My Week 252: Outdoor Living, Jason Says Goodbye

Recently Ken and I had our 29th anniversary, and we decided to buy some outdoor furniture for the porch Ken is putting on the front of the house. It’s almost finished and it looks great, but if we’re going to use it, we need somewhere to sit. And here’s the first thing I discovered—patio furniture is REALLY f*cking expensive. Apparently, they’re all made of some kind of weird resin now that are supposed to last forever and costs a fortune. Well, if I’m not going to be buried with it, I really don’t see the point. The second thing I discovered is that Ken has no sense of humour, because whenever we’re in a store and the salesperson asked if we need help, I say, in an Irish accent, “I’m looking for Paddy. Paddy O’Furniture” and Ken never even cracks a smile. I mean, who WOULDN’T find that funny? The salespeople always laugh VERY heartily as they try to offload their outrageously costly goods onto us. On Saturday afternoon, Ken and I went out to see if there were any sales on:

Ken: I really don’t see the point in spending exuberant amounts of money on porch furniture.
Me: I think you mean ‘exorbitant’.
Ken: Huh?
Me: It’s not ‘exuberant’. That means, like, REALLY happy.
Ken: OK, but if you did decide to spend that much on patio furniture, you’d have to be pretty happy about it.
Me: HERE IS ALL MY MONEY! WHEEE!! Ah, I see what you mean.

We made our way to Lowes, where they were having a terrific sale, and then we met Roger, who sweetened the deal by allowing us a ‘scratch and save’ card even though the furniture we wanted was on clearance. We ended up getting a very good deal, so while it wasn’t exorbitant, it WAS exuberant.

And it seems like everyone is trying to spruce up their property right now, which brings me to the point of this seemingly mundane exploration of a particular Saturday morning in the hell that is a Canadian summer. 32 degrees Celsius, 45 with the humidex as the weather experts like to remind us. (Saturday was also Tristan’s 21st birthday, so we all went out to an outdoor paintball place with the lovely V and her family, which is how you should ALWAYS spend three hours in extremely hot weather. I did not ‘paintball’—I was the official photographer, and I was still on the verge of heatstroke. But Happy Birthday, Tristan—you’re the best son a mother could ask for.)

Anyway, as I’ve been driving around town, I’ve had the chance to notice some of the strange lawn ornaments that people like to decorate their yards with. Personally, I love garden statuary, and we have a few around the property, but it’s a full acre so they’re not overwhelming like some places I’ve seen where there’s a gnome every two feet. Here are a few things that I’ve seen lately though that really generate more questions than answers:

1) The Godfather Flower Bed

Let me make you an offer you can’t refuse.

I mean, what kind of horse farm IS this? Can you imagine the conversation that must have inspired this particular outdoor motif?

Horse Dude: Hey, I was thinking about the best way to advertise our horse farm.
Horse Lady: A statue of a horse?
Horse Dude: No. Just the head. People will know we mean business.
Horse Woman: Eccellente!

2) The Ozzy Osbourne Collection

Is that a bat or a dove?

I saw a woman buying one of these at Home Depot. Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t it look like she’s about to bite the head off that bird?! And like she’s already done it a few times already? Put her next to the horse head—she’ll be right at home.

3) The Rainbow Rooster

Cock-a-doodle-doo.

We saw this 6 foot tall fellow outside a house on a back country road. What would possess someone to put the Kellogg’s Corn Flake Rooster on their lawn? I like cereal as much as the next person, but I certainly have no interest in having a giant leprechaun greet our visitors. But if I DID have a giant leprechaun, guess what I would name him? That’s right. Paddy. Paddy O’Furniture. Man, that never gets old.

