I Want To Regret This. I Want To Feel Bad About This Story Because, You Know, I Caused It. But It Still Makes Me Giggle.

In case you missed it, it’s mind-numbingly dull content month here at The Great Unwashed. None of you should be reading this unless you share a minimum of 12% of my DNA. Even then, I’m sure my family has better things to do- don’t you people have children? Or pets?

Anyway, this is another anecdote that happened during our time in Winnipeg. In the St. Vital shopping center, there are these cars you can rent, if you didn’t bring a stroller. No biggie, most places have them. Not our town, but we just got a Dairy Queen, so I can’t complain too much. But St. Vital, they upped the ante- for seven dollars you can rent a double-decker fire engine, which is approximately the size of an actual fire engine, to pilot your kid around the commercial center.

Tex would NEVER spend that kind of money on something so frivolous, even I, who spent half a week’s grocery budget on Santa pictures last December, had a tough time stomaching that cost. This is where grandparents come in, with their spoiling and saying “yes” to every request. Upon hearing about these fire engines, my Dad insisted that we return to the shopping center and rent one- his treat. (Thanks Dad!)

However wide I thought the fire engine was going to be, it was wider. And the cart was so long that I had no concept of where it began so I kept ramming things. Tex kept asking if he could drive it but I wanted the joy of pushing what was in essence a moving playground. And then I’d smack into a display case directly after replying to my husband’s question. If our van is like driving a boat, this was like piloting the world’s largest yacht. We made a thirty second video of me attempting to carefully turn a corner then knocking over a display of items anyway.

It was seven dollars well spent. Mini-Tex was elated and wanted to sit in the high seat. We took it to the play area of the mall after I got a Cardamom French Toast tea latte from David’s Tea. It only occurred to me after the barista had made the beverage to ask whether it had caffeine. It did, hence why I’m typing this at ten o’clock at night instead of sleeping.

Anyway, so I walk out of the store with my tea, and I can see Mini-Tex and Tex playing on the big bridge. As I walk up to the play area, this little Chinese girl spots the abandoned fire engine. Did I mention how fun this thing looks? And so she climbs in. Mom flips and tries to drag her out but the girl is six years old, verging on too big for the seat and nearly impossible to remove. Especially because she wanted to continue sitting in the fire engine.

Mom finally succeeds in dragging the little girl out of the cart, and starts to pull her away from it. The little girl breaks loose of her mother’s grasp and climbs back in. At this point Mom loses it -starts yelling in Cantonese at the little girl. (I assume it was Cantonese because my friend Chastity speaks Mandarin and it didn’t sound like how Chastity talks but then again I’ve never heard my friend shouting hysterically in Mandarin either.) Then the Dad appears down the hall and the Mom starts shouting at him.

The following is what I think their conversation was. For the record Tex (and everybody else nearby) watched this all go down. Tex of course felt absolutely horrible and guilty. Whereas I was simultaneously thinking “It’s ok Mama, I’ve been there too” and “This is comedic GOLD!”

Angry mother to the girl – “You get out of that truck this instant- we raised you to pay for your vehicles not steal them!”

Angry mother bellowing down the hall at Dad – “Your daughter has become a lowly criminal; this is all your fault for needing to use the bathroom. You must come help me now.”

Baffled Dad who was happy a second ago having just emptied his overly full bladder – “Huh? I don’t understand?”

Angry Mother – “You never help me! Hurry! She’s going to drive away with the truck and be arrested and have a police record before she enters elementary school!”

Baffled Dad, who is now indignant and also angry, instructs the girl- “We do not steal vehicles.” Then Dad wrestles the kid out of the fire engine. The couple continues shouting at each other all the way down the mall accusing the other person of being the reason why their daughter is a petty car thief.

As soon as the first girl was forcefully vacated from the fire engine, a two year old girl climbed in. Her parents had two other children and recognized that the fire engine was THE BEST TOY IN THE WORLD so just let her sit there until we said that we were going to leave.

I swear, I can still hear the couple shouting in my head and it makes me smile. Best night ever.

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Hypothermia and Pumping Small Children Full Of Sugar- All Of My Best Parenting Decisions

Why are you reading this? Haven’t you heard of the Huffington Post? I swear that is more interesting than my family stories. Even Gwenyth’s Paltrow’s site that suggests women shove jade eggs up their hoo-has is a better read than this. Oh well, your funeral. For the record the coroner will state “Cause of death- boredom”. Here are some stories of our Christmas adventures.

