My Week 127: Farewell to Mishima

A Farewell to a Good Fish

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Last December, I went on a cruise. I brought back souvenirs for everyone, including Mishima. If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll know that Mishima is the fish who lives on my kitchen counter. I can’t say “my” fish, because Mishima was certainly his own man—well, his own aquatic creature. He was a bit of a diva, and made some pretty outrageous claims about his combat skills, his romantic past, and had his own Twitter account, which he used occasionally to subtweet at me when his tank needed cleaning or he was mad at the cat. At any rate, I had picked up a really pretty seashell for his tank, and when I gave it to him, he looked pleased, but then his little face became concerned.

“What will happen to all my things when I die?” he asked.

“Kijiji,” I answered.

“No, seriously. I have some really beautiful things and I don’t want them going to some random stranger that you found on a Facebook Buy and Sell site. I want my nephew Oscar to have them. I need to make a will.”

Now, I was concerned. “Don’t be ridiculous,” I said. “There’s nothing wrong with you. You survived that fall from the counter—I think you’re pretty indestructible. Besides, you’re only 5—that’s like middle-aged for a goldfish. Also, that might explain why you keep bugging me for a sportscar and trying to pick up young mermaids.”

“The ladies love me,” he said. “Stop trying to deny it. Now get a piece of paper and a pen and take this down. ‘I, Mishima Fishima, being of sound mind and body—why are you snickering?!”

“The ‘sound mind’ bit. We’ll agree to disagree on that. Carry on.”

“—do hereby bequeath all my worldly possessions to my nephew, Oscar Wildefish.”

“We should maybe list them. Just so we know what ‘worldly possessions’ we’re talking about here,” I said.

“Well, all my land—“

“You mean the gravel on the bottom of your tank?”

“Call it what you like. Also, my house and surrounding property, and my jewels. That big diamond has GOT to be worth a pretty penny. Also, don’t forget my social media holdings.”

“OK. So the pagoda, the fake palm tree, the glass beads from the dollar store, and your Twitter account. Gotcha.” So we drew up the will, and I tucked it away.

“How will I find Oscar Wildefish though?” I asked.

Mishima pondered for a moment. “You’ll just know. He’s flamboyant, and blue, and extremely witty.”

Then, two weekends ago, we changed the water in his tank, and when I looked at him swimming around in the bowl we used to keep him safe during the whole process, looking so tiny and vulnerable, I had a terrible feeling that I’d never see him again.

But then the moment quickly passed when he looked up and yelled, “Why are you staring at me? You’re giving me the creeps. Come on, hurry up. This water is cold—the shrinkage might scare off the mermaids!”

I shoved the feeling of impending sorrow into the back of my mind, and went back to Toronto on the train. Then, on the Tuesday morning, Ken texted me: “Mishima is just lying on the bottom of the tank and he hasn’t eaten his breakfast. I think he might be sick.”

I spent the whole day worrying and googling “How do I know if my goldfish is dying?” Then, after work, Ken called. We chatted about work and other things, then suddenly he said, “Oh by the way—the fish is dead.”

And I refuse to apologize for sobbing hysterically, for calling my mother and crying into the phone, and for yelling at Ken that he could have told me in a more gentle way, all over a fish. I was so upset that T actually called me—he hates talking on the phone, so you KNOW it was serious sh*t. Yes, Mishima was “just” a goldfish, and yes, I’m a grown woman, but Mishima and I had an understanding, a bond if you will. Plus, he was on the kitchen island right where I prepare dinner for 5 years, and I got used to having him around. From his complaints about fishflakes to his Twitter polls to his claims about ‘Nam, he was nothing if not entertaining. So here, as a tribute to a fine fish and friend, are some of his best moments.

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March 2016

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.

