My Week 78: I’m Not an Intellectual, Another Haunted Bathroom

Tuesday: I am NOT an intellectual

On Tuesday morning, I discovered, to my horror, that I had made a mistake. It wasn’t an unfixable mistake, and I’d caught it before it caused a problem, but still, it was a mistake. I pride myself on being very meticulous and careful, and it made me feel suddenly like I didn’t know my own mind anymore. Two of my wonderful colleagues saw that I was upset, and comforted me. “It’s happened to all of us,” said one. “You should feel good that you found it before it was too late.” “Come for sushi with us,” said the other. “It will make you feel better.” Oh, the irony. So we went to a local sushi place, them so that they could keep discussing a meeting they’d been to that morning, and me so that I could drown my sorrows in teriyaki and seaweed. I should tell you right up front that I have a severe shellfish allergy, so when I ordered, I asked for the vegetarian rolls with my chicken instead of the California rolls. “You know it’s not real crab in the California rolls, right?” said one colleague. “Real crab is too expensive—it’s probably hake.” Well, I didn’t know what that was either, and I wasn’t willing to risk my epipen finding out, although both of the other women jokingly thought it might be a fun experiment. Then, while we waited for the food, they began debating. Both women have Ph.Ds, so right away, I was feeling a little intimidated by their knowledge and experience, having only two Bachelor’s degrees and an incomplete M.A., so I stayed quiet. Then the food came, and I discovered to my horror, for the second time that day, that I had made a mistake, because the vegetarian rolls contained not only cucumber, but also avocado. WTF, Sushi Star?! I know that some people “like” eating avocado, in the same way I imagine that some people “like” natural childbirth—which is to say, it’s a totally masochistic thing to do, and there’s no medal waiting for you when you’re finished, although you think you deserve one. (This, of course, is just my opinion. If you can have a baby without drugs, or eat avocado without gagging, then go for it. Just don’t be all braggy and sh*t.) Anyway, I decided to try one roll, just to see if I could stomach it. The answer was a clear NO. And just in case you think this is just me being bizarre, here’s a link to an article that I found called “20 Pieces of Proof That Avocadoes are the Worst and Should Be Stopped”

(http://www.cosmopolitan.co.uk/entertainment/a38880/20-reasons-avocados-worst/)

Let me remind you at this point that the conversation was still swirling around me—I believe the topic at this point was “how do we really define homogeny?” But I can’t be sure, because I was more focused on how to get the avocado out of the next sushi roll without the whole thing falling apart. I tried poking it out with my chopstick, but the damn stuff was so soft that my chopstick just went right through. And then I had the secondary issue of having avocado-slime-covered chopsticks, and I had to scrape the green paste off against the side of the bento box. I couldn’t just bang it out of the roll, so finally, I resorted to trying to push it out with my finger. Which only resulted in getting avocado all over my fingers, and my sushi rolls falling apart into a heap. So there I was, up to my elbows in pasty, slimy avocado. Obviously, this was the moment I decided that it would be a good time to engage in the conversation, which had turned to “Name one country that is truly homogenous.” Distracted by my predicament, staring at my hands and wondering where the napkins were hiding, I blurted out “China.” The conversation stopped dead. My two colleagues turned to look at me, probably for the first time since the whole avocado debacle had begun. “What?” said one. “There are at least 14 different dialects spoken across 8 distinct regions of China!” (I’m making those numbers up—I was still too distracted by my predicament to really pay attention). The lecture on Chinese culture continued, and I was beginning to regret my sad, Dormouse-like contribution when the other woman countered, “No, she’s absolutely right. This adds a whole other layer to the issue–how do we differentiate between the political will to create the perception of homogeny, and true diversity?” and in my head, I was like “Hells Yeah! I win, stupid avocado!” Apparently, they were so embroiled in the debate that neither of them had noticed my dissected lunch, or the fact that I was trying to scrape green goo out from under my fingernails. At least that’s what I thought until later. One of the women invited me over for dinner, and when her husband told us enthusiastically that he had put avocado in the salad, she leaned over to me and whispered, “Don’t worry—you can pick it out.” Avocado – 1, Intellectualism – 0.

