Personal Food Facts

Since I am in between projects for a few days, I threw together a few fun personal food facts that persons who know me can utilize to explain my somewhat (according to them) odd food ways and means…

1. I had no idea what a casserole was until I was about 20. We never had them when I was a kid and only knew that “tuna casserole” was some disgusting food thanks to TV sitcoms.

Some Disgusting Casserole

To me this looks like something you find on the ground in an alley outside a shady bar at 2 am.

Note: The idea of making, eating or looking at a casserole even to this day is disgusting to me. Gross.  A pan filled with a miscellany of foods and baked together.  Only Lasagna is acceptable as it is technically a casserole.

2. I had no idea what the term “seconds” was until I was in my late teens. My parents being avid fitness and nutrition folks only ever made meals sized to how much we would eat and my sister and I ate like birds. We didn’t like food. We never had leftovers.

I went to someones house once and they asked “do you want seconds?”… I assumed it was some kind of ethnic dessert (they being slightly olive in complexion, thus “ethnic” in my hometown). I said “yes please!” being a polite child.  I was given a second plate of food.  I was in horror. I barely ate the first.  I started to cry part way into it, I couldn’t eat all of this!! I said “thank you, I don’t feel well” and ran home.

*Granted, I also had no idea what my last name was until the first day of kindergarten when they called out first and last names.  I thought they were making fun of me when they did as people laughed at my lack of response.  Yes, I grew up in one of THOSE households.

3. We never had desserts at my house except on very special occasions.  Once or twice my mother did try to make a black forest cake and failed miserably as I remember. When my sister and I went to grandparents homes we scoured them for treats.  When I went to someones house on a mid week summers day and they had pie after a simple, basic meal I was aghast. Was it a birthday party?  What happened?  Why is this thing here on the table? Are we allowed? Maybe just a little piece.

pumpkin pie

I do like pie

4. I never, ever, ever have had a birthday party or a birthday cake.  Ever.

Ever.

Me, 2047

Me, 2047, I get my birthday party

5. I only had a vague idea what brown bagging or “doggy bag” meant again from TV sitcoms primarily.  I ate all three meals at home most every single day of my childhood except special occasions where we went to an actual sit down, very expensive (for the area I grew up in) dress up place. I thought everyone did this. I had no idea for years that we had fast food in my city.  When I finally did go to a Harvey’s ™ I was grossed out by the consistency of the burger I excitedly ordered and couldn’t finish it.

6. We only ate beef 1-2 times a week and for a good three years we primarily ate Asian and Caribbean food. Seafood was was a staple. I thought only rednecks and cavemen ate beef and pork all the time. We very rarely had pork.

Ribs

Unlike pie, I do not like ribs

7. We ate more rice than potatoes which were were a strange anomalous thing we only had with turkey at xmas or occasionally as mashed potatoes which as I remember my mother could never get right.  Once she blended them and produced an inedible paste.

8. Food was never an event, it was just something we needed. I’d show up at the table at breakfast or at home lunch and dinner and something my mother threw together would be ready to eat.  I never took part in the cooking and it wasn’t until college that I actually knew how to make kraft dinner (which is again, disgusting).

9. I don’t like eggs.  I eat eggs but don’t like them.  I would tell people I was allergic to them to keep from being given any or anything that contained eggs.

 

Thus, I am not a foodie.  I do eat, surprisingly, but merely to end a craving.  I don’t care about food generally.  I have a LONG list of things I do not eat or like to eat but generally I can eat most anything.  If I could get Jetson’s food pills I could have a good two hours back each day and that would be okay with me.

 

Weekly Update the Second – Timberjack, Golf Sucks and Stop Being A PhotoClown

It’s been a whole week! Or has it.  Maybe not. I’ll forget these if I wait till Friday. Enjoy.

Oh I got side tracked.. Side tracked. One word. Now you get two posts. This was supposed to be up June 16.

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Timberjack

 

Driving in the car the other day with my family and it hit me, “why do people say lumber and timber interchangeably?”. I asked my long suffering spousal unit and she promptly found a website that provides the difference between two similar words.  Apparently, Timber is fallen tree stuff ready to be cut up into Lumber.  There are regionalizations, for example people in Australia (gurus of proper language that they are) refer to lumber as timber.  I think English people do too but they don’t even have trees except ornamental ones that grow spaghetti so their opinions on word use do not count.  Hell they call arugula “Rocket” because French people call it Roquette and they can’t POSSIBLY pronounce something foreign correctly. They also call a zucchini a “vegetable marrow” which is disgusting and dumb. Anyways.  A Lumberjack is a person who cuts down trees for use as lumber but the trees they cut down are not made into lumber until they are hewn at a factory or sorts.. Therefore a Lumberjack using common word use is in fact a TIMBERJACK.  That is all.

Golf

golf-cart

THANKFULLY a golf tournament I attend annually has been cancelled.  It’s free.  Free as in free round of golf, free cart, free meal, one free drink (boozy drink).  I like free.  I used to like golf.  I don’t like golf anymore.  Now I don’t have to golf at all.

