A Pointed Stick

After having had a brutal heat wave last week, the weather here turned much cooler, so on Friday morning, I decided to weed the front flower beds. I was having a great time, yanking out wild carrot and crabgrass from between the daylilies when I bent over and (if you’re the slightest bit squeamish, brace yourself) I was stabbed square in the left eyeball by a dead hydrangea branch. I didn’t see it coming and had no chance to close my eye before it stuck me, and I jumped back in both horror and pain, much to the amusement of the construction crew working on the monster house next door. They watched (or at least I think they did because I couldn’t see anything), as I staggered around the yard, my hand over my eye, tears streaming down my face, and yelling profanities. This is the view they get when they cut down the trees next to MY house. At least I wasn’t naked, and a good thing too because who knows where that stick might have ended up otherwise.

I was eventually able to get back to weeding but as the day wore on, the pain increased, and I got worried. I had an old bottle of antibiotic eyedrops and I used them before bed, and that only MADE THINGS SO MUCH WORSE. And to top it all off, this happened:

Ken: So you know how we thought we had a skunk in the backyard under the deck of the shed?
Me: …yeah…?
Ken: it’s pretty small and kind of cute. Atlas thought so too for a minute. And you know how we had that fence up but then I moved it a bit and forgot to put it back?
Me: …YEAH…?
Ken: Atlas got through it. The skunk wasn’t very happy about it.
Atlas (walking into room): Was cat.
Me (sniffs the air and comes to a horrifying realization): That wasn’t the cat, you dummy!!
Ken: In fairness to Atlas, the skunk and Ilana DO kind of look alike–
Me: OH MY GOD, why is he in here with his skunk-sprayed head??!! Stop rubbing your face on the blankets!!

Not a skunk

So on top of everything else, I had one eye watering from being impaled and the other one watering from the stench. I barely got any sleep and woke up the next morning feeling like there was sandpaper in my eye and skunk ass in my nose. Atlas, on the other hand, was in fine form, ready to tackle the morning, and the skunk if he saw it again. We’d set out a live trap with peanut butter, wet dog food, and a few other things, but apparently this skunk is very finicky and didn’t appreciate our smorgasbord efforts. After two days, the top of Atlas’s head is more reminiscent of sesame oil than really cheap marijuana, so things are looking up. I found the recipe for skunk odour remover that we used on our last dog, so here’s hoping the combination of peroxide, baking soda, and dish detergent rids us all of it for good. As of right now, my eye is feeling slightly better, and I keep thinking about that Monty Python sketch, “How To Defend Yourself From A Man Armed With A Banana”, where one of the unruly students in the self-defense class keeps asking about pointed sticks. Let me tell you, I’d much rather have been attacked by a banana.

In other news, I’m thrilled to announce that I’ve just signed a publishing contract with Potters Grove Press for my second short story collection, At The End Of It All: Stories From The Shadows. It might be out by the end of this year, so put it on your Xmas wishlist!

A Room With A View

Last year, the empty lot next to us was sold. Not much happened for a long time, but suddenly one day in February, a whole whack of building machinery and guys in hardhats showed up and started leveling the ground.

“Weird,” I said to Ken. “They’re not digging out a basement.” And while that might not seem strange in some parts of the world, here in the area of Ontario where I live, it’s extremely uncommon to NOT have a basement, unless you have a cottage or a very old house like mine with only a partial, low-ceilinged horror movie basement and crawlspace.

A few days later, they started framing the structure. “Weird,” said Ken. “The front door looks like it’s about twenty feet in the air.” And while having a sky door might not seem strange in some parts of the galaxy, it’s extremely uncommon to NOT have a door that you can access from the ground. In fact, my house has 5 doors that are at ground-level.

So Ken and I watched with a combination of incredulity and amusement as the house next door began to grow. And grow. And grow, until it was over three stories tall. The lot itself is very tiny, and the house takes up most of it, and for our neighbours who live on the other side (who made the misfortunate error of selling the land to the Jolly Green Giant in the first place), it completely blocks out not only their view but all sunlight—the only thing they can see from their porch is the new house. And into it, because there are several windows that overlook their property. “Well,” I said to Ken rather smugly, “at least it’s not blocking our view to the corner. And we don’t have to worry about them watching over US because of all the beautiful tall trees along the property line.”