Also for all those who are appalled by me writing about Christmas, first off, I already instructed you to STOP READING. Secondly, replace the word “Christmas” with “Easter” and you’ll be fine. Well not fine, bored to the point that you’re comatose, but breathing.

For our family, Christmas started the weekend that we left for Winnipeg. It was a big town weekend- free movies, free skating, free cookie decorating and crafts, all of this occurred the day of our town’s Santa Claus parade and the tree lighting.

Tex was of course working. Because he always is. But thankfully he wasn’t bothered about missing all the fun whereas I would have been devastated. So Mini-Tex and I headed out to the free movie. The theatre was showing “Smallfoot”.

Mini-Tex LOVES television. He also never gets to watch television. Weekday mornings he gets half an episode of Paw Patrol while my husband showers. It’s to the point that if he hears the shower turn on, no matter what time of the day, he rushes the bathroom like it’s the stage of a One Direction concert and he’s a teenage girl. Then he bangs on the cupboards with his mighty toddler fists and shouts “Paw Patrol PLEASE!” at the top of his lungs. So for Mini-Tex, watching an entire movie was a big deal.

“Smallfoot” was super cute. As always when we go to the theatre, I got him a kid’s combo which includes popcorn, candy and pop. Because I take pride in providing experiences that lack both nutrition and educational content. My favourite part of the movie was glancing over and watching my almost three year old dancing in his seat. He spent the next couple of weeks acting out various parts of the movie. Super adorable.

The Santa Claus parade was very, very cold. But not as cold as last year when icebergs formed in the culverts around town and people transformed into ice sculptures. Like an idiot, I ignored my husband’s suggestion that we drive to the parade because who drives a kilometers and a half? Even when I was five and thought my feet would fall off from being forced marched such a distance; my mother would still insist that we walk.

Consequently Mini-Tex was crying about his feet being chilly by the time we got home from the Santa Claus parade. To make up for it, I let him eat all the candy he got from the parade as dinner because I’m a stellar parent like that. Once he was finished, I then packed him in the car to see the “ig-aa-loooo”. (The igloo house is four kilometers across town and my son’s feet were already chilly, hence the bike was out.)

There is a house with twenty inflatable decorations and an equal number of other lit up, non-inflatable decorations. It’s incredible. They also constructed an ig-aa-looooo out of PVC piping and a white tarp. Gorgeous. And so fun. It’s my and Mini-Tex’s favourite house. For serious, I may take him there every single night that we are in town before Christmas.

A week before the parade, at the end of November, Tex and I realized that we were in a bit of a pickle. When the Halloween decorations went up around town, all our little boy wanted to do was hug them. Every time that he’d ask to make friends with the blow up decorations, we’d say “Not today buddy, you can hug them on Halloween.” Then the Halloween decorations were taken down and the Christmas ones went up. So we’re in the car, and Mini-Tex asks if we can stop to hug the Christmas decorations. I say “No” of course. Then from the back I hear him reassure himself “Not today buddy, you can hug them on Christmas.”

Well fudge.

Barring us going around the city caroling, an activity which our almost three year old would not have the patience for, we would not have a reason to go house to house on Christmas. What was I going to do?

There was only one answer- the cookie lady. When you drive into town there’s a giant billboard with a picture her smiling face on it and three hundred individually decorated cookies form a border.

Not actually, but there should be a billboard with the cookie lady’s face on it. For serious, this woman is a national treasure. I’d write to the Prime Minister about her but based on how our leader’s tenure is going, he’d just ask the cookie lady to put the Mary-Jane in her baking.

For a paltry, tiny sum, Lorna* the cookie lady will make stunning, delicious works of art. People have repeatedly told me that they feel guilty eating something so beautiful when I give the cookie lady’s wares as gifts. Their guilt is of course nothing compared to what I feel when I pay her. And I always include a tip.

So I’ve decided I am going to order some cookies from our resident cookie lady and one night, Mini-Tex and I will head out in the bike and distribute baked goods as a way of thanking people for decorating their homes, then while their doors are open and they’re marveling over the beautiful cookies, we will ask whether our toddler can hug their lawn ornaments. Judge me. Tex and I frequently talk about how I’m the good cop and have a backbone made of fluffed wool. Goodness help me when our son is a teenager.

