My Week 228: Dishing It Out

It’s been a hectic couple of weeks and I know I have a lot of catching up to do, mainly because I got tagged for a couple of things by some blogger pals. I try hard to keep track but I only post once a week, so sometimes I have to go a ways back to remember what I’m supposed to be doing, and I only respond to these things if a) the questions are interesting or b) I can just make sh*t up. I don’t have an “award-free blog” which I recently learned is a thing, and frankly it befuddles me. It’s like celebrating Christmas but telling people “don’t buy me any damn presents” or being the Jehovah’s Witness of blogging (and in a strange twist of fate, they actually just came to my door right now to battle for my immortal soul, as they do fairly regularly. I won, as I also regularly do, but they took a moment to remind me that Jehovah loves me anyway, which is an award in and of itself, am I right?). Anyway, I guess some people have their own agenda or whatnot, and blog awards interfere with that, but me, I’m always looking for a topic that I can turn into something mydangblogggy, and just have a good time with it. Now, I’m not fishing for any more nominations—I’ve been tagged in a few awards already and it’s just the nicest thing imaginable to me that someone cared enough about my writing to do that, especially since I know that I’ll never get a Pulitzer or even a White Pine Award (that’s an Ontario thing) but goddammit, I’ve been nommed for the “Made My Dish Award” and I’m super-pumped. This award was totally invented by my friend Cecelia at Fixin’ Leaks and Leeks because I made dinner using one of her recipes, and it was delicious (I used gluten-free pasta but don’t tell her because I don’t want to give this award back). So now I have to answer her three questions, and they’re very good ones:

Unwrapped? Hard pass.

1) When you leave a restaurant, do you look for a bowl or mints or candies?

I might look for them, but I would NEVER touch them. Have you never seen those exposés where they take a blacklight and shine it on the candy bowl? There’s enough feces on those fruit drops to give you a nice healthy dose of dysentery. It’s a sad fact that a lot of people don’t wash their hands after they use the bathroom on the grounds that “I never actually touched anything” but YOU DID, BOB. And then Bob touches the candies with his poopy hands and it becomes a dish of norovirus-covered nougat. I have a strict policy to never deliberately ingest anything that is offered to me in an unwrapped state (see below for details). I also sanitize the handles of shopping carts, as well as the headrest and tray of my airplane seat. I recently watched a documentary about airline cleanliness, and it was a shock that not only are airplanes hotbeds of bacteria, but that the headrest is the dirtiest part of the plane. Who knew?

2) What is the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten?

I assume that means “on purpose” because I have eaten a lot of stuff I never intended to. In fact, the other day, I was walking downtown and it was really windy. In Toronto in the wintertime, they lay down salt on the sidewalks so heavily that it’s literally inches thick, but people walk on it and crush it until it’s as fine as sand and intermingled with dirt and other unsavoury elements. So there I was, walking along and talking to Ken on the phone:

Me: So I’m taking the 4:35 train on—oh my god!!!
Ken: What’s wrong?!
Me: The wind just gusted and blew sidewalk salt into my mouth! Argh!
Ken: Eww.
Me (spitting): It’s stuck to my lip gloss! Oh my god, it’s from the SIDEWALK. People PEE ON THE SIDEWALK!  I’m going to get so sick!

And I did. I just spent the last week on antibiotics, and I don’t know if it was the dirty sidewalk salt, but I wouldn’t be surprised.

3) What is a candy that should be invented/sold?

If there was a candy that tasted like a good New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, I would be happy, although I know you can get ice wine chocolate, so maybe it’s already been invented. I used to really like salted chocolate but right now, that’s giving me terrible flashbacks.

And as you know, if you answer any or all of these three questions in the comments, you can also claim a “Made My Dish Award”, the dish in question being a blog.

Also, I was tagged by my pal and fellow Canuck (with an abiding love of Denmark), Cyranny of Cyranny’s Cove for the Solidarity Blogger award, so thank you for that. There’s only one thing I have to do for this, and that is to talk about what solidarity in blogging means to me. So I’ll get serious for a moment and say that if it wasn’t for this wonderful blogging community, I would never visit other countries, try great recipes, learn about art and graffiti, read incredible poetry, listen to great music, laugh (especially at the adventures of Alistair and Alexis), cry, commiserate, rejoice, grieve, think deeply about important topics, and mostly try to bring a little levity to YOUR world.

