My Week 157: Monkey Butlers; Rottweiners and Other Bad-Ass Animal Hybrids

Last week, I got a very cryptic email from my mother. The subject line was “VW”, and the text of the message said this:

“Hi Honey: Bought you a present today to do with the above (hint) his first name is Ralph.  See you soon.  Love, Mom xxx”

I pondered for quite a while, and came up empty. I asked a colleague, “What do you think this means?” and he replied, “Maybe some kind of animal?” And I was doubtful at first, but then I had an epiphany and I wrote back this:

“Is it a monkey butler?! I’ve always wanted one of those! Also, there was nothing above except the initials V. W. Is my monkey butler’s name Ralph Van Wooster? Can’t wait to find out! Love you:-)”

I was super-pumped, and waited for a while to get a confirmation. And waited. And waited. But my mother didn’t reply back, and I got worried. There were several possible reasons why I had yet to receive a loving message about how clever I was to have surmised that my present was a simian man-servant.

1) My mother was mad that I guessed her riddle and spoiled the surprise. I could see her reading the email, and then saying to my dad in a low whisper, “How does she always know? Well, let her stew, the smartass.”

2) My mother had actually bought me a Volkswagen, and didn’t know how to let me down gently. I have to say though, Mom, that a VW named Ralph would have been almost as cool as a monkey butler, but only if it was a Beetle.

3) Someone had hacked my mom’s email, and I would eventually learn that in “exchange” for the present, I would have to send $5 000 in iTune gift cards to a Nigerian prince named Ralph Varem Wabara who’s being held captive on the International Space Station by Chris Hadley (a Canadian criminal mastermind/astronaut).

4) My mother didn’t know what a monkey butler was, and my email befuddled her, so much so that she didn’t know what to say in return. I could see her reading the email and then saying to my dad in a low whisper, “What is she on about now? I can’t even dignify this with a reply. It’s your fault she’s so weird,” and then my dad would say, “Och! Yer aff yer heid, woman!”

Number 1, of course, was the most likely scenario, so I spent the next few days feeling a little guilty for being so clever. Then my parents came by the house to drop off my gift. I had read extensively on the topic of how to train a monkey butler, and I had the guest room prepared as per the instructions on which is exclusively devoted to the topic of “How to Train Your Monkey Butler”—it contains pearls of grammatically incorrect wisdom like “When you have your monkey butler serve a person let him take his time and serve one person at a time so he doesn’t get confused and start to get angry, a confused angry monkey is no fun for anyone.” I heartily agree and highly recommend this site to anyone who might find themselves in my position.

Then Mom and Dad arrived, and I was a little concerned when I saw them coming down the walk “sans simian”. What a letdown. But when they came in the house, my mother presented me with a CD of music by Ralph Vaughan Williams, who, aside from Trent Reznor and Dave Grohl, is one of my favourite composers, and that really softened the monkey butler blow because the other night, Ken had tried to lull me to sleep by playing “Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis” only he had to find it on Youtube then he put his iPad directly on my ear so that the music wouldn’t drown out The Weather Channel, which wasn’t very lulling and more just annoying, although he meant well. Now I could play that, and “Lark Ascending”, any time I wanted. But I was still curious:

Me: Why didn’t you answer my email? I thought you were mad.
Mom: Your email? You mean the one about the monkey butler? I would have, but I don’t know what a monkey butler is.
Me: It’s a monkey that’s a butler.
Mom: Would you really want one of those? Wouldn’t it be a lot of work to train it?
Me: Yeah. You’re probably right.

And then I realized that every time I had pictured Ralph Van Wooster in my head, he was actually wearing a bellhop uniform, and not a bespoke tuxedo, so it’s probably good that I wasn’t put in charge of training him, because then he would insist on carrying everyone’s bags instead of serving drinks.