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Thursday: I encounter yet ANOTHER bathroom ghost

Bathrooms have always been a source of anxiety for me. Mostly because of the ghosts. If you’ve read My Week 69: Ghost Stories, you’ll know what I mean. First, there was the ghost in my own bathroom, then there was the ghost in the bathroom at The Keg. Sure, I have other anxieties about bathrooms, especially public ones, like flushing no matter what I’m doing so that no one will hear me, or worrying about someone going into the stall right after me and judging me harshly. In fact, I’ve been known to say to a co-worker who’s just come in, “You might want to avoid stall 5”. I never know if that’s more awkward than just letting the person go in and hope they have a cold or something—either way, bathrooms stress me out. And now, I have another reason to fear the bathrooms at work, since I had a close encounter of a ghostly kind.

On Thursday afternoon, not long after lunch, I walked down the hall to the bathroom. Things were pretty quiet, it being a snow day and everything, so not a lot of people were around. I took the time to stop and congratulate the receptionist, a lovely younger woman, on her recent engagement. We chatted for a bit, then I continued on my way. I opened the outer door to the facilities, and then pushed at the inner door, at which point I realized that the motion-sensitive lights were off. As they began to come on, I heard the most terrifying noise—it sounded like someone in the first stall was freaking out and slamming the toilet paper dispenser. I could see a shadow flickering, and thought for a second that it was the building’s custodian replacing the roll or something, but then I realized that there was NO ONE IN THE STALL. Without even thinking, I tore out of there like a bat out of hell and ran around behind the reception desk, shaking. “What happened?!” asked the receptionist.

“There’s something in the bathroom!” I said, hyperventilating. “What are you talking about? What’s in the bathroom?! I thought I heard banging—what was it?!” “I don’t know, but there’s definitely something in there!”

I described to her what happened, and after a minute, she agreed to go back in with me and check it out. This was NOT a decision that either of us took lightly, and we tiptoed to the door, and very cautiously re-opened it. “Where was the noise coming from?” she asked.

“The first stall,” I answered. “Oh my god, not the first stall!” she exclaimed. “That stall is haunted! The receptionist who used to work here told me that!”

At which point, we both ran out of the bathroom back to the reception desk. “I can’t go back in there,” I said. “What am I going to do? I really need to go.”

“Use the one downstairs,” she said. “Here’s the code.”

So I went downstairs, but it was almost as bad, maybe because I was still shaken up. But the door creaked like someone crying, which freaked me out, and there was a dark room at the back with a couch in it that I had to check first to make sure no one was hiding in it.

The rest of the afternoon was stressful. My work partner had left to visit her parents, and I needed to use the bathroom one more time before I got on the train, but there was no one to come with me. I wandered past reception again, hoping that I could catch someone going in the ‘bathroom of death’ and wander in behind her. I was in luck—another co-worker was chatting with the receptionist.

“You wouldn’t happen to be on your way to the ladies’ room?” I asked. “I was…why?” she asked suspiciously. “What’s going on?” I was looking hedgy, and the receptionist was giggling. “Oh, nothing. I just had something weird happen earlier, and it freaked me out a little.” I explained to her what happened, and she said, “Oh, I know what that was!”

We went into the bathroom, and without fear or hesitation, she opened the door to the first stall. “See the automated sanitary dispenser? It’s broken. When the overhead lights come on, it triggers the sensor in the lid, and it flaps up and down like crazy. Makes a terrible noise.” She demonstrated, and sure enough, that was what I heard. I sagged in relief, then we both looked at each other and started to laugh hysterically. We went back out to the reception area and told the receptionist what had happened.

“Oh, no,” she said. “That’s not what the other woman used to say. She said that the door to the stall would swing open and shut all by itself.”

My co-worker and I looked at each other nervously. “Must just be the wind,” I said, and we all agreed to agree.

 

 

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My Week 77: Soap and Sexism, A Dead What?!

