It’s A Wonder that Neither of Us Ended Up In Jail After This Conversation

Sula damaged her passport this past summer. To prevent herself from being carried off by giant, pterodactyl-like mosquitos while working on the tundra, the government of Canada issues her and her crew bottles of Deet. Along with keeping bugs away this marvelous chemical is also a potent carcinogen and has the ability to melt plastic. Supposedly the melting of Sula’s passport occurred while she was flying up North in a tiny twin otter plane. She’s talked about having to army man crawl to the back of the plane to spread herself over her equipment in order to both protect it and even out the weight distribution of the small aircraft. I picture the passport demolishing as having occurred while she bravely clung to the specimen collection boxes to keep them safe as the plane soared over the tundra.

This attempted destruction of her identity meant that Sula had to apply for a new passport in a rush to travel this Christmas season. Thankfully she informed me before the government of Canada called my house that I was one of her primary references.

For some reason when interacting with government officials and people of authority, I become more nonsensical and even harder to understand than normal. Take for example the last time I drove across the border when Homeland security asked me the purpose for my trip. My partner at the time had been coaching me in the long line up to the border, encouraging my explanation to be succinct and confident. It ended up being one of the two.

Angry Homeland Security Official “What’s the purpose of your trip ma’am?”

Unwashed inexplicably in a flopsweat and panicked that despite having never even seen a gun at that time, let alone an explosive that both she and her partner will be detained for being terrorists “SAAAAAAAKS!!??”

Angry Homeland Security Official “Ma’am did you just tell me you’re crossing the border for socks?”

Unwashed, even higher pitched and more wail-y this time “No, SAAAAAAKSSS.”

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They do sell socks here, but the real draw were the dresses and tops. Photo Credit : http://www.cpexecutive.com

After that encounter, I just gave up and decided to be my rambling, over sharing self. We’ll have to see how this pans out for Sula and her passport. I imagine my conversations with the Canadian government officials to go a bit like this.

Government Official- Hi is this The Great Unwashed? We’re calling about a friend’s application for a passport, could you answer some questions?

Acceptable Response – Yes, of course. Please proceed.

Unwashed Answer– I am all about the questions and have every answer you could possibly imagine.

 

Government Official – That’s great. Pause. Can you tell me how long you have known Sula?

Acceptable Response – Seven years, we met near the end of undergrad through a mutual friend.

Unwashed Reply- About seven years now, I met her through my ex-husband, I got to keep her in the divorce along with the good kitchen knives. Wait that sounded vaguely threatening, I didn’t mean to threaten you. I feel like this is not going well.

 

Government Official- Let’s just move on. Can you tell me about Sula’s family?

Acceptable Response- Her mother’s name is Fay, her father’s name is Kim and her younger brother’s name is Patrick. Her parents have been together for over thirty years, they live in the sprawling suburb and her brother lives in the enormous, throbbing metropolis.

Unwashed Answer – Well her Mom has excellent taste in everything and her Dad enjoys drinking beer, smoking and hunting. Sula once went pheasant hunting with him but she didn’t come back with any game because she shot the bird when she was too close and it exploded. I think it made a real mess. Also she has a brother, I think he’s younger but he’s enormous, like really, gigantically tall so it’s hard to tell who’s older. Mind you he needs to be that tall given the size of his dog who looks like a dart. Oh no, I think I’m sounding threatening again.

 

Government Official ignoring my faux pas – Could you tell me where Sula was born?

Acceptable Response- At a hospital in the sprawling suburb where we both grew up.

Unwashed Reply – You’ll never believe it but Sula and I totally lived practically down the street from each other our whole lives. Well not practically, hers was the next subdivision over but then her parents moved early on when we got to know each other and now they live thirty seconds from my Dad’s house, I mean I practically don’t even need to put on shoes to get there but I do because Sula’s mom keeps her house SUPER CLEAN.

Government Official – You didn’t answer the question.

Unwashed – Are you sure? There must have been an answer in there.

Government Official curtly- There wasn’t.

Unwashed – Oh dear.

 

Government Official – This is the last question. Tell me about Sula’s employment during the past two years.