And then, the other morning, I got a message from Ken to call him as soon as possible. “What’s wrong?” I asked, concerned, because he never asks me to call him unless it’s something really important, like forgetting what’s on the grocery list. There was a distressed silence. Finally, he spoke. “I went over to the museum for a meeting this morning, and by the time I got back, all the trees were gone. ALL OF THEM.”

“WHAT THE F*CK??!!” I yelled. “ALL OF THEM?!”

Apparently, all the trees on the lot line except the maple at the corner were technically on the new owners’ property by about two inches, so they took it upon themselves to bring in a cutting crew and took them all down in a matter of two hours. According to one of the construction workers that Ken spoke to, the new owners want to put in a pool and the trees blocked their view and created too much shade and this is what I look at now when I’m on my front porch or in my yard:

They wanted a view, huh? Well, I hope they like naked, middle-aged humour writers.

In other news, the new literary magazine is going very well (although it’s keeping me super-busy), and I’ve had a lot of awesome submissions. But I’m always on the lookout for more (hint hint)…

My Big Announcement; Stuck In An Elevator

A few weeks ago, I was driving somewhere and thinking about things, as one does, and I thought to myself, ‘I would love to start my own online literary magazine.’ And even though it seemed like something far-off and maybe not possible, I currently work/volunteer as a submissions reader for another online lit mag, and I had some knowledge of how it was set up. But it had always been a dream of mine to have my own publication, and I kept thinking and thinking about how cool it would be, and by the time I got home, I had pretty much fleshed it out enough that I could explain it to Ken, complete with the name. And then, I was talking to a friend who does website development, and she said she could help me set things up, including not just the website but all the social media (you can see her on the masthead). So now (drumroll please), I am super-excited to announce the launch of DarkWinter Lit, an online literary magazine for short stories and poetry. And we’re currently open for submissions (no fee). I know a lot of my followers and fellow bloggers are writers, and I’d be thrilled if any of you wanted to honour DarkWinter Lit with your submissions. In fact, I already have two pieces of flash fiction from a terrific writer friend of mine, Cecilia Kennedy of Fixing Leaks And Leeks—she graciously offered the two stories to me so that there would be something awesome to read when the site went live. And she fits our mission statement perfectly, which is this: “We want your weird, your traditional with a twist, your humour, your dark thoughts, or your elation. We’re open to anything—just make it interesting. Make us think.”

I won’t be publishing full-length books or chapbooks, or anything in hard copy—it’s strictly online, and you can find it, and the submission guidelines, here at darkwinterlit.com

And why ‘DarkWinter’? Because it’s a combination of the last two names of my characters in The Seventh Devil and the sequel The Devil You Know, as well as the name of their ghostbusting, demon-exorcising business. But more importantly, DarkWinter Lit is a beautiful dream of a cold, dark night, illuminated by hope and wonder.

Aside from that momentous announcement, I was also trapped in an elevator this week—well, at least for a brief moment. You see, Kate has started to work at the antique market with me, and on Wednesday, one of the vendors came to her and said, “I need my bins brought down from the third floor to the second.” So off Kate went, with me hot on her heels:

Me: You don’t know how to run the elevator—you haven’t been trained!
Kate: It’s an elevator, Mom. I think I can figure it out.
Me: It’s not an ordinary elevator. Let me show you. This is my wisdom!

So we went back to the freight elevator and she got the gate up, then we went inside.

Me: See? First you need to put the gate down. And now we push this button and hold it until it gets almost to the third floor and you hear a ‘click’. When you hear the click, you let go of the button. Don’t get close to the edge!!
Kate: Mom, calm down. I’m not stupid.

We got to the third floor. She opened the gate and we loaded the vendor’s bins. Then she closed the gate. I could hear voices below on the second floor—it was our second-floor staff member Vivian. “We’re on our way down!” I shouted. I pressed the elevator button to go down and…nothing happened. I pressed it again and still nothing. “Vivian!!” I yelled down the elevator shaft. “We’re stuck in the elevator!”

