What’s In a Name? Would A Rose Called Monkeyrind Flapjack Not Smell As Sweet?

I met my friend Charity* during my first year of university. She was a shy, but academically driven student whereas I was a loud, party and boys obsessed person who often made it to class. Whether I was in any state to learn upon arriving to there was another thing, sometimes I’d walk in when it was twenty below out in just a t-shirt and short shorts while mouthing “laundry day” at those I passed. Other times I’d run in after the lecturer had started speaking, taking the stairs three at a time while sloshing my beverage everywhere. I almost never had my notes.

Not surprisingly, Charity wasn’t keen to hang out with a hot splashy mess. At first I sat next to my long suffering lab partner Niles*. This unlucky young man and I became friends because his habits of ironing his pants before class and wiping down plastic seats with his cloth handkerchief before sitting, let me know that this was a guy to follow- not only would he for sure have his notes printed off beforehand, he would be able to explain the concepts when I was totally lost. Because who else travels with a cloth handkerchief but the incredibly well organized? While Niles allowed himself one ditzy, flaky friend, the rest of his posse, including Charity, was academia and success bound whereas as I had more royal aspirations, specifically Prince Al’s, the diner frequented by students after the bars closed.

After some time, Charity and I became friends too. Charity quickly revealed herself to be the most responsible person I had ever known, despite being two years younger than me. She used breaks between classes to study, talked about studying more in the evening, was a writer for the science paper while aspiring for the post of the editor and played piano in her spare time. By contrast, if left to my own devices, I would head back to my residence for a nap any chance I got, studied infrequently and my extra-curricular activities consisted of macking on my boyfriend.

Charity regularly shocked me with her ambition and her ability, landing a coveted research grant during our second year. But even after witnessing all of her triumphs, when Charity revealed that she had named not only herself but her younger brother as well, I was shocked. One lives with their first name for a lifetime, bestowing that sort of power upon a child seemed unfathomable to me. I can recall distinctly going through as least four phases where I asked my mother (who refused) to call me something else; Tracy, Krissy, Jasmine, the list goes on. The fact that Charity managed to choose her English name at six years old when her family emigrated from China and stick with the moniker impressed me to no end. When she added the part about her sibling, I was utterly flabbergasted. Had I been given the same power, Diana would be known as Princess Sparklehorn right now, or some other equally ridiculous title.

Conversely, Charity managed to give herself a name she liked and continues to live with. Her brother also still goes by the name Charity picked. As a result, Charity’s offhand comment that she regrets her choice of Unwashed nom de plume, on a Facebook thread about my last post caught me by surprise. To date, she is the only person who has picked their pseudonym on my blog. Four years ago, I was writing a lot of nonsense about naïve people in my life with hearts of gold and giving them stripper names like “Candy” just to be funny. To keep with the theme Charity chose her name here thusly, there was no way for her know that my blog would endure or that my focus would shift from strippers to bunnies.

Anyways, this is a long way of saying that I’m giving my friend the opportunity to change her name here. Because if one must have second thoughts about christening a person, it’s better that it should be in blog form; there’s less paperwork involved in changing it. So far for legal titles which end up on passports and driver’s licenses, my friend is two for two, let’s all wish her luck because in February that number will change to three when she has her little girl.

As for her online presence here at The Great Unwashed, I’m probably going to suggest that my friend shy away from the bunny theme; one never knows when I’ll take up a fascination with armadillos or blenders thus rendering all things Playboy passé.

*Names have been changed to protect the identities of those who are more intelligent than me and therefore able to carry out devious plans involving salmonella or some other such unpleasant species that they’ve worked with.

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Mixed Signals and Mistaken Identities

“You’re going to be mistaken for a lesbian couple” Sula’s* mom told her upon learning that I would be attending the banquet of Sula’s scientific conference as her date. Prior to this comment it had never occurred to Sula that someone might assume we are a couple.

Tragically my actions and words did nothing to dispel this potential rumour. For starters while watching Sula get ready, the words “You always look beautiful to me” may have come out of my mouth multiple times, thus leaving her lab mate Joel** wondering whether after the professional function, we were going to retire to our room and have naked pillow fights then cuddle.

