That’s Not My Name

The other day, I was standing at the counter at work with my colleague, the Wiccan healer. She had just returned from a two-week absence due to covid, and was quite anxious to know if my recent mammogram had, indeed, revealed the issues that she had predicted. They didn’t, as you’re aware if you read my last post, and she was bummed out over the whole thing, but brightened up when I told her I was pretty sure that there was an old cast iron fireplace in a back corner booth with a nasty aura. She was just about to go cleanse it and perform a smudging ceremony (no, she’s not Indigenous and actually uses an aerosol “smudging” spray that she gets from a Chinese importer), when the anti-masker/anti-vaxxer/Flat Earther who works on the third floor walked by the counter. And as he walked by, he looked at us, made a flappy gesture with his hand, and said this: YO YO BITCHES!

Now, I’ve been called many things in the workplace. For years when I was teaching, I was Mrs. Craig-Whytock. Then when I went to the secret agency, I was Suzanne, or Boss on occasion. I’ve been called Sweetheart, Hon, or Honey by those I know better than others, and currently, one of my employers tends to forget my name and calls me Susan. There was also the time that a student got really mad at me for kicking him out of summer school for being stoned and called me a f*cking *sshole. But never, I mean NOT ONCE, has a person I’ve worked with ever called me a b*tch (at least to my face). I stood there speechless, while the Wiccan laughed.

Me: Did he just call us “bitches”?
Wiccan: Yeah, haha. What a guy.
Me: I have no words.

Then, about an hour later, the same guy walked by us again, and this time, he mimed tipping his hat, and said, “M’Ladies” and I’ve never been so confused in my life, but I guess that’s par for the course when you work at a minimum wage job in customer service? And now I have to come up with a clever comeback that works for all occasions. I’m thinking about screaming, “Yass Queen, come through!!!” at him unless any of you have a better suggestion.

In other news, now that Kate’s cat Ilana is officially adopted into our household, I can finally share pictures of her with you. She’s two years old but tiny as a kitten, and absolutely adorable. She’s very affectionate and super-purr-y, especially if you give her treats, which I do all the time, and which she’s grown to expect, so now every time I go in Kate’s room, she comes running to ‘Nana’ and tries to climb up my leg to get a Frisky. Atlas doesn’t quite know what to make of her—his only experience of animals as small as Ilana is squirrels in the backyard, which he chases with gusto. Luckily, the squirrels can escape to the trees and Ilana has her cat tower. We currently have the house divided up with baby gates—hopefully, they’ll get used to each other soon.

All The Pretty Dead Things, Some Exciting News

If I had to catalogue all the items in the antique market where I work, it would take me the rest of my life. With almost 1000 booths and three giant floors, there have to be millions of things there. Yet, surprisingly, some of the most popular, after vintage comic books, Pokemon cards, and old vinyl LPs, are dead things. Now don’t get all semantical on me—yes, I know that technically anything inanimate could be considered dead, but I’m talking about things that USED to be alive and now, are not, because we have two or three vendors who specialize in selling dead things:

1) Bones

Me: Are you ready to cash out?
Girl: Yes. Aren’t these cool? (points to a bundle of narrow bones)
Me: The tag says “cow bones”. Maybe.
Girl: What do you mean?
Me: How can you be certain? But don’t worry, I’m sure they’re not human.
Girl:
Me: Have a nice day!

2) Dehydrated animals

Me: Ooh, what do we have here? A “dessicated chick with moss miniature terrarium” (in the item description, I write ‘dead chicken baby’.) What are you going to do with it?
Guy: Put it on display with all the rest.
Me : Cool. Now that’s an interesting aesthetic.
Guy: A what?
Me: Have a great day!

3) Skeletons

Elderly Woman: Can you take both those bat skeletons encased in resin out of the showcase? I’d like to compare them and see which one is nicer.
Me: Certainly. Personally, I’d choose this one. It looks more dynamic, like it’s just about to take flight. If it wasn’t dead.
Elderly woman: You know, you’re right. That one IS nicer.

What I really wanted to say was, “NICER?! Lady, neither of them are nice! They’re dead f*cking bats.” But I restrained myself.