Wish me luck with our winter blow up decoration adventure. Also send warm socks. We will need them to tromp all over town in the snow and assault our neighbours’ lawn ornaments with hugs and love.

*Obviously I didn’t use the cookie lady’s real name. First off, I don’t want the leader of our country calling her up, and secondly, then I’d have to place my orders months in advance because her phone would be ringing off the hook.

The Last Good Day

In his novel “The Fault in our Stars” John Greene writes about the concept of the final day of your life that you enjoy before you start to die in earnest- the last good day. Or at least that’s what I think he was talking about. I read the book in French and even though I’m fluent, there’s always a part of me that questions whether I fully comprehend the meaning of a text in my second language. But for the purposes of this post we’ll pretend that what Mr. Greene was talking about.

Something my friend Sula said to me while my grandmother was dying, that brought me a lot of comfort was; “You knew your grandmother as a person, not just from social functions, a lot of people don’t get that.” And it’s true. My grandmother cared for me often when I was a child, and I visited her house on occasion as a young adult. In university, she would vacation with my family. While I could write exclusively about all of the lasts that came with dying, those wouldn’t express the depth of our relationship, or who my Grandma was as a person.

My Grandma was close friends with everyone, but especially her neighbor across the street, whose pool we used to swim in, any time we liked because Grandma was always welcome there. I remember shivering on the Antarctic iceberg that was my grandparents’ foyer while my grandfather was still alive because he insisted the house be kept at 12 degrees Celsius or some equally chilly temperature. Then I would burst out the door onto the sunlit porch with flipflops on my feet. Grandma always called them thongs which caused Diana and I to giggle silently because thongs were underwear not beach apparel. Then the dash across the street, only stopping to squish my toes into the tar that covered the cracks on the road, before pausing at the mulberry bush to grab a sweet snack.

My grandmother loved plants; she gardened right up until she moved out of her house. It used to alarm me the way she’d eat the fruits off of random trees; I was always worried she’s accidentally poison herself. There’s some poetic justice in the fact that I married a man who does the very same thing.

Then I would throw ourselves into the pool; splashing, swimming and jumping to our hearts’ content. Invariably the friendly neighbour would come out at some point to talk to Grandma. We did this from the time I was very small. All of my cousins did in fact. I still remember Grandma carefully catching my second youngest cousin Sophie as she leapt from the side of the pool. The last time was around when I was twelve, the friendly neighbour still welcomed our visits but was too ill to come out to say “hello”.

When I was nineteen, my grandmother paid for me to accompany her on a cruise with herself and three thousand other old people. It was every teenager’s dream; Metamucil with every meal and being in bed before eight pm. I kid. What I remember from that trip was how healthy my grandmother was. During the voyage, old people were falling everywhere, breaking hips and arms but my grandmother was as steady as a rock, scaling the endless staircases at castles and monuments. This is how I remember her- triumphant, standing at the top of three thousand steps while all the other old people were moaning and watching from the bottom.

That wasn’t the last time that I saw my Grandma accomplish a great physical feat. Three years later, my family visited Maui. One afternoon, my Dad dragged his eighty-three year old mother up Mount Haleakala. At the top, the air became thin and even my father had to sit down. I wish I could say that was the last instance of elder abuse in our family, but it continued. A couple years later, we took Grandma along with us to Disney World. She spent a lot of time sitting on benches but only because we insisted on charging at top speed from show to show.

My grandmother kept that can-do attitude into her late eighties. My Dad and I took her out to lunch one day. She had just begun reluctantly using her cane. However she still preferred to move unaided or take the arm of the nearest person instead. It was winter and the walkway of the restaurant was slick. I went to grab her arm but she jerked it away from me saying defiantly “Let me go when I can go!” My grandmother was always independent and her own person.

When she was ninety-two, my Grandma moved out of her house and into an assisted care facility. The woman who moved there was quieter than the Grandma I remembered from my childhood. But she still loved to rejoice in her family’s achievements. And she loved her great grandson so much. Mini-Tex would climb all over her. He was a chubby little baby and at that time, my grandmother was a frail nonagenarian. I winced and would grab for my son, terrified that he would break my Grandma’s arm by accident as he gave her sloppy kisses and hugs. But she loved it.

