Out The Window

The other night I was watching a new show, because, amazingly, there was no Drag Race franchise available and I’d finally finished rewatching all one thousand seasons of Seinfeld. It was a kind of cute show called Locke And Key, about a family that moves to their dead dad’s ancestral home, which turns out to be haunted and full of weird fancy keys that do assorted different things, like letting you go out one door and enter any other place you want. Although the characters were fairly archetypical and predictable, I was pretty far into the show, but after a few episodes, it started to get really dumb and illogical. Finally, during one episode, there was a showdown where (spoiler alert), the teenaged boy who killed the dad escapes from jail and comes to the family home, manages to hold the entire family at gunpoint even though there are three of them and two are bigger than him, then ties them all up. Except for the oldest son, who comes home unexpectedly, attacks the gun-wielding villain, disarming him, and punching him several times in the face. But then the villain suddenly, even though he should be comatose, manages to find a key in the son’s pocket, and how he managed to do that is a f*cking mystery, but he pulls it out, seems to instinctively KNOW that it sets sh*t on fire, and then in the pyromaniacal confusion, finds the gun which has skittered away, and has now captured the son as well. At which point, I threw the remote in disgust and changed the channel. Now, I’ve had my own novels criticized for “rushing the ending” but seriously, how drawn out does an ending have to be? I mean, git ‘er done, am I right? I’m really tired of these shows that always have to prolong the agony, and that’s why I love my new show pick, Ozark, where the villain says he’s going to do something bad, and then he literally throws a guy out an 80th story window. And I was relaying all of this at dinner on Thursday night:

Me: And then he just threw the guy out the window. Like, done.
Kate: Now that’s what I call a defenestration.
Me: Lol, he wasn’t a tree, KATE.
Kate: What?
Me: Defenestration is when you strip the leaves off something, like what Agent Orange did to the trees in Viet Nam.
Kate (laughs): No, it’s not! It’s when you throw someone out a window. You’re thinking of defoliation.
Me: (looks up definition on phone): Nah…?
Kate: Have you seriously been using defenestration this whole time as a way to explain to people that the trees have lost their leaves in the fall?
Me: Perhaps.
Kate (shakes head): Okay, English teacher.

But seriously. How the hell is there one specific word for throwing someone out the window (in fact, vocabulary.com refers to the word defenestration as “frighteningly specific”)? Like, how many people were getting regularly thrown out of windows that Samuel Johnson, inventor of the dictionary, decided we needed one word to describe that very precise type of murder? Strangulation is a type of murder, but it’s still an umbrella term for all kinds of things, like strangulation with a rope or a garotte or your hands or a defenestrated tree branch—I mean defoliated, sorry. And stabbing? Another umbrella term. You can stab someone with a knife, a fork, a sharp spoon, an ice pick, an actual umbrella, and even a defoliated tree branch, but you don’t see anyone inventing singular words for that, like—well, okay, there’s knifing, but it’s not one special kind of knife. And based on my research, you could even be stabbed by a swordfish, which I discovered when I googled “ways to die” and came across a website called Final Choices, which claims to be an “end of life planning” website but where I found an article called “Death is inevitable. How you die can be very random. Here’s a light-hearted look at strange ways to die”. And these included:

Being killed by an explosive while trying to steal a condom dispenser
An undertaker being crushed by his own coffins

Being swung by your ankles by a clown and hitting your head
Eaten by a drove of pigs

Lethal sherry enema

None of these are, in fact, light-hearted and I question the sense of humour of the website owners. Thankfully, nowhere in the list was “being overcome by chorine gas because you put too much in the hot tub”.  But apparently, approximately 24 people a year are killed by champagne corks, so where’s the word for THAT, SAMUEL?! Honestly, this website is terrifying, and proof that there are worse and more random ways to die than being defenestrated.

Anyway, Happy Canadian Thanksgiving to all of you. Stay away from windows.