4) Jewelry made from animal bones

Me: (reads tag) “These earrings made from fox ribs are ethically sourced.” I suppose roadkill could be considered ethical if you don’t actively TRY to run small animals down with your car.
Boss: I think she gets them from an importer.
Me: Importing roadkill? Now there’s a niche market.
Boss: Too bad that raccoon you saw in your yard yesterday is gone. You could have made a fortune on it.
Me: I’ll stick to more traditional stuff, thanks. The only thing in my booth that was once alive is a vintage leather Harley Davidson ballcap.
Customer: Excuse me—I’m ready to pay.
Me: Here you go. Would you like a bag for your coyote foot?
Customer: Yes, please.
Me: Have a wonderful day.

In other exciting news, my second novel The Dome has been translated into Arabic. The physical copies won’t be available until closer to the summer but the Middle Eastern publisher is doing some great pre-promotion. The original cover was the Toronto skyline, but since they’re trying to make the setting a little less specific, here’s the new cover, which I quite like!

More Questions Than Answers

This week was insanely busy–I’m two chapters away from completing The Devil You Know (the sequel to The Seventh Devil), and 4 stories away from completing my second scary short story collection (tentatively titled Into Thin Air although I’m also thinking that Night Terrors would also work so if you have an opinion let me know), and I didn’t know what else to write about, so here’s a reboot of the time that Ken suggested that I answer questions from my fans, to which I replied, “I don’t have any.”

Ken: Fans or questions?
Me: Some of the former, but definitely none of the latter.
Ken: I’m your fan. Here’s a question: What would you NOT want to find in your house?
Me: What? Why are you asking me that?
Ken: Because a Florida man–
Me: ALWAYS the Florida man. What did he do this time?
Ken: Found an eleven foot alligator in his house.
Me: That. Definitely not that. What about you?
Ken: Ummm…snakes.
Me: You don’t like snakes? Since when?
Ken: Since always.
Me: 32 years and I did NOT know that.
Ken: I’m an enigma.

At any rate, I have no actual fan questions aside from the thousands of “how did you create your site and what theme do you use?” questions from the very many van, trailer, truck and RV owners who have recently proliferated my spam folder, so I made some questons up based on the notes and photos I found on my phone:

Fan Question 1) Is physics always right?

No. And my answer is in direct contradiction to a Jeopardy contestant who appeared a couple of years ago. Ken and I became obsessed with Jeopardy because there was a guy on who won over 2 million dollars. AMERICAN dollars. That’s like 7.5 gazillion Canadian dollars, although I might be slightly wrong on the conversion rate. Regardless of the money, we feel sorry for the people who had to go up against “James” since he always rang in first and usually got the answer right. If you’ve ever watched Jeopardy, you know that after the first commercial break, Alex Trebek used to always ask the contestants questions about themselves—the questions were cheesy and the answers sometimes cringe-worthy. So Alex asked this poor woman, “I understand you’re a physicist. Why do you like physics so much?” and she said, “Because physics is always right.” And I was like, “That’s BULLSH*T, BRENDA. Schrodinger’s Cat is not BOTH alive and dead. A cat is EITHER alive or dead, whether you can see it or not!” See, this is my issue with physics. You can’t claim that just because you put something in a box, that it exists in two simultaneous states. I mean, you can CLAIM it, but just because you say something doesn’t make it true. You can SPECULATE on the state of the cat, but that doesn’t change the fact that a cat isn’t f*cking magic. As you can see, I would have made an awesome physicist. And I would NEVER put a cat in a box, although if you’ve ever owned a cat, you know that they do love being in boxes.

Also, on the same show, Alex asked the other challenger, who was a Science teacher, this: “I understand that you use an unusual method to explain nuclear force to your students” and she said, “Yes, I tell them that protons and neutrons are attracted to each other the same way I’m attracted to Chris Hemsworth. Yowza.” OK, she didn’t really say ‘Yowza’ but as a former high school teacher, let me tell you that it’s completely inappropriate to talk about your imaginary love life with your students. EW. Just ew.

Fan Question 2) Who do you call if you have a noisy bathroom fan?

