Non Car Accidents and Near Fisticuffs With The Jolly Green Giant

More than the ability to drink staggering amounts of vodka and wake up looking like a daisy that’s sprung up next to a waterfall; all sunny, dewy and raring for adventure, more than the confidence that a smoky eye was EXACTLY what 7 am Tuesday shift at the local sandwich shop called for, more than even my twenty year old metabolism which ran like an Energizer bunny, I miss the recklessness of youth.

Once upon a time, when I wandered around in the buff not because I was out of laundry but because I was young and everything still pointed up, I used to kick banks and snarl at bank managers like a rabid dog, before chasing local, non-rabid, neighbourhood dogs home. And I was interesting. All of this made for easy blog post fodder.

I’ve been lamenting my recent stream of good life choices and lack of eccentricity that motherhood has brought upon me to anyone who would listen. That is until yesterday.

Something you need to know about small towns is; they’re like Roz from Monsters Inc- they have unnaturally short arms and wear cardigans. No. Although there are a fair number of white haired ladies who rock a cardigan every day of the year. No, small towns are like Roz in that they are always watching.

Roz

The ideal next door neighbour. Photo Credit : pixar.wikia.com

I forget the omnipresence of the town. Or sometimes blatantly ignore it and behave badly anyway. And then I see people at the mall and take a shame bath when faced with my crimes against decency. In case you’re wondering, a shame bath is exactly like a normal bath except instead of water, there’s acid. Also you exfoliate with coarse sandpaper beforehand. This is why I don’t go to the mall anymore. Because I see everyone that I’ve ever embarrassed myself in front of. That and I get mistaken for a homeless person.

Anyway, so there I was, just going about my business at the grocery store, like a normal person who’s the size of a twelve year old and dresses like a hobo, when this woman runs up to me and asks “Did I see you riding your bike and giving a car what-for a week ago?”

You know in movies when you are sucked into the character’s eyes for a flashback? It was exactly like that. Only I didn’t get to make out with my deceased husband KJ Apa.

KJ-APA-FLAUNT4

You may judge me for being cougar and violating the “Half-your-age-plus-seven” rule with my imaginary husbands because I’m going to be a worse person later on in the post. Photo Credit : flaunt.com

Nor did I splash on a beach with my fictional best friend Jennifer Garner. No, I was brought back to a week before, when I was cycling my son and his two friends home from a play date.

Now, before my grandparents start freaking out and sending gas money in the mail so I’ll use my car more often, I should state that at no time was anyone ever in danger. It was the biking equivalent of someone cutting in front of you in line at the bank. Irritating, rude but ultimately, in no way life threatening. Which made me that much more furious. Because I would NEVER let someone cut in line at the bank. I would gladly offer for them to go ahead but no cutsies.

Also, I don’t actually go to the bank here because eight months ago, I did something humiliating in front of a teller and now I have to bike to the machines at seven am before opening hours to do my banking.

I digress, so there I was, clipping along at a brisk 10.7 kilometers an hour. This sounds slow until you recall that me+ our bike+ three children = about eight thousand pounds. Or at least that’s how it feels in a head wind- like I’m cycling a cart full of Barnam and Bailey’s oversized animals home from the circus while the bearded lady sits on my shoulders.

A car appears behind me. This is not concerning. If I were in a city, the kids and I would be dead. However if I were in a city, I wouldn’t be cycling at all, let alone with three children under the age of five. Here, in the middle of nowhere, cars give me at minimum a meter, but most often, an entire lane to myself, sometimes more. In return I give them a big smile and tell the kids to wave jauntily at the motorists. And then someone jumps out of the bushes to snap a photo of how idyllic small town life is right after the kids finish asking what the word ‘jauntily” means. Only not actually the photo part.

This car apparently didn’t get the memo, because it sped up to turn right ahead of me. Please note that I had thrown my arm out to indicate that I was also turning right. Dude, was in such a hurry that he HAD to get ahead of me. But not by much, because I had to brake. Gently. So as to avoid a super low speed collision. The other car was also going super slow. Did I mention that I live in the sticks and that no one is in a hurry? Even if they aren’t pedaling what feels like a group of morbidly obese rhinos around?

Minor paint scratches effectively avoided. Even still, I was livid. Red flashed around the edges of my eyes as both my heart rate and legs speeded up.

Once, ten years ago, I was rear ended by a 6’8 giant driving a convertible. After jumping out to inspect my bumper, I stomped my twelve year old sized self over to his car and bellowed at him about reckless behavior and the need to pay attention. (It bears mentioning there was no damage to either car- he merely nudged me.) The NBA sized man slunk down in his seat until he was shorter than me. My boyfriend at that time was convinced I was going to grab the terrified sasquatch by the lapels and yank the guy out of the car. Suffice to say, when I’m angry, it’s a sight to behold. Also, in the interest of safety, you should stand at least ten paces back in order to safely duck the red hot magma that shoots out of my ears.

All of this was over an elderly truck, that I didn’t love, which contained no children in it. However it does convey my passion about road safety.

This right-turn line cutter, made me madder than Paul Bunyan did ten years ago. If this had happened in the city, I wouldn’t have batted an eye. But this was a small town! Who did they think they were? While braking, gently, I started shouting at the top of my lungs. As soon as I had safely turned the corner and no longer needed a free arm to indicate my turn, I began gesturing to reinforce my point.

When the car had turned in front of me, I saw that the driver was in his seventies. I looked at both him and his equally elderly wife in the front seat and thought “I could take him”. Please note that I wouldn’t have roughed the septuagenarian up, after all, I had someone else’s children with me- I needed to set a good example. This is also why I didn’t whip out those choice profanities that my husband taught me last month while fixing our washing machine. Although I’ve been dying to slip the word “tea kettle” in with a string of curse words since then.

I will confess to speeding up with the intention of chasing down this rogue driver. However, with my furious tirade still filling his hearing aids, and seeing my enraged hand gestures, rather than turning into the local senior’s center to play bingo, the man took off towards Main Street.

I quickly looked around to verify that no one had witnessed the event, shrugged it off, then kept pedaling. Afterwards, I promptly forgot about it.

That is until the lady approached me in the grocery store. This is the moment when I realized that it’s not that I no longer commit ridiculous acts, it’s that they’re no longer notable to me. Which is far more concerning. Also, I need to start wearing a wig, or at the very least, stop reaching for the rainbow coat. Much less recognizable.

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Get The Angry Villagers With The Pitchforks, You’re Going To Want Them To Chase Me

I close my eyes and all I feel is shame. That painful oozing emotion has replaced all of my internal organs, including the ones that I don’t know where they are or what their purpose is- like my duodenum. (I think it’s by my shoulder blade?)

This is bad. It’s worse than the time I tucked the back of my skirt into my tights at work. Or when the toddler at church grabbed the hem of my dress as I lifted her up to sing the hymns. Or even the time that I forgot to button up my shirt and went out in public. And now on top of my shame, I feel like I need lessons in how to dress myself.

Regardless, none of that compares to what just happened.

I was mistaken for a homeless person.

I blame it on the gourds, which is like blaming it on the rain only better because a person can kick gourds whereas kicking the rain will likely end with flailing on your back in a puddle.

I’ll start at the beginning.

We didn’t have a pumpkin, even though Mini-Tex had been begging for a pumpkin since they inexplicably arrived in the stores on July 10th. We didn’t have a pumpkin because I saw a poster advertising that there would be a massive pumpkin and gourd sale.

