My Week 243: An Evening of Fun and Debauchery

This week’s offering is inspired by Kim at I Tripped Over A Stone. Every week, she posts 3 Quick Questions for people to answer, and last week Question 3 was: “Have you ever been to a Tupperware party?” I responded that yes, I’d been to a Tupperware party, but that I’d also hosted a lingerie party. She wanted to know more, and I said that was a story for another time. Now is that time. It’s time to tell you about one of the most bizarre and embarrassing things that ever happened to me.

Years ago, Ken and I lived in a different small town in a neighbourhood full of young couples like ourselves (we were both 26 at the time). I’ve never been one to embrace the social scene, but the women in the neighbourhood were constantly hosting different sales-type parties: Tupperware, jewellery, candles, you name it, where I would be invited and then would feel obligated to buy a giant plastic tub, or a cheap bracelet. I didn’t mind the candles though—if you know anything about me, you know that I have a large collection of jar candles in case of the apocalypse. I should also mention that this small town was also heavily Modern Mennonite. Now, if you don’t know anything about Mennonites, let me explain. The hardcore Mennonites are like the Amish. They dress all in black from their heads to their toes, the men wear wide-brimmed hats and the women wear big bonnets. They refuse to use any modern technology or electricity and they drive buggies pulled by horses. They live in their own isolated communities and they are all farmers. Then there are the “conservative” Mennonites, who are almost hardcore, but can drive cars and use cellphones. Apparently, the car has to be black and any metal trim/adornments have to be pulled off, and the cellphone has to be with Rogers (sorry—that’s an in-joke because Bell is so much better). There’s also a group called the David Martin Mennonites, who are just like the regular ones except that the guys wear straw hats and suspenders and the girls wear handkerchiefs instead of bonnets. Mexican Mennonites are the most interesting group—they aren’t actually Mexican—they’re a splinter group that went down to Mexico years ago to do mission work, and came back to Canada at some point. They are VERY different from your run-of-the-mill gang of Mennos in that the men wear plaid shirts and ball caps and the women love dresses with flowers all over them, and they drive and use electricity and whatnot. The biggest difference is that they’re all blond and walk around town looking like Abercrombie and Fitch models. The other Mennonites look down on them, but I think they’re just jealous that the Mexican Mennonites had a larger gene pool so none of them have to wear glasses, which most other Mennonites have to do because they have terrible eyesight. Finally, there are the Modern Mennonites, who made up the majority of my neighbours. There was nothing remarkable about them except that they went to big, modern Mennonite churches on Sunday. And they were very proper and modest.

Anyway, so after a few months of enjoying the party circuit, eating other people’s appetizers, drinking other people’s wine, buying the bare minimum in party sh*t, and pretending that I was not extremely uncomfortable in situations like this, it became patently obvious that it was MY turn to host something. The pressure was on. What kind of crap could I get my neighbours to buy that would be exciting and new? Then, call it kismet, or universal forces at work, I saw an ad for a woman who did LINGERIE PARTIES! What an amazing idea! I would be the talk of the neighbourhood for months to come. I could picture my neighbours ooh-ing and ah-ing over delicate lace and finery, buying flannel nightgowns, or perhaps the more daring among them purchasing satin negligees as they giggled in delight. There would be fancy h’ors d’oeuvres and wine, and once I had hosted the party to end all parties, I would NEVER have to go to another one again, which was really my ultimate goal! So I called the woman, whose name was Donna:

Me: Hi there! I’m interested in hosting a lingerie party!
Donna: Super. They’re so much fun! I assume your guests will be open to just about anything?
Me: Oh sure—lace, flannel, satin…
Donna: Rubber?
Me: Pardon?
Donna: Did I mention the hostess gets a 10% discount?
Me: Oh cool! Can I book for next Saturday?

I invited all the neighbour ladies and everyone was super-excited at the thought of my Lingerie Party; one of the women even invited her mother, who was a little less Modern and wore a white net cap over the bun in her hair and a dress with an apron, but still, I thought it would be fun for her to hang out with us. I envisioned Donna arriving with racks of nighties in all the colours of the rainbow, and maybe some cheeky bra and panty sets that would make my Mennonite friends blush a wee bit, and there would be a shopping frenzy the likes of which no one had ever seen, allowing me to receive the ‘surprise bonus gift’ that Donna had mentioned.

