My Week 83: Back to Routine, A Present for Not Dying

Monday: The more things change, the more they stay the same.

After three weeks of working off site, I finally returned to the office on Monday. My secret agency is located right in the heart of downtown, and wow, it was sure good to be back. I hadn’t had anyone ask me for money, scream uncontrollably, or yell at me about Jesus for a while. Wait—before you get the wrong idea, I’m NOT talking about work (well, at least not my current job) because no one at work EVER yells. It’s literally the most civilized place of employment on the planet, and it’s great to walk in and have people so pleased to see you. It’s just that I live in a very “unstable” neighbourhood. But still, it’s MY neighbourhood, and you get used to all the zany things that happen on a daily basis. And by “zany” , I mean weird, frightening, and often disgusting. But not always—there ARE some nice things that I actually like about the area. So here are some of the crazy things that happened this week:

Monday: I had to get groceries. I have two choices—a Metro or Loblaws. They are equidistant from my condo, and the decision regarding which one to go to usually rests on the number and type of homeless people on the way there, and how much money I have in my purse. On Monday, there was a scary guy on the Metro corner who was yelling and pulling down his jeans, and I had no intention of being there when he decided that his boxer shorts were equally uncomfortable. So I headed the other way, towards panhandlers I knew were harmless. I always ask them if they want something from the grocery store, and it’s usually a cup of coffee or lasagna from the hot lunch counter, but I think they’ve all figured out that I’m an easy mark, because John wanted a loaf of bread and a tub of margarine, and Mike wanted a jar of Nescafe Expresso, which he assured me was “on sale for half-price”. Apparently, the coffee at the Food Bank is crappy, and he was craving something a little better to go with the Rice Krispie square that someone had given him. But hey—who am I to begrudge them life’s little pleasures? At least they keep their pants on.

Tuesday: My work partner L and I decided to go to Tim Horton’s to scout out some lunch. We are both a little obsessive about Tim’s Cream of Potato and Bacon soup, which is hardly ever on the menu, but it’s quite possibly the BEST F*CKING SOUP EVER INVENTED, so we live in hope. We hit the doorway, and scared the bejeezus out of some poor lady as we both yelled in unison, “The soup!! YES!!!!” and started fistpumping and highfiving each other maniacally. That’s right. Two grown women high fiving over soup. And then we had to say to the poor lady, who was looking around like a terrorist attack was impending, “Oh no—it’s OK—it’s just the soup.” But universal karma got me on the way out. I went to hold open the door for an elderly woman, who had simultaneously hit the Handicapped button with her cane. Instead of thanking me, she looked at me and snarled, “IT’S OPEN!” Crazy old bat—no soup for you!

tims soup

Wednesday: On my street, there are a couple of empty storefronts, which is weird because it’s such a busy neighbourhood that you’d think people would be dying to open businesses there. At any rate, the doorways of said storefronts are the nocturnal havens of numerous street people, who have no apparent problem sleeping in them and using them as bathrooms. I’m relatively used to the urine and occasional vomit, but on Wednesday morning, I passed the doorway of a former Sushi Express, and right in the middle of it was the biggest poop I’d ever seen. Obviously not a dog poop. Unless the dog was that three-headed thing from Harry Potter. But instead of being grossed out, I was intrigued. Like, how big was the guy who put it there, and how long had he been holding it in? I kept thinking about it all morning, and at lunch, my work partner and I walked down to Loblaw’s.

Me: Do you see that doorway over there?
L: Yes…
Me: There’s the largest bowel movement I’ve ever seen in my life in that doorway.
L: Why are you telling me this? Stop.
Me: No really—it’s gigantic. You wouldn’t believe it.
L: Eww. Really, you need to stop.
Me: Sigh. OK. (whispering) But it was soooo big.
L: STOP!

I’m lucky I work with such tolerant people. But it would have been really nice if she’d actually wanted to see it, just to confirm that it was indeed the largest poop in the world.

Thursday: There’s always a LOT of construction downtown, and right across the street from the office, they’ve been excavating a hole for a new condo building for the last year. Towards the end of the day, I wandered down the aisle, and happened to notice that the excavating seemed to be finished, and that suddenly, a big-ass crane was in the hole. I happened to remark on the presence of the crane, and my life suddenly turned into a Monty Python sketch (please imagine that the rest of the people in the following conversation are extremely excited and have thick French accents. Because they are and they do.)

Me: Wow that is one huge crane!
Male Colleague 1 (rushing to the window): I know! It wasn’t there last week, and suddenly now it is ‘ere!
Male Colleague 2: ‘Ow do they get it to the place? They must travel in the night!
Female Colleague: My brother, ‘e drives the crane truck. They bring the pieces in lying flat so they don’t ‘it the ‘ydro wires. Then they put it up, one piece at a time!
Everyone: Wow!
Male Colleague 3: My cousin, ‘e was killed by a crane. It was missing a safety pin, and it fell onto ‘im. ‘E was crushed.
Everyone (suddenly deflated): Oh…

There’s nothing like a sad crane story to ruin the party, folks.

Friday: If you send an email to the people on your team, make sure that you proofread it first so that it says “Sick Day” and not “Dick Day”. Because if it says “Dick Day”, the entire office will know, and be in good-natured hysterics most of the morning. No, surprisingly, it wasn’t me.

Saturday: Why I deserve a present for “not dying”.