Who has pumpkins and gourds? Farmers. Ergo, the pumpkin and gourd sale, though not advertised as such, was likely a farmer’s market. So being a yummy, stay-at-home mummy who wears yoga pants all the time, even when the attire says “business casual” and only shops at organic farmer’s markets, I had to wait for the sale. Because what’s the point of being a yummy mummy who doesn’t shop at farmer’s markets? It’s like being Kim Kardashian without all the naked selfies. Who in the world would recognize that woman if she wore a shift dress and a turtleneck? It just wouldn’t be right.

I mean if the Kardashians all decide to cover up their cleavage and wander around in floral print muumuus, thus forcing pigs to sprout wings and crash through windows like oversized chickadees, that’s one thing, but I for one will not defy convention. Who knows what could happen? Also my husband windexed everything last week- our living room bay window would be the first to break in a flying-pig, world-turnover.

So dutifully, Mini-Tex and I hopped on our bike and headed over to the mall in search of the sale, even though it was cold, and snowing the kind of wet snow that has no redeeming qualities whatsoever. It was the type of snow that merely turns the world grey and messes up your hair. I biked around the parking lot in search of the pumpkin sale. No sale. I biked over to the other parking lot. An unnecessary gesture since the other parking lot was visible from the first one but I was leaving no stone unturned. No sale.

This wouldn’t have been a problem were it not for the fact that I promised my son pumpkins. Lots of pumpkins. And if you thought airborne hogs careening into windows was trouble, you have not seen a toddler scorned. It’s like Pompeii only without the nice part where everyone turns to ash, because as a parent you have to live through all the shrieking and then serve supper afterwards.

So we did the thing I dread most. We went into the mall. On a weekend.

In a city, this is a bad idea because malls are chockablock with teenagers who are liable to Snapchat you racing after a runaway shopping cart containing your son. (Not that I’ve done this, and in my defense, it was a windy day.) In small towns going to the mall is the worst idea ever, even worse than Kim’s pink hibiscus muumuu, because you will see everyone you’ve ever met in your life ever. And if you’re me, you will not remember their names, who they are or anything about them. But they will know every single detail of your life.

But in we went. Fortunately it was my lucky day. I saw no one I knew. Meaning that at least eight people saw me and were like “Why didn’t she say hi?” Even better, diapers were on sale. Massive sale. Good news for people like myself who are expecting feces squirting bundles of joy shortly. So I loaded up, forgetting that I had only had twenty bucks on my person rather than my wallet.

So we roll up to the checkout with our two pumpkins and diapers. Behind us in line is an elderly gentleman who had eyed our bike as I parked it. But, I didn’t know him so that was fine.

Now for those of you at home, I need to describe what I was wearing. Does anyone remember the part in Uncle Buck when John Candy describes the hatred his friends had for his hat?

buck-hat

“A lot of people hate this hat.” Photo Credit : enchantedserendipity.com

I was wearing one of those garments. Bright yellow, red and blue, it was nicknamed the circus coat by my friends because it’s so large and garish that at any moment, an elephant sporting a feathered headdress might emerge from its side zipper.

It was my mother’s coat thirty years ago. In the eighties, when looking like a neon walking advertisement for Las Vegas attractions was acceptable. Since then, the coat has acquired thirty years’ worth of stains, some of which won’t come out, along with enough hatred to start a religious war. But still I wear it. Couple that with my weather inappropriate boots which I favor because I can jump into them and the fact that the hems of my capri pants don’t quite touch my boots, I looked, well, odd. And also like the only place I can afford to shop is in the free bins at the local clothing bank.

Now don’t forget that it was snowing, so both Mini-Tex and I were looking a little bedraggled too. And then throw in my reference to the new baby. Also my son’s inherent cuteness. It’s kind of like when street people have a dog. No matter how filthy or questionable the person looks, everyone reacts the same way – “Ooooooo a puppy!”

Anyway, so I get up to the checkout, the cashier rings everything in and that’s when it hits me. I only have twenty bucks and that will not cover everything. It was one of those moments in your life when you’re like “A grand piano could squish me right now, and that would be ok.” All I had to do was ask the cashier to put everything back and I could slink out of the mall with my requisite humiliating mall story that comes with each visit. But no, that was not the fates’ plan for me that day.

The gentleman behind me stepped up and said “Anything this lady wants, put it on my tab.”

I don’t know if there is even a name for the shade of red I blushed. I kept stammering “No, no, it’s ok.” And then the man gently said “I have so many blessings in my life, let me pay it forward.” No amount of reassurances that I was also blessed could convince this man otherwise. The gesture was so nice it was painful. The man’s kindness was especially unbearable in light of the fact that I didn’t need it. I’m a person who can pay for my groceries, despite the fact that I look like a ragamuffin who sleeps in a cardboard box most days.

As soon as I got home, I called my mother. Who of course didn’t answer. So I was forced to call a less sympathetic relative-my sister. “Diana!” I wailed. “I was mistaken for a homeless person!”

“Is this perhaps a sign that you need to shower more than once a week?” my sister observed dryly.

Then thankfully my mom called. Unfortunately, she was also less than helpful; my mother thought that in addition to looking like a homeless person, the man probably thought I was a teenage mother. Which was nice, because I always need reminders that I’m short and talk like one of Alvin and the Chipmunks’ girly cousins, making people conclude that I’m younger than I am.

So there it is. All of my shame. I accepted charity when I didn’t need charity. And now I can never go back to the mall, ever ever again in my life.

Also when I previewed this post with her, my mother shouted into the phone “Fashionable! The coat was fashionable in the eighties!” She wants you all to know that she wasn’t a walking target for Us Weekly’s Fashion Police feature. By contrast today, I am. And ten years ago when I first started wearing the coat. But don’t worry; I’m going to keep wearing that fabric rainbow until the style comes back around in thirty years. It’s a good coat.

Part Two: The Night Of The Living Helicopter Parents

This post continues where my previous one left off. If you do not share a minimum of 25% of either my DNA or aren’t a close family friend, you’re probably going to find this as boring as watching competitive cross stitch competitions. I suggest you bail now. Unless you have insomnia in which case- you’re welcome. Now you can save that Xanax for a night when you truly need it.

After the mall, we quickly hopped back into the bike to go see all of our three year old’s favourite decorations. In addition to hugging the blow up cats, monkeys and Halloween dogs, Mini-Tex of course had to tell each inflatable a story, and ask them questions. Thus started the routine of the evening, where the homeowner would come to the door after hearing voices, then stand and watch as our son mauled their decorations with hugs. The candy bearers were quite patient- they’d stand there for five minutes.

Mini-Tex, having finished his job of hugging the inflatable decorations, would head back to the bike to be ferried onto the next set of blow up decorations to be hugged, leaving the puzzled homeowner to wave their candy at him from the door. One woman even chucked a bag of chips at our bike when she realized that we weren’t going to come to her door. Mini-Tex’s entire raison d’etre was the decorations. The candy was a nice but completely unnecessary addition.

There were at least a dozen houses that we visited where we didn’t even bother ringing the doorbell. We just left. So this totally solidified our son’s assumption that Halloween was all about kissing and making friends with inflatable lawn ornaments.

Something you’ve undoubtedly realized is- I love Halloween. I don’t love getting dressed up. I don’t love decorating my house but I adore watching a parade of little people live out their dreams for one night. I’ve spent many years living in accommodations that children would never visit; above a doctor’s office, in apartment buildings, the list goes on. In the past, I’ve found friends who were willing to host me for the night. “I’ll bring the candy and dinner, you just have to let me squat in your front entrance for the evening” was always my agreement.

In the absence of trick or treaters, I’ve even been the creepy lady sticking her head out the front door when a group appears down the street, yelling at the children “I have candy! Lots of candy!” And it’s true, I heap the sugar upon the little people, like I’m at a costumed strip club and making it rain Hersheys. Wow. I just took an already awkward interaction and made it worse.