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…

rave

June 2016

I love fish. Not so much to eat—if given a choice, I’d much rather have steak—but as far as living organisms go, I’ve got a tremendous fondness for the wee, finned ones. We have 2 ponds on our property, both stocked with goldfish, and until recently, we had a pond at our cottage, also inhabited by over a dozen swimmers of all colour variations. And then, of course, there’s Mishima, who lives in a tank on the kitchen island. He’s a narcissistic diva, but over the last 4 years, we’ve come to an understanding. He doesn’t trash me on his Twitter feed (@tweetsoffish), and I feed him. It’s a deal that benefits him more than me, to be honest, because while he can be rather cutting, he is still just a fish, and his opinion of me is just about as compelling as Donald Trump congratulating Scotland on Brexit. Scotland responded exactly the way I do with Mishima, which is to roll my eyes and call him a “mangled apricot hellbeast” But Mishima doesn’t realize just how lucky he is, considering my actual track record of keeping fish alive…

December 2016

Well, if you looked up “weary traveller” in the dictionary, you would see my sunburned face and crazy hair, after the night I just spent trying to get home from the cruise I was on with my parents and my aunt, thanks to Delta Airlines, who have to be one of the most incompetent and weird airlines I’ve ever flown on. After a comedy of errors involving plane delays, transfers, flights into cities across America trying to get back to Canada during a snowstorm, lost luggage, closed border bridges, and freezing rain, I finally made it back home to the loving arms of my family (most of them), only to be greeted with this:

Mishima: You’re back. What the f*ck was THAT?
Me: Sigh. You’re mad about last week’s blog. I TOLD Ken to include you. This is NOT my fault.
Mishima: I am the linchpin that keeps this motley platoon together, and no one wants to get MY perspective on anything?! This is as bad as the day I said we should “go over the top” but nobody listened, and we were stuck in a trench for 3 weeks.
Me: Um…that’s not ringing any bells.
Mishima: Lest we forget, baby—lest we forget.
Me: You’ve completely lost me, which is not surprising. Anyway, I’m sorry about the blog, but it wasn’t my fault. I brought you back this cool seashell for your tank though.
Mishima: Is there a tiny mermaid trapped within it, and when I rub the shell, she’ll grant me three wishes?
Me: No. It’s just a seashell.
Mishima: You disappoint me once again, woman. And I’ll bet you can guess what the first wish would have been.
Me: So many options…

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So farewell, Mishima. I’ll miss you. But I promise—the quest for Oscar has begun.

 

My Week 126: February is Too Hot, Canadian Politics Are Getting Severely Abnormal

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Saturday: Global Warming

This morning, I had a hot bath, then I washed my hair with hot water. Then I started to dry my hair with a hot hair dryer (wait—it WILL get funnier). After about two minutes, I was sweating and unhappy. “WTF?!” I may have yelled to no one in particular. “Why am I so HOT?!” So I did what any normal person would do under these circumstances. I called Ken.

Me: Ken! I’m too hot!!
Ken (from other side of the house): Open your balcony door then!

So I took his advice and opened the door to the balcony off my bathroom. Why is there a balcony off my bathroom, you ask? Well, my house is over 100 years old, and I have a sneaking suspicion that my bathroom used to be something else, just like my kitchen used to be a bedroom, and my media room used to be an old woodshop with a giant cistern underneath it which I try NEVER to think about while I’m watching horror movies. Anyway, I opened the door, and a huge square of sunlight hit me, accompanied by a draft of warm air, making me feel even hotter, and more miserable. And while this wouldn’t be unusual during other months of the year, THIS IS F*CKING FEBRUARY. FEBRUARY—the month of winter doom in Ontario, where normally it’s 19 below instead of 19 above (for my American readers, that’s like plus 70 vs. minus a gazillion—I’m not great at math or exchange rates, obviously). So, to anyone who believes that global warming is a hoax perpetrate on us by the Chinese, let me assure you that there were no Chinese people in my bathroom, and that things are way too warm for February. I asked everyone yesterday on the way home from my mom’s birthday party what they thought about global warming:

Me: So what are our thoughts on global warming?
Ken: Do you mean “climate change”? Because technically–
T: Dad, are you mansplaining global warming to Mom?
My Mom: It’s extremely cold in England right now, so I don’t know about “warming”.
Ken: CLIMATE CHANGE. That’s why it’s called “climate change”.

At any rate, whatever you want to call it, this warm weather in February is a real problem. Yes, I know it’s lovely outside. Yes, the weather continues charming. However, it’s just not fair for a couple of reasons. I live in both the country AND the city at any given moment of the week, and warm weather this early is a real problem in both settings.