Me: I don’t think a monkey would make a good butler.
Ken: Um, what?
Me: It would be hard to train him. I can’t even get Titus to play dead—he only plays “wounded”.
Ken: You have to make it submit. You know, like “Shock the Monkey”.
Me: If you think the best way to train a monkey is to shock him, then you don’t deserve a monkey butler. Besides, I thought that song was about a guy who pleasured himself in a sudden and rather violent way.
Ken: Um, what?
Me: Like Spank the Monkey, only–never mind. (whispers) You know I’ll have to make this whole conversation up when I blog about it. Forget about training a monkey butler—I need to train YOU to be a better “humorous foil”.

At the end of the day, I didn’t get a monkey butler. But I DID get an awesome CD, AND a blog topic, so thanks, Mom—you’re the bestest!


I’ve been doing a lot of writing this week. I’m on Chapter 12 of my new novel, and then on Friday, my publisher sent me the pdfs/galleys of my first novel, which is about to be published, and I had to review that and give them feedback. It’s funny how much more critical you get of your own writing when you realize that other people, like, people OUTSIDE your family who might not love you, will be reading it. And now, I want to go back and do a major rewrite, but I can’t because the publisher is ready to print. Ken says that it’s fine the way it is, but he also thinks that buttermilk is the same thing as whipping cream. At any rate, I’ve been sidetracked, so to stay consistent with today’s topic of monkey butlers, here’s a throwback post for those of you who missed some of Year One:

The Best Bad-Ass Animal Hybrids

So the other day, I was driving along and I saw a guy walking a dog. As I got closer, I realized that it was a dog with the body of a large Dachshund, and the face of a Rottweiler. It was a ROTTWEINER. And then I was really disappointed, because it did NOT look badass at all. You would think that a dog with the personality of a weiner dog, all scrappy and feisty, and the body of a Rottweiler, all muscular and mean, would be the height of badass-ery. Nuh. It was just a bigger than average weiner dog with a round Rottweiler head. And it looked very awkward and self-conscious, like one of those dog-slinkies whose back end has a mind of its own. Why is it that the permutations of nature are never as cool as you hope they would be? Then I got to thinking about other hybrid animals (because I was driving, so why not , right?) and it occurred to me that they all pretty much suck. For example, the mule. This is a cross between a horse and a donkey. Why would anyone WANT to do that? Especially the horse or the donkey? Who knows how it happens, except that apparently it’s always a union between a donkey girl and a horse boy. Which makes sense because how would a boy donkey reach up that high? Then I thought the same must be true of the Rottweiner—it had to be a boy Rottweiler and a girl dachshund, or else SOMEONE was using a step stool. Anyway, aside from the complicated logistics of these types of unions, the whole DNA component is also a puzzle. Why is it mules are sterile, but Rottweiners can go on to have little rotty-weiner babies, or even breed with another kind of dog, say, an Irish Wolfhound? Wouldn’t that be a bizarre looking beast? I actually did a little research for this (ie: I googled “Crazy Animal Hybrids”), and while there were some real disappointments, like the Sheep-Goat (it’s such a bad hybrid that it doesn’t even get a cool name like Shroat, or Greep) I discovered some pretty amazing creatures, so here are my top 3:

3) The Liger: This is a cross between a lion and a tiger. It’s the biggest cat known to humans and can be over 10 feet long and weigh 700 pounds. Also, its best friends are Heffalumps and Woozles.

2) The Grolar Bear: Created when a grizzly bear and a polar bear mate. While this seems unlikely, given that polar bears live NO WHERE NEAR grizzly bears, scientists speculate that it’s happening more and more in the wild due to global warming, and grizzly bears moving into formerly polar bear-only areas. See, global warming has its upside, which is awesome new animals. As the earth warms up and other ecosystems change, maybe we’ll also see the Pengotter (yes, this is an imaginary cross between a penguin and an otter, which I made up just now, and it would be the cutest thing to ever exist).

1) The number one best animal cross, in my humble opinion, is the Coydog. According to the article I read, the Coydog has the natural cunning of a coyote without its instinctive fear of humans, making it tremendously high on the badass scale. So it would pretend to be your best friend, and then when you were asleep, it would eat all your food and pee in your bed. Or kill you. And your Rottweiner.