I ask every little person, “And what are you?” with all of the earnestness of Mr. Rogers. I fawn, I high five, I tell the trick or treaters how pretty/spooky/imaginative they are. Heck, I even like the sullen teenagers in plain clothes who show up at ten o’clock at night. The point is: I truly love Halloween.

Having now taken an adorable little person around for all Hallows Eve, it turns out- I’m not the only one.

Tex and I came up with a game plan while our son was napping. Start at the mall, bike to the opposite side of the city and make our way back to our house stopping at only the high yield houses. Meaning the houses with either three blow up decorations or more, or the ones with super neat decorations. For example the house with what looked like an ordinary inflatable giant pumpkin but actually played Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and had lights on the inside so the face of the Jack-o-lantern changed making it appear that the pumpkin was singing the music. That was cool. We spent ten minutes camped out on that person’s lawn dancing and whooping it up. We wanted to see every one of those places in town.

This meant that there was a little old lady who watched our trio go from well decorated house to well decorated house on her street. She had gotten into the spirit, but her decorations were small and dated. Also it was getting late. Abruptly, as we were about to walk up her driveway, I insisted we return to our bike and head to a warm place to give Mini-Tex dinner. My husband agreed and we turned around. The lady watched forlornly from her window as we walked away. Once it became clear that we were about to leave, she ran out onto her porch waving a giant bag of candy. “Don’t I get to see the little one?” she cried.

I felt awful. Not just because I had now seen myself in thirty years’ time, but because I was disappointing a woman who was the spitting image of a grandmother stereotype; the kind of lumpy figure that gives out amazing hugs, short cut hair curled perfectly with rollers that she sleeps in and wire frame spectacles. She was even wearing a grandma style sweatshirt.

The problem with driving a bike is that you can’t roll up your windows or make a fast getaway. “Get pedaling” I hissed at Tex as the septuagenarian contemplated whether she was going to run down the street after us. We waved jauntily as we cycled away, watching the poor old lady deflate like a balloon after a birthday party in the bike’s rearview mirror. Apparently there are people who love this holiday as much as I do.

Luckily the hospital where Tex works is halfway in between our house and the opposite side of the city. I was on the verge of hypothermia while Tex was on the verge of a meltdown from too many layers. He quickly shucked a shirt and long johns so I could put them on. In the meantime, Mini-Tex was having the dinner of his life, sausage pieces with a side of Smarties and juice to wash it down.

Juice is not a beverage that makes an appearance in our household. Ever. It is also heavy, relative to chips. It was decided, in the interest of storage space and weight, that we would open every juice box that Mini-Tex had been given up to that point. So for dinner he had a smorgasbord of juice. Between that and the dual parent dressing moment earlier, Tex and I should get an award. I’m not sure which one- whatever the parenting version of a Razzie is likely.

By the time we finished our dinner, it was seven. Reasonable, good parents would have recognized that the evening had been sufficiently fun and called it a night. But as established by our actions, we are not those people. So back into the bike we went, to hug the mummy blow up and shake the hand of the baby monster. Tex wins an additional award for not tripping over the thousands of guide wires securing the nine blow up decorations at the mummy house as he lifted our son from one decoration to another in the pitch black garden.

It was shortly after that when I realize that although we had put out a giant bowl of candy next to our three pumpkins for trick-or-treaters, I had neglected to turn on the porch light because it was four o’clock in the afternoon when we left. Meaning that, at the end of the night, we would return to a giant bowl of candy.

After a quick stop to hug the moving, fake fire breathing dragon, we headed home. Oh sorry, dragon-food eating dragon. Weeks ago, while I was strapping my three year old into the bike after visiting the library across the street from the dragon, Mini-Tex asked me “What is the dragon eating?” not realizing that there was something in the dragon’s mouth, I gave him what seemed like an obvious answer- dragon-food. Then of course we rode by the house and I realized that the dragon was breathing fire. But by then the damage had be done and the fire was henceforth known as “dragon-food”. No amount of correcting could convince our son otherwise.

Tex pedaled us quickly across town and I ran into our house to refill the candy bowl a bit and turn on the light.

OK, rant. What happened to all the greedy little miscreants who empty candy bowls? I was depending on them! Otherwise I wouldn’t have purchased three boxes of treats. I swear every single kid must have respectfully taken one lone piece and left the rest. Who raised these excessively polite children with endless reserves of willpower?  What is our world coming to when we can’t rely on the candy grubbing nature of the youth?

Also, I forgot the part when we stopped at the local nursing home. When my grandmother was alive, despite how desperately painful and embarrassing the experience was due to my toddler’s behaviour, I would always bring Mini-Tex to visit her. Little kids bring old people joy. Small children dressed up for any reason bring lots of joy. So we stopped at the local nursing home. As it turned out, we entered through the dementia wing just as they were sitting down to dinner. Mini-Tex wandered around and said “Hello” to all of the residents. They were delighted. One of them was blind so the nurse described all of our costumes to him.

Then we went and knocked on the individual doors of people still living independently in the home. Tragically most of the residents were verging on deaf and didn’t hear us. (Or didn’t want a visit.) But the couple elderly people we saw were happy. Though they felt guilty about not having candy which we reassured them wasn’t the purpose of our visit.

By this point in the evening, Mini-Tex was still excited but wilting. All the other little people and their responsible parents had returned home. But we continued to cycle around the city because gosh darn it, I was going to get my money’s worth out of that fifteen dollar Olaf costume from Kjiji. Also we had yet to visit the street with the ghost that jumps out of the pumpkin or the house with the spider on the roof.

It was around this time that Tex and I decided to forgo the candy part entirely. People had once again filled our son’s decorative pumpkin basket to the brim and we were running short on toddler energy. After terrifying our offspring by holding him up to touch the peekaboo ghost, we headed for the house with the giant tarantula.

Mini-Tex was beginning to look like Olaf in summer; he became a puddle of costume and snowsuit. “Do you want to see the spider on the roof?” I asked. “No” came his terse, small reply. That was it; we had maxed out our toddler’s love of inflatable decorations. Tex and I concluded that it was time to go home. The problem was that we had agreed to visit friends of ours.

As quickly as he could, Tex cycled past the spider house. In spite of his exhaustion, our son did get out and hug both Jack Skellington and Darth Vader along the way. We quickly popped by our friends’ homes and headed home.

Then on our way home it happened. The event we had been dreading. We live in a small town. Meaning there is a small police force so we NEVER see the police. While we wear our helmets religiously, much to our son’s chagrin, on this night none of us wore one. Wearing a helmet would have mussed my do, prevented Tex from wearing his Kristoff hat and wouldn’t have fit under Mini-Tex’s Olaf costume. Even still, during the afternoon, Tex had placed our son’s helmet in the bike because it is the law for children to wear head protection while cycling.

As we were pulling away from our friend’s house, coming in the opposite direction was an RCMP vehicle. All the colour drained from my face. There was no way with all our lights that he wouldn’t notice our bike. We were going to cap off our perfect night with a ticket. A ticket that was well deserved, but a ticket nonetheless.

The Mountie rolled down his passenger window and I broke into a flop sweat. “Did you get a lot of candy?” the officer asked Mini-Tex. Our toddler had transformed into a catatonic mess so Tex answered for him because I was suffering from the worst case of dry mouth I’d ever had in my life. “Lots.” The officer gave us a wave, “You folks have a good night then” before he continued on his way. It was only when the vehicle’s lights became pinpricks in the bike’s rearview mirror that I could exhale.

Happily, when we arrived home, the candy bowl was empty. I had instructed a group of teenagers that we passed to visit our house and take everything they found there. Old people who complain that kids these days don’t listen have clearly never offered two kilograms of sugar in exchange for walking four streets over.