The summer before she died was the last time that I saw my Grandma being independently mobile. When she first arrived at the care home, she would store her walker outside of her room. The next time I visited, the walker had moved inside her room, but my grandmother would move independently without it.

The last summer, the walker remained at her side. Mini-Tex thought the mobility aid was a fabulous toy and would push it around. Then he’d tire of merely making off with his relative’s walker and go steal a stranger’s. As I was chasing my toddling son across the atrium of the care home, out of the corner of my eye, I saw my Grandma sitting on the couch, trying to use her foot to catch the edge of her walker that Mini-Tex had rolled away from her. Even at ninety-three, she still wouldn’t complain or ask for help. This was the visit when my grandmother took delight in pushing her great grandson around on the seat of her walker.

The last time I saw my grandmother, she was barely able to push her walker. My Grandma spent a large portion of my visit lying down on her bed. Workers came to move her from her chair in the dining room back to her walker. I had spent my whole life taking cues from a stern, opinionated woman. I thought the whole reason that we sat so long at the table after dinner was because Grandma wanted to enjoy the ambiance.

Once in her walker, it became obvious that my grandmother lacked the strength to push herself back to her room. So I enlisted the help of my two year old to push her. I took one handle and Mini-Tex took the other. It worked pretty well until Mini-Tex got over excited and ran too fast, tripping on his winter boots.

That was the last time. For everything. She was really quiet that visit. But she watched my two year old, and she listened to my stories, as she had my entire life. It’s been a year since she died. Even though it was heartbreaking to witness so many lasts, I’d still love one more day with her.

Battling Mixed Martial Arts Prized Fighters and Other Items On My “How To Be An Adult” List

I failed spectacularly, which if you think about it, is the only way a person should fail. Because if you fail only slightly, how much can you take from the experience? But if you fail in a grandiose manner, the kind that has you running for the fire extinguisher, that you never thought you’d need, well, there’s a lot to be learned from that.

I lost my credit card. A month and a half ago. I’d be embarrassed by this but I think we’ve already established that I’m about as responsible as a toddler living in a house of built with jellybeans. Really, it’s a miracle that the roof doesn’t come crashing in on my head on a daily basis as I eat away at the walls of my home.

Today, I decided that enough was enough and called the credit card company for help.

They were not helpful.

Or rather the automated machine which greeted me was not at all helpful because it kept demanding my credit card number which was difficult to provide what with the fact that I couldn’t find mine. Eventually I got transferred to an actual person.

Cheery and nice lady on the phone – “Hi, could I please have your credit card number?”

Unwashed – “About that . . .”

Nice lady on the phone – “Well could you give me the password to the account then?”

Here’s the thing. I used to know the password for my account. It was the same password that I’d used for ten years, but then the credit card company changed servers and declared that the word “password” was not at all a secure password for a person’s credit card. So I changed it, to something that suited their rules but that I couldn’t remember at all. Normally this isn’t a problem because I sit at my computer and try different variations until the system locks me out for an hour. Then I pass the time eating the load bearing sections of my jellybean walls before attempting different password combinations again.

Unwashed – “Uhhhhhh. Is it this?” Says a string of words and numbers. “What about this?” Another string of letters and numbers. “You know what it might be this.” Recites a final combination of numbers and letters.

Nice lady who is sounding less cheery – “Ma’am, none of those match.”

I reach up and nibble on a jellybean support beam from the ceiling.

Unwashed – “I’m sorry. Does it count that I’m trying? Or is that only recognized at three legged races at church picnics? Although I’m kind of good at that. If we were in a field, I’d offer to tie our legs together so you could see what a rock star I am in those races.”

Nice lady who doesn’t sound cheerful at all anymore – “Hold on one moment, I’m transferring you to security.”

The woman who came on the line had a voice that said if you arrived at her office, she’d grab you by the ankles and shake you upside down until the truth fell out.

Slightly intimidating lady who may or may not own a mace and not as in pepper spray – “Hello Mrs. Unwashed, it’s my understanding that you’ve lost your card, have no record of it and do not remember your password. Is this correct?”

I may have gulped audibly and placed both my feet flat on the floor in preparation for being tossed upside down over the phone.

Unwashed – “Yes, that’s correct.”

There was a pause as the woman read what was on her screen.

