My Week 244: The Need To Exorcise

Sometimes it seems like I’m just a weird magnet. And by that, I don’t mean you can stick me on your fridge where I will proceed to talk only to your dog and demand wine; I mean that I seem to have the uncanny knack of attracting all the weird things.

On Thursday, I was sitting on the train, minding my own damn business as one does, when a well-dressed young girl around 20 years old sat down next to me. She reeked of perfume to the point that I was almost gagging. Now, I’m not ALLERGIC to perfume—in fact, I rather like it, but being enveloped in a napalm-ish cloud of it was death to my sinuses. Unfortunately, the train was packed and there was nowhere else to go. Out of the corner of my watering eye, I saw her put down her seat tray and place her cell phone on it. Then she pulled a red velvet pouch out of her purse. I was initially impressed, like, ‘Hmm—what a great idea for making sure your headphones don’t get all tangled up with the other sh*t in your purse’ and I was mentally doing a walkthrough of my belongings at home and wondering if it would be too pretentious to keep earbuds in a Tiffany’s or Pandora pouch because I didn’t have a plain one on hand, and I spend INORDINATE amounts of time unravelling my earbud cord and getting my fingers all caught up in it and whatnot. Then the girl patted her forehead and her chest with the pouch, and I moved away slightly because maybe the heavy perfume was covering up the fact that she was REALLY SWEATY, and I’m never sure whether things like that are airborne and her sweat could somehow get on me, and I have enough trouble being locked in a hurtling tube with 100 other people and all their germs in the first place.

But she put the pouch down on her lap, and pulled out a long string of something, and I was thinking, “Those are the strangest earbuds I’ve ever seen” when I realized it was a string of beads. She gathered them up in her hand, closed her eyes, and started fingering each bead in turn. She was praying. And then I had a terrible, sudden thought that maybe she knew something I didn’t know about the train, and I was like, “OMG are we going to crash??!!  Is her weird bead-worship the only thing standing between me and a fiery derailment?!”

This went on for over almost half an hour, her in silent contemplation of the divine and me in silent worst case scenario mode. I had located the emergency hammer and definitively concluded that if we DID crash, I was jumping over her perfume-y ass to get out of the train, when she opened her eyes and put down the rosary. She started swirling her hands around her head like she was fake-washing her face, and I moved even further away in case she wanted to wash mine too–I was having a particularly good mascara day, so hard pass. When she was done with the air-grooming, she patted herself with the bag again, and I realized that she was, in fact, crossing herself with it. Then she put her hands in her lap and stared straight ahead for the next half-hour until we arrived in Toronto and I didn’t know whether to thank her for saving us all with her “Severus Snape at the Quidditch Match” level of concentration, or tell her to ease off on the Ysatis.

This event was simply the cherry on top of all the weirdness that I’ve been experiencing lately. Last week, I came downstairs in the morning, and there was a lovely, tiny origami frog/butterfly type of thing right smack in the middle of the kitchen counter.

“Aw,” I thought. “I didn’t know that Ken knew how to do origami. How sweet!” So when he came down, I thanked him, and he said, “I didn’t do that—I thought YOU made it.” And after the Mysterious Case of the Mouthguard on the Landing, which was NEVER solved, by the way, you can only imagine how I reacted to this, which was to insist that we search the house for an intruder with fine motor skills and bad teeth.

But wait—it gets worse. The other night, my mom was away so I invited my dad for dinner. I was running a little late so I called Ken and suggested that he go and get some Swiss Chalet take-out. I was close to home, so I said, “You can either take Dad with you or leave him at the house—I won’t be long.” So about 15 minutes later, I pulled into the driveway. From my car, I could see someone in the kitchen—it looked like he was pouring a glass of wine. But by the time I got through the door, he was gone. “Dad! I’m home!” I started yelling, but there was no answer. Maybe he was in the bathroom. I wandered around downstairs, Titus dogging my steps, but there was no sign of him anywhere. So I did what any normal person would do—I went out on the porch and I called Ken:

Me: Um, is my dad with you?
Ken: Yep, he’s right here!
Dad: Hi!!
Me:
Ken: What’s wrong?
Me: There’s someone in the house! I saw a man in the kitchen–it looked like he was pouring a glass of wine and now he’s gone. I’m staying out here until you get back.
Ken: It’s just your imagination. Your mind EXPECTED to see your dad standing at the counter pouring a glass of wine because that’s what he ALWAYS does.
Dad: Hey!
Me: It WASN’T my imagination!
Ken: Go back in and look around. If Titus isn’t worried, I doubt there’s anyone in there.
Titus (from inside): I’m a terrible guard dog! Don’t rely on me!

Anyway, I went inside and got my pepper spray and a glass of wine (like father like daughter), then sat in my office with my back to the wall so I could see anyone sneaking up on me, waiting for them to get home. And now I’m wondering if that girl on the train was really praying, or maybe she was trying to perform an exorcism.

The other weird thing that happened last week isn’t so much unsettling as it just made me go “Huh?” I pulled into the train station parking lot and there was a truck bed camper up on blocks next to the dumpster.

A Clockwork Camper?

It hadn’t been there the day before, and I didn’t pay too much attention until suddenly, the door swung open and a guy stepped out. He stretched and looked up at the sky. And that’s when I realized that he was dressed EXACTLY like the main character from A Clockwork Orange, from his bowler hat to his white outfit to his cane. He started kind of skipping across the parking lot, swinging his cane (I’m guessing in time to the song ‘Singing in the Rain’), then he disappeared. I wonder if he knows origami?

Exactly how he was dressed.

My Week 243: An Evening of Fun and Debauchery

This week’s offering is inspired by Kim at I Tripped Over A Stone. Every week, she posts 3 Quick Questions for people to answer, and last week Question 3 was: “Have you ever been to a Tupperware party?” I responded that yes, I’d been to a Tupperware party, but that I’d also hosted a lingerie party. She wanted to know more, and I said that was a story for another time. Now is that time. It’s time to tell you about one of the most bizarre and embarrassing things that ever happened to me.

Years ago, Ken and I lived in a different small town in a neighbourhood full of young couples like ourselves (we were both 26 at the time). I’ve never been one to embrace the social scene, but the women in the neighbourhood were constantly hosting different sales-type parties: Tupperware, jewellery, candles, you name it, where I would be invited and then would feel obligated to buy a giant plastic tub, or a cheap bracelet. I didn’t mind the candles though—if you know anything about me, you know that I have a large collection of jar candles in case of the apocalypse. I should also mention that this small town was also heavily Modern Mennonite. Now, if you don’t know anything about Mennonites, let me explain. The hardcore Mennonites are like the Amish. They dress all in black from their heads to their toes, the men wear wide-brimmed hats and the women wear big bonnets. They refuse to use any modern technology or electricity and they drive buggies pulled by horses. They live in their own isolated communities and they are all farmers. Then there are the “conservative” Mennonites, who are almost hardcore, but can drive cars and use cellphones. Apparently, the car has to be black and any metal trim/adornments have to be pulled off, and the cellphone has to be with Rogers (sorry—that’s an in-joke because Bell is so much better). There’s also a group called the David Martin Mennonites, who are just like the regular ones except that the guys wear straw hats and suspenders and the girls wear handkerchiefs instead of bonnets. Mexican Mennonites are the most interesting group—they aren’t actually Mexican—they’re a splinter group that went down to Mexico years ago to do mission work, and came back to Canada at some point. They are VERY different from your run-of-the-mill gang of Mennos in that the men wear plaid shirts and ball caps and the women love dresses with flowers all over them, and they drive and use electricity and whatnot. The biggest difference is that they’re all blond and walk around town looking like Abercrombie and Fitch models. The other Mennonites look down on them, but I think they’re just jealous that the Mexican Mennonites had a larger gene pool so none of them have to wear glasses, which most other Mennonites have to do because they have terrible eyesight. Finally, there are the Modern Mennonites, who made up the majority of my neighbours. There was nothing remarkable about them except that they went to big, modern Mennonite churches on Sunday. And they were very proper and modest.

Anyway, so after a few months of enjoying the party circuit, eating other people’s appetizers, drinking other people’s wine, buying the bare minimum in party sh*t, and pretending that I was not extremely uncomfortable in situations like this, it became patently obvious that it was MY turn to host something. The pressure was on. What kind of crap could I get my neighbours to buy that would be exciting and new? Then, call it kismet, or universal forces at work, I saw an ad for a woman who did LINGERIE PARTIES! What an amazing idea! I would be the talk of the neighbourhood for months to come. I could picture my neighbours ooh-ing and ah-ing over delicate lace and finery, buying flannel nightgowns, or perhaps the more daring among them purchasing satin negligees as they giggled in delight. There would be fancy h’ors d’oeuvres and wine, and once I had hosted the party to end all parties, I would NEVER have to go to another one again, which was really my ultimate goal! So I called the woman, whose name was Donna:

Me: Hi there! I’m interested in hosting a lingerie party!
Donna: Super. They’re so much fun! I assume your guests will be open to just about anything?
Me: Oh sure—lace, flannel, satin…
Donna: Rubber?
Me: Pardon?
Donna: Did I mention the hostess gets a 10% discount?
Me: Oh cool! Can I book for next Saturday?

I invited all the neighbour ladies and everyone was super-excited at the thought of my Lingerie Party; one of the women even invited her mother, who was a little less Modern and wore a white net cap over the bun in her hair and a dress with an apron, but still, I thought it would be fun for her to hang out with us. I envisioned Donna arriving with racks of nighties in all the colours of the rainbow, and maybe some cheeky bra and panty sets that would make my Mennonite friends blush a wee bit, and there would be a shopping frenzy the likes of which no one had ever seen, allowing me to receive the ‘surprise bonus gift’ that Donna had mentioned.

The evening came and Donna arrived. But instead of racks of nighties, she had stacks of boxes. I was confused but the guests started to appear and I got distracted by pouring out the wine and passing around trays of cheese and crackers, and pumpernickel bread with spinach dip (these types of appetizers were de rigeur at sales parties). After about 20 minutes, Donna announced that she was all set up, and we gathered in the living room in anticipation. Then my jaw dropped as I realized what she had unpacked from all her boxes. Dildos. It was a sea of DILDOS. There was no lingerie to be seen, and I don’t think I could ever emphasize enough exactly HOW MANY DILDOS there were on display. Then Donna, oblivious to the looks of shock on our faces, introduced herself and began to showcase each of the sex toys, describing its material, shape, function, colour and size. “Here!” she said cheerfully. “Pass this one around. Feel the quality, ladies!” My guests’ eyes were wide with terror as they passed the fake phalluses to each other gingerly, holding them between their thumbs and index fingers and refusing to make eye contact with anyone. At one point, the little Mennonite mother who had been innocently brought along whispered to her daughter, “What..what is this?” and her daughter whispered back, “It’s a dingaling!” Finally, after the fifth dildo had made its rounds (“This one is called ‘Double Trouble’, ladies!!”), I cleared my throat and spoke:

Me: Is there any lingerie? I think my guests might like to see some of that now.
Donna: Lingerie? Oh sure! I have some crotchless—
Me: NEVER MIND!

Needless to say, none of my Mennonite guests bought anything. One of the other women picked up some edible undies as a joke but it wasn’t enough to get me that special bonus gift. And although it was difficult to show my face around the neighbourhood for a while, my phallic fiasco turned out to be the party to end all parties after all. Or at least I stopped getting invited to them, so I considered that a win anyway.

As a side note, the company that Donna worked for is still in business. Back when I was 26, there was no internet, but if it was the same situation today, I could have gone to their website and found out ahead of time that my guests and I were in for “an exciting night of fun and debauchery”. Only one of those things turned out to be true.

My Week 242: Swearing an Oath

Recently, the secret agency took on a group of summer students. They’re a delightful bunch, young, enthusiastic and eager to learn. I like to check in on them every so often to make sure they’re doing ok, and last week one of them said to me, “Yes, it’s been great so far. But it was so weird–did you know, I had to swear an oath to the Queen?” And I was like, “Oh yeah–we all did that. It’s no biggie–it just means that if she needs you, you have to fly over to England. Sometimes she gets lonely. A couple of years ago, I got the call and when I got there, all she wanted was someone to listen to her gripe about Philip. Apparently he snores and spends WAY too long in the bathroom.” The girl looked at me in shock so I had to explain that I was kidding. But it reminded of me of how I reacted when I first hired at the secret agency and took the oath myself…

Because I just saw Avengers’ Endgame.

Before I started the job, I had to meet first with my Human Resources contact to fill in a lot of paperwork. We were filling in the usual forms—contact information, computer log-ins, keys, and other stuff, when she said, “Oh—although we’re a secret agency, you’re technically a public servant, so you have to take an oath of allegiance.” She said this kind of matter-of-factly, like I took oaths every day. (This is the beginning of me going off on a very long tangent, so sit back and enjoy.) Actually, I HAD just taken an oath recently, because that December, I fought a traffic ticket. I got nailed by a red light camera going through an intersection on the red light. BUT, to be fair, I was only going 40 km/hour, and didn’t think it was right that I had to pay almost $400 for NOT running a red light, but more like sauntering through it—honestly, I just didn’t see it, which I know is a lousy excuse, but I felt like someone needed to know that I am NOT by nature a red-light runner. So I went to traffic court, where they give you the option of swearing to tell the truth by either putting your hand on a bible, or by just saying it VERY SINCERELY without the bible. I opted for the latter, since I don’t think that anyone’s god particularly cares whether or not I lie in traffic court. Plus, they had a picture of my SUV and my licence plate actually IN the intersection where the light is clearly red, so there would be no point in lying anyway, since I was caught dead to rights. What could I possibly say? “Your Honour, this picture is obviously photoshopped. Your James Bond-ish hightech team is super-clever, but that’s not my truck.”? Long story short, it turns out I didn’t even need to be apologetic, because before I got to say anything, the court officer immediately announced, “We’re reducing your fine to $150.” I felt like he kind of stole my thunder, but I was in no position to complain. Then I had to go in front of the judge and plead guilty, but I qualified it thusly, “Guilty, your honour, but I didn’t mean to do it.” And the judge dismissed the case “with costs” and I wondered if that would also work for more serious crimes, like “Yes, your honour, I stole the puppy from the pet store, but I didn’t mean to do it. Look, he’s so snuggly” and the judge would be like “I completely understand. Give me one hundred dollars. So what are you going to call him?” But that would lead to anarchy, with people stealing puppies everywhere and whatnot, and also I would call him Alistair.

Anyway, so there I was, wondering what kind of oath the Human Resources person was talking about. Was it an oath where I promised not to look at porn or run an online dating service on my work computer? Because I have no problem with that kind of oath, since I have no interest in doing either, and can’t imagine what kind of person WOULD think this is OK to do at work. But wait—it was NOT that kind of oath. It was a pledge of allegiance to the Queen. Not a queen like Guinevere or Latifah, or the band Queen, or even a Disney Queen (by the way, I just googled Disney Queens and one of the search hits was “Why Drag Queens are better role models than Disney Queens”. I am DEFINITELY going back to read that one later.) No, it was THE QUEEN OF ENGLAND. Actually, I had a choice—I could either pledge my allegiance to “the Queen and all her heirs in the eyes of god”, or I could just pledge my allegiance to old Lizzy herself. So I chose the latter, again on the premise that I don’t believe that anyone’s god particularly cares about my relationship with an aging monarch. But the pledge was very vague, and I didn’t know what the ramifications of all this might be. What exactly are my responsibilities? If she commands my presence in England as one of her loyal subjects will she pay for the flight, or is that just one of the expenses that go along with being one of her servants? If she gets in a Twitter war with the Queen of Jordan, do I have to post nice things about her in her defence? Or worse, post mean things about the Queen of Jordan (who seems like a kind of cool queen herself)? Babysit all those grandkids? Walk the Corgis? So I guess the next time she’s having trouble picking out a hat for the Queen’s Ball or whatever, I might have to be there to help out. I mean, I took an OATH.

I picked out that hat.

My Week 241: I’m In The Movies

The other night as I was drifting off to sleep, I had an idea for the most amazing tweet. I don’t tweet a lot; I mostly read other people’s tweets and sometimes retweet (also, I hate the word tweet and having to use it this many times to set up this week’s story is making me want to smash my laptop), but in my semi-conscious state, I was convinced that it was something I absolutely had to say. So I tweeted out this:

Then I woke up the next morning, looked at what I had tweeted, and was slightly appalled. But then I comforted myself with the knowledge that Twitter is pretty much a cesspool anyway, so who cares if I say something random and dumb? I mean, it’s not like I’m an American president or a Canadian Conservative or something. Also, notice that the tweet got one ‘like’ (it was from my awesome blogger friend Sean P. Carlin–you should check him out). But then I got to thinking—what other movies would have been completely different if I’d been in them? So here are some films whose plots would definitely have suffered due to my presence:

1) Since I’m writing this on May the 4th, let’s start with Star Wars, at the moment before the Death Star is about to be destroyed…

Obi-Wan: Mydangblog, trust your feelings.
Me: I really wish you would call me Player One.
Obi-Wan: Concentrate, Mydangblog.
Me: But all the other guys get cool nicknames! There’s Red Leader, Gold Leader, Wedge, Goose…aw, Goose just got exploded.
Obi-Wan: Goose was from Top Gun. Will you please concentrate?!
Me: Ok, I’m going into the weird tunnel. I’m gonna blow sh*t up!
Obi-Wan: Use the Force, Mydangblog.
Me: No way. I’mma use this visor thing with the targeting computer in it.
Obi-Wan: LET GO!
Me: Are you Force-splaining how to destroy a Death Star to me?
Darth Vader (heavy, pervy breathing): The lunacy is strong with this one.
Obi-Wan: Mydangblog, trust me.
Me: That heavy-breathing perv just shot my robot! That’s it! Tick tock, m*therf*cker—your time is up! (*puts on theme song which is obviously Sugar How You Get So Fly, blasts everything in sight with my laser guns, manages to hit portal, Death Star detonates*)

I know—it ends just like the real Star Wars, but it was a lot more fun.

2) The Empire Strikes Back

Scene: Out on some glacier.

Me: Holy sh*t, it’s cold.
Obi-Wan: Mydangblog. Mydangblog.
Me: You again? I told you to call me Player One.
Obi-Wan: You will go to the Disco-Bar system and learn yoga.
Me: What the actual f*ck? Urghhhh, it’s so cold…
Han Solo: Mydangblog!! Come on, give me a sign here! There’s not much time! I’m going to cut open this Tauntaun and put you inside it to keep you warm.
Me: GROSS. I’D RATHER DIE.

So in my world, I only appear in two Star Wars movies, but I stand by my choice. Tauntaun intestines are disgusting.

3) 2001: A Space Odyssey

Opening scene:

Monkeys all screaming and having some kind of monkey war. I suddenly appear, like a strange female monolith. They stop and stare.

Me: Hey chimps! Which one of you wants to be my monkey butler?

(*One monkey tentatively walks forward. He picks up a big bone from like a Tyrannosaurus or whatnot, and advances on me.*)

Me: OK, cool. I shall name you Ralph Van Wooster.

(*Monkey shakes his head and waves the bone menacingly. More monkeys start to move towards me.*)

Me: I think I’ve misjudged this situation terribly.

(*Monkeys stop their in-fighting and attack me with their dinosaur bones. Then they, after having united against me, live in peace and harmony until the end of time.*)

4) Psycho

Shower Scene:

Me, in the bathtub, splashing around and having a dandy time. For some reason, the shower curtain is pulled closed, which I would NEVER do in real life because I need to know if someone is sneaking up on me, but let’s suspend our disbelief for a moment. There’s the silhouette of a figure approaching, knife raised. The shower curtain is suddenly pulled back. Violins screech and then stop abruptly. Norman Bates looks confused.

Norman: Why aren’t you in the SHOWER?!
Me: Showers are the devil’s cleaning system! Get out of my bathroom, you psycho! (*grabs hammer that I always keep on the bathtub ledge and breaks his kneecap as theme song, Sugar How You Get So Fly, plays*)
Norman: I wouldn’t even harm a fly!…

Get me out of this shower!!

5) Lord of the Rings

Gandalf: OK, so you’re going to take the ring—
Me: I know, I know—to the tiptop of Mount Crumpet and there I’m going to dump it.
Gandalf: No, that’s wrong.
Me: Come on, Sam-wise—I need you to pull my sleigh.
Samwise: Of course, MyD–I mean Player One.
Me: Sam, I’m glad you’re with me.
Gandalf: Fly, you fools.

Cue theme song, which never gets old.