Terms Of Endearment

On Tuesday, I was walking down the aisle of cubicles heading towards the kitchen with a male colleague, Brian, and we were talking about a presentation we were planning. I was carrying my lunch plate with the intention of washing it in the sink, and as I did that, we continued talking. I was done with the plate at the same time that the conversation ended, and I don’t know if it was the domesticity of the situation or whatnot, but as I put the plate in the drying rack, I said, “Super. Thanks, honey.” Cue the sound of a record scratch.

Me: Oh, wow, I think I just called you ‘honey’.
Brian (laughing): Yes, you did.
Me: Sorry—it kind of slipped out.
Brian: It’s perfectly fine. I call the people on my team ‘honey’ all the time.
Me: OK, well as long as it didn’t bother you.
Brian: Not at all!

Because you never know, right? But then on Thursday, Brian and I were continuing our conversation about the presentation and as I walked away, he said, “OK, thanks honey!” There was a pause and then he peeked his head out of his cubicle and called after me:

Brian: Hey, I just called YOU honey!
Me (laughing): I know!
Brian: See, I told you I call people that all the time.
Deep Male Voice From Another Cubicle: IT’S TRUE. HE DOES.

So now I don’t feel as bad and also I think Brian and I have to get married. Sorry, Ken.

And when I told Ken this story, after reminding me that I was already married, he confessed that he was having trouble with terms of endearment at work too. Mostly because we’ve been binge-watching Rupaul’s Drag Race.

Ken: It’s really hard not to walk into a room and greet everyone with ‘Hey, queens!’
Me: Or be like, ‘Bitch, we need to discuss that budget variance report, okurrrr?’
Ken: Or leave a room yelling, ‘By-eeee!’
Me: Yass, babe. I was so tempted to put ‘Sashay Away’ on the light-up marquee in my office just for fun.
Ken: Girl, you know you better don’t.
Me: Bitch, please!

At any rate, it got me thinking about those affectionate names that people have for each other, like sweetie and honey and baby, and how very few people ever call me Suzanne:

  • Ken calls me “Honey” 99% of the time. The other 1% is when he’s mad, and then he refers to me as “Buddy” in an incredulous kind of way, like “BUDDY! Really?! Come on!” I can’t remember the last time he actually addressed me by name but that’s OK, because I’m pretty sure he knows what it is.
  • My dad and I greet each other with “Hello, dahling!” When I was younger, he called me “Sugarplum”, which I also loved.
  • My mother generally calls me “Sweetheart” or “Ooh, you cheeky monkey!” When I was little, her affectionate nickname for me was “Squeeg” like a squeegee. Neither of us know why, but I always liked it.
  • Katelyn calls me “Mom”. She said “mama” for the first time at around 3 months (she was a super-early talker and was speaking in two-word sentences by the time she was a year old), but that quickly morphed into just Mom. I think there were a couple of months where she might have called me “Mommy” but it didn’t last long. When she was little, I called her “Baby” all the time to the point where she began to refer to herself in the third person as Baby and would say, “Baby up” or “Baby tired” or “Baby agrees with Nietzsche—if the taste of these strained green beans doesn’t kill me, they will definitely make Baby stronger” (ok, she didn’t actually say that, but when she was two, she actually DID say, “When I gwow up, I will be a bus dwiver and I will dwive all the children to the beach and they will pway in the sand and I will pwotect them” and I said, “Have you been reading Catcher in the Rye AGAIN?”) Then she started pre-school and one morning, she turned to me and said, “Don’t call me baby anymore. I’m a big girl now”, and it kind of broke my heart, but I stopped.
  • One of my aunts, who is only a few years older than me, calls me “Kiddo” which is cool because I’m 54 and it makes me feel young. My other aunt calls me “Suzie”. She’s the only person in my entire life who’s ever shortened my name, and I let her do it because she’s adorable and I love her. If anyone else does it, they will get throat-punched.
  • A lot of my virtual friends called me mydangblog, or MDB (or Suzune, thanks to an unfortunate cake incident), and it’s very cool to have a secret identity like that.
  • I have been lobbying for literally YEARS to be called Player One. At this point, I don’t think it’s happening, but I’ll keep trying.

At any rate, I’m very lucky to have people in my life who refer to me with terms of endearment instead of nasty slurs. I asked Titus about nicknames because he never really calls me anything:

Me: So what do you call me in your head?
Titus: Player One, of course.
Me: You do?! Wait—are you only saying that to get a cookie?
Titus: Obviously. In my head, I just call you ‘Mommy’.
Me: Really? Awww. That’s why you’re the bestboi.
Titus: Cookie?
Me: Of course, honey.