As I said, Ken and I have several pieces of garden statuary around the property: there’s Harry the Heron, who stands by our back door, a statue of Bottom from A Midsummer Night’s Dream underneath a shaded arbour in the back, and a small black cat, curled up and sleeping, that we put on the bench over Raven’s grave. But I think my favourite piece of garden art is definitely “Dog in a Box”:

 

Jason Says Goodbye

You may remember a couple of weeks ago, I wrote about Jason Momoa and how his cardboard likeness had been watching over us at our secret location. But now it seems that maybe Aquaman himself was responsible for all the water mishaps we’d been having  because last Wednesday, the skies opened, and a torrential rain flooded the building. We literally had to evacuate over 800 people because water was shooting up like geysers out of the drains and it was dangerously close to all the electrical stuff. In addition, the parking lot flooded and my car was one aisle over from floating away. We put Jason up on a table out of harm’s way, where he stood watching us enigmatically. Or was it SMUGLY, like a god toying with his creations? At any rate, the next day, my colleague came in, quietly packed Jason into his box and took him home. Personally, I’ll miss his calm presence, but I won’t miss his watery antics.

 

Advertisements

My Week 251: Heimliching Everyone

As I said last week, I’m currently working offsite with several hundred people, which means that we’re required by law to have a medic in the building, Usually, it’s boring AF for the medic, and the days are long, but last Monday, we were all outside enjoying the sun at lunch when we noticed a woman holding her throat. Someone asked, “Are you OK?” but she shook her head and croaked out “Choking!” She seemed like she was in a lot of distress, but before I had the chance to Heimlich her, someone yelled, “Get the medic!” which seemed a much more efficient  (albeit disappointing for me) way to go since I’ve never actually done the Heimlich manoeuvre despite being trained how. And let me tell you–I have never seen another human being move so fast. We ran into the medic room and yelled “Someone is choking outside” and the guy was out of there like The Flash. I could almost hear him thinking, “This is my moment!!”

But the whole situation reminded me of the time I got an opportunity to take a two-day first aid certification course. I’d always wanted to do this, mostly because of my fascination with the Heimlich manoeuvre, and an almost compulsive desire to perform it on someone, or at least perform it CORRECTLY. It was a course set up exclusively for my workplace, so one morning, some of us went to a nearby hotel to learn all about CPR, bandaging wounds, what to do if you’re hit by lightning, and field surgery. I think my expectations were a little high, especially around the surgery part, because we were only being certified as Level C “first aiders” and not actual medical doctors. I DID learn about being hit by lightning. If it happens, you’re probably toast and that was a terrible pun.

The instructor, Dave, was a very interesting and well-experienced former fire captain, who had some amazing stories to tell about traumatic situations and injuries, the vast majority of which seemed to have happened to his own family and friends. And himself most of all. By the second day, we’d heard all about how his wife had been in a car accident and permanently crushed her foot, his daughter had broken her femur, his grandson had almost choked to death on an Arrowroot cookie, his son came close to dying in an avalanche, and he himself had almost bled to death after being sliced open by a broken bottle during yet another car accident. I think my favourite story was how he stabbed a steak knife completely through his palm getting it out of the dishwasher. Dave was serious injury karma, and I was convinced that at least one of our group was NOT going to make it to the weekend. But we did, and here are some of the highlights of the training:

1) On each table, there were several CPR mannequins. They were just heads and torso but their mouths were wide open, and I kept picturing them lined up like some sort of bizarre (and strangely sexual) choir. We decided to name ours “Phil”. Phil was a good sport and let us merrily pound away on his chest, yelling “Come back to us, Phil! You can do it! Phil, you’re alive!! We saved Phil!!”, and high-fiving each other.

Come back to us, Phil!

2) I realized that I had some colleagues with obvious drama backgrounds, as we had to roleplay various incidents in our groups. For our “practice exam”, my group was given the scenario that one of us was lying “supine” on the floor, having slipped and fallen down the stairs, and couldn’t feel her legs. It seemed really straightforward at first, but then the scenario said, “Suddenly she begins to vomit. What do you do?” We were given a chance to practice the scene, then we had to perform it in front of the whole class, which made me super anxious because I’m a terrible actor and get really self-conscious. Things were going quite well—we were doing everything according to the book and had just gotten her into “recovery position” when one of my colleagues got a little carried away by the drama and yelled, “Oh no—she’s stopped breathing!” We all paused and just stared at her, including our hapless victim. I was like, “WTF, JANET?! That’s NOT in our scenario! We just saved her! No more acting!” but Dave was super enthusiastic and said, “Ooh, I love it—keep going!” Personally, I was fine with letting her die and failing the course, but our group was full of over-achievers so she survived.