The sign reads “I fix noisy bath fans”

Apparently you call this guy—talk about a niche market. I can picture the high school Careers class with the teacher asking everyone, “So what do you want to do when you get out of high school?” and the one guy just lighting up: “I want to fix noisy bathroom fans!” and the teacher saying, “Amazing—there’s a school JUST for that! It’s called Hogwarts!” (I don’t know why I thought of Hogwarts, but it made me laugh so hard picturing this guy at a school for magic and wizardry pointing his wand and yelling ‘Reparo’ at bathroom fans. Also, his name in this strange divergency is ‘Tim’ as in the following conversation:

Dumbledore: Hmm. My bathroom fan seems to be on the fritz. Someone get Tim—he’s the best at repairing noisy bathroom fans.
Tim: Reparo!
Dumbledore: Thank you, Tim. Have a lemon drop.).

Fan Question 3) What has disappointed you most this week?

The other day at work, there was a noisy bathroom fan–just kidding. No, someone bought a vintage Mr. Peanut peanut butter maker. If you put peanuts in it and turned the crank handle, it would then dispense homemade peanut butter.

Me: So where does the peanut butter come out of?
Brenda: He’s holding a platter and it kind of squirts onto there.
Me: It doesn’t come out of his butt??!! What a wasted opportunity!

And it reminded me of the time when I was 8 and I had red measles. I was feverish and delirious, and my brother went to the store and bought me a present with his own money, which was very sweet. I opened my eyes and thought it was a super-cool fancy water gun, but when the delirium broke, I realized it was just a long stick of bubble gum. At least in my brother’s case, it was the thought that counts, but peanut butter that doesn’t come out of Mr. Peanut’s ass? That’s just mean.

Fan Question 4) Are you a professional antiques appraiser?

Yes, apparently I am. A few years ago, I was asked by the local Heritage society to act as an appraiser for their local “Antiques Roadshow” because Ken and I used to own an antique store. I hadn’t done any appraising for a few years, and I was super-nervous, but I had a lot of reference books and I knew a couple of the other appraisers. I held my own, being able to recognize a Parian statue, and accurately date a powder flask etc., and then a reporter from the local paper asked for a picture. And when it came out, there I was, using a magnifying glass on the bottom of a pewter tankard and looking like a slightly maniacal detective, but the description referred to me as a “professional appraiser”, and it was prophetic because now that I’m retired, I spend literally all day telling people what things are worth.

Now, back to the books. Wish me luck.

Ups And Downs

This week, something amazing happened. It was a dream come true. No, I didn’t win a Nobel Prize for Sassy Literature—I didn’t even get the writer’s grant I’d applied for which, even though it was a long shot, still really made me sad. But then I was at work, and I got the opportunity to do something I’ve wanted for a long time. And if you’re thinking, “Mydangblog finally got to drive a forklift!”, you’d be sadly mistaken and also, driving a forklift around an antiques market would be a very bad idea, and I’ve always thought the saying, “Like a bull in a china shop” should really be “Like a forklift in an antiques market”. No, the exciting news is this—I got trained to operate the elevator! And while this doesn’t sound very earthshattering, given that most elevators are easily operated by literally a small child, and I myself have operated many in the past by pushing the up button or the down button, or in one terrifying case, the emergency call button, this elevator is very different, as you can see here:

The actual elevator is on a different floor in this picture. This is just the shaft.

It’s technically a freight elevator, and it looks f*cking terrifying, am I right? Like the gaping maw into hell, or a cave where vampires live. And it was my greatest heart’s desire to be able to run it all by myself. Now, thanks to my 21-year-old boss, who showed me how to use the buttons on the outside to bring it either up or down to our floor, then pull up and lower the gate, and use the buttons on the inside to take it either upstairs or to the basement, I am now officially trained to operate the elevator. How hard can it be? you ask. IT DOESN’T AUTOMATICALLY STOP AT EACH FLOOR, BOB. That’s right—you have to wait until you get close to even with the next floor and then let go of the button. My boss told me a trick—there’s a slight click right before the elevator and the floor line up, so you can kind of predict when to stop. Here are some other helpful tips he gave me:

1. Don’t stick your foot in the gap between the elevator floor and the elevator shaft.
2. If you stop too high, don’t push the down button right away. Give it a second—any abrupt jerking can pull the elevator off its track.
3. The gate on Floor 3 only goes up three quarters of the way, so don’t try to force it or it’ll get stuck and you’ll never be able to lower it.
4. The elevator won’t move if the gate is open. The gate won’t open if the elevator isn’t there. This prevents clumsy people or small children from falling into the shaft.
5. Don’t jump up and down with excitement. You’ll knock the elevator off its track.