In a little over a month, I will be having a fairly major surgery. It’s not elective, and I can’t back out of it. I am absolutely terrified, mostly because of the general anesthetic. I love how the doctor will say, “Count down from 100, and by the time you reach 95, you’ll be asleep”, because it’s not SLEEPING at all. Sleeping is where you have awesome dreams. Anesthetic is where you have no idea if you died or not. Just ask Michael Jackson. The only reason I know that I’m not dead every night is because I have very vivid weird dreams. The other night, for example, I had this bizarre dream where I was teaching math to a group of kids:

Me: And that’s how you figure out “less than” versus “greater than”.
Student: Why is that important?
Me: Because it’s the foundation for all other mathematics. Like algebra.
Student: What’s algebra?
Me: Algebra is when you have to find a solution to an equation that has a missing variable.
Student: What does THAT mean?
Me: Algebra is like being a detective, but instead of solving crimes, you’re solving for “x”.

Then I woke up in a cold sweat and yelled, “Is that right? How the F*CK do I even know that? What the hell is a missing variable?!” Because if you know me at all, you know that I know virtually nothing about math, having failed miserably at it in high school. But apparently, my subconscious remembers something about it, while I was passing notes and rolling my eyes. So anyway, anesthetic. I told Ken that I was scared of dying, and he told me I was being stupid, that I wasn’t going to die, and I was like “HOW DO YOU KNOW, KEN?! I MIGHT!”

Ken: You’re not going to die. I’ll tell you what—we’ll make a bet. If you don’t die, you owe me $50.
Me: I have a better idea. If I don’t die, you buy me a really nice present.
Ken: Seriously? You think you deserve a present for “not dying”?

Fuck yes, I do. And here’s my argument. There are women out there who get presents for having a baby. It’s called a “push present”. If a woman can get a gift for squeezing out a kid, why can’t I have one for not letting the Grim Reaper take me to the promised land? I’ve HAD a baby—it’s not that hard. Unlike NOT DYING. Ok, I admit that I’ve been able to “not die” for the last 18, 413 days, which honestly, is a feat unto itself when you think about it, but I’ve come close a few times and got fuck-all for it. So I think I’m owed at this point. And I have to tell you, there’s no better motivator for NOT going towards the light than a different, glittery, diamond-y kind of light. Or Cream of Potato and Bacon soup. It’s the gesture that counts.

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My Week 82: North Carolina vs. Bracebridge, Ontario, Big-Ass Clock Crisis

Wednesday: Weird bathroom laws versus weird noise laws

I was talking to a friend last Wednesday who happens to be gay, and whose girlfriend is very androgynous-looking, and she was up in arms about the bizarre law that North Carolina imposed regarding transgender people having to use the bathroom of the gender they were at birth. That in itself sounds complicated enough, but more perplexing to me was the fact that the law is called HB2. In my world, that’s a type of pencil, with the H standing for “hardness” and the B standing for “blackness”, so my first thought was that it was also some kind of racist law, but in fact, it’s just a moronic law, and the HB stands for “House Bill”. And that in itself is ironic, because it has nothing to do with the bathroom in your house, but with PUBLIC bathrooms. Then my friend showed me a picture on her phone of a guy who was very muscular, sporting a goatee, and who was covered with tattoos. “Wow,” I said. “He reminds me of Adam Levine.”

“He was born a woman,” she responded. “In North Carolina, he would have to use the same bathroom as you, or he’d be breaking the law.”

“What?!” I exclaimed. “I don’t want that dude in a bathroom with me. I’ve had to CLEAN men’s bathrooms—they definitely need their own space!”

Now, this might sound sexist, but it’s based on empirical evidence from two sources. First, if you’ve read this blog before, you’ll know that I worked in a donut store when I was younger, and the worst part about it was having to clean the men’s room at the end of my shift (I describe it in full detail In My Week 67: Disturbing Trends in Men’s Fashion, where I reveal the origins of the “poo beard”). Second, which you don’t know, is that a few years ago, I worked in a school which converted the 2 staff bathrooms in the main office into “gender-neutral spaces” to accommodate any transgender students we had. It was a great idea for the transgender kids, who never caused any consternation—the staff whole-heartedly embraced the idea of giving them a safe space—but the office ladies were aghast by the end of the week for quite a different reason. Apparently, there was at least one male administrator who couldn’t aim well, and the constant urine on the toilet and surrounding floor was freaking them out. Also, the men were in LOVE with the expensive hand soaps that the ladies had specially bought, and were using them in copious quantities. I was just impressed that they were at least WASHING their hands, but I recall one woman crying out in frustration, “It used to be such a NICE bathroom! Now, it’s just gross, and there’s never any soap!!”

And this is why the North Carolina law is so ridiculous. Well, one of the many reasons. It seems to me that they’ve suddenly entered the Dark Ages, when people believed that tomatoes were poisonous, that demons caused illnesses, that education made women infertile, and that autism was the direct result of childhood vaccinations. But that’s House Bill 3, which I believe the intelligent North Carolinian politicians are working on right now. Then I got to wondering what the underlying agenda might actually be, because I can’t believe people are stupid enough to honestly care what birth-gender the person in the stall next to you might be. Honestly, when I’m performing a bodily function, that’s really not on my radar. So it occurred to me that there might be a hidden rationale for this irrationality:

1) It’s a special infrastructure project designed to increase employment rates. Obviously, NC will have to hire special “inspectors” who will ensure that people are going into the right bathrooms. What KIND of inspection that will involve will probably decide the pay scale. Also, the birth certificate industry will spike, as people will have to carry those with them all the time, in case they need to pee. It’s tremendously forward-thinking—well done, Pat McCrory, for trying to improve the North Carolina economy. The whole world is proud of you.