Also, Sula wore a gorgeous red dress which attracted a lot of attention. In the cocktail groups that formed, men would work in the comment “You look stunning by the way” at which point Joel would quip, “you’re like the tenth person to say that” then I would eagerly add “but I was the first!” To add to the mixed signal fire, during dinner, Sula and I discussed our shared dream of running away together and raising our love child.

I don’t think these comments and discussions helped our platonic relationship cause. Luckily Sula has experience with wrongly assumed roles. One Christmas, she and her brother decided to have photos taken together for their mother’s gift. At first everything went smoothly; Sula found a studio in the mall and showed up with her tall, good looking brother. This was the part where things went off the rails. The photographer kept asking Sula to touch her brother in the photos and lean against him in the poses. It was only when they were lying on the ground on top of one another that Sula’s brother intervened “You know we’re brother and sister right?” he said. The direction of the photography session changed drastically after that.

Having heard this story before arriving at the conference, I unabashedly shared my love for Sula with anyone who would listen. Happily, she wasn’t too embarrassed. However, only time will tell if I’m invited to attend another of her work functions.

Addendum

After spending two glorious days together, Sula and I were dropped off at the airport by a twelve year old boy who was responsible for driving the shuttle. “What were you doing in the city?” he kindly asked Sula and I. “She had a conference and I was her date.” I answered. “Because I love her” and “She was the best looking lady there” may have been added in there too. This prompted the young man to ask “Did you go on any other dates while you were here?”

Mark one for effectively convincing a stranger of our couple status.

Love Letters To The World

I’ve decided to start giving it away for free. Every year February descends upon us like a pack of dark, cold, rabid dogs eager to rip the frozen flesh from our cheeks during a celebration of romantic couple love. So I’m turning this month and the accompanying holiday on it’s ear. To combat the frigid temperatures outside, I am going to warm individual’s hearts, one a day for each day leading up to the mass rose genocide.

Today I’ve chosen a friend who is relatively new to my social circle; Natalie*.

Dear Natalie,

I adore you, from the top of your perfectly highlighted blonde head, (Please share the name of your salon with me again, I’ve forgotten for the eighth time.) down to your perpetually stocking-ed feet. I’m going to join my voice, with that of the masses of people who have met you and inwardly shout “She’s fantastic!” However, it’s no good to merely say those words without backing them up. And unlike the paint covered little people, whose lives you change every day, I’m able to articulate my thoughts.

Natalie you are wonderful (and slightly deadly) because you are the Energizer Bunny.

Natalie and this guy once had a race, the Energizer Bunny lost and had to go to rehab because he started using meth to cover the pain of his disappointment. (Photo Credit aylmerrunner.wordpress.com)

Natalie and this guy once had a race, the Energizer Bunny lost and had to go to rehab because he started using meth to cover the pain of his disappointment. (Photo Credit aylmerrunner.wordpress.com)

You would have made an amazing pioneer; you get up and go, go, go until you fall into bed at night. You are the only person I know who would willingly hop on a bike and have people shout at you to pedal at six am on a Monday morning. Even when I didn’t profess my love for laziness, I would never have done that.

Behind your energy is a heart that throws itself fully into everything that you do- nothing short of your very best is acceptable to you. One day, when I am old, and have figured out all of the shortcuts in the world which make things easier, I hope to do everything half as well as you do.

With that big heart, comes your warmth, this is perhaps why children and people are attracted to you, they wish to warm their hands by the fire of your kindness. Whenever I venture out into public with you, we never fail to meet someone who both knows and remembers you, this I believe, is due to your ability to always see the best in everyone. It’s a lovely quality.

Thank you Natalie, for sharing yourself with the world, keep doing so- we adore you!

Much love, and the occasional nom de plume,

The Great Unwashed

*Names have been changed to protect the identities of those so fabulous that the world would be relentlessly knocking down their door if their true identity were published online.

Bedtime Stories for King Charles Cavalier Spaniels

Once there was a girl. She was beautiful, interesting and funny. For the sake of preserving her lovely identity I called her Sula. But then she began a blog of her own and used her actual name: Lisa.