Don’t get me wrong, like darts, pool, lawn darts, beanbag toss, horseshoes, dwarf tossing, golf is an at times fun “game”.  It’s not a sport because to me, regardless of the fact you can win money at it and people keep score, it’s based on accuracy and skill not “fitness” so to me it’s just a game.  I like games, I do, don’t get me wrong (again) but to me a game is something you do for fun and riding around with one friend, two strangers, in a small car, hitting a ball, swearing, swatting bugs, watching old men flirt with uni age cart girls, getting sunburnt/stroked then when it’s all over and you want to go home you still hang around the place for drinks and speeches.. That’s a chore.

Plus, when I was a kid golf was cheaper.

Plus when I was a kid, golf had dress codes.

Plus when I was a kid golf courses were less busy.

Plus when I was kid, everyone and their drunken dog didn’t golf.

I have other hobbies and sports to do.  Golf you are dead to me.

Photoclown

clown_crime

Everyone that buys a monster lensed big frigging camera nowadays calls themselves a photographer.  That bugs me.  A friend who DOES this, and does slide a stupid “Photography by Ted Smith. Not for commercial use, copy-write 2017” (not his real name) on his pictures says to me “well, you’re a writer..”. I then remind him I may have written a few books but its not my job and I NEVER call myself a writer.  I also paint pictures in acrylics.  Some people like them. I do not call myself an artist. Sorry but unless you make a living at it, it’s a hobby.  You can make balloon animals, hang out at kids birthday parties and wear lots of makeup. That doesn’t make you a clown.  (Okay it could make you an alcoholic mom who is a bit of clown (pass the wine)..) Speaking of parties, a few years back, an in law invited their cousin to a family xmas gathering.  Small home. Small livingroom.  This person (not related to anyone else in the room) stormed around phot documenting he event with a giant SLR digital taking unplanned action shots of kids opening gifts, me generally avoiding them, people talking.  A full 70% of attendees wanted to kill them. Don’t do this.

That’s all I have.

So in summary:

  • Go ahead buy that nice camera, I would, I wish I had one that was better
  • Putting your name on the photo (especially in script font) is lame
  • Using a HUGE oversized lens when taking photos of anything mundane within 50 feet of you is lame
  • Calling yourself something you are not is lame
  • Toting a huge shoulder bag of lenses and such to a family event makes you target for a punching or at least verbal abuse.

WEEKLY UPDATE THE FIRST – I AM IN EXILE, I KNOW ABOUT MAYAN CITIES AND I DO NOT LIKE STREETSWEEPERS

Welcome to my new weekly update.  I should do a podcast but damn the idea of forcing myself to edit audio and actually meet a schedule is tedious.  Daily “blogging” (I despise that word) is also not going to happen due to my latent procrastination.  So this is what you get for now.  Enjoy.  A weekly post of rambles and rants.

 p1

Exile

Well that was easy. I’ve managed three days without posting anything on my personal Facebook page.  The original intention was to stay off till I completed three separate writing assignments and I am one third done that self-imposed electro-exile* and will be two thirds complete this afternoon.  The last one, well, that will take a bit longer, probably a few more days up to a week if I see something shiny I end up chasing across a parking lot.

But I digress.

In truth, the ease of this is staggering.  I’m an obsessive facebook poster.  I complain, drop links to songs I like or discover, incite riotous conversation to spark a change in public opinion, post photos of “Cute Celebrities I’d Never Bang Even Were I Single and A Billionaire” ™ , you know, the usual.  I may extend this.  Honestly I have enough people reading my things here and buying my occasional (and at present long overdue) books.

It’s fun being an outsider.  It’s more fun to be an outside that lurks social networks, drops funny comments here and there and runs back to ones cave. I think my new faux-career option has become Facebook Lurker.

We’ll wait and see I guess.  Pardon me while I go make fun of someone’ shoes.

*Band name of the week: Elektroexile  (note the Germanic use of a K for fun)

Sweeper

p2

I have an unreasonable fear of streetsweepers (odocatharistophobia**) so when I see one I generally, being an adult, cringe a bit inside and just give it space.  When I was a kid late at night, I would be awoken to the sound of hissing brushes on the roadway, a groaning moaning engine and flashing lights that shone on my ceiling.  It was horrible, nightmare inducing, double plus ungood.

I was this week making a left turn into my parking lot when I saw a small one moving up the laneway, whipping around the traffic island and turning back into the property.  It (for the human occupant is not in control of these beasts) was collecting dirt and mud spewed all over our roads and parking lots due to a recent construction project. As it turned, it ran over a very recently patched section of asphalt road. A giant pothole filled with malleable, hot black asphalt.  It chewed into it and sprayed the black sticky goo everywhere and completely re-opened the recently filled hole.  It was glorious destruction and resulted in one group of worker arguing with another group of workers. I have no idea why this amused me as much as it did. Perhaps because in my child mind, the streetsweeper was getting in trouble.

** Not a true, accepted phobia.  I just googled “irrational fear of streetsweepers” and found some linguist guy made up a term from a Latin word for streetsweeper.