Sunday: Soapmaking and sexism

Last December, Ken and I went with some friends to a soap-making workshop. It was a lot of fun; we all experimented with different colours and scents, and ended up with about 36 bars, which in soap years will take us to retirement. But then, not long ago, the soap instructor messaged me to say that I’d won the draw for a free soap-making session. I wasn’t surprised because I hardly ever win anything, but when I do, it’s always soap-related. For example, a few months ago, my Lancôme lady Lisa called to say I won a gift basket in a draw, and I was super-excited until I got said gift basket, which was made up of dish soap and hand soap from Cuchina (an upscale kitchen store), and was NOT make-up, perfume, or fancy cream. Honestly, if Lotto Max prize was soap instead of millions of dollars, I’m pretty certain I would win the lottery every week. And instead of a giant cheque, I’d be presented with a humungous bar of soap to go with all the other soap I won. But making your own soap is actually fun, and I wanted to do it, but it was with other people I didn’t know. That was a problem because I’m really awful at making small talk with strangers. Actually, that’s not exactly true—I can MAKE the small talk, but I FEEL awful about it. Then Ken said he would go with me, or more accurately, I told him that WE had won a free-soapmaking session and that we just had to pay for him.

On Sunday, we discussed in the car what kind of soap we each wanted to make. I was going to make something with lavender flowers, and maybe something I could put away until Christmas, because everyone loves soap as a Christmas gift, am I right? Ken tossed around a few ideas, but wanted to wait until we got there to decide. Ken is very creative, and his previous batch of black and lime green “Peppermint Licorice Swirl” was a big hit with the family. We were the first to arrive, and were told we were waiting for three other women. Now before I start the rest of this story, let me say upfront that I’ve never give any real thought to “reverse sexism”. The whole notion of “what men should do/wear/like” versus what women should do/wear/like is pretty foreign to me. I grew up with a dad who was a toolmaker by trade, then a machine shop teacher, a pretty “manly”, Scotch-loving guy, but he also took me to my first symphony when I was six (I fell asleep–sorry about that, Dad, but Brahms?), and taught me the difference between Luciano Pavarotti and Placido Domingo’s opera voices, and never once in my living memory told me that I couldn’t do something because I was a girl. My father-in-law was a dairy farmer his whole life, but he’s also an avid photographer, and spends his spare time experimenting with glass-fusing—he even has his own kiln. My brother, a lawyer with a PhD, can be pretty fierce in court, but he loves his garden, sings to his son, and came with me once for a pedicure. And Ken? Ken is the most creative person I’ve ever met. He has amazing spatial perception and can build me anything I asked him to, he writes poetry, and he’s been known to spend hours taking photographs of the way the light reflects off the Christmas tree ornaments. So, long story short, it would never even occur to me that a soapmaking class is somewhere a guy SHOULDN’T be. Then the other women came in, and the first thing one of them (I’m going to call her ‘Babs’) said was, “Oh my god! How did you get your husband to come with you? MY husband would never come to something like this!”

How do you even respond to that? Of course, I didn’t get it right away. My first thought was that maybe he was allergic to soap, or had some kind of physical disability which would prevent him from participating. I was about to ask, in all sincerity, “Is there something wrong with him?”, when I realized that she was actually implying that there was something wrong with MY husband for being there. She didn’t say it in a wistful kind of way, like “I wish MY husband enjoyed hanging out with me and liked doing fun stuff like this.” No, it was more like she was being very judge-y. It pissed me off, but I didn’t know her at all, so I just looked at Ken, who was happily choosing his colours and scents for “Lemon Poppyseed Loaf” (see photograph below, the yellow-y one), smiled tightly and said, “He’s very good at soap.” Yes, I know it was a sh*tty comeback, but what was I going to say? “Your husband sounds like a dick” would have been appropriate, but then again a) maybe Babs never even asked him to come and he might have said “Yes” if she had and b) I didn’t want to get kicked out of soap class for being a sweary trouble-maker.