This is Lisa. I told you she was beautiful. (Photo Credit : Northofthegrid.com)

This is Lisa. I told you she was gorgeous. (Photo Credit : Northofthegrid.com)

Lisa is the modern day Wonderwoman; she makes her own jams, roasts pigs on spits, goes on grand adventures in the wilderness, was scooped up by the government to work on important projects, all the while keeping a spotless house and entertaining no less than fifteen people at a time.

When I see t head scarf, I know she means business. (Photo Credit: northofthegrid.com)

When I see this head scarf, I know she means business. (Photo Credit: northofthegrid.com)

And she was my best friend. And I loved her. And I’m pretty certain she at minimum tolerated me, because we spent every Thursday night together, and some Sundays, often another evening too. Our project nights that were spent working on quilts and scrapbooks were precious. When a mutual friend was asked whether he ever hung out with the two of us he replied “When you get close to them, they hiss and spit.”

I relayed this anecdote to Lisa one night sitting in front of her fireplace while she carefully constructed an ornament to go in her Christmas cards. (It was May, did I mention how organized she is?) Laughing she replied “I can’t refute that.”

This is her boyfriend. His back spans the width of a Volkswagon. I considered fighting him for Lisa, but it didn't seem wise. (Photo Credit: northofthegrid.com)

This is her boyfriend. His back spans the width of a Volkswagon. I considered fighting him for Lisa, but it didn’t seem wise. (Photo Credit: northofthegrid.com)

Then the inevitable happened. Lisa dreamed bigger. Having a Bachelors and a Masters of Science was simply not enough. Universities fell over one another vying for Lisa to study for her Doctorate in their hallowed halls. Eventually she chose a program and a school four hours away. The day Lisa accepted the offer was jubilant, sure it meant she would move, but that was months and months from now. The task of the day was to open a bottle of wine and celebrate.

But gradually, our Thursday Project Nights passed until suddenly it was February and Lisa was to start packing soon. Taking a deep breath Lisa and I reminded ourselves of the many weeks we had left together. But then the dark winter days lengthened and suddenly Lisa’s house was a labyrinth of boxes. My cherished Thursday night hideaway was gone, buried, under piles of outdoor gear and cooking utensils. Then the terrible day arrived when Lisa loaded up her truck one last time and left my city, formerly our city, forever. The only one who was more heartbroken than me, was the young man in the photo.

I comforted myself with the fact that my dear friend was moving onto better things; to study shore birds in the arctic circle, to rub shoulders with the best and brightest of Canada’s scientists, to chase after her dream of becoming a world renowned ornithologist.

 

Ornithologists study these creatures. (Photo Credit :northofthegrid.com)

Ornithologists study these guys. (Photo Credit :northofthegrid.com)

At the very least, I could content myself with the knowledge that Lisa left me to care for the one creature she loves most in the world.

This is the greeting that Maddie receives from most people. She's an exceptionally adorable pup. (Photo Credit : northofthegrid.com)

This is the greeting that Maddie receives from most people. She’s an exceptionally adorable pup. (Photo Credit : northofthegrid.com)

And that I can visit her anytime I like when she returns from her northern adventure.

If you would like to read more about Lisa and her wild, adventurous life, check out her blog:

northofthegrid.com

It’s a great resources for scientists and people who don’t camp in the Arctic circle for months on end alike.

 

Emily Post Couldn’t Have Said It Better Herself

I started a new job this past week. With new jobs comes training. Some of it was paperwork but part of the training included a self defense component. Hence the following conversation at Sula’s house.

The Great Unwashed in my bright and cheerful tone- “A giant man put me in a headlock today. And I got out!” The last sentence was said with a certain amount of pride.

Sula– “Did he smell nice?” said in a way that indicated that this was a reasonable follow up question.

The Great Unwashed– “Pardon?”

Sula– “If you are going to put a lady in your armpit, you should make sure there are no odors first.” This was stated in the same haughty manner that one might instruct someone where to put the oyster forks.

The oyster fork sits adjacent to the grapefruit spoon and one must always apply "Old Spice" before putting a co-worker in a half nelson. (Photo Credit : www.bexfield.co.uk)

The oyster fork sits adjacent to the grapefruit spoon and one must always apply “Old Spice” before putting a co-worker in a half nelson. (Photo Credit : http://www.bexfield.co.uk)

I burst out laughing because it never occurred to me to check for scents while my head was sandwiched between a large forearm and sturdy midsection.

