My Week 53: Apology to Russia, A Clash of Chairs, I Go To the Toronto Circus

First, a disclaimer: A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about head transplants, and I may or may not have implied (stated directly actually) that Russia was kind of sucky when it came to military-type things, although I DID give them a thumbs-up for their space program. Then a few days ago, I was looking at my site statistics and realized that someone from Russia is reading my blog. So I did what any rational person would do under similar circumstances: I freaked out and called Ken:

Me: I think I’ve just caused an international incident.
Ken: What are you talking about?
Me: Remember last week when I was dissing the Russians for losing a lot of wars? Well, someone from Russia is reading my blog. What if it’s the KGB?
Me: It’s not funny. If I don’t come home this weekend, you’ll know why. I told the Russians to contact me if they wanted some of my organs—what if they thought I was serious?
Ken: I’m sure no one is coming all the way from Russia to kidnap you and torture you just because you said they were bad at war.

So instead of worrying constantly about being reprimanded by Stephen Harper for violating some kind of peace treaty, or having my organs harvested, I decided the best thing to do was say some nice things about Russia by way of an apology. So here are “5 Great Things About Russia”.

1) Some of the best music composers in history come from Russia. Tchaikovsky is one of my personal favourites, but there are many more. The Russians know good music when they hear it.

2) They are really good at hockey. When I was in Grade 2 and we had the Russia-Canada hockey series, everyone was shocked by the precision and talent of the Red Army, which proves that Russians have some military prowess after all. I mean LOTS of military prowess. Obviously.

3) They are snappy dressers.

4) Their alphabet is crazy—crazy in that GOOD way. It puts all the other alphabets to shame, with its artistic flair and no-nonsense pronunciation.

5) They have one of the best art museums in the world—The Hermitage. It’s been a dream of mine to visit it one day, and I would prefer to go there voluntarily, and not as part of a trade deal to assuage the Russians’ hurt feelings over some of my previous comments.

So there you are. To Russia with love.

Monday: I bring home a new chair and it causes problems.

On Monday, I had to take my recycling down to the big garbage room, which I never mind, because it’s also sometimes a treasure trove of other peoples’ discarded furniture. I had just finished putting my cardboard in the dumpster (which is tricky because I’m a bit of a germaphobe and I have to do this while not actually TOUCHING the dumpster), when I heard the sound of someone clearing his throat. I peeked around the corner of the dumpster, and there he was—a bit shabby, but with unmistakable possibilities. And by his accent, he was obviously French Provincial.

French Chair: Why, ‘allo there, ma cherie. You are looking fine this evening.
Me: (blushing): Who, me?
French Chair: But of course. I was ‘oping, cherie, that you might be able to help me.
Me: What can I do for you?
French Chair: Zee truth is, I am terribly lonely down in this smelly garbage room. Please take me home with you.

I had to consider this carefully. I already had a couple of chairs, one of whom was extremely obnoxious. But still, this fellow WAS rather charming, and I knew that, with a fresh coat of paint, he would be a real keeper. So I took him up to my condo and put him in the corner of the bedroom. He was really grateful and promised not to stare at me while I was sleeping. But then the problems started.

Obnoxious Chair: Excuse me! Who the hell is THAT?!
Me: What? It’s a chair. What’s wrong?
OC: Where did you find him? At the dump?
Me: Actually, downstairs in the big garbage room. He’s French.
OC: I don’t care if he’s the KING of f*ing France—he’s a vagrant! It was bad enough when you brought home that derelict loveseat–
Loveseat: SCREW YOU, OC!
Me: Everyone just calm down. You know, OC, I’d think you’d be a little more understanding, all things considered.
OC: What do you mean, “all things considered”?
Me: I mean I bought you at an auction, so you don’t really have the right to be so smug.
OC (sputtering): Smug? SMUG?! I was in ‘NAM! You don’t know what I’ve seen!
Me: You weren’t “in ‘Nam”–stop telling people that! The closest you ever came to being in Viet Nam was watching Apocalypse Now, and you hid in the corner when they started burning the jungle with flamethrowers.
OC (whispers): The horror. The horror.
Me: The French chair is staying. Make your peace with that.
OC: Fine. But don’t come crying to me when the KGB takes you away.
Me: I already apologized to the Russians.
OC: But not for your taste in decorating.
Me: Screw you, OC.