Unfortunately there was still a full box of treats in the house. Furthermore it was open, so I couldn’t return it even if I did do responsible adult things like save receipts, which I don’t. But, as I went to unplug our inflatable Paw Patrol decoration, I heard voices down the street. “Oi!” I yelled in the direction of the youths. “Trick-or-treaters! Come clear out our candy bowl!”

Then I went back inside, without much hope because you know, kids these days. Likely they were angel children who only took one piece from the bowl. Then, as I was stripping off layer after chilly layer, I heard voices approaching. “Take everything!” I said.

“Everything?” the kids asked incredulously.

“Well divide it fairly amongst yourselves obviously but yes, everything.”

And that was the end of our Halloween. Well sort of. Turns out eating five packages of Swedish Fish will give a toddler a second wind. So Mini-Tex was up for another hour. I am an amazing parent, for serious, where is my Razzie?

Also, I welcome all hate mail about my bike safety decisions or lack thereof on all Hallows Eve. If you’re feeling lazy, you can just put them in the comments.

Don’t Read This. Seriously, Stop Right Here. Just Keep Scrolling.

I bet you don’t respect authority either. Oh well, your funeral. That’s if you die of boredom. Or banal cuteness. You might actually enjoy this post if you have a subscription to Reader’s Digest. So this blog belongs to me. Most of the time I make funny with the haha. On occasion, I write endearing things about my beloveds on it. But that’s rare. Most often I use it to gently insult my mother. Because she’s the one who taught me how to laugh at myself.

Anyway, the primary readers of this blog are – my parents, my grandparents, and my son’s Godparents. All of them asked about our Halloween. So as a show of how much I love them, here is our Halloween in full. (Oh also Sula and her Mom read this blog. They would also want to know about our Halloween.)

Last year we had a German au pair who had never trick or treated before. Hence why for the first time ever, I went all out with family costumes. Tex paid a Kijiji seller fifteen dollars and in exchange we got our son an Olaf costume. Janey went as Elsa and I made myself an Anna costume. It was fabulous. It was the most elaborate costume I had ever created. Which is to say not elaborate at all but I put in effort so that was a change. I offered to make Tex a Kristoff costume at the same time, because we were in a city so I could buy items like costume materials. He declined.

This year, with only two and a half weeks until Halloween, Tex comes up to me and says “I want to be Kristoff”. People, we have lived three months without a bathmat because you can’t buy them here. The likelihood of me being able to procure the materials for a Kristoff costume without making a four hour round trip to the next large city over, (Well largeish. Ok small, it’s a small city.) was next to zero. However Tex never asks for things and he really wanted to participate in Halloween. So I sent him to the mall with a list. He returned without fake fur. Not surprising.

Two days and two dollars later, after a visit to the local second hand store, I found a teddy bear. (The secondhand store is only open certain days of the week hence the wait.) I gutted that stuffed animal like a fish. I chopped it into pieces and sewed the bits as fur trim to a jacket Tex had bought when we were first dating. Then I added piping, and made him boot covers so he’d have the requisite pointy ice seller toes. Also, I made a lantern that actually lit up for our “sleigh” which was our bike.

Tex looked awesome. Mini-Tex looked adorable. I looked well, Ok. And we borrowed a stuffed reindeer toy from my in-laws to act as Sven.

The day of, Tex had the afternoon off, so we spent our son’s nap rushing around, filling water bottles, preparing dinner for the road, affixing reindeer to the front of our bike, changing bike lights over so that we would be more visible and so forth. It took two and a half hours, but eventually we were all dressed and ready. I had four layers of long underwear up top and three layers on the bottom. I was plump. But warm.

We had everything together; we were all set for the best Halloween ever. All we needed was our Olaf. But he was sleeping. So Tex and I busied ourselves with filling the candy bowl, tidying up the house and looking at the clock going “How is he still sleeping?”

Readers, until that day, I didn’t know someone could sleep belligerently; it was like Mini-Tex was trying to miss out on Halloween. Finally, it got to the point where we were going to be late for trick or treating at the mall, so Tex and I did the unthinkable- we woke a sleeping child.

Because we’re obsessive parents who both need to bear witness to our offspring’s joy, we woke him up together. “It’s Halloween! It’s time to go trick or treating! It’s time to hug the blow ups!” Mini-Tex had been waiting A MONTH AND A HALF to hug all the inflatable decorations around town. Over the past month, we had put 200 kilometers on our bike and spent countless hours pedaling out of our way so he could see the blow up monkey, the blow up dragon, the blow up Jack Skellington. And every single time we saw them, our almost three year old asked “Can I hug them?” at which point we’d answer “On Halloween.”

To say Mini-Tex was excited was an understatement. But he was also very very sleepy. He stood straight up and then promptly did a face plant back into the bed. Tex grabbed him and popped him on the potty. We started both dressing him and undressing him together. It was like an instructional video on tandem helicopter parenting.

Within three minutes our Olaf was dressed and in the sled. Despite still waking up, he would yell “Jump Sven!” at random intervals. He would only call me “Anna” and his dad was “Kristoff”. It was quite possibly the best day of his life.

While riding to the mall to trick or treat with the other little people who go to bed before seven pm, we became aware that there were houses that had waited until the last possible moment to put up their decorations. Meaning that we hadn’t seen their magnificent inflatable decoration arrangements.

“Do we want to stop?” asked Tex. And so the blow up decoration love fest began. Mini-Tex was elated, he finally got to hug every pumpkin bearing Minion, every giant cat, every spooky ghost. The first house we stopped at had four blow up decorations. We stopped at two more houses before the mall until I got panicky that we would miss seeing all of our friends whom I had made arrangements with to meet.

Of course when we got to the mall, I didn’t recognize any of Mini-Tex’s friends and we just wandered around hugging the decorations. Tex took Mini-Tex to exactly one store to trick or treat and there was an over eager salesperson who jumped in our path so she could place candy into our son’s decorative pumpkin basket.

Then, on our way out, one of the best moments of the night happened; Mini-Tex’s best friend’s family appeared. His best friend was dressed as a ninja turtle. However the friend’s little brother who Mini-Tex also plays with, was also dressed as Olaf. The kids were delighted. Mini-Tex was over the moon. The eighteen month old who was also dressed as Olaf was vaguely confused and overwhelmed. It was fantastic.

Because all of you are gluttons for punishment, I’m going to continue writing about our Halloween. But in another post, because even my family and dearest friends can only take so much banal storytelling.

Manboobs, Herpes and All The Other Sexy Things That Happened This Week

Two nights ago, something terrible happened. I developed a large pimple on my back and discovered two sets of bites on my chest. Now to some, a large pimple is not the end of the world. And truly it isn’t. However it’s a bit out of the ordinary for me.

You see, my mother married my father for his nicely shaped nose. It was her plan that her child would have a nice schnoz. But she kept procreating with him for his good skin, hence my sister Diana. It goes without saying that my mother is very vain. The GoFundMe page for her campaign to get a facelift can be found here.

Anyway, the pimple was upsetting, but was the least of my worries. The two sets of bug bites on the other hand brought back my PTSD. Three years ago we had bed bugs. THREE TIMES. I’m going to let the horrific nature of that statement sink in for a little bit before I go on.

The first time was when I was three months pregnant. The second time was six days after Mini-Tex was born and we realized that our apartment building was crawling with them. The third time was a day after the second heat treatment didn’t work.

(And yes, the heat treatments are the only solution that works. Anyone who tells you otherwise is riddled with bugs and living in denial. Once upon a time pest companies used powerful chemicals that caused three headed babies and made kangaroos birth eight toed porcupines in a painful abuse of nature. Those super powerful sprays worked but this hasn’t been the case since “Silent Spring” was published. Now they apply something that’s like Nix shampoo. Wholly ineffective but smells good. Also doesn’t cause babies that look like multi-limbed Hindu gods.)