My Week 5 – Lord of the Dance, Funerals, and Grocery Revenge

Sunday: I realize my disappointment with Celtic Spectacles

So Ken and I were hanging out at the cottage, after a dinner at the local pub (run by this awesome gay guy and his partner–I only mention this because it’s nice that our society has come so far that even in a place like PB, no one seems to care) and we had come back to the cottage and were watching not much on TV, just waiting for something interesting to come on, when Ken switched the channel to Celtic Thunder. If you don’t know what that is, it’s a group of 5 “boys to men” types who sing traditional Celtic music to a screaming crowd of women. I’ve never seen anything quite like it (yes, I have, but at the time I’d forgotten), and we had a really fun go at these guys. For one, they are super-choreographed. They step very deliberately to one side, then the other, and when it’s their turn to sing, each one descends a flight of stairs like he’s a robotic Miss America or something, then returns to the top when his “turn” is finished. Second, they are ranged in age, and oiled up appropriately to appeal to a mass market of women. There’s the teen-something one, who is meant to appeal to the 5 to 7 year-old range (as well as the Cougars), the early twenties hottie with superwhite teeth, then the 30-ish guy with his shirt open just enough to show off his gold chains, the 40 , and 50 year-olds (who look amazing for their age and would definitely be lusted after by the 70 and 80 year-olds in the audience). It was like watching a One Direction concert for the extremely young and the extremely geriatric—grandmas and granddaughters holding up signs with slogans on them (I love you Neil…I want to marry you, Emmet, and so on, ad nauseam.) I actually just googled their home page and realized to my horror that they have ‘Daniel’, a 7 year old member of the group—who the hell is lusting after him? and you should be ASHAMED.OF.YOURSELF. And I say this with all sincerity, since these ‘men’ are held up to the audience as symbols of manliness, even the seven-year-old, which is kind of creepy. Can you imagine being Daniel’s mom, and worrying about some 40 year-old woman carrying a sign that says “Daniel, I love you!! Marry me!! Kissy face smiley face”? But the best thing about the whole spectacle is the singing, by which I mean the lipsynching, because none of them actually sing. They pose. They move their lips and pre-recorded music comes out of their manly mouths, and it’s really obvious they’re doing it, shamelessly, like it’s the CELTIC WAY or something.

And now I get to the thing I’d forgotten, which was one of the greatest disappointments of my life. Lord of the Dance. Yes, Lord of the Dance, the incredible Celtic stepdancing/musical phenomenon of the 90s which had my heart on fire. I loved Lord of the Dance, the music, the spectacle, that Michael Flately guy who was so tiny and arrogant but tapped his little heart out. When they came to town, I begged Ken for tickets. Being the wonderful husband he is (or just to stop me whining), he agreed, and there we were in the first row of the balcony. The lights dimmed—the music began—dancers came on stage—it became PATENTLY OBVIOUS that every sound was pre-recorded. OMFG Lord of the Dance—even the tapping sounds were pre-recorded and were played over top of the actual tapping on stage!! The violins, the singing, the dancing, were all fake. I just paid $75 to listen to the CD I had at home. And that’s why I’ll never pay to see Celtic Thunder. So there.

Saturday: Ken and I get a little irreverent about death.

Ken and I went to a funeral recently. On the drive there, we had a chance to discuss some of the things that we wanted the other to know about our “arrangements”. I, of course, am insistent that I be kept in an above-ground mausoleum, which Ken will build, due to my fear of being buried alive. Ken, on the other hand, is quite content to be cremated, and told me that if he had some “lead time”, he would even build his own casket, a la Oscar, a character from our favourite show Corner Gas, so that I could save some money. That’s what I love about Ken—he’s always thinking about me. Anyway, we got to the funeral and it was appropriately solemn and sad, but then we went through the receiving line (which is REALLLY different from the ones they have at weddings) and we were left to pay our respects at the coffin. While we were standing there in contemplation, Ken turned to me, pointed at the casket and whispered, “Remember Oscar? Beautiful woodgrain here.” I was taken aback and kind of guffawed/choked/snorted, and I think a giggle escaped from me, to my horror. Ken and I spent the next 60 seconds staring violently at the floral arrangements and trying not to look at each other. I think it’s true that old saying about laughing in the face of death, although it should be more of a defiant laugh, and not something out of a sit-com. On the way home, we passed a graveyard, and some workers had a bonfire going (let’s assume they were burning leaves), and Ken, in that wonderfully naïve way he has, asked me, “Are they cremating someone?” to which I replied, “WTF, Ken! They don’t do that in the actual graveyard!”