Then we started doing the mixing, and everyone was having fun, so I let the whole thing go. Two of the great things about our instructor are that she always mixes up the lye for you so that you don’t accidentally scorch your lungs, and that she loves to experiment and has all kinds of weird stuff that you can put in or on your bars, like coffee grounds for exfoliating, or flower petals for texture, or sparkles just to make it look interesting. Which is where Bab’s reverse sexism reared its ugly head once again. She was making a blue and green conglomeration for her sons with a scent called “Monkey Farts” (I know right? But it smells like candy, and if that’s what monkey flatulence actually smells like, then I want a monkey even more than I did before). The instructor offered her some blue sparkles, and she responded,

“They would never use soap with GLITTER on it!”

One of the other women said, “But glitter is fun. It would look great with the blue and green.”

Babs was relentless. “You don’t understand,” she insisted. “They’re REAL boys. There’s no way they’d touch it if I put glitter on it.”

I wanted to say, “They can’t be that real if they actually pay attention to the soap they’re using. If you can actually get them in the shower in the first place without a fight, who gives a sh*t about the soap?” (This might sound like a little reverse sexism of my own, but it’s based on my experiences with T when he was around the same age. And from what the mothers of other 13 year-olds have told me, apparently the girls can be just as willing as the boys to go three days without a shower, so it’s simply a phase which has nothing to do with gender. In fact, I still remember T telling me, “I don’t need a shower. My clothes are clean.”) But I was genuinely appalled by Babs’s attitude. Sure, women have had a lot to put up with through the ages, but I honestly believe that there will never be equality between the sexes until men stop being told that wearing pink makes them “girly” or that doing something creative is helping them get in touch with their “feminine side”. To me, this is just as bad as calling a girl a “tomboy” for NOT wanting to wear frilly dresses. Would you ever tell a woman that being a mechanic is helping her get in touch with her masculine side? I’m not blind to certain realities—boys and girls are sometimes predisposed to certain behaviours and activities. I tried really hard to make T play with dolls when he was little, but no matter what I gave him, he just turned it upside down and made Vroom Vroom noises with it. But that didn’t make him a REAL boy any more than thinking that glitter is cool makes a man less than a man. I mean, where would the world be today if David Bowie hadn’t liked glitter? My best advice is to let your kids wear what they want, play with whatever toys appeal to them, and give them all, boy or girl, the opportunity to get in touch with their creative side. And most of all, don’t judge them based on gender. In the end though, I kept my opinion to myself—it’s never a good idea to speak your mind when you’re working with caustic acids.

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Monday: This Broken Jaw of Our Lost Kingdoms. OR What the F*ck is That?!

On Monday, right before dinner, I was in the kitchen chopping mushrooms. Ken and I have a deal—I do all the cooking, and he does all the cleaning up. This works for us, because I love cooking and hate doing dishes, and he can’t cook. OK, he can cook certain things, but I don’t want tacos or pasta every night. And he’s currently going through a phase where he’s trying different brownie recipes to see which one is the best, but he refuses to use gluten-free flour, so he’s on his own with that experiment. Anyway, I was getting dinner ready, when Ken came into the kitchen holding something very gingerly between his index finger and thumb.

Ken: Look what I just took away from Titus. He was chewing it in the yard.
Me: WHAT THE F*CK IS THAT?!
Ken: I’m not sure.
Me: Is it human?! Oh my god, call the cops!
Ken: Don’t worry. I don’t think it’s human. It’s not quite big enough.
Me: If it’s not human, then what the hell kind of animal is it? How did it get in our yard? Did you say Titus was chewing on it?! That is SO gross!
Ken: I’m going back out to see if there are any more “parts” in the yard.
Me: Don’t put it on the counter! Or at least wrap it in paper towel or something! Titus, stop jumping! You’re not getting it back.
Titus: But it’s so yummy…
Me: Oh my god, I can’t even.