It would seem that heat treatments were designed for places that aren’t -50 Celsius in the winter. Following this, my little family decided to box up our things and live out of a beat up duffel bag like the dirty, transient people that we clearly were based on the repeated infestations.

Since our third and successful heat treatment, I’ve been a little crazy. And by a little, I mean sometimes I make John Nash look sane. I freeze library books for a week. Anything that comes from secondhand stores is promptly thrown in the dryer for thirty minutes. If it’s plastic, I clean the item with all of the vigor and enthusiasm of Mr. Clean demonstrating the effectiveness of his newest product. These acts of quasi cleanliness of course shock the hell out of anyone who knows me. In the three years since having bedbugs, I’ve ripped apart more hotel rooms than Johnny Depp. The difference is; I put them back together.

The discovery of the bites threw me into a panic. Tex, of course. was on call at the hospital. That’s always where my husband is when anything important happens. During the apocalypse, try his pager; Mini-Tex and I will be sheltering underground somewhere and I of course will have forgotten my phone. So Tex was away, leaving no one to help me, or calm me in my bedbug bitten, acne ridden state.

What followed was a four hour assault on our beds, linens and washing machine. Not one to let the fact that I’m enormously fat and in no condition to be throwing mattresses over my shoulder like matchsticks, I set about stripping all of the beds. (That was my pregnancy announcement for all you readers, because nothing goes together quite like pestilence and replicating oneself. It’s like PB and J really.)

I carefully peeled back mattress covers. I hoisted box springs over my head and studied them like ancient runes. I chucked pillowcases into the drum of our washer with so much animosity that one would have thought they wronged my mother. (No doubt by insinuating that she looked a day over 38.)

At midnight I fell into an anxiety fueled stupor, reliving the horrible weeks following my son’s birth in my head. Being a reasonable person, I of course did not blame my spouse or intimate that he was lazy and awful in any way for not being there to assist me. And I definitely did not send eight texts to this effect because as we’ve established, I am both a reasonable and loving person.

The next morning, the pimple was throbbing. This was the pimple to rule them all. This was my comeuppance for having nice skin throughout high school, my karmic, dermatologic reckoning. Two years ago, I lanced a pimple for Tex. I sent him a message saying that he was to return the favor as soon as he got home.

The pain of my pimple got worse over the course of the day. In my head I pictured all of the bacteria living in the pimple copulating and partying wildly like it was spring break in Panama. During noon hour yoga, I counted down the hours until Tex would lance it. After yoga, I began counting the minutes, picturing my pimple’s demise with the same joy that oppressed people must feel about the murder of their tyrant.

Finally, I could wait no longer and biked Mini-Tex and myself to the park by the hospital to wait for my husband and his happy, stabby scalpel. Only this is what happened instead when he arrived at the playground.

Tex – That isn’t a pimple, its herpes.

Unwashed – Did you just tell me that I have herpes IN A PARK??!

Tex – It’s better known as shingles but yes, all those spots are Herpes zoster.

Unwashed – I have three pieces of bad news for you: 1. You’re wrong 2. We have bedbugs- those are bedbug bites and finally 3. You married someone who now has bad skin and you’re stuck with me and my pustules forever. Now please be a dear and lance the painful bit on my back.

Tex refused. Presumably because he had stopped loving me once he discovered I had bad skin. Next, he tried a different tactic; he got out his phone and showed me pictures of people with shingles and those with bedbug bites.

It was in that moment that I understood how my husband felt when he went to the abstract modern art exhibition with me. Upon discovering me on the verge of happy tears in front of a streaky, colourful painting depicting a garden he whispered “Are you seeing the faces in the coffee grounds?” and then left to find a coffee place.

Tex ~Holding up a picture of a person with shingles~ “Do you see the verticules?”

(Verticules may be a made up word. Whatever he said sounded a lot like that though.)

Unwashed – “No, it’s a gross picture of a person’s skin.”

Tex ~Holding up a picture of bedbug bites~ “Look at the difference in distribution.”

Unwashed – “That is also a gross picture of a person’s skin. Please put your phone away and lance my back.”

Then we decided to give it a rest until Tex wised up and realized I was right, so we headed to the mall to look at the blow up Halloween decorations. Because nothing distracts from pain better than forcing your terrified toddler to touch a vampire Minion. En route, the pain in my back which had been growing all day began to creep up my neck.

Unwashed – “For serious, you need to lance my back. The pain is in my neck now. Also we need to look up where the nearest exterminator is.”

Tex – “You need to go to emerg.”

An hour later, a doctor who works with Tex asked me why my doctor-at-home wasn’t working. Then she suggested that I try turning him off and back on again. After that, she gave me a prescription for an anti-viral to treat shingles and instructions to feed Tex better so he would be an actual doctor to me. She was super confused when I all but bear hugged her out of relief that the spots weren’t bedbug bites. Really, she could have said anything short of “cancer” and as long as it wasn’t bedbugs I would have done an end zone dance of elation.

The pharmacist gave me a joke of a prescription: two giant horse pills that I was to take three times a day for a week. My response was “Sir, do you actually expect me to do that? I couldn’t even remember my birth control pills that were once a day! There was a reason I was five months pregnant at my wedding.” In other news, I now can’t go back to the pharmacy.

Fresh off the high of discovering that we don’t have bedbugs again, I decided to look into this whole “shingles” business and Googled “Shingles in thirty year old”. This was a mistake. As poor a physician as I make, Dr. Google is worse. Apparently shingles pain can become so bad if you get it in your eyes that people commit suicide. That is possibly even scarier than vampire Minions.

I have it easy. My husband caught the infection before most people even know they’re sick. Also it’s on my back, not in my eyes. Consequently my nerve pain amounts to extreme itchiness. Rather than reaching for a gun, I want to find a grizzled oak tree to rub myself up against like a bear.

As it is, I’m going to finally retire to bed- to use Tex as a human scratching post. It’s his punishment for not letting his pregnant, shingles ridden wife turn on the air conditioning in October. For serious, it’s 74 degrees Fahrenheit in here. It’s a sauna, I half expect to hear rocks hissing in the corner and while beer-bellied, hairy men air out their manboobs on my living room couch. And there, while rubbing my husband’s shoulder blades against my rash, I will sleep the contented sleep of one who merely has nerve pain and not a bedbug infestation.

 

 

 

For those of you who actually clicked on the link to my mother’s alleged Go Fund Me facelift page, you will note there is no such site. I debated creating one in jest but decided that it was too mean and was also nervous that people might donate because unlike my mother, I like her face just the way it is. I think she looks lovely. To quote Shane Koyczan, Canada’s premier poet (meaning that no one has any clue who he is), “[Childrens’] definition of the word beauty begins with “Mom”.”

Things Travel Guides Ought To Tell You About Newfoundland

  1. It’s always referred to as “the Rock”

This makes the place sound sexier than it is. In our extensive travels of the island, I met no former pro wrestlers. This would have been disappointing if Dwayne Johnson was my type, as it is, I’m partial to Pierce Brosnan and his squinty eyes. Also it should be called “the Cliff”, there were hills everywhere. I thanked the fates that we chose to bring an umbrella stroller because I forget to put on the safety strap when using the nice stroller and it tends to roll away on me. I would have spent the entire time speeding down hills after the Bob had we brought it. Also, at one point in Cornerbrook, I’m fairly certain we were walking perpendicular to the ocean. The city is built into the side of a cliff.

