My Week 261: And Now For Something Completely Different

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about watching a woman walk up to the front of a train, hitting everyone in the head on her way by, and I remarked that it was like something out of a Monty Python sketch. For those of you who don’t know, Monty Python was not a person; it was an absurdist comedy troupe that formed in the late 60s. Over the course of the next couple of decades, they had a TV series, live concerts, and several movies including Monty Python and The Holy Grail and The Life of Brian. If you’ve never heard of them or seen any of their work, then I don’t even know what to tell you. But if you ARE familiar with Monty Python, you’ll understand when I say that it has occurred to me on more than one occasion, and more so recently, that my life is pretty much one long Monty Python sketch. They’re well-known for numerous hysterically surreal scenarios, and below you will find the parallel circumstances of some of these moments in my own life. There are five below—4 are slightly exaggerated for comedic purposes and one of them is absolutely as it happened. See if you can guess which one.

Pet Shop

Late afternoon. The 11th floor.

Me: I’m having an issue with my computer.
IT Guy: Ah, yes. The Lenovo. What’s the problem?
Me: I’ll tell you what the problem is, my lad. It’s broken.
IT Guy: Broken? Have you tried turning it off and on again?
Me: Yes. It’s definitely broken.
IT Guy: It’s probably just doing updates. Remarkable machine, the Lenovo. Lovely keyboard.
Me: The keyboard doesn’t enter into it, mate! It’s broken! (*bangs laptop against desk*)
IT Guy: There, see? It’s fine—the screen flickered.
Me: No, it didn’t! (*opens and closes lid rapidly*) Cortana! Oh, Cortana!! See, it’s not working. And don’t tell me it’s pining for the fjords.
IT Guy: Fjords? In Canada? Give it here. Right—it was just a password problem. I’ve unlocked it for you.
Me: I wish I was a lumberjack.
IT Guy: You’re ok.

Argument Clinic

Early morning. Alarm goes off.

Me: Ergh. I’m so tired. I wish I could just call in and take the day off like some people can.
Ken: Dan’s not coming into work?
Me: Who’s Dan?
Ken: Isn’t he the person who’s not coming into work?
Me: No, I said ‘Like people can’.
Ken: Was he off yesterday too?
Me: Who?!
Ken: That Dan guy.
Me: What the f*ck are you talking about?!
Ken: What are you trying to tell me?
Me: I’m tired and I don’t want to go to work! Why don’t you either follow along or go back to sleep?!
Ken: Be like Dan.
Me: This argument has gone on way too long.
Ken: Are you staying home today?
Me: This is futile.

Michelangelo and the Pope

Via email

Literary Magazine: Greetings. We really enjoyed your short story and would like to publish it. We just need you to make a few minor revisions.
Me: I can do that. What were you thinking?
Lit Mag: Get rid of the family next door. They’re not important to the plot and they push the word count up.
Me: Get rid of them? But they add a bit of colour to the setting. Plus, the father’s presence allows the reader to infer a lot about the way the town perceives the main character. He’s like an Everyman.
Lit Mag: All right. We can live with the family, but we need you to lose the last paragraph. Just end it with the boy and the woman eating watermelon.
Me: Lose the last paragraph?! That’s where you find out the husband is dead all along!
Lit Mag: The husband’s DEAD?! Thanks for the spoiler. Regardless, it’s not necessary.
Me: NOT NECESS—look mate, you don’t want a writer, you want a bloody stenographer!
Lit Mag: We’re a bloody small university press, we are! We may not know writing but we know what we like!

Four Yorkshiremen

Lunchtime. Jack’s Office.

