned their lifestyle—like why they couldn’t have electricity, but could use cell phones, or if you’re out on a Sunday in a buggy with a boy, does that mean you HAVE to marry him, or are you just trying each other out? But overall, I didn’t give them too much thought. That is, until we bought our cottage down by Lake Erie shore and were introduced to the “Mexican” Mennonites. OK, here’s the deal. They are not Mexican. They don’t speak Mexican. They certainly don’t look Mexican, They’re a splinter group of ‘regular’ Mennonites who went down to Mexico for some random reason, stayed there for a few generations, and now have returned to Ontario to share their glorious Mexican-ness with us. They are AWESOME. They should be the poster children for Mennonites, if the Mennonites were ever interested in recruiting. I spent some time gathering intel on this new brand of Mennonite—this is what I learned:

Appearance: They are all blonde and lithe. The men wear cool plaid shirts, ball caps, and jeans; women wear brightly coloured, floral dresses. Apparently they all have perfect eyesight. And teeth. They always look relatively happy, compared to their older order counterparts, who always look like they’re worried about getting the harvest in. I don’t think Mexican Mennonites worry about too much, especially the harvest, judging from their laid-back attitudes and lack of farm equipment.

Food: Mexican food! Very spicy, homemade Mexican-y goodness. Including gluten-free corn tortillas—these people are cutting edge. And they LOVE hot sauce. At the Aylmer Market, they make Hot Tamales, freshly wrapped in corn husks, and they have a food truck in PB called Dos Gringos, which may or may not be an insulting reference to white folk, but if it is, I admire their nerve. What do other Mennonites eat? German food? They make a LOT of maple syrup and sell it out of their buggies, that’s all I know.

Drink: I’m really hoping Tequila, but I don’t know—I’ve been told they don’t actually drink. If they did though, it would definitely be Tequila because Tequila is the FUN Mennonite drink (at least in my world).

Activities: These people are entrepreneurs. They have real estate companies, restaurants, grocery stores, and all kinds of businesses. They don’t have roadside stands. They DO have a lot of Chihuahuas. The teenagers rove around in gangs like Abercrombie and Fitch models waiting for a photographer. They lounge in their front yards, laughing, in co-ed groups. They always look extraordinarily happy. It could be the Tequila.

Small Children: Mexican Mennonites have large families. There was a group renting the house across the road from us in PB a couple of years ago, and they had a LOT of kids. I used to watch them play—they didn’t have any toys, but they made up the best games, like one day, they were all a bus, and they took turns driving it around the yard. The littlest one was a two year old girl, who was so adorable that it occurred to me that maybe a family with a lot of children wouldn’t miss one, and she could come home with me, but I never acted upon the impulse on the grounds that it would be highly illegal, obviously. The only thing I know about Old Order Mennonite children is that they seem to get lost in cornfields a lot, prompting OPP search parties.

I think I’ve made it very clear that to me, thinking about Old Order and Mexican Mennonites is like watching Lord of the Rings. You have the dwarves, who are short, stout, and dour, then you have the elves, who are exotic, athletic, and supremely confident. Neither group wants to interact with outsiders, but I’ll take the Mexican Mennonites hands down, if only for the awesome food. Cuz me, I’m all about the tacos, y’all.