2) It’s a secret plan to make all bathrooms “co-ed”. Think about it. If you make men who look like women use men’s bathrooms, and women who look like men use women’s bathrooms, then it’s a f*cking free-for-all. Also, it’s very confusing, and just writing that sentence took me three minutes because I was trying to make sure it was logical, and I’m still rereading it to make sure it’s correct. Which makes me think that if I’m having this much trouble with the logistics, then maybe the whole Bill was just a huge misunderstanding, and that it was passed because the General Assembly thought they were just CONFIRMING that men’s bathrooms were for people who looked like men, and women’s bathrooms were for people who looked like women, and no one was worried about transgenderism at all.

At the end of the day, no matter what the reasoning, the whole thing is outrageously stupid. Does anyone REALLY believe that a person would undergo years of therapy, hormone treatments, and painful surgeries just so they can spy on people in public bathrooms? Like there’s a whole crew of guys waiting for “Sally”, who used to be “Bob”, to come out of the ladies room, ready to pepper her with questions like “Was it clean? Was there fancy soap? Did you see any boobies? Did a pillowfight break out?” And women? There’s no way IN HELL that a woman becomes a man just to use a men’s bathroom. Trust me on this.

I asked Ken if he’d ever been in a men’s room with a woman:

Ken: It happened once. I went into the bathroom at ________, and there was a woman standing there, looking at herself in the mirror.
Me: What did you do?
Ken: I went over to the urinal and used it.
Me: Like, right in front of her?
Ken: We didn’t make eye contact or anything. What was I supposed to do? I went in because I had to use the bathroom, so I did. I don’t know if she was a cross-dresser or transgender or whatever, and I didn’t really care. I just wanted to pee.

So there you go, North Carolina—take some advice from a man who lives in the 21st century and stop worrying about 15th century problems.

transgender bathroom sign

In contrast to the backwater ways of North Carolina, recently the town of Bracebridge, Ontario came into the new age when it repealed an old noise bylaw that banned “hooting and hollering.” Yes, it’s now completely legal to hoot, holler, or make other “human noises” in this Northern town. At least until 2 am, when you could be fined for “drunken singing” or other disruptions to the peace. These are the things we worry about in Canada. Use whatever bathroom you want, but be considerate about where and when you hoot. Here’s the link to the full article, because honestly, I can’t make it any funnier than what it already is. My favourite line is “Stakiw [the Chief Bylaw Officer] said his department hasn’t been dealing with a hooting “crisis,” but had received some inquiries about kids and summer camps, which prompted the town to look into updating its current laws.” Oh, Canada—it doesn’t get better than this. http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2016/03/23/hooting-and-hollering-now-legal-in-bracebridge-ont.html

Friday: I have a big-ass clock crisis

Last weekend, I saw an ad on a local buy and sell site for an antique clock. It didn’t work, but the price was right and the case was pretty. I decided it would make a really great little jewellery cabinet, so I contacted the guy and arranged to come by on my way back from Toronto to pick it up. When I got there, right on time, he was like, “What? I thought you were coming tomorrow. I’m just going out for a ride on my motorcycle and the clock is in the basement.” He said this like it made absolutely logical sense. Then again, the weather WAS charming, and riding a motorcycle is like smoking crack for some people, so I said I’d come by the next day. After a series of confusing messages (at one point, he said, “I’m here” and I thought he meant outside my house, so I spent ten minutes waiting for him to come to the door, but he meant HIS house), I drove to his place to pick up the clock. It was sitting in his garage, and it was WAYYY bigger than I thought it was. I had pictured it as being less than a foot tall, but it was, in fact, over three feet tall, and much too large for a jewellery cabinet, unless you were a member of the Royal Family. Still, it was beautiful, so I put it in the car, and brought it home. It weighed a TON (I discovered later that it still had the original lead weights inside), and I struggled to get it up onto the kitchen counter, where it has stayed until last night. Mostly because I have NO IDEA where to put it. Ken said I should sell it for parts, but here’s the issue: it still had the original paper label inside it, and after doing some research, it turns out it’s a very rare “Chauncey Boardman” American clock from the early 1800s.

Me: I can’t gut it for parts, Ken. It’s 200 years old! There weren’t even PEOPLE in Canada back then.
Ken: Um…I’m going to say that’s incorrect.
Me: Well, fine. Maybe there were people, but they couldn’t tell time.
Ken: Well, obviously they could tell time, but there were no Canadian clock manufacturers during that period. There would have only been individual watchmakers. I saw this documentary last week about…

I have no idea what happened in the documentary because I tuned out, and started mentally going through rooms to see where I could put the clock. When I tuned back in, Ken was talking about ANOTHER documentary about pygmy goats, or Shakespeare’s skull or something, so I started physically walking around the house to try and figure out where a 3 foot high clock could possibly go. On Thursday night, I promised Ken on my honour as a woman that I would find a place for it, and get it off the kitchen counter. Last night, it was still on the counter, I’ve lost all credibility as a woman, and now I don’t know which bathroom to use.