Kate: Sigh.
Me: Oh my god! What should we do?
Kate (lifts up gate and gestures): We should get out.
Me: OK. Thank you for saving our lives.

Apparently the gate wasn’t quite on the track and once we got out and Kate pulled the gate down from the outside, it went to the second floor quite easily without us in it, and Kate stayed upstairs to help the vendor while I fled to the safety of the main floor. Then later, Vivian came by the till on the first floor:

Vivian: Did they get your daughter out of the elevator yet? I hear she’s still stuck in there.
Me: What??!! Oh my god!
Vivian: Haha. Just kidding—she’s fine.

Moral of the story: I hate elevators and my daughter is a hero.

Also, our power has been off for 24 hours and I’m posting this from my phone before the battery di…

Interview With Bad Juju, I Have A Clean Face

This past April, I joined my friend Jude Matulich-Hall, author of The Eversteam Chronicles, as a guest on the first episode of her new video podcast called “Bad Juju & J Bone Presents…” I was her first guest last year on the original iteration of the show, called Titles, Talk, & Tipples, and you may remember that we had a lot of fun, thanks to the tippling, although we did talk about books. This time, the show has expanded quite a bit—here’s the synopsis:

“In this episode you’re going to see some incredible photography by Suzanne’s daughter Katelyn Whytock, hear some poetry and excerpts from Suzanne’s written works, and get a peek into her new books coming out in an interview I recently had with her. Storytime isn’t just for kids! You’ll also get some adult storytime with Bad JuJu as she reads Suzanne’s short story “What’s My Name?” from Feasting Upon The Bones (Potters Grove Press), see a vintage film by Georges Méliès, another short film with Bad JuJu & J Bone, and some creepy, kooky fun interspersed throughout.”

Just like last time, it WAS a lot of fun, especially seeing Jude as her alter-ego Bad Juju reading my story accompanied by Gnossienne 1 by Erik Satie, a piece of piano music I’m completely obsessed with right now. So if you have some time, watch it and give it a like and/or subscribe—I know she’ll appreciate that as much as I appreciate her promoting my work. Here’s the link–I didn’t embed it so that she’ll get the views on her channel:

https://youtu.be/Ykswsj6m3Pk

As I’m writing this, sweet little Ilana is lying on the chair next to me, basking in the sunshine. Sadly, sweet little Atlas is in the kitchen behind a baby gate because he still doesn’t know what to do with her. We’ve been keeping them separated, giving Ilana the run of the upstairs, but the other day, she was sitting in our bedroom window enjoying the spring air when Atlas suddenly appeared (somehow the gate downstairs got moved). He rushed in and before I could do anything, he tried to jump up and sniff her, causing her to freak out. By the time I had yelled to distract him, she’d managed to rip a large hole in the window screen in her desperation to escape, but was able to retreat to her own end of the house before he realized she was gone. It was time for a conversation:

Me: Look what you’ve done!
Atlas: Not me.
Me: Well, if you hadn’t charged at her, it wouldn’t have happened. Leave her alone!
Atlas: But is squirrel. I chase squirrel.
Me: She’s not a squirrel. Squirrels are black.
Atlas: Is black.
Me: She’s black and white. She doesn’t look anything like a squirrel. Stop chasing her.
Atlas: I love her.
Me: You have a weird way of showing it.

And speaking of weird ways to show admiration, the other day one of our more “quirky” customers was standing at the counter. Suddenly, he looked over at me, where I was helping a woman decide on a ring, and yelled across the store, “Hey! You have a clean face!” I kind of muttered “Thank you,” and he followed up with, “Are you married?!” at which point, my young boss told him very sternly to stop harassing the staff. Clean face? I guess that criteria is as good as any other…