As you can see, operating a freight elevator, particularly one this old, is tricky and serious business, business which I have yet to put into practice, because all last week, whenever I tried to encourage someone to put their stuff on it, I got no takers. And I say ‘stuff’ because we’re not allowed to transport passengers in it, only their antiques.

Me: Hey Frank, that looks like a lot of boxes. You can put them on the elevator if you want.
Frank: No, that’s ok. I don’t mind carrying them up.
Me: But the elevator would be more efficient. I can—
Frank: No, I’m good. Hey! Did you tell anyone about that clock?
Me: The one I bought from you three months ago off the loading dock?
Frank: SSSSSHHHHHH!!! We shouldn’t be seen together!

At any rate, I’m biding my time. One day, someone will come along with a table or a large lamp and will need it taken upstairs, and I’ll be right there waiting. And then I’ll get one of the guys to come and open the gate because it’s really heavy and I can’t do that by myself because of my shoulder tendonitis, but once the gate’s up and they’ve loaded the table and they’ve shut the gate for me, I know how to get that table up to the next floor. All by myself.

The Importance of Pronouns; Cannons and Cocaine

I had the tremendous pleasure of being featured on the fab writer da-AL’s website/podcast Happiness Between Tails last week. My guest post was a short history of pronouns, and why people should stop worrying about what pronouns other people choose to use. You can read it, or listen to it, here: https://happinessbetweentails.com/2022/02/23/pronouns-suzanne-craig-whytock-podcast-henna-artist-alka-joshi/#comment-223338

There’s also a lovely intro by my friend da-AL and a very large picture of my face, and if you recall last week’s post, you can decide for yourself if I look like I qualify for the seniors’ discount.

In other news, I had what was probably the weirdest conversation I’ve ever had with anyone in my life last week. We get a lot of interesting characters coming into the antique warehouse where I work, but this guy took the cake, ate it, and then ran away with the plate. I was walking down one of the aisles, when a rather scruffy-looking man gestured at me. He was holding a tiny brass cannon about 6 inches long mounted on a wooden base.

Man: Isn’t this cool?
Me: Yes, it’s really cute.
Man: Do you think it works?
Me: You mean like, shoot cannon balls?
Man: Yeah. It looks like it could work.
Me: I think it’s a replica.
Man: But the metal’s really thick. Do you think I could drill a hole in it and get it to shoot cannonballs?
Me: Like put a fuse in the end, fill it with gunpowder, packing, and bb pellets or something?
Man (eyes light up): Ooh, good idea!
Me: No, I would worry that the brass might get damaged.
Man: Oh yeah, you’re probably right.

And I’m sure you’re thinking that THIS was the weird conversation, yet it’s not. Later, the same man asked me if I could open up a showcase so that he could look at a pair of high-powered binoculars:

Me: Here you are. They’re a very good price.
Man (holds binoculars up to his eyes): I was under police surveillance once… (pauses, readjusts binoculars, peers through them) …because I sell a lot of cocaine… (pauses, readjusts binoculars, peers through them) …and the police could see me from over a kilometre away. It was crazy.
Me: I hear the same thing is true of sniper scopes.
Man (hands me back binoculars): Yeah. It’s a good job they weren’t trying to shoot me.
Me: So that’s a no on the binoculars?
Man: Yeah, you can put them back. I’ll just take the cannon.

I have never in my life tried so hard not to laugh, but he was dead serious. And he sells a lot of cocaine.

Not cocaine. In case you were wondering.

A Senior Moment

As you may recall, Ken and I recently set up a booth in the antique shop where I currently work part-time. The space I have now is twice as large as the booth I used to have, which means I have to do a lot more buying if I want to keep up with sales. Not that it’s a problem—I love to shop. But where do I buy things cheap enough that I can resell them? Thrift stores, of course (or what some of you would call charity shops). It’s amazing how many cool things you can find at second-hand places that can be refinished, refreshed, or refurbished. So I’ve been regularly haunting Goodwill, Value Village and a couple of other places where I’ve found some great stuff—well, great if you’re willing to put in a little elbow grease. For example, the other day, I got a couple of old sewing machine drawers for 6 bucks each—a little chalk paint and new knobs, and they’re ready for resale. Or check out below the coatrack that I made out of a single footboard, a couple of old shoe forms, and some fancy hooks.

