Thursday, October 13, 2011
Though these monsters were supposed to be John’s contemporaries, he never felt particularly comfortable among them. Even to an outsider, he didn’t seem to fit in. He looked regular and unfrightening; at most, he was mildly unattractive. Really, the only thing distinguishing him from your regular 7/11 employee was his lack of opposable thumbs.
This thumblessness was in no way functional to his monster essence. It just made it difficult to open jars and text his imaginary friends.
Even beyond the looks department, John had nothing in common with other monsters. He didn’t eat eyeballs for lunch, he smelt like Irish Spring soap, and were he to walk onto a playground, small children would continue to go about their business. This made it easier to read on park benches on nice summer days, but it made for difficult small talk with ghouls and goblins.
John was a Nuisance Monster.
John’s life mission was to put that piece of spinach between your teeth before a presentation, make you fart on a first date, put that white sticky stuff at the corner of your mouth during a job interview, leave a trail of toilet paper under your foot and trip you in front of an audience.
As a Nuisance Monster, he was acutely aware of the importance of his purpose and the truly terrifying power he had over humankind. That butterfly before an interview? That was him. The panic that strikes when you engage in public speaking? That was him. The clammy hands on a first date? Him too. The sweaty armpits that develop when you need to talk to your boss? Kinda him, but more often than not, that was glandular.
The rest of the monster crew didn’t have the same appreciation for his art. If you didn’t have the power to walk up to a human and make him scream for his or her mother and run the other way, then you were as useful as a gnat trying to play the cello.
There were many more Nuisance Monsters about, but they stopped coming to the convention many moons ago due to their aversion to public humiliation - the irony was just too much. John kept coming though, hoping to meet a Nuisance Monster to commiserate with, and possibly to walk hand in hand with into the proverbial sunset. It was generally difficult for him to make friends (human and otherworldly) other than Nuisance Monsters: his absent opposable thumbs made it impossible to shake hands.
“Made anyone mildly socially awkward today?” said John’s least favourite vampire, Elagabalus. Turns out most monsters aren’t as jovial and accepting as one would imagine. I believe it’s the body odor, or in this case an O positive only diet.
“Hey Elagabalus! Presenting at the conference today?” he said smiling. The inane need to be accepted and loved by others holds true for monsters too.
“Yah. Maybe you’ll learn a thing or too.”
At least that’s what John heard. He could also sometimes hear him say “you’re” instead of “your.” It’s these little internal victories that made John less likely to stick a pencil in his eye in a fit of hopelessness.
Elagabalus' conference room was quite full, the only thing available was an aisle seat next to a suspiciously unsmelly she-zombie who was down one arm, but didn’t seem to have any unsightly open wounds.
“Hey,” she smiled.
She also had all her teeth.
Elagabalus came in behind him and tapped John on the shoulder while smiling at the zombie, “I know he doesn’t look it, but he’s a monster, so don’t bother with him, he’s not edible. He’s less than edible, he’s monstrously inedible. Unmonstrously rather!!”
See what he did there? Clever vampire. Elagabalus dispensed them of any more puns and walked off to the podium to commence his address.
She leaned towards him, “Why don’t you make him shit himself?”
"How is that supposed to get me any respect? I tried embarrassing monsters before, they're not easily flustered. Most of them already smell like shit anyways... Present company excluded.”
“It may not get you any respect, but it’ll make you feel better, and maybe he’ll slip on his own poop.”
“Listen, you’re a zombie, you don’t know what it’s like.”
She showed him her thumbless left hand.
“I do.” She nudged him with her stump, “This was from the time I pretended to be a member of the living dead. Turns out being a monosyllabic zombie isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. It's impossible to groan a knock-knock joke.”
John looked at her startled, “That’s absurd! You’re a Nuisance Monster! Why would you cut off your arm to pretend to be a zombie?”
“Calm down! I didn’t, it was a car accident. But absurd is good. Come on! Make his voice crack, make him farty, make him something awful! Entertain me.”
“I’m sorry, personal growth is just not possible within six lines of dialogue.”
John looked back to the front of the room where Elagabalus recited his speech with solemnity. Then, Elagabalus interrupted himself and began to do an admirable rendition of the running man. Through his hopping, he struggled to get the rest of his speech out. His eyes burned, his lips curled into a snarl. The audience, though, was quite impressed with the impromptu entertainment.
My new acquaintance was smiling, her eyebrows twitching with the effort it took to make a full grown monster do the running man against his will, “And that’s how you do it.”
“Well that... that I’ve never tried,” John murmured impressed.
Friday, July 24, 2009
I don’t know when it started, but let’s try to trace it back, shall we?
Like most children, my stuffed animals, dolls, and action figures all had personalities, names, feelings and a favourite side of the bed.
But, I think I went a little further than the average child. At least this is what my friends and family have led me to believe. Or maybe they just enjoy watching my neurosis act itself out. It’s like watching the exact opposite of Steven Wright on catnip, fertilised with speed, laced with the mysterious fairy dust the Gilmore Girls’ producers sprinkled in the set’s communal coffee pot.
But I digress.
When I was a child, my things didn’t need to have beads as eyes for me to give them a name, an identity, or a “good morning how did you sleep?”
My pencils (Rosey, Orangina and Blacky McBlack Black), my shoes (Sandalina, Runny and Tipsydoodle), my hair scruntchies (Schrunchalina, Schrunchette and Schruncharoon), were as personable as Barbie, Mr. Bear and Polly Pocket.
So my stuff had names, birthdays, favourite colours and phobias. My pencils all had personalities of their own: Orangina was funny, Rosey was shy, and Blacky… well… Blacky was a prick. Also, my patent black shoes had a debilitating fear of tuna. Not me though. Just the shoes. However, I do always think twice before trusting the word of a tuna melt.
