Bathing In Shame Which Is Surprisingly Similar To Bathing In Lemon Juice, Only Just Add An Invisible Force That Keeps Submerging Your Face

Suffice to say, it’s an experience that stings the eyes and pretty much everywhere else.

Let’s get down to how I took a shame bath. Flashback to Saturday night, after having lived here for six months, I have made a friend. Liv came to dinner. So I was cooking, zucchini, and porkchops and because I’m crazy and have no respect for tastebuds and complimentary flavours, there was a pot of pumpkin curry going too.

Of course Mini-Tex was having none of this, so he was on my back while I stirred, and cooked and talked with Liv. That’s when it happened; the porkchops burned. And went up like a house on fire, at which point our house started to act like it was on fire. High pitched beeping and shrill shrieks reverberated off of every surface. It seemed like the house itself was screaming. Wanting to protect my two year old son’s ears, I made a beeline for the door. And began swinging it open and closed to disperse some of the smoke. Janie covered her ears “It is so loud!” Unable to understand English over the din, she joined me outside, while Liv tried to figure out how to disable the smoke alarm.

In our brief tenure at this house, this happened once before so I knew that the smoke alarm was somehow tied to my landlord’s phone. I immediately sent her a frantic series of texts along the lines of “nothing is on fire, how do I disable the system without hacking into the wall with an axe?” Unbeknownst to me, my landlord’s phone was in her car, so she didn’t reply.

After a couple of minutes Liv managed to disable the smoke alarm (all the while stirring the remaining dishes so they didn’t burn and opening windows) and we all sat down to dinner, content to laugh about the hilarity of the situation, feeling that it was in the past. This is of course when the firetruck pulled up in front of our house with lights ablazing and a firefighter clothed entirely in his heavy firefighting getup, stepped down from the fire engine.

Embarrassment flooded my being and I wanted to sink into the ground. But before digging my way to China to escape my shame, I had to apologize to the poor men whose Saturday night I had ruined. Because let’s keep in mind that this is a small town. The likelihood that they were on call and that my poor cooking had pulled them away from THEIR family dinners was exceptionally high.

Despite the -25 temperature, I ran outside without a coat. It didn’t matter, the bubbling cauldron of humiliation that was my midsection at that moment kept me warm. “I’m sorry!” I cried “I’m so sorry! There’s no fire! You can go home, I interrupted your dinners for nothing.”

The fireman good naturedly explained that he still had to come in to fill out paperwork and that possibly I should get the security code from my landlord for the next time I was cooking the other white meat.

This was when my shame morphed from a small roiling portion of my midsection to a full on lemon juice like bath. Because the fireman walked into my house and upon hearing that Mini-Tex was excited by the whole situation, the firefighter, still with his fifty plus pounds of gear on, began to play peekaboo with my son.

It was at that moment that I melted and became a puddle of mortified goo, as this man, who was missing his dinner because of my mistake, made himself the hightlight of my son’s month.

After a couple more short questions and giving the fireman the proper spelling of my name, he and his firetruck left, with the lights still blazing. Mini-Tex spent the rest of the night talking about the firetruck that was in our front yard. And later, when he woke up that night and the next morning, his first words were “firetruck”.

That whole story would be awful enough, but the thing is, it’s a small town, so the story won’t end there. It will be relived when I see that kind man in the grocery store. He’ll give Mini-Tex an extra specal wave at the parade next week when he recognizes him. And because God loves a good laugh, most likely I’ll meet that kind firefighter at my work. And thanks to my impossible to spell and unique last name, he’ll remember me and likely ask whether I’m planning porkchops for dinner. And I’ll bathe in shame all over again.

But in the grand scheme of things, it’s a good shame bath to have. Splashing metaphorical lemon juice in ones eyes because you’re so mortfied that someone was so kind when you were so stupid-it’s a good problem to have. That’s small town life for you though.

This post is dedicated to Liv, who insisted that I take a brief shame shower and retell the story at work.

Names have been changed to protect the identities of those who didn’t allow the curry to burn.