3) We also had to perform CPR on a baby doll. After being instructed on how to do it, we each had to get up and demonstrate what we’d learned in front of the class. The first few people tried to determine responsiveness by calling “Baby, Baby! Wake up!”, so everyone else, including me, followed suit, until one of our male colleagues got up, frantically ran to the doll, and yelled, “Samantha! Samantha! Wake up! Oh no, my baby girl is unresponsive!”, and everyone after him called the baby something different. I was like “What?! We’re allowed to NAME the baby?! Why didn’t someone tell me?!” because I had the perfect name ready. It’s “Shane”. See? It works for a boy OR a girl. Or a warehouse worker who can blaze for dayz.

Aside from all the thespian-y stuff, I DID learn some pretty cool things, like when people stop breathing, they go very pale, and their nipples lose colour. We watched a video of a man in England being revived with CPR, and Dave pointed out that “the English are a very pasty bunch even when they ARE breathing, so if you’re not sure, check their nipples”. And yes,  I also learned the Heimlich manoeuvre, which came in really handy at dinner a couple of nights later, when Ken started to choke.

Me: Are you OK? Do you need the Heimlich manoeuvre?!
Ken: No—cough—I just swallowed the wrong way.
Me: Stand up! Really, I’ve got this. Prepare to be Heimliched!
Ken: No! I’m fine—do I need to show you my nipples to prove it?
Me: Sigh.

As a side note, let me just say that the night before training started, as I was leaving work, my director said, “Have fun at first aid training,” and I responded with “It’s going to be great—Heimliching EVERYONE by the time it’s over, just wait!” She smiled and said, “All right then.” Yep. Say “Heimliching” out loud. Not the way to impress your boss. What WOULD have impressed her was if I had saved the choking woman, but NO, the medic had to go and do his job. But I don’t know how well-trained he was because he didn’t check her nipples.

My Week 250: WWJD, A Special Day

Yesterday, I was driving to the secret agency’s offsite location in Mississauga. I had just gotten off the highway and turned onto the service road approaching the site when suddenly, some kind of liquid gushed onto my accelerator foot. I was immediately freaked out, as one would be, but because I was driving in traffic, I couldn’t look to see what it was so I had to suffer the terrors of my imagination for at least two minutes, during which it occurred to me that the liquid might be a) the blood of a small rodent who had just died in my dashboard b) the urine of a bat that was living in my dashboard or c) me leaking in some way. When I pulled into the parking lot, I tentatively pulled my foot out and looked at it. Water. There was water on my foot. Where it came from, I had no f*cking clue, but suffice it to say that I was disturbed by this aquatic turn of events. Then I thought “Aquatic? Wait…could it be?!”

Hello again, ladies.

Yes. It could. You might recall that, a few weeks ago, a colleague had a birthday and she—well, all of us were all gifted with a life-size, cardboard Jason Momoa. And guess who had arrived at our secret location yesterday? That’s right—Aquaman himself. I walked into our temporary office and there he was in the corner in his bespoke suit, a lei draped casually around his neck, like a giant cardboard guardian angel sent to watch over us all. And then it all made sense:

1) On Wednesday, the water dispenser ran out of drinking water. Well, Aquaman needs to stay moist. The rest of us mortals will just have to suffer on occasion.

2) On Thursday, we went out for a quick lunch. On the way back, despite the sun and heat, we were caught in a sudden rainshower. I was initially angry, because I don’t dry well, but then I realized that it was just Jason, pouring his love down on us.

3) On Friday morning, there was the water on my foot. Despite my initial shock, I now understand that it was a blessing from Jason, welcoming me back to work in the way that only Aquaman can.

4) On Friday afternoon, the skies opened up and the rain came down like a monsoon. The building we’re in is known for flooding easily, and everyone was panicking, but Jason just smiled his enigmatic smile and the rain eventually stopped. The only damage was to the car of a colleague who had left all his windows down and was now faced with soaked upholstery. Well, Jason tried to warn him.

WWJD? Close the car windows.

And it’s so helpful having him onsite. Yesterday, someone asked me a question:

Colleague: So what should we do?
Me: Hmmm. WWJD?
Colleague: What would Jesus do?
Me: No, Jason. What would Jason do?
Colleague: Ah!

