My Week 28: Speakerphone, Underwear Traumas, and Pepperspray

Tuesday: The joys, and pitfalls, of speakerphone

The whole concept of the speakerphone is a wonderful thing, but you have to be careful about what you’re doing when you use it. I had, prior to living in Toronto during the week, used speakerphone with our landline once in a while, mostly if I was trying to get dinner ready and I really needed to talk to someone while I was chopping vegetables, or whatever. But our kitchen is too big to use the function effectively—I’d have to lean over the chopping board to get close enough to the phone so that I didn’t sound like I was cooking dinner in a large cavern. I never used the speakerphone function on my iPhone until I moved to Toronto, but my condo is only a little over 600 square feet, so it doesn’t really matter where I am in relation to the phone in order for me to have a pretty lengthy conversation. But I’m getting a little cavalier with the activities I’m doing whilst talking on the phone—it’s not just chopping vegetables anymore, y’all. So on Tuesday night, I was talking to Ken. It was pretty late because my brother had been over for dinner, and we had definitely NOT been drinking AT ALL, but after he left, I realized that I needed to do a lot of stuff in a very limited amount of time with a slightly off-kilter sense of equilibrium). I called Ken, because I had promised to do it several hours earlier, and how time flies when you’re NOT drinking. Also, I needed to get ready for bed, and this is a ritual with many steps. So I’m talking to Ken on the phone, and he’s telling me all about his day, which is always highly interesting and usually involves some pretty intense cubicle-sitting (haha, honey—I know you work VERY hard) when he stops abruptly.

Ken: Um, what are you doing right now?
Me: Nothing. Talking to you. What do you mean?
Ken: I thought I heard splashing. Are you having a BATH right now? While we’re talking?

Then I got worried that he might think I had flooded my apartment AGAIN, so I had to admit that yes, I was in the bathtub. But once I had done that, it was a slippery slope to the rest of the bedtime ritual, so we continued the conversation while I washed my face, and talked through brushing my teeth (although I had to repeat myself several times because Ken can’t understand “toothbrush talking”). But Ken is a pretty astute guy, so I refrained from actually flushing the toilet, because if he knew I was in the bathtub, he was for sure going to know that I had been talking to him while I “finished my bedtime routine”. Because let’s face it—using the toilet is like chopping vegetables in that you need both hands to do either. I don’t know if there’s any actual etiquette about using speakerphone, but I’m willing to bet that, aside from simply letting someone know that they are on speakerphone so you don’t say something rude about someone else in the room, NOT using the toilet while you’re talking to someone is considered de rigeur. But what they don’t know (or hear) can’t hurt them, right?

Wednesday: I lose a sock and am reminded of other underwear traumas

On Wednesday, I decided to do some laundry. I don’t go through a lot of clothes, but every once in a while, I run low on socks and underwear, and I have a washing machine and dryer right in my condo, which is super-convenient, except that there’s only one knob between the two machines. (When I moved in, several essential items were missing: the plug for the bathtub, the plug for the kitchen sink, and the toilet paper holder. I had notified the management company, but they ignored my requests, and I resorted to Bed, Bath, and Beyond in order to have a bath, do dishes, or pee. The knob for the dryer was also broken, but I’d given up on any help from “Kimberley”, my cheerful but absent landlord, so I’ve been taking the knob off the washing machine and using it to start the dryer. That was a lengthy explanation for something so trivial—sorry.) At any rate, I was doing the laundry on Wednesday night, and when I went to take the clothes out of the dryer, it turned out I was missing one of my socks. This may sound like a First World problem, but I don’t keep that many pairs of socks in Toronto, so it’s more akin to having my donkey go lame or my crops being ruined by drought. And it also begs the question: what the hell happened to my sock? I’m pretty sure it went INTO the dryer, so what happened to it? Is there really an alternate universe where lone socks go? I checked the washing machine AND the dryer at least twice more and there was no sign of it. Then I searched my closet—same thing. As I said before, it’s only a 600 square foot condo, so there aren’t that many places for a sock to go. And now I’m worried that maybe it’s hiding in a pair of pants or a sweater or something, and that it will re-appear at an embarrassing moment. While this may seem like a long-shot, believe me it’s not—I’ve had it happen before…(flashback time, folks).

October, 1991: Ken and I had moved to Thunder Bay so that he could go to teacher’s college. I couldn’t find a paying job—there were 3 rounds of interviews just to be a waitress—so I started volunteering at a local public school. I went there every morning to help students in the “literacy centre”, which was, in reality, a small room with one computer. On the way to school that fateful morning, I was on the sidewalk in front of the building when I looked down and realized that the toe of a pair of pantyhose was peeking out from my pant leg. I stopped. The best way to remove it seemed to be to just pull it out. This was, of course, easier said than done, and I stood there for several minutes, bent over, tugging, hopping, and wriggling around until the offending piece of laundry was finally extricated from my trousers. I shoved it in my pocket, and went into the school. When I got into the “literacy centre”, the teacher I was volunteering with asked me, “Um…what were you doing outside?”