 

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Five Things Friday: The Murderous Family Christmas Edition

It’s Friday in New Zealand. It doesn’t make any sense, but time zones are like that; they’re tricky devils, sometimes, for example last weekend, they jump backwards an hour for no reason at all. Time zones don’t obey the laws of physics. Scientists thought everything had to obey the laws of physics. And everything does, except for time zones. Also Cher.

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This lack of adherence to physics is the only possible explanation for this woman. Photo Credit: MTV.com

Anyway, on with Five Things Friday

  1. My In-Laws Gave Me Coal For Christmas

It wasn’t actually coal, it looked more like severed tree roots. Regardless, it sent a message -be nicer to our son; this is your Christmas gift. Following celebrating an early Christmas with Tex’s family this past weekend, I found a “present” at the bottom of the bag of produce they had brought from the farm. It was underneath the beets and the lone zucchini which was the size and shape of a baseball bat.

I turned the oddly shaped, dirt clod coated bulb-ish/shrub-ish thing over in my hands trying to find an identifiable feature so I could figure out whether to cook it or plant it. Finally I gave up and called my mother-in-law Zoey*. “Did you give us a piece of a tree?” I asked. “Pardon?” Zoey replied masking her obvious disapproval of my naughty behavior over the past year with confusion.

“I’m holding a plant” I said. At least I thought it was a plant, it very well could have been dirty petrified wood. “Is it for the garden?” I questioned further. “Oh!” Zoey burst out, “it’s the horseradish”. So it wasn’t coal, it was condiment ingredients. Close enough, it ended up making me cry. Message received -I should be nicer to Tex.

 

  1. I Drove Over Two Men With My Van

To clarify, I drove over a pit AND two men with my van. It was horrifying and I cried in the way that one does when they’re about to commit murder. I’d never patronized a Jiffy Lube before, consequently I was shocked when the garage doors opened and in lieu of a friendly mechanic trotting out to relieve me of my keys, a youth in a pit beckoned me to drive over him. Then to make matters worse, another young man jumped in with him. Double manslaughter, goody.

I drive infrequently because I loathe it, but more importantly because I’m terrible at it. The examiner had to coach me through a three point turn on my licensing test. Thus, the pit/youth situation spelled certain doom and jail time to me. However I somehow managed to very slowly maneuver the van over the pit and the youths lived to scare another unsuspecting customer.

 

  1. Babies + Oranges = Mistake

Mini-Tex is into eating exactly what I’m eating. I made the mistake of consuming citrus in front of him so now our floor is like a high school cafeteria- sticky and more than a little gross. I debated not washing it and leaving the job for Tex but thought better of it upon remembering the number of baseball bat sized zucchini my mother-in-law has in her garage. Death by squash is never pretty.

 

  1. I Don’t Actually Have A Fourth Or Fifth Thing

Cher took them to another time zone. I’m sending a search party to Taiwan and Austria, I’ll let you know when my other writing points turn up.

 

 

*Names have been changed to protect the identities of lovely, thoughtful women whose fondest desire is for their families to have well seasoned, delicious, local food. She also would never think of using her zucchinis for anything other than baking and is so gentle that she makes people who would never hurt a fly look aggressive. My mother-in-law is compassionate to the point that I’m pretty sure she mourns the dust-mites that accidently get sucked out of the air by the vacuum cleaner.

Cowboy Cookin’

“We’re going to kill something, skin it and eat it” Tex proclaimed one afternoon midway through his visit to my city, just when I thought that he was adjusting to the civilities of urban life. Thankfully he didn’t mean an elk or deer, the creature Tex was hankering for was lobster.

The first problem with this idea was transportation. In Tex’s world vehicles come with half or one tonne sizes with a gun rack on the back. By contrast these were my wheels at the time.