Jack: Who’d have thought we’d be sitting here using “Teams” on our Iphones. I miss the old days. Do you know, they’re not even making laptops with CD drives in them anymore? I remember my first computer—it was a Commodore 64.
Me: Commodore 64? You were lucky. I typed my honours thesis on a Vic 20.
Jack: I remember doing a lot of my high school essays on an electric typewriter.
Me: Electric? Ooh, we used to DREAM of electric typewriters. I learned to type on an old manual that weighed more than you did.
Jack: At least with computers, you could save everything on diskette instead of having to use carbon paper. Remember those floppy discs?
Me: Floppy discs? You were lucky. Back in my day, we had to save all our data on CASSETTE TAPES. And when the data was saved, we had to go outside and lick the road clean with our tongues.
Jack: What?
Me: Nothing. Remember when we all had Blackberries?
Jack: Blackberry? You were lucky. I had a flip phone for years.
Me: Flip phones?! You were lucky to have one of THEM. Back in my day, we had car phones the size of a laptop bag that plugged into the car. And they were RADIOACTIVE. We DREAMED of flip phones.
Jack: But you try to tell the young people of today that–
Me: And they won’t believe you.

 The Spanish Inquisition

9 pm. The front door opens.

Me: Oh! It’s you!
Ken: Who were you expecting—the Spanish Inquisition?
Titus (*flies into room*): NO ONE expects the Spanish Inquisition!
Me: Nice cloak.

Our chief weapon is the element of surprise…

I’ve linked each title to the corresponding Python sketch, and here’s the link to all the Monty Python scripts from A-M here and from N-Z here in case you want to see how life imitates art.

My Week 259: Does This Answer Your Question?

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

3 Things

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

You can never have too many.

5 Questions

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

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

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

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

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

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

4) What’s your weirdest habit?

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

5) What are your 3 desert island must haves?

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

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

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

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

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

My nickname is “The Sonic”.

3) Are you good at making speeches?

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

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

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

5) Favourite comedian?

John Mulaney. He’s hysterically clever.

6) Is that ghost still haunting your house?

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

7) What should new followers to this blog expect?

A lot of swearing, mostly.

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

My Week 121: I Want My Dang Cookies, Titus And The Golden Shower

Friday: I don’t get cookies

On Friday, we decided to pop down to Loblaw’s to pick up some snacks. By “we”, I mean my two work partners, L and M, who are always game for a trip to this magical, wonderful place. The big-ass Loblaw’s is remarkable for a variety of reasons. First, it has a Nutella Cafe. An actual coffee bar, where you can buy pastries made with Nutella, and only Nutella, and where it takes three servers 10 minutes to make you a latte. Now, if you don’t know what Nutella is, it’s kind of like peanut butter except that it’s made with hazelnuts and chocolate. So, more like cake icing really. The big joke a few years ago was that the Nutella company was trying to promote its spread as being the perfect breakfast food for children. Just smear it on some white bread, and you’ll be good all day. While Nutella may taste good to some people (not me—I think it’s kind of gross), the problem is that the main ingredients are as follows, in the order they appear on the label: Sugar, palm oil, hazelnuts, cocoa powder. So, not actually very nutritious or healthy. Peanut butter is shaking its head, like, “You should have just stayed a fun food like me. At least I never pretended to be all vitamin-y and sh*t.” The best part is how Nutella tries to hide the fact that it’s junk food. If you go to their website and click on “Inside the Jar”, you end up in a circular search which leads you from “Inside the Jar” to “Our Ingredients” back to “Inside the Jar. Nowhere can you see an actual list of what the hell is ACTUALLY inside the jar. On the “Ingredients” page, all you get is a PICTURE of the jar with the accompanying text, “We choose only the freshest raw material, carefully selected according to a sustainable sourcing and a great attention to their quality.” Many years ago, Monty Python did a sketch called “Crunchy Frog” about an investigation into the Wizzo Chocolate Company, whose boxes of chocolates contained some disgusting ingredients, including, obviously, frogs. When questioned by the police, the owner says this: “We use only the finest baby frogs, dew-picked and cleansed in the highest quality spring water…we use no artificial additives or preservatives of any kind.”

(Cop: Don’t you even take the bones out?
Owner: If we took the bones out, it wouldn’t be crunchy, would it?!)

