Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The things we do for love

Have just agreed to talk like Joan Crawford in "Sunset Blvd." in the event that sister's new eyebrows force her to attend tonight's wine tasting in the guise of Groucho Marx.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Birthday round up

High-thread-count luxury pyjamas from glamorous Los Angeles
5 bars of Bernard Callebaut chocolate
3 Happy 50th Birthday cards (it wasn't my 50th birthday)
4 birthday cards about bodily functions and the failure thereof
6 bottles of wine
Amazon gift certificate
Dinner and drinks at a cozy restaurant

I'm starting to understand that the people around me might not know how old I am, but they really, really understand me.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Talent Show

So today, picking up Kid at 3.25, I was met by the luminous D, the woman who has saved my life consistently since 2004 with her earthmother glowy childcare. She reminded me that today was "Talent Show" day for our grade 2 class. Her daughter had threatened to play the piano while standing on one leg and wearing a clown nose. This was causing her some consternation. Not quite, you know, dignified?

Thank God, I thought, THANK GOD Kid wasn't taking part. He has no musical talent of which to speak (unless you count the ability to hit the high notes in Bohemian Rhapsody), so for once--for once, sweet Jesus--I would be spared the certain comedy revue that is my son's public life.

Except . . .  D's daughter, admitting that her own showing had been unremarkable, went on to announce breathlessly that Kid had done something "Really weird."

When a 7yo pronounces the actions of another 7yo as "really weird," you're in for a treat. This is what I have learned.

Turns out, Kid did really weird karate. For his music class. And WARMED UP and DID STRETCHES while everyone watched. And then proceeded to weave and bob and whoop and holler his way around the music room, feigning little punches and kicks at shadowy and imaginary opponents. which included a zylophone and a pair of very sorry glockenspiels.

We both watched as Kid shot out the school doors, singing the theme song from Indiana Jones at the top of his lungs, his toque slung low over his eyes, his backpack weighed down with 75 pounds of books on the American Civil War.

"Thank you," said the glowy D to me. "Thank you so much."

What can I say? We aim to please.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Granny pants and grad school

There's an outside chance I might have had some body-image issues when I started wearing my grandmother's underthings in my 20s. My dead grandmother's underthings. The least sexy woman in the long history of non-sexy women, many of whom I imagine have been members of my family, she nevertheless had these adorable little nightie sets--the kind that Doris Day would have worn, with filmy little shrugs to go with. I loved them the way I loved Doris Day: with all my heart. It was just a slippery slope from there. When I write my memoirs I will secure professional help in discovering why my undergarment life went in this direction, and I will share. For now, the simple fact is all that's important: for several years, I went around wearing my dead grandmother's underpants. Roomy, non-judgmental, free--yeah, okay, so maybe my dead grandmother had been wearing them when she was alive, but: roomy!

Reading this over it's clear that I have spent many many years, and not just the last few, as a peculiar person in need of more than chcocolate and booze. Although those too. Nobody stop with the chocolate and booze; that's not what I'm getting at.

So (and here comes the story part):

I was working downtown, right across from City Hall and the Public Library, in a medium-sized building filled with police services and public prosecutors and the American consulate. Getting there from my low-rent apartment was a snap: about 5 stops on the C-Train. I tended to leave my departure til the last minute and thus it was, that bright July morning, that I left home in my grandmother's undergarments and a cute little cinnamon coloured skirt. And everything went just fine until, for no one particular reason but perhaps for many many small reasons over the decades, Gramma's brave undergarment finally gave up the elastic ghost. As I stepped smartly from the train, It Happened. Shoof.

Not an all-the-way-step-out-of-your-underpants shoof, but a shoof that went mid-thigh. And then, as I adjusted my stance so as to keep my drawers up, just a little lower.

What does one do in such a situation? I looked for a shrubbery behind which to ditch, but alas, no such thing. The sole mailbox was surrounded by smokers. The Olympic pillars looked promising but Japanese tourists were having their pictures taken there. Plus, I would probably have fallen into the water while standing on one foot and then I would be wearing sodden vast underpants.

 See? There's hardly any cover at all.

So I clamped one hand very very tightly to one leg and sort of pivoted around as though my legs were a compass, maintaining the ideal pressure on the saggy pants in terms of where they sat against the mercifully kind of snug fitting skirt. I just tried to recreate that walk for my kid and he told me I look like I wet 'em. So not saggy, but soggy. I appeared, to anyone who might have been watching from the 8th floor--as at least three people were--that I had recently been incontinent. (Gramma! It all comes full circle in the end, does it not?)

I waddled slowly across the street, up the stairs, across the lobby and into a mercifully waiting elevator. The moment the door closed, I relaxed, put my knees back together and experienced deep shoof relief.

Except that the door hadn't closed all the way and Larry (let's call him that) from the office burst into the otherwise empty elevator to find me standing next to a pair of vast and shapeless underpants.

Did I know I was standing on them? He asked.

Eek, no, said I.

And thus I became that girl in that story that they still tell at company Christmas parties, that story that no one quite believes but that has been handed down for decades as gospel truth: someone heard it from Steve, who heard it from Clare, who dated that girl who sat next to Omi, who got it from Larry.

Sometimes people ask me why I went back to grad school, in a foreign country, and then stayed abroad for 15 years. Now you know.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Complicated phone problems

My phone: ring. ring. ring. 
Me: Hello?
Agitated Polish Woman: Khello?
Me: Hello.
APW: Why you have called me.
Me: I'm sorry?
APW: You have called me. Why? For what?
Me: Um. Actually, you . . . .
APW: You should stop call me. Stop.
Me: I think you might have the wrong number. . . .
APW: No, YOU have wrong number. You are one with wrong number. Throw it out. Never call me.
Me: Okay then.