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It might look more manly if I removed the streamers. (Photo Credit : price.salespider.com)

Happily, although Tex likes his meat red and his boots nicely polished, he isn’t averse to riding a bicycle, so we rode to the grocery store. The next problem was how to get the boxed up lobsters home. Normally I stow delicate items like eggs in my jacket so that my body can absorb the impact of any curbs or bumps. It was decided that there are better ways to lose a nipple than by stowing live crustaceans in your clothing, so Tex set about using our other groceries to pad the saddle bags of my bike to create a nest for our new marine friends.

The last and greatest problem we faced that day was me; specifically my inability to kill and dismember living creatures. An avid meat eater, I had no problem with the theory of the process, but the actual act itself caused me quite a bit of anguish. Once we arrived home, Tex was all set to commit murder. I on the other hand was preoccupied with the lobsters’ mental wellbeing.  I sang to comfort the lobsters and distract them from their impending doom. Every creature loves music right? Meanwhile Tex busied himself with boiling a stock pot full of water. “Do you think their lives were happy?” I asked Tex. Standing over my slow moving salt water friends that I had carefully transported home, I worried aloud “Should we show them pictures of the sea during their last moments, or would that be cruel?” Guilt was slowly building in my gut; I tried to assuage it by brainstorming a last meal for the lobsters. “What is a lobster’s favourite food?” I wondered.

Then came the terrible moment. Tex held the lobsters over the boiling stock pot of water and looked down. “I don’t think it’s hot enough” he lowered the lobsters back into the box and transferred the pot to another, supposedly more effective burner. The lobsters had been spared, and given an extra couple minutes of life, so I sang them a song from the “Rescuers” encouraging the hard shelled creatures to be brave. They lazily waved their claws at me. I don’t know if lobsters understand English.

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Unfortunately Bernard and Bianca did not show up at the last minute to prevent the lobsters’ demise, undoubtedly they were too busy saving orphans to concern themselves with a couple of undersea creatures. (Photo Credit : youtube.com)

The water reached a rolling boil on the larger burner and once again Tex held the lobsters high above the pot. Supposedly the change in pressure when lobsters are immersed in boiling liquid creates a sound like a small scream. Neither Tex nor I heard that noise over my shriek as Tex dropped Fergus and Amalda in. (Following their close call minutes earlier, I named our supper which is according to Tex a rookie cowboy’s mistake; the only names his rancher brother gives his cattle are “Filet Mignon”, “Steak” and “Chuck”.)

Twelve minutes later the lobsters were declared done and Tex offered the tongs to me. “Want to fish yours out?” he asked. I didn’t. I wanted nothing of the sort but I took the tongs anyway and haphazardly grabbed a lobster (Possibly Amalda?) out of the pot and dropped it on the plate. The lobster was sopping and water sloshed over the plate. Then Tex confidently turned his lobster in the pot so it was easy to grasp, raised it out of the water and held it still for a couple of seconds to allow the shell to drain before lowering it onto his dry plate.

I brought my full plate with lobster water to the table, too distressed to tip the excess liquid back into the pot. “Turn your lobster like this” Tex instructed, “It makes it easier to break off its arms”. My hand went to touch the poor dead lobster, then pulled back at the last second. “Touch it” I ordered my hand. My fingers hovered around the lobster almost touching it, then pulling back. “Just pick it up” Tex encouraged. “I can do this” I thought as my hand hovered around the dead sea creature. I’m not sure what terrified me more, the idea that the lobster would move when I touched it, or the fact that it wouldn’t. Finally after more coaching, I picked up my lobster. That’s when the low grade distress noises started, my terror and guilt combining in a small, high pitched hum.

Undeterred by my hesitation, Tex continued to coach me in the art of lobster slaughter. “Now you grip it like this, and break its arm. Don’t hold onto the pointy part of the claw.” That last part seemed obvious but in my upset state I had grabbed the claw tightly in the wrong spot, it was only then that I felt the pain in my hand as the points of the claw dug into my skin. “Crack!” Tex’s lobster was now down an arm. My stomach lurched, it sounded just like the rat dissection in grade twelve, when my partner had to break the rat’s arm in order to pin it down. In that biology lab, not only had I refused to break the arms but I avoided pinning the rodent to the cutting board as well.