What Ken had brought in the house was part of a very large jawbone, complete with teeth. On second glance, the teeth didn’t look human so I stopped googling “Canadian CSI” and started a new search. Did you know that if you google “dead animal jaw”, there are literally thousands of images of dead animal jaws available for you to look at? Who exactly is posting this stuff? Anyway, I started narrowing it down until I decided it looked the most like a deer jaw. But then the mystery deepened. Namely, how the hell did a deer jaw get into our fenced yard? I’m pretty sure I would have noticed if a deer had died out back—the vultures would have been a good tip-off, for starters. And I’m pretty sure none of our neighbours are hunters, but even if they were, we get along pretty well with them, and I can’t see any of them lobbing a deer jaw onto our property just for fun. I mean, there was an incident a few years back when the people on the corner kept letting their dog take its daily dump on our front lawn. The final straw came when we saw the man taking it for a walk, and deliberately putting it onto our grass to do its business. So Ken scooped up all the poo in a shovel, rang their doorbell, and when the woman answered, he said, “I believe this belongs to you,” and he dropped it all onto their porch. Their dog never came near our yard again. But in terms of retaliation, it’s not like we were slaughtering deer on THEIR lawn and giving them a reason to fling the bits back. So I’m still at a loss as to how it ended up in Titus’s mouth. Ken and I speculated for a while:

Ken: Maybe another animal carried it into our yard.
Me: What? Like people carry around rabbits’ feet? “What’s that you’ve got there?” “Oh, it’s my lucky dead animal jaw.” Besides, any animal big enough to carry that thing around is TOO big to get through the fence.
Ken: A bird could have dropped it…
Me: How big a bird are we talking about? I don’t think most birds outweigh that thing. And why? It’s not like you could make a nest with it.
Ken: A squirrel?
Me: Squirrels ARE assholes. Wait–maybe one of neighbours is a Satanist, and it was part of some weird ritual. Keep an eye on them.

A week later, we still haven’t discovered the origin of “this broken jaw of our lost kingdoms”. That’s from T.S. Eliot’s poem “The Hollow Men”, and every time I look at the gross thing, I think of that line, especially since now I’m afraid to go out into my “kingdom” in case there are more pieces of dead deer lying around. By the way, if you’re wondering why I said “every time” I look at it, it’s because we still have it. We figured we might need it as evidence for when the Satanic cult in our neighbourhood is exposed. Plus, it IS kind of cool in its own disgusting way. See what you think. The screwdriver is there for scale.

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My Week 76: My Wig Experiment, Mishima Has A Near-Death Experience

Wednesday: I buy a wig

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

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

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

On Friday, at the end of the day, I was starting to get a little nervous about my plan. Would it be obvious? Would people think I was weird? I took Cleo into the bathroom and manoeuvered it onto my head. It was a little harder to adjust than when the wig shop owner had done it, but I finally got it looking symmetrical. When I came out to get my bags, a few co-workers were still there. “Wow!” said one, “It looks so real!” “Your husband is going to LOVE it!” said another. This made me feel a little better and not quite so self-conscious. On the train, when the drink cart came around, the female conductor did a bit of a double-take, mostly because I order from her every week. “I’m wearing a wig today,” I whispered. “That’s OK,” she said, like I was asking her permission, but she did assure me that it looked very natural. So I tipped her, which I don’t normally do, because technically she’s not a waitress, and because the train is such a big rip-off in the first place. The only difference between “Escape” fare and “Economy Plus” is twenty-five bucks—it’s still the same train car, the same seat, and the same overpriced wine, but if you don’t buy your ticket a week in advance, all the “Escape” tickets are sold out. So no plus. Nice try, Via Rail.

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

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

I kept it on until we got to the store where T works. His reaction was a little more favourable—he laughed pleasantly, hugged me and said it “looked good”. And then we got home, where Titus met me at the door.

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

Raven didn’t seem to think it was strange either, giving me a perfunctory “Hey” as she walked by on her way to the litter box. And Mishima—well, that’s another story. Which I will tell you momentarily. Overall though, I’m happy I bought the wig. And I understand Ken’s reaction because he does the same thing when we’re out shopping. If I see something cool and ask him if he likes it too, he always says “No”, even if he does like it, because he’s worried that if he agrees with me, I’ll buy it. It’s taken 25 years to get him to understand that I just like to window shop. So I think he was concerned that if he said he liked the wig, I’d never take it off. We’d be like 90, and in a retirement home, I’d still be wearing “Cleopatra”, and all the old guys would want to “play Bingo” with me because I had the best hair.