The country: I pulled into the driveway yesterday, and my lilac trees were budding. I actually yelled at them, “No, stop it! Next week, we’ll be back to minus 10, and those buds will die! Don’t be fooled by this crazy warm sh*t!” Warm weather in February only sets us all up for disappointment—let’s face it, there are still at least two more months of snow and ice before we get to the “real” spring and summer. The current temperature is just creating false hope, hope that we really don’t live in an area of the country where there are only two seasons (No, not “winter and construction”, like a lot of people will tell you): Summer, and the rest of the miserable year. The last thing I want is for all my trees and flowers to start budding and then have those buds killed by the next frost. Trees—they’re so gullible.

The city: You’d think a warm February would be glorious in the city, but no. First, it takes a slow thaw for all the garbage to disappear. Right now, all the melting snow is revealing a multitude of cigarette butts, food containers, and for some reason on my street corner, about 200 old lottery tickets. The street cleaning machines won’t be on the roads for at least two more months, so we’re stuck with sidestepping all the crap until at least April. But even worse is the detritus of the human bodily kind, which becomes more noticeable the hotter it gets:

Me: Oh my god, why does it smell like pee out here?!
M: Why WOULDN’T it smell like pee? This is downtown Toronto.
L: If it didn’t smell like pee, how would we know where we are? How would we find our way back to the office?
M: We’d totally lose our bearings. We’d be wandering around all afternoon, not sure where the office was.

And see, this is a conversation that I would normally have with my work partners in May or June, but it was just a few days ago. I should probably clarify though—it’s the subway station that regularly smells like urine and our office is right in front of the station entrance. So the smell of pee is to us as breadcrumbs are to Hansel and Gretel. Except no pigeon wants to eat THAT.

Long story short—I cannot rejoice over this weather. I feel like the polar bears must when they’re stuck on an iceberg that broke off and is floating in the middle of the Arctic Ocean—which is to say, completely disoriented, baffled, and hungry (because I never eat breakfast until I finish writing). And the weirdest thing is, I don’t even LIKE the cold. In fact, I HATE winter with a passion, but winter is an absolute necessity because I hate mosquitoes even more, and a mild winter results in way more mosquitoes than normal. So f*ck you, global warming and your impending plague of locusts. Me, I long for ice and snow until at least March Break.

Sunday: No, YOU’RE the weirdo.

Last week, Conservative Leadership candidate Kellie Leitch, the new queen of white nationalism, held a rally at a Christian college against a motion proposed in the House to strike a committee to look into Islamophobia and other forms of racism on the grounds that it’s “against Free Speech”. Not sure how she’s making that leap, but as she likes to boast, “I have 22 letters after my name. They’re all great letters, the best letters, in fact. I have all the important letters.” Actually, if you take away all the letters that don’t mean much, like the initials of the political party she’s a member of and whatnot, there aren’t that many. I myself would have MORE than 22 if I included not only my degrees and professional affiliations, but my Twitter handle, my official title of “Perpetual Ruler of the Ensuite Bathroom”, and my stripper name, which is Perky Cyrus (the name of my first pet and the street I lived on as a child—try it for yourself. It’s fun). Anyway, she introduced herself and then said, “It’s great to be in a room full of SEVERELY NORMAL people!” And I was like WTF, Lady? What is “SEVERELY NORMAL”? And yes, I have to keep typing it in cap-locks, because that’s how she said it—like it was all in capital letters, because the SEVERELY NORMAL don’t recognize how “special” they are unless you yell it at them. But before I go on to discuss what SEVERELY NORMAL is, I’d first like to say that Kellie Leitch is one of the best examples I’ve ever seen of someone who is highly educated, but despite that, is as stupid as the people who think global warming is a hoax perpetrated on us by the Chinese. Oh, she’s cunning, I’ll give her that, but “cunning” and intelligent are not always bed-fellows. She’s cunning AF because, as a Member of the Canadian Parliament, she didn’t object when the exact same type of motion against Anti-Semitism was presented last year in the House. And she didn’t hold a rally for SEVERELY NORMAL people at a Christian College when the same type of motion regarding Islamophobia was passed by the House last October. But now that the leadership race for the Conservative party is heating up, suddenly she’s the poster girl for “Canadian Values”, and whining about free speech over a motion which she knows damn well is only to strike an exploratory committee? Well, unfortunately, she’s currently second in the polls behind Kevin O’Leary, that weird little wannabe Donald Trump (you might know him from the TV show Shark Tank), who lives in Boston and hawks blended wine on US shopping channels, and who believes that being rich is great because it makes poor people look up to him and become inspired to work harder, and that union leaders should be thrown in jail. That these two people are currently at the top of the polls for the leadership of a major political party should scare the sh*t out of the rest of us completely normal people, because Canada is supposed to have one of the most educated populations in the world, yet all those people who attend Leitch’s rallies, and espouse her brand of “Canadian Values” seem morbidly uninformed and earnestly believe her when she tells them that they are not “the fringe”. Um…Yes. You are. All I can say is this though: You can be SEVERELY NORMAL and believe Leitch’s appeals to the lowest common denominator of hatred and mistrust, or you can be just be a regular Canadian who believes that no one should be discriminated against and that we’re all happier, healthier, and ABSOLUTELY normal when we start using our brains and stop listening to idiots who confuse SEVERELY NORMAL with “extremist white nationalism”. But you just know that her cunning plan was that the people who follow her are going to start embracing the term and start using it as their Twitter handles, like @BobSEVERELYNORMAL and wearing ball caps that say Make Canada Great Again. Me, I don’t want to be severely anything. I just want to be Canadian. But it’s all good—it’s not as if someone like her could EVER become the Prime Minister, right?  There’s been no other country where someone got elected by lying to people and using hateful rhetoric, right? No other candidate for the leadership of a country got to pull this sh*t while the other candidates just sat back and watched, and the media snickered while the ratings were high until suddenly it was too late, right? Oh, wait…