As I discovered the objects around me has quirks, I began to feel attached to them. For example, I felt bad when I had to pick one shoe from the other (a sign of things to come?) … unless they pinched me, then they had it coming.
Or there was the day I forgot my backpack at school: I came home crying because I couldn’t imagine her having to spend the night alone.
I’m going to go ahead and blame television for my unnatural desire to name things and my constant need to please inanimate objects… what was that Mr. Thomas the Tape Dispenser? You say you’re feeling a little breezy in that corner?
It may have started when Grover asked me through the television set one day, “Have you said hello to your elbow today?”
That’s right. Jim Henson made us talk to our elbows. The 80s were a hell of a decade.
So I thought to myself, “Well, no… I haven’t!” So I bent my arm and said, “Hi Tim.” Then I bent my other arm, “Hi Earl.” Then, I saw this.
THE DUDE LOST HIS ELBOWS.
And come to think of it, half the time, Grover doesn’t have any elbows!
Now, not only do I name my belongings, I check inventory of my elbows and other extremities regularly.
This includes the bendy bit on the other side of both my elbows, Tom and Pearl, and both sides of each knee, Eric, Camille, John and Abdul. My dad was watching a TV special on the Middle East that night. That same night I named my right pinky toe, the one next to Jeremy, Samir.
And so, my stapler is Steve, my monitor is Helga, my mouse is Jimmy and my scissors, Billy. I’m not allowed leaving Steve and Billy together or they conspire to take down Patrick, the Post-It pad.
And finally, for those of you who are wondering: Righty McBoob and Lefty McGee.
Sunday, July 19, 2009
Not only is bathroom graffiti positive due to the historical benefits of record-keeping, but also, anonymous secrets feed my incessant pornographic need for gossip.
I have a favourite bar that I am compelled to go to just for the writing on the stalls. It’s a little dirt pub called the Cock ‘n Bull. It’s frequented mostly by a rotating group of college students, a handful of regulars dating back from 1972 and one to two people with questionable hygiene which I believe to be homeless.
The floors are sticky, the beer is cheap, and the pool table is 100 years old. It has the strangest, most delicious vibe I’ve ever encountered in a public place. People are genuinely nice to everyone, without ulterior motives. The tables are close together just enough to encourage you to swap drinking stories with your neighbour. The bar has managed to find the perfect balance of people to floor tiles, encouraging conversation without claustrophobia. And of course, the owner is the epitome of the perfect bartender – surrogate mother and shrink rolled into one.
Even the second hand smoke is nothing but a hazy inviting cloud of love…
So maybe I inhaled a little too deeply…
Still, it’s a magical place where bonding abounds, where people sing along to the amateur tempting his hand at Billy Joel’s Piano Man, where each Monday is Craft Night and we gather round the rickety tables and use paste, dry macaroni and sparkles to design a new avant-garde paper hat.
But the most special thing about the entire pub experience is the bathroom stall.
Before exercising your bodily functions, you are forced to stand with five other people, in a place meant for two. But no matter how uncomfortable and antsy you are, you must be nice to them, for you may soon be asking them to spare a square.
After sharing intimate feelings about which beer is less likely to induce hangovers, you arrive at your destination. A little bathroom stall complete with a cornucopia of delicious human moments which give you something different to raise your glass to.
“Here’s to 1-888-55- BAMBI.”
“Cheers to enhancing poetic ability through the smell of poo.”
“Here’s to rhyming ass with class!”
Personally, I like to sort the scrawling on the walls into three basic categories. (Why? Because my mind wanders on the can.)
1) I’m too drunk to spell
Where people, usually with questionable penmanship, misspell obscenities across the wall. If you’re angry enough to bring yourself to deface private property, the least you could do is spell the generic obscenity correctly. People would have taken you more seriously if you hadn’t spelt it “tird,” “asswhole,” or “hore.” But maybe that’s just me. I also don’t join Facebook groups that have misspelled titles. Decorum is important. As is taking inventory of your extremities – two things people should really be paying more attention to.
2) I need to teach others
This is where people leave little bits of wisdom for you to pass on. From the basic “don’t eat yellow snow,” to the lesser known “your hair can also be makeshift dental floss in a sticky situation.”
3) I need to share with others
My absolute favourite category is “I need to take something of my chest, so I’m going to write it in the same place 100s of people drop a deuce.”
That’s the category where you learn about people’s desires, fears, and unusual pass times. But the absolute most glorious part of this category is when you’re lucky enough to find dialogue. Even more fulfilling than reading someone’s weird fascination with toenail clippings is reading “Me too!” scrawled underneath in foreign handwriting.
While my pants hang around my ankles and I’m trying to hover over the toilet seat to avoid cross contamination, I can’t help but smile.
Sometimes it’s just nice to know that we’re all a little depraved.
Thursday, July 03, 2008
I guarantee you statues are jealous of each other’s spots. I’m sure most of them would want to be surrounded by water spewing cherubs, but let’s face it, many of them are strategically stuck under a tree, forcing them into the position of a bronzed pigeon lavatory. It’s really all very tragic.
I also believe most of us think statues are all a little creepy. Personally, I don’t trust them. Have you ever noticed they don’t blink? WHAT IS WRONG WITH THEM THAT THEY CAN’T BLINK?? And you know they so want to.
Alright, so maybe you may think I’m a little overly hostile, particularly due to statues being inanimate objects and all. Granted, but let me explain: I am very jealous of statues.
First of all, they’re much taller than I am. I’m 5’2” (Fine. 5’ 1” and ¾. You can lower your right eyebrow now.) I have height envy: I can never reach the high shelf, or see over the person sitting in front of me in a movie theatre. It’s a terrible affliction, but I deal with it as best I can. No need to send flowers, though I thank you for your heartfelt thoughts – and if you haven’t heartfelt those thoughts yet, feel free to start heartfeeling them now.
