My Week 260: Wardrobe Malfunctions

On Wednesday, I decided to do some laundry. When I went to take the clothes out of the dryer, it turned out I was missing a pair of underwear. This may sound like a First World problem, but it was my FAVOURITE pair of underwear (see Week 239 for more details), so it’s more akin to having my donkey go lame or having my crops ruined by drought. And it also begs the question: what the hell happened to my underwear? I’m pretty sure it went INTO the dryer, so what happened to it? Is there really an alternate universe where a strange little man says “Ooh, that’s just lovely. Feel that fabric! I MUST have this special underwear which is most certainly somebody’s favourite!” and then you never see it again?

Notice those gaping maws…

I checked the washing machine AND the dryer at least twice more and there was no sign of it. Then I searched my closet—same thing. Then I backtracked and followed my path from the laundry room up to the bedroom (I may or may not have stopped in the kitchen for some liquid refreshment to comfort myself over the loss). But now I’m worried that maybe it’s hiding in a pair of pants or a sweater or something, and that it will re-appear at an embarrassing moment. And while this may seem like a long-shot, believe me it’s not—I’ve had it happen before…

October, 1991: Ken and I had moved to Thunder Bay so that he could go to teacher’s college. I couldn’t find a paying job—there were 3 rounds of interviews just to be a waitress—so I started volunteering at a local public school. I went there every morning to help students in the “Literacy Centre”, which was, in reality, a small room with one computer. On the way to school that fateful morning, I was on the sidewalk in front of the building when I looked down and realized that the toe of a pair of pantyhose was peeking out from my pant leg. I stopped. The best way to remove it seemed to be to just pull on it. This was, of course, easier said than done, and I stood there for several minutes, bent over, tugging, hopping, and wriggling around until the offending piece of laundry was finally extricated from my trousers. I shoved it in my pocket, and went into the school. When I got into the “Literacy Centre”, the teacher I was volunteering with asked me, “Um…what were you doing outside?”

I explained that I had an issue with a misplaced pair of pantyhose, and asked, “Why? Could you see me?”
“Yes,” she replied, “Yes, we could.”

We?! Who the f*ck was WE?! Well, it turned out that she had been in the grade 2 classroom next door, and she, along with 25 seven-year-olds, watched out the windows in gleeful fascination at my bizarre behaviour. Of course, they couldn’t see the pantyhose from that far away–all they could see was me doing an insane dance on the sidewalk. Thankfully, I was able to produce the nylons from my pocket to prove that I wasn’t drunk, or hallucinating about being attacked by a swarm of bees. But that’s not the only time I’ve had problems with underwear and sidewalks…

March 1998: I was about 5 months pregnant, and was getting very uncomfortable with a variety of articles of clothing. I’d resorted to wearing flannel shirts and sweat pants a lot, but I had to give a workshop in Dundas. I found the only dressy clothes that still fit me and put them on in an attempt to look professional. Ken offered to drive me, since I had no idea how to get to Dundas, and this was long before the days of GPS. On the way home, I was feeling all twisty and itchy, and I said to Ken that I really wanted to take off my bra. He said, “Go ahead. NO ONE WILL EVER KNOW.” (When you read that last line, pretend that it was said very ominously, and that it was accompanied by a roll of thunder or an echo or something.) Taking his advice, I wriggled out of the bra and tossed it aside. A while later, we were going through the small town 5 minutes down the road from where we lived, and we decided to stop at the local video store. “I can’t go in,” I said. “I’m not wearing a bra.”

“Just put on your raincoat,” said Ken. “NO ONE WILL EVER KNOW.” (This time, pretend that he laughed maniacally and that everything went red and flame-y for a second.)

Again, taking his advice, I put on my raincoat, and in we went to peruse the shelves of VHS tapes. Suddenly, the door opened, and this huge guy wearing a red lumberjack jacket and work boots stomped in. And he was TWIRLING MY BRA AROUND HIS FINGER.

“Hey, Darlene,” he laughed, as he addressed the video store clerk. “Is this yours? I found it on the sidewalk outside the store.”

“Not mine!” answered the clerk. “And it wasn’t there when I went out for a smoke a few minutes ago!”

And then, like a slow motion nightmare, they both turned and looked directly at me. In that moment, I had a choice—I could lie, and everyone would know I was lying, or I could salvage what dignity I had left. So I stalked over to the guy, grabbed my bra out of his grubby hands, and walked out of the store. Well, it was an expensive bra. Ken and I tried to piece the whole mystery together, and all we could figure is that, when I tossed the bra aside twenty minutes earlier, it must have landed on the floor of the car, and it caught on my heel when I got out, leaving Joe Lumberjack to retrieve it. Needless to say, we never went back to that store again.

In conclusion, I need to find my underwear before it finds me.

Also, I recently had a humorous article featured in Women Writers, Women(s) Books on “Questions You Should Never Ask A Writer”. It’s light-hearted and you can read it here.

 

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My Week 259: Does This Answer Your Question?