Originize! and a Poem About Clocks

Earlier this week, I was nominated for the Blogger Recognition Award by my friend Tom from Tom Being Tom, who is an amazing blogger and human being, and I love all of his dogs almost as much as I love him. He nominated people based on the names of Santa’s reindeer and I got Dancer, which was OK, but if I’m being honest, I wish he would have invented a new reindeer named Player One, who would have supplanted Rudolph at the head of the sleigh team due to her speed, and also it would have made up for my sadness over the fact that my fantasy hockey team, which is also called Player One, is currently at the bottom of the league. I think. Because the hockey app on my phone stopped working and I can’t access the standings anymore, but no one at work is approaching me ominously and saying oddly sexual things like, “Don’t get too comfortable being on top”, so I assume I’m no longer a threat to JEFFREY.

Anyway, as part of the award, I have to provide my origin story and offer two pieces of advice to new bloggers. First my origin story, which is nowhere near as cool as like, The Avengers or whatnot:

About 5 and a half years ago, I was going through a hard time at my previous workplace because of a group of extremely nasty people, so to save myself and my sanity, I started focusing on the funny things that were happening each week, and started writing them down. I already had a WordPress site that I’d been using professionally, but I completely revamped and reinvented it so that I could share my humour with the world, which also explains why the blog is mydangblog but the domain is educationalmentorship.com—I can’t for the life of me figure out how to change it and I quite often forget that Educationalmentorship is actually me because it sounds way too professional and fancy. But being able to do that, to shove aside the negativity and revel in life’s absurdities, is what drives me to write. Even though I’ve changed jobs and now I work with some truly awesome people, I still write the blog because humour is important to me.

Two Pieces of Advice:

1) Whenever you are full of self-doubt, picture yourself as a supermodel on a catwalk. Play the song “Cover Girl (Put The Bass In Your Walk) by RuPaul in your head. Then walk down the street, or down the aisle in your office like the fierce f*cking queen or king you are. I do this regularly and it’s amazing how effective it is.

2) If your dog tells you that he hasn’t been fed yet, don’t believe him—he’s a notorious liar and just stole half a chocolate log cake off the kitchen island when you were out buying an antique stained glass window, then claimed it was “the fairies” when you accused him of eating it. Ignore the specificity of this piece of advice—I’m sure it’s true of all dogs.

(Nobody said the advice had to be about blogging. Here’s an actual piece of blogging advice: Write because you love doing it, not for any other reason.) And now I’m supposed to nominate other people, but some of you don’t like awards (weirdos, but I love you anyway) and some of you have a bunch already, and there are so many of you who are wonderful, so here’s my challenge: Post your own origin story and two pieces of random advice, and say that I made you do it.

On Friday, I was getting ready for the day, and I looked up at the clocks in my bathroom. They both said 11:34, and it completely freaked me out. Why? I hear you asking. Shouldn’t the clocks both be telling the same time? And the answer would normally be yes, but in this case, one clock works and the other DOES NOT. And isn’t it an amazingly strange coincidence, or a harbinger of doom perhaps, that I happened to look at both of them when they were showing the same time? Or maybe it was a good omen, I don’t know. At any rate, nothing particularly good or bad happened the rest of the day, and also don’t judge me for not getting ready for the day until almost noon, because I’m ON MY HOLIDAYS.

But then I started looking around the house at all the clocks. It’s a very large old Victorian house, built in 1906, complete with a front staircase AND a back staircase, which is apparently fascinating to young children who will spend hours doing a circuit involving going up the front stairs, running through the upstairs of the house, going down the back stairs, and running through the main floor of the house. Then repeat. I know this because over the last few days, we’ve hosted several children who all took tremendous delight in this activity which, I have to admit, is pretty fun and I do it myself on occasion. In fact, I did it on Saturday as I was clock counting. You may be surprised, and somewhat alarmed (best pun ever) to learn that I have 43 clocks in random places around my house (and I’m not even counting phone, computer, microwave or TV clocks). 16 of them work, and 27 do not. 1 of them was actually just in a drawer. And out of the 27 that don’t work, I found two more that had stopped around 11:34-ish, and another two that had stopped at 6:57, which looks frighteningly like 11:34-ish from a distance. I should probably mention at this point that I collect vintage alarm clocks and most of them are wind-up, and do I have time to wind up 27 clocks? No, I don’t. Plus all that ticking would drive me crazy. But why are some of my clocks fixated around the 11:34-ish mark? Is that when the ghost in my house died? I may never know, but anytime something either wonderful or terrible happens, I’ll be sure to look at one of the working clocks to see what time it is.