In the present, I held a dead crustacean and gave it the same horrified and disgusted look I had given the formaldehyde preserved rat.  “Your turn” Tex gestured to my lobster. Desperate to delay the inevitable I sweetly asked if I could watch him do it again. “Crack!” off went the other arm of Tex’s lobster. “Now yours”, Tex urged.

I took a deep breath and recalled my university Animal Physiology lab, when I’d been paired with a beautiful but flaky sorority girl. She was a partier and a consistent C student whereas I stayed home most nights and excelled at the course. At first glance it seemed like an unfortunate pairing however after I passed out during the teaching assistant’s demonstration of how to behead, then filet a fish, the sorority girl beheaded and prepared our fish for the experiment while I inhaled through my nose on the floor and focused on not puking all over the other teaching assistant that was patiently rubbing my back. “No more blood!” The cheerful sorority blonde proclaimed when I returned to our lab station still woozy and soaked in my own sweat.

Closing my eyes I bent the lobster’s arm back. “Crack!” My stomach heaved, and my guilt over having broken the poor creature’s claw was thick at the back of my throat. It didn’t matter that it was dead; in my mind the lobster needed that claw. “Now the other one”, Tex instructed. As I gripped the remaining claw, a wobbly “Uhhhhh” was added to my high pitched hum. It grew in volume as the claw moved to break, so loud that the “crack” was almost soft underneath my keening.

Just as in both the biology and animal physiology labs, my dread over dismantling a living creature had me bathing in my own sweat. But unlike both of these situations there was no one else to dismember the lobster for me. Regrettably, the worst was yet to come. “Now you rip the lobster body in half” with a great “POP” Tex’s lobster was in two and my stomach flipped over.  My arms shook and tears gathered at the corners of my eyes as I tore Amalda in two. At my feet, Whiskey, my room-mate at the time’s cat mewled pathetically for a taste.

Tex’s enthusiasm was palpable now as he prepared to taste his meal. Using my can opener, (surprisingly I lacked the tool to crack the hard shells of crustaceans) he broke the hard red chitin of the claw into pieces and fished out the meat inside. Then handed me the can opener so I could so the same.

Next to literally tearing a creature in half, this step seemed humane. But then as the meat dangled limply from my fingers I realized that guilt had stolen my appetite. By contrast, Whiskey the cat was in a frenzy at my feet. So I passed the meaty claw to him. He devoured it with what can only be described as feline ecstasy.

From there, the gradual consumption of our meal continued, Whiskey was fed more surf than I think any cat aside from those in cultures which worship felines have eaten. While cleaning up Tex grabbed me about the shoulders and kissed the top of my head “You did great Unwashed” he said. Clearly he was more engrossed in his dinner than in my reaction, either that or “great” in cowboy terms means wimpy and on the verge of fainting.

Wanted: A nice smelling, clean person who can advise me on which purse matches my outfit

My friend who crouches in the woods at night with bears is moving. She’s also been known to go by the name Sula* however sometimes when your friends do outlandish things they must be described by their actions.

Sula is moving to the Arctic, to crouch on the tundra with polar bears. Apparently it’s a highly coveted position; being a light appetizer to one of the most monstrous and terrifying mammals in the world. Although as Sula puts it “I’d rather not be eaten alive by a polar bear in the name of science” so technically that isn’t the actual purpose of her job, more of a side project.

 What is the opposite of barbeque sauce? Sula needs to coat herself in that. (Photo credit : myblueprint.ca)

What is the opposite of barbeque sauce? Sula needs to coat herself in that. (Photo credit : myblueprint.ca)

I’m going to miss her terribly. As a dear friend of mine she’s been known to feed me on a weekly basis and allow me to bask in the glory of her fireplace. Her Cavalier King Charles spaniel and I enjoy lying face up pointing our bellies towards the flames in a most undignified manner. It’s great fun.