Teotihuacan

p3

Today he says when we are mid highway on our ways to work and school “Dad you know that ancient Mayan city Teotihuacan?” Which he pronounces flawlessly as were he a 600 ad resident of the place. My middle son is very intelligent.  Annoyingly intelligent at times.  It often happens that he, out of the blue, when I am busy doing something like oh, having a shower, writing a book, driving a car, eating a piece of toast, will ask us a question to verify something he already knows or wants to use a lead in to explain something else.  We being educated, experienced S-Mart people most often have answers but we are left wondering “why did you need to know that now? You are 17 not 7…” Example: “Dad, you know when you are (doing some calculus or coding thing) and (something apparently obscure of odd happens) is it best to (do this) or (do other thing)?”  I will, assuming I know the answer or can determine it through logic will say “do (this)” which will set him off with a tirade about how “(the other thing) is the better choice and here is why”.

My wife and I burst out laughing as the odd question, which he repeats then he repeats the city name, again pronounced perfectly two more times.  We laughingly scolded him at the  obscurity of his questions, realized he was reading another of his strange leftist social justice books and patiently awaited him to defend the ritualized murders or laud their communal farming (and murdering) culture. Thankfully he dropped it, mildly embarrassed at our reaction***.  I expect him to try again.  I will again laugh at his pronunciation. Best dad ever.

*** The saddest thing is that I actually knew what city he was talking about and probably had answers to his questions.

Tap!

​She looked at me with eyes that forty, maybe fifty years ago, writers would have called “rheumy” eyes. Nowadays to be polite I guess, we would call them wet, tired, perhaps aged (never old) or even teary with wisdom beyond years.  This woman however was just a rheumy eyed grump.  She looked as me, as noted.
“You DON’T know how much money is in your account?  Even an rough idea?”
I smiled.  I cocked my head to the side. “Nope!” and threw in a small laugh. “My wife does all the money stuff.”
In fact I knew roughly what was in there.  I knew exactly how much was in our chequing account on Friday at five PM.  I knew how much we spent on Saturday and Sunday (if I troubled myself to add it up) and could probably have given her an answer.  Granted, she already was treating me like I was some sort of inept scam artist so I thought I would make it hard for her, as she was making the simple task of getting a new bank card hard for me.
I had lost it Friday night past sometime after eight in the evening. I distinctly remember dropping it on a concrete floor and being amused that a rectangular ATM card could roll that well to drop flat twenty feet from me.  I picked it up, held it against the side of my book between it and my glasses case and corralled children into my car to go home.  From that point on, it’s a little blurry.  I dumped my groceries, gear and children inside and went out to start a small bonfire.  I sat in my screen gazebo and listened to old timey radio shows for an hour or so.  Toward the end of the evening I experimented with great success in sleeping right beside a fire (“Like a cowboy!” I told my amused spouse). I do not remember having it since and on Sunday pocketed (with permission) my wife’s new fancy “tap” card (no more codes!) when I ran Boy # 3 to a local mineral show.
Monday arrived and I was frantically searching for her now missing card.  I gave up eventually and promised Karen that I would run to the bank, get a new one and give her it to use until hers was located. Round about ten in the morning I rushed out of my office on a mission.  Google Maps told me that the closest bank (unnamed to protect myself from financial repercussions) was five minutes away.  It was one I had never gone to, me being one of those people that rarely speak to a human at such places voluntarily.  I drove quickly in hopes of getting a new card in the usual (this has happened before) few minutes then running Karen’s newly located card to her at her doctor appointment.  I was equally excited that all new cards were the efficient, time saving “Tap” cards!  Yay Me!
I entered the tiny branch and noticed immediately there were only two tellers.  Normally, be it a bank, retail shop or grocery store, I choose the youngest cashier/server because a) they aren’t jaded to life yet, b) they are pleasing to talk to c) they don’t smell of death.  Being a man approaching fifty, this is my prerogative.  Today however, I had no such choice. I had old, and older.  By luck, chance or curse, the older one became available.  She had (I noticed immediately) a sit down work station.  Something throws me off sitting down to talk banky stuff, but I decided to be the better man and head over, smile on my face, not trying at all to seem like I absolutely hated dealing with monetary things in person.
“Good morning how can I help you?”
She ddn’t seem pleased at all.  Her last name, which I will not state, belayed in advance her pale, dusty appearance.  Her twenty year service award on the wall told me immediately that a) nobody else sat at her special bank teller sit down old grumpy person work station and b) that she probably worked somewhere else for twenty plus years until they managed to shove her out the door as part of a “corporate restructuring” (restructuring her rheumy eyed self out the door.)
“I need a new bank card…” She smiled, kind of, as this would be a routine action for her. “..Beause I’ve been using my wife’s for a few days”.
Wrong thing to say.  I swear she pressed a button marked “scam alert” under her desk.
“I’ll need ID.”
“Of course!” I smiled, handing over my drivers licence and corporate ID card.  No I can’t tell you where from but they are unique and not copyable/forgeable.
She glared at them, then at me (I smiled toothily, rather innocently). “Do you have an XYZ Bank Mastercard?”
She looked like she was about to trip me up.  I smiled again, broadly. “Of course, I also have an XYZ corporate card in my name!” and shoved both black cards across.  She looked at them, at me, at the corporate one, then told me to insert mine into the machine.
“Enter your code.”
I did. But seeing the suspicion, I intentionally hesitated.  I wanted control of this situation.  I was no longer in a hurry. I wanted her to call her manager.
“Ah that’s it.  Same code as everything else!”
“You shouldn’t do that.”
“AH, its okay, that’s what deposit insurance is for!”
She looked like I just told her I ran a dog fighting ring on weekends.
This is when she asked me how much I has in my chequing account and I played stupid.  In all honesty, I was expecting a benefit payment for orthodontic claims from my insurer so I wasn’t one hundred percent sure what would be in there, but I played dumb anyways for reasons previously mentioned.
“Where do you work?”
I told her.  Showed her the name of the corporate entity on the other card.
“Do you know how much you get paid?”
“Every payday?”
“Yes.”
I leaned in as if it was a great secret. “Well, my wife knows accurately, I can call her, but I think its around $Z.ZZ”. $Z.ZZ likely being twice her biweekly pay.  She looked at the screen, sneered slightly and relented. Resignation on her face, she started into a spiel about new ATM cards that were “tap” ready.  “Just like the credit cards.  You tap. No codes!” and she actually smiled, kind of, again, her pearly whites being more grey and dingy than pearly.
I smiled again, cocked my head a bit.  End game.  I would suffer for my win. I knew what to say to crush her morning and make mine that much better.
“Oooh. No. that won’t do. I want a non-tap card.  Can you see if you have one left?”
“But. Why?”
“Don’t know really.  Paranoid I guess.  All that scamming going on.”
She stormed back to the filing cabinet, dug out the last one she could find and reluctantly set it up for me.
As I stood she turned on the bank person charm (finally). “I’m sorry Mister Liddle, for all the questions.  I just haven’t met you before.”
“Possibly the last time really, I don’t usually do in person banking.  Thank you!”
I left smiling, holding back from noting that she might be dead or retired by the time I went back to that branch.
 