Me: What time was it when you ate all the cake? I know it was you, so stop trying to blame “the fairies”.
Titus: Fine, fine. You left at 11:30. It was a few minutes after that.
Me: Are you feeling sick yet?
Titus: A little. I’ll probably throw up tomorrow morning, say around 11:34.
Me (whispers): Harbinger of doom…

Here’s a poem I wrote about clocks:

Unwound

Clocks that don’t work
Have a certain charm.
They remind us
That time is a construct,
An imposition on our freedom.
When clocks are silent,
They can’t tick down our days.

My Week 267: Testing Myself

A few months ago, you may remember, I was at my doctor’s. He has the worst bedside manner ever, but during this particular conversation, he got very animated; in fact, he got more excited than I’d ever seen him, because I had asked about a colon cancer screening kit:

Me: I’m really sorry but the requisition you gave me 3 years ago expired. I know I should have taken care of this sooner but–
Doctor: No! Don’t worry about it! Because there’s a new kit, and it’s EVEN BETTER than the old one!!
Me: So I can get one of the new ones?
Doctor: YES! Call the office on Monday!!

Well, Monday came and Monday went—in fact, many, many Mondays came and went—but I finally called the office last week and asked for one of the new kits. The receptionist said it would arrive in a couple of days, and when I came home on Thursday, there was an appropriately brown envelope waiting for me. I opened it up and Ken and I examined it:

Ken: There’s only one test tube! Aw, you’re so lucky!
Me: Um, why?
Ken: My kit had 3. I had to do it three days in a row.
Me: Ugh! As if one day isn’t bad enough.
Ken: You could do it tomorrow.
Me: No, I’ll wait until the weekend when I can be sure that I’ll be in my own bathroom, and not in the bathroom at the train station.

And on Friday morning, I WAS in the bathroom at the train station, and it seemed like a real missed opportunity. But then on Saturday morning, it was time. The brown envelope contained the following: a folded up piece of tissue paper, a little ziplock bag containing a vial that had a tiny spatula attached to the cap, an instruction sheet, and another pre-paid return envelope, this one yellow. Ken and I have been binge-watching Rupaul’s Drag Race, which is an AWESOME show, so when I said, “OK, it’s time”, Ken’s immediate response was, “Good luck. And DON’T f*ck it up.”

So I went upstairs and looked at the instructions very carefully. They were absolutely bizarre, and a little juvenile, but easy to understand, as you can see:

When I came downstairs later, Ken asked, “Well?”

Me: It was really stressful.
Ken: Why? Did you put the paper in the toilet first like it said?
Me: Yes. And then I went. It was a really good one. Almost too good.
Ken: Because?
Me: Because you have to swirl the spatula around in it, and then put the spatula back into the vial, and the opening is REALLY narrow, and there was a lot on it, so I had to keep trying to wipe off the excess so that it didn’t get on the outside of the container.
Ken: *laughs hysterically*
Me: I didn’t imagine I would be spending Saturday morning leaning over a toilet full of a steaming pile of poo, worrying about offending some unknown lab technician with my clumsy vial-handling skills. Also, the instructions were very unclear about where the wiping took place in this whole process, so I had to improv that part. I can’t believe you did this three days in a row.
Ken: No wonder your doctor was so excited.
Me: And now I’m worried that I did it wrong because my poo didn’t look like the one in the picture, and I just did kind of a whimsical swirl in it but this picture shows the person swiping from side to side, and maybe I really did f*ck it up.
Ken: Sashay away.

And quite possibly I AM overthinking it, but 23andMe sent me a SECOND DNA KIT because I hadn’t done the first one right, and all that involved was spitting into a test tube. I don’t know what it’s like where you all live, but I’m in Canada, so this is free, and there are some poor lab techs out there who must have to deal with hundreds of poo vials a week and I just want to make their lives a little easier. Maybe I’ll spray some perfume on the envelope as a goodwill gesture.

Last week, my niece was very proud that she was good in math, and this week I was also proud of my math skills (until I talked to Ken):

1) My director called me in to discuss my budget. “I know it’s right,” I said, ‘because I used a calculator”, and she said, “Good job.”

2) I was on the train, sitting with my friend Max, and he was mad because all the stores are now decorated for Christmas, and holidays are just an excuse to sell stuff. “Did you know,” he said, “that yesterday was National Sandwich Day?!”