But I have to keep my overhead low, which is why the other day, I had an experience that was both amazing and troubling.

I’d been at my hairdresser’s and she mentioned a thrift store in another town called Talize, which I’d never heard of, but apparently they have a ton of locations in Ontario. I needed to visit my Lancôme lady anyway, and this Talize store was just down the street. I had been astonished to discover that my tiny, perfect, and young-looking Lancôme lady Rosina had a twenty-seven-year-old son, since she looks about twenty-seven herself, but then I remembered that we’d known each other for over fifteen years, so she must be older than I thought. At any rate, she told ME that I didn’t look old enough to have a twenty-four-year-old daughter, and I know that’s just to keep me buying serum, but still, I walked away with a bit of a glow.

The glow continued on into Talize, where I discovered a fancy plate stand, a wicker suitcase, an old washboard, and a couple of wine goblets. Then I got to the cash register. “That’ll be 18.35,” the cashier said. “Unless you qualify for one of our discounts.”

“Which discount?” I asked.

“Well, we have a senior’s discount. You’d qualify for that.”

The glow faded. And even though their seniors’ discount was for 55 and up, I still felt a little betrayed by Rosina, who had assured me, prior to my purchase, that I didn’t look a day over 45, and the cashier had immediately clocked me as being at least my own goddamn age. But then, the cashier recalculated the sale. “16.50. You saved 10%.”  

And I was so excited that I did what any normal person would do—I called Ken. “I’m a senior!” I said. “Do you know what that means?”

“That when you crouch down, it hurts to stand back up?”

“Also that. But it means that I get a discount at Talize. Ooh, I wonder what age you have to be to qualify for a discount at Chez VV? Let me look…what the hell? SIXTY? The nerve. How does Value Village expect us poor pensioners to afford their sh*t? Oh well, three more years to go.”

And I can’t wait.

I made this too! It’s our company name!

June/December Romance

The other day Ken was about to leave for his new job. Another job? I hear you ask. Wasn’t he spending all kinds of time in hot air balloons? What on earth is he doing now? And these are all good questions, the answers to which are a) yes, another job b) the balloon gig is only from May to October and c) he’s picking up and delivering parts, snowblowers, and lawnmowers for a local mechanic. And one of the parts pickups happened to be about 2 hours away by highway. I had to go to work myself that morning, so we agreed that I would call him when I was on the road, so we could chat while we were driving.

Me: How far away are you?
Ken: Not sure. It might be tricky. The map only showed the general area. I think I know what street to take when I get off the highway.
Me: What map?
Ken: I looked it up on one of the maps I keep in my office.
Me: You aren’t using your GPS?
Ken: No need. I had a map.

I used to tell Ken that he was like a 65-year-old man when he did things like write cheques to pay for everything because he “doesn’t trust online banking” or carried a Blackberry around for ten years even though it was virtually useless:

Me: What’s taking so long? I thought you were posting a picture.
Ken: I am. I just have to—hmmm. Or maybe…
Me: Use the image icon.
Ken: I will, after I write the post.
Me: You’re not done yet?
Ken: No, I’m trying to find Facebook.
Me: Maybe the problem is that you have a Blackberry. You know how the “interwebs” works, right? (*old man voice*) “I just can’t keep up with you kids and your newfangled gadgets and the Twitters. What ever happened to the good old days when people used typewriters?!” Oh wait, you ARE using a typewriter. Look at the keyboard on your phone.
Ken: Blackberries are great phones.
Me: Yeah, if you’re 65 years old. (*old man voice*) “I like to feel the keys go down when I press them, just like they did in the 1950s.” Also, could your screen be any smaller? No wonder you can’t find “the Facebook”.
Ken: Ha. Posted. So there. Oh wait, not yet—it’s a little laggy…I wish I had a flip phone with an antennae.

But now that Ken is less than a decade away from actually BEING 65, I have to call him a 90-year-old man, because even 65-year-olds will use a GPS when they’re going somewhere unfamiliar.