The Wedding (part 1)

​Cough, sputter, snort, “aughkoff, koff, blughhh, koff what the fuck?”
That’s how I woke up.  I was flailing in the middle of a lake, dead of night, completely clothed, sans one shoe, sputtering, coughing. I was going to die, then I realized I was in four feet of water and stood up, my unshod right foot slipping off of a rock to enter the gooey floor of the lake only to be retracted in fear and disgust.
I looked around, arms extended into the dark as I turned.  I could see lights and a few fires along the shores and thankfully, the looming dark shape of an island about twenty yards to my right.  Carefully I walked toward it, mercifully not bumping into any denizens of the not-so deep because I would have screamed like a little girl, fallen down and probably actually drowned in the rocky shallows.  I reached shore eventually and assessed my situation while trying to remember how the hell I ended up where I was, late at night, in the middle of a cold, wet, Ontario Lake. Looking down as I did, I saw something rolling in the light wave action a few feet away.  My missing shoe.  Things were looking up.  I was about to yell for help when I heard a sound behind me.  Thinking “motherfucking bear!” I dropped down to a squat, ready to fling myself back into the safety (?!) of the water when I heard the unseen visitor speak.
“eeeoowah trrilp. Trillp flahgd. *Tick*”.
I slammed myself against a nearby tree.  “Motherfucking not-a-bear-something-else!” I thought and held my breath…
Okay. Let me rewind a bit to the week before, before all the fun takes place and I tell you the story as I remember it.  Insert the wavy lines and the “eeeoooeeooowoooeee” sound effects. Okay last phonetic noise word, I promise.
 