Synergy:

Ken and I have been married so long that sometimes we don’t have actual conversations. We just KNOW.

Me: That.
Ken: Yes.
Me: I know, right?
Ken: Uh huh.

The other night, we were driving home, and we passed a sh*tload of pylons:

Me: What?
Ken: Couldn’t get a building permit.
Me: Parking lot then.
Ken: Mmm.
Me: That fire.
Ken: Yeah.

The one thing we DON’T have synergy with, though, is music. Especially when we’re driving and Ken has control of the radio.

Me: What IS that? Is that a documentary? Like, on the radio? NO.
Ken: She’s an author. It’s interesting.
Me: She’s crying because she got divorced and her mom won’t forgive her. Her mom needs to be more supportive and you need to find something else to listen to…OK, I’m not 60—try again…this sounds like elevator music…Disco is DEAD, Ken…not COUNTRY!…put on Virgin Radio…you just switched the channel from one commercial to another…go back—that was Nirvana…yes, I know you hate that Calvin Harris song, but I like it—don’t be so judge-y.

We usually just end up compromising on the Comedy Channel:

Ken: Is that?
Me: Yeah. I love him.
Ken: That one joke.
Me: I know, right?

And just this morning:

Ken: The doorbell rang?
Me: Yup.
Ken: Jehovah loves you.
Me: Obvs.

Synergy.

My Week 195: It’s The Allergies That Are Annoying, Not Me

The other day at work, I was just standing in the kitchen, thinking about nothing in particular, like LITERALLY minding my own business, when the guy who oversees the kitchen things came in and said to me, “Is that your toast in the toaster oven?” And while this may seem like a perfectly innocuous question, like something you would say just to make conversation, there was an insidious undertone to it that you would only recognize if, like me, you work in a place where you are NOT ALLOWED to leave toast unattended in the toaster oven. “Because I came in earlier,” he continued ominously, “and there was no one here.”

I was a little freaked out and didn’t want to be blamed for the toast insurrection, so I immediately said the first thing that came into my mind, which was “No—I don’t eat gluten” to which he replied, “There’s such a thing as gluten-free bread, you know,” and I responded with “Well, I don’t even like bread that much anyway” and it was in that moment that I thought, ‘I’ve become a vegan’. And by that, I don’t mean that I have decided to no longer eat anything vaguely animal-ish, I just mean that, like a vegan, I somehow felt it necessary to unnecessarily announce that I am a ‘gluten-free person’. Although I was under a certain amount of duress. (If you’re not sure what I mean by any of this, I refer you to the well-known joke: Q: How do you know if someone is a vegan? A: Don’t worry, they’ll tell you. No offense, vegans.)

If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll know that I had to take gluten out of my diet several years ago because I have arthritis, and gluten makes it worse. Technically, I COULD eat the stuff, and would, if I knew I wouldn’t wake up in the morning with fingers that are too swollen to bend. But this is the least of my worries, and the least of the reasons how I’ve become a total pain in the ass to my coworkers. Two weeks ago, for example, one of the teams decided to throw a party for all the staff who were having birthdays. I came in, and right next to my office was a lovely table set up with cake (no, surprisingly, this is not the problem because I CAN eat other stuff), and several balloon bouquets, which definitely are a problem, since I also have a latex allergy. The smell of balloons makes me stuffy and wheezy, so I kind of looked and said, “Oh, are those latex balloons?” (just to check, because you can get non-latex ones) and the very nice woman who had put them up realized that it was a problem and insisted on taking them down immediately, even though I said I could just stay in my office until the party was over. I felt guilty and a bit like a whiny ass, because she’d obviously gone to a lot of trouble decorating. But then the next day, the same very nice woman was in the kitchen and she was just about to microwave her lunch, which had copious amounts of shrimp in it, and because I’m also deathly allergic to shellfish and the allergy became airborne two years ago, I asked if I could microwave mine first so that I could be out of the kitchen when she cooked hers. Of course, she let me, and apologized for having shrimp, to which I said, “Don’t apologize—you’re allowed to eat whatever you want!” And then I felt even worse, like not only had I ruined her party, but also her lunch.