Wednesday: I contemplate my sweary-ness.
I swear a LOT. I’ll admit it—I have a potty mouth and I always have had. One of my earliest memories is being told off by my dad for exclaiming “Holy Shit” at the number of cars in the K-Mart parking lot one day. (Which was kind of hypocritical, cuz where did I learn that expression anyway, Dad?) At any rate, I swear all the time, with one major exception—I rarely swear at work. I was just talking to a friend of mine from work, and I said, “Do you think I swear a lot?” and she said, “Not really.” Then I asked Ken the same question and he looked at me like the answer was obvious and said, “Uh, yeah.” But this is WHY I swear a lot—because I spend all day NOT swearing. In fact, I spend a lot of the day saying to students (hypocritically), “Watch the language!” I have to keep it all bottled inside so that when I get home, the real me comes flying out. I knew it was a problem when T (who would prefer to be called L for a reason I have yet to understand, but it’s not going to happen) was about 4 years old, we were with some friends who also had a 4 year old boy. We were trying to get a picture of the two of them, and Ken was taking so long that T finally blurted out, “Just take the frigging picture, dad!” (I was so proud. Also, it was good that it wasn’t me who had to point out that Ken takes way too long to focus). The other day I asked T if he thought I swore a lot, and he raised one eyebrow at me. I said, “Not AT you, just in general. I try not to swear AT you.” He agreed then that I don’t swear too much at HIM, but I do swear a lot. I also reminded him that we’re mostly together when I’m driving, which might account for the extra-sweary-ness.
The problem is that I’m with teenagers all day and I have to be a good role model. It would hardly be professional if I peppered my teaching with the F bomb. (“So why isn`t your f-ing homework finished, Timmy?” “That answer was total bullsh-t, Sally.”) The only time I’ve actually sworn in class was a couple of years ago. I was in the middle of a lesson, and it was going really well, when all of a sudden, the overhead screen behind me scrolled up and almost snapped itself off its hanger. I was so freaked out that my immediate response was to exclaim “Holy Shit!!!” Then I turned and looked at the class, and they started laughing hysterically. One girl even said, “This is the best class ever!” Which proves that I DON’T swear in class, because it wouldn’t have been such a novelty when I did. It also proves that my first instinct is ALWAYS to use an inappropriate epithet, but that also I’m really good at suppressing my instincts. So Ken and Tristan, and the rest of my family, have the joy of experiencing the F-bomb factory that is ME. Thank god they f-ing love me.

Saturday Morning: I realize that Ken is completely normal, even in my dreams.

I’m a very vivid dreamer. I have crazy movie length dreams that are like watching crime dramas, and sometime horror movies. Last month, I was watching a dream unfold where a patient in a hospital was extremely ill, and detectives discovered that she had been given an injection of “lupus alcoholis” by a guy who was stalking her, and this had caused her to become deformed and almost die. The doctor at the hospital formulated an antidote, and the detectives arrested the stalker. It was awesome, and cheaper than actually going to the movies. This happens to me all the time, and it’s wonderful and sometimes scary too, especially when the dreams involve T getting kidnapped or my mom driving a car into a river and me trying to rescue her (don’t worry, Mom, I saved you)—stuff like that. But for some reason, whenever I dream about Ken, it’s always the most perfectly normal dream you could have. In fact, they’re about as close to real life as you can get. Last night, I dreamed that Ken was driving me to work, but I forgot my cell phone so we were going back to get it, when he spotted a garage sale and pulled over. The only thing they were selling was these really expensive clock faces and Ken got super-excited, because he keeps talking about making his own clock (in real life, not in the dream). So I said to him (in the dream, not in real life), “Spending that kind of money on a clock face defeats the purpose of making your own clock.” He looked disappointed, but he agreed with me, and we carried on back home to get my phone. WTF kind of dream is that?! The only way it differed from real life is that Ken NEVER pulls over for garage sales unless I make him. In the future, I’m going to try a little “lucid” dreaming and introduce some zombies onto the field of play, just to see what he does. A minute ago, I asked him what he was doing, and he said “resting” (even though we just got up an hour ago), and in my head I was like, “Just see how tired you’re going to be after a night of The Walking Dead. Ha ha, Ken!!”