ONE WEEK EARLIER
I met Jane at my friend Stan’s house.  Stan is a bit of a freak, he being from Eastern Europe and I do mean east, like he hid behind the iron curtain with his family ignoring the falling of the wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union for ages. They ran a co-operative grocery and book store well past the date most everyone there had adopted the western ways. It was only after his parents died and he was offered a bazillion bucks by McDonalds to sell their property did he become the poster child for bad Euro stereotypes.  He moved to Canada, hooked up with a fellow former die-hard socialist (who started shaving under her arms only last year) Helga (German, of course) and made a bunch more money buying and selling slums to new immigrants looking for real estate investments.  He’s horrible but he adopted me as his Canadian pal a while back.  Not being all that socially adept, I hang around.  I’m honestly not all that into trying to find friends so when people gravitate to me (and they do for some reason) I entered their orbit.
Jane worked for one of Helga’s friends at the seniors’ home.  Instantly she took a liking to me (seriously, I don’t know why) and after an evening of Cards Against Humanity, crappy Polish beer and bad Euro-pop music (including some drunk dancing I am embarrassed to say) we ended up in the spare room.  When I woke, she was gone but my phone now had her number in it and a text message that read “great nite! Stan was right, we are ‘gud 2gether”! I’ll send deets on wedding by wed. xoxo (smiling lips emoticon)”
Stan was up, hungover and loud.  I ate some cereal, helped him cleanup and Helga drove me home in silence till she pulled up to my place. “You be nice to her or I gut you like a fish. We’ll be at the wedding too so you better not bail on her”.
She didn’t even look at me as exited her Camero, sputtering an “of course, thanks, where is this wedding anyways”?
‘Canoe Lake.  We will drive. Dress nice.”
And away she sped.  Stan texted me later to explain that Helga did not in fact agree that Jane and I would be “gud 2gether” and that I was an ass to women.  I disagreed and he did too, we both agreeing that I just have not found the right girl yet and that they are all crazy and that we should NEVER EVER say this to Helga or anyone else in fact because we would be spurned by all women in the future because they all talk and are in fact borderline psychopaths when it comes to men who are not all that “call you back” ish which I am not. (Sorry that should be three sentences at least. You get what I mean right?)
I spent the day recovering, went to the gym, received three clingy texts from Jane and came home to find her sitting on my front step in a pretty sundress, hair glistening in the sun, aviator sunglasses and running shoes. She said “Hi Sailor”, handed me a bouquet of flowers she had hidden in my mailbox, kissed me on the cheek and actually skipped away down the street, turning after a few houses to yell back “just passing by!  See you soon handsome”!
I went inside, checked that all doors were locked, windows locked from inside and called Stan to ask him what he got me into.  He wouldn’t answer and just texted back “just go with it stupid.  H here. Talk later”.
Thankfully the rest of the day went by without incident, as did Monday and Tuesday.  That night I decided to text her to be nice, even though she seemed whacked and because well, I am male and you know. Girls.  She didn’t respond till seven asking “Hey whatcha up to”.
“Watching TV”
“Eat yet?”
“Just some salad and popcorn”
“You need proper food. I’m bringing pizza.”
And within an hour she was with me, happily watching all my stupid shows, eating pizza (she badgered Stan till he told her what I liked on it) and sitting far too close for someone I only met a few days earlier.  Okay, Granted we already slept together and she did type “xoxo” in a text so it shouldn’t be such a surprise but still, you know what I mean right? No? Girls.
Next morning we had breakfast and I dropped her off at her place on my way to work.  She grabbed my hand and wrote the address on my palm and made me promise to meet up that night and bring wine. I drove off smiling.  She was nice enough, a tad weird and clingy but what the hell.  I spent the day slogging through my report reviews and ignoring my phone as it went BING then BUZZ (when I finally turned it to vibrate after my coworker Annie gave me the fourth dirty look over my cubicle wall). At four pm I looked at the array of messages from Jane (semi-creepy clingy but sexy nice girl things only), Stan (“she likes you. Helga is happy”) and Helga (“I am so happy YOU BE NICE TO HER OR I WILL SLIT YOUR THROAT (heart)”). I sped to the gym, then home, picked up Chinese food (smartly checked with Helga) and showed up at Jane’s.
When one hears “minimalist apartment” one might think “less than average furnishings”.  One may also think “muted colours” or “line artwork”. One does not usually think “An apartment where every single stick of the furnishings, few that they are, are either white or black.  The covers of books on the shelf are the only colours brightening up the place and would probably sport white or black covers if she could find them.” Or “An apartment where the occupant wears brilliant coloured clothing in sharp contrast to the rest of the place making her look like cartoon character superimposed into frames of a black and white movie.  It was cool, very cool. Weird but not unexpected.  She said “make yourself at home” which is kind of hard when I half expected an old school Mickey Mouse to show up being chased by Bluto on a train at some point.  She came back, hair wet, showered, in a new dress (she liked her dresses) and we proceeded to eat and discuss the wedding. 
It was “at a lake!”.  It was “at a cottage!”.  It was small(!). Helga would drive us there and back because Helga didn’t sleep in trailers or rental cottages and Stan would be drunk before he arrived most likely, being Stan. It would be “awesome” apparently and she couldn’t wait to show me off. Feeling tired from work and the gym and stupid all-you-can-eat-to-counteract-the-gym buffet Chinese food, I hung out for a while, tried to suggest I go home and let her do whatever and I just ended up in bed with her again. I’m not complaining.  I had been single for almost a year and had just started Googling “health benefits of celibacy” the day before I met her. I was a happy camper and not about to do my usual micro-assessment of the relationship at this point.  She was too hot, just the right height, she didn’t have monstrous hands of feet or a third nipple and I liked her little flirty texts and the general weird stuff.  (I gave her three months tops).
Morning came (not just the morning mind you) and I skedaddled just in time to run in the house, shower, eat some granola and cold French fries, replenish my lunch foods, gym clothes, feed the cat and walk outside to be hit in the face with a wet newspaper.  The little bastard that threw it actually said sorry but as I don’t read let alone subscribe to a newspaper I yelled “asshole” at him, laughed when he crashed his bike into a hedge trying to avoid a dog and began to wonder why the paper was wet on a sunny day like today.
Needless to say, against the will of the print mass media and my new girlfriend/cartoon character, I made it to work.