  1. It is Hawaii of the North but don’t tell the locals this- they’ll injure themselves from laughing so hard and then you’ll feel badly for harming the Newfoundlanders because they were so kind.

Mini-Tex made friends with bunch of firefighters and got to drive two of the big red trucks. While my son and I were waiting for a firefighter to return with a giant prize bag of firefighting related goodies and a personalized hat, I shared the Hawaii comment with the rest of the fire company. Once EMS finished stitching up the firemens’ sides after they busted a gut laughing, I shared that as long as one dresses for the cold, the outdoors are pleasant and that the untouched beauty of the island reminded me of Maui. They still looked at me like I had three heads. What can I say? Rugged, wild landscapes are my thing, regardless of climate.

  1. Newfoundlander is a synonym for Mother Theresa

In the same way that Canadians wear pins of the flag abroad, I feel like Newfoundlanders should have some sort of distinctive marking to let others know that they’ll give the shirt off their backs and then apologize for shivering. We encountered countless kind people, but the ones that stood out were the firemen, the Airbnb host who made us stuffed squid for dinner just so we could try local food and the park ranger who took her lunch break to drive home, get us her daughter’s toys and three pairs of snow shoes from her personal collection. The ranger lent us all of this during our stay.

  1. If given the chance, the island will kill you and swiftly bury the remains. In snow.

Tex and I are outdoorsy; we’re accustomed to signs like “No cell signal. Be self-sufficient”, or having to make a call to his parents or the ranger to say that we’ve made it out of the bush safely. Newfoundland took this, and ratcheted the difficulty and fear level up about thirty-seven thousand notches. There’s nothing quite like avalanche warnings with accompanying messages of “Do you have a pickaxe and collapsible shovel with you?” to make a person question their decision to hike with their baby on their back.

 

We were never in the avalanche areas of course- the map outlined their locations and Tex claims he understood the inscrutable instructions to skirt the danger areas. Had I been traipsing through the wildnerness with anyone else, I would have turned back. As it is, the man has two more professional degrees than I do and I take him at his word. So away we went through deep, deep snow.

 

There’s only been one other time in my life, where I’ve had to cling to various plant life to hold myself onto the mountain while hiking. And that was in Maui, where there was no snow and I didn’t have a two year old on my back. The adrenaline released by the prospect of tumbling off the cliff with your offspring sharpens your reflexes. That said, Mini-Tex loved every minute of it and talks about scaling the 800 foot waterfall.

  1. Seal tastes like wet dog fur

I suggest combining a gram of it with a pound of ketchup to render it palatable. It was Tex’s goal to eat as many forms of wildlife as he could in as many ways possible. We ate moose pie, moose soup, moose burgers, moose sausage, seal flipper pie, seal flipper stew, seal flipper sausage. The man would roast up a porcupine and declare it scrumptious. On occasion, Tex reminds me of Bart Simpson when the cartoon family visits New York City. In the episode, Bart attempts to attract sympathy and spare change from his fellow metro passengers by claiming that he was born without taste buds, then licks a subway handrail as proof. The difference being that my face after tasting seal looks like Bart’s whereas my husband wears an expression of contemplative delight.

None of this is published in the travel guides, but I thought you should know. Also don’t eat seal. It’s not an animal cruelty thing- it’s a taste thing. Even months later, I still sometimes burp the flavor.

Put Away Your Zagat Guide, This is the Country

I grew up in the throbbing metropolis which is known for having too many people in too small a space. This leads to phenomenon such as line ups, traffic jams and general rage. The last one may just be something I have when in the throbbing metropolis but still. The upshot of this is, I line up. I am awesome at lining up. In addition, I rock at showing up early to avoid the aforementioned line ups.

The country, or the middle of nowhere, where I currently reside has lots of space and very few people. Yet instinctively, I still stick to my learned habits of showing up early and expecting a mad house to events. It’s exactly like the “Field of Dreams” where they say “If you build it, they will come” only there’s nothing built and yet I’m still standing here waiting for masses of people.

For example Santa visits. In the throbbing metropolis Santa is available all day, every day the month of December. Parents cut off their right arms to pay to meet the jolly guy and then turn sideways for the photo to hide their missing limb while underpaid youth wish them “Merry Christmas”. Families wait upwards of an hour for this privilege. This is my normal. This is what I know.

So when I found out that Santa only met twice in December, for only two hours, at what we call our local mall, I expected a madhouse. I debated the merits of the baby carrier versus the stroller in the event that we were trampled in the rush to get to Santa. I ultimately concluded that the stroller could double as an ankle battering ram as well as protection for our son. I made my husband take out fifty dollars in bills because I knew these kinds of places only accepted cash. The four of us, my husband Tex, myself, our au pair and my son had an early supper so we could be there thirty minutes before Santa arrived to line up.

Being from the middle of nowhere, my husband Tex tried to reason with me, saying the five minutes was more than enough time. But he quickly lost that argument because I’m from the throbbing metropolis- we metropolites KNOW we are right. Always.

Supper took a while. As it does with a toddler. Also I insisted on bathing our son and dressing him in a specific outfit and that everyone freshen up. Because I am unreasonable seeker of memories and a tyrant. It’s one of my best qualities. All of this prepping and unnecessary eating meant that we were only twenty five minutes early instead of thirty.

“Go, Go GO!” I shouted to our au pair as our husband dropped the three of us at the entrance so we wouldn’t waste the thirty seconds it took to park. “We’re late!” I cried. I tucked Mini-Tex under my arm like a football and sprinted for the doors slamming through them. There was no time to wait for the slow automatic door to open. We were late.

I ran past the bank and the store that sells tissue masquerading as clothing to teenagers all the way to the giant Christmas tree at the center of the mall to see… nothing. There was no one there except for the sign saying the times when Santa would appear and an empty chair.

One minute later, my husband appeared. “Excellent” he said “There’s no one here, can we go grocery shopping now?”

“NO!” I cried, “The crowds will arrive any second- we have to get into line!”

The urgency in my voice and my statement would have made a lot more sense if there had been more than you know, fifteen people in the whole mall. And by fifteen people, I mean they were all scattered either working or shopping in the stores and clearly not there to see St. Nick.

“Oooooook” said my husband in the “I’m going to leave you to this” way that he does when I get crazy. “I’m going to do our shopping and come back in twenty minutes” Then he and our au pair took off and Mini-Tex and I wandered the vacant mall for twenty minutes. Mini-Tex mauled the Christmas decorations while I was on high alert, ready to start throwing elbows and fighting the throngs of people who would inevitably appear in an enormous group to meet Santa and take up the full two hours so Mini-Tex missed out.

Just so you know, we weren’t the first ones to meet Santa. Five minutes later, at the sound of the jingle bells, a family materialized out of nowhere and rushed Father Christmas. Exactly like I predicted. Then our son had a full five minutes with Santa. I’d like to say this is because he loved Santa so much but it was actually because Santa was smitten with our au pair and tried unsuccessfully to convince her to sit on his lap. Also the whole interaction was free. Well unless you count creepiness as a price in which case Janey our au pair paid dearly.

One would have thought I learned my lesson.

But no. Last week the circus rolled into town. I was unreasonably excited the whole week. Because nothing happens here. Well not nothing, but traveling acts are few and far between. I may have shaken my son awake that morning “The circus is coming!” in an effort to make him as excited as I was.

I had the day planned down to the minute. Every moment was used to ready ourselves for the circus. I bathed. Mini-Tex had a bath. I did laundry so he would have an adorable outfit to wear. If I had owned Spanx, I would have broken those out to ensure attractive and svelte looking family photos. I took Mini-Tex to the indoor playground as soon as it opened and ran him like a tiny greyhound so he’d nap before noon.