Honourable Mention: Of course, the Honourable Mention has to go to my favourite mythological hybrid animal—the Zebrasus. This is a cross between a zebra and a Pegasus. I have a sculpture of a Zebrasus on the bookshelf in my office. I found it on a window ledge on the last day of school, many years ago, after all the students had gone home for the summer. I never found out who made it, but it was so awesome that I had to keep it for myself. The best thing about the Zebrasus, aside from the stripes and the wings, is that he’s smoking a cigar and wearing Mardi Gras beads. He is the Ultimate Badass.



My Week 156: Film Festivals Bring Out the Best In Me, Titus the Boxer

So if my calculations are correct, Week 156 represents 3 years of weekly posts, so Happy Anniversary to me and you too, faithful reader. And I say “calculations” like I’m some kind of theoretical physicist when the actual truth is that I had to do ‘156 divided by 3’ and then also ‘52 times 3’ more than once to make sure it was really three years. Also, this past week, I had to ask the math people at work how to calculate 53 out of 81 as a percentage which I’m sure most teenagers can do. They were nice enough to give me the answer (65.4%), and in return, I offered to explain a Shakespearean sonnet to them if the need ever arose.

At any rate, it’s been a great three years, and I have no plans to quit now, so here we go.

Monday: I go to TIFF

If you don’t know what TIFF is, and you think I somehow got into a minor argument with one of the many street people in my neighbourhood, let me explain. TIFF stands for the Toronto International Film Festival. Yes, every year, little Toronto is a celebrity magnet, as directors and actors, and the associated trappings of such things descend on the downtown core. Suddenly, a gathering of more than 5 people on any given sidewalk might somehow mean a famous person is in the vicinity, and people are all like, “Ooh, what’s going on over there?!” and flock to join in. Usually it’s just a group of teens from the youth shelter, but who knows if they’re actually actors in costume promoting the newest Mad Max film? Better to check it out, in case Tom Hardy wanders along.

TIFF brings out things in people that you might never have thought possible, and I certainly found myself either thinking or doing stuff that I would never otherwise consider. I didn’t get carried away, like the women last year who got into a fistfight over a prime spot to see Ryan Gosling, but I did act slightly out of character. For instance, I was sorely tempted to wander the streets in search of Benedict Cumberbatch, who was apparently in town, but I didn’t because he’s my celebrity husband, and if he wanted to see me, he SHOULD KNOW where I live. And while I was sad that, yet again, we had passed like two ships in the night, one of whom was not even aware that there was another ship, I reconciled myself to the thought that I have 216 followers on Twitter, and they’re all very cool people. I also recently got followed by an American Congressman, who was apparently impressed by the fact that whenever Donald Trump tweets something stupid, which is pretty much every time he tweets, I try to respond with “You’re an *sshole”. I use the whole word instead of asterisking it because my blog is rated PG 13, but Twitter is just a f*cking free-for-all. The biggest problem I have is that he tweets so much ridiculous sh*t all the time that I can’t keep up, so I only tell him he’s an *sshole once or twice a day.

But I digress. Other things that I did this past week that I would never normally do include the following:

I saw a film at the Ryerson Theatre. This is the theatre attached to Ryerson University. Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s not dirty or gross or anything, but it’s pretty bare bones. I’m used to the Carlton cinema, where you can get a glass of wine and a giant KitKat bar, or the VIP cinema where a waiter will actually bring your pulled pork poutine and a carafe of Pinot Grigio right to your giant Lazy-Boy style armchair.