My Van Blog

For about the last six weeks, I’ve been noticing a strange phenomenon in my comments folder—well, my SPAM comments folder anyway. Apparently, and without me having done anything to deserve it, I’ve become the darling of the van world. That’s right—vans. People with vans ADORE me, if the comments I keep stumbling upon are any indication. For example, ‘Benz Camper Van’ is amazed by me. “Free Bird Camper Van’ feels that I made some really good points. “Cargo Van Conversion’ has bookmarked my site, and 2021 Mercedes Benz 200 High Roof V6 4WD Cargo Van’ called my post “Spilling The Beans”, where I discuss my hatred for coffee, an outstanding share. And there are, quite literally, hundreds of similar comments, all from avid readers who live in vans. Some of them are so excited by my posts that they’re buying breakfast, lunch, and dinner for each other in gratitude for having shared my writing. ‘Camper Van Graphics Ideas’ told me I was cool, and although I already kind of figured I was, it’s still nice to have it verified by an objective third party. Many of my new fans love my colours and theme, and despite the web browser compatibility issues and duplicate comments that some of my fans are reporting, it seems that everyone is thrilled by my posts, regardless of the topic. Well, everyone except for ‘Sprinter Camper Vans’ who was disappointed by my blog and called me an attention-seeking whiner. I tried not to take that to heart, especially in the face of such overwhelming adulation from the rest of the van crowd.

This picture is blurry but if you click on it, you can read it.

But I’ve been dying to know what prompted the outpouring of goodwill from van aficionados. I haven’t actually owned a real van, just one of those mini-vans that we bought when Kate was little, and here is the only evidence, albeit minor, of my van ownership, and it took me half an hour of searching through old photo albums to find it.

My sole experience with a camper van was travelling somewhere, and I can’t even recall where, with a childhood friend and her family. The van they had was the type with those large floor to ceiling windows, but for some reason, the trip to wherever we were going and then back home again seemed to happen in the middle of the night, because I don’t remember any scenery at all. In fact, the only thing I remember is that they kept playing the same weird song over and over again. It was called “The Snakes Crawl At Night”. As a child, I assumed the song was actually about snakes crawling around at night, since the only lyrics that I remember to this day are “The snakes crawl at night/That’s what they say/When the sun goes down” and at the time it seemed like the creepiest thing in the world. But then, like, right before I typed this sentence, I googled the song, and it’s by Charlie Pride, and the song is about a man whose wife is cheating on him and then he SHOOTS HER BOYFRIEND AND GETS THE DEATH PENALTY. And I have to seriously wonder what kind of people think EITHER version is okay to play on repeat in a camper van full of children. None of my new fans, I’ll bet.

At any rate, I’m going to bask in the glow of my new-found camper van fame. Maybe if I play my cards right, I’ll win some kind of award, like the What Van? Award and join the ranks of other premiere bloggers like Fiat Ducato, who I assume is a famous Italian writer.

In other news, I have something super-exciting on the horizon, which I can’t tell you about yet, but suffice it to say that I’ll have a big announcement before the end of the month. No, I’m not expecting, as an elderly woman asked me a couple of weeks ago at work, simply because I was wearing a flowy top, to which I replied, “Well, I’m 56 and have no uterus, so that would be a minor miracle.” No, this thing even better than having someone flatter me by assuming I’m young enough to still bear children. Or a close second, anyway. I’ll keep you posted.

And finally, Happy Mother’s Day to the moms, step-moms, foster moms, sisters, aunts, and mentors out there. You all deserve to be spoiled on this special day!

Creative Wednesdays: The Seventh Devil eBook

Just a quick post to let everyone who asked know that The Seventh Devil is now finally available as an eBook. You can find it here: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/the-seventh-devil

In case you scroll down for more product information, you should know that it’s all wrong. This book is 176 pages long, not 31, and about 53 000 words so it’s probably going to take more than an hour to read it. But if you do read it and like it, I’d love it if you could leave it some stars. See you on Sunday!

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.

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.

Christmas Carols

Christmas is one of my favourite times of the year. Twinkly lights (which Ken calls “twerking lights”), home baking, holidays, and of course, presents–for those of you who know me well, you are well aware of my love of presents, both giving and receiving them. But the thing that really captures the spirit of the season for me is Christmas music. I start playing Christmas music on the first of December, and I drive Ken crazy by listening to A Charlie Brown Christmas almost continuously (and when the music for the party scene comes on, I always dance like Snoopy. It’s FUN and I also do it at the antique market where I work–they have the radio tuned to the Christmas station all day long, so I get to do my Snoopy dance several times a day. Great cardio.). We also have some beautiful traditional Celtic Christmas stylings, as well as some instrumental stuff we got years ago with cool sound effects in the background, like birds chirping, sleigh bells jingling, or the sound of skates on ice. So as you can tell, I love a lot of Christmas music. But on the other hand, there are some really creepy Christmas songs out there.