So, what are you hiding, Nutella?! If you’re really made with nuts, you SHOULD be crunchy.

Anyway, this post is not about Nutella (even though it seems like it just was). No, this post is about how I’m mad at Loblaw’s, even though it’s got a huge Joe Fresh, a liquor store, live music, a Medical Clinic, and at Christmas-time, the middle of the store becomes a giant gingerbread house. It also has the only self-serve checkouts that don’t make you “call the attendant” every time you use them. But on Friday, I needed to get some cash back so I could buy wine on the train (it’s a LEGITIMATE REASON, thank you), and I had to go to an actual human cashier. I should mention here that the other great thing about Loblaw’s is that you can get a points card, and rack up enough points to regularly take $20 off your groceries. I always have my card ready, because I will actually buy things I don’t really need just for the points. So, there I was in the Express Checkout line, all happy because it was Friday, I was getting the little half-cans of Pepsi that I love, and I was getting me some points. The cashier was super-slow and seemed kind of out of it, though, and it took 10 minutes to get through three people with less than 16 items each. Finally, I got my groceries checked through, and let me just remind you that I had my points card in my hand. There’s a sign above every cashier that reads, “If I don’t ask you for your PC Points card, you get a free bag of PC Chocolate Chip cookies.” Everyone knows this. It’s a long-standing and honourable tradition, and 99.9% of the time, the cashier asks. But on Friday, the woman slowly turned to me and said, “That’ll be $10.77.”

Me: Do you want my points card?
Cashier: Oh. Can I have your points card?
Me (excited): Do I get a bag of cookies?!
Cashier: I asked you for the card before you gave it to me.
Me: Uh…no you didn’t.
Cashier: *blank star*
Me: Really?

Well, I needed to get back to work, and a bag of cookies wasn’t worth causing a fuss over (even if they WERE chocolate chip), so we left. I told L and M about what happened:

Me: I’m so pissed. That woman looked me in the face and outright denied something that we both knew was true!
L: So you’re mad about not getting the cookies that you couldn’t eat anyway?
Me: It’s the principle, not the gluten. Besides, I could have taken them home for Ken. Or shared them at the office.
M: You should write a strongly-worded email.
Me: Meh. I’ll just blog about it.

I DID tweet to Loblaw’s, and their response was that they would share my experience with the store manager, and “sorry for the inconvenience.” I should have tweeted like Donald Trump though: INTELLIGENCE INSIDERS NOW CLAIM THE LOBLAW’S COOKIE PROMISE IS A ‘COMPLETE FRAUD’. SAD! Oh well, at least no one peed on me. And in the heart of the big city, just as it is in Trump Tower, that’s not always a given.

Saturday: Titus gets the third degree

Me: Hey! Who’s a good boy? Who’s a silly fella? Where’s your hippo?
Titus: Whoa! Slow down there, lady!
Me: Why? What’s wrong?
Titus: What’s with all the questions? Is this some kind of interrogation?
Me: No, I—
Titus: Why are you so interested? Do you think I’m hiding something?
Me: ARE you hiding something? The puppy doth protest too much, methinks.
Titus: What could I possibly be hiding?
Me: Gosh, I don’t know. Maybe something like the New Year’s Day Incident perhaps?
Titus: Ken should never have hidden all those little chocolate bars inside his new socks. I’m only canine, you know.
Me: They were nice socks!
Titus: And tasty, too. Anyhow, let’s deal with your questions one at a time.
Me: OK. Are you a good boy?
Titus: I try to be. It’s not my fault if you leave food lying right out in the open, inside hosiery or on top of the stove.
Me: “A” for effort, then. Are you a silly boy?
Titus: Hells, yeah. Wait, you said “sexy”, right?
Me: I rest my case. Finally, where’s Hippo?
Titus: I’m afraid I can’t discuss that with you. It’s part of an ongoing dossier that may or may not be unsubstantiated.
Me: Did you PEE on him?!
Titus: It was an accident. It wasn’t like he paid me to do it. Who in their right mind would do something like THAT?!

hippo

 

My Week 83: Back to Routine, A Present for Not Dying

Monday: The more things change, the more they stay the same.