Normal Response – Sula is a field biologist who has been working on her PhD for a year and a half, prior that she was a project manager at a bird research facility.

Unwashed Response – Well, let’s see, a year and a half ago she broke my heart and moved away to start her PhD but it was ok because she moved close to my grandparents and they totally have her over for dinner and we’ve been talking about having a grown up slumber party where I come to visit and then we talk and hold hands until we both fall asleep but for some reason it’s never worked out thus far. Before that she was working on a top secret project for the government but I never knew what she did because I am THE WORST secret keeper in the whole world and would have spilled the beans to everyone although she did once mention that she had to figure out the surface area of a bird for her job. I won’t describe how she did that to you because it’s gross but let’s just say she’s an excellent taxidermist.

Government Official – Thank you Unwashed. That will be all for today.

Appropriate response – You’re welcome, please let me know if you need anything else.

Unwashed reply – I failed didn’t I? Can you tell me whether I failed, or is it a secret? I totally understand if it’s a secret and you can’t tell me, I’m trustworthy but I tell everyone everything, in fact I told a hobo about the time I got my wisdom teeth out last week.

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The Night I Accidently Sold Cantaloupe

Everyone warns you about the dangers of fruit salad: teachers, the television, parents; “This is your brain” gorgeous, former teen star holds up an egg then cracks it, “this is your brain on fruit salad”.

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Given that Rachael used the wrong side of the pan, it would seem that she rarely cooks or that possibly she has indulged in the forbidden, sweet salad. (Photo Credit : youtube.com)

Ever the straight shooter, I took this warning to heart and consequently, my whole life, I have avoided fruit salad like the plague. At parties “Hey there’s cantaloupe around the back”, out on the town “This kiwi fruit makes me so happy, I just love you, do you want to share?” at clubs from a twitchy young man, “Do you want to try papaya?”

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Just say “No”. (Photo Credit : http://www.mccormicks.com)

Ok that last one was an exaggeration, I have only been to one club where I’m certain people were indulging in papaya. It was at a work function in the women’s washroom, and two girls exited the same bathroom stall. Instead of reaching the obvious conclusion, I said “Oh you’re friends! Good friends!” in a cheery voice. The two young women smiled at me and then laughed uproariously as they tipsily made their way out of the bathroom without washing their hands.

My experience with fruit salad is so limited that once during university, I mistook a bag of cantaloupe for desiccated broccoli. A young man, while visiting my residence room with a mutual friend, had accidently dropped the goods which then got kicked under my bed. I discovered the bag while cleaning, and horrified by my apparent lack of housekeeping abilities, I took it to the aforementioned mutual friend whose room was always spic and span. “How could it possibly been this long since I tidied there?” I howled shaking what I thought were dried vegetables at her. “Don’t worry about it” she said “also, I’ll take that.” Suffice to say, the fruit salad underworld and I are not acquainted. This was how, one night last year, I accidently sold cantaloupe.

At the time, my kitchen window opened to the doorway of a Frat house. I had a wonderful view of all the goings on without the surround sound experience of living in the giant multiplex. By contrast, my neighbour who lived upstairs to the rambunctious young men was privy to their every action, including their weekly cantaloupe habit. She was sometimes forced to lay wet towels over her vents in order to prevent her apartment from being “juice-boxed”.

The night in question, my friends Jared* and Beth* were visiting after returning from a three year trip around the world. The wildest nights of my life have been spent with these two and I was looking forward to a raucous and fun evening. They arrived and after about two mugs of Baileys on ice for each of us, Jared looked at me and asked “M’lady, do you know where I might procure some melon?”

I shook my head sadly at him and confessed that I didn’t. Although I personally eschew all forms of fruit salad, I understand that others sometimes enjoy it. “Wait” I said suddenly thinking of my poor next door neighbour being juice-boxed in her own home, “that’s a lie, I do.” I stood up and walked from the living room and into the kitchen where my new roommate Meredith** was cooking supper. I pointed to the doorway outside the kitchen window “Those boys there have some.”