Thursday: Mishima goes on a road trip

On Thursday night, Ken called me.

Ken: I have to tell you something, but don’t worry—everything is OK.
Me: What?! What happened?
Ken: Titus and I went for a walk, and when we got back, Titus didn’t care about a cookie, which is COMPLETELY unlike him—he just kept trying to run into the kitchen. So I followed him in and he went straight over to where the toaster oven is. Mishima was lying there on the floor.
Me: Oh my god! What happened?
Ken: He was still breathing, so I scooped him up and put him back in his tank. After a minute, he started to swim around. His one fin looks a little iffy, but he seems OK otherwise.
Me: How the hell did he get down there? That’s like at least 5 feet away from his tank.
Ken: I don’t know. I suspected the cat, but she was upstairs sleeping on a chair.Me: I’ll find out tomorrow when I come home.

Last night, after the wig incident, I finally had a chance to ask the damn fish what he’d been up to. I was a little surprised at my reaction the night before because frankly, he can be quite the diva, and after 4 years, I still can’t convince him to stop telling people that he was in ‘Nam. Plus, he has way more followers on Twitter than I do. Still, he has a certain charm, and he keeps me company when I’m cooking (because his tank is on the kitchen island so he really has no choice).

Me: So what the hell were you doing the other night? You scared me to death.
Mishima: What are you talking about?
Me: Your little “road trip”?
Mishima: Oh that. I was trying to punch the cat in the throat using a special manoeuver that I learned in the Marines. I overextended my reach and ended up sliding across the counter onto the floor.
Me: Stop pretending you were in the American military. For the last time, you’re a 4 year-old Canadian fish. Why were you trying to punch the cat in the throat?! You could have died.
Mishima: Ask her, the furry little hellion.  I’m not saying another word. Plus, I have a three second memory, so I’m not actually sure anymore.

I found Raven in her usual spot, curled up in a patch of sun on T’s bed.

Me: Explain yourself. What did you do to the fish?
Raven: I was thirsty. He got all pissy about me drinking out of his tank, and the next thing I know, he started yelling, “Hiyah! Hiyah!”, flew over my head and landed on the floor. What was I supposed to do?  Dial 911? I was laughing too hard.
Me: He could have died. Stop drinking out of his tank.
Raven: Fine. The water tastes like sh*t anyway.
Me: There’s a reason for that. Do you see a separate bathroom in there? Where do you THINK he goes?
Raven: I’d be more grossed out, but I lick my own ass, so…

So, between the wig, the fish’s near death experience, and me finding out that my novel may be getting published (I’m saying nothing more until I have absolute confirmation), it’s been an interesting week. But then again, it always is.

 

My Week 75: Ken is Weirder Than Me, Is That a Light Sabre in Your Pocket…?