A little while later, Ken said to me, “If you don’t want to talk about this, it’s OK, but I was thinking about the kind of things we’d want the other person to read at our funerals.” I immediately said poetry, and he immediately said that if he had enough “lead time” (he seems pretty positive that his impending doom will be pre-ordained), that he would video his own eulogy. I reminded him that no one would want to listen to him pontificate about critical thinking skills and the education of our young, let alone want to fill in a “descriptive feedback card” at the end of the funeral, but he’s determined. At this point, I told him MY plan, which is to write a eulogy FOR him, full of swearing and the liberal use of the F word, and then I’d tell people that I’d begged him to be more polite, but he was like “F*ck that! It’s my f*cking funeral, and I can say whatever the f*ck I want.” Of course, Ken rarely swears in real life (unless he hits his thumb with a hammer—you wouldn’t believe how often THAT happens), and people would be shocked by his foul language, but at the same time admire me for following through with his last wishes. This would be my revenge for his refusal to pay my kidnap ransom.

Tuesday, when I mess with people in the grocery store.

Have you ever been in a grocery store, trying to shop, and someone keeps parking their cart in the middle of the aisle so you can’t get by? Have you ever wondered how to get your revenge on that person? Does it seem a little weird to take revenge on strangers in grocery stores? No it’s not—it’s necessary to keep a sense of balance in the universe. Like how in Thor, which I just watched with my grade nine class as a way to wrap up our mythology unit, Thor battles the evil elves to save Earth. (By the way, there is nothing more difficult than doing a mythology unit with grade nine students, because there is no easy way to introduce them to Uranus. Say it to yourself one more time if you don’t get it. Also, it can be very difficult to talk about flying buttresses as part of a unit on Gothic literature to a group of grade 12s with a juvenile sense of humour. Did I laugh in both cases? Maybe.)

So on Tuesday, K and I were grocery shopping. (This is always a challenge because I like to go to the store where I get points, and K spends the whole time criticizing me for buying things we don’t need “just for the points”. I’m sorry, but you can always use another head of cauliflower or a family pack of Axe body spray.) Anyway, we were in the Gluten-Free/Organic Aisle (because I stopped eating gluten last year, thinking it would help my joints. It didn’t, but now it’s a habit, and I feel guilty if I break it, like when a smoker sneaks a cigarette, except instead of getting pleasantly dizzy, your stomach gets angry at you. Enough said.) Ahead of us was a middle-aged woman, (MORE middle-aged than me, anyway) who seemed completely oblivious that she was in a grocery store with many other people, and hadn’t just won a private shopping spree on The Price Is Right, because as she was lingering at the gluten-free freezer, her cart was in the middle of the aisle ON AN ANGLE. T and I were on our way to buy some special crackers, but we couldn’t get near them, thanks to Frumpy McDuh. We waited patiently for her to realize we were there, but she seemed to be deliberately ignoring us as she perused the shelves. A young guy came down the other way, and we both stood there helplessly, looking at each other for support. He seemed content to wait, so K and I turned around and went back the other way, thinking we could go down the next aisle and go round the corner back up to the crackers that way. A clever plan, but wait—as we came around the top of the next aisle, this woman, like a polyester-pantsuited NINJA, was already there, with her cart again parked in the middle of the aisle! We quickly devised a second, even better plan, and we hightailed it around to the next aisle, where we waited patiently, steadfastly. Sure enough, here she came, strolling down the aisle quite leisurely. But what’s this? There’s a cart in her way? Whose cart? Yes, you know it. And it was on an angle that was quite impossible to navigate around. K and I pretended to be VERY interested in organic quinoa, discussing the merits of each brand, while she stood and waited. But she wasn’t patient, or polite either. She started to push her cart towards me, and nearly grazed my ankle, but I stood my ground, daring her to come any closer. She finally gave up, and as she rolled her evil elf eyes and moved off, K and I felt like we had achieved some kind of universal victory, like in Thor, plus, we finally got our crackers. And the 2000 points that came with them.