Then later that afternoon, she came to my office:

Very Nice Lady: I was just wondering if there’s anything else you’re allergic to, so I know not to bring it to work.
Me: (laughing) Unless you’re planning on dosing me with codeine or forcefeeding me avocado and bananas, I think we’re good.
Very Nice Lady: (also laughing) OK, because I was worried that you were going to think I was trying to murder you or something.

And now she totally could, because I just told her what would actually kill me, so I better stay on her good side.

But allergies are the worst for the following reasons:

1) It’s hard to eat at restaurants.

The first question I always have to ask at any restaurant other than McDonald’s is “Do you fry your French fries in the same fryer as your shellfish?” Not because I’m a dick and I’m testing the culinary knowledge of the wait staff, but because even that slight amount of cross-contamination will make me extremely sick. Most of the time, they immediately say No, and I get all happy and excited at the thought of eating something other than McDonalds’s fries, but then they always come back to the table 5 minutes later to say they actually checked and Yes, they do. Well, cancel my damn order then. Sigh.

2) You have to read all the ingredients on all the labels. And not just the food ones.

A couple of months ago, a friend from work gave me this ‘naturopathic’ cream for dry skin. It smelled heavenly, all lavender oil and whatnot, so I slathered it lavishly over my legs and then wiped the excess off my hands onto my chest and arms. Then I went to work. Within a very short time, my skin felt like it was burning, but I thought “Oh, it’s just the cream doing its work” which doesn’t even make any sense because what cream ‘works’ by making you feel all burn-y? But by the time I got home, I was kind of in a lot of pain, and by 7 pm, I had broken out in a violent rash all over my legs, chest, and arms, and it was spreading. So I looked carefully at the cream and realized that one of the main ingredients was PLANTAIN. Plantain is a type of banana. I had just smeared myself with the paste of something I am very allergic to. Who the f*ck makes cream out of bananas?! It took almost two weeks for it to “clear my system” as my doctor put it when I went to him and had to admit that I had done something akin to stuffing calamari up my own nose.

3) People don’t always take you seriously.

Many years ago, I had to have surgery. I told the surgeon that I was allergic to codeine:

Surgeon: No, you’re not.
Me: Yes, I am.
Surgeon: It’s just a sensitivity.
Me: No, I’m pretty sure it’s an allergy.
Surgeon: Whatevs.

After I came out of surgery, I was feeling OK, but after a while, they took me off the IV meds and started giving me pills. Within the half hour, I started feeling short of breath, dizzy, and broke out in a rash. Then I started to throw up, which is NOT something you want to do right after an abdominal surgery. When the nurse came running in, I asked, mid-vomit, “You’re not giving me codeine, are you? Because I’m allergic to codeine,” to which she replied rather hysterically something like “OhMyGodYes, nobody told us!! It’s not in your chart!!”

When I had my last surgery two years ago, Ken was so worried that he kept telling the nurses to remember that I was allergic to codeine. Right before they wheeled me in, the Operating Room nurse handed me a couple of Tylenol, and Ken literally stopped her with his hand and said, “There’s no codeine in that, right?” The nurse just looked at him and said in a kind of salty way, “WE KNOW. It’s in her chart. EVERYWHERE.” But I was superhappy that Ken was so vigilant because there is nothing quite like the hell that is throwing up after abdominal surgery.

In fact, Ken is the only person who’s actually HAPPY about my plethora of allergies for the following reason:

Me: If I go into anaphylaxis, do you know how to give me my epipen?
Ken: Of course. We do training every year at work.
Me: (snort) There’s a huge difference between playing around with a fake epipen and having to stab your own wife in the thigh with a real one.
Ken: Oh, it’ll be OK. Heh, heh, heh. It’ll be fun.
Me: Why are you laughing?! What do you mean ‘fun’?!
Ken: No reason.
Me: Are you looking at this as some kind of weird revenge for the time I buried your slippers in the garden?
Ken: Of course not. Heh heh. I will also happily Heimlich you if the opportunity ever arises. Wait—what was that about my slippers?

Blue to the sky, orange to the thigh.