 

My Week 81: When I Was A DJ, Bluetooth Insanity

Wednesday: I reminisce about being a DJ

For the last three weeks, I’ve been working in a very large convention centre near the airport in Toronto, which is one of the reasons I’ve been neglecting a lot of my online activities. The centre itself is like 5 miles long, and my legs and feet are KILLING me from all the walking—I would probably have lost weight at this point, except that our lunches are catered, and they are full-sized meals. The menu repeats every week—I’ve eaten more butter chicken, rice, and raita in the last 14 days than I’ve eaten in the last 5 years, and then there’s the large chunks of beef with instant mashed potatoes, the chicken wraps and baked beans, and the hamburgers/hot dog steam trays. Wednesday, though, is lasagna day, and since I can’t eat gluten, I dashed next door and brought back Swiss Chalet chicken (if you’re a true Canadian, this is better than caviar to you, mostly because caviar is fish eggs and that’s just disgusting, while Swiss Chalet chicken is delicious and comes with an amazing dipping sauce that can also be used with your fresh cut fries. And now, even though it’s 8 am, I badly want some). Anyway, we were all sitting around the banquet table, and one of my colleagues brought up the fact that she had worked for years at Swiss Chalet to put herself through university. Then we all started talking about our own part-time jobs, at which point I offered that I had been a DJ in university. I didn’t get much of a chance to elaborate, because then the bell rang, signalling the end of lunch (yes, I said “bell”, because we have almost 1500 people working for us, and if there’s no bell, it gets confusing. Just when you thought you were OUT of high school, am I right?).

But I continued to reminisce in my head about being a DJ, and what that meant in the late 80s compared to what it means now. Being a DJ now is like being a rock star; they have their own shows, and equipment that absolutely boggles my mind. One of my all-time favourites is the Canadian DJ and producer deadmau5, who is amazing and wears this ubercool mouse helmet when he performs. (Yes, it’s called a performance now, unlike back in the day, when I was just “background to the party”).

deadmau5

Me, I had two turntables and a microphone, to quote Beck, and sometimes not even that. My first actual job was working at a local university radio station, a job for which I had to audition in their sound booth. I did well enough for university radio—I’d been a club kid for years and was pretty familiar with that scene–and was given a position subbing in for a friend when she was unavailable—her show was called “Your Grandma’s Tractor”, and it was alternative music featuring bands no one had ever heard of. Then I was offered my own show. This might sound amazing, but they needed to meet some kind of broadcasting regulation, and they’d just lost their Classical DJ. Yep. Classical Music. Luckily, I’d grown up on that sh*t, and my parents had enough albums to start their own store, so “Symphonic Gestures” was born. I did that gig for over a year, putting together intro notes from the backs of record covers, then just letting the music play for the next half hour. I didn’t have an audience per se—I know this, because once the radio station ran a contest for prizes (I can’t remember what they were), but the only person who “called in to win” was my Mom. God love the woman. But it was great experience, and it got my my next two jobs.

The first was at a local hotel that had a dance club on the top floor. It also had a strip club on the second floor, and I was always careful to specify WHERE I worked, which is ironic, as you will soon find out. The problem was that the building was really f*cking old, and the floors were super-bouncy. DJs today can’t relate to this—everything’s so high-tech, and they have crews and all that, but the bouncy floor was my biggest problem in an era where the “pogo” was still one of the most popular ways to express yourself on the dance floor. My stabilizers were a joke, and at least twice a night, I would have to talk over some New Order song and nicely request that everyone STOP JUMPING UP AND DOWN because they were making the record skip. They were usually too drunk to notice the gaps in the lyrics, but it pissed me off and made me feel like an amateur. Still, the money was good and the drinks were free. Well, the water was free—in order to maintain a constant flow of song, I had to start one track before the other ended, and I don’t know how they do it today, but I had to physically put my thumb on one record to slow it down if need be, and I had a knob that would speed it up otherwise, so that the beat would match to the best of my ability. My motor skills are shite even when I’m sober, so I stayed alcohol-free until the night was over.

Then I saw an ad from a DJ service called Doctor Music. They were looking for a club DJ for a bar in Waterloo, and the money was better, so I applied, auditioned, and got the job. My boss was this huge guy named Ron—I mean gigantic, like 6 foot 5, about 300 pounds, with tight curly hair that he gelled up like crazy. I was excited, but then I learned that their entire music collection, which I would have to transport back and forth with me to the club every night in a suitcase, was on MIXED CASSETTE TAPES. Skrillex would probably be screaming with laughter right now. Kristian Nairn wouldn’t, though–he would just say “Hodor” in sympathy. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to try and blend the beats between two cassette tapes? I would spend at least a couple of hours at home every night before work, cuing each song that I wanted to start with on each mixed tape, using my index finger in the circular hole to cue it back about 15 seconds (or two and a half winds) so that I could try to match things up. And how the f*ck did I do that once the tape was playing, you ask? By using my fingernail against the ridges in the reel hub to slow one of the songs down–there were no covers on the decks, so it was just slam the tape in and mess with it however you needed to. It was STRESSFUL. Because once I had exhausted my predetermined selections, I had to start cuing up new songs in a cheap-ass glass sound booth that was NOT soundproof. Even though I had the best headphones that money could buy (well, the best for the 80s anyway), I could still barely hear what I was doing over the sound system in the club. My only saving grace was Milli Vanilli, that pseudo dance duo who put out an eight minute long extended version of a song called “Girl, You Know It’s True”, so that I could either get my next set ready, or go to the bathroom. My job at the club was good for a while (aside from all the drunks requesting “Paradise By the Dashboard Light” every five minutes), and I would dance away, hyping up the crowd with my arms in the air, or shouting encouragement into the microphone–until the fateful day that the club owner, who was a young, chauvinistic d-bag, decided to have a special university night with a “Wet T-shirt Contest”, which involved young men in the audience being encouraged to spray young women’s tops with water. My job was to play “sexy music” whilst said contest was progressing. As a woman, I was unhappy about the whole thing, but then the shit hit the fan as the contestants got more and more drunk, and more and more desperate to win the $100 cash prize, which back then was a lot of money for a university student. Suddenly, one girl tore off her t-shirt and bra, and started dancing topless. I was shocked, and then relieved as the owner came over to the sound booth. I assumed he was going to call the whole thing off, but no.

