My Week 247: The Porn Floor

On Thursday, I went into the kitchen at work. There’s a table in the corner where the daily newspapers are put, because many of the people I work with are older and enjoy the stain of news ink on their fingertips. This table is also the table where people put things they no longer want. If something is on this table, it’s fair game—in fact, this is the same table where I put my Quality Street chocolate tin last week (update: it’s gone to a new home where it will hopefully live out its days filled with buttons). In the past, the table has featured boxes of tea, spices, a painting (which I snagged right away for my office), leftover sandwiches from board meetings, a cardboard virtual reality viewer—no one took it initially because no one knew what it was until someone from IT identified it—and mostly books. Because I work with a lot of educators, the books are typically on pedagogy or leadership. Sometimes there are novels, which is nice too. Unfortunately, I can’t take any of them. If you know anything about me at all, you’ll know I have some weird hygiene issues, and one of them, which a lot of people don’t understand, is that I can’t stand to touch used books, and ESPECIALLY library books. The idea of the hundreds, maybe thousands of people who have touched the book before me, in all kinds of unsavoury circumstances (it’s amazing how many people like to read on the toilet) makes me feel icky, which is a technical, medical term for ‘extremely uncomfortable, like I really need to wash my hands’. The other day, I was looking at a friend’s library book, and I really wanted to know what it was about, but I couldn’t bring myself to touch the cover so that I could open it to read the synopsis because it was wrapped in that weird library cellophane and it was all finger-printy. I resorted to saying, “That book looks interesting. What’s it about?” and she replied, “Here, take a look,” and tried to hand it to me. I reacted in an externally reasonable way, which was NOT to yell, “No! Don’t let it touch me!” Instead, I said, “Oh, but it would be so much better if you gave me YOUR impression of it.” And then she laughed, because she remembered that I have an issue with library books, which I MIGHT have mentioned once (maybe more than once), and she told me what the book was about instead of making me touch it. See, now THAT’s a friend. Although, she’s also the person who told me about finding bed bugs in a library book last year, and how now she always puts them in the freezer for a few hours to make sure any bugs are dead, so in a way, she also contributed to my fear of library books. Oh well, six of one, half a dozen of the other, right?

But on Thursday, there was a book on the table in the kitchen. It was a large, thick, white book. On the cover was a picture of a semi-clad woman with gigantic breasts and the word “Rizzoli” below. My curiosity was piqued to the point where it outweighed my fear of germs. So I very gingerly, using the tip of one fingernail, opened the book up. I wasn’t wearing my reading glasses, but I could clearly see that this book was simply pages and pages of photographs of a woman in various stages of undress. As I quickly let the book fall closed, I also realized that the whole book itself was rather crumpled and worn, as if it had been clutched tightly while damp. I immediately ran to the sink and scrubbed my hands, then ran down the aisle to where my team was sitting:

Me: Guys! There’s a porn book in the kitchen!
Maria: It’s a book of Kim Kardashian selfies. It’s gross.
Me: It’s disgusting!
JD: Yep.
Me: Who do we work with who would have a book like that? And WHY THE F*CK would they put it in the kitchen?!
All (*look around suspiciously*):
Me: It’s all SQUISHY, like it’s been ‘well-used’.
Both: EWWW.
Me: It’s almost as if we’ve become the…SIXTEENTH FLOOR.

I said that very ominously, and everyone knew what I meant. The 16th floor in our building is commonly known as “the porn floor”. There are two production companies on the 16th floor: Bump N Grind Media and Pink Lady Productions. Whenever we’re in the elevator and someone gets on and pushes the button for the 16th floor, we all give each other knowing glances, and later we speculate about what the person’s “role” might be. Sometimes, it’s obviously an “actress” or “pizza delivery boy”, but occasionally it will be a short, balding man that we have dubbed “the producer”. There’s also a guy in our building that we call “Vaping Elvis”, although to be honest, he looks more like Buddy Holly. He has dark glasses and black, slicked back hair. He’s slightly paunchy, and always wears a long, black leather coat. He stands right outside the building doors vaping every day, even though the sign CLEARLY states that you can’t smoke within 9 feet of the doorway. We’ve always assumed that he works on the porn floor as a creepy-ass director or something, but a couple of weeks ago, he got off on 8 (that wasn’t a pun or a euphemism. He exited the elevator on the 8th floor, you perv).

But if people I actually work with are bringing porn to MY floor, then all I can think is that the secret agency has been discovered and this is the first step in finding us a new cover story. I mean, what better way of disguising your real identity by pretending to be a porn production company? The best part is that we could have a contest for a clever new name. Here are some suggestions:

1) He Shoots, He Scores Inc.

This is a great name, particularly for a Canadian porn company, second only to “Pour Some Syrup On Me-dia”.

2) The Blue Pages

If you’re an educator where I live, you will know why this name is hilariously apropos. If you’re not, it’s still a really good name for a porn company that puts out magazines and books of half-naked Kardashians.

3) My Little Pony Productions

Every film this company puts out features a miniature horse just standing in the background somewhere. Don’t ask me why.

4) Existential Butt Films

Our motto would be “Dirty and Full of Dread”.

5) Velociraptor Videos

In honour of the Toronto Raptors winning the NBA, this movie company would only show people watching basketball games in the nude. It would be as boring as actually watching basketball. Don’t @ me. Bom-chicka-wow-wow.



My Week 246: Buttons and Bones

Every so often, my parents give me a tin of Quality Street chocolates. I’m not a particularly big chocolate eater, so I put it on the table in my office next to the little antique box I have full of chocolate squares, chocolate eggs, and Lindors. Why do I have so much chocolate if I don’t really eat it myself, you ask? Because a lot of other people REALLY like chocolate. It’s useful for so many things. For example, it ensures that people drop by and see me regularly just to “steal a chocolate” (although it’s not really stealing if I’m constantly saying “help yourself”), and I appreciate the company AND the momentary distraction. Also, after you’ve asked someone in the IT department to do you a favour and they’ve done it WITHOUT making you “log a ticket”, it’s really nice to offer them a chocolate reward in return for their help (and oh my god, I will never be able to say ‘log a ticket’ with a straight face ever because all I can think of is that it’s an awesome euphemism for using the bathroom, like “I just need to pop out of this meeting for a moment to log a ticket”). Finally, chocolate is fantastic for when someone is ticked off with you:

Colleague: Did you forget to review that very important document that I sent you?!
Me: Would you care for a Lindor? They’re filled with raspberry cream. Now what were you saying?
Colleague: I…mmm, they’re delicious.
Me: They are, aren’t they? Now, if you could just excuse me for a moment—I need to log a ticket.

Quality Street chocolates are very popular. In fact, on Thursday, someone from another floor ran past my door on his way to do something apparently important, but then he doubled back, darted into my office and grabbed a handful of Quality Streets. As he left, he waved the fistful of chocolates at me and said, “I love coming up here!” And it made me really happy. What didn’t make me happy though was that there were only a few chocolates left in the tin and when I transferred them into my other little chocolate box, I was left with—you guessed it—a large empty tin. What the f*ck do you do with an empty tin? It’s like Schrodinger’s Container—it’s simultaneously too useful to throw away AND too useless to keep. Which explains why every button in the world is kept in a tin. You all know I’m right. In fact, if you ever give anyone a tin of Quality Street chocolates, the first thing they say is, “Are there really chocolates in here or is this just a tin of buttons and sewing supplies?”

Nana’s buttons

The first tin I ever remember seeing was also a Quality Street tin. It did NOT contain chocolate. It contained the entirety of my great-grandmother’s button collection. Why did people collect buttons? I don’t know. But there were hundreds of buttons in that tin, and I spent many a pleasurable childhood hour sorting them by colour and size. I still have that tin in my cupboard. So when my Quality Street tin was empty, I took it to the kitchen at work with a note on it: “Free—great for buttons or sewing supplies”. So maybe, 50 years down the road, another woman will be saying “Why the f*ck did Nana have this many buttons?!”

Living Your Best Life

Which of these people is living their best life? Leave your vote in the comments below:

1) Me

This week, one of my colleagues had a birthday and another member of the team got her a life-size cardboard Jason Momoa which she put in her cubicle facing towards the door. I got to see him every day and he was VERY lifelike. Someone put a lei around his neck and we all pretended that he was saying “Aloha” to us every time we came into the office.

Aloha, ladies.

2) OR This Guy

A man was arrested this week for stripping naked and swimming in the shark tank at Ripley’s Aquarium. Right before that, he had started a fight at Medieval Times—I don’t know if he challenged one of the Knights to a joust but I wouldn’t be surprised. I was also surprised to learn that he was NOT from Florida—he was released on his own recognizance to go back to British Columbia.

So who’s living their best life? It’s a tough call since they both have an Aquaman theme, but you decide.

Addendum 1: This week was big junk day in our township, where everyone puts out cool stuff they don’t want anymore. I got Frank the stuffed fish at big junk day five years ago. So when Ken got home from work on Friday night, I made him drive me around to look at junk.

Me: Ooh, there’s a lovely pile of junk here, Ken!
Ken: Ergh.
Me: Turn right! I think I see a table top to go with the table base we just found.
Ken: Ergh.
Me: Look! There are two chairs—I can paint everything and make a set!
Ken: Ergh.

I love big junk day; Ken not so much, but he’s a good sport about it. Then when we got home, I started to unload the large, solid oak tabletop out of the back of the SUV and it slipped out of my fingers and onto my foot, which may or may not be broken now. But it was worth it. (Update–my foot is still swollen but it’s functioning as normal, so I don’t think I broke any bones.)

Addendum 2: I went on the Amazon website to order volumizing cream for my hair and discovered that, despite not being told ANYTHING by my publisher, my new novel, The Dome, is available on Amazon and Chapters Indigo for pre-order, the release date is October 15th and it’s currently ranked #543 in Dystopian Fiction. I was super-excited about breaking into the top 1000, but then I realized that the first chapter on both websites has the formatting wrong. The chapter heading “Chapter 1: Dee” runs right into the first sentence and there’s no paragraphing–it’s making me crazy and I want to yell out to the internet “IT’S NOT LIKE THAT IN THE BOOK!!!” Maybe they’ll change it if I give them some chocolate.

My Week 245: It’s Questionable

This week was insanely busy, and I didn’t know what to write about so Ken suggested that I answer questions from my fans, to which I replied, “I don’t have any.”

Ken: Fans or questions?
Me: Some of the former, but definitely none of the latter.
Ken: I’m your fan. Here’s a question: What would you NOT want to find in your house?
Me: What? Why are you asking me that?
Ken: Because a Florida man–
Me: ALWAYS the Florida man. What did he do this time?
Ken: Found an eleven foot alligator in his house.
Me: That. Definitely not that. What about you?
Ken: Ummm…snakes.
Me: You don’t like snakes? Since when?
Ken: Since always.
Me: 30 years and I did NOT know that.
Ken: I’m an enigma.

At any rate, I have no actual fan questions, so I’m going to make some up based on the notes and photos I found on my phone:

Fan Question 1) Is physics always right?

No. And my answer is in direct contradiction to a Jeopardy contestant who appeared a couple of weeks ago. Ken and I are currently obsessed with Jeopardy because there’s a guy on right now who’s won over 2 million dollars. AMERICAN dollars. That’s like 7.5 gazillion Canadian dollars, although I might be slightly wrong on the conversion rate. I’m no longer overseeing math people—now I have a really big team that specializes in language, so my math skills are getting a little rusty. Anyway, we feel sorry for the people who have to go up against “James” since he always rings in first and usually gets the answer right. If you ever watch Jeopardy, you know that after the first commercial break, Alex Trebek always asks the contestants questions about themselves—the questions are cheesy and the answers are sometimes cringe-worthy. So Alex asked this poor woman, “I understand you’re a physicist. Why do you like physics so much?” and she said, “Because physics is always right.” And I was like, “That’s BULLSH*T, BRENDA. Schrodinger’s Cat is not BOTH alive and dead. A cat is EITHER alive or dead, whether you can see it or not!” See, this is my issue with physics. You can’t claim that just because you put something in a box, that it exists in two simultaneous states. I mean, you can CLAIM it, but just because you say something doesn’t make it true. You can SPECULATE on the state of the cat, but that doesn’t change the fact that a cat isn’t f*cking magic. As you can see, I would have made an awesome physicist. And I would NEVER put a cat in a box, although if you’ve ever owned a cat, you know that they do love being in boxes.

Also, on the same show, Alex asked the other challenger, who was a Science teacher, this: “I understand that you use an unusual method to explain nuclear force to your students” and she said, “Yes, I tell them that protons and neutrons are attracted to each other the same way I’m attracted to Chris Hemsworth. Yowza.” OK, she didn’t really say ‘Yowza’ but as a former high school teacher, let me tell you that it’s completely inappropriate to talk about your imaginary love life with your students. EW. Just ew.

Fan Question 2) Who do you call if you have a noisy bathroom fan?

Apparently you call this guy—talk about a niche market. I can picture the high school Careers class with the teacher asking everyone, “So what do you want to do when you get out of high school?” and the one guy just lighting up: “I want to fix noisy bathroom fans!” and the teacher saying, “Amazing—there’s a school JUST for that! It’s called Hogwarts!” (I don’t know why I thought of Hogwarts, but it made me laugh so hard picturing this guy at a school for magic and wizardry pointing his wand and yelling ‘Reparo’ at bathroom fans. Also, his name in this strange divergency is ‘Tim’ as in the following conversation:

Dumbledore: Hmm. My bathroom fan seems to be on the fritz. Someone get Tim—he’s the best at repairing noisy bathroom fans.
Tim: Reparo!
Dumbledore: Thank you, Tim. Have a lemon drop.).

Fan Question 3) What has disappointed you most this week?

In the bathroom at work, there is a noisy bathroom fan—no, just kidding. There’s a plastic bag hanging off the tampon dispensing machine full of brightly coloured things. For weeks now, I’ve been speculating about what might be in the bag. Balloons? Toys? Tiny kites? Special prizes like you would buy at the dollar store and give to kids at a birthday party? I finally decided to end the mystery by looking into the bag. And lo and behold, it was full of feminine hygiene products wrapped in different colours according to size. Apparently , the dispensing machine was broken, so they just put all the stuff in a bag and hung it off the handle. It reminded me of the time when I was 8 and I had red measles (because I was vaccinated too early). I was feverish and delirious, and my brother went to the store and bought me a present with his own money, which was very sweet. I opened my eyes and thought it was a super-cool fancy water gun, but when the delirium broke, I realized it was just a long stick of bubble gum. At least in my brother’s case, it was the thought that counts, but the bag full of pads was just mean.

Fan Question 4) Are you a professional antiques appraiser?

Yes, apparently I am. A while ago, I was asked by the local Heritage society to act as an appraiser for their local “Antiques Roadshow” because Ken and I used to own an antique store. I hadn’t done any appraising for a few years, and I was super-nervous, but I had a lot of reference books and I knew a couple of the other appraisers. I held my own, being able to recognize a Parian statue, and accurately date a powder flask etc., and then a reporter from the local paper asked for a picture. It came out last week, and there I am, using a magnifying glass on the bottom of a pewter tankard and looking like a slightly maniacal detective, but the description refers to me as a “professional appraiser”, so now I know what I can do when I retire.

Fan Question 5) Did you recently buy a velvet dress from a thrift shop?

I had to. See, two weeks before, I was going through my closet and taking out all the stuff I never wear. I loaded up everything into several bags and took them to the local Goodwill. Then I came home and started to feel terrible because there was a particular blue velvet dress that I really should have kept. It was bothering me for a while, so last week, I popped into Goodwill, went to the dress section and there it was! I was so thrilled, and the best part? It was only 8 dollars. So I took it to the counter:

Cashier: That’s a really nice dress.
Me: You won’t believe it, but I donated this dress a couple of weeks ago, and I just had to buy it back.
Cashier: Why?
Me: Because I was wearing it on New Year’s Eve a little over 20 years ago and I had just found out that I was pregnant with my son. I was so incredibly happy, and we have photographs of me in it with a huge smile on my face. I really needed to get it back.
Cashier: Aww! That’ll be 8 bucks.

Money well spent.