WWJD, my friends.

I’m A Terrible Audience But Ken’s A Good Listener.

It’s true. I’m really terrible at listening to other people’s stories sometimes, because I have random thoughts that get in the way. I have family members who get really frustrated when people (ie: me) interrupt them to ask questions, or clarify a point, and they will sometimes just give up (ie: scream “Oh for God’s sake, never mind!). Luckily, Ken is used to this, and has no storytelling ego. He will just patiently address my thoughts and questions, then get back to his story. For example, in the car the other day:

Ken: …and then we all went to the RARE Slit Barn—
Me: Is that a STRIP CLUB?!
Ken: No, it’s a nature preserve funded by a charity called RARE. A slit barn has vertical slits in it for ventilation—
Me: Ha! It SOUNDS like an exclusive strip club, like “Then we all went to the Rare Slit Barn, had a drink and a lap dance…
Ken: So anyway, they had students there who were training as interpreters—
Me: What, like for sign language? Was everyone hearing impaired? I’d love to learn sign language…
Ken: No, NATURE interpreters. To teach other people about the nature preserve—
Me: That would ALSO be a great name for a strip club: The Nature Preserve…
Ken: It was incredible how professional the students were. Everyone learned a lot.
Me: Slit Barn. That’s awesome.
Ken: Sigh.

But Ken? Unfortunately, he’s a very good listener:

Ken: Hey, Pete just posted a picture of the commemorative stone he bought for the new Lions’ Club Splashpad. It has the name of the pub engraved on it.
Me: Cool. Did we buy a commemorative stone?
Ken: Of course.
Me: Nice. What does ours say?
Ken: ‘Slippery When Wet.’
Me: WHAT?! It does NOT!
Ken: That’s what you said you wanted.
Me: I WAS KIDDING!
Ken: You were? Too late now.

Aquaman would be proud. Happy 29th Anniversary, Ken. I love you.

My Week 249: Who Is The Elusive Shane? Titus Gets Punchy

Who is Shane?

This question continues to plague me. A little over two years ago, I received a company cell phone, one of the perks of being a permanent employee at the secret agency. It’s just a simple iPhone–it doesn’t have a built-in Geiger counter or tear gas cartridges, nor does it change my voice to sound like Batman or provide me the gift of super-hearing. It DOES have Google Maps and a calculator, so that’s almost as good as an Industrial Satellite Laser, and you might have guessed that I watched a lot of James Bond movies as a kid. At any rate, I got this phone, and I also immediately started getting random text messages (these are actual screen shots from my phone so if you’re having trouble reading them, click on them to enlarge). The first was an invitation for a boat ride of some kind.

 I didn’t know what “SocaSweetness” might be, but the liberal use of numerals for letters, abbreviations, and the overenthusiastic exclamation marks were a surefire indication that it was going to be a very loud event, and most likely NOT for me. The next message was the first indication that someone named “Shane” was somehow connected to me, and that his friends were a jolly, if perhaps prone to “blazing”, group of people.

LMFAO

And for those of you who don’t know, “blaze”, according to Urbandictionary.com, means “smoke weed”. Shane henceforth was known as “Blazefordayz Shane”. I’ve written about Shane before—his girlfriend who excoriated me for not answering her numerous Facetime calls, his mother who scolded me for never texting her back (TEXT ME BACK SHANE!), and his many friends towards whom I’ve become quite motherly:

Don’t text and drive!

Shane has nice friends.

Of course, my favourite was the Warehouse Job episode, which I wrote about previously in My Week 226: All About The Bordens.

But the other day, I was at People’s Jewellers, a well-known jewellery store chain, and the store clerk asked for my phone number to check the status of my protection plan. I gave it to her and she looked perplexed. “Shane Brien?” she said. “From Brampton?” And I gasped audibly and replied, “BlazeforDayz Shane is REAL?!” She looked at me confused and I said, “Oh sorry—that must be the person who had the phone before me.” See, in my mind, Shane had become a mythical figure, a sort of pot-smoking, Soca dancing Bigfoot—it never occurred to me that he was an actual human person. And then I had an epiphany. I could use my keen skills of detection, and the wonderful world of social media, to finally identify Shane once and for all. So I engaged my “little grey cells” as Hercule Poirot would say, and headed straight to Facebook.