The thing is, caller ID has registered her phone number on my phone. It's all I can do not to call her and order a pizza or ask for Lubosh or inform her that she is to desist from her blackmarket hairdressing.

This is the sort of thing that leads inevitably to an appearance on a very special Oprah.

Friday, March 18, 2011

A Music Memoir in 12 Questions: Crazy Pants!

Ironic Mom has all the best ideas. From now on I think I'm a just gonna steal all her prompts and have a shadow blog--a revenant ninja stealth site called "Moronic Mi."

Anyhoodle, here's my version of A Music Memoir in 12 Questions. Fun! 

Also: kinda depressing, when one notices that all the musical highpoints of one's life occurred about 35 years ago. I must have some golden Hammer pants around somewhere to cheer up this voodoo bungalow.

  1. First concert: The Police, XTC @ Max Bell Arena, 1980. Told mom I was going skating. She thought there were a heck of a lot of people in that parking lot for just some random free skate. Sorry Mom! Things I also regret about that evening: Darryl the Fish, and the "cigarette."
  2. First album: Eagles, Hotel California. Never gotten over the idea of pink champagne on ice. Which reminds me: It's lunch time!
  3. Favourite concert memory: Neil Finn @ Largo, LA
  4. Song you love to hate: Coward of the County by Kenny Rogers. Actually anything by Kenny Rogers except for this (BONUS: Crazy pants!)
  5. Song you hate to love: Can’t Touch This, MC Hammer. Lookit im go! I dare you to not just get right into it. (BONUS: Crazy pants!)
  6. Song you know all the words to: Mexican Radio, Wall of Voodoo (BONUS: Crazy face!)
  7. Song that makes you cry: Life is the Red Wagon, Jane Siberry
  8. Song that makes you move: Burning Down the House, Talking Heads
  9. Song you remember dancing to: junior high gym, Ballroom Blitz, The Sweet.  I’ve just watched this video three times, amazed, astounded, just plain gob-smacked at the garish glam wondrousness of it all. The world seemed so fabulous when I was 14. Plus, I think I just found out where Eddie Izzard got some of his wardrobe ideas.
  10. Favourite cover of a song: Cry Baby/Piece of My Heart, Joss Stone, Melissa Etheridge
  11. Karaoke song: Would never, but: Take Me Home, Country Road
  12. Last concert: Crowded House

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Cheese Lady of the Apocalypse

There's this woman I've been avoiding. Okay, so there are like 40 women I've been avoiding, but I've been avoiding this one in particular. She's the cheese sample lady at my local supermarket and from way across the aisle housing all the tubers you can tell that she's a lunatic. And you know what lunatics love? 

They love ME.

So I've been taking the long way around, braving the horrors of the deli counter just to ensure that there is no eye contact. Today, in a hurry to find provender for Kid's lunch, I forgot the trap and blundered right into the fromagey web. 

Quinoa, eggs, almonds, cereal, CHEESE LADY OF THE APOCALYPSE.

"Irish Cheddar, hon?"

I froze. Even now, recounting it, I'm shuddering.

I turned, slowly. Hairnet. Henna rinse. Two bright pink spots a bit too low down on the cheeks. Dentures, slipping out. God love her.

And so I found myself pinning into the cheese lady vortex of doom, trapped for 15 minutes that I did not really have, while other shoppers whizzed past with little thought bubbles above their heads reading "SUCKA!" and "THANK CHRIST IT WASN'T ME."  One guy actually snickered audibly. 

Dear guy who snickered audibly: I will find you.

Topics covered with Cheese Sample Lady: 

--Her friend Joanne the celiac
--Goddamn people who eat dinner after 8pm
--Denture clinics run by people who do not themselves have dentures
--The price of cauliflower
--The goddamn government and why you can't buy rye at Safeway. Rye bread, sure, but not rye to drink. It just makes no goddamn sense. 
--The fact that no one can tell the difference between Irish cheddar and cheddar from Okotoks (a bedroom community of Calgary, not known for cheese production of any kind). 
--Espadrilles and why the sides of them are so goddamn ugly
--The upward trend in rental prices in the Tuscon, AZ, area
--Her boyfriend Dougie and his goddamn wife and who was going to go to tonight's hockey game

I tried. I did, I tried, I was everything my mother could have hoped I would be in such a situation. I made the right noises, I tried to reach out to her as a person, an individua with a history and feelings and loves and dreams and hopes and small sadnesses. I sampled her cheese. I spent 15 minutes with the Cheese Sample Lady and I tried to brighten her day. 

When I finally mentioned that I had only 12 minutes to get to school to pick up the Kid, she let me go with the promise that I'd drop in again real soon. 

About 20 feet away, a man stopped me in front of the bananas. He clutched my sleeve and gestured. Come closer, said the gesture. 

AW, MAN: I thought. NOW WHAT?? 

Brace yourself: It's worse than I imagined. Worse than you imagined.

What he said to me was this: 

"Did you eat the cheese she gave you? Because I have to tell you, my wife and I were watching her for 10 minutes and she was picking her nose the whole time. Connie's just gone to tell the manager."

There's nothing I can add to that except goodnight, thanks for reading, and feel free to barf. I did.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Perfect Age

Kid: Mommy, are you very old?
Me: Nope. I'm just the right age to be your mom.
Kid: I disagree. I think you were the perfect age last year. It's just going to get worse every year.

And he wonders why we don't take him to Disneyland.