After three weeks of working off site, I finally returned to the office on Monday. My secret agency is located right in the heart of downtown, and wow, it was sure good to be back. I hadn’t had anyone ask me for money, scream uncontrollably, or yell at me about Jesus for a while. Wait—before you get the wrong idea, I’m NOT talking about work (well, at least not my current job) because no one at work EVER yells. It’s literally the most civilized place of employment on the planet, and it’s great to walk in and have people so pleased to see you. It’s just that I live in a very “unstable” neighbourhood. But still, it’s MY neighbourhood, and you get used to all the zany things that happen on a daily basis. And by “zany” , I mean weird, frightening, and often disgusting. But not always—there ARE some nice things that I actually like about the area. So here are some of the crazy things that happened this week:

Monday: I had to get groceries. I have two choices—a Metro or Loblaws. They are equidistant from my condo, and the decision regarding which one to go to usually rests on the number and type of homeless people on the way there, and how much money I have in my purse. On Monday, there was a scary guy on the Metro corner who was yelling and pulling down his jeans, and I had no intention of being there when he decided that his boxer shorts were equally uncomfortable. So I headed the other way, towards panhandlers I knew were harmless. I always ask them if they want something from the grocery store, and it’s usually a cup of coffee or lasagna from the hot lunch counter, but I think they’ve all figured out that I’m an easy mark, because John wanted a loaf of bread and a tub of margarine, and Mike wanted a jar of Nescafe Expresso, which he assured me was “on sale for half-price”. Apparently, the coffee at the Food Bank is crappy, and he was craving something a little better to go with the Rice Krispie square that someone had given him. But hey—who am I to begrudge them life’s little pleasures? At least they keep their pants on.

Tuesday: My work partner L and I decided to go to Tim Horton’s to scout out some lunch. We are both a little obsessive about Tim’s Cream of Potato and Bacon soup, which is hardly ever on the menu, but it’s quite possibly the BEST F*CKING SOUP EVER INVENTED, so we live in hope. We hit the doorway, and scared the bejeezus out of some poor lady as we both yelled in unison, “The soup!! YES!!!!” and started fistpumping and highfiving each other maniacally. That’s right. Two grown women high fiving over soup. And then we had to say to the poor lady, who was looking around like a terrorist attack was impending, “Oh no—it’s OK—it’s just the soup.” But universal karma got me on the way out. I went to hold open the door for an elderly woman, who had simultaneously hit the Handicapped button with her cane. Instead of thanking me, she looked at me and snarled, “IT’S OPEN!” Crazy old bat—no soup for you!

tims soup

Wednesday: On my street, there are a couple of empty storefronts, which is weird because it’s such a busy neighbourhood that you’d think people would be dying to open businesses there. At any rate, the doorways of said storefronts are the nocturnal havens of numerous street people, who have no apparent problem sleeping in them and using them as bathrooms. I’m relatively used to the urine and occasional vomit, but on Wednesday morning, I passed the doorway of a former Sushi Express, and right in the middle of it was the biggest poop I’d ever seen. Obviously not a dog poop. Unless the dog was that three-headed thing from Harry Potter. But instead of being grossed out, I was intrigued. Like, how big was the guy who put it there, and how long had he been holding it in? I kept thinking about it all morning, and at lunch, my work partner and I walked down to Loblaw’s.

Me: Do you see that doorway over there?
L: Yes…
Me: There’s the largest bowel movement I’ve ever seen in my life in that doorway.
L: Why are you telling me this? Stop.
Me: No really—it’s gigantic. You wouldn’t believe it.
L: Eww. Really, you need to stop.
Me: Sigh. OK. (whispering) But it was soooo big.
L: STOP!