Do you know how many people on Facebook are named Shane Brien? Or Shane Brian? Or Shane Bryan? Or Shayne…you get the picture. There are a LOT of them. But I could easily narrow it down by excluding any of them who lived outside of Ontario (which was a shame, because there’s a lovely Shane Brian in New Brunswick and I wish him and his adorable girlfriend all the best in life). Anyway, I tried to narrow it down a little further by a process of elimination based on their profile pictures:

1) Shane Brien, standing in the middle of an icy highway in Northern Ontario. I don’t think MY Shane likes the cold. It would be too hard to Soca dance when your extremities are frozen.

2) Shane Brien, tiger-striped kitty cat. Does having a profile picture of a sweet floof detract from your semi-gangster image or is the cat just a decoy?

3) Shane Brien, no profile pic, but underneath it just says ‘Prison’. Now, MY Shane may flirt with the law, but marijuana is legal in Canada; besides, Shane’s mother would kill him if he did anything criminal. And so would I.

4) Shane O’Brien. That sounds Irish. I don’t think Shane is Irish. Also there’s an NHL player named Shane O’Brien and he is now officially my top pick for next year’s hockey pool. He will be my secret weapon, allowing me to defeat the even more mysterious and even more elusive Jeffrey, who won this year’s hockey pool while I came in a shameful 12th.

5) Shane Brien, Contractor, Advanced Warehouse Structures. Shane…warehouse job…I’d say it looks like the pieces are falling into place, except this Shane has 3 kids and I don’t remember his girlfriend saying anything about children. In fact, I believe her exact words were, and I quote, “You better not be with that Angela.”

And because the store clerk at People’s insisted on changing the name on the phone number to mine, I can never go back to the store and try to find out more information. Maybe I should have accepted the invite to Vegas. Shane and I would have had a blast.

Vegas Baby!

Titus Gets Punchy

Alarm goes off.

Me (*stretching*): ERGH. Time to get up.
Titus: NO.
Me: Oh my god, you just punched me in the eye!!
Titus: It was an accident–I was trying to high five you. Where are you going? Stay in bed.
Me: No! I have to see if my eye is OK!
Titus: You’re fine. Stop being a baby. Besides, eye patches are all the rage this season.
Me: I don’t want an eyepatch! OWW. If you scratched my cornea with your germy paw, I’ll be so mad.
Titus (whispers): I just wanted you to stay home with me. I’m sorry.
Me: Sigh. I love you, buddy.
Titus: You’ll look awesome with an eyepatch. Like an angry pirate.
Me: ARRRR.

My Week 248: Pedicure Problems, Ken Gets An Award

I took Thursday off work because Ken was getting a special award from his professional organization, mostly for helping people who needed help doing their jobs. He would be called in as a coach/mentor and support them in getting better, and he did HIS job so well that he was getting a plaque. It was going to be a fancy banquet, so to treat myself, I decided to get a pedicure. Ever since I moved back home from Toronto, the one thing I really miss is a place called Pinky Nails, this little nail shop on Yonge Street where, for $30, you could not only get a pedicure but an excellent leg massage, and then while your toes were drying, someone would drape a towel around your shoulders and also give you a shoulder massage. It was heavenly, if you didn’t pay attention to the drug deals going on outside the McDonald’s next door.

Time to call the professionals.