After the movie—oops, I mean “film”—was over, I stood outside the back exit door in a crowd of people hoping to see the stars of the show (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, and it was actually really great), and take their picture. Why? I don’t know. It just seemed de rigeur. Sure enough, when they eventually emerged, I joined in the chorus of “Sam! Over here!” and “Frances! Can we get a picture?!” I DID get a blurry shot of Sam Rockwell signing an autograph, but normally, I would NEVER stand around waiting for someone I didn’t know, just to get their picture. I’m really not a fangirl of any kind, and the only autograph I’ve ever gotten was from Eric McCormack. When I told this to one of the friends I was with, she was like “Oooh!” but then I had to clarify that it was Eric McCormack the Canadian writer, and not the famous actor from the American TV show “Will and Grace,” and I think she was slightly disappointed.

Another thing I did was tell somebody to get to the back of the line, which isn’t like me. But the line-up to get into the theatre was very long, and the seating was first-come, first-served, so I wasn’t having any nonsense. As you may already be aware, Canadians are absolutely OCD about line-up protocols, and this is the one area where we might assert ourselves in a non-polite way. So there we were, the line-up finally starting to move, and I was ahead of the rest of our group with a break in between. As we got closer to the entrance, suddenly a well-dressed couple came along and tried to slide into the line between us. I turned, pointed, and said, “The end of the line is back there. Around the corner.” And everyone else chorused in with, “That way! Back there!” so the couple had no choice but to move along, and then we were all like, “What?! Did they think we were just standing here because the view is so nice? Honestly!”

Then on Thursday night, I was at a friend’s art show opening. Her art is amazing, but there were two other artists having their openings as well, and the main room was taken up with a giant red papier-mache go-cart, a couple of large, drippy canvasses, and a lot of men wandering around looking slightly befuddled. I visited with my friend, admired her art and had a glass of wine, and then it was getting late. I was literally at the door about to leave, when suddenly, the gallery owner called for everyone’s attention, all the people in the place formed a large circle, and a woman began to speak about Iceland, and how Icelandic people are the best at, like, EVERYTHING in the world. Then it all made sense—the befuddled looking men, the disproportionate number of blonde women in the room, and the canvases that looked like there was lava mixed with the paint. Normally, I would never have left when it would have been so obvious, but I was emboldened by my TIFF line-up experience of not taking any sh*t from strangers, and I was like, “You know what Icelanders AREN’T good at? Holding my attention,” and I sidled over to the door very slowly and then snuck out. Obviously, I said that in my head, because I’m not THAT rude. But it would have been funny if I HAD said it out loud, and maybe people would have thought it was part of the art show, like some weird performance art piece, and they would have all clapped. And wanted my autograph.

Friday: Titus the boxer

Me: Hey! I’m home!
Titus: This is the best day EVER!
Me: You said that last Friday.
Titus: It’s still true. Come here for a hug!
Me: No! Don’t stand up!
Titus: Seriously, let me hug you. This doesn’t have to be awkward.
Me: But it always WILL BE. Aggh—you just punched me in the face!
Titus: This isn’t easy you know. I’m not actually bi-pedal. I’m doing the best I can. Stop moving—I can’t keep my balance—whoa!
Me: My face! Am I bleeding?
Titus: A little. Would a cookie make you feel better? Because it would sure help ME. I feel TERRIBLE about all of this.
Me: No. Do you seriously think you deserve a cookie for punching me in the face and knocking me down to the ground?
Titus: I was just happy to see you…
Me: Sigh. I know. Here—cookie for you, wine for me.
Titus: Can I have some wine too?
Me: Don’t push it.

My Week 155: The Ravings of a Madwoman, I Am Officially Bug-Free

Tuesday: The ravings of a madwoman

On Tuesday night, I fell asleep early. At some point, I started dreaming that I was having a conversation with someone. I don’t know who it was, but I was absolutely DAZZLING the person with my wit, to the point that I started to wake up, and decided that what I had been saying was so incredible that I absolutely HAD to write it down. I reached for my phone, and wrote out in my notepad what I was sure was the start of a brilliant story. I managed to get as much down as I could before I fell back to sleep with my phone in my hand, but I was sure that I’d remember everything else in the morning. Then I promptly forgot about the whole episode until late Wednesday afternoon.