So for my readers, if you are planning to attend the Unwashed Head Lock Cotillion you will need to wear deoderant.

The Crackhouse Chronicles 2; Mattress Warmers

I did my friend Sula’s* house a disservice in my last Crackhouse Chronicles post. Though her home is located in an area where when I pass a group of youths I silently thank them in my head for not robbing me, Sula’s home is actually quite nice. First and foremost it has Maddie, her Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Sula’s puppy is adorable and well trained.

Hobbies: Melting the hearts of people everywhere and providing little to no protection from street urchins. (Photo Credit: Shamelessly stolen without Sula's permission from Facebook.)

Hobbies: Melting the hearts of people everywhere and providing little to no protection from street urchins. (Photo Credit: Shamelessly stolen without Sula’s permission from Facebook.)

Also my friend who crouches in the woods at night with bears is the best host I know of. Before I arrived to house and dog sit, Sula had shampooed the carpet in front of her fireplace for me because it’s my favourite spot in the house.

The other rooms were also immaculate when I arrived. Unfortunately not so much anymore. With each passing day I’m beginning to feel more like John Candy in “Uncle Buck”; completely out of my element, surrounded by bizarre items that I have no idea how to work like the UV light that hangs above her tomato plants which turns off and on at random times throughout the day.

The first night alone was nearly fatal. Before she left, my friend taught me how to use her mattress warmer. I wasn’t aware such things existed. Living in the doctor’s house which was built in 1915, at a time when steel wool passed for insulation, I had assumed nights were times when one bundled up in eight different quilts, threw on a toque and mittens then hoped that the news about global warming was true.

Not only was Sula’s house built after the end of the First World War, I’d wager it never even saw the second. As such it was quite warm already the first evening that I was there. However fearing the chilly bedroom that my friend who crouches in bushes described, I jacked the mattress warmer up to “High” while brushing my teeth then turned it down to the lowest setting before hopping into bed.

Perhaps Sula didn’t like her Christmas gift last year, or maybe at one of our many craft nights I left a mess, or possibly that pretty smiling exterior is a mask for a trained and determined killer. Whatever the reason, I can only assume that after eating venison Sula decided the next best thing was Unwashed Flambé. At midnight I woke up in a pool of my own sweat the mattress warmer on its way to roasting me alive. The tiny spaniel next to me was paddling around on the soaked bed trying to keep her head above the salty water.

Nearly delirious with fluid loss and electrolyte deficiency, I stumbled downstairs for a glass of water and a towel to dry off the puppy that stood bedraggled and bewildered on what was now a water bed.

The puppy looked like this. Only sopping wet and doggy paddling for her life. (Photo Credit : Once again taken without permission or regard for the world's impending desire to usurp my position as dog sitter after seeing the photos.)

The puppy looked like this. Only sopping wet and doggy paddling for her life. (Photo Credit : Once again taken without permission or regard for the world’s impending desire to usurp my position as dog sitter after seeing the photos.)

The next night I unplugged the mattress warmer fearing that like many of the other appliances in the house, it may be on a timer.

*Names have been changed to protect the identities of the innocent. Or possibly me, it’s doubtful whether Sula can still be considered innocent after I spent two days re-hydrating.

The Crackhouse Chronicles

With the news of Rob Ford’s second favourite vice next to food coming to light, crack is very in vogue here in the North right now. As such I’ve decided to trade the comforts of beer and late night greasy food that are the hallmarks of the Student Ghetto for the other end of town where only thing more plentiful than the grow ops are the muggings.

It seemed like the most appropriate way to pledge my allegiance to Toronto’s shady mayor. Not only that but I’m house and dog sitting.

My friend who crouches in the woods at night with bears has chosen to fly to the Caribbean to crouch on the beach with her mother. I’d say I’m jealous but that would be a bald face lie. Much like how mothers have to forget the pain of childbirth before considering another baby, I have to forget the pain of air travel and jet lag before thinking of going any further than around the corner.