My second reason for statue-envy is because they *are* the proverbial fly on the wall. I’m a sucker for gossip and they see it all. Plus, they will never be shot for being an unsuspecting witness to any activities not meant for their eyes.
So here we have Mr Champlain, Mr Lafayette and Mr Macdonald standing in their rose bushes, moats and squares, watching life walk, jog, and sometimes, on the odd day, shimmy by them.
I swear, it was only once. I was on my cell phone, I got some good news, and I did a little victory dance. But as soon as I noticed I had company, I apologised and kept walking… I thought it would have been incredibly rude of me to have shimmied willy-nilly without any consideration to those around me, as inanimate as they might be.
I can’t help but imagine the little bits of life they steal away from passer-bys. The nose and wedgie pickings, the double takes, the under-your-breath-comments made only for your own satisfaction and the inanimate objects around you. Sometimes I wish I were the inanimate objects around you.
Like the rest of us, I also derive pornographic pleasure in witnessing people’s deliciously unflattering moments.
Imagine all the secrets statues keep. For example, it tares me up inside that they know the identity of the Steven Wright Tribute Criminal. A tribute criminal is a concept very similar to the tribute band. However, instead of doing covers to honour musicians, they commit crimes and leave behind some kind of themed memento for added criminal flair. Here, the theme is the comedic prowess of dead pan comedian Steven Wright. It’s a very underground movement. Some might say I’m making it up as I type. Not me though. But some.
Following a break-in at an upscale hair salon across the street from a square where stands a stone Abe Lincoln, this tribute criminal left a small sign in the window that said,
“Boycott shampoo! Demand the real poo! – Steven Wright.”
In another such incident, this time across a small public park where Shakespeare held his quill up high, the same man robbed 99% of a furniture store, leaving only a small nightstand behind. On that table, he left a small card which said,
“You can't have everything. Where would you put it? – Steven Wright.”
Statues get the inside scoop on everything. The difference is they can’t spread the word. Which is, let’s face it, half the fun of gossip. Also, they’re only there for the main event, they get no closure. They can’t follow the criminal off to find out whether or not they managed to get a hold of the “real poo.” That and whether they would ever figure out where to put everything were they to acquire everything.
But very worst of all, they could never follow the shimmiying stranger to see where somebody so fond of the shimmy would shimmy to.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
My nose is also runny 365 days a year, and my sneeze rate is about two to three sneezes per hour. I live in a state of permanent hay fever.
Summer is usually the worst time of year smell-wise. It is the season where heated garbage cans give off the sweet scents of cooked mould. I can’t even find a safe haven in air conditioned malls - the over chilled air gives me a runny nose.
I don’t know why my nose is so rough on me. Maybe it’s because I sucked at dodge ball. Since the second grade, my nose has never felt safe in a gym.
So my snout has forced me to make some lifestyle adjustments, this kind of disability is an uphill battle. Basically, I must make sure I always have an unusually large supply of Kleenex at my disposal at all times. I also have to pay close attention to which pocket is for used hankies, and which is for the fresh kind (disposal facilities aren’t always at ones finger tips). Also, I avoid restaurants that I know will make my clothes stinky, and I try to weasel out of cooking anything fried or anything with Cajun spices.
This strange evaluation of my nostrils comes from a malodorous accident I had this weekend. I was driving my friend and myself to a BYOB home-style bachelorette party. Because of leg room concerns, we thought it would be a good idea to put the alcohol she was bringing in the trunk - believe it or not we are both university educated. I took a few turns without problems, heard only a little shuffling, and then suddenly, as I am taking our exit, “CRUNCH.” Perfect.
I stopped the car and discovered that the bottle of gin had survived (thank god) but not the bottle of rum. Not the spiced rum. The spiced part adds a sweeter, spicier layer to the rum, making for an almost sticky smell. Captain Morgan will now haunt me forever.
We tried to soak up as much of the liquor, as we could with our one Kleenex. I had recently had a sneezing fit, emptying the box, and failing my nose once again. We did what we could with what we had and drove the rest of the way with the windows down, gagging ungracefully.
At the end of the evening, we returned to a car that smelled like drunk. Not just regular drunk – smelly homeless drunk.
After having driven home with my head sticking out the window, doggy style, I removed the bottom part of my trunk and stuck it in the shower to hose it off. Then, I doused it with Febreze, the fabric refreshner and odour remover. I sincerely thought that would solve the problem. I envisioned the moment where my nose and I would make up.
However, when I returned to my car the next day, it smelt like bar. Which I suppose is a step up from smelly drunk bum. I had taken care of the source of stink the night before, but the fumes from the spilt drink had permeated the plastic inner walls of my car. So I doused the entire vehicle with two thirds of a bottle of Febreze. Finally it smelt morning spring fresh. My nose stopped making my eyes tear: it was pleased.
The next morning, I woke up inhumanly early for an early class. I entered the chilly car and put my key into the ignition. If a nose had vocal cords, my nose would have shrieked. The Febreze and rum had melded into one super smell, creating a strange smoky, mouldy medicine cabinet aroma. My appendage stuck itself in the air in disapproval, sneezes ensued.
For one week I’ve been sticking to a strict regimen of a quarter bottle of Febreze, twice a day. Things have gotten a little better. The car is now getting to smell more like my dad’s liquor cabinet instead of a mutant medicine cabinet.
However, I haven’t quite patched things up with my nose, it’s still a bit resentful for the whole ordeal, and so my sneezing rate is still a bit above average. But I think we’ll make it through this.
If I had any advice for someone with special nose needs, it’s that it’s important to be nice to your nose. Maybe name it, give it something nice to smell from time to time. Or else it might just gang up with various other body parts and start a rebellion.