My husband got off work early that day. As he walked in the door he shouted “I forgot my phone”. Normally this wouldn’t be a problem except that THE TICKETS WERE ON HIS PHONE. Luckily, thanks to my advance planning, my son and I were ready. So we all hopped on our bikes and cycled back across town to retrieve Tex’s phone.

This makes it sound like a gigantic, athletic debacle, but across town to the hospital where Tex works is all of two kilometers away. However the upshot of this is that we were only twenty minutes early, rather than the thirty minutes that I had planned for.

Biking back from the hospital, I resisted the urge to shout “What’s our time?” at my husband at every stop sign. I remembered the Santa Claus meet and greet. I also calmed myself by picturing a warm, sunny beach. Of course I wouldn’t be lying on it, because even in my fantasies, I realize that such a place would result in my pale skinned death. But I also imagined a giant curtained cabana that I could peek out of at said scene. In between sitting in absolute darkness.

I managed to keep my calm long enough to stop to get Mini-Tex a snack. A hotdog, because he has an obsession with the book “The Pigeon Finds A Hot Dog”. Previous to this, Mini-Tex had never shown any interest in hotdogs and I had actually thrown out two packages because my husband and I don’t eat them either. However they seem like good toddler food so I bought them.

Walking into the tent, I expected bedlam, with parents frantically throwing diapers bags and coats over the bleachers to reserve seats. Instead we were met with strobe lights, the smell of popcorn and a whole lot of empty stands. There were about ten people there.

Even with all that empty space, I was still judicious about choosing where to sit. After all, the tent could fill up at any time. We biked through the back field, so it’s possible we missed a lineup of cars all paying thirty dollars to park. I resisted the urge to walk around the entire tent in order to determine the best vantage point. Instead, I picked a side and a row a little ways up, explaining that even if people filled the rows in front; we’d still have an excellent view.

Then we waited and Mini-Tex finished his hot dog. And requested another. So Tex ran out and returned within thirty seconds with a second hotdog. Apparently not even the concession stand was busy. A handful of people trickled in. Mini-Tex demolished a second hotdog. A clown came around and took photos with all the groups. A family trooped into our section and took up the back row. I tensed up expecting a swarm of people at the last minute.

Mini-Tex requested yet another hotdog. While peering around at the empty rows, I silently vowed to write “The Pigeon Eats Kale Salad”. Then I placed the tiny Skip Hop penguin back pack on the bleacher next to me, silently cursing myself for not bringing a large bag, because no doubt when the crush of people arrived, I’d be smushed up against a large, hairy man who bathed even less often than I did. I asked Tex the time. The show was supposed to start. I scanned the entrance, expecting a stampede of people. The show did not start. Apparently the circus also expected more people.

I silently and smugly congratulated my urban self for arriving early and getting the best spot before all these late comer rural people arrived. Three more people walked in and seated themselves across the ring.

Then the show started and I conceded that I may have to stop being quite so Type A if we’re going to live here for any length of time. Well you know unless we want to be the people who show up an hour before the party starts. But nobody likes them.

Muscly CFL Footballers Drinking Egg Smoothies Make The Best Housemates. Just In Case You Were Wondering.

I lived with a CFL footballer. Not like lived with as in passing him in the kitchen on my way to the bathroom in the middle of the night being all “Hey Craig, having your 2 AM egg smoothie? Nice. Well I have to pee”, but more like lived with in the same heritage home that had been divided into apartments. Although the egg smoothie bit is totally true, his wife wrote about it on her blog. Apparently footballers get up in the middle of the night and down a glass of a dozen raw eggs. I found this deeply upsetting because

  1. That would give me a wicked stomachache and heartburn
  2. If I’m up in the middle of the night, it had better be for the purposes of consuming something delicious, like my husband’s lunch.

Even though Craig and I were in separate apartments, it still totally counts. I lived with a footballer, that makes me 3,000% more sporty than before. Really ask me about anything athletic- I’ll know the answer as long as it’s “What colour is a football?” and “Why are there names on the back of jerseys?”

Also, I saw Craig a lot. Mostly when he would walk past my son and I while we were playing on the lawn, with me completely entombed in my sun protective gear looking like I was on my way to rob a bank that had a rule requiring people wear large hats. Craig, for his part would wave, say “Hello” and act normal, like he always lived with women vampires. I would then wave back while holding a Bubble Guppy and possibly pull down my buff so my voice wasn’t muffled to ask how he was. Regardless, Craig the footballer was super nice which was not what I was expecting.

For starters, he’s the size of a house. I’m fairly certain that once I heard him get stuck in the doorway when he forgot to turn sideways to exit his apartment. No doubt his poor wife had to call the nice European couple next door to help pull him out.

winnie_the_pooh_s_ordeal__part_2__by_psudders0121-d6xsknc

In my mind it was exactly like this but instead of a cuddly bear, it was a giant, muscly footballer. Also his wife is significantly more comely than rabbit. Photo Credit : deviantart.com

This hunch was confirmed when Craig showed me the tennis ball that he had hung from the ceiling to remind himself to duck before entering the bathroom because he bumped his head on the doorframe so often. Heritage homes were not designed with men the size of houses in mind.

Between his physique and career choice, I half expected him to be constantly pulling the legs off of creatures as a demonstration of his strength because he LOOKED like a man that could do that. Like some Gaston come to life, who would, in addition to eating five dozen eggs, would remove the limbs of eight dozen crabs and fry them up as a snack.

Given that Craig is a celebrity who appears on national television, I also expected him to be aloof; instead, when I asked him if he would sign a ball, he offered to take it in for the whole team to sign it! I NEVER would have thought to ask for this. For starters, I thought that kind of thing only happened to people with either a terminal illness or a lot of money. While my vampire-ism is unsightly, it’s not deadly, and being a stay at home mom is not the highest paying job I’ve held.

As it was, I had already purchased a ball. A basketball, because my Dad thinks I’m funny, and likes my jokes. And while all of the Blue Bombers’ signatures would have been neat, I didn’t live with all of them. And only Craig attempted to high-five my son. So his signature seemed far cooler to me.

Hence why Craig very kindly inscribed his name and number on a basketball for me, along with the message “I hope your grandsons know more about football than your daughter.”20180627_181224

This may possibly be the only photo of Craig on the internet holding a basketball. Also, he forgot to angle himself in the doorway, so when he flexed his biceps after the picture was taken, he became lodged in the doorway again. It took a crow bar and a container of bacon grease to get him out.

Also please note how humble this man is, the message is written in tiny letters, as if he expected me to take it to all the other celebrity athletes I know to have them sign too. Happy belated Father’s day Dad, this may also be your birthday gift because I’m desperately disorganized.

Forget Locking Up Your Daughters, You Need To Lock Up Your Washers

So a couple of weeks back, I did something bad. Not like murdering someone and tossing the body under a bridge bad, but worse than stealing Tex’s car keys so I could secretly eat Halloween candy for breakfast. (He locks our Halloween candy in the car because I’m like a devious, curly haired raccoon.) I broke our washing machine.

To be fair, Tex gave me permission to do it. Because when I held up our bathmat that had seen better, cleaner days, and asked “Can I wash this in the machine?” Tex replied “Yes”. So he’s an accomplice in the death of our washing machine. I would like you all to remember that when the Maytag police show up at my door. Yes, our son will be an orphan but at least I won’t go to appliance prison alone.