“Excellent” said Jared “I won’t be a minute” and he shrugged on his jacket then walked out the front door. My friend wasn’t lying, within ten seconds, Jared was at the Frat boy’s door, his jovial bonhomie immediately transforming the Frat boy and himself into fast friends. After a short interaction, Jared was back at my entranceway, hanging up his coat. “He’ll be back in five minutes with the cantaloupe” my friend said, rubbing his hands together in excitement.

“Pardon?” I squeaked. My experience in “deals” up until that point had been through my father. Naively, I thought that a fruit salad deal was like a business deal- the two parties met up over a lunch to discuss the transaction, shook hands and then agreed upon a date in the future for said event to occur. This along with my uptight, Sunday school teacher appearance may have been part of why no one ever offered me papaya or kiwi fruit while in a club.

“He’s coming here?” I squeaked again in disbelief. It was then that it dawned on me that I had become a pusher of fruit salad. Realizing that my new roommate may think that she’d moved into an apple den, where creatures of the street came to carouse and party, I rushed from the entranceway into the kitchen, grabbing Meredith about the midsection in a tight and drunken hug, I stage whispered “I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to sell the melon” and then I proceeded to explain my theory about business deals being like salad deals. Meredith smirked at me, “It’s fine, as long as Jared doesn’t do it in the house.”

“Oh, never” I cried and then returned to ask my guest if he could sample his goods in the backyard, ideally away from the eyes of my elderly Italian neighbour who was kind enough to lend me his sharpened hoe to chip ice from my front walk on occasion.

Since that fateful evening, I have continued my fruit salad-less streak, a little older and a heck of a lot wiser. One might almost say that I am developing a keen “Street Sense” after that.

*Names have been changed to protect the identities of those who both bring the party and are the party.

** Names have been changed to protect those who just wanted to spend their night cooking curried butternut squash soup not watching me unknowingly foray into the underbelly of debauchery and crime.

Also, it might not have been cantaloupe that I inadvertently sold, but for the sake of my grandparents who are regular readers of this blog, let’s just pretend it was.

That Time I Proved I Was Inefficient and a Weenie

It’s possible to love someone to the ends of the earth but to also realize that you could never work with them. Sula spends three months of the year living in the Arctic without running water, electricity, and heat. In my heart, I knew that not only am I neither tough enough nor brave enough to do this but that I possess nowhere near the amount of common sense to make a field season happen. I proved this fact repeatedly the last time Sula came to visit and we hiked into the back country to camp.

After returning from the Arctic not only did Sula have the best pack, she was also the heartiest, having carried guns, science equipment and everything needed to survive on her back all day, every day for the previous three months, thus she was given the heaviest load. (Did I mention she returned with a six pack? And not the alcoholic kind.) By contrast, at almost five months pregnant and carrying a pack that Tex bought for five dollars that proceeded to fall apart over our eight kilometer hike in and out of the backcountry, I was given the smallest load and Maddie, who functioned as a kind of a doggie tow rope for my exhausted self.

Everything was going fine, we arrived at the camp and Sula was tasked with setting up the tent given that she can set up equipment that she’s never seen in complete darkness, in the middle of a howling blizzard with no instructions and both eyes closed.

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This wold take Sula all of ten minutes, And thats with a coffee break. (Photo Credit : pinterest.com)

I was asked to get water, an errand normally completed by Tex when he and I camp together.

Even though it was summer, Tex and I live in the very, very, very far North, which is to say that there are approximately two days a year when one would want to swim outside, and both of those days occur in July. Sula and I went camping at the end of August so the water was exceptionally cold. Prior to filling the collapsible camping bucket, I removed my shoes and waded out, my knee may have bumped an iceberg or two in the process and I shrieked in pain and surprise.

Always the leader, in hearing the most vulnerable member of her crew scream, Sula ran from the tent, down to the beach to make sure I was ok. “I’m fine” I called to her, “Just getting water. See?” Emerging from the liquid frozen abyss, I proudly showed Sula the fruits of my labour- a bucket of water so murky with sand and “seaweed bitties” that one would never be able to drink it. If I’m being honest, there may have been a small fish or two in my gathered water as well. Sula nicely explained that it wasn’t potable even if we did strain it, which would leave approximately two teaspoons of clean water

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What do you mean we can’t drink the beach? (Photo Credit tcpermaculture.blogspot.com)

and then pointed to a more appropriate location to gather clean seaweed and crayfish free liquid.