“That’s right!” I said to myself. “I wrote some pretty clever sh*t on Tuesday night. Let’s see what I said.” And I was excited because the last time I had dreamed something and wrote it down, it was the beginning of the short story I wrote with dream Eric McCormack (see My Week 119: Donut Store Memories). So I opened my notepad, and this is what I wrote at 12:15 am:

And then I was like “What the f*ck does any of that MEAN? This isn’t genius—this is lunacy!”

Who exactly was I talking to in my dream that would have spawned such nonsense? An alcoholic socialist with a penchant for dirty martinis? And what the hell is a “mushroom ring of hope”? I know that sometimes mushrooms grow in a circle, and then people call it a “fairy ring”, but I doubt that it would inspire hope in people who are “left of centre”. If anything, they would just want to EAT the mushrooms, what with them being organic and natural and whatnot, or throw them at the fascists in a display of fungal rage. Also, I like olives, don’t find them hard to stomach at all, and am not convinced that people who CAN stomach olives are particularly better-equipped than anyone else to handle most things. So who knows what was going on in my brain when I wrote this stuff down, but it certainly wasn’t the epiphany I was hoping for.

But I got worried that I couldn’t remember what the random notations in my notepad meant, so I scrolled through to see what other gems I had written down. These others, of course, were transcribed when I was awake, but without context, make just as little sense. For example:

1) “Charmin on the puppy pad”.

I wrote this down at the Pearson Airport. I was waiting in line for the bathroom, because I am a woman, and women go to the bathroom 5 times as often as they actually need to, hence the long line-ups. Also, it takes longer for a woman to go the bathroom, because first you have to hang up your purse, and if there’s no hook, you have to try and balance your purse on the top of the toilet paper dispenser or on another surface because the last thing you want is your purse touching the floor. Then, you have to line the toilet seat with toilet paper so that your skin is separated from the plastic. Or you can crouch, if you’re one of those old-school gals who still believes you can catch germs from the toilet seat, but then you spray everywhere, which makes it worse for other people, so just stop it. Personally, I always choose the special stall with its own sink and soap so that I can just WASH the toilet seat, but they’re not always available.

Next, you have to pull your pants down, or pull your skirt up, ensuring AGAIN that nothing touches any public surface. Next, the underwear comes down, just to around knee height—higher and you can’t sit properly; lower and you run the risk of it either touching the floor, or people in the other stalls being able to see it, which is a big deal if you’re wearing your old “travel” underwear instead of your pretty “on the cruise ship” panties. Finally, you can do what you came in there to do. Then there’s a whole lot involved in the cleaning up process, which I won’t get into because I already said “panties” and for some of you, that’s almost too much as it is, and finally, of course, there’s the handwashing and drying. I don’t know about the other gender, but handwashing is extremely de rigeur for women—just try walking directly from the stall to the exit without hitting the sink, and listen to the gasps of disbelief. Mothers will whisper to their daughters, “That woman is going straight to hell.” Anyway, to make a long story shorter than the wait to use the women’s bathroom, I was standing in line when a woman came in behind me with a tiny white dog. The dog was sporting a giant, pink bow, and wearing a pink tutu. I sh*t you not. The woman proceeded to pull a puppy pad out of her purse, lay it on the ground, and start exclaiming, “Peepee, Charmin—go peepee, Charmin.” Yes. The dog’s name was Charmin. She named her dog after toilet paper and was now trying to get it to pee on a pad on the floor of a public women’s bathroom. And I’m still not sure whether I wrote that down because it was ironic, or because it was disgusting. And when the dog was done peeing, NEITHER of them washed their hands. Straight to hell, people.