Me: Did you have a sandwich in honour of this special day?
Max: No, I did not.
Me: Personally, I prefer Pi Day.
Max: What kind of pie?
Me: No, like 22 divided by seven. I think that’s on July 22nd.
Max: (*looks it up*) It says here it’s on March 14. That’s a Saturday.
Me: Ooh, then it could be a whole Pi weekend, because Pi is 3.1415. What’s Pi for anyway?
Max: I think it’s to calculate the area of a circle.
Me: Why would you ever need to do THAT? Just buy enough floor tile to make a square and trim stuff away. Is it some theoretical bullsh*t thing, like Schrödinger’s Cat?
Max: No. It’s probably for things in nature, like calculating area in the ocean.
Me: Like what, how big is the Bermuda Triangle? Oh wait, that’s a triangle. I think you use a different formula for that. It’s the Pythagorean theorem.
Max: Are you sure?
Me: Andre! Andre! How do you calculate the area of a triangle?
Andre, The New Train Car Attendant: You use the Pythagorean theorem.
Me: See? I told you I was good at math.
Max: Happy National Vinegar Day, by the way.

3) And then Ken read the above and said, “What are you talking about?

Me: It’s the Pythagorean theorem. A squared times B cubed or whatnot, and some other stuff gives you the area of a triangle.
Ken: No, it doesn’t! That’s what you use if you don’t know the length of the hypotenuse of a right angled triangle. And it’s A squared plus B squared equals C squared. Your whole train car sucks at math.
Me: Then how do you calculate the area of a triangle, if you’re so smart?!
Ken: Height times base divided by two.

Me: Shantay, you stay.

My Week 57: Hallowe’en Horrors!

Happy Hallowe’en!

Wednesday:

Hallowe’en is a bizarre time of year. People seem to get super-excited about it and spend inordinate amounts of time planning costumes, fixating on candy, making crafts and “fun” Hallowe’en foods—and that’s the adults. Never mind the kids who are throwing tantrums because the costume store sold the last Elsa outfit, and now they have to be Cinderella—“No one will know who I AM, Mom! It’s not fair!” It’s also the time when it becomes socially acceptable to denigrate females in any profession—“Let’s see…what do I want to be this year? Sexy Nurse, Sexy Librarian, Sexy Teacher, Sexy Doctor, Sexy Astronaut, Sexy Physicist—gosh, I JUST can’t choose!” And for men, apparently it’s holiday that lets them REALLY express their inner selves. I was on the streetcar last week, having a WONDERFUL time listening to the driver and one of his work colleagues (who was just standing next to him the whole way for some unknown reason) trash talking their “shop steward”, which I assume is like the union leader or something, because of course, there’s nothing more pleasant than listening to two grown men acting like 12 year-old girls. Then a man got on the streetcar and sat down next to me. He was probably in his late sixties, very portly, sporting a bushy, grey mustache, and carrying a plastic bag. After about 30 seconds he turned to me and said, “I’m so sad right now.” I hesitated, but what the hell, right? So I asked, “Why?”

“Well,” he said. I’m supposed to be going to a Hallowe’en party tonight, but it’s raining so hard that my costume would have been ruined, so I decided not to wear it.”

“Is it in your bag?” I asked.

“Oh, no,” he laughed. “But it was a great costume.”

“What were you going to be?” At this point, I figured ‘in for a penny, in for a pound’, and it was better than listening to “Chrissy” and “Madison” griping about how Frank wouldn’t drive in from Brampton at 10 o’clock at night to see how badly the streetcar system was backed up. Anyhow, I thought, judging by the looks of the man next to me, that he was going to say “Scarecrow”, or “Witch”, but it turns out he was more the “Dorothy” type.

“I was going in drag,” he announced. “I do it every year. My friends will be so disappointed. Here, let me show you what I was going to look like.” With this, he pulled out his cell phone. And if you think things were a little weird up until now, just wait. He opened up a picture of himself, standing in front of a full-length mirror, dressed in a black wig, a colourful dress, full make-up, and high heels. “Very nice,” I commented, thinking that Rupaul might have given him a passing grade. Then, as he was trying to zoom in on the wig, which he seemed to be particularly proud of, he accidentally (oh God, please let it have been accidentally) flipped to the previous picture, which was the “before” picture—that is to say, a full-length shot of him wearing nothing but a pair of bikini briefs. Then he got flustered and tried to change the picture back, but he flipped the wrong way, and before I had a chance to avert my eyes, I’m pretty sure it was the “before Before” picture—ie: BEFORE he put on the bikini briefs.