 

My Week 125: Trudeau Meets Trump, Trump’s Spice Girls, Celebrity Spouses

Thursday: Throw Back Thursday with a Twist

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Over a year ago, I wrote a post about an imaginary first meeting between our Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, and the not-yet-elected US President, Donald Trump (My Week 64). Looking back on it, it’s kind of weird how accurate I was, but now Trump really IS President (who’d have guessed?), and Justin Trudeau really IS meeting with him on Monday. So I thought I would revise the previous post to catch up with events:

Donald: So what am I doing here again?
Aide: You’re meeting with Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada. He’s here to talk about the relationship between Canada and the US.
Justin: It’s nice to meet you, Mr. Trump.
Donald: So what, you’re like the King of the Arctic or something?
Justin (laughs gently): No, no, I’m the Prime Minister of Canada. Canada is the second largest country in the world after Russia in terms of landmass. It’s the world’s most educated country, and it has more lakes than all the other countries in the world combined.
Donald: What the f*ck ARE you, a geography teacher or something?
Justin: Well, I do have a working knowledge of geography. For example, the Balkan States definitely exists. In fact, though, I used to be a drama teacher.
Donald: All actors are overrated, especially that Meryl Streep and Arnold Schwarzenegger, and I don’t give a sh*t about the Balcanadians. Save the drama for your mama, pretty boy. Now, what exactly do you want?
Justin: Well, Canada is the US’s biggest trading partner, so I think it’s time that we discussed some issues relating to trade.
Donald: Well, I have a lot of issues–
Justin: Mm, yes, I’ve heard.
Donald: –but what I really want to do is bring American back to the Americans and dig it out of the hole that Muslim from Alaska put it in.
Justin (confused): Are you talking about President Obama? He’s not Muslim and he’s from Hawaii.
Donald: That’s what the Democrats would HAVE you believe. Anyway, I have a deal for you. It’s a great deal, because I’m the best at deals.
Justin (puzzled): What kind of deal?
Donald: I’ll agree to keep NAFTA the way it is if you agree to force all Canadian stores to sell my daughter’s clothes.
Justin: What?!
Donald: And my wife’s jewelry.
Justin: I don’t have the power to do that. Can we just talk about trade?
Donald: OK, FINE. Baby Spice!! Get in here. Bring the rest of the gang!
Justin: Why are you being so derogatory about your colleagues?!
Donald: Derogatory? What? Those are terms of affection. I decided to nickname my closest friends after the Spice Girls. Ah, here they are. Ok, Justine—
Justin: It’s Justin. I don’t want an “affectionate nickname” from you.
Donald: Anyway, this is Baby Spice…
Sean Spicer (whispers): The struggle is real.
Donald: And Scary Spice…
Steve Bannon: Your country is mostly white, right?
Donald: This, of course, is Posh Spice. She donated a LOT of money to my campaign, so naturally that qualifies her to be the Secretary of Education.
Betsy DeVos: Play dead.
Justin: I beg your pardon?
Betsy: For when the bears attack and you don’t have a gun. What, did you go to public school or something?