Increasingly intimidating lady who bench-presses tour bus vans after work and has laughed only once in her life, after that time that she beat up Chuck Norris – “It appears that there have been a number of changes to the account.”

On my end of the phone, I grimaced.

A meek Unwashed – “I’m assuming you mean all the address changes?”

Woman, who moonlights as a prison guard and who has a MMA trophy that she may or may not use as a beating stick for bad clients who lose their cards and don’t remember their information, flatly – “Yes”.

Another audible gulp on my end before I launched into my explanation.

Unwashed in a squeaky panicked voice of a person who will never possess another credit card in her life based on how poorly this conversation is going – “It’s not what you think, I mean I know it looks like I’m some sort of transient white collar criminal who bounces from town to town but really I’m a stand up lady. I mean there was that one time when I was mistaken for a homeless person. But that only happened once. It’s just my husband’s job takes us a lot of places.”

There was another long pause, during which I’m fairly certain the security credit card lady polished her MMA trophy and reflected sadly on the fact that I was too far away to bludgeon – “Mrs. Unwashed, could you tell me the last transaction on your card?”

Unwashed – “Uhhhhhh, was it Amazon?”

Annoyed credit card lady now eyeing the mace hanging from her office wall – “No.”

Unwashed somewhat panicked – “Ummmmm, was it a random French media company?”

Credit card lady swinging the mace around her head with one hand while bicep curling her MMA trophy with the other arm – “No.”

Unwashed in a last ditch attempt to prove that she isn’t a thief – “My World Vision kids? I’m a donor. I feel like white collar criminals don’t care about the well-being of children in third world countries. I swear I’m a good person who doesn’t steal identities. Not a responsible one obviously, but a good one.”

The MMA prized fighter, mirthlessly – “Please hold the line.”

Undoubtedly she was contacting one of her fighting buddies who lives in the middle of nowhere, arranging for them to show up on my doorstep and teach me a lesson about proper care of credit cards.

When she came back on the line, I had to recite every address that I’d lived at the previous five years. Which was no small feat because we move a lot. But I managed to pass the test so now Canada Post strike pending, I should have a new card in one to two weeks.

My In-Laws Aren’t Actually As Awful As My Husband Would Have You Believe: This Is Me, Throwing My Husband Under The Bus

Unwashed- I just wanted you to know my feelings on it. It’s a bad idea.

Tex- I understand your feelings, but isn’t this the stuff that your best stories are made of? Something awful happens to you and then you write about it. Like your shingles post, that was amazing. It’s exactly like that.

Unwashed – I’m sorry, did you just compare attending your family’s Christmas with a form of herpes?

World, I needed you to know that this happened. It was actually better than during our last date night when I was complaining that I was fatter than my last pregnancy and Tex quipped “But yet the baby is only measuring in the 33rd percentile”.

As a rule, with the exception of observations about the size of our fetus, my husband is nice. Like really nice. The kind of nice that when people see us together, they’re like, “Ohhhh, she must be keeping him captive.” What this means, is that no matter how kind I am, I am always the mean one in the relationship, who says terrible things. But this once, I wasn’t.

I was however the one arguing that driving eight hours round trip in one day to attend a Christmas lunch at his uncle’s house, with a three year old perpetual motion machine and a pregnant lady who does vomit fountain impressions in moving vehicles, was not the best idea. I will totally cop to that one. But I was not the person who compared the experience of visiting his family to excruciating nerve pain and a rash so unsightly and bumpy that it would make a person contemplate living in a darkened cave until the spots resolve.

Those tire tracks on my husband’s back? They’re my handiwork. If this doesn’t channel the spirit of the holidays, I don’t know what does.  Merry Christmas everyone, I hope your families are also like a debilitating flare up of Herpes zoster.

 

Also for all of you worrying about the well-being of my smaller than average baby; first off, thank you, but secondly, keep in mind that I’m approximately the size of a twelve year old. And not even a tall sixth grader. Tex and I would have been far more concerned if the baby was measuring in the 90th percentile. Then we would have been questioning whether it was actually our baby.

This post is proof that I am actually the mean one. Tex would never rat me out for comparing my family to an outbreak of blistering sores.

Also, in the end, Tex went to the Christmas get together with our son alone because a day before the shindig, I managed to badly strain a muscle which made sitting, standing or doing anything for long periods of time super painful.

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.

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”.”