Friday came (no I won’t make the same joke again) and I did not.  I did however go out and purchase a bit of clothing for the wedding and a flask.  Yes, a flask.  I also purchased some scotch. Yes, Scotch and a flask, like an old timely cowboy or Sherlock Holmsian character.  Why?  Well, because, as much as this may shock you, I don’t really do well in crowds or social events when I am not with people I know.  It’s a kind of, well, a social anxiety thingy.  However, much like an unnamed nerdy character on a popular TV show (popular generally among non-nerdy people) who needs booze to talk to women, I find it is easier to acclimatize to a social setting if there is alcohol involved.  Not wanting my new girlfriend to think I am an alcoholic, it is easier to have a bit in my pocket I can slip into the occasional cup of “soda” than run to the bar over and over.  Go forth young psychologists, analyze me. I dare you. 
I avoided the pleas to hang out that night and spent it playing video games, trying clothes on and preparing for social conversations I would be, as a captive audience, forced to take part in.  Where I worked (“Acme Corporation! We make Anvils!”), how I knew Jane (‘We met last weekend! We boink a lot!”), what my favorite video games, books and movies are (okay this where my conversational planning went sideways). The normal things. I then had a few beer and fell asleep on the couch only to wake up in a panic as the power was out.  Scrambling around, I found my way to the bedroom and finished my fitful sleep, waking at eight in the morning, again, in a panic, because there was a warm body next to me.
When I finally explored the person’s exterior, jumping back when it snorted, a delicate girlish snort mind you, I realized it was Jane and not a dead hooker.  I had of course forgotten to lock the door in my blackout panic and she had driven over and slipped in because she was scared.  We woke, went back to sleep (no I won’t make the joke again) and we came to the conclusion that we needed to get ready.  I grabbed all of my things, clothes, wallet, phone, charger, flask (filled with decent 90 proof single malt Social Lubrication) and shoes.  Grabbing breakfast on the way, we ended up at Jane’s place. I showered, dressed and proceeded to fall asleep watching Netflix while she decided what to wear.  Occasionally I was asked for my (useless) opinion.  I liked everything she threw on, marveled at her ability to change her hairstyle for each outfit so quickly, and began to frantically look at my watch.  Finally, she popped out in a very 1940’s looking floral dress and we headed out to Stan’s.
The drive was uneventful until we reached the point along the highway where Jane said “it’s a road up ahead that we will probably miss as it’s a dirt road with no sign.”  I and Stan remained silent on this point wondering why she wasn’t using at least GPS on her phone, given that we were to be there ten minutes from then. “Oh there it is, turn”!  Helga skidded, drifted like a pro, nearly killed a hippie walking his mangy Irish setter and raising a cloud of dust that landed as I watched upon yet another Birkenstock shod antiperspirant shunner and their twenty or so amateur hobbyist bee hives.  Screaming erupted behind us as we closed the sunroof and windows and cranked the A/C. Note: Nobody should have an apiary twenty yards from a major highway.    Secondary note: Nobody who does not own proper bee farmer gear should operate an apiary. We navigated the twisty, windy, dusty road until finally we reached the cottage. 
I find it funny sometimes that people I know claim to be heading to “the” cottage when in fact it isn’t their cottage, but that of some extended family member. It’s just a pet peeve of mine.  I wouldn’t say that.  I wouldn’t say “I left my wallet in my car” if it was a friend’s car I borrowed, I’d say “the” car. I wouldn’t say “I’m going to go grab my girlfriend’s bum” if it was my friend’s girlfriend.  I also find it odd that people say they have a cottage to get away from things when in fact they are always working on something constructive every weekend they go to their cottage. There is always a long list of projects to be accomplished and they start talking about them in the winter. “Have to do the roof this year” yet they ignore the roof on their actual house.  Also, have you ever been down one of these cottage roads?  Houses in the city aren’t as close as these buildings are.  I honestly think that cottage people aren’t people who want to get away from the city and people for peace and quiet, they are folks who want an entirely different life and social network to escape to. One where you wear shorts, rarely shower, drink all day and when the kids go to bed you can bang each other in a boat.  Okay I think I just sold myself on buying a cottage. Nevermind, ignore the above paragraph.
We arrived and found we were in fact not late at all. Helga and Stand just told us two-thirty as they knew Jane would be late.  Good planning. I will remember that for the next three months till I get a less tardy girlfriend.
We walked from the car to the cottage, she adjusted my clothes three times in fifty feet, I was introduced to the bride (Natalie) and the groom (Ted) and shown where to drop off the gift and where the bar was.  Jane then proceeded to vanish with Helga, leaving me with drunk Stan who then headed to the bar and disappeared to chase a rental peacock along the shore of the lake.  I didn’t know you could rent peacocks.  I like to think there was no peacock as it suits my reality a bit better but since that day I have seen the ads.  I was alone and stood looking around at about fifty strangers in suits and ties in the hot sun. I realized I didn’t bring anything cooler to slip into afterwards but decided it was okay, it would cool down.  At this point I had no idea how wrong I was.
Just as I was on drink two, Jane appeared beside me, dragged me around to meet everyone else, decided we needed a drink (yay Jane!) and commandeered chairs where we could see people but not be central. I was happy(er) and content to continue my secret tippling.
The wedding began, vows exchanged, rings worn, kisses made, photos taken, snacks arrived, an announcement that the actual meal would be in two hours made. Sorry, I will not elaborate on that sentence because I am male and we don’t pay attention to such things. I will note that I met my future next girlfriend for two months and twenty nine days from now.  Stripy dress, blond hair and brown eyes.  I pointed her out to Jane who agreed she would be a good replacement should she be hit by a meteor or abducted by El Salvadorian rebels which was just a ridiculous idea since that war has been over for years but I didn’t point this out as it was getting dark and booze and fireworks and apparently we already ate and now I remember the meal and yeah my flask was empty.
Fireworks were lit, one guys who was also imbibing at my rate set fire to his pants apparently but they were at the side of a lake so all was well apparently.  We moved to a nice romantic dark spot near the water’s edge to watch the show and Jane snuggled up to me.   I was too far gone to be romantic so began to discuss the metals and chemicals used to create the different colours of the fireworks when the finale, five huge charges, were set off at once.
There was a huge flash! Five booms echoing across the lake!  Yelling from other cottages! Laughing from the men of the wedding! A monstrous splash in the lake and running, lots of running, I lost a shoe in the panic, there was tripping, screaming, falling and something about me getting into a boat.
Cough, sputter, snort, “aughkoff, koff, blughhh, koff what the fuck?”
As mentioned before, I’m in the lake. 
 (To Be Continued)