So I was recently tagged for a couple of blogger awards, and I know some people don’t like this, but for me, it’s always a chance to have a bit of fun with the questions. The first award was the Mystery Blogger award, and I was nominated by Simon from Beyond The Infinite, a cool blog about science, space, and exploring the universe. As a part of this award, I’m supposed to tell you three things about myself, and then answer five questions:

3 Things

1) In real life, people think I’m a very serious, professional person.
2) I collect small jewellery boxes that are made with seashells.
3) I talk to stuffed animals, just in case.

You can never have too many.

5 Questions

1) What is the strangest thing you’ve seen lately?

This ad, on a buy and sell site. It’s unsettling and at the same time, intriguing. Is it a challenge? Like, if I really want those beanie babies, am I willing to pay $200 AND defeat The Gatekeeper? And it doesn’t even say HOW MANY beanie babies there are. Who would post an ad for stuffed toys and accompany it with a picture so intimidating? Is the person selling the beanie babies against their will and this is a warning? I can just see someone taking their small child to pick up them up and being confronted by this person screaming “YOU CAN’T HAVE MY BEANIE BABIES!!!” You’d be scarred for life. This ad is strange and it really does engender more questions than answers.

2) If you could travel to any planet, which one would it be?

Uranus. Duh. Don’t you know me at all?

3) Do you ever give your cars (or other transportation) names?

No. I have a Chevy Sonic, and I call it “The Sonic”. Wait—I guess that’s kind of a name. In fact, it’s a very cool name, like a superhero name for someone who could fly faster than the speed of sound (is that actually even fast? I’m not as science-y as Simon so maybe he knows), or can destroy things with sonic waves. Wow, and I thought the coolest nickname would be Player One—now I want The Sonic, like Suzanne “The Sonic” Craig-Whytock.

4) What’s your weirdest habit?

Me: What’s my weirdest habit?
Ken: Obsessing over a piece of furniture or a vase being moved 5 millimetres from where you put it, and then yelling, ‘What the f*ck?! Why is it out of place?!’
Me: That’s not weird—it’s because I worry about ghosts, and THAT’S PERFECTLY NORMAL, KEN.

5) What are your 3 desert island must haves?

Ken, Titus, and an unending supply of white wine. I’d add my son, but I know he has better things to do than hang out with a drunk castaway.

I was also nommed for the Real Neat Blog Award, also by Simon, and the fact that he thought of me for both of these is incredibly kind and thoughtful, and I thank him very much. Some of these are his questions; some I just made up.

1) What was the funniest thing that you saw yesterday?

I was on the train sitting towards the back, and an elderly woman behind me got up and started walking towards the front of the car. She had a giant duffle bag slung over one shoulder and as she made her way up the aisle, she whacked everyone sitting in the aisle seat on the head with the bag. Hard. It was like something out of Monty Python, watching the reactions of each person as she hit them suddenly from behind, and her seeming obliviousness to the fact that she was leaving such mayhem in her wake.

2) What little known fact would you tell people about yourself?

My nickname is “The Sonic”.

3) Are you good at making speeches?

No. For example, last week at work, we were saying goodbye to some of our summer students, and one of my colleagues announced that I would be making a speech. I laughed and reached into my pocket to jokingly mime taking out a prepared speech but instead pulled out an actual piece of paper that said ‘chúc mừng năm mới’, which means ‘Happy New Year’ in Vietnamese. So I said THAT. People were confused. But here’s a little background as to why there was a piece of paper in my pocket that said ‘Happy New Year’ in Vietnamese. Several years ago, I was the principal of an International Languages site. The school had 13 different language groups who all liked to celebrate various occasions, and they each felt it was important that I, as the principal, welcomed the parents and guests in the large auditorium. Unfortunately, I don’t speak 13 languages, so they would all give me a greeting in Arabic, Farsi, Vietnamese, and whatnot. The MC would get up and start the show in their home language with me waiting in the wings. Then suddenly, the MC would turn and yell, “And SUZANNE!!!” I was always, without exception, taken completely unawares, and would have to rush up to the stage with my piece of paper, the greeting spelled out phonetically in my hand, and the crowd would go wild as I butchered their mother tongue.

4) Have you once again changed your favourite bathroom stall at work?

Why yes, I have. If you’ve been following along, it was initially Stall 5, but then I realized that the toilet paper in that stall ran out much earlier than all the other stalls, which meant that a great many other people had also designated it as the most desirable. I switched to Stall 2, but recently, it’s become less hygienic than I like. Stall 3 is uncomfortably in the middle and the door is usually closed, which is completely f*cking off-putting, and Stall 1, as we know, is haunted. So I’ve resigned myself to Stall 4, even though in some cultures, 4 is an unlucky number. Fortunately, the number 4 is relatively meaningless to me, like most numbers. Also, you probably know by now that if you nominate me for any type of award, there WILL be a discussion about bathroom stalls.

5) Favourite comedian?

John Mulaney. He’s hysterically clever.

6) Is that ghost still haunting your house?

I don’t think so. A couple of weeks ago, I went into the haunted room and the chandelier started flickering, so I whispered, “Shhhh. Everything is OK.” The flickering stopped and there hasn’t been an incident since.