2) “German Pillage Festival”

When we were in the UK, we passed a sign at the side of the road, and I thought it said “German Pillage Festival”. What it actually said was “German Village Festival” but at first I was like “I thought only the Vikings did that…are they talking about the Visigoths maybe? I think they pillaged a little…but why is there a festival to celebrate pillaging? Will there be fake-looting for the kiddies? Maybe there are sacks of candy to represent all the sacking…” But then I realized it said “Village” and I assume it just meant there was lederhosen, sausage and beer, and no looting at all. Also, I just realized that I didn’t know what exactly “sacking” meant, except that pillaging is defined as “looting, robbing, sacking” and other activities, but when I looked up “sacking” on the internet, all I got was “the act of sacking someone or something; a coarse material for making sacks”, so I can offer you no insights on that.

3) “Prince of Whales”

T was telling us in the car that when he was in elementary school, his teacher was explaining to the class about how the Prince of Whales had just gotten re-married. He was confused, because he didn’t know that whales had a monarchy, and all he could picture was a giant whale wearing a crown and he was alternately baffled and amused. When he talked to the other kids after class, it turns out that ALL of them also thought the teacher was referring to a marine animal rather than Prince Charles. And it made me think about how adults make assumptions about context, which reminded me of the time when I was 7 and I asked my mom what the word “ejaculate” meant. My poor mother went into a lengthy explanation that completely confounded me, given the context. When she finally asked, “Where did you hear that word, anyway?”, I told her I’d read it in one of my books. “’Goodness me!!’ ejaculated Nan’” I read to her (I think it was a Bobbsey Twins book), and my mom was just like, “Oh. Ahem. Well, that’s different. It means she was surprised.” That seemed MUCH more appropriate than what she’d previously told me. Given the context.

So there you go. Sometimes things make sense; sometimes they don’t.

Wednesday: The ravings of a madwoman Part 2

I’ve had a small rash on the side of my nose for about 6 weeks now. It’s not super-noticeable, especially since I wear make-up during the day, but it’s incredibly itchy. I’ve tried everything—over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream, moisturizer, rubbing alcohol, acne stuff—but nothing works. Then I was telling a friend at work that I was pretty sure it was some weird type of eczema, and she said that her naturopath gave her some special cream for eczema and the next time she was there, she would pick me up some. She gave it to me on Wednesday. I was dying to try it, mostly because I wanted to tear my skin off of the .5 square centimetre patch that the eczema was affecting.

As soon as I got home from work, I washed the make-up off the side of my nose, and applied the special cream, which was made with all kinds of lovely ingredients, including lavender oil and shea butter. I slathered it on; it smelled heavenly. But within 5 minutes, the itching got intensely worse to the point that it felt like I had bugs crawling under my skin. Then I had an awful thought: What if there really WERE bugs crawling under my skin??!! What if, instead of eczema, it was some kind of infestation, and the only thing this cream had done was make the bugs very, VERY angry?!

And that was when I made the fatal mistake of Googling “I think I have bugs under the skin on my face.” The internet is a wonderful place indeed, but if you ever think you have bugs under your skin, don’t try searching for it, and especially DON’T LOOK AT GOOGLE IMAGES. The internet is also wonderful for locating the nearest walk-in clinic. There was one a block away from me, and it closed in half an hour, so I raced down there.

Receptionist: Can I help you?
Me (whispering): I have this rash next to my nose and it won’t go away.
Receptionist: Well, we’re almost closed. Can you come back tomorrow?
Me (whispering): Um…I just REALLY need someone to look at it and tell me there are no bugs.
Receptionist: Sigh. I can squeeze you in. Fill out this form.

I was sitting in the doctor’s office in less than 10 minutes, something of a walk-in clinic miracle.

Doctor: How can I help you today?
Me: Can you please look at this rash and tell me that I don’t have bugs living under my skin? It’s really itchy and it won’t go away.
Doctor: Hmm. No, I think it’s just slightly infected. I’ll give you a prescription for an antibiotic ointment and some stronger hydrocortisone. You can mix them together and it should be gone in about 5 days, but keep using it for 10 just in case.
Me: So no bugs?
Doctor: Well, if you mean, like bacteria, then yes. But if you mean actual bugs, then no.
Me: Okay, cool.