Sunday: Ken is weirder than me and I can prove it

I realize that I have my own quirks. I’m sure I do, even though I’ve sat here for several minutes trying to think about what they might be. Ok, here’s one—I might be a tad “obsessive”. Two weeks ago, I lost the back of an earring in my bathroom. I looked all over for it and couldn’t find it. It wouldn’t have made much difference except that it was a rather expensive, sterling silver earring back, specially designed to screw onto the earring post instead of just slide onto it. The last time one of them fell off, I stepped on it and crushed it. When I went to the jewellery store for a replacement, the woman asked if I wanted white gold or sterling, and that there was a price difference between the two. I asked how much the gold one might be, and was shocked—Ken and I could have gone to the Keg for that price. So I went with the silver, which cost the equivalent of Swiss Chalet for a family of four. Needless to say, when I heard the earring back drop onto the floor, I had a moment of panic. Which only increased as it became obvious that it had disappeared into some vortex of hopelessness under my bathroom vanity. I got down on my hands and knees, but I have sensitive knees and the wooden floor is hard, so I ended up lying prone, sweeping my arm back and forth under the vanity, hoping that I could feel it. Nope. Then I systematically moved all the furniture in the room and swept underneath everything. Nope. Ken got a flashlight, and looked into the far reaches of the baseboards. Nope. I got my hair dryer and blew it underneath the vanity. All I got for my efforts was dust bunnies. I went back to Toronto that week, very put out, and creating plans in my mind for how to best find the earring back. OK, I realize that this is probably the most “first world” problem that I could possibly have, but imagine if, instead of me, a government employee, and the missing object, an earring back, I was a farmer, and the object was my goat. No one would think twice if I was obsessing over the fact that my goat had mysteriously disappeared from a small, locked room. But I had a clever plan that would surely turn up my goat. When I came home last weekend, I got the vacuum cleaner out, and put the toe of a pair of panty hose on the end of the nozzle. I only have one pair of panty hose, having refused to wear them for the last 18 years on the grounds that they make my legs twitchy, which is maybe like another quirk. These nylons were from a Hallowe’en costume that I’d worn for my birthday party, and they were all glittery. I’d put them on and within 5 minutes, I was regretting having skin. At the end of the party, I may or may not have torn them off, wadded them into a ball, and flung them into the far reaches of the closet, screaming “F*cking panty hose! I hate you! I hope you die!” Anyway, Ken also thought my plan was pretty good, and watched supportively while I sucked up more lint with my clever contraption. Finally, I went to clean the nozzle. “Eureka!” I yelled, my heart soaring as I saw something silver in with all the hair and dust. Ken said, “Did you find your earring back?” “Well,” I answered, heart sinking again, “I found AN earring back. This one looks like it’s been under there for about 20 years.” I have as yet been unable to locate my goat, and Ken is now convinced that it must have fallen down the hole around the sink pipe. Now though, every time I go into the bathroom, I look around in hope. Hope which is immediately dashed as I realize that my goat/earring back is gone forever.

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Anyway, back to Ken. I may be obsessive about things, but Ken is weirder than me. This simple trip to the grocery store is my proof.

1) On Sunday after lunch, we decided to get groceries. As we were leaving, he turned the outside lights on. “How long do you think we’re going to be gone for?!” I asked. He claimed it was just force of habit, but I worried that it would attract burglars. “Oh look,” the burglars will say. “Their outdoor lights are on. They must be away from home for a LONG time. Let’s go steal their stuff.” When I told Ken that, he scoffed and said that Titus would scare off any burglars. Titus just laughed and said, “Hey man—this tail wags ITSELF.” And while I have no idea what that means, I now know why our electric bill is so high. (As a side note, while I was writing this, someone came to the door, and Titus barked like crazy then sat in front of me protectively while I talked to the person, so maybe I’m wrong about the whole burglary thing. And I’m baking him special cookies today as a thank you.)

2) As I got into the SUV, I looked back at the house and realized that there was a large, plastic bag on the roof of the porch. “Hey, Ken,” I said. “There’s a large, plastic bag on the roof of the porch. How the hell did it get up there?”

Ken: It was probably the wind.
Me: What? There’s no way the wind could have blown it up there. Do you know anything about this?
Ken: Um…
Me: What did you do? What’s in the bag?
Ken: Dog poo.
Me: Why in the name of God is there a large bag of dog poo on the porch roof?!
Ken: Well, I was scooping up Titus’s poo in the yard, and I thought I’d try throwing the bag into the garbage can from over by the fire pit. I aimed a little high, I guess.
Me: When was this?
Ken: Thursday.
Me: Why the f*ck is it still up there?!
Ken: The ladder’s all snowy. I was waiting for the weather to get warmer. Don’t worry—it’s not going anywhere.
Me: I can’t even. Get it off there today.

3) Then, as we were on our way to the grocery store, Ken insisted on taking his fancy shortcut, which is intersected by the train yard. Every single time we go that way, we get stopped by the slowest f*cking train in the universe. Sometimes they even just stop on the tracks. I’ve asked Ken why he always wants to take that route, and he claims that it’s “usually faster”, which is what I call “a lie”. If I had a dollar for every time we had to turn around and go a different way, I’d have enough money to buy another earring back.