Aside from spilling the first bucket of clean, “bitty-free” water I gathered on the beach, things started looking up from there. That is until I set my socks on fire twenty minutes later. Thankfully they weren’t on my feet at the time, they were only drying next to the fire. The night continued to go downhill when I revealed that Sula had packed in two litres of milk and a giant container of potato salad for dinner. Jokes were made about how I will be made to carry a lasagna in a Pyrex dish into the back country when Sula is pregnant.

Between my dismal packing abilities, dramatic over reactions to water and partial lack of common sense, as we were hiking slowly back to civilization I turned to Sula and asked “I could never come to the Arctic with you could I?”

“You could,” Sula answered kindly, “I’d just have to send you back in the twin otter airplane before you ever touched the tundra.”

The neat part about close friends is that even if you can’t ever work with them, you can still have all kinds of fun.

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(Photo Credit : Sula)

Travesty Tuesdays- Pachyderm Peepshows

Last year, to celebrate the holiday season, I sent out naked photos to my family. As detailed in my post “Tex’s Areolas, Coming to a Mailbox Near You”. Well that was what I threatened to do when I called my Dad to get all of my relatives’ addresses. In actuality, I sent out belated Christmas cards with a fully dressed photo of Tex and me standing on a bridge. Here is the result of last year’s Christmas card writing.

Dear Phillip,

When you woke up this morning, I know the only thing you wanted was to receive a card from your divorced cousin complete with a picture of her “hottie, hottie” boyfriend. It’s what every young person dreams of. I know- that’s why I continue to write awkward correspondence – to make the world a better place. Well except for my Dad’s world. In his card and accompanying picture there may have been hints of future naked Christmas cards to come. I’ve been toying with the idea recently of satirizing the traditional Christmas letter. The only thing that could possibly top that would be to poke fun at the concept of the Christmas card photo, by doing it in the buff. The candy cane is such a versatile goody.

For now you just get a late non-Christmas card and a photo of Tex and me. It’s a tradition in his family to give out photos of the couple to loved ones at holidays. I think I’m going to start wearing a Yoda mask everywhere so all the images we send out leave people wondering whether I’m obsessed with Star Wars or if Tex is just into wizened, green things.

Awkwardly yours,

Unwashed

 

The next card I sent out wasn’t much better.

Only on the back of the photo of Tex and I, was written “Tex “Hottie” Smirnoff and a Bridge Troll”

 

Dear Uncle

I am going to behave. I am going to be proper. I am going to channel the sentiments of the woman on the front of this card and be dull (Van Gogh peasant woman against a background of wheat). This is the eighth card I’ve written and they’ve gotten progressively more wild and bizarre. I’m a little concerned that I might draw and elephant burlesque show on the back of the card just because. But I need to keep my focus and remember the spirit of beyond late Christmas cards is one of somber apologies and an explanation of busyness. So I should get on with it and not try to draw a brassiere which can accommodate a trunk.

Sorry this Christmas card and the accompanying photo are late, it’s not that I’m disorganized; I was just very very busy this past December and January. I mean who else was going to watch every single episode including the bonus features of Hugh Hefner’s former girlfriend’s Bridget Marquardt’s short lived travel show “Bridget’s Beaches ?

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It was vital that I view this show the past two months. It enriched my life in countless ways. (Photo Credit: imdb,com)

This kind of exceptional filming making takes precedence to the rest of life on occasion. My deepest apologies. Hopefully Hef will keep his previous flames under control and off of the televisions for the next holiday season. Then I might have a hope of getting cards out before the New Year.

Much belated love,

Unwashed

P.S. The photo was included because it is a tradition in Tex’s family to distribute pictures of the couple to loved ones. That sort of explains the reason for the card. But not the contents, those I don’t think could ever be explained.

 

On the back I printed

“No scantily clad mammals here. Sorry?