So now I have a new rhyme to help me remember how the epipen works: Blue to the sky, orange to the thigh, Ken gets his kicks and I don’t die.

So let me summarize what you should take out of this in case you just skipped to the end (but if you did, you might be confused and slightly frightened):

a) People are generally really decent when it comes to protecting me from possible death, although Ken’s enthusiasm is a little disconcerting.
b) It’s not a secret burial if you tell someone about it.
c) I need to grow a spine and stop taking guff from the kitchen guy, like “I don’t have all day to watch TOAST, DAVE!”

 

My Week 186: Deathly Foods, Weird Signs

Currently, I’m working in a foreign land known as Mississauga, so I leave you with this–I hope you enjoy!:

Wednesday: I make a list of things that I’ve ingested that made me feel like I
was dying.

I can often succumb to peer pressure, when it’s about something that’s
supposed to be good for my health. For example, I haven’t eaten gluten (well,
except for the occasional juicy, wheat-y pizza) for almost two years because I
have arthritis and someone told me it was better for my joints. It was hard at
first—gluten-free baked goods, especially tortilla wraps, can taste a lot like
cardboard. Also, everything is made of rice. To be honest, I do feel better for
it, and I’ve found alternatives that are almost as good as the real thing. But the
other day at work, a colleague was extolling the virtues of Oil of Oregano as a
cure-all and preventive for almost everything known to humankind. It can cure
the common cold, prevent Montezuma’s Revenge, and apparently turn water
into wine. A bunch of us decided that, with super-busy days coming up, and it
still being flu season and all, we would troop down to the health food store en
masse to buy some of this miraculous elixir. Little did I know what I was in for.
I like oregano—I grow it in my garden, and I sprinkle it on pizzas, and use it to
season pork tenderloin, among other things. How bad could an oil made from
oregano be? The man at the health food store said it was a distilled oil and
could be “pretty strong”. Well, I have a hardy constitution—I’ve eaten haggis–
so what the hell? The directions said to put four drops under the tongue. I did
that. My immediate reaction was, “This isn’t so bad. I—OMFG!!” Then I
thought I was GOING TO DIE. My tongue went numb for about 20 seconds,
but then the sensation came back, and that was worse, because all I wanted
to do at that point was rip my own mouth out with my bare hands. Perhaps Oil
of Oregano was meant to build one’s character as well as one’s immune
system, you know, under that old adage “What doesn’t kill you makes you
stronger”? I had always previously thought of that as a metaphor for dealing
with nasty people, but if Oil of Oregano was a person, then it would be
SATAN. Then it occurred to me that I had been here before, doing that same
“Kill Me Now!” dance. So I decided to make a list of the top food type things
that I had ever ingested that made me also feel like I was dying.

Death by herb

1) Gorgonzola cheese. Once, Ken and I were overseas, and the person we
were staying with, a wonderful host and one of my favourite people, made us
dinner. It was gnocchi tossed in melted gorgonzola cheese. I loved gnocchi
and the whole thing looked fantastic. Then I took a bite. Some people claim
that they quite like gorgonzola—I call these people LIARS. Gorgonzola
cheese tastes like mold growing on sweaty socks—the black mold that
medical dramas always tell you will kill you. I didn’t know what to do because I
didn’t want to be offensive, so I choked down as much as I could stomach, then claimed that jet lag had made me too tired to eat. Jet lag is a good
excuse for just about anything, especially avoiding food you don’t want to eat.
The other really good excuse for that is “I just had those dilating drops put in
my eyes at the optometrist and I can’t see what’s on my plate.” I pulled that
one out as a child to avoid eating veal—don’t tell my mom.