My Week 5 – Lord of the Dance, Funerals, and Grocery Revenge

Sunday: I realize my disappointment with Celtic Spectacles

So Ken and I were hanging out at the cottage, after a dinner at the local pub (run by this awesome gay guy and his partner-I only mention this because it’s nice that our society has come so far that even in a place like PB, no one seems to care) and we had come back to the cottage and were watching not much on TV, just waiting for something interesting to come on, when Ken switched the channel to Celtic Thunder. If you don’t know what that is, it’s a group of 5 “boys to men” types who sing traditional Celtic music to a screaming crowd of women. I’ve never seen anything quite like it (yes, I have, but at the time I’d forgotten), and we had a really fun go at these guys. For one, they are super-choreographed. They step very deliberately to one side, then the other, and when it’s their turn to sing, each one descends a flight of stairs like he’s a robotic Miss America or something, then returns to the top when his “turn” is finished. Second, they are ranged in age, and oiled up appropriately to appeal to a mass market of women. There’s the teen-something one, who is meant to appeal to the 5 to 7 year-old range (as well as the Cougars), the early twenties hottie with superwhite teeth, then the 30-ish guy with his shirt open just enough to show off his gold chains, the 40 , and 50 year-olds (who look amazing for their age and would definitely be lusted after by the 70 and 80 year-olds in the audience). It was like watching a One Direction concert for the extremely young and the extremely geriatric—grandmas and granddaughters holding up signs with slogans on them (I love you Neil…I want to marry you, Emmet, and so on, ad nauseam.) I actually just googled their home page and realized to my horror that they have `Daniel“, a 7 year old member of the group—who the hell is lusting after him? and you should be ASHAMED.OF.YOURSELF. And I say this with all sincerity, since these ‘men’ are held up to the audience as symbols of manliness, even the seven-year-old, which is kind of creepy. Can you imagine being Daniel’s mom, and worrying about some 40 year-old woman carrying a sign that says “Daniel, I love you!! Marry me!! Kissy face smiley face”? But the best thing about the whole spectacle is the singing, by which I mean the lipsynching, because none of them actually sing. They pose. They move their lips and pre-recorded music comes out of their manly mouths, and it’s really obvious they’re doing it, shamelessly, like it’s the CELTIC WAY or something.

And now I get to the thing I’d forgotten, which was one of the greatest disappointments of my life. Lord of the Dance. Yes, Lord of the Dance, the incredible Celtic stepdancing/musical phenomenon of the 90s which had my heart on fire. I loved Lord of the Dance, the music, the spectacle, that Michael Flately guy who was so tiny and arrogant but tapped his little heart out. When they came to town, I begged Ken for tickets. Being the wonderful husband he is (or just to stop me whining), he agreed, and there we were in the first row of the balcony. The lights dimmed—the music began—dancers came on stage—it became PATENTLY OBVIOUS that every sound was pre-recorded. OMFG Lord of the Dance—even the tapping sounds were pre-recorded and were played over top of the actual tapping on stage!! The violins, the singing, the dancing, were all fake. I just paid $75 to listen to the CD I had at home. And that’s why I’ll never pay to see Celtic Thunder. So there.

Saturday: Ken and I get a little irreverent about death.

Ken and I went to a funeral recently. On the drive there, we had a chance to discuss some of the things that we wanted the other to know about our “arrangements”. I, of course, am insistent that I be kept in an above-ground mausoleum, which Ken will build, due to my fear of being buried alive. Ken, on the other hand, is quite content to be cremated, and told me that if he had some “lead time“, he would even build his own casket, a la Oscar, a character from our favourite show Corner Gas, so that I could save some money. That`s what I love about Ken—he`s always thinking about me. Anyway, we got to the funeral and it was appropriately solemn and sad, but then we went through the receiving line (which is REALLLY different from the ones they have at weddings) and we were left to pay our respects at the coffin. While we were standing there in contemplation, Ken turned to me, pointed at the casket and whispered, “Remember Oscar? Beautiful woodgrain here.” I was taken aback and kind of guffawed/choked/snorted, and I think a giggle escaped from me, to my horror. Ken and I spent the next 60 seconds staring violently at the floral arrangements and trying not to look at each other. I think it’s true that old saying about laughing in the face of death, although it should be more of a defiant laugh, and not something out of a sit-com. On the way home, we passed a graveyard, and some workers had a bonfire going (let’s assume they were burning leaves), and Ken, in that wonderfully naïve way he has, asked me, “Are they cremating someone?” to which I replied, “WTF, Ken! They don’t do that in the actual graveyard!”