I hadn’t found a new place locally yet, but I had to go into Woodstock for some errands and there was a place in one of the big box malls called Mai Nails. It looked promising. I went in and despite it being busy, the man at the first nail table assured me that they could take me right away. There was another woman waiting, and I was kind of freaked out because it wasn’t that warm in the salon but she was fanning herself frantically with a folded up newspaper and staring at me quite openly. So I stared right back at her—the whole time I was picking out a nail polish colour from the rack on the wall. I wished in that moment that I was a cat, and I could do that cat thing where they stare straight into your eyes while they flip something off a shelf right at you. But then she got called to a chair and the moment passed. After a few more minutes, the guy who seemed to be in charge, whose name was Liam, yelled something in Vietnamese, and another younger guy named Danh came over and motioned for me to follow him. Now, the whole time I was waiting, I could hear a TV but couldn’t see what was on, but I got seated in a pedi chair right across from the screen. I wasn’t paying attention at first—I was more distracted by the way that Danh was doing what seemed to be a running commentary under his breath in Vietnamese. He didn’t sound angry or anything, and every once in while, the pedicurist next to us, Nan (they were all wearing name badges), would kind of answer him, or maybe she was talking into the air too because she never actually looked at him. But it was pleasant enough to have someone taking care of my feet. The show on the TV seemed to be some sort of historical drama, maybe biblical, and I was kind of following along. The scenario, as far as I could ascertain, was that two groups of people had finally come together, and the daughter of one group was marrying the son of another. One of the guys looked a little like Jason Momoa playing Khal Drogo, and the actress from Deadpool also made an appearance during a scene where there was discussion about a wedding feast. I had just turned off the insanely robust massage function on the chair I was sitting in when the screaming started. No, it wasn’t me, although the body scrub Danh was using on my legs felt like a belt sander—it was the TV.

What had begun as some kind of pastoral drama about peace and reconciliation had suddenly become a gorefest. People were being slaughtered, there were bodies on the floor of the castle/temple, Jason Momoa had his throat cut while he was sleeping and his bride-to-be woke up covered in his blood. As I called out “Hey! Can someone change the channel?!”, three masked figures descended upon a woman and began to—well, it was extremely unpleasant. Liam looked up casually:

Liam: You no like movie?
Me: Technically,  according to the TV, it’s an episode of a series called The Red Tent, but no, I don’t! It’s very gory.
Liam: Ah, you scared?
Me: What? No! It’s just not very relaxing to watch people being killed, and I’m directly in front of the screen. Can someone please turn it off?
Liam” (*yells something in Vietnamese*)
Danh: Sarah! You got remote?
Voice from the back: No!
Danh: Who has remote?

No one answered, so he kind of sighed and got up. He went out back and returned with a remote control and started playing with it while more people screamed and there was blood everywhere, like literally dripping down from the ceiling onto a woman’s face. Finally he switched the channel. “There,” he said. “You watch game show.” And while that sounded not much better, the “game show’ in question was something called “Awake” which is the most random thing I’ve ever seen. The contestants had to stay awake for 24 hours straight, counting quarters. Then they had to participate in challenges like drinking slushies, threading needles, and catching dollar bills that fell from the ceiling, all while being incredibly sleep deprived. But I was getting really into it, and a bunch of us clients were cheering for this one particular guy. When he made it through the finals, we were all so happy:

Me: JC won!
Nan: Yeah, he win one million dollars, then he lose everything.
Me: No, he just won.
Nan: Yeah, then he lose it all.
Liam: He lose it ALL.
Me: Have you guys seen this before?
Nan: We watch it yesterday. He lose all the money. He bet too high and get nothing.
Me: SPOILER!
Liam: Oh, sorry!

And I can forgive the blood, gore, and screaming, but I can’t forgive someone giving away the ending of a show that I was so heavily invested in. No, I’m kidding. I’ll totally go back there because, despite all the weirdness, Danh gives a great leg massage. And as a side note, I googled The Red Tent and discovered that the episode I was watching centered around the one set of guys being super-pissed about the wedding and demanding the foreskins of all the other guys as a sacrifice. So the other guys all got mass circumcised and then the first set of guys murdered them when they were still weak and in pain from losing their foreskins. And that is WAY more random than any game show. And it is also an excellent segue into this:

The best part of the night, aside from Ken getting his award, happened on the way over:

Me: Why are you going this stupid back way? We’re going to be late.
Ken: The banquet doesn’t start until 6:30. We’ll still make cocktails and hors d’oeuvres.
Me: Cocktails. Cocktails. Cock-tails…
Ken: That would be a great name for a porn company only it would be tales, like a story. Cocktales.
Me: Cocktales and…Whore D’Oeuvres—oh my god, where were you last week when I was making up porn studio names! Cocktales and Whore D’Oeuvres–that’s the best one yet! No wonder you’re getting an award!
Ken: That’s not what the award is for, you know that, right?
Me: It should be. Congratulations. I’m proud of you.

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.