Wednesday: I go to the circus

On Wednesday at lunch, a colleague and I decided to go out for a walk. It was a beautiful day and it seemed a shame not to take advantage of it. Little did we know that we were actually going to the circus. And we didn’t even have to pay admission.

The Never-Ending Line-up for the Rollercoaster (the emotional rollercoaster, that is): Then we went into Loblaw’s to pick up snacks for later. I had a very small bag of gluten-free pretzels, which cost more than a jumbo bag of regular pretzels, and we headed to the “Express” check-out. Where we waited, and waited, and waited, while the cashier and the two women ahead of us performed their very own “Comedy of Errors” over things like not being able to scan a container of soup, or pushing the wrong button on the debit pin pad and having to start ALL OVER AGAIN. Every time we thought we were making progress, there was another hold-up and our hopes were yet again dashed. And just like a rollercoaster, we waited in line forever, and when it was finally our turn, the ride was over in seconds. Mostly because I know how to use a pin pad correctly.

The Tunnel of Horror: On our way back from Loblaw’s, we had to walk under the scaffolding in front of the Carlton Theatre. It’s been there for months to protect pedestrians from the potential of falling concrete from the balconies above. The repair process seems to be very slow, and the whole thing looks extremely dangerous. We were just in the middle of the tunnel, and I was trying to sidestep a subway grate out of an irrational fear that it would give way and I’d fall onto a moving train, when the construction workers started yelling to each other. It was Italian and it sounded very ominous. My colleague and I simultaneously threw our arms over our heads and ducked—as if that was going to prevent us being crushed by a slab of cement. Then the construction workers started laughing, and we realized they weren’t signaling impending disaster—they’d just seen the bearded lady, who apparently was hanging around, waiting for more non-Tweeting paparazzi. The only good thing was that I discovered I wasn’t the only one who was deathly afraid of scaffolding.

The Clown Tent: Next, we went across the street to a small optometrist’s shop to get my glasses adjusted. We were in line behind an elderly lady with rosy cheeks and silvery-white hair. She was complaining that her glasses were loose, and the optometrist was adjusting them as she prattled on about needing them for things like knitting. Then he handed them to her to try and she turned around to face us. Instead of cute little wire-framed granny glasses, she was wearing giant, round, thick black frames that magnified her eyes to 5 times their size. My colleague and I looked at each other in shock, then spent the next few minutes trying NOT to fall on the floor in hysterics. Seriously, all she needed was a fake nose and moustache, and she would have been right at home on the Groucho Marx Show.


The Invisible Girl: Finally, we made it back to the office. We got on the elevator, still laughing at the three-ring spectacle we’d experienced, when several other people got into the elevator car and I took a step backwards. “Ahem,” came a voice from behind me. I turned around in shock and realized that I had backed into a girl standing in the corner of the elevator. Where the hell had she COME from? I was sure she hadn’t been there when we got on. She was like a mean ghost, giving me really dirty looks, and was less than impressed when my colleague and I kept looking at each other, trying to be serious, then dissolving into laughter again. When we got to our floor and got off the elevator, I said to my colleague, “Did YOU see that girl?” He replied that he hadn’t either. Which led me to this question: If your superpower is invisibility, can’t you think of a better use for it than hiding in elevators and then getting pissed off at people when they step on you?

So, yep, Toronto is a crazy circus town most days. But unlike a real circus, where you can breathe in the intoxicating scent of cotton candy and caramel apples, the Toronto circus bowls you over with the off-putting stench of urine and garbage. Ah, Toronto, you crazy, smelly town.

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