Not only do I have a very special finicky nose, I have a very special family. My entire family is from Curitiba, a large city in the south of the Brazil. My mother and father moved to Canada while I was still in the womb. Now, the three of us live here amid the igloos and caribou. Still, I am lucky enough to have my Canuck life interspersed with annual visits to the land of bikinis and sequins. Now, why is my family special? Well, you may have heard the statistic that Brazil is the country with the highest cosmetic surgery procedures per capita. I’d like to think my family has a direct hand in this. All of the men in my family are plastic surgeons; my uncles, my grandfather and my cousins all wield a scalpel. Actually not all, I have a cousin who is a pediatrician – he’s a bit skittish, you see.
I remember the first day of the last trip my old nose would ever make. After 24 hours spent in airports and airplanes, I climbed in an elevator with my grandfather, looking forward to a shower followed by an endless flow of aunts looking for an opportunity to pinch my cheeks over a cup of tea and some cookies.
“You know we can fix that,” my grandfather said pointing to somewhere between my eyebrows. Luckily, the elevator doors opened, leading the way out of an awkward and slightly insulting conversation.
I was always fully aware of the smallish speed bump resting on the bridge of my nose. I never liked it and often wished it disappeared. But I resigned myself to live with it right around the age of fourteen. At nineteen, I was confident enough, except for the reoccurring “I-wish-I-looked-like-Gisele-Bunchen” syndrome every woman experiences when browsing through a Victoria Secret catalogue.
Besides, surgery seemed so excessive. It was only a little bump, it didn’t do anything wrong. I also wondered if I was the surgery kind of person. I’ve always associated plastic surgery with over-the-top women like Joan Rivers - women who, if they winked, I swear to God, their toes would wiggle. But then, I imagined how my nose would look sans bump. And oh, how wonderful it would be.
Due to living in the land of cosmetic surgery, more than 80 per cent of my family has had some kind of plastic surgery done. Face lifts, tummy tucks, lipo, I suspect one chin implant, and a few dozen nose jobs. Turns out my nose bump is genetic.
I was told that if I were to go ahead with the surgery, the procedure itself would only be about an hour long: I’d go into the clinic in the morning, and I’d be home for dinner. I’d wear some nose bandages for about a week, and then I’d be free and pretty. My cousin compared it to a hair cut, “Why wouldn’t you get a good haircut if you could?” These are the words of wisdom that drove me to the operating table.
So I did it, and it wasn’t pleasant. A combination of anesthetics and loss of nose function made me feel like I had the flu. Once the bandages were off, I still didn’t look too great. There was some bruising and swelling, it took me a few more weeks to see what I’d look like for the rest of my life. Turns out I still looked like me but with a less bumpy nose. I felt as different as if I had taken a good shower; I looked the same, but I guess I felt a bit more put together.
When I returned to North America, few people noticed the change. Of course, I told all my friends, and if the subject comes up with new acquaintances, I don’t hide. I’m always amused by the shocked expression on people’s faces once they discover that my nose was tweaked with. Once, someone actually said, “What? You? But you’re so nice!” I visited a society where plastic surgery is normal; it’s a part of maintaining your appearance. In Canada you get haircuts, in Brazil you get tummy tucks. I don’t regret my decision, and am pleased with the results. I will not be going under the knife any time soon. I want to keep the essence of what I look like as is. Ok, maybe a haircut… but never a perm.
One more thing: I thought you’d like to know that giving my nose a metaphorical haircut hasn’t changed our relationship. I still sneeze and hate unfamiliar smells. Ungrateful schnoz.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
I got a record player for my birthday.
I wanted one because I missed the pops and skips I got used to. For the longest time I thought Obla Di Obla Da was a dirty song and I had inherited a cleaned up version.
Desmond says to Molly - girl I like your face, and Molly says this as she takes him by the POP
I thought the pop was the CRTC hard at work.
I also had this great Tarzan story book. But I didn’t think Tarzan had a swearing streak, instead he had the hiccups. The TV and movie remakes were never the same without the hiccups.
Reminiscing out loud about the popping, and the endless undertaking of cleaning freakishly persistent dust particles off shiny vinyl with a little velvet brick, led my better half to buy me a record player.
So there I was, flipping through some musty old records, in a musty old used record store with questionable architecture, with my good friend Cornelius.
And no, his parents did not have the decency to name him after some illustrious ancient Roman thinker. Instead, they kindly named him after Don Cornelius. The first host of Soul Train.
But fear not for Cornelius, despite the awkward teenage years (though not more or less awkward from the rest of us), and the complete loss of irony he experienced during Fight Club when Edward Norton wore the “Hello my name is Cornelius” name tag at the testicular cancer support group, he would lead a very fulfilling life.
So there we stood in between the bargain bin and the soundtrack section where he had just finished questioning the merits of whose moustache was more distinguished, Sonny Bono or Freddie Mercury.
(I was partial to Sunny’s.) “What’s with your need to return to the olden days?” he said as he mimicked putting an invisible needle on an invisible record, frowning, then moving the needle, frowning some more, then moving the needle again.
“What’s with your need to return to the olden days?” he said as he mimicked putting an invisible needle on an invisible record, frowning, then moving the needle, frowning some more, then moving the needle again.
Cornelius claims he was a mime in another lifetime.
“I need to find the pop back in Obla Di Obla Da. My ears miss the pop.”
My ears also happened to miss the sound of the Full House theme song, however I chose not to volunteer that bit of information.
After finding the White Album and wondering whether I could manually replicate the same scratch as my old copy, Cornelius turned around and asked me, “You really shouldn’t be enjoying returning back to the Stone Age this much. You don’t need to crank the phonograph anymore,” he said while cranking an invisible crank, “I’ll introduce you to electricity.”
“Sperm?” he said as he made a little fish slither gesture with his right hand.
“Yes. And there’s proof in nature: snakes evolved – or should I say DEvolved – from lizards. They started out with legs, and now look at them: sperm with tongues. In evolution, you acquire legs to better run around, but snakes knew what they were doing: they were devolving back into the womb.”
“What’s next? Egg snakes?”
“Egg snakes,” I said gravely nodding my head.
Back at home, I crawled onto the sofa and listened to Obla Di Obla Da. But it had a different skip, all its own.
It wasn’t terrible, but I bet it doesn’t beat being a sperm. Or so I hear.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
So I’m all alone in a tiny matchbox apartment. In my tiny matchbox apartment.
For the first time I’m living in a place where my parents don’t. I now live with my significant other in this – in my tiny matchbox apartment. My significant other has temporarily gone away for business. He is now significant in another province. I’d like him to be significant here. But so it goes, I must be significant alone.
Now, while he is significant there, I sit in a monstrous pile of unfolded laundry on my now uncharacteristically large bed doing my best to be significant here.
I tried to keep busy doing laundry, but gave up halfway. Sheets aren’t easy to fold when you’re alone. This reinforced the theory that the universe designed itself to be pair-friendly and has doomed the single-folk to feel awkward in movie theatres, paddleboats and while assembling Ikea furniture.
So I called a friend.
“So if you were a garden tool what would you be?”
Discussing the philosophical differences between being a dirty hoe or being a sprinkler and being able to embody the like named dance move didn’t so much fill the gap of lack of significance. I soon gave up on talking my way through insignificance when the conversation shifted to the proportional differences between woolly mammoths, small planes and pyramids.
So I sat in my brand spanking new living room that still doesn’t quite feel like mine, even though my framed picture of Mary Jane’s and chihuahuas is up behind the couch, my garden gnome is lovingly guarding the TV, and my Grammy is still delightfully smiling in her frame on the shelf next to my unimaginably unmanly romantic comedy DVDs.
So while I poked at my shiny new sunburn (my yearly way of celebrating the new season), and let my mind wander about the proportions of large extinct mammals and wonders of the world, my eyes meandered onto our tiny balcony where a small party of pigeons were hanging out on my shiny new bistro set. I have never seen so many birds in one place – I truly believe my 2 feet squared balcony was exceeding its maximum perching capacity.
At that moment, I was overcome with some kind of strong sense of possession – I felt violated… by pigeons. So I did what any self respecting independent significant home owner would do: I went out there with a broom and shook it high.
I believe if they’re lucky enough, one day these pigeons might find a nice smelling house that has garden gnomes, eight balls and chihuahuas to nest in. But this one’s mine.
And that is how I learned to be significant alone: by standing up to pigeons.
Sunday, April 13, 2008
The other day I had an intense viewing of Batman, the 1989 movie: the one with Michael Keaton and the “clownishly homicidal Joker.” I saw it with a friend, Joshua, who is absolutely enthralled with the notion of superheroes. Not in a regular boy-like way, when they’re impressed by muscly airborne men lifting cars and crushing beer cans on their head. Instead he’s interested in them existentially.
Joshua gave me an interesting running commentary on the deeper layers of Batman. How good and evil are intertwined, how one cannot exist without the other: Joker created Batman, Batman created Joker, Darth Vader is Luke’s Father… I think I just grew a prostate.
“Hey did you know that Jack Nicholson has man boobs now?”
“What was that?” Joshua said looking at me nervously while I played with his mint condition action figures.
“I saw a picture of him on the beach in US Weekly. He got all chunky. I think he’s a B cup now,” I shrugged as I arranged Joker and Spiderman in an embarrassing position.
“Hmm, Joker as a middle-aged overweight man. That would slow down his evil plotting.”
“Penguin did fine. And he waddled,” I paused as I tried to fashion Batman’s felt cape as Superwoman’s scarf, “I don’t understand superhero outfits. Tights, a cape, really?”
“The get-up is a representation of their archetypes. They are the pure essence of human kind’s different sides. Batman is a bat, representing fear and darkness, Captain
“What if they have to pee? Do they have to pull the entire thing off? Does Spiderman have a fly? Velcro maybe?” I asked while I examined his newest superhero action figure: Spider-Hulk. Essentially Hulk’s body in a Spiderman suit. Very surreal.
I don’t think I ever got superheroes. Maybe it was because I was bothered that nobody could tell that Clark Kent and Superman looked exactly alike or how he kept his cape so seamlessly tucked into his suit jacket.
Still, when I was a kid, I wanted to be one. I used to tie a blanket around my neck and run down the corridor which ended with two steps I’d jump off of, hoping I would take flight. I assumed the corridor was enough of a head start, and the blanket was as good as any superhero cape. When that didn’t work I hoped yelping “Sup-ermaaaaaaaaaaan” before my running start would activate my superpowers. No dice. So I tried “Sup-ergiiiiiiiiirl,” then “Sup-erkiiiiiiiid,” and then “Batman! Duh-na-na-na-na-na-na.” But Batman never actually flew. Neither did I; not even a little gliding. Maybe that’s when my disillusionment towards superheroes started.
Maybe it was because I was always upset that Superman would lie to
Soon after the Wright Brothers incident, I started sympathising with villains. They were always upfront about who they were: they said what was on their mind. Besides, they were the ultimate underdog - they never got to win! So I’d root for them. I rooted for Lex Luther, even with his freakishly shiny egghead, I cheered for Penguin (I liked his cuddly penguin friends), and I’d do a special victory dance whenever it looked like the Joker was going to succeed in his elaborate, cleverly conceived plot.
But now the Joker has man boobs.
On our way, we crossed the store window of a shoe store. The new fall line was in. So I did what any self-respecting woman would do: I squealed like a little girl and glued my nose to the window, not noticing the small circle of mist on the glass caused by my heavy breathing.
Callaghan looked on, beguiled, with a small smirk developing on his face, “Are you going to be ok? Should I be holding your hand?” he asked disturbing my perfectly good moment of awe.
“Shhhhhh, aren't they beautiful?”
I looked on as the new pretty shoes, each with its own personality and charming quirk rested on her individual decorative platform.
“I think you have a problem,” teased Callaghan.
“I think I've found my soul mate, you see, over there, that pretty blue one, with the exquisite heels. They'll probably warp my spine, but aren't they wonderful?” I whispered through the glass, “I shall call you Buttercup, and you shall be mine.”
As Callaghan giggled at my dialogue with my future shoe, he questioned my undying devotion to footwear.
“Blasphemy!” I whispered to not disrupt the shoes in their natural habitat. "They bring me joy and happiness. They define the emotion of the day, they can take me from a would be sweat-pants day to a sophisticated woman of the world day. They carry me through my day, literally, lifting me a couple of inches from the ground. With my height, proportionally, that's huge! They're really just a girl's best friend - they are all you need.”
“Hmmm… Have you ever thought that maybe you needed some human companionship? At this point I would even suggest any kind of human interaction, just to put your shoe dependency in perspective, of course.”
“People come and go, shoes will always be there. Let's go in, I'm adopting that blue pair.” I waved at the other shoes so they wouldn't feel left out and went inside to purchase a new friend.
And that night, on a would-be lonely Saturday night, I sat in my jammies, watching Law and Order with a tub of
“What?” asked Andy as she studied the umbrella in her girly green-ish drink.
“They all look so happy. Look at them. All ‘look at me, look at me shaking my groove thing,’ all happy and stuff and junk,” I said obviously un-entertained by my flaming cocktail. Seriously. I had to blow it out.
“I see you’re going to be your usually uplifting self.”
It was Friday night, I had dragged Andy out of her sweat pants because I decided we should be “people” and interact with other said “people.” … Ok I also wanted an opportunity to wear the new pretty tragically unaffordable shoes I had just purchased.
So we were in a dim lit club, with fancy white leather couches, elaborate wood architecture, as well as suspiciously attractive barmaids as far as the eye could see.
The crowd was largely made up of well dressed university students. And there lay my melancholy.
“So happy now. They have no idea middle age is gonna hit them like a punch in the face. It’s a tragedy really.”
I get worried about a lot of things. I worry about whether the guy in Polka Dot Door ever get to see Polkaroo, I worry about Pauly Shore and his complete lack of a career, and damn it, yah, I still worry about Jennifer Aniston’s happiness.
But right now, I’m thinking: who will that pretty boy go home with, that’s who I’m worry about. Not the man with the man boobs.
“Hey are you worried about the man with the man boobs?”
“I read this short story once, about a guy who said he was worried about some relatively clean cut guy with man boobs.”
“Um gotta say no. Not worried.”
“Yah me neither. I’m worried about him”
I was looking at an unnaturally attractive guy leaning on an awkward modern structure, possibly holding the whole place together.
“Worried? You mean you’re lusting.”
“No I’m worried. Nobody ever worries about the pretty people.”
Andy wasn’t particularly impressed with my musing. Instead she was intrigued by a nice looking, well dressed guy who seemed like he was having a controlled seizure on the dance floor. Well the poor guy had caught her staring and was coming right towards her.”
“Hey how you doin’?” he said illustrating his speech by fake shooting his index fingers at Andy.
She was visibly annoyed. Well, she was visibly annoyed to me. I’ve known the girl since she thought that The Backstreet Boys were “like, omigod, so totally awesome.” When she’s annoyed, she actually looks earnestly concerned: less eye rolling, more eyebrow furrowing.
Andy took her marguerita and held it high, “You’re up here. You should be down here,” she said as she lowered her drink to her navel.”
“See, now that’s the kind of guy you should be worrying about.”
“Bah. Enough people do.”
“Let’s go home. Margueritas make me sleepy.”
Instead of wondering what kind of back-story the girl in the movie star sunglasses at the back of the bus has, I now wonder where she got her shoes and why she doesn’t use more conditioner. People really should deep condition more.
The other day I picked CSI Miami over The National. Then, when I finally caught the news on CNN (I know, shameful), I wasn’t paying attention to what Condoleezza Rice was saying, instead I was looking at her new tailored Chanel suit as well as her unflattering haircut.
Speaking of hair, I got an upsetting haircut a few weeks ago. Looking back, it wasn’t particularly horrendous, it was just the exact opposite of what I had asked for. Still, I had to consciously hold back tears. I just never thought I was that kind of person. Apparently my hair does define me, and my hairdresser is the devil.
I decided to take action. I needed to be at one with the people, get in touch with my inner-altruist. I thought maybe some random acts of kindness and a couple PBS specials would make me feel better.
So I started by opening doors for people, letting cars merge in front of me in traffic and attempted not to shake my fist in anger at misbehaved drivers. Even though my efforts were largely ignored, I persevered. I let my mother judge my clothing and thanked her for her constructive criticism. I think I died a little in the inside.
I never used to be so desperate to help people, at least not while I was a waitress. Until a little while ago, I worked at a local restaurant for almost three years. There, I tended to people hand and foot. Not only by bringing them food and drink, but by listening to their issues (subscriptions actually). Since they insisted on treating me as a short term therapist, I decided to play along. I asked them background question to help better diagnose their problem, whether it was about their food being cold, or why they had been stood up. Until one day, when I guess I was being over zealous in my questioning, this sweet little old lady fought back. She was curt and told me, a little ungraciously, to mind my own business. Awesome. So now I’m not a waitress anymore, and I carry around a little bit of bitterness baggage. Hateful granny.
At any rate, being nice is hard work, so I’m scaling things down a bit. I’ll be keeping my good deeds to day to day politeness, courtesy and snack foods. I’m going to start keeping a supply of cookies in my purse.
That seems to have been my most successful endeavour. It makes people happy and it throws me into deep reflection on what kind of cookie the stranger in the back of the bus might be. Chocolate chip? Double fudge? Biscotti? Well I think I’m a step up from worrying about people’s deep conditioning habits.
So I guess she’s decided to grow up and be successful. Pffff. I threatened to hold my breath until she said she would stay. My diabolical plan was bound to work - except I got all dizzy.
I told her everything. Now who am I going to call when I’m looking for some advice on an embarrassing rash? I would have gone to Jeeves from the Ask Jeeves website, but the Ask people have terminated the charming butler, and frankly I don’t care to trust anyone else. Only my best friend and a cartoon butler.
Besides worrying all weekend about who would talk me off the ledge after I realise I just ate a quarter pound of expired cheese I thought was supposed to be blue, I got to help Andy pack. This meant sifting through a wardrobe big enough to clothe a small country. Clearly she could not bring it all so I helped her part with about two thirds of her dearest birthday suit wrappers.
“No! Not thooooose,” Andy whined.
“It’s an old t-shirt with arm pit stains. It’s so old I can see directly through it.”
I waddled past her in a pair of her old clogs and threw the monstrosity in a large heap in between a purple sock and a pair of bright blue leather pants, across from an unattractive blond wig.
Her wardrobe was a museum of her life. The sun dress she wore for her first day of high school, the oversized basketball shorts she wore at fifteen because she thought “they were da bomb, yo.” Then there was the sweater she met her current boyfriend in: I was there for both the purchase and the first encounter. Finally, I discovered a collection of local t-shirts of the “I heart NY” variety which act as a live travel log.
Yes, I could finish this story with a predictable ending. I could use her cleaning the closet as a metaphor for the transition of her growing up and starting a new life. That after boxing up her old clothes and bringing them to the Salvation Army, Andy told me how she felt about that new chapter of her life story had begun, and we all had a good cry. On that note, this is how it ends:
Clothes strewn about the room, half folded, mostly just piled up in various corners of the bedroom.
“I brought two spoons,” Andy said as she settled next to me leaning on one of three piles of miscellaneous garments.
“Awesome,” I said as I dug into the tub of
We got lazy, lied in old clothes, and watched some predictable tv comedy. And that is why I’m sad Andy is leaving.
I’m looking for a little excitement. Maybe it’s because the school semester is wearing me a little thin. But it’s probably because I realised that the most dramatic thing that happened to me this week was that I seriously considered crying when I realized that I set the VCR wrong and missed the second part of a vitally important cliff-hanger. I guess I’m just feeling like the universe is on vacation and we’ve all been left to play with our toes.
My stomach is too weak to do anything particularly risk taking, like bungee jumping, line dancing, or driving above the speed limit. I need something more low key, something more stimulating than terror inducing. Something a little more Russian spy than trapeze artist.
So I followed someone. Suddenly, randomly, for no particular reason.
I was walking around
While I very unsubtly stared at him while he looked through the glass, he suddenly turned around and walked decisively away.
So I followed him. He walked past a fruit stand, I walked past a fruit stand. He turned left, I turned left, all the while pretending to know where I was going. I tried keeping my distance, staying on the other side of the street, but if I ever got too close, I’d childishly pretend to look into a store. And like any good Russian spy, I never let him out of my sight.
Suddenly he stopped in the middle of the street and took out a cigarette. He just stood there, taking it in. I kept walking and sat on a nearby stone stool in a tiny Asian courtyard to watch him. And so I watched.
Then, he picked up and started walking. This sudden retreat had taken me by surprise: when I got up I walked into someone. After about an eternity of clumsy apologies, I looked up, but couldn’t find him. I scanned the crowd and finally I saw the walking hat. The crowd parted like the proverbial
Having failed at my first mission as a spy, I thought I’d be more successful in some kind of covert resistance movement. So I almost stole a gnome, but I wussed out. In case you are one of the many uninformed, garden gnomes are currently being held captive across the country in cold dangerous gardens, exposed to the elements and forced to live solely on water and miracle grow. Gnome enslavement is an important issue with far too little coverage. Still, gnome liberation groups around the world are working together to free gnomes from oppressive gardeners and return them to their natural habitat. I, on the other hand, apparently am not brave enough to help out. I also think I’m a little ill-equipped for gnome saving. I’m 5’1” and don’t think I can stealthily conceal a pointy hat chalk statuette under my coat. Next time I try to participate in the gnome liberation movement, I should seriously consider calling in for reinforcements.
At any rate, if I ever want to make it as a professional undercover agent, I should seriously consider investing in a black jumpsuit as well as a conspicuous looking duffle bag. That, and change my name to Svetlana.
“Yes, I’m sure you do. This time go chronologically, alphabetically gives me indigestion,” replied Andy in one even unimpressed breath over her Cantonese Chow Mein.
It’s snowing now, on this graying February afternoon, and I’m sitting across my longest friend Andy, as I clutch the table attempting to gracefully get through a slight coughing fit. She knows all and too much about me. If I wasn’t sure she’d keep my paranoid babbling to herself, I’d have to shoot her.
“I think we’ve already established that most of your problems are psychological. Statistically, this should be one too,” Andy said as she sympathetically handed me a full glass of water to wash the dumpling down to its death.
“I can’t sleep.”
“Seriously, I haven’t slept in two days! Not one wink, not one hour, nothing, I go to bed tired, I close my eyes and nothing. I’ve just spent two nights on my back counting how many seconds I’ve been awake,” I cried as I eyed my second dumpling victim, assuring it internally that its fate would be quick and painless.
“Well that’s your problem right there. You probably spent the night thinking about how you couldn’t sleep, creating some kind of twisted neurotic escalating snowball of rapidly increasing thoughts, ergo keeping you awake. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy really.”
“Really?” I said wryly, assuming Andy would use any excuse to be able to call me a neurotic nut (whether or not there is any truth to that)…. (and there isn’t)…. (really).
“Really. So all you have to do is stop thinking. Be at one. Be zen. Find your inner self and ‘ohm it up.’”
“Ohm it up?”
“Ohm it up. You know, like the monks: oooooooohhhhmmmmmm. You know, meditate. Did you know that Buddhists and Ascetic Hindus’ ultimate goal is to separate themselves from their constant inner chatter? They want to dissociate themselves from both their mind and their body, to transcend this chaotic, meaningless, unpleasant world. When they manage to do that they attain Nirvana, a higher plane of energy where mind and body don’t exist, you simply meld in with the universe. And that’s what you have to do to sleep. You have to find inner peace.”
“But I don’t want to dissociate myself from mind and body, I like being neurotic - not in a nutty way, in a cute, charming way. I like over-thinking every situation: I like to try to figure out which of Columbo’s eyes is the glass one. I like to analyze whether the guy behind the counter at Starbucks thinks I’m cute by dissecting the way he asks which size coffee I want.”
“But you’ll never gain inner peace that way,” menaced Andy knowingly, as she sipped her green tea. I saw her then as a nagging mother who you know knows what’s best, but wish she didn’t.
I wouldn’t sleep that night, nor the next. Instead I lay awake calmly, and happily thinking about incoherent, unimportant daily meanderings. Whether Joey really did the right thing by choosing Pacey. I tried to figure out why Titanic’s Jack Dawson wouldn’t climb on the raft with Rose, and why Anna Nicole Smith has lost all her motor skills. It’s ok that I didn’t sleep for another two nights. I was happy, lost in thought, lost in what makes meaningless life events bearable: the running cynical commentary in my head. I like my mind and body as one; I don’t want to not exist. If that means I’ll never attain a higher level of spiritual being, so be it. At least I “be.” Three nights after that, I finally fell asleep, I was watching some late night A&E when I dozed off as I hopelessly tried to figure out which of Columbo’s eyes were glass.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
So much so I boycotted writing for some time.
You see I had themed that week Dane Cook-apalooza. Dane Cook is a comedian /actor – which you may or may not have heard of who is close to beating Jon Stewart on the people who will marry me but don’t know it yet list. It’s ok go IMDB him, I’ll wait.
Done? Was it good for you?
Every day that week my hours were garnished with a smidgeon of Dane Cookness. Either I listened to his comedy, watched it on TV, or quoted it ad nauseam. You know, there’s only so many times you can say somebody shit on the coats with it still being funny.
Or so I hear.
And because of all things Dane Cook permeating my daily life, while writing the below post, I fought the urge to write about the time I gave Marcus a Snickers bar and then we talked about pens. I had to fight the Dane Cook within, and well that’s what came out, I wrote about my very own Marcus and his knee caps story.
But the problem isn’t Dane Cook. Why would such an obvious problem stop there with me? Yes kids, we are going to dissect my problem until nothing is left but bad puns and reflections on why GOD spelled backwards is DOG.
So the problem is, I have the sponge like ability to withhold people’s mannerism, their quirks and so forth. That’s right I can steal their essence. This means accents, hand gestures, even expressions. I usually loose it after a few hours. Still, if I’m talking to a Brit I suddenly live in a flat with a malfunctioning lift. After watching a Robin Williams comedy special I will feel it necessary to make Elmer Fudd jokes. And when I talk to Cornelius, my born again office mime, no invisible door will remained closed.
I have a pornographic need to apply what I’ve just learnt.
Nevertheless, I have learnt how to consciously fight it, but it’s a battle. And right now, I’ve won. This is it, this is just me. This is my essence. I found my significance. I am an individual who has no idea how to end this post properly. You see I’m terrible at goodbyes.
So I will leave you on this and save you the puns and hippy metaphors:
If you’ve had a bad day, and end up driving home in traffic, look around inside the cars around you. If you're lucky you’ll find someone picking their nose. And there’s nothing like watching somebody elbow deep in nose goblins to make you forget about your day.
And that my friends, is my essence. Snot jokes.
Wednesday, August 01, 2007
“The printer’s speaking to you again?” said Cornelius.
I’m fresh out of university, and now I’ve just had my first casual conversation about toner.
Living in a cubicle for eight hours a day has changed my life in more ways than one. I’ve learned a few survival techniques only applicable where paper cuts and power points are king and all it takes is a paper jam to ruin a perfectly good day of make-shift paperclips arts & crafts.
A few things I’ve picked up:
- Switching the “m” and “n” keys on somebody’s keyboard will provide hours of entertainment.
- If you’re late for lunch, do not go to the break room. Invariably, your friends will have left and you’ll be stuck trying not to make eye contact with said token creepy guy because you know he’ll start sharing bizarre bits of information with you, like whether or not you knew babies are born without knee caps. Then, he’ll invite you to a private viewing of his human hair collection.
- Don’t make googly eyes at the token office pretty boy/girl – he/she can see you off the reflection of his monitor.
- During a client meeting, after somebody says, “this quarter is going to be a long and hard one,” it is not appropriate to interject, “that’s what she said.”
- It is appropriate to make offerings to the printer gods if you wish to have your work printed on time.
And so here I am talking to a printer.
“I’m sad that my job has reduced me to rubbing a printer inappropriately in the hopes that it will punch holes on the side of the page I need it to.”
And just then, right before a little piece inside of me died a little bit, Cornelius said, “Yes but without this job you would have never learnt that babies are born without knee caps.”
And now friends, you know it too.
Monday, May 05, 2003
So I've successfully completed a semester in political science. And I'm loving every minute of it. So there. But I'm terrified that I'll end up knowing a nauseating amount of facts on the political happenings in Eritrea but will inevitably turn into that old smelly lady that plays the harmonica on the street corner for quarters cause I can't find a job. Still, my pornographic love for Eritrea and Cie outweighs my fears of becoming the local unemployed bag lady. Neurotic? .....Perhaps