The evening came and Donna arrived. But instead of racks of nighties, she had stacks of boxes. I was confused but the guests started to appear and I got distracted by pouring out the wine and passing around trays of cheese and crackers, and pumpernickel bread with spinach dip (these types of appetizers were de rigeur at sales parties). After about 20 minutes, Donna announced that she was all set up, and we gathered in the living room in anticipation. Then my jaw dropped as I realized what she had unpacked from all her boxes. Dildos. It was a sea of DILDOS. There was no lingerie to be seen, and I don’t think I could ever emphasize enough exactly HOW MANY DILDOS there were on display. Then Donna, oblivious to the looks of shock on our faces, introduced herself and began to showcase each of the sex toys, describing its material, shape, function, colour and size. “Here!” she said cheerfully. “Pass this one around. Feel the quality, ladies!” My guests’ eyes were wide with terror as they passed the fake phalluses to each other gingerly, holding them between their thumbs and index fingers and refusing to make eye contact with anyone. At one point, the little Mennonite mother who had been innocently brought along whispered to her daughter, “What..what is this?” and her daughter whispered back, “It’s a dingaling!” Finally, after the fifth dildo had made its rounds (“This one is called ‘Double Trouble’, ladies!!”), I cleared my throat and spoke:

Me: Is there any lingerie? I think my guests might like to see some of that now.
Donna: Lingerie? Oh sure! I have some crotchless—
Me: NEVER MIND!

Needless to say, none of my Mennonite guests bought anything. One of the other women picked up some edible undies as a joke but it wasn’t enough to get me that special bonus gift. And although it was difficult to show my face around the neighbourhood for a while, my phallic fiasco turned out to be the party to end all parties after all. Or at least I stopped getting invited to them, so I considered that a win anyway.

As a side note, the company that Donna worked for is still in business. Back when I was 26, there was no internet, but if it was the same situation today, I could have gone to their website and found out ahead of time that my guests and I were in for “an exciting night of fun and debauchery”. Only one of those things turned out to be true.

My Week 6 – Mennonites, Sweary-ness, and Normal Ken Dreams

Sunday: I ponder the wonderful world of Mexican Mennonites

I grew up with Old Order Mennonites. They were always around when I was a kid—at the market, driving along the side of the road, just a fixture on the landscape. I never really paid them much attention. As I got older, I wondered about them. For example, they like to go to auctions and buy pots and pans, and other household goods, I’m assuming to be part of a dowry or something, like “Here’s my daughter, a set of Lagostina cookware, two fuzzy blankets, and a goat”. Also, I often questioned their lifestyle—like why they couldn’t have electricity, but could use cell phones, or if you’re out on a Sunday in a buggy with a boy, does that mean you HAVE to marry him, or are you just trying each other out? But overall, I didn’t give them too much thought. That is, until we bought our cottage down by Lake Erie shore and were introduced to the “Mexican” Mennonites. OK, here’s the deal. They are not Mexican. They don’t speak Mexican. They certainly don’t look Mexican, They’re a splinter group of ‘regular’ Mennonites who went down to Mexico for some random reason, stayed there for a few generations, and now have returned to Ontario to share their glorious Mexican-ness with us. They are AWESOME. They should be the poster children for Mennonites, if the Mennonites were ever interested in recruiting. I spent some time gathering intel on this new brand of Mennonite—this is what I learned:

Appearance: They are all blonde and lithe. The men wear cool plaid shirts, ball caps, and jeans; women wear brightly coloured, floral dresses. Apparently they all have perfect eyesight. And teeth. They always look relatively happy, compared to their older order counterparts, who always look like they’re worried about getting the harvest in. I don’t think Mexican Mennonites worry about too much, especially the harvest, judging from their laid-back attitudes and lack of farm equipment.

Food: Mexican food! Very spicy, homemade Mexican-y goodness. Including gluten-free corn tortillas—these people are cutting edge. And they LOVE hot sauce. At the Aylmer Market, they make Hot Tamales, freshly wrapped in corn husks, and they have a food truck in PB called Dos Gringos, which may or may not be an insulting reference to white folk, but if it is, I admire their nerve. What do other Mennonites eat? German food? They make a LOT of maple syrup and sell it out of their buggies, that’s all I know.

Drink: I’m really hoping Tequila, but I don’t know—I’ve been told they don’t actually drink. If they did though, it would definitely be Tequila because Tequila is the FUN Mennonite drink (at least in my world).

Activities: These people are entrepreneurs. They have real estate companies, restaurants, grocery stores, and all kinds of businesses. They don’t have roadside stands. They DO have a lot of Chihuahuas. The teenagers rove around in gangs like Abercrombie and Fitch models waiting for a photographer. They lounge in their front yards, laughing, in co-ed groups. They always look extraordinarily happy. It could be the Tequila.

Small Children: Mexican Mennonites have large families. There was a group renting the house across the road from us in PB a couple of years ago, and they had a LOT of kids. I used to watch them play—they didn’t have any toys, but they made up the best games, like one day, they were all a bus, and they took turns driving it around the yard. The littlest one was a two year old girl, who was so adorable that it occurred to me that maybe a family with a lot of children wouldn’t miss one, and she could come home with me, but I never acted upon the impulse on the grounds that it would be highly illegal, obviously. The only thing I know about Old Order Mennonite children is that they seem to get lost in cornfields a lot, prompting OPP search parties.