2) Barium. Remember, this is about things I’ve “ingested”, not things I’ve
eaten. No one in their right mind would ever willingly want to EAT barium (OK,
you could say the same about gorgonzola cheese) but still, barium is like a
medical thing, not an actual food substance. If you ever have stomach
problems, you might have to go for a procedure called a barium swallow.
Notice that it’s not called “Olive Garden’s Lunch Special” because the
expectation is that you will NOT enjoy it—and no one is going to treat you like
family while this procedure is happening. Barium is a mineral or something,
and according to Wikipedia, “has a low toxicity”, which means it has more than
zero toxicity, so it’s only SLIGHTLY poisonous. But still, if you’ve ever had a
barium swallow, it feels like you’re being FULLY poisoned. I had to have this
procedure done once. The nurse handed me a gigantic glass of what looked
like pink chalk pureed with a little water. I looked at it dubiously, and she said,
“You have to drink the whole thing. Don’t worry—it’s Strawberry Flavour.”
Strawberry Flavour, my ass. Next time, flavour it with a little Drambuie—it’ll
still be death in a cup, but I’ll feel better about it. After I had choked and
gagged the whole thing down, and my eyes were tearing from the effort, it
suddenly occurred to me that I had no idea how my body was going to get the
stuff back out, and I had this horrible feeling that I would never be able to use
the bathroom again—that it would sit in my stomach like concrete for decades,
laughing at me.

3) Deep-fried squid. Deep-fried squid actually tastes really good. I had it once
at a restaurant where we were having a “sampling” menu. I love sampling
menus, because you can try something, and if you hate it, you don’t have to
eat any more of it. So I tried the deep-fried squid, (one little piece because it
was a French restaurant where I guess they expect you to smoke so many
Galois that you aren’t hungry enough for full portions), which came with spicy
peanut sauce. Squid is delicious. It is also, as I found out later, a member of
the mollusk family, and I’m severely allergic to shellfish. After about 20
minutes, my lips started to swell, and on the ride home, I was feeling dizzy
and out of breath. By the next morning, I was extremely ill and the inside of
my mouth felt like someone had taken a flamethrower to it. I had no idea what
was going on, but Ken did some research, and we discovered that there was
a good reason why I felt like I was dying–because I just might have, ha ha.
Thank God for tasting menus with very small portions.

4) Eggs that are not scrambled. Eggs are interesting. Essentially, they’re
imaginary chickens. I can never understand how people who say they’re
vegetarian can eat eggs, but some people do on the premise that “they were
never fertilized”. But aren’t they still animal protein? Anyway, I love scrambled
eggs and omelets, basically anything where the white of the egg and the
yellow part are mixed together so you can’t taste either of them separately.
Together, they are a heavenly component of the “All Day Breakfast”, one of
my favourite meals. Separately, they are like death on a plate. The white part
tastes like the sulphurous fires of hell (in other words, like eating flatulence),
and the yellow part is—well, I don’t know because I’ve never tried the yellow
part because its simple appearance is enough to put me off. That liquid-y,
slimy thing that some people love to “dip their toast in”. Why the HELL would
you dip your toast in a liquid baby chicken? So gross.

5) Extremely sour candies. Isn’t that an oxymoron? What is it with people and
extremely sour things? The other day, I was in a store and on the candy
display were bags of “Extreme Sour Gummi Bears”. The “i” in gummi was in
the shape of a lightning bolt, and the slogan was “Try to eat more than one”.
The gummi bears on the bag had FANGS. Where is the pleasure here?
Candy is supposed to be a treat, a reward for doing something good, like
using the potty. Can you imagine how long kids would be in diapers for if you
gave them rewards that made them scream in agony? Depends-Nation.
Candy is not supposed to be scary. A couple of months ago, some of our
summer students brought in ‘extreme sour candy’ and challenged me to try
one. They were all grimacing and gagging, but I have more “mature” taste
buds, so I accepted the challenge. Let me tell you, there is no taste in nature
like an extreme sour watermelon candy. Within 10 seconds, my extremities
went numb and I could no longer feel my face, either inside or out. Very
casually though, I plucked it out of my mouth and gently put it in the garbage
can. Never let them see you sweat. Or swear.

Friday: Weird signs that I’ve seen (NOT of an apocalyptic nature).

Yesterday, I was in the Bay, and I had to use the ladies’ room. As I was
leaving, I noticed a sign on the door that read, “All criminal activity in this
bathroom is closely monitored.” I stared at it for a minute or two, trying to
figure out exactly what it meant. First, what KIND of activity are we talking
about here? The only people I’ve EVER seen in that bathroom are elderly
ladies. I mean, the Bay is not exactly Forever 21. Could there be a gang of old
toughs who frequently gather in said bathroom to fence their stolen Hudson’s
Bay blankets and Estee Lauder cosmetics? And what does “closely
monitored” mean? Are there security guards looking at hidden cameras
whose reaction to every criminal transaction is “Huh. Take a look at that.
Interesting. We’d better keep monitoring this. CLOSELY.”

