Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Late Night Crowd

When I lived in Los Angeles, one of my favorite things to do was to get into the Honda and drive late at night to our neighborhood Von's grocery store on Santa Monica Blvd. One could always find some sort of oddity by which to be entertained.

Once I witnessed two teenaged Asian boys transform themselves into girls while waiting in the checkout line.

Once I saw a large man with a shopping cart full of Double Stuff Oreos. "They're highly addictive," he said.

Once I watched a young Russian fellow try to pass himself off as the middle-aged Latino woman on the driver's license he was trying to use to procure alcohol with. "Iss me," he insisted. "I yam Lopez."

Once I saw twin women fighting over the last tube of a particular shade of lipstick. They were slapping each other, one was in tears, and the other was hissing "You know this shade doesn't look good on you."

Once I stood in line behind an elderly woman who had nothing but 8 jars of Helman's Light mayonnaise in her cart.

Once I watched a security guard tell a woman that she couldn't come into the store dressed like that. She was in a bra and panties that had "Wednesday" stitched across them; she insisted it was her bathing suit and that she'd just been swimming at the YMCA around the corner.

Once I saw a man weeping in the diapers section. His head was resting gently on a package of Huggies.

Once I encountered a person--man or woman, I'm not sure--inside a tuba, trying to buy chocolate covered sunflower seeds from one of those press-here bins. S/he couldn't get close enough to the mechanism on account of, you know, being inside a tuba, and asked if I could help. And then chewed me out because I gave him/her more than s/he wanted.

Tonight, at midnight, I'm staring out my living room windows at the deserted pathway that leads to the swings park. The neighbors have a blue-lit Christmas tree in their front yard, and it looks really nice against the snow that has been falling steadily for the last 10 hours. A rabbit just bounced past.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Lego My Christmas

This year, I finished my Christmas shopping by around the middle of November. Fin-ished. I did it all online. Little parcels have been arriving, like packages from Dale in TLOTR, for weeks now. I've been walking around with a swollen head, full of pious self-congratulation.

And then the people at Lego did something to illuminate why they are rolling-in-it Danes driving shiny red sportscars to their villas on woodsy islands in the Baltic and I am in a very messy home office in a suburban bungalow: they sent a holiday catalogue full of brand new kits.

So now Christmas morning will be a time of great mourning if Someone Short should awake to find that there is no Pharaoh Visits the Turkish Baths or whatever it is. No Ninjago. No freaking freaking HOGWARTS.

Darn you, you Danes, you. I am very cross with you. I think you owe me and many other semi-organized people an apology. And maybe a gift certificate to the Lego store. That would go a long way.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

I was always a Jingle Bell

I was raised Catholic. Here in the lovely city of Calgary, that means you can be educated in the Separate School System (aka: Cat Lick School). The Proddy Dogs were usually at the other end of a shared playing field, whereupon we would re-enact with snowballs, basketballs, the hurling of outrageous invective, the Battle of White Mountain, the St Bartholomew's Day Massacre, and the Massacre of Merindol nearly every recess. Essentially, the Reformation and Counter-Reformation. We Catholics nearly always won. We were the noodle-fed sons and daughters of Russians, Ukrainians, Italians, Poles. They? HA! We laughed at their weeny Kentish shanks.

Come Christmas, though, there was one thing that united all of kid-dom, no matter at what end of the field you happened to be.

Every year, we would be forced to dress up in our mom's terrycloth bathrobes if we were shepherds, our too-short or too-long nightgowns or communion dresses if we were angels, our grandmother's finest chenille throws if we were Magi.

Or--much worse: We were Jingle Bells.

(Best not go down that road. That way lies madness.)


Last night we attended Kid's Holiday Concert. The children sang beautifully. They expertly played the xylophone and the glockenspiel. They confidently chanted odd modern lyrics to The Blue Danube ("Strauss, he was the best/He was better than the rest") and The Entertainer ("If it's ragtime, it's got to be slow"). Four of them (bless their hearts) gallumphed with dignity across the stage in a sort of Clydesdale-inspired homage to waltzing. They proved to us all that they were special treasures, talented beyond all expectation and compare.

It drove me freaking nuts.

No humiliation. No ill-disguised parental glee at the discomfiture of shepherds in pink floral bathrobes. No flubbing of lines. No pants-wetting Magi. No weeping Joseph. No general laughter when everyone realizes that the girl playing The Blessed Virgin is perhaps the least suitable 12-year-old to ever have been considered for the role. No audible gasp as Ulli Pentarizzo thunders out in green tights as the (mustachioed) First Christmas Tree. No looks of commiseration for the moms of the Jingle Bells.

Think about it: the 30-minute sweat-soaked melee that represents getting them to school every morning; replacing every single freaking mitten at least 12 times; the leftover meatloaf sandwich that lurks at the bottom of the backpack for 7 days before crawling out and begging for water; feet that grow a size every three weeks; their chuckle-headed inability to wipe their own noses in this forsaken land of the 7-month winter; the endless fart songs; the knock-knock jokes that end "and then the car went into the pool. Get it? GET IT?", being volunteered to bring two dozen cupcakes that represent the provincial and territorial flags, finding 100 pieces of pasta to put in a clean jar so they can all see what 100 of different things looks like--with a five minute warning.

Is it too much to ask that the school give us ONE LOUSY NIGHT when we get to turn the tables on our offspring? A little pointing and laughing would go a long long way, is all I'm saying.

HEY SCHOOL: You want me to chaperone a field trip to the frozen tundra?

That will be one Jingle Bell Holiday revue, please.  

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Typical Morning

Things spoken/overheard at the voodoo bungalow this morning:

There is so much dog hair on my socks that I can't eat my breakfast.

If these were called MOON Sized Shredded Wheat, wouldn't that be so cool?

Yeah, no. I'm not sure. Oh! OF COURSE!

Why are the coffee filters in the hall closet? WHY? WHY? WHY?

Oh, Elvis, gross.

Just how late are we THIS morning?

Look, if you actually were Han Solo we still wouldn't make it to school on time.

Bats in the cave! Bats in the cave!

We typically brush our teeth with toothpaste, not corn syrup. You can tell the difference because one is white and tastes like peppermint and comes in a squeezable tube that you'll find beside the bathroom sink.

Do I have time to do my math homework?

When someone hits a girl in the nuts, what do you call it?

There is so much dog hair on my socks that I can't get my boots on.

It would be so cool if your head really did explode. No offense.

Yeah, there's no bread.

Is this hyperspeed?

When it says "No Parking/No Stopping" why doesn't that mean us again?

Can I have chocolate fondu for lunch with marshmallows and can Jake and Madeline and Paige and Andrew and Alex and Jasper and Ian and Sam come over too?

And the most awful one of all:

See you at noon!