Me: But you don’t know where you’re going!
Ken: It’s fine. I memorized the map.
Me: What are you, a f*cking cartographer? (*old man voice*) “Ah yes, I studied the mysterious art of latitude and longitude at the academy.”
Ken (laughs): If it was still dark, I could navigate by the stars.
Me: I can just see you now, driving around in circles until you have to ask for directions. (*old man voice*) “Excuse me, my good sir, would you be so kind as to direct me to the horse and buggy repair shop?”
Ken: It’s fine. I have an internal compass.
Me: Is that a sextant in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?

Ken: You have 37 pairs of reading glasses, and you can never find ANY of them.

He did get to the place eventually without having to use his GPS. Fortunately for Ken, I have a thing for older men with a strong sense of direction. And now you’ll have to excuse me while I tuck him in for his nap.

And in other news, I found out last week that I was nominated for Spillwords Press Publication of the Year (non-poetic). I know the site is a pain I had to contact them directly because it kept locking me out), but if you’re able to, you can vote for me here before the end of day Sunday (and as always, if you do, I’ll name a character in a story after you): https://spillwords.com/vote/

The Secret of the Old Clock

I haven’t been motivated to do much this week, because I’m still struggling with the same health issue as last week; in fact, I was at the hospital again on Friday, I’m exhausted, and I still haven’t seen the object of my disaffection. The only bright spot in the whole ordeal happened after I had seen the doctor. I was getting dressed and overheard this conversation with another patient. Apparently, half the population is having kidney issues as well, judging by this, and the two other women in the waiting room who were also there with suspected kidney stones:

Doctor: So what brings you in today?
Patient: A few days ago, I peed in a snowbank and the pee looked really dark.
Doctor: And…
Patient: I got worried so yesterday I peed in the snowbank again. This time it was red.
Doctor (completed unfazed): What shade of red? Dark red, bright red…?
Patient: Pretty dark. At least it looked pretty dark against the white snow.
Doctor: OK, I think we’ll need a sample.

I just hope the guy wasn’t freaked out by having to go in a cup instead of on his favourite snowbank. Aside from that, the only thing that really made me happy this week was my new clock. ANOTHER CLOCK? Yes, another clock and mind your own damn business, KEN. But this is a really nice clock and I couldn’t help myself, even though the circumstances of my acquisition were bizarre. I was at the side door just about to go in to work the other day, when a guy pulled up and started to unload a van. I didn’t know who the dude was, and I didn’t really care because my attention was IMMEDIATELY focused on the gorgeous clock on the top of the bin he had put on the ground:

Me: I like your clock.
Dude: It’s for sale.
Me: How much?
Dude: Forty bucks.
Me: Great! Can I buy it?
Dude: If you want it, you need to take it NOW and put it in your car. GO. NOW. Before anyone sees you! RUN!!
Me: How do I pay you for it?
Dude (looking around wildly, for what I wasn’t sure): You can e-transfer me later—just go!!

Psst, wanna buy a clock?

And even though I had no idea who he was, or how I could e-transfer a paranoid stranger, I picked the very heavy, 2 foot high clock up in my arms and hightailed it across the parking lot like a middle-aged Nancy Drew. You would have thought I was buying cocaine rather than a 75-year-old timepiece, although to me, a 75-year-old timepiece is as good, if not better, than cocaine. I safely stowed the clock in the back of my car, covering it with a blanket just in case the clock detectives came by. I didn’t see the dude for the rest of the day and was wondering what to do about paying for my illicit purchase, when he suddenly appeared. He wrote something quickly on a piece of newspaper and handed it to me surreptitiously.

Me: Awesome. It was forty dollars, right?
Dude (looks around to see if anyone is listening): SHHH. Don’t send the transfer until you get home, in case anyone sees you.
Me: Uh…okay.

Dude: By the way, the clock doesn’t work.
Me: Do clocks ever really work? Time is a human construct…
Dude: We can’t be seen talking!

But then I looked at the piece of paper and I couldn’t read his writing. I wasn’t sure what to do, but right before the end of the day, he appeared again:

Me: I’m having trouble reading your handwriting. So is your last name–
Dude: SHHHH!! Come this way with me. Is anyone watching?
Me: No…?
Dude: Pretend you’re walking with me to the back to open the door.
Me: Am I opening the door for you?
Dude: That’s what we’ll tell people if they see us.