Of course, one of my all-time favourite signs is one I saw a few years ago, outside a
church, which said, “Take Jesus on vacation with you”. Ken and I were
planning a trip to Great Wolf Lodge with K, and I went into this reverie about
what would happen if you literally COULD take Jesus on vacation with you to
the waterpark. Would you have to stop him from trying to baptize the kids in
the wave pool? Would all the water in the park automatically become Holy
Water? Would he get annoyed if strangers kept splashing him? Would he be
like, “OK, I’ll go down the waterslide as long as I don’t get my hair wet?
(Because that’s what I always say.) Would he multi-task, and deliver a quick
sermon while he was on the white water raft with a bunch of other people? At
the end of the day, I could picture him in a lounge chair, surrounded by small
children, telling them parables until it was time for Pizza Hut and Pay-Per-
View. At any rate, it would be a hell of a lot better than taking Satan on
vacation to the waterpark with you. He’d be “that guy”, you know, the one who
wears the super-tight Speedo, always does the cannonballs into the pool, gets
everyone in a 20 foot radius soaking wet, and laughs like he thinks he’s so
cool. He’d hog the Jacuzzi, make all the water boil, then force everyone to
take Oil of Oregano. No wonder Satan never gets asked to go on vacation.

My Week 87: Preparing for Surgery, Weird Wednesday

Saturday: I prepare for surgery

Don’t worry—this is going to be funny, not serious like last week. I got a lot of excellent feedback on my take on Participation Ribbons, but mostly it was like, “Great post, but it didn’t make me laugh.” Thanks, Mom, lol. She also suggested last week after a particularly funny conversation about a “lady-hair ripping party” that I write about my upcoming surgery, and initially I was like, “No way—it’s too personal!” But then I thought, if I was getting my appendix out, I’d definitely write about it, and God knows I’ve already shared some pretty personal stuff on this site, so here it goes.

I’m having a hysterectomy. Yep, I said it. I’m not the first woman to ever have one, and I certainly won’t be the last. But it’s me, and it came as a shock. If you read “Christmas at the Emergency Room”, I dropped some pretty heavy hints about what was going on, but honestly, I was more worried about the promise I’d made to Russia about donating my uterus to their scientists in an earlier post about head transplants, because I had intimated—well, stated very emphatically—that my womb was in excellent working condition, or at least it had been the last time it had been used for anything. I’m pretty sure there’s some kind of implied warranty there, and I didn’t want to get sued by the Russian government for false advertising, especially since I’d criticized their war efforts. Then they’d be like, “Vat?! You think ve suck at var? Vell, your uterus is piece of shit—vorse than LADA. Ve vant our rubles back.” (I don’t know what kind of accent that’s going to play out like, so just pretend it’s Russian.)

So after my emergency room incident, I waited to see a surgeon, and in a bizarre twist of fate, he’s RUSSIAN. Or Czech, or some kind of Slavic, but I’m counting it anyway. As of next week, I will have officially fulfilled my debt and diverted an international incident. But aside from that, I discovered I was living in a dream world (which is not unusual for me, but still…). I’d had my gall bladder out in my early 30s, and I figured it would be as simple as that—the surgeon, dressed in a tuxedo, would reach into my lady tunnel, and pull out my uterus like a magician pulling a rabbit out of a top hat. “Abracadabra!” he would say in his Russian accent, holding it up triumphantly for the audience of nurses and interns, and waving a magic wand. There was also glitter, and a scantily dressed assistant who smiled in a sexy way while the surgeon bowed.  And that would have been totally awesome, but unfortunately, that’s not how it’s actually going to happen, according to my surgeon, who explained all about “reconstruction” and “mesh slings” and other rather nasty procedures, according to the Youtube videos I’ve watched. Note to self: NEVER watch a video about the surgery you’re going to have. I was 30 seconds in, when I screamed, “OH HELL NO!” and desperately searched for videos about kittens.