I explained that I had an issue with a misplaced pair of pantyhose, and asked, “Why? Could you see me?”
“Yes,” she replied, “We could.”

We?! Who the hell was WE?! Well, it turned out that she had been in the grade 2 classroom next door, and she, along with 25 seven-year-olds, watched out the windows in gleeful fascination at my bizarre behaviour. Of course, they couldn’t see the pantyhose–all they could see was me doing an insane dance on the sidewalk. Thankfully, I was able to produce the nylons from my pocket to prove that I wasn’t drunk, or hallucinating about being attacked by a swarm of bees. But that’s not the only time I’ve had problems with underwear and sidewalks…

March 1998: I was about 5 months pregnant, and was getting very uncomfortable with a variety of articles of clothing. I’d resorted to wearing flannel shirts and sweat pants a lot, but I had to give a workshop in Dundas. I found the only dressy clothes that still fit and put them on in an attempt to look professional. On the way home, I was feeling all twisty and itchy, and I said to Ken that I really wanted to take off my bra. He said, “Go ahead. NO ONE WILL EVER KNOW.” (When you read that last line, pretend that it was said very ominously, and that it was accompanied by a roll of thunder or an echo or something.) Taking his advice, I wriggled out of the bra and tossed it aside. A while later, we were going through the small town before ours, and we decided to stop at the local video store. “I can’t go in,” I said. “I’m not wearing a bra.” “Just put on your raincoat,” said Ken. “NO ONE WILL EVER KNOW.” (This time pretend that he laughed maniacally and that everything went red and flame-y for a second.) Again, taking his advice, I put on my raincoat, and in we went. Two minutes later, the door opened, and this huge guy wearing a red lumberjack jacket and work boots stomps in. And he’s TWIRLING MY BRA AROUND HIS FINGER.

“Hey, Darlene,” he laughs. “Is this yours? I found it on the sidewalk outside the store.”
“Not mine! And it wasn’t there when I went out for a smoke a few minutes ago!” she replies.

And then, like in slow motion, they both turn and look at me. At that moment, I had a choice—I could lie, and everyone would know, or I could salvage what dignity I had left. So I stalked over to the guy, grabbed my bra out of his grubby hands, and walked out of the store. Well, it was an expensive bra. Ken and I tried to piece the whole thing together, and all we could figure is that, when I tossed the bra aside twenty minutes earlier, it must have landed on the floor of the car, and it caught on my heel when I got out, leaving Joe Lumberjack to retrieve it. Needless to say, we never went back to that store again.

So in conclusion, I want my f-ing sock back.

Friday: I almost use my pepper spray

A couple of weeks ago, one of my very dear aunts gave me a gift. It was a small container of “aggressive dog spray”, which is what they call pepper spray so that no one thinks you are actually planning to use it on humans. But let’s face it—how many aggressive dogs are roaming the streets of downtown Toronto? Any dog I’ve seen so far is either a very tiny dog owned by a very well-groomed man, or a very scruffy dog owned by a very nice panhandler. When my aunt gave it to me, she cautioned me: “Use it sparingly,” she said. When I showed it to the women I work with and told them I’d been instructed to use it ‘sparingly’, they laughed and said, “How often are you planning to use it?! Only once, hopefully!” But don’t forget, I live in the heart of downtown Toronto, where people scream uncontrollably, or wear balaclavas and walk down the street moaning. Anyway, yesterday morning, I was walking to work, which is literally 2 minutes on a slow day. I was half a block from my condo when a woman walked up beside me. Bear in mind that the sidewalk is ten feet wide, and it was really early so there was no one else around. The woman spoke in a very hostile voice: “She thinks she’s on a tour. Move faster why don’t you? Fucking get out of the roadway.” (Sorry about not censoring the swearing, but I repeat this verbatim). I could hear her very clearly, and assumed that she must be talking on her cell phone. Then I looked at her out of the corner of my eye. She seemed perfectly normal. She was very tall and heavyset, and was wearing a ski jacket and a backpack. As our eyes met, I realized that she had no cellphone. And no ear buds either, so she wasn’t singing along to some bizarre Iggy Azalea song. Nope, she was talking to me. And I was walking almost as fast as her, and was NOT in her way. My hand crept along to my purse where my “aggressive dog spray” resided, because despite her “normal” appearance, she was obviously having one of those Jame Gumb moments from Silence of the Lambs (“It puts the lotion on its skin”, etc. where she was narrating the serial killer thoughts in her head). Then she disappeared into the 7-11 on the corner, and I hightailed it into my secure office building. But I sure wish I could have tried out that pepper spray. Don’t worry—I would have used it sparingly.


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