A little while later, Ken said to me, “If you don’t want to talk about this, it’s OK, but I was thinking about the kind of things we’d want the other person to read at our funerals.” I immediately said poetry, and he immediately said that if he had enough “lead time” (he seems pretty positive that his impending doom will be pre-ordained), that he would video his own eulogy. I reminded him that no one would want to listen to him pontificate about critical thinking skills and the education of our young, let alone want to fill in a “descriptive feedback card” at the end of the funeral, but he’s determined. At this point, I told him MY plan, which is to write a eulogy FOR him, full of swearing and the liberal use of the F word, and then I’d tell people that I’d begged him to be more polite, but he was like “F—that! It’s my f—ing funeral, and I can say whatever the f—I want.” Of course, Ken rarely swears in real life (unless he hits his thumb with a hammer—you wouldn’t believe how often THAT happens), and people would be shocked by his foul language, but at the same time admire me for following through with his last wishes. This would be my revenge for his refusal to pay my kidnap ransom.

Tuesday, when I mess with people in the grocery store.

Have you ever been in a grocery store, trying to shop, and someone keeps parking their cart in the middle of the aisle so you can’t get by? Have you ever wondered how to get your revenge on that person? Does it seem a little weird to take revenge on strangers in grocery stores? No it’s not—it’s necessary to keep a sense of balance in the universe. Like how in Thor, which I just watched with my grade nine class as a way to wrap up our mythology unit, Thor battles the evil elves to save Earth. (By the way, there is nothing more difficult than doing a mythology unit with grade nine students, because there is no easy way to introduce them to Uranus. Say it to yourself one more time if you don’t get it. Also, it can be very difficult to talk about flying buttresses as part of a unit on Gothic literature to a group of grade 12s with a juvenile sense of humour. Did I laugh in both cases? Maybe.)

So on Tuesday, T and I were grocery shopping. (This is always a challenge because I like to go to the store where I get points, and T spends the whole time criticizing me for buying things we don’t need “just for the points”. I’m sorry, but you can always use another head of cauliflower or a family pack of Axe body spray.) Anyway, we were in the Gluten-Free/Organic Aisle (because I stopped eating gluten last year, thinking it would help my joints. It didn’t, but now it’s a habit, and I feel guilty if I break it, like when a smoker sneaks a cigarette, except instead of getting pleasantly dizzy, your stomach gets angry at you. Enough said.) Ahead of us was a middle-aged woman, (MORE middle-aged than me, anyway) who seemed completely oblivious that she was in a grocery store with many other people, and hadn’t just won a private shopping spree on The Price Is Right, because as she was lingering at the gluten-free freezer, her cart was in the middle of the aisle ON AN ANGLE. T and I were on our way to buy some special crackers, but we couldn’t get near them, thanks to Frumpy McDuh. We waited patiently for her to realize we were there, but she seemed to be deliberately ignoring us as she perused the shelves. A young guy came down the other way, and we both stood there helplessly, looking at each other for support. He seemed content to wait, so T and I turned around and went back the other way, thinking we could go down the next aisle and go round the corner back up to the crackers that way. A clever plan, but wait—as we came around the top of the next aisle, this woman, like a polyester-pantsuited NINJA, was already there, with her cart again parked in the middle of the aisle! We quickly devised a second, even better plan, and we hightailed it around to the next aisle, where we waited patiently, steadfastly. Sure enough, here she came, strolling down the aisle quite leisurely. But what’s this? There’s a cart in her way? Whose cart? Yes, you know it. And it was on an angle that was quite impossible to navigate around. T and I pretended to be VERY interested in organic quinoa, discussing the merits of each brand, while she stood and waited. But she wasn’t patient, or polite either. She started to push her cart towards me, and nearly grazed my ankle, but I stood my ground, daring her to come any closer. She finally gave up, and as she rolled her evil elf eyes and moved off, T and I felt like we had achieved some kind of universal victory, like in Thor, plus, we finally got our crackers. And the 2000 points that came with them.