1) One of the songs that’s been playing on a loop at work is the version of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” with Idina Menzel and Michael Bublé. And wow, this is one hella creepy song. It sounds perfectly pleasant and festive but if you listen carefully to the lyrics, you start to wonder how this EVER made it onto anyone’s Christmas playlist because it’s about a woman who wants to leave a man’s apartment, but he’s refusing to let her go. At one point, he convinces her to stay a little longer, and pours her a drink, prompting her soon after to ask, “Say, what’s in this drink?” I’ll tell you what’s in your drink—DRUGS. Here’s a newsflash, lady—if you have to ask that question, your next move should be running for the door. But no. As he takes off her hat, she tells him she really ought to say “No, No, No”, at which point he “moves in closer”. Then she explains that her mother will start to worry and father will be pacing the floor. DUDE, SHE LIVES WITH HER PARENTS—LET. HER. GO. HOME. This guy obviously doesn’t understand CONSENT. Then he tells her that she’s “hurting his pride”. Is this not the epitome of a man who is about to be involved in a major #MeToo scandal? How did this song even get to be a “Christmas carol”? It’s not about Christmas; it’s about a guy trying to get into a girl’s pants. I think Jesus would have a serious objection to a song like that being used to celebrate his birthday. (I was going to say, “because Jesus never tried to get into anyone’s pants”, but then Ken just reminded me that some people say that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene, and that’s why he appeared to her first when he was reincarnated or whatnot. Still, Jesus would never have been like, “C’mon baby, I’m not pushy, I’m just opportunistic”). But there are other carols which are actually more Christmas-y which, when you think about them, are equally ridiculous. Here are a few:

2) Jingle Bells: In what possible world is it FUN to dash around in an open sleigh? This song could not possibly have been written in Canada, where it’s regularly -30 degrees. If you’re dashing around without some kind of shield from the wind-chill, you’re going to get frostbite and your nose will fall off. This is only Christmas-y if you put a little bow on the nose and hang it on your Christmas tree. On second thought, that’s not actually festive, it’s just kind of gross.

3) Last Christmas I Gave You My Heart: This is a contemporary tune by George Michael. The first two lines are “Last Christmas I gave you my heart/The very next day, you gave it away.” Is this not the ultimate in regifting? I myself have been known to pass on a mug or something equally inconsequential, but even I wouldn’t stoop so low as to regift a human heart. This is the worst Secret Santa gift ever, like “It’s decomposing a little, but if you keep it on ice for a few days, you can hang it on the tree next to that piece of nose you’ve got there. It’s a nice theme.”

4) God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, The Shark Version: I googled this one and I can’t even find it on the internet, but it was on a compilation of Christmas songs called Santa Jaws that my brother and I had when we were little. The only lyrics I remember are:

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
You’re not so merry now.
The seaside signs said not to swim,
But you swam anyhow..
.

Moral of that Christmas song–never ignore seaside signs.

5) Honorable Mention: Christmas Tree by Lady Gaga and Space Cowboy: This one doesn’t get a lot of airplay because it’s just a tad raunchy. Thanks to Gaga, the phrases “let’s fa-la-la-la-la” and “underneath my Christmas tree” are now sexual innuendo. If she got together with the guy from “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” I doubt there would be a lawsuit pending—there would just be one very merry gentleman.

At any rate, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, and Happy Holidays if you don’t celebrate Christmas. And if you’re looking for a last-minute gift (shameless plug coming as fast as a one-horse open sleigh), don’t forget that you can go to the Potters Grove Press website and download my short story collection Feasting Upon The Bones in either PDF or Kindle version and give it to someone you love. Tell them you know the author personally and that she’s weird, but nice.