Yet, while I’m filled with trepidation about the surgery, I’m also relieved. I have something called “uterine prolapse”, which you can look up if you REALLY need to know. And it’s gotten worse in the last couple of weeks to the point where I really don’t enjoy the force of gravity and would prefer to do everything from a horizontal position. Let me just say, there’s a real sense of betrayal you get when one of your body parts wants to abandon you and go on a road trip. Also, as a professional, it’s really difficult to have a conversation with your director when all you can think is “God, I need to readjust my internal organs.” Of course, as with most things related to female anatomy, the medical profession is remarkably blasé. When I asked what I should do if it actually fell out completely, the emergency room doctor told me to “just shove it back in”. It took several months for me to even see a specialist, since this is not considered an “emergency”. Seriously? Do you really think that if a guy went to his doctor and said, “My prostate gland is coming out of my ass!” that the doctor would say, “No worries—just shove it back in.” No—that guy would be on full bedrest, with a private nurse holding his hand and feeding him ice cream. In fact, I’ve often said that if men had to have their testicles checked in the same way that women have to have their breasts examined, the mammogram would never exist. Instead, it would be soothing music, incense, and some kind of weird-ass robot reiki. Ken says that I’m being reverse-sexist when I say things like that, but I honestly can’t see a doctor saying to a guy, “It happens to men all the time. You’ll just have to deal with it.”

The most interesting part of this whole experience was realizing that I would have to be “shorn” for the procedure, which really freaked me out. I’ve never in my life “mowed the lawn”; the most I’ve ever done is trim the hedges. But frankly, the thought of an untrained nurse attacking my lady parts with a dull Bic was more than I could take. So I called up a local spa, explained the situation, and made an appointment for the FULL BRAZILIAN. “No problem,” said the reception. “I’ll set you up with Brittany. I’ve never had it done myself, but she has a good reputation for being very quick. She doesn’t linger.” LINGER?! Why the f*ck WOULD anyone linger?! I would think we’d BOTH want it over as soon as humanly possible. I’d be like, “Please tell me you’re done!” and she’d say, “Oh my god, yes!” And then we’d give a long distance high five and never see each other again.

I got to the spa, and Brittany came out to take me upstairs. She was young, and solid-looking, which I think would be important for the expedient and determined removal of lady hair—any hesitation might result in the client simply running out the door. “Have you had this done before?” she asked.

“Nope, first time,” I answered.

“Well, I’ll be honest up front,” she said. “This is really going to hurt.”

“I have four tattoos and I’ve given birth…”

“Yeah. This is a totally different kind of hurt. But it’s over really quick.”

Did it hurt? You bet your ass it did. At one point, I gasped and started laughing hysterically. “I don’t know why I’m laughing,” I said.

“Oh,” she answered breezily. “Some people laugh, some people cry, some people refuse to open their legs.”

“Doesn’t that kind of defeat the purpose?”

“It sure does,” she laughed. “There, you’re just about done. You’re doing great!”

She was right—it was quick. When I paid the bill, the receptionist asked how it went. “It was fast, thank God,” I said.

“Yes, Brittany’s good like that,” she smiled.

I left a tip, which, when you think about it, was totally appropriate, if tipping is for good service.

So while I may be scared sh*tless about the surgery, at least I have one less thing to worry about. (As a side note, I’m currently one of the few people I know who can actually say, “I’m literally beside myself right now.” Unlike other people who say that when they really mean “figuratively beside myself.”) Ultimately, my plan is to stay drugged up, watch a lot of Netflix, and drink a lot of wine. Best. Vacation. Ever.