Only then was I able to relax, and it was in that moment I realized that earlier, I had been cooking dinner, and I had dropped a potato tossed in olive oil and seasoning on my track pants, which were now not only baggy and old, but also stained. I had also spilled wine on my hoodie. So there I was in a pink, boozy hoodie, stained track pants, and turquoise running shoes with no socks, whispering about having bugs under my skin. Thank god I was in the heart of downtown Toronto, where no one gave me a second glance.

Now, after almost 4 days, the rash, and the itching, are almost gone. So I am officially bug-free. And the only thing left to do is figure out why I wrote the words, “Mission Middle Fingers” in my phone notepad. Genius or lunatic? You decide….

My Week 154: Driverless Cars, The “Good” Tea Towel

Last week, I was crossing the street at Yonge and College, trying simultaneously to avoid the taxi that wanted to run over my toes and the screaming man in the pink mini-kilt with the pigtails, when I heard a loud voice behind me say, “You know, I feel really sorry for kids these days.”

“Why’s that?” his companion replied.

I looked behind me. They were two guys in their mid-30s, wearing business suits. I braced myself for the usual bullsh*t about how today’s youth have a) no work ethic b) no social skills c) are entitled b) don’t respect their elders and so on, and got ready to roll my eyes hard enough to make that taxi back off. But I had totally misjudged the savvy pundit, who continued with “It’s a shame that, with the invention of driverless cars, most young kids today will never know the real pleasure of driving.” He continued on, reminiscing about his first car and the thrill of getting his licence until we had parted ways, me into the Tim Horton’s across the corner, he into parts unknown (but probably a very tall office tower).

I thought about it for a minute, and I was like, “Yeah, he’s so right.” Kids who are born today will never know the joy of being the ‘captain of their own ships’, in the same way that they will never know a world without the internet, or without the threat of global environmental disaster hanging over their heads in the same way that nuclear disaster hung over mine (although thanks to the assholes who are currently in charge of both the US and North Korea, kids today have to worry about THAT too. Well done.) But then I thought about it some more and started to wonder if driverless cars weren’t such a bad thing after all, and that kids really wouldn’t be missing that much. I mean, face facts—driving is a pretty dangerous business. Hurtling along at over 100 kilometres an hour (60 miles an hour for my US readers) inside a thin metal box within a few feet of other people in the same situation, it’s sometimes unbelievable that any of us survive it at all. Airplanes, which are basically flying cars, aren’t allowed to be within 3 miles of each other horizontally, and 1000 feet vertically, but I’ve got some d-bag riding my bumper on the 401 despite the signs telling you to keep at least 2 chevrons between you and the next car. When you actually think about it, driving is scary AF, and the fact that we actively encourage our children to learn how to do it and get their licences is pretty bad parenting, like “Hey Jimmy, it’s that wonderful time for you to learn how to battle the forces of humanity, nature, and fate. Hope you remember how to parallel park!”

Personally, I can’t believe the driverless car wasn’t invented sooner. I mean, cars are a necessity in Canada, where there’s a LOT of land and you have to travel pretty far to find people and jobs, and such, but where there just aren’t enough roads, so we spend A LOT of time trying to calculate the fastest route to go anywhere, and watching Google maps closely for that red line that tells you that you’re not going anywhere anytime soon. I’ve written plenty about the ludicrous nature of driving back and forth to Toronto, and I could totally appreciate being able to read or surf the internet while I was stuck on the four lane parking lot known as the 401,or more affectionately, the “stupid f*cking 401”. But what I really want to know is this: will driverless cars obey the rules of the road, or will you be able to override them so that you can drive as stupidly as you do when you’re actually behind the wheel yourself? Because there’s always going to be that one guy who drives on the shoulder to pass, or cuts you off, or tailgates you, and if he can still do it while he’s watching a Youtube video, then what’s the point?