I’m feeling quite bereft, I haven’t the remotest clue how I will fill my Thursday nights which previously had been Sula and my time to meet up and work on our various crafting projects. That’s a lie, Sula would work on one of her many exquisite quilts and I would paint a shirt for twenty five minutes and then collapse on her floor groaning about how much I hate painting in between lying on my back in front of her fireplace.

As with any dear friend I will miss her endlessly. However she’s going to a better place. A place where people will appreciate both her ability to fire a semi automatic gun and apply false eyelashes so carefully that you wouldn’t believe the spidery tendrils weren’t her own. These skills will come in handy as Sula is heading to a city filled to the brim with environmentally minded hunters and lesbians. With her luscious brown hair and ability to discuss the effects of climate change on shore birds I have no doubt her dance card will fill up quickly.

Although Sula is moving in May I’ve decided to hold “New Unwashed Friend” auditions starting next month. All candidates must possess the following qualities.

  • The knowledge of how to properly strain one’s urine for drinking after hiking in the wilderness for hours on end. ( I have never had to use this skill of Sula’s but it reassures me when we are out in the forest that she knows how.)
  • An intense desire to clean not only their home but mine as well. (Sula didn’t actually do this but applicants for the job of being The Great Unwashed’s new companion should think of themselves as Sula 2.0 “The toilet brush wielding friend”)
  • A penchant for cooking paired with a desperate need to feed people. By people I mean specifically me.
  • A fireplace obviously.
  • A well trained, smallish dog. Chihuahua owners need not apply. Great Dane owners ironically will be considered.
  • All applicants should have a history of being told that they and their house smell nice. Each room in Sula’s home has a specific and pleasant aroma. As a person who bathes infrequently and cares even less about the scent of my home I find this a welcome change.

Auditions shall be held on the third Thursday of next month.

*Names have been changed to protect the identities of persons who make me delicious salads.

Internet Search Engines- A How To Guide

My lack of technological prowess is something that is poked fun at by my family and friends, particularly my habit of saying “The Googles”.

 

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One of “The Googles”. According to Roscoe, you’re not supposed to type a message complete with a greeting and your name into the search bar. Image via CrunchBase

The Google search engine I use is vastly different from the one Roscoe uses. When Roscoe uses The Googles, he discovers the exact piece of information he is searching for. By contrast when I use The Googles, I’m lucky if I can find anything actually related to my topic. Thus I’ve reached the conclusion that there is clearly more than one Google, consequently the name must be pluralized.

 

For example, this past week our knives were getting alarmingly dull, making any task from chopping a carrot to slicing meat difficult and unrewarding. Hence like any self respecting member of my generation, I went to the internet for help. I entered my query into the Google search bar as thus “Dear The Googles, cutting with our knives is becoming super tough, please help me find someone to sharpen them, thanks! Love The Great Unwashed”

 

Prison Break: The Conspiracy

Although they are ruggedly handsome, somehow I doubt that either of these men can instruct me on the finer point of using a whetstone. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Googles found me a Prison Break Wikiquote link and a knife sharpener from the United Kingdom. Although people in prison likely know how to use knives, quoting a television show about penitentiaries was not going to mince onions. The second link would have had me paying an arm and a leg in shipping and resulted in Roscoe and I eating rice-a-roni for months while we waited for our knives to come back to us.

 

I explained my Google and knife sharpening woes to Roscoe, at which point he used The Googles to find a local knife sharpener, thus confirming my suspicion that there is more than one Google. Although I imagine I could learn to use Roscoe’s Google*, I feel like having a faster, better Google would require endless updating.   Downloading new versions of software is something that I don’t even bother to do for necessary programs on my computer, let alone a search engine that I really only use to find out what flavor of air Tori Spelling eats. Were it not for Roscoe’s intervention I’d probably still be using MS-DOS, so I think I’m going to be stuck using my Googles for a long time.

 

 

 

*The words “Roscoe’s Google” sound vaguely dirty to me and I’m half expecting one of my aunts to put a comment below “Hey! Do you mind? This is a family blog!”