Panic

It was the last day of our mutual “kids are at camp” vacation. We do this every year.  The two boys are away for a number of weeks at summer camp and we book a week off ourselves to pretend we are in our early twenties, childless and have mysterious money that appears in the bank account.  It was near bedtime and as my wife Karen pondered going back downstairs to watch a little television with me, I lay down across the bed, my head on her shins and my arms over my head.  We chatted and I started to feel dozy, perhaps TV was not the answer, perhaps we should just get some sleep. I lay my arms down to my sides, letting them fall with an exhausted thud.  A sharp pain, a stinging pain then radiated up and down my arm from its source, the back of my upper arm, halfway between shoulder and elbow.  I knew instantly that I had been stung.

Karen sat up as I rolled rapidly to my right, clutching my arm. “What happened?” she asked.

“They can’t kill you. It’s no worse than a bee sting.” I reassured myself as I identified the attacker and its location…

viewthrougharch2

Hours earlier I had been staring at a photo of a desert vista. A view from beneath a stone archway.  It was mesmerizing.  I was supposed to be doing something Very Important on the computer, but instead, I was gazing at the picture before me.  Thoughts and questions filled my head.

“If I was going to take a break from hiking, where would I sit?”

“I know, right there, on the right, just past the arch. My back against the wall.”

“There is a thin crack there. I wonder how many critters live in that crack.”

“Lots. Probably spiders, millipedes, scorpions.”

“I wonder since they come out at night, if I sat there, would they come out into the shade beneath or behind me?”

“If I say there long enough, how many of those things would use me as shade like a rock or a tree stump?”

“I wonder how many scorpions there are in that valley.”

“Probably hundreds of thousands.”

“If you took all the scorpions in that valley and made a ball out of them, how big would that ball be?”

“That would be a very frightening ball.”

I shuddered at the thought and the previously mesmerizing photo of a beautiful desert scene became a horrifying photo where a ball of scorpions the size of a Dodge Ram were hiding everywhere, just waiting for me to sit down and take a break so they could sting me.

That folks is how anxiety works.

Shining_Black_Scorpion_600

I looked at the ceiling as the pain subsided. “Nothing” I responded as I calmed myself.

“What did you think happened?” she queried, calmly.

“I thought I was stung”

“By what?” I could tell she was holding back laughter

“Nothing.”

“Sean, what did you think stung you?”

“A scorpion.”

“And what was it really?”

I took a moment and breathed. Embarrassed slightly, angry at myself for my as usual overreacting.

“A toothpaste tube.”

She paused. “So you panicked for nothing, right?”

“Yes” I responded quietly.

Karen reached across and grasped the tube. It was mostly empty and the back end rolled up, the corner of the end of the hard plastic tube pointed upright like a little bathroom caltrop, waiting for my arm to lay upon it.

In a normal household this is where it would have ended, or perhaps with some speech from her about my lack of judgment and unreasonable panic. Instead she did her best to reconfigure the tube to better resemble a scorpions general shape and proceeded to sting me all over with it as I writhed around trying to escape.

tube

This is how she has been trying of late to “cure” me of anxiety. Making me face things that set me off in a loud and vigorous way. She is “vaccinating” me against panic she claims.  It does not work.

When she finished, my mind wandered back to the desert. Upon reflection, I would not sit with my back to the wall.  I would sit on the rock in the middle.