Club Owner: This is awesome! Play that stripper song by Man Parrish. That’ll really get the girls going.
Me: No! This is ridiculous and probably illegal!
Club Owner: Play it or you’re fired.

So I put the song on. But then, another girl took her top off, and then another and another. There was one girl left, the men were screaming encouragement, and I realized that as she was taking her shirt and bra off, she was CRYING.

So I shut the sound system down.

Club Owner: WHAT THE F*CK ARE YOU DOING?! PLAY THE F*CKING MUSIC. THAT’S WHAT I PAY YOU FOR!
Me: Not any more–I’m a professional! You want “stripper music”? Play it your goddamn self. There’s a sh*tload of cassette tapes in there—I’m sure you can handle it.

And I walked out, the club owner screaming epithets behind me, and the men in the crowd booing. I would have thrown down my headphones, but as any good DJ knows, your headphones are your best friend, and you would never hurt your best friend. Or a naïve university girl who was pressured into doing something that made her cry.

When Doctor Music found out, he was pretty upset, but he understood when I explained that, had the police shown up, his business might have been in jeopardy also. I had no idea if that was true, but I was working on a Master’s Degree at the time, and he assumed I knew what I was talking about. At any rate, I decided that I needed to get a job that was more career-oriented (because again, DJ was not a real profession YET, at least not in Ontario), so I started working as a teaching assistant at the university. The money wasn’t as good, but there was less nudity. Sorry, I mean NO nudity.

As an addendum, the club shut down not long after I left. Poor Doctor Music met a tragic end a few years later. Apparently, he lived in a compound out in the country surrounded by a huge barbed wire fence and patrolled by five German Shepherds. When the neighbours heard the dogs howling for days, they called the police to investigate. They found him dead inside the house, wearing a long wig, eyeshadow, and a giant flowered muumuu. And although this is a humour website, I don’t have anything particularly funny to say about that, because he was a really nice guy, all in all, and I guess living a secret life was pretty hard on him.

Friday: My rental car is making me crazy

On a funnier note, as you probably know, I’m currently driving a rental car, which I had to rent in the name of Queen Elizabeth. This is not a joke. In fact, I had to call the rental agency the other day to verify something, and the guy couldn’t find the car under my name, so I said, “Try “Her Majesty the Queen,” and he was like, “Oh yeah, here it is.” I’m glad the Queen isn’t actually driving with me, because she would be less than impressed by my relationship with the woman who runs the Bluetooth system. In my own car, when I want to make a call, the woman simply says, “Ready,” and I say “Call”, and she says “State the name or number.” So I tell her, and the next thing, I’m talking to someone. I don’t know what kind of sick, evil mind designed the system in this Nissan Sentra that I’m currently driving, but here’s what happens when I want to make a phone call:

First attempt

Woman: Please say a command. You can choose from Call, Redial, Call Phone Book, Recent Calls, Location, Hang Up, Try Again, New Command, or Help.
Me: Uh…I…can you just call someone for me? I’ve forgotten what the options are already.
Woman: That command is not recognized. Hanging up.
Me: WTF! (presses button again, listens to list). Call!
Woman: Please specify from the following list. Name, Phone Number, Redial, Call Back, Hang Up, or Help.
Me: 519-555…
Woman: Command not recognized. Disconnecting.
Me: Wait, what?!

Second Attempt

Woman: Please specify from the following list. Name, Phone Number, Redial, Call Back, Hang Up, or Help.
Me: Ken.
Woman: OK. Hanging up.
Me: What?!

Third Attempt

Woman: Please specify….
Me: Phone Number.
Woman: To dial, please speak 3, 7, or 10 digits. Say “special number” to dial 24 digits, including special numbers like star, pound, or nuclear launch codes.
Me: What the f*ck?!
Woman: You have requested the digits 254. Please say the next 4 digits to dial or choose from one of the following options. Correction, Redial, Call Back, Take Me To Funkytown, or Help.
Me: Help me…
Woman: Command not recognized. Either speaking too loudly, too softly, or in Mandarin.
Me: I’M NOT SPEAKING MANDARIN!!
Woman: OK. Calling Ken.
Me: Sigh.