So I went with him to the back and he whisper-spelled the email address to me, then disappeared out the door. I never saw him again.

That night, while Ken watched TV, I lay in bed next to him staring at my new clock, which I’d placed on a table in our bedroom alcove, along with some of my other favourite things: a small Persian mat, a Paris painting, a lamp with a stained-glass shade, and some old poetry books.

Me: Sigh. I love you.
Ken: I love you too.
Me (confused because I wasn’t actually talking to Ken): Yes, right. Do you know what else I love?
Ken: What?
Me: That f*cking clock. But I love you, Kate, and Atlas more. Obviously.
Ken (laughs): Obviously.

I’m Porn Again

So it was my birthday last week. I’ve never been one of those people who bats their eyes and says demurely, “Oh, don’t get me anything—it’s just another day after all.” It’s NOT just another day. It’s an awesome day, a day on which I get presents, and I LOVE getting presents which is why I could never be a Jehovah’s Witness. Well, one of the reasons anyway, because they aren’t supposed to drink unless it’s in ‘moderation’ and if you know me at all, you know I never do ANYTHING in moderation. But the presents are a dealbreaker—I mean, even Jesus got presents and also, he never showed up to a party without wine, and if he ever did, he would just wave his hand like a messianic Jedi, and make wine appear, because Jesus understood both hospitality and the importance of refreshing beverages at a party. I myself had several refreshing beverages on the evening of my birthday, starting during the Zoom call I had with my former colleagues where I was the only one drinking, but then again, I’m the only one retired so I guess that’s my prerogative. It was lovely to see them and it reminded me of the old saying, “The more things change, the more they stay the same” because in my former workplace, we had a porn floor, and once again, in my part-time job, I’m having to deal with the world of adult wonders yet again.

Now, to refresh your memory, the 16th floor in my former office building was commonly known as “the porn floor”. There were two production companies on the 16th floor: Bump N Grind Media and Pink Lady Productions. Whenever we were in the elevator and someone got on and pushed the button for the 16th floor, we all gave each other knowing glances, and later we speculated about what the person’s “role” might be. Sometimes, it was obviously an “actress” or “pizza delivery boy”, but occasionally it would be a short, balding man that we dubbed “the producer”. There was also a guy in the building that we called “Vaping Elvis”, although to be honest, he looked more like Buddy Holly. He had dark glasses and black, slicked back hair. He was slightly paunchy, and always wore a long, black leather coat. He stood right outside the building doors vaping every day, even though the sign CLEARLY stated that you couldn’t smoke within 9 feet of the doorway. We always assumed that he worked on the porn floor as a creepy-ass director or something, but one day, he got off on 8 (that wasn’t a pun or a euphemism. He exited the elevator on the 8th floor, you perv).

And now, my workplace is once again rife with porn-y things. Last week, I was walking by a booth in the antique market that sells wooden letters, and as I passed, I realized that someone had rearranged them so that they spelled out the word ‘BOOBIES’. And while you may remember the joy with which I posted about my digital car odometer finally landing on 80085, it WASN’T me who rearranged the letters in such a naughty way (although I DID do this to a moveable hand when I was out shopping with a friend on Saturday because I’m 56 now and that’s how I roll, and also since I took the picture and the copyright is mine, I hereby authorize any of you to use it as needed:)

Then further down the aisle, in a booth that sells comic books and action figures, I was shocked to discover that someone had posed Ironman and Superman into an extremely compromising position. After re-randomizing the letters and getting Ironman up off his knees, I went back to the front counter, only to be engaged in conversation by a vendor who regaled me with stories about how he has to put brassieres on the mannequins in his booth because he ordered them sight unseen and they turned out to have come from an adult novelty store, resulting in them being VERY well-endowed which, in turn, regularly causes the local high school kids to unbutton the mannequins’ blouses and take pictures of them when they think no one is looking.

So it occurs to me that if my new job is as porn-y as the last, then maybe we need to rename the company, and here are some suggestions:

1) He Shoots, He Scores Inc.

Canada IS a hockey nation, so what better moniker for a porn store than this one?

2) The Blue Pages

If you’re an educator where I live, you regularly get a magazine where all the teachers who’ve done naughty things are featured at the back on blue pages, so this name is bizarrely apropos.