Donald: And meet your new Ambassador to Canada, Sporty Spice!
Sarah Palin: Yah, hi. I only tweet five words at a time.
Donald: And I, of course, am Old Spice. I’m on a boat!
Justin: Mon dieu! C’est incroyable.
Donald: Why are you talking Islam talk?!
Justin: I was speaking French. Canada is a bilingual country. Now can we just discuss trade? Can you tell me where you stand?
Donald: I’ll tell you what I want. What I really, really want.
Sean Spicer: So, tell us what you want. What you really, really want.
Steve Bannon: I wanna, I wanna—
Betsy DeVos: Really, really, really wanna–
Sarah Palin: Zig a zig. Yah.
Justin (rolls eyes): I feel like we’re not making much headway here. Why don’t I introduce you to some of MY colleagues? This is Harjit Sajjan, my Minister of National Defence.
Donald (sotto voce): You know he’s wearing a towel on his head, right?
Justin: That’s a turban, Mr. Trump—he’s a Sikh.
Donald: How did he get into my country?! I thought I banned him!
Justin: What?! NO. He’s a trusted member of my cabinet!
Donald: That’s what JFK said about Lee Harvey Oswald, and look how THAT turned out.
Justin: I don’t think JFK EVER said that, and I find your comments ludicrous and divisive.
Donald: Fine. But I’m still going to call that guy “Curry Spice”.
Justin: Your attitude is as ridiculous as your travel ban.
Donald: What’s ridiculous about it? It’s keeping out the bad hombres.
Justin: Aside from the fact that it’s racist, the countries you’ve banned haven’t committed any terrorist acts on US soil!
Donald: Well, I could hardly ban countries where I have hotels and whatnot. That would be a conflict of interest!
Justin: All right—I think we’ve all had enough. I’m going home.
Donald: Yes. Go back to that condemned row house you call an official residence. The Winter White House is better. It’s the best official residence. It’s a golf club for rich white people. I’d call it a metaphor for the state of US politics right now, if I actually knew what a metaphor was.
Justin: 24 Sussex Drive isn’t a “condemned row house”. It’s a historical monument. I lived there as a child.
Donald: Holy sh*t, you’ve been Prime Minister since you were a kid? Why the hell have I never heard of you until now?
Justin: No, no, that was when my father was elected Prime Minister. There were others in between. Remember the guy in the sweater vest?
Donald: It rings a bell, although I don’t remember his name. By the way, speaking of elections, I heard you’re taking some flak about changing voting.
Justin: Ah yes—my electoral reform promise. I just couldn’t get consensus, and it seemed silly to waste millions of taxpayer dollars on a referendum to decide an issue that really isn’t that imperative to many Canadians.
Donald: While I don’t understand your big words, I DO understand how to take attention away from your problem. Just do what I do. Tweet something crazy, and then pass the most outrageous executive order that Scary Spice can think of. Does your daughter have a clothing line? How do you feel about banning hockey?
Justin: Or I could just say I’m building a wall between Canada and the US.
Donald: Ooh, good one! That might just work!
Justin: Sigh. Let’s hope it does.

Later:

Harjit Sajjan: So, was it just me, or did you “really wanna” punch him in the face?
Justin: You have NO idea.