Virtually identical to creating new life no? (Photo Credit: Randymayfield.com)

Virtually identical to creating new life no? (Photo Credit: Randymayfield.com)

Yes I just compared the agony of pushing a human being into existence to flying and a couple days of grumpy exhaustion. Moms of the world are free to hunt down my address and stone me. I’ll make it even easier on you by giving directions to the place I’m staying at; go across town, drive until you feel like you should lock your car doors, then turn left. At the local penitentiary turn right. There should be loiterers and shady looking individuals on most corners. I don’t suggest stopping for directions. Keep going until you see a partially dilapidated strip mall. The convenience store in there sells delectable sticky buns. Tragically they are unavailable after dusk what with the store being a hangout for the resident gang. The street is your second left after that.

My friend’s house is the one across from the grow op with the wooden board for a window and two doors down from Terrence the neighbourhood drug dealer. He gives excellent and reliable directions but word on the street is he over charges for a dime. Also Terrence spends the odd night in jail so often he isn’t at home.

You can find me there for the next week.

Merry New Car,You Slept With a Celebrity and Then Got a Frozen Treat Day

I would make terrible greeting cards. First off they’d be way too specific. I mean just look at that title. How many times a year do you have a friend buy a vehicle and then knock boots with stardom? Two, three times max. And often one only phones on such occasions.

Secondly I have very bizarre taste and not a lot of tact. The “Grieving and Other Life Events That Are Not Fun” section in my greeting card store would really struggle because I’d put a giant ostrich on the front of the card with a speech bubble saying “Wanna come live with me?”

The Ostrich Struthio camelus is now farmed, pr...

This ostrich looks friendly and like it enjoys giving piggy back rides. Oh wait that’s how we lost your Great Aunt Sue (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Then the inside would read “Grandma took up the ostrich’s offer. She’s gone to a big emu farm in the sky. Sorry.”

Even though I buy my Christmas cards somehow they never end up being the standard holiday greetings most people send out. Here is a message I sent to a dear friend of mine who duels with poltergeists in his spare time.

Dear Gordy*,

Merry Christmas. I discovered a stack of Christmas cards that I either failed to write or failed to send.

I am a very responsible adult. I should probably be made president. I thought the front of this card said “nice” as in the Fonz style “nice”. But then I saw a stack of cards next to it that said “naughty” in bold letters and I was bummed.

So we’ll pretend you got a new car and I’m congratulating you- nice.

Congrats on hitting that?

Congrats on hitting that? (Photo credit : billboard.com)

Or slept with Miley Cyrus- nice. Wait. I don’t know about that one.

Come to think of it getting a new car is kind of expensive. Let’s go with something simpler. We’re going to make believe you got a cookies and cream ice cream cone and I’m writing a card rather than texting or saying “Good call. Cookies and cream, always a winner.” like a normal person.

Nice.

So back to the initial purpose of the card. Merry Christmas. Or Happy Belated Arbor Day. Either way enjoy the pretend ice cream.

The Great Unwashed

Having finished all of the half written cards I’m now terrified to open up the prewritten, sealed and addressed envelopes. The majority of the time upon rereading words that I’ve penned to loved ones and friends I question who the weird person was who wrote said piece of mail. Tragically it’s always me. We’ll see if I get up the courage to open the envelopes in which cases they’ll appear next week for a Travesty Tuesday post or whether I’ll just send them out and figure out whether the contents were wildly inappropriate based on whether or not the recipients speak to me again.

*Names have been changed to protect the identities of friends who receive nine months late Christmas cards from me that aren’t really Christmas cards.

You Caught Me; I Also Have A Peg Leg

My postcard writing campaign was an unparalleled success. Only because it didn’t start. And by didn’t start I mean NO ONE sent me their addresses. I’ve chosen to classify the endeavor as an unparalleled success rather than a crashing failure. Apparently my writing sounds like that of a 250 lb ex convict with a hook for a hand. I will admit it has saved me the trouble of buying a can opener.

 

Cousin-scary-Scan063

The image that my writing calls to mind. (Photo credit: Ravages)

 

I digress. So I sent the last post out to my family and friends requesting that they forward it and share it. Everyone agreed whole heartedly to do so prior to reading the post. Invariably I received a message or an email a day later with the words “I thought it was a joke.”

 

Ladies and gentleman, nothing with a stamp on it is a joke. Unless of course you’re talking about the content of my correspondence, in which case I am joking about running for president of the universe. But only because that position doesn’t exist.