My Week 80: Thing That Are Like Other Things, The Serial Killer Upstairs Strikes Again

Monday: I ponder things that are like other things

On Monday, I was really excited, because I’d gone to the drug store and discovered that a particular vitamin company was now making “gummy” vitamins. They’re multi-coloured, and taste just like gummy bears, and I thought, “This is the best of all possible worlds. The first thing I get to do when I get up in the morning, even BEFORE I eat my Corn Pops, is have some candy. And it’s all perfectly healthy!”  I NEVER used to take vitamins before, on the grounds that they tasted bad (except for Vitamin C tablets, which taste like oranges, or just like the baby aspirin they had when I was a kid. I used to sneak baby aspirin every so often because they were so delicious–I could fall off my bike and bleed half to death because my blood was so thin, but it didn’t hurt at all), and I didn’t really care about thiamine or niacin or dioxin or whatever. But now, I take them every day because it’s so much fun.

And it got me thinking about a) other things that are like things that would make me happy, and b) things that SHOULD be like other things. So here is my list:

1) If you’ve ever flown, you know that your seat cushion turns into a flotation device. Which begs the question (which I think I heard first from Jerry Seinfeld) ‘why doesn’t the plane just turn into a cruiseship if it lands in the water?’ I know this is totally possible, because my first favourite thing which is like another thing is a bus that turns into a boat. We went on a bus tour in Ottawa a few years ago, and after we’d driven around for a while looking at the Parliament buildings and such, the driver suddenly announced that we would also be cruising the harbour. Then we drove down a ramp, straight into the river. I was totally freaking, but Ken was like, “Don’t worry–the wheels turn into propellers and there’s a ring underneath that inflates.” I responded very calmly with “F*ck off, you liar! We’re going to drown!” and Ken said, “They ADVERTISED this. Why are you acting all surprised? Don’t you remember?”, but I reminded HIM that first, I thought they meant we would get OFF the bus and get ON a boat, and second, I may or may not have been drinking the previous evening when he pulled out the brochure and was waving it around, saying, “This will be fun.” And you know what? Once I got used to the idea that my bus was now a boat, and the bus driver was now a sea captain, I really enjoyed the whole experience. T, of course, remained calm throughout the whole experience. Or maybe he was bored. Mainly because the tour consisted of just looking at buildings. But still, the bus-boat was very cool.

2) Canes that become swords. Okay, technically, they don’t BECOME swords, they just have swords in them. But it would be awesome to be hobbling around, all decrepit-like, then suddenly whip out that sword like a superspy when the need arose. I also love canes that double as flasks for alcohol, because who DOESN’T want to crack that bad boy open when no one’s looking? It would have made my bus-boat trip a hell of a lot more interesting, that’s for sure.

3) Sporks. This is two handy things in one–a spoon and a fork. Take it one step further by sharpening the plastic up, and you have a sprorfe, a spoon, fork, and knife, which I just invented. Actually, this might have been invented first by a prisoner, who stole a spoon from the canteen and turned it into a weapon to shank his cellmate with first, then eat the guy’s pie and ice cream after. Criminals value their dessert, am I right?

Okay, so I’ve listed some things that are already other things, so here are some ideas about things that I WISH were other things:

1) Protein shakes that taste like Bailey’s Irish Cream. Wait, does Bailey’s actually have any protein in it? If so, we could just cut out the middle man, drink the Bailey’s, and then go work out. Many years ago, I had a recumbent cycle, and I used to pour a big glass of wine, turn on the TV, and cycle for a few kilometres. It was like hardly exercising AT ALL, and I broke even on the calories.

2) A small TV that looks like a book. This is so all those stupid Facebook memes about “positive people versus negative people” will stop judging me. How is watching TV one of the characteristics of a negative person? Unless all you watch is Criminal Minds, the Republican Debates, and Two and a Half Men? Me, I like my PBS, which is essentially the same as reading a book, only without the eye strain. Plus, I put on the closed captioning, so I AM reading. Suck it, Facebook.

3) A pen with a Tide White Stick on the other end. This is great for people like me, who are fairly clumsy and wave pens around for emphasis, inevitably getting ink on their clothes. But see, with my invention, all you’d have to do is flip the thing around, erase that blob, and you’re good to go.

4) A laptop that repels mosquitoes. A long time ago, Ken had an Ipad cover that smelled like black liquorice. Whenever I wanted candy, I’d just smell it and my craving would be over (of course, NOW I just eat vitamins). Why can’t laptop companies create a lid that’s injected with citronella? That way, you could surf the net outside in the summer, and not swell up from bites or die from absorbing DEET into your skin. Can you hear me, Apple?  Who wouldn’t want to buy shares in that sh*t?

Ultimately, I am the QUEEN of multi-tasking. Whether it’s eating, drinking, working out, or just relaxing, I’ve got an app for that.