Friday: We discuss our celebrity spouses

It’s an unwritten rule (or maybe it’s written down somewhere, like in the Bible or People Magazine) that it’s perfectly acceptable for a married woman or man to have a celebrity husband/wife. AND a celebrity boyfriend/girlfriend. Isn’t that like extra cheating, you ask? You’re already married, then you get to have a pretend husband, then you pretend-cheat on BOTH of them with a pretend boyfriend?! Well, yes. But it’s OK, because it’s not like I’m EVER going to meet Idris Elba (husband) or Benedict Cumberbatch (boyfriend). My celebrity husband used to be Johnny Depp, but then he got all alcohol-y and started doing only movies where he was dressed all weird and sh*t. I could have made my peace with Captain Jack Sparrow and his “young Keith Richards” vibe, but that Mad Hatter? Yuck. Could the guy possibly do a movie where he’s NOT dressed in a stylized costume? Coincidently, I just now, while Googling Johnny Depp’s Imdb page to see if he’s done anything normal lately, read an article in the Guardian by a woman who also claimed that Johnny Depp was her celebrity boyfriend, and I was appalled. Not only was Johnny cheating on me with her, she knew a LOT more about him than I did, and her reasons for breaking up with him were a lot more compelling than my “he makes stupid movies now” excuse. Also, I learned that he spends $30, 000 a month on wine. And I totally don’t get that, because I drink a lot of wine, and even in a particularly souse-y month, I never spend more than around $135 (which is what a couple of cases costs at Wine Kitz, where Dad and I “make” our own by ordering it and then putting it in bottles after 4 weeks). So how much wine are you DRINKING, Johnny Depp?!

Anyway, then I got concerned that maybe Johnny was cheating on ME with a lot of other ladies out there, so I researched “Johnny Depp is my celebrity husband” and sure enough, he was being puh-lenty unfaithful. Then I saw a link for a Playbuzz quiz that said it could tell me who my REAL celebrity boyfriend was, so I took it. There were only 5 questions, one of which was “Blonde or Brunette”? So the field was pretty open, apparently. After I answered “Brunette”, the little swirly thing swirled and then it came up with Zac Efron. No, Playbuzz—just NO. If anything, Zac Efron would be my celebrity SON. And that would be cool, but don’t tell T. “Won’t he see it here?” you ask. No, dear Reader, because the one person who DOESN’T read my posts is my own actual son. So maybe I DO need a celebrity son. I’ll bet Zac would read everything I wrote and say, “Hey Pretend-Mom, you are SO funny!”

So the other day at lunch, a bunch of us from work were discussing upcoming movies and other things, and I said I was totally pumped to see The Dark Tower, based on Stephen King’s novels and starring Idris Elba, so like two of my absolute favourite things all rolled into one. And then one of the women said, “Oh Idris Elba—he’s my celebrity husband.” And I was like, “No. NO. He’s MY celebrity husband! He’s been mine since I saw him in Luther.” Then another woman countered with, “No, he’s mine. He’s been MY celebrity husband since The Office.” I was immediately chagrined because I didn’t know that Idris Elba had even been on The Office, but I immediately offered to throw down with either of them. Then I took it back, because they’re both really nice people, and I still have Benedict Cumberbatch all to myself. ISN’T THAT RIGHT, LADIES?

Then I was telling Ken all about this, and he was like, “Am I allowed to have a celebrity wife?” I told him of course he was.

Me: Who would be your celebrity wife then?
Ken: Ummm. I don’t know.
Me: You can pick anyone. Who’s a movie star that you really like?
Ken: I can’t think of anyone.
Me: What about that woman who was in the movie we saw last night?
Ken: No. Oh wait—I’m going to say Nicole Karkic.
Me: Who the hell is Nicole Karkic?
Ken: She’s on The Weather Channel. She’s smart and she really knows her weather.
Me: You can’t pick someone from The Weather Channel!
Ken: Why not? You said I could pick anyone. There’s also that meteorologist on CTV News—she’s very reliable.
Me: OK, then…

I guess I should consider myself lucky to be married to a man who appreciates a woman who’s climate-savvy, instead of being all about her physical looks. Me, I also appreciate Benedict Cumberbatch’s…intelligence.