But the thing is, I’ve done this before. Not washed our bath mat, but when we were staying in the walk-in closet a couple of months ago, the place came fully furnished. Complete with a bathmat that was proving the theory of evolution every single day by spawning new and disgusting creatures for Tex and I to squish under our feet.

trash heap

(This trash heap from the The trash heap from the Fraggles was cleaner and less concerning than the walk-in closet’s bathmat. Photo Credit: youtube.com

I’m the Great Unwashed. I freely told my doctor that I only bathe once a week. I regularly let my son cover himself head to toe in dirt and then send him to daycare like a living, breathing Pig Pen. However, this bathmat was a whole different, more gag worthy version of dirty. One that I am not comfortable with.

That’s saying something.

The bathmat was so dirty that you could feel bacteria wrapping their mutant tentacle arms around your toes when you stepped on it. Like a horror movie crossed with science fiction. Had I left the bathmat as it was, it undoubtedly would have inched its way to our bed during the night and suffocated us in our sleep. It was maybe eight days away from forming intelligent life.

So I washed the walk-in closet’s bathmat. I didn’t have high expectations. In fact a part of me expected the creature to spawn in the water so that when I came back down, it would have sprouted legs and taken off with the washing machine, dryer and the random giant painting of a pear in the basement.

A better option would have been to use fire. Or even better Tex’s ray gun that he still claims doesn’t exist. Although undoubtedly Tex would deem that washing a bathmat was an inappropriate use for a ray gun. As it was, all I had was a washer. So I threw the sucker in.

It was so disgusting I may have used tongs to transport it downstairs. Then I said goodbye to the washing machine, dryer and the random painting. But forty minutes later when the cycle finished, lo and behold the washing machine was still there. And after drying- it looked like a whole new mat. Complete with a different colour! Like entirely different. I still shudder when I think about the degree of change.

The whole point of that new life form filled story was that I have successfully washed bathmats before. And also if pushed I can kill entire civilizations. But only those living on towels.

Fast forward two months when we are back at home in our house. While washing our bathmat I discovered something- bathmat washings are not like cats. Both in the way that you can’t put bathmats in the crate, spray water at them and hope for the best like my sister did once with one of our cats; more in the way that cats have nine lives and apparently a person only gets to wash a bathmat successfully once in their life.

I washed our bathmat and destroyed our washing machine.

Like completely destroyed it.

Part of me wished that I had ruined the walk-in closets washing machine because there were six other units in the building so I could have walked away and pretended it was someone else. But no, it was OUR washing machine, in OUR house and there was only one person who could take the blame.

There was water sitting in the drum. There were little bits of rubber everywhere. And I could tell that this rubber-bitty situation continued all the way through the washing machine’s innards. “Tex?” I called, inhaling deeply to mentally fortify myself before admitting my mistake, “I, um, I did something bad.”

The next three hours were my and Tex’s punishment because I had to put our son to bed by myself while Tex took apart every single piece of the washer and laid it out on our basement floor. Then he swore. And not in the normal Tex way, when he uses curse words as exclamation points. For example “It’s a &%$@ing beautiful day!”

No, this was more of an angry pirate, on a sinking ship, fighting a giant shark for his peg leg kind of swearing. I’ve never heard the word “tree” included in a curse before. Once or twice, I’d poke my head around the stairs and ask ruefully whether I could help. Then Tex would sigh, mutter another new profanity into the belly of our former washing machine and say “No, just go upstairs and never wash another bathmat again.”

It took him three hours to fix the washing machine.

Three hours.

Nothing takes my husband three hours. The man is a farm boy, engineer, doctor, black smith who knows how to pick locks. I’m not even sure his ray gun took him that long to put together. Although he swears up and down that it doesn’t exist.

And we’re getting to the worst part.

The repair didn’t work.

Well, not the first time.

Tex of course successfully ran a test load of laundry. And then I ran a load of laundry and everything was fine.

But then, oh then, my parents came to visit. Which everyone knows is a completely stress free experience for all involved, and when I washed the sheets, a little bit of water trickled out the bottom. I ignored it. Because I make bad decisions like that. Regularly. And I’ve been known to get a little splashy with the liquid soap sometimes. Also did I mention we have a two year old? I found a chunk of banana in my shoe the other day. Stuff happens. A little water can be ignored.

But then I made the mistake of doing two loads back to back. And then there was a puddle. One large enough to soak my socks if I wore socks. I brought my mother into my confidence. “You mustn’t tell Tex” and she agreed especially after I told her about the tree curse word thing.

Previously, in my life, when my butt sat much closer to my back and I didn’t have weird lines in between my boobs that may or may not be wrinkles, I didn’t do laundry often. And by “not often” I mean, I wore things three or four times until I determined that they smelled (OK, maybe five or six). I worked at many different job sites so wearing the same outfit the entire week wasn’t an issue. The point is- I am accustomed to being a little dirty. I am after all the Great Unwashed.

By contrast, Tex might as well be known as the Obsessively Cleaned. He loves washed clothes. He attacks stains with the same vigor and effort that Mr. Clean would if he showed up at your door, all bald, shiny, and grinning.  For the record it’s equally disturbing to watch.

There was only so long that I could put off doing laundry. If Tex had been away, my son and I might have gone months. I mean at some point, when the stink lines coming off my and my toddler’s body became visible, I might have sprayed some Febreeze, but then we would have been fine for another month. As it was, I got a week in before I was forced to tell Tex.

Happily, he fixed it in an hour. It’s been working since then. Now everyone knock on wood for me.

 

If This Isn’t Contraception I Don’t Know What Is

Greetings from the center of the sun. Or as I like to call it “home”. In a fit of insanity, I chose to live in a fourth floor walk-up that’s the size of a celebrity’s walk in closet. The kicker is NOT the forty steps up to our suite, no, it’s the lack of air conditioning.

So we’ve all become nudists. Mini-Tex has stopped saying “Mommy! Your pants! Find your pants!” when I walk around now. We can all just sit on the couch in a partially-clothed, over-heated heap. The newest toddler game has segued from jumping on the couch to sticking himself to the couch. Given that he was always wearing clothing before, Mini-Tex only just discovered the joy and entertainment of peeling bare skin off vinyl. A trick he repeats over and over in the way two year olds do.

For some strange reason when Mini-Tex goes to bed, my husband and I don’t find the same glee in unsticking our bare skin from the couch.

Fun Fact– Air conditioning changed the timing of babies. Previously people didn’t want to bang-a-lang when their goolies were all sweaty, so fewer babies were born in April and May. But with the advent of central air suddenly people were bumping uglies year round and there were more spring babies. True story.

Tex and I lived this fact the other night. So it was 35 degrees Celsius outside and approximately 7,000 degrees in our apartment. Mini Tex had demanded the fan be moved to the bedroom so my husband and I were left to sweat it out in a sticky, mostly naked mess on the couch. Sounds hot right?

You better believe it was. I mean I was lying there, completely motionless and yet beads of sweat still were forming under my eyes. If that isn’t hot, I don’t know what is. The couch is small, so my legs were draped over Tex. He put a hand on my knee, then moved it to my ankle and uttered the words every woman desires to hear. “Your entire body feels like a dog’s nose- vaguely moist and clammy.”

My God, it was like the trilogy of Fifty Shade of Grey right there in one sentence.

“You know,” I responded “now would be as good a time as any to experiment with ice cubes”.

“Do we have ice?”

I snorted. “This place doesn’t have a pot with handles. Do you think there’s an ice tray?”

“There are frozen peas.”

The prospect removing a package of frozen peas to cool myself was attractive, but liable to be messy given my habit of tearing into the plastic bags like a cougar ripping into a gazelle. It makes for a lot of large and oddly shaped holes, which would make for many tiny, frozen marbles on the floor. I shot down the idea “Nope. The pork chops could defrost on my stomach though.”

In the end, we stole the fan back from a sleeping Mini-Tex and lay on the couch thinking about all the celibate couples like ourselves before the advent of air conditioning.