“Gosh, these phones,” he giggled, and put it back in his pocket, while I tried to recover from the shock of seeing all that portliness in its natural glory. Then he began regaling me with tales of previous Hallowe’en costumes, including his first foray into the world of drag. “I dressed as Nana Mouskouri, but everyone thought I was a hooker. I thought I looked just like her—I even blackened my mustache to match my wig.”

We spent the rest of the ride with him talking and me smiling and nodding, still unsure if I had been flashed on purpose or not. We were getting off at the same stop, and when we finally exited, he said, “It was lovely talking to you, dear. Have a Happy Hallowe’en!” and with that, he disappeared into a sketchy-looking bar.

Thursday:

A group of us were reminiscing about Hallowe’en as we’d experienced it as children. The general consensus seemed to be that we had two common experiences; first, that no matter what your costume was, it had to fit over a snowsuit. There’s a wonderful picture of my brother and I when we’re about 8 and 6 respectively. I’m wearing a snowsuit and a Frankenstein mask, and he’s wearing a snowsuit and a tiger mask. Costumes today are so much more season-appropriate. When K was little, it was fake fur animal costumes, which looked cool and were also very warm, so I was never the mom who ruined Hallowe’en by saying, “You’re not going out as a Sexy Ballerina—you’ll freeze your tutu off. Now go find your snowsuit.” My favourite Hallowe’en memory of K was the year she wanted to be a shark. Very badly. The problem was, I couldn’t find a shark costume to save my life. So I found a dolphin costume, cut out teeth from a piece of white cardboard, and stapled them to the dolphin’s mouth. She was never the wiser, but we were all hysterical at the sight of this deranged porpoise toddling up to people’s porches.

The second rule of thumb for kids of my generation, and this is, sadly, still true today, was if there was anything unwrapped or homemade in your loot bag, your mom threw it away on the grounds that someone might have put a razor blade in it. I understand that it’s statistically EXTREMELY rare that anyone has ever tried to hurt a child by putting something nasty in their candy, but it’s also statistically true that there are crazy people in this world, sometimes in your very own neighbourhood, and you’d never know it until your child is all glassy-eyed from the hash brownie they just ate.

Saturday: The Day Arrives

On Saturday, I finally started to feel a little bit excited over Hallowe’en, as the time approached for the trick or treating to start. We live in a small town, and our house is set quite a bit back from the sidewalk, so I was worried that no one would come. I got a little obsessive, but Ken was just being mean, and refused to find our Christmas floodlights, so we could shine them on the house and let the kids know we were open for business. At around 6:00, it was getting pretty dark, and we’d only had two kids. I was getting desperate. Then I heard voices going past our gate. “We have candy in here! Come to our house!” I yelled out the door. In retrospect, maybe it was a little more like “luring” than “encouraging”, but I hadn’t carved a pumpkin for nothing. (In fact, I hadn’t carved a pumpkin, but I’d used a Sharpie to draw eyes and a mouth on one, and it looked GREAT.) The voices stopped, the group of people came up our sidewalk, and I was thinking this was a super plan. Then Ken came downstairs:

Ken: Was that you yelling at people to come to our house?
Me: Maybe.
Ken: Are you going to do that all night?
Me: Well, I don’t see any FLOODLIGHTS, Ken. How else will people know we have candy?

But despite my best efforts, we still only had 14 trick or treaters, and it was like the devil sent them to taunt me.

Little Ninja: How many people have you had tonight?
Me: Oh, a few.
Ninja: MY mom had a bowl with ONE HUNDRED bags of chips in it, and they’re all gone now!
Me: Shut up, demon child. (OK, that last line was in my head. What I really said is, Gosh, that’s a lot! Have a happy Hallowe’en.)

My favourite moment of the night: a little brother/firefighter and sister/princess came to the door. I gave him a KitKat and a sucker. I gave her an Aero bar and some rockets. As they were about to leave, she turned back:

Princess: Um…can I have what you gave him?
Me: Oh, you want a KitKat too? Sure.
Princess: (whispers) And the other…?
Me: The sucker? Of course, sweetie. Here you go.
Their mom (mortified): Sorry…
Me: No worries—I have a LOT of candy.

Most random occurrence: 3 kids and their parents came to the door around 7:15. The kids yelled Trick or Treat, then they held out their hands. I said, “Oh, don’t you have bags?”

“No,” said one of the dads. “Just give them the candy and they can put it in their pockets.”

Then Hallowe’en was over for another year. And I know this for sure, because I was in a store this morning, and they already had their full Christmas inventory on display.