I think I’ve made it very clear that to me, thinking about Old Order and Mexican Mennonites is like watching Lord of the Rings. You have the dwarves, who are short, stout, and dour, then you have the elves, who are exotic, athletic, and supremely confident. Neither group wants to interact with outsiders, but I’ll take the Mexican Mennonites hands down, if only for the awesome food. Because me, I’m all about the tacos.

Wednesday: I contemplate my sweary-ness.

I swear a LOT. I’ll admit it—I have a potty mouth and I always have had. One of my earliest memories is being told off by my dad for exclaiming “Holy Sh*t” at the number of cars in the K-Mart parking lot one day. (Which was kind of hypocritical, because where did I learn that expression anyway, Dad?) At any rate, I swear all the time, with one major exception—I rarely swear at work. I was just talking to a friend of mine from work, and I said, “Do you think I swear a lot?” and she said, “Not really.” Then I asked Ken the same question and he looked at me like the answer was obvious and said, “Uh, yeah.” But this is WHY I swear a lot—because I spend all day NOT swearing. In fact, I spend a lot of the day saying to students (hypocritically), “Watch the language!” I have to keep it all bottled inside so that when I get home, the real me comes flying out. I knew it was a problem when K was about 4 years old, we were with some friends who also had a 4 year old. We were trying to get a picture of the two of them, and Ken was taking so long that K finally blurted out, “Just take the frigging picture, dad!” (I was so proud. Also, it was good that it wasn’t me who had to point out that Ken takes way too long to focus). The other day I asked K if she thought I swore a lot, and she raised one eyebrow at me. I said, “Not AT you, just in general. I try not to swear AT you.” She agreed then that I don’t swear too much AT her, but I do swear a lot. I also reminded her that we’re mostly together when I’m driving, which might account for the extra-sweary-ness.

The problem is that I’m with teenagers all day and I have to be a good role model. It would hardly be professional if I peppered my teaching with the F bomb. (“So why isn’t your f*cking homework finished, Timmy?” “That answer was total bullsh*t, Sally.”) The only time I’ve actually sworn in class was a couple of years ago. I was in the middle of a lesson, and it was going really well, when all of a sudden, the overhead screen behind me scrolled up and almost snapped itself off its hanger. I was so freaked out that my immediate response was to exclaim “Holy Sh*t!!!” Then I turned and looked at the class, and they started laughing hysterically. One girl even said, “This is the best class ever!” Which proves that I DON’T swear in class, because it wouldn’t have been such a novelty when I did. It also proves that my first instinct is ALWAYS to use an inappropriate epithet, but that also I’m really good at suppressing my instincts. So Ken and K, and the rest of my family, have the joy of experiencing the F-bomb factory that is ME. Thank god they f*cking love me.

Saturday Morning: I realize that Ken is completely normal, even in my dreams.

I’m a very vivid dreamer. I have crazy movie length dreams that are like watching crime dramas, and sometime horror movies. Last month, I was watching a dream unfold where a patient in a hospital was extremely ill, and detectives discovered that she had been given an injection of “lupus alcoholis” by a guy who was stalking her, and this had caused her to become deformed and almost die. The doctor at the hospital formulated an antidote, and the detectives arrested the stalker. It was awesome, and cheaper than actually going to the movies. This happens to me all the time, and it’s wonderful and sometimes scary too, especially when the dreams involve K getting kidnapped or my mom driving a car into a river and me trying to rescue her (don’t worry, Mom, I saved you)—stuff like that. But for some reason, whenever I dream about Ken, it’s always the most perfectly normal dream you could have. In fact, they’re about as close to real life as you can get. Last night, I dreamed that Ken was driving me to work, but I forgot my cell phone so we were going back to get it, when he spotted a garage sale and pulled over. The only thing they were selling was these really expensive clock faces and Ken got super-excited, because he keeps talking about making his own clock (in real life, not in the dream). So I said to him (in the dream, not in real life), “Spending that kind of money on a clock face defeats the purpose of making your own clock.” He looked disappointed, but he agreed with me, and we carried on back home to get my phone. WTF kind of dream is that?! The only way it differed from real life is that Ken NEVER pulls over for garage sales unless I make him. In the future, I’m going to try a little “lucid” dreaming and introduce some zombies onto the field of play, just to see what he does. A minute ago, I asked him what he was doing, and he said “resting” (even though we just got up an hour ago), and in my head I was like, “Just see how tired you’re going to be after a night of The Walking Dead. Ha ha, Ken!!”