I’m lucky I work with such tolerant people. But it would have been really nice if she’d actually wanted to see it, just to confirm that it was indeed the largest poop in the world.

Thursday: There’s always a LOT of construction downtown, and right across the street from the office, they’ve been excavating a hole for a new condo building for the last year. Towards the end of the day, I wandered down the aisle, and happened to notice that the excavating seemed to be finished, and that suddenly, a big-ass crane was in the hole. I happened to remark on the presence of the crane, and my life suddenly turned into a Monty Python sketch (please imagine that the rest of the people in the following conversation are extremely excited and have thick French accents. Because they are and they do.)

Me: Wow that is one huge crane!
Male Colleague 1 (rushing to the window): I know! It was not there last week, and suddenly now it is ‘ere!
Male Colleague 2: ‘Ow do they get it to the place? They must travel in the night!
Female Colleague: My brother, ‘e drives the crane truck. They bring the pieces in lying flat so they don’t ‘it the ‘ydro wires. Then they put it up, one piece at a time!
Everyone: Wow!
Male Colleague 3: My cousin, ‘e was killed by a crane. It was missing a safety pin, and it fell onto ‘im. ‘E was crushed.
Everyone (suddenly deflated): Oh…

There’s nothing like a sad crane story to ruin the party, folks.

Friday: If you send an email to the people on your team, make sure that you proofread it first so that it says “Sick Day” and not “Dick Day”. Because if it says “Dick Day”, the entire office will know, and be in good-natured hysterics most of the morning. No, surprisingly, it wasn’t me.

Saturday: Why I deserve a present for “not dying”.

In a little over a month, I will be having a fairly major surgery. It’s not elective, and I can’t back out of it. I am absolutely terrified, mostly because of the general anesthetic. I love how the doctor will say, “Count down from 100, and by the time you reach 95, you’ll be asleep”, because it’s not SLEEPING at all. Sleeping is where you have awesome dreams. Anesthetic is where you have no idea if you died or not. Just ask Michael Jackson. The only reason I know that I’m not dead every night is because I have very vivid weird dreams. The other night, for example, I had this bizarre dream where I was teaching math to a group of kids:

Me: And that’s how you figure out “less than” versus “greater than”.
Student: Why is that important?
Me: Because it’s the foundation for all other mathematics. Like algebra.
Student: What’s algebra?
Me: Algebra is when you have to find a solution to an equation that has a missing variable.
Student: What does THAT mean?
Me: Algebra is like being a detective, but instead of solving crimes, you’re solving for “x”.

Then I woke up in a cold sweat and yelled, “Is that right? How the F*CK do I even know that? What the hell is a missing variable?!” Because if you know me at all, you know that I know virtually nothing about math, having failed miserably at it in high school. But apparently, my subconscious remembers something about it, while I was passing notes and rolling my eyes. So anyway, anesthetic. I told Ken that I was scared of dying, and he told me I was being stupid, that I wasn’t going to die, and I was like “HOW DO YOU KNOW, KEN?! I MIGHT!”

Ken: You’re not going to die. I’ll tell you what—we’ll make a bet. If you don’t die, you owe me $50.
Me: I have a better idea. If I don’t die, you buy me a really nice present.
Ken: Seriously? You think you deserve a present for “not dying”?

Fuck yes, I do. And here’s my argument. There are women out there who get presents for having a baby. It’s called a “push present”. If a woman can get a gift for squeezing out a kid, why can’t I have one for not letting the Grim Reaper take me to the promised land? I’ve HAD a baby—it’s not that hard. Unlike NOT DYING. Ok, I admit that I’ve been able to “not die” for the last 18, 413 days, which honestly, is a feat unto itself when you think about it, but I’ve come close a few times and got fuck-all for it. So I think I’m owed at this point. And I have to tell you, there’s no better motivator for NOT going towards the light than a different, glittery, diamond-y kind of light. Or Cream of Potato and Bacon soup. It’s the gesture that counts.