 

Hence for whatever reason, not a single soul sent me their address. No amount of assurances that I’m a small blonde woman whose only legal transgression has been failing to change the address on her driver’s license (the irony is too much isn’t it?) could change their minds.

What I actually look like. My hobbies do not include eating kittens. I do get trapped in trees though.

What I actually look like. My hobbies do not include eating kittens. I do get trapped in trees though.

 

Thus I’ll just have to fill my address book with the mailing addresses for obscure celebrities. It will be like when I was sixteen and in lieu of entering in friend’s digits into my phone book, I wrote down the customer service lines for Nabisco and 1-800-TALL-MEN.

 

I spent many a lazy afternoon telephoning the last number asking Michael Jordan if he would come over and retrieve the good crackers from their hiding place on the top shelf.

 

If you’ll excuse me, I have to find Michael Jordan’s address now. I’m sure the former athletic super star will love my Louvre postcard asking him to come over and look in the high up crawl space in my closet to see whether I shoved a plate warmer in there.

 

Artificial Body Holes and Bravery

Despite the fact that we ceased to be students some time ago, Roscoe and I still live in the student ghetto. Our miniature porch faces onto the backyard (or rather the basketball court cum parking lot) of a frat house. Across the street is a hovel which houses, by our count, five young men who enjoy shoving foreign objects through all their extremities and tattooing the rest of their visible epidermal layer.

Head banging Brain Muncher

Our neighbour, who rarely turns down an offer of banana bread. Photo credit: Munir Hamdan)

They also take pleasure in blasting angry death metal music while I make dinner. Most of the time I don’t mind strains of “%&#K THE WORLD AND EVERYOOOOOOOOOONE” followed by intense guitar solos, but after a long day I have been known to don the ear protecting head phones worn by most construction workers.

With the exception of discovering a partially eaten hamburger on our lawn or having to walk the long route to the park while the metal heads try and film “a sweet sweet trick” on the sidewalk and part of the road, both the frat boys and the metallers are good neighbours.

The end of the school year is approaching for university students and so the other night the metallers were throwing a party. Roscoe was on call at the hospital so our family friend Gordy* was over to have dinner and help me guard against a ghost break in. Living in an eighty year old house does unfortunately come with downsides.

So Gordy and I were just returning from our after dinner walk to the river when I noticed all the people milling on the metaller’s lawn, beside a minivan which was also on the lawn. University cities love to ticket vehicles parked on lawns, it’s an easy way to add to the city budget. However this was the end of the metaller’s year, so even though I didn’t necessarily share their love of head banging guitar solos and swear words I didn’t want their revelry to be marred by a seventy dollar ticket.

So I marched my five foot two self right over to the group of them. “Oi!” I said.

Just as a reference when entering a new culture it’s important to use language from that culture to help integrate yourself with it’s people, hence my “Oi!” to begin the exchange.

“Oi!” I said as I approached a young man with spacers in his ears so large that a baby’s fist could have gone straight through them. “You’ll get a ticket if you park there, that’s my house.” I gestured to the red brick building across the street. “You’re welcome to park in the driveway as long as you leave me space to get to work in the morning.”

All of the young men turned to face me. Collectively they had enough hardware in their young heads to open a store. “Thank you so much!’ they exclaimed.

Gordy stood the whole time a short distance away, ready to jump in at any moment should the youths turn and pull a shiv out of one of their many zippered pant pockets.

“I can’t believe you just walked up to them like that” he said. Maybe it was brave, or maybe it was my near sightedness and forgotten glasses that prevented me from seeing the hypodermic needles full of meth they were holding, but in my experience if someone walks up to you offering free parking and you want free parking, you almost never can go wrong. So Gordy and I listened as screamo metal wafted in through hundred year old windows for two hours afterwards and then Gordy left for the evening. The ghosts of course then moved in, rattling our thirty year old fridge until it was all but on it’s side and tapped tree branches on the windows.

*Although Gordy is arguably the second biggest fan of The Great Unwashed his name has been changed because at some point I may want to talk smack about him and so it’s best if he has only an inkling that Gordy might be his nom de plume.

Talking smack about people may very well be The Great Unwashed’s new schtick. After finishing both the partially clothed in church post and the award post I shall be doing a new series entitled “Diana may in fact be a lemur”.