3) Pour Some Syrup On Me-dia

The guys who run the place where I work are pretty ambitious, so I could totally see them branching out into films as well. Also, in my last novel, I had a minor character who was a Canadian drag queen and I named her Mabel Syrup, and if that isn’t the best name for a Canadian drag queen ever, I don’t know what is.

4) My Little Pony Productions

Every film features a miniature horse just standing in the background somewhere. Don’t ask me why.

5) Existential Butt Films

Motto: “Dirty and Full of Dread”.

Bom chicka wow wow.

How Much Is Too Much Information?

As you know, quite often I buy and sell things on Facebook Marketplace, particularly if it’s something large that I don’t have room for in my booth at the antique market. I wouldn’t mind expanding, and there are spaces available at the market where I just started working, but I’m not sure about that because last week I had a really weird dream. When I left the secret agency, they threw me an amazing retirement party, with a Kudo board and a slide show, a Kahoot game where people had to prove how well they knew me by answering multiple choice questions for points (apparently when I’m concentrating and looking for a file on my computer for someone, I sing “doo di-doo, doo di-doo”, which was something I had no idea I did until it was pointed out to me, and then I realized I, in fact, do this, and that revelation was both hilarious and embarrassing). They also got a pipe band to play for me virtually, and wow, did I cry. And then I started my new part-time job and I hadn’t even been there for a week when I dreamed that they were throwing me a retirement party as well, but nowhere near as good as the first one I had. I was in the lunch break room and there was a large Bristol board poster that said Happy Retirement, and a bunch of signatures that I didn’t recognize, because I’ve only worked there for 6 days in total. There were photographs on the board but I wasn’t in any of them because again, I’ve only worked there for 6 days. And in the middle, in large letters, there was the heading “Famous Quote”, which was presumably something I was renowned for saying, and under it were the words, “I’M LEAVING.” Because I hadn’t worked there long enough to be famous for saying anything else, I guess. I woke up laughing hysterically and thought “At least no one noticed that I say doo di-doo.” So maybe it’s an omen, who knows?

 At any rate, last week, I talked about the set of silver that I found. It was filthy and tarnished but I polished and under all that tarnish, it was beautiful. It’s a huge set with 12 place settings and four servings pieces—64 pieces overall, and way too big to fit in my booth, so I put an ad on Facebook Marketplace for it.

Here’s the ad copy that I used:

Gorgeous Italian Silverware

Gorgeous vintage Italian silver silverware set in wooden case, just in time for Christmas. 12 place settings plus 4 serving pieces. Freshly polished and ready to use. Located in (my town) Ontario.

It’s a very clear ad—the description is IMMEDIATELY BELOW the heading, and it’s accompanied by 5 photographs. And here are the top ten questions I got about the ad I posted, all from different people, and my responses:

1. Is it silver?

Yes, it’s silver. If you mean, is it sterling, no—it’s silver-plated.

2. Is it English?

No, it’s Italian.

3. How many place settings are there?

There are twelve plus 4 serving pieces.

4. (Follow-up) How many pieces is that altogether?

64

5. Where are you located? (I got 3 of these questions).

I’m in (my town).

6. Are you in (my town)? (I got two of these questions).

Yes.

7. Is this vintage or is it new?

It’s from the late ‘70s so it’s vintage.

8. What’s the case made out of?

Wood.

9. Is it still available? Can I have $50 for it?

You want the silver and you want me to pay you $50? No, sorry.

10. Mine where’s your place?

(I didn’t respond to this one—was she implying that I’d stolen it from her and she wanted it back? And if so, I’d already said in the ad where my ‘place’ is.)

I also got a message from a woman who liked the silver but didn’t want to buy it—she just wanted to know how I got it so shiny. She seemed nice and didn’t ask any more ridiculous questions so I sent her the recipe I got off the internet and she was really grateful. I just hope she actually reads it and doesn’t just plunge everything into sulfuric acid, as one does.

Ultimately, I sold the set to a woman who asked many of the same questions and offered a lower price, but I was exhausted so I counter-offered closer to my asking price. She accepted and e-transferred me the money to hold it for her until next Tuesday. I just hope she knows where I live.

We were both exhausted.