It afforded a much better view.

Also, I think it would be easier to deal with a large scorpion of the same mass as a ball of scorpions the size of a Dodge Ram Truck.

At least you would see it coming.

Scorpion-character-render-classic-costume-MK-II-Mortal-Kombat-2011-MK-9

Saturday Morning Rap

Okay it has rained all night

And I’d like it to stop

My cats are going crazy

As it’s flooding my crop

And by crop I mean my lawn

Which is brown as a Greek

No that isn’t racist

Had spanokopita this week

I think I want souvlaki

and some ouzo too

And maybe I’m just hungry

as its breakfast time ooh!

But there’s nothing good to eat

But cereal made from quinoa

A weird hippie  concoction

That tastes all zippadee doo dah

Rainy day movie

Yes! Song of the South!

But it’s racist, you can’t rent it

Without soap for your mouth…

Sorry. It’s 8:22 and all I’ve had is three coffee. .
good morning Vietnam!

Zzz

…hair

hair – The Hair Song

I like to think I look decent for my age.  Well, let’s be honest, I only say this because other people say I don’t look forty-nine whereas I think I look like a bag of wet garbage.  Some may thank I am vain because I worry about this but again, not true, I merely try very hard to look decent and not like a hobo.  Some days I fail.  Some days I look okay. Some days I don’t want to leave the house, but I do because I have a job and responsibilities.

Like most people who are overly concerned with how they look on the outside, it’s not narcissism but inversely it is insecurity that makes them seem so.  That said, I have great hair and am pleased that I wear a size 33 pants and have only a smattering of grey hair, just enough to prevent people from thinking I dye it.

So in recap before I proceed, I’m insecure, slightly neurotic and as we know not all that social but concerned that I need look good (and smell good) every single time I leave the house.  I am also for the record exceedingly cheap. Well, frugal, it sounds better.

This Christmas past my wife blessed me with two small pots of very expensive hair product from American Crew ™. One was a paste, one a pomade (there is a difference you heathens).  I was pleased as punch as I am always a fan of having backup toiletries especially free ones.

She laughs when I rob my hotel room of unused bottles of shampoo etc. before I leave each day as I know when they turn down they will refill them (I use them at the gym). She laughs when I snag extra peanut butter containers from the continental breakfast set up (protein for after the gym!).

She laughs that I am persnickety about my hair.

She knows however that as much as I am frugal I do fully respect quality, hence the posher than I usually buy product.  Sadly, I left one in a hotel in TO and I used all of another.  I then ran out of all backup leftover mostly empty pots of pomade.  I woke up one morning looking otherwise decent (I guess) but with hair wet and unkempt.  I had a mild panic.  My insecurity level was eight and rising.  I dropped into problem solver mode and found a solution that made her stylist sneer and cringe when I related it to he a week later.

(I’ll tell you about my revelation after the flashback)

Christmas 2013. I was staying in a hotel in Toronto.  After work I rushed to check in, shower, change and meet my colleagues at a pre-chosen location for our unofficial Xmas gathering.  Most of them would have just  gone from the office to the restaurant/pub, but being me and the child of my fashionable, former disco queen and king parents, I refuse to go out for the evening when I am abroad in clothing I have worn all day.  I lay out my jeans (ironed), shoes, shirt (ironed, of course) and underwear.  I jumped in the shower, washed, temperature not too high as it will redden my face and make it obvious I showered, shampooed, dried and donned the terrycloth gown the hotel provided.  Drank a lot of water (good for the skin and prevents you from guzzling too much beer too soon), brushed teeth and ran out to throw on clothes and shoes.  Examined myself in the mirror, hid valuables so turn down squad wouldn’t rob me and realized “hair!”.  Ran to bathroom and immediately realized I had no product.

Panic.

Insecurity level 9.

I looked around me and saw the following:

  • Body lotion (mildly scented, not too girly)
  • Shoe wax
  • Scent free antiseptic hand gel

Using my McGuyver abilities and knowledge of chemistry I used the alcohol to break down the wax somewhat and the body lotion to soften the resulting goo and make it less harsh.  I produced Magical Emergency Hair Product and proceeded to try it on myself (all the best experimentation involves SELF experimentation).  Success.  Though note it required three shampooings to get out the next morning.

Flash back to this month.  Panic.  Insecurity level 8 and rising.  I thought about my previous dilemma and looked around, seeing nothing useful except for one bottle.  My savior. I grabbed it and carefully rubbed a fair amount between my hands then in my hair.  I styled it as per normal and was shocked to find it made for a more than acceptable emergency hair product. In fact, strike the word emergency.  I have been using it for two weeks now.  I wouldn’t call it a fulsome replacement, it is not re-moldable should you choose to mess with your hair midday, but it is a fine solution to hair issues and cheap.  I mean frugal.

Aveeno body lotion.

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I kid you not.  You will thank me, neurotic, insecure, fashionable, loyal teller of tales.

Now to find a cheap alternative to the expensive sock fetish I have developed of late…