The only real requirement I have for a driverless car, aside from obeying the rules of the road, is something I like to call “Roadkill Alert”. The car should be able to sense whether there’s an animal about to cross the road in front of you and stop you, or shoot out a firecracker or something as warning. Last year, T left the house about 10 pm to drive back to his university residence. Less than five minutes later, he called the house. I answered the phone to hear him say, “I just got hit by a deer.” His voice was shaking. Ken had just taken Titus out for a walk, so I stood on the porch and screamed at the top of my lungs, “Ken! Come home! T’s had an accident!” From a few blocks over, I heard him yell, “I’m coming!” and he was back at the house in under 30 seconds. T was only a couple of kilometres away, but it felt like forever until we got there. When we arrived, there were two pickups trucks who had stopped to help, and the police were already there. I grabbed T and hugged him—thank god he wasn’t hurt—but there was a deer shaped dent in his buckled hood, and the deer itself was lying at the side of the road. It was a buck with huge horns, and all I could think was 6 inches higher and it would have gone through the windshield. I won’t go into details, but the police took care of the situation, and the local guys offered to take it away. The car was a write-off, but whatever—it’s only a thing.

Bottom line, the deer came hurtling out of the dark and T couldn’t avoid it. So yeah—make sure those driverless cars have long-range sensors on them. And I don’t want to hear any of that sh*t about “When I was a kid, we drove into deer all the time and LIKED it. These kids today are just sheltered wussies.” Personally, I’m waiting for someone to finally invent the Star Trek transporter. Then we can say, “These poor kids today will never know the real pleasure of travelling at warp speed…”

The Good Tea Towel

I have a problem. It’s not a big problem, but it’s a problem nonetheless for someone like me who’s just a little OCD. Here’s the back story: Because the new owner of my previous condo was a total dick and illegally evicted me, I had to find a new place to live. Toronto is hideously expensive, and the only place I could find close to work in the timeframe I had was a 2 bedroom place. The rent on this 800 square foot box in the sky is $2400 a month, so the only way I could afford it was to get a roommate. I did, and she was lovely, but there was one problem. She kept using the good tea towel, you know, the one that’s for show. It was white and black, in a ‘Paris’ motif, and it hung from a hook in a spot that was obviously chosen for its display properties. There was another tea towel, a plainer one, that was close to the stove and sink, and simply screamed out, “Use ME!” Yet my roommate kept using the good tea towel, until it was no longer ‘good’. I would come back after a weekend at home to find it hanging all crumply and stained. I would wash it and then replace it, and put the other tea towel in a more convenient spot, but my roommate had a penchant for using the good tea towel and I didn’t know what to do. Why didn’t you just tell her, you ask? Because that would be the most ridiculous conversation in the world, like “Can you not use this tea towel? It’s for show.” How do you say that without coming off like some weird kitchen textiles fanatic? And while this may seem like a first-world problem, imagine if I had two goats. The first goat was really stylish and it was the one that I kept to impress people about my taste in goats, and thereby advertise my savvy in the goat business. The other, less attractive goat was the one I used for milk and whatnot. Imagine now, if someone slaughtered my display goat. Am I now supposed to use the milk and meat goat to make my kitchen look pretty?

And why is this a problem NOW, you ask? Because my previous roommate has gone back to school, and I have a new roommate, who also seems very nice. But I just bought new display tea towels, and I still don’t know how to have that conversation with a stranger. At home, it’s no issue:

Me: See that new tea towel I just bought? It’s for show. Don’t use it.
Ken: OK.
Titus: If it doesn’t involve food, I’m pretty laissez-faire. You know me…

After 27 years of marriage, Ken understands that a) I’m weird and that b) the tea towels we actually use can just be put in the cupboard or drawer or whatever, and he can complain all he wants about the possibility of it getting “moldy”, but we both know that won’t happen, Ken. Yet I don’t know this new girl very well, and the last thing I want is for her to tell her friends, “I can use anything in the kitchen that I want, except for this one particular tea towel. Also there are five cutting boards—one for vegetables, one for meat, one for cheese…you know what? F*ck this—I’m moving out.”

Sigh. Kids today will never know the pleasure of a fancy, just for show, tea towel.