4) Then we got to the grocery store. Instead of going to the normal, human cashier, Ken always wants to use “self-check-out”. Self-check-out is the single most inefficient thing ever invented, even worse than a salad spinner (because the lettuce is NEVER DRY ENOUGH). We have never once been through the self-check-out where we haven’t had to “call for an attendant” because I didn’t put the item in the bag properly, or the scanner can’t read the bar code, or God forbid, we have a coupon. As usual, this trip was no different because Ken tried to rearrange the items in the old, reusable bags that he makes us use because it’s “better for the environment”, and it freaked the machine out. Then we had to wait for a human cashier to come and reset the scanner. Seriously, let’s cut out the middleman and just use the human. The worst part about the self-check-out is at the end, where the machine has the nerve to say, “Please indicate how many bags you wish to purchase.” I don’t WISH to purchase ANY bags, frankly. But Ken won’t let me lie and say “Zero”, even though I tell him it’s semantics, and that if the machine would simply say, “How many bags are you using?” I wouldn’t have a problem with it. Nah, I still would.

5) We were finally on our way home. Ken decided to take the highway. It’s literally one kilometre (which is like .6 of a mile), but when I looked over, I realized he had the cruise control on. For ONE KILOMETRE. I said, “Really? You can’t keep your foot on the accelerator for two minutes?” But Ken is convinced that cruise control is better for the vehicle—less wear and tear on the engine. This is one of his many “theories about cars” that make me give my head a shake. Like, you can’t have the windows down if you have the air conditioning on. I’m like “Why? It’s not like we’re paying for the air conditioning, and I like the combination of cold air on my feet and warm air on my shoulders.” But Ken insists that it puts “strain on the engine”. I think he’s just making it up, and sometimes just to bug him, I’ll put down the window when he has the air conditioning on. Then, when he turns the air off, I put the window back up. Then he puts the air back on, and I put the window down again. Then…well, you get the idea. I’m fun and annoying all rolled into one little package.

6) I can mock all I want, but Ken’s best quirk is when we finally get home, and it’s really cold, and he says, “You go on ahead and open the door, and I’ll bring the groceries in.” Because he might have some strange affectations, but he’s the greatest husband ever. He does all the heavy lifting, in more ways than one, puts up with my earring back obsessions, and he never complains when I write about him. Of course, he hasn’t read this yet…

Thursday: T gets a light sabre.

I called T’s cell on Thursday night, and he answered on speakerphone:

Me: Where’s your dad?
T (distracted): What? I don’t know…
Me: What are you doing right now? What are those noises?
T: It’s my new, awesome light sabre.
Me: Please. Tell me all about your “new, awesome light sabre”.
T: It’s airplane grade aluminum, polycarbon blades, and LED lights.
Me: How much did it cost?
T: __________ dollars.
Me: What?!! Are you joking?!
T: It’s totally worth it.
Me: Holy sh*t. If you can afford to spend that kind of money on a light sabre, I’d better be getting a really amazing Mother’s Day present.
T: Yeah, for Mother’s Day, I’ll let you touch my light sabre.
Me: Honey, I changed your diaper for two years. Your “light sabre” and I are no strangers.
T: Oh my god, Mom! My light sabre is NOT a euphemism.
Me: No, but it would be a great pick-up line: “Hey baby—want to come back to my place and see my light sabre…”
T: Mom, stop! That’s—oh sh*t, I just hit the dog with it.
Me: Well, as long as you don’t cut off his paw and tell him that you’re his father.
Titus (in background): T’s my father?! Best day ever!!!
Me: Sigh. Tell your dad I called.

I came home last night, and T showed me the light sabre. He wasn’t lying. It is pretty awesome, but I needed to get one thing cleared up:

Me: Why doesn’t it retract?
T: Because it’s not actually a REAL light sabre. Obviously.
Me: So long as we all understand that, I’m good. Use the force, Luke. Find my earring back.