waxpot

Wednesday: All the weird things

Wednesday was one of those days. I’d made plans with my sister-in-law to meet at a spa because I really needed a massage, and she really needed to work out, which honestly, is a need I’ve never been able to relate to. But I got my own workout on the way there, because I decided to walk and I miscalculated how far away the spa actually was. Also, the weather was outrageously humid, and I was dying by the time I was halfway there. I had underestimated the distance so badly that, every time I saw stoplights up ahead and realized it STILL wasn’t my street, I swore copiously, as in “Shuter Street?! What the f*ck!” But on the way there, I saw a man coming towards me. His head was down, he was all sweaty, and he was breathing hard. As he got closer, I realized it was John, one of the homeless guys from my neighbourhood. He looked up and recognized me, and we smiled at each other. “Hey, John,” I said. “Oh hi! How are you?” he answered. “Can I get some money for a cold drink? I won’t use it for alcohol.” So I emptied all the change out of my wallet and put it in his hand, which was weird because I normally put it in his hat. But it was kind of cool, like we were friends and I was just loaning him some money like I would with a co-worker who needed change for the vending machine, except if my co-worker had qualified the request with “I won’t use it for alcohol”, I might have suggested counselling. He said, “Thanks! See you later!” and off he went.

Then I met my sister-in-law, and we went to an Italian restaurant for dinner. I was going to name it here, but the manager just sent me an apology. For what? you might ask. I’d ordered gluten-free pasta because I have a gluten allergy, and it was so undercooked that it was inedible, so I left at least ¾ on the plate. When the waitress asked if I had enjoyed it, I told her “No”, and her response was this: “Well, YOU ordered the gluten-free pasta.” Then she walked away. I was kind of shocked at being personally blamed because their chef couldn’t cook. A few weeks ago, I ordered gluten-free pizza at a different restaurant, and when it came, it was burned. ITonstead of blaming me and saying, “Well, you didn’t specify UNBURNED,” the waitress apologized profusely and got me another one. That was at Scaddabush, which I don’t mind naming because their food is awesome, and their staff is lovely. Go there if you’re ever in Toronto. Tell them I sent you.

Finally, I was back in my condo and settling in for the night when the building’s fire alarm went off. It’s hideously loud and comes in through a PA system in each unit. I started to panic a little, being on the 27th floor, and wished I had some rope AND training on how to a) tie knots and b) rappel down a set of balconies. Which would never happen in real life, because the only way I EVER go out on my balcony is by holding onto the patio door jamb, then stepping out with one foot and leaning towards the railing only as far as I can go without releasing the door jamb. As I always say, “I’m not afraid of heights; I’m just afraid of falling FROM them.” Which means that I can go on roller coasters, Ferris wheels, and airplanes, but I can’t parachute, ride in a hot air balloon, or stand on my balcony.  It’s all a matter of being strapped in. Anyway, 6 firetrucks showed up, and I was straining to see them without actually getting close to the railing, when it occurred to me that a better use of my time would be to make a pile of all the things I would want to take with me if I had to evacuate. First was the external hard drive with copies of all of Ken’s photographs of flowers, clouds, Christmas ornaments, and cows. Next came the small collection of jewelry that I keep in my condo. A piece of driftwood from the cottage beach, the wooden goblet that Ken had hand lathed for me for Christmas, and I was set, because I had doubles of everything else at home. There were several pieces of artwork, but I figured if the time came, I could throw them in my suitcase at the last minute, then run down all 27 flights of stairs like a mad tourist. Just as I was about to take the first painting off the wall, I heard someone clear his throat. It was the Obnoxious Chair.

OC: Aren’t you forgetting something?
Me: Like what? Oh right, I probably need shoes.
OC: Not shoes, you idiot. I’m thinking of a particular chair you know.
Faint voice from the bedroom: I am in here, cherie, patiently waiting.
OC: Not that French bastard! I’m talking about me!
Me: You’re kidding right? You really think I’m going to carry you down 27 flights of stairs after the way you constantly behave?
OC: Hey, the last time the men were here to service your fan coil, I was really good. I kept my distance, even though they were sketchy and were touching your underwear.
Me: What?!
OC: Underwear, fan coil, whatever.
Me: The most I’ll do is throw you off the balcony. You can take your chances with gravity.
OC: Hah! Like you’d ever go out there. Well, suit yourself. And by the way, a little fire would do wonders for the décor in here.
Me: You’re a jerk.
OC: Screw you.
French Chair: I’m waiting, ma petite chou. We shall escape together, as I’ve always dreamed. Perhaps to ze Casbah.

Just then, the concierge came over the PA to announce that the fire department had given the all-clear, and that we could “resume our normal activities.” I felt a little letdown after creating such an elaborate escape plan, but at least I knew who I’d take with me, and what would be left behind to burn.

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.