 

Tuesday: The serial killer upstairs strikes again

So if you read my essays on a regular basis, you’ll remember that I’ve had an ongoing issue with the person who lives above me in Toronto. He likes to hammer. Not like MC Hammer, which would be fun and cool and very ‘pantsy’–he likes to hammer things in his condo. I’m convinced that he’s building a secret room in his unit to stash his victims until he bores of them. The last time he was hammering, the concierge stupidly told him that I’d complained about it, and he came to my door to “negotiate a schedule”. He claimed he was “laying a floor”, and I apologize for the copious use of quotation marks, but I had trouble believing him, since he’d been making these types of noises for a long time, and I’d complained on three separate occasions. Let me just say, for the record, that my building is pretty sound-proof; I never hear anything from the units around me, so he must be really going to town for it to even register down in my unit. Anyway, the other night, he woke me up around 4:15, hammering sporadically until 7:00 am. I’d like to emphasize that these condos are barely above 600 square feet in dimension, so how many f*cking renovations do you need to do, d**chebag? And if you’re that bored at 4 in the morning, you could watch TV, or pleasure yourself. Or pleasure yourself while you watch TV, if you have those ‘special channels’. At any rate, the next day, I called the building manager and left a message. I’m terrible at voice messages, and I left something that was very lengthy and convoluted, and in retrospect, probably sounded a little diva-ish, so I ran it by my work partner:

Me: I called the building manager and left a message.
L: What did you say?
Me: Well, I just explained the situation. But I said the guy “seemed to have a penchant for nocturnal home renovations”.
L: Oh my god, did you actually say, “a penchant for nocturnal home renovations”?
Me: I know, right? I got flustered, and it just slipped out.
L: How does THAT just slip out?
Me: My brain’s on overdrive. I’m really tired from all the f*cking hammering.
L: You should have just said THAT.

The next morning though, I got an email from Colette, the manager, telling me that she’d sent the guy a “Notice of Noise Violation Letter”. Then I got worried, because he’s going to know it was me. But Ken installed a chain lock on my condo door the last time he was here, and just because I’m Canadian doesn’t mean I have to open the door in the first place if he shows up again. I can just pretend I’m not home. And it’s been pretty quiet since then, which I hope doesn’t mean he’s laying in wait for me in the parking garage. If anything happens to me, you’ll know who to look for first.

My Week 79: Naptime at Batman Versus Superman, The Queen and I Rent a Car

Wednesday: Napping at the movies

The other night, Ken and I rented the latest James Bond film, “Spectre”. I was kind of excited, because I love Daniel Craig as 007—he’s my favourite Bond, although when he retires, I will be totally pulling for Idris Elba, just for the record—and I’d been wanting to see the return of Blofeld for a while. We settled in to watch it and it was pretty good, but part way through the fortieth car chase, I said to Ken, “I’m having serious déjà vu right now. You know, like I feel as though I’ve seen this before.” Ken said, “But when would you have seen it? You’ve been talking about renting it for about three weeks. Did you watch it in Toronto without me?” But that wasn’t possible because there’s absolutely nowhere in Toronto anywhere near my condo that rents movies. So we kept watching, and the feeling got stronger until I said to Ken, “I don’t know how I know this, but in about 1 minute, they’re going to walk away from that building and it’s going to explode in the background.” I know there’s a lot of explosion-y stuff in James Bond movies, but it happened just like I pictured it in my mind. Then I was pretty well able to predict what was going to happen in the rest of the movie with some accuracy, but I still didn’t know HOW I knew. Until Wednesday, when my brother came over. We were going to have dinner and then see “Batman Versus Superman”. I thought it was a long shot, but I asked him if there was any way that we had seen “Spectre” together. My brother has a PhD, which also means he has a really awesome memory, and he very quickly reminded me that yes, I’d gone with him and his wife to the VIP theatre to watch it about three months ago, and that we’d shared a bottle of wine and had pulled pork poutine for dinner. And that I’d fallen asleep almost immediately at the start of the movie, which they thought was pretty funny. It all came flooding back at that point—well, the memory of falling asleep anyway—but it must have been a light enough doze that my subconscious was aware of what was happening in at least SOME parts of the film. I was a little embarrassed, but then I got really worried, because it had been a long day, we were drinking wine, and now we were going to see ANOTHER action movie. I determined that I was NOT going to fall asleep this time. The previews came on, then the movie started. Everybody was pissed off at Superman, including Batman, for a reason I have yet to comprehend. And then I was like, “Since when is Gotham right across the bay from Metropolis, but Superman and Batman have never met?” Next thing, a crazy Mark Zuckerberg was talking about some painting being hung upside down, and a bunch of other random things happened. But then suddenly, the world was being attacked by space harpies, and Superman’s evil twin was trying to pull Ben Affleck’s heart out through his chest, and then he woke up and realized he was sleeping, and I was like, “What the F*CK is going on here?!” And I realized that yes, I’d also been asleep, yet again, for an indeterminate amount of time, and now I had no idea what was happening. Now, in my opinion, there’s NO WAY that missing 30 minutes of a six hour film (well, it felt like six hours) should make it incomprehensible, but maybe it was that way to begin with. The only good thing was that it was really dark and my eyes were hidden behind 3D glasses, so I’m pretty sure my brother, despite his PhD, had no clue that I was yet again taking a nap. But the problem was that by the end of the movie, I had more questions than answers. Like, why was Batman so pissed off at Superman? Why did the angry Facebook guy want to kill Superman? What was the point of two superheroes, both of whom are impervious to physical damage from the other, insisting on trying to beat the sh*t out of each other for three hours when it’s obvious that NO ONE is going to win? What was with the gratuitous 15 minute scene of a shirtless Ben Affleck doing pull-ups and hitting a tractor tire with a sledgehammer? (Sure, he was very muscular, but also a little hairy and sweaty, and not in that GOOD way). What kind of coincidence is it that Superman and Batman both have moms with the same name, and that once Batman finds out, they immediately become best friends instead of two guys trying to destroy each other? Did they have the SAME mom? Are they actually half-brothers or something? How does an underground lake turn a normal, dead guy into a gigantic, disgustingly slimy superhuman who can only be killed by kryptonite? Where the HELL did Wonderwoman come from and why did she look so happy to be there? And don’t even get me started on Aquaman and that weird-ass cameo where he looked like a character from Game of Thrones and came out of his little cave looking all sleepy and blinky, then stabbed the camera and swam away. But the biggest question I had of all was this: Why did no one, in the entire movie, punch Jessie Eisenberg in the face? Because I sure as hell wanted to, mostly because of his bad acting (dude, you will NEVER be Heath Ledger, so don’t even try), but also because he’s just so f*cking annoying in everything he’s ever been in. At the end, Batman goes to see him in the “lunatic asylum” and he’s got his Batman brand all ready (by the way, when did Batman start branding people like cattle?), and I was like, “Please, god, just do this one thing for me,” but instead, Batman punched the wall and left. And then the last scene of the movie was a zoom-in on the same bizarre painting of the same space harpies from an earlier scene, only now it was hung the other way, like it was an omen, or maybe a flashback, or maybe foreshadowing, only I was like, “I’m done. I can’t even.” And then we left the theatre:

Brother: That was great! Did you like it?
Me: Yeah, I guess. It was a little long. I was kind of bored by the end.
Brother: Bored? Really? What about the scene where…
Me: Oh yeah! That was a great scene!
Brother: And the scene when…
Me: I know, right? Talk about crazy!
Brother: I loved the part where…
Me: Me too. What a moment!

The best part was that he seemed to have no idea that I’d been asleep for any length of time. Of course, if he reads this, he’ll know, but at least then I can get some of my questions answered. (Actually, the real best part of the night happened when we were leaving. The ushers asked everyone to return their 3D glasses to the bins outside the theatre, and on the way out, my brother spotted a receptacle that said ‘Thank You’ on it. He turned to me and said, “Here’s where we’re supposed to leave our glasses”, and he tossed them in. I went to do the same, but looked in first and said, “Dude, that’s the garbage.” Then we both said, “Oh sh*t!” and the people behind us started laughing hysterically.) Ultimately, I should try harder to stay awake during movies, but honestly, in this case, I don’t think it would have helped.

Thursday: I rent a car for the Queen

Starting on Sunday, I’ll be working away from the office at a different site for about three weeks. And because I’ll be transporting a couple of coworkers, I was told that I should rent a car, and that my company would reimburse me. The only qualifier was this: “When you rent the car, you have to list Her Majesty The Queen as the lessee. The car will be in her name, and you’ll be listed as the driver.” This might sound strange, but I work for a government agency, and I was assured that this was common practice and had something to do with liability. Actually, that doesn’t make it sound any LESS strange, but remember, I also had to take an oath to her in order to work at my new job. I definitely had some questions though. Like, what if the Queen suddenly came to Canada? Would I have to drive her around? Or was she one of those people who would insist on taking the wheel herself? I hear she still likes to bomb around in her Land Rover when she’s at Balmoral. And what if she got caught drinking and was charged with a DUI? Could I still rent the car? Or would they be like, “I’m sorry, but the person whose name the car is in has to have a valid licence.”? Even worse, she’s pretty old—what if she suddenly died in the next three weeks? Aside from the world mourning the loss of a great monarch, would I also have to mourn the loss of my rental car or would Prince William just inherit it along with everything else? Questions aside though, on Thursday night, I called a local car rental company, Enterprise. A woman answered and I told her that I needed to reserve a car for a certain number of days.

Woman: Whose name will the car be leased under?
Me: The Queen.
Woman: What queen?
Me: The Queen of England.
Woman: The Queen of England?
Me: Yes, that one. I’ll be the primary driver though.
Woman: Um… Me: No, seriously, I work for a government agency.
Woman: Right…sure you do.
Me: Is this the Woodstock location?
Woman: No—this is the central call centre. In Nevada.
Me: Oh. I should probably just go to the Woodstock branch.
Woman: They’re closed. Indefinitely.
Me: But I just drove by there the other day…
Woman: No, they’re definitely closed.

The next day, I called the Woodstock location. A man answered, and when I expressed surprise that they were open, he said, “No, we’re not closed down. That’s weird.” And then I realized that maybe the woman in the States thought I was pranking her or something. I told the man how many days I needed the car for, and gave him my name. “No worries—you’re already in our system from the last time you rented from us. I can get the paperwork all ready for you. The total will be–” But then I had to tell HIM about the queen and I got concerned that maybe he would think I was making a crank call too.

Me: Um, there’s one other thing…
Man: Sure, what?
Me: I have to rent the car in the name of Her Majesty The Queen.
Man: Oh. That changes everything.
Me: You sound really ominous. Seriously, I’m not joking!
Man (laughs): No, I know. It just means that you get a better rate.
Me: What, like the Seniors’ Discount? She IS around 90, I think.
Man: No, there’s just a special corporate rate. I’ll give you the new total.

I went there today to pick up the car, and the first thing he asked me was, “So how’s the Queen doing anyway?” I replied, “Oh you know—holding her own.” I hope she likes Nissans, because they didn’t have any Land Rovers.

keep calm