My Week 124: Obsessed with Rats, Other Wildlife Encounters

Wednesday: I become obsessed with rats

rat

On Tuesday, one of my colleagues arrived at work. “God,” she said. “As if the subway isn’t gross enough, this morning there was a HUGE rat running around on the tracks. Ugh.” And I was like, “A rat?! You saw a rat? Wow—I’ve never actually seen a real rat before.” And then I got strangely jealous of my friend and her rat experience, and started feeling sad about it, like it was completely unfair that I never get to see rats. Now, if you’ve ever actually seen a rat yourself, you’re probably thinking, “What the hell is wrong with you, mydangblog? You’ve seen squirrels, haven’t you? They’re essentially rats with bushy tails, so get over it.” But no—squirrels aren’t the same thing as rats. For one, nobody ever looks out their window and says, “Aww—look at all the cute rats scampering about the front yard. Ooh, that one’s got some garbage!” I know that there are a lot of people who have pet rats, and from what I’ve seen from TV and the internet, they ARE pretty cute, but I’m talking hardcore, scavenging wild sewer rat here, the kind that people are referring to when they say “rat-infested”. Don’t get me wrong—I have absolutely no desire to have a colony of rats take up residence in my house or under my shed or whatnot. I know that actually happens to people and apparently, it’s not very pleasant. I just want to see one with my own eyes, so when people say “Ugh—so gross!”, I won’t immediately think “Ratatouille” and be like “But they’re so cute and charming….”

And it’s weird that I’ve never seen a rat, because I’ve lived in the country for over 20 years, and I’ve yet to encounter one. Ken admitted to me a few years ago that one morning he was going down to the basement and saw a rat basking on one of the steps in the sunlight coming through the window. But before he could do anything (like call me down so I could SEE IT), our dog grabbed it and—well, things didn’t bode well for “Sneaky Pete”, which is exactly what I would have called him once he became my pet. I sometimes wish Ken hadn’t told me about it, because it suddenly raised my hopes (“There was a rat on the basement steps this morning—“) and then dashed them almost immediately (“—and Byron killed it.”). As far as I know, there were never any more rats in the house, so now I will never be able to understand the saying, “I smell a rat” because I don’t know what RATS SMELL LIKE. Thanks, Ken—you should have just kept it to yourself.

And having lived in the country for so long, I’ve certainly had my share of animals in the house. Here’s a list from a much earlier week, which many of you might not have read, since it was posted over two years ago:

Bats: The best kind of animal to have in your house is a BAT. That sounds really crazy, but honestly, they aren’t so bad. Bats have sonar, which is a fancy way of saying that they can tell where you are and won’t fly into your face or hair, which is always a plus. The other day, we were eating dinner, and Ken suddenly said, “A bat just flew by the doorway.” I had my back to the kitchen at the time, so I said, “What?!” and turned around in time to see it fly past the doorway again. I ran into the corner with my dinnerplate, while Ken went to investigate, but he couldn’t tell where it had gone. He also found it pretty amusing that I was freaked out, but not enough to make me stop eating my dinner from the corner of our breakfast room. Well, I was hungry. At any rate, we searched the house, but it seemed to have disappeared, which was bad news, because I was NOT going to bed with a bat in the house. We had also just taken apart a piano, and I became irrationally convinced that the bat had been living in the piano, and I wouldn’t go near it for the rest of the night. Finally, around 11 o’clock, I went downstairs for one last glass of wine (wild animals always make me want to drink), when I saw it hanging quietly on a curtain. Ken came down, and cool dude that he is, he just wrapped it in a towel and let it out the door, while I drank wine and made squeamish sounds. (Speaking of things that should be kept to oneself, Ken then told me that the bat was back the next day. Apparently, Ken came out of the shower, and Titus was running around the kitchen trying to catch it. So he opened the door to our courtyard, and flapped his arms at it until it flew outside. Ken did a great job of imitating both himself flapping and Titus snapping his jaws and going Rar, rar, rar, but I still REALLY didn’t need to know.)

Mice: Mice are OK, and if you read My Week 16: Jimmy the Mouse, you’ll know that they can become elevated to almost pet-status in our house. But I can’t say too much more, because if my sister-in-law even thinks that I’m writing about mice, she will NEVER read this post, and a) I like her feedback and b) I don’t want to traumatize her even more than Jimmy the Mouse did. Enough said.

Raccoons: Raccoons are vicious beyond belief if they have babies. Once, I had a really bad cough so I was sleeping in our guest room. At one point during the night, I woke up to what sounded like an elephant moving furniture around in our attic. It was unbelievably loud and scary and possibly human, but the attic door locks from the inside-the-house side, so I figured that if it was a serial killer, he was pretty much stuck up there until Ken dealt with him, and I went back to sleep. In the morning, I told Ken about the noises, and he said he would investigate. I was taking a course at the time, so I told him I’d call him at the break and he could tell me what he found. When I called, Ken sounded a little distracted.

Me: Where are you right now?
Ken: In the attic.
Me: What did you find? Please tell me it’s a rat.
Ken: No…I’m staring right now at a very large mother raccoon and six newborn baby raccoons. She’s kind of hissing at me.
Me: I’m going to say back away slowly. Don’t break eye contact. If she goes for you, run.

Eventually, after several misadventures, and a lot of damage, including a hole chewed right through our roof (raccoons aren’t the brightest apparently, and can’t see their own offspring in a shoebox at the bottom of a TV tower), we caught her in a live trap. Ken had to carry her in the trap out of the attic, and through the house in order to get her outside. She was going insane, snarling and trying attack the bars—I could tell Ken was a little intimidated by the way he was holding the trap as far away from his body as possible, and walking VERY quickly. We decided to take her and the babies down to the river flats where they could live happily ever after, but then we realized we had a major problem—what if, when we opened the cage, she tried to attack us in a fit of vengeful rage and ripped our faces off? Ken had the great idea of using the cardboard box the live trap came in, putting it against the trap door, and letting her out into the cardboard box, which might disorient her long enough for us to jump back in the car and make a clean getaway. So we did that, but she somehow missed the cardboard box. I don’t know what happened next because we were both already back in the car, having run for our lives. Ken went back later to get the trap, and both she and the babies were gone. I hope they had good lives down on the riverbank.

Squirrels: The absolute worst thing to have in your house, or anywhere near it, is a squirrel. Oh, but squirrels are so cute, you say. No, as I’ve stated previously, squirrels are simply rats with bushy tails, and even worse than having them cavorting on your lawn is having one in the house. A couple of years ago, I got home from work, and was puttering around while T did his homework upstairs. I walked into our back family room, and as I passed the couch, I distinctly heard something sneeze. I looked around, and couldn’t see the cat or dog anywhere, so I figured it was either my imagination or some weird old-house noise. But then when I came back the other way, I heard a sneeze again, and this time there was no doubt that it was coming from BEHIND THE COUCH. I just lost it—I ran upstairs, got T, and made him look behind the couch with a flashlight while I cowered around the corner in the kitchen.

Me: Can you see anything? Please tell me it’s not a raccoon.
T: I can’t see anything yet—HOLY SHIT, there’s something back there!!!!
Me: What?! What?!
T: I think it’s an owl!
Me: An owl?! How the hell did an OWL get in our house?!

So I called Ken on his cell phone—he was about 5 minutes from home, and I made him stay on the line with me until he arrived, based on a bizarre belief that if he kept talking to me, the owl would leave me alone. Anyway, when he came in, he took a look and very calmly announced that it wasn’t an owl, it was “only” a squirrel. This was a new experience for both of us, and while Ken pondered how best to get it out of the house, I poured a glass of wine and stayed on the other side of the room. Finally, he decided the best thing to do would be to open the door, push the couch away from the wall, and let the squirrel make a run for it. It did, but not after doing a couple of mad circuits around the room, trying to run up the wall, and falling back down (which I think stunned it a bit). Finally, it saw the open door, and took off. You’d think it would have been happy to escape and would have gone into hiding, but NO. It ran up a tree and spent the next ten minutes telling us exactly how pissed off it was that it had fallen down our chimney and ended up behind our couch, where apparently, it was very dusty.

And it’s even weirder that I’ve never seen a rat, because now I also live in the heart of downtown Toronto where there are ALL KINDS of strange wildlife, including some of the human variety. The other night, I took the subway to the Art Gallery to meet my sister-in-law. It was a good twenty minutes underground, and I spent the whole time staring fixedly through the window at the tracks and tunnels, hoping to see one of these amazing subway rats. But no such luck. Then we were driving back to my condo, and I saw movement in the street in front of us. Could it be?! But as we got closer, her headlights revealed something that looked like a medium-size dog scurrying along the sidewalk. As it squeezed underneath someone’s garage door, we realized it was a gigantic raccoon. Let down again. I don’t understand  it—last month, I got to pet a stingray and almost got bitten by a shark, but I don’t ever get to see a rat?! The guy next door told Ken last week that he was pretty sure he had rats living under his shed—maybe it’s time to pour a glass of wine and investigate. I’ll let you know how that turns out.