7) What should new followers to this blog expect?

A lot of swearing, mostly.

Also, as some of you know, I write short fiction and a bit of poetry, but those things are very different than this blog or my novels. I recently had a piece of flash fiction featured in X-R-A-Y Literary Magazine, so if you care to read it, you can find it here.

My Week 258: What’s The Point?

On Thursday, I got a message from Tristan that cleaners had come into his apartment unit and thrown away a wide variety of his personal belongings, including his shoes, his own cleaning supplies and garbage can (ironic), all his forks except for one, one oven mitt but not both (bizarre), and his toaster, among other things. He was furious; I was livid. Apparently, because he has a private room and bathroom in a “pod” with four other rooms and a common living and kitchen area, the property management company took it upon themselves to “clean” the units for the start of the new school year. He tried talking to the property manager, whose attitude was “too bad”, so I said, “Do you want me to call?” And you know how serious it is when your 21-year-old, who prides himself on his independence, says “Yes”. On Thursday night, I talked to my brother, who has a Ph.D. and got some legal advice, then I planned what I was going to say. So on Friday, I finally, after quite the run around, got in contact with the property manager, whose only excuse was “we told them in July that the cleaners were coming.” In response to that, here is an analogy that I used with her (sans the swearing):

I lived in a condo for the last four years. Every year, we would be given notice that technicians were coming to service the furnace and we had to make sure that our furniture was at least three feet away from the furnace unit. One year, I forgot to move my furniture. You know what happened? They left me a note saying that they were unable to clean my furnace. You know what didn’t happen? They didn’t steal my F*CKING COUCH.

 I also explained that, as per the Landlord Tenant Act AND the lease he signed, she was required to give him 24 hours’ notice to even enter the unit, and that I wanted his stuff back, to which she replied, “It’s already gone. They were supposed to label their stuff or put it in their rooms—we sent an email.”  So I said, “Fine, send me the email.” She did, and I read it:

Property Manager: You see the email?
Me: Yes, I’m looking at it right now.
PM: So you see? We told them.
Me: Interesting. Unfortunately, there’s NOTHING in this email that says you’re going to THROW AWAY his personal belongings if he doesn’t put them in his room. And the only things that were supposed to be labeled were items in the cupboards and refrigerator, which I assume refers to food.
PM (long pause): How much do you want?

We settled on a parking discount. And why am I telling you all this? Because the silver lining to this strange tale is that I had just gotten my most recent points offer from President’s Choice Optimum (a grocery chain and drug store here) and I could earn points on cleaning supplies. Tristan offered to replace his mop, broom, bucket, etc. himself, but I was like, “No. Let me do it. It will be my pleasure” and he rolled his eyes knowingly and said, “You get points for this, right?” AND I DID.

I earn points the way some people used to clip coupons. I plan my grocery shopping around what items will get me the most points that week, and I use the points I’ve accumulated to buy other things, like really expensive face cream that I wouldn’t bother with otherwise. The other day, I was in Shopper’s Drug Mart, and the deal was ‘spend $50.00 and get back 15 000 points’, which is equivalent to fifteen bucks. That’s like (at this moment, I am desperately trying to figure out the percentage so as to dazzle you with my math skills but sadly, I’ve come up short) a GAZILLION percent discount. Or maybe 30-ish. Who’s to say? Math is a strange beast. But it was a great deal nevertheless. But then, the points didn’t appear on my statement, and my recourse was to talk to the points people. I was on the phone with ‘Carlos’, a lovely man with a delightful accent, for over half an hour, and he was finally able to restore them to my account. Half an hour on the telephone, you say? Hey, it was fifteen dollars. And I have to buy my baby new shoes.

Also, a couple of weeks ago, I entered a comedy writing contest. I don’t know why. But I did, and the first thing you had to do was come up with 5-10 headlines/titles that would explain your premise. They gave some examples and they were all very long and detailed titles, for instance, “I Want A Man Who Understands My Need For Grocery Store Points And Only Shops At President’s Choice”. And I was like, What? Why would I want to give away the point of a story ahead of time? I mean, I could have called this post “How I Made An Asian Woman Give Me A Parking Discount Using My Knowledge Of The Landlord/Tenant Act” but would you bother reading it since the headline already told you exactly what happened? It’s like those long trailers for a comedy that show you all the funniest parts of the movie, and then what’s the point of even going to see it? So the other Sunday, Ken and I were staffing the local Heritage Museum because it was our turn, and since it’s extremely rare that anyone EVER visits the local Heritage Museum, I enlisted Ken into helping me write catchy headlines:

Ken: How about ‘Fax Machines Are The Future’?
Me: Is that supposed to be ironic? I don’t think I can write about that.
Ken: OK—how about ‘Automatic Doors And How to Use Them’?
Me: No.
Ken: Um…’Quilts Are Hard To Make But Easy To Hang On A Wall’–
Me: You’re just looking at things in this room, aren’t you?
Ken: I think the fax machine one has some potential. Like, why is there even a fax machine here? Who faxes anything anymore?
Me: This is pointless.

So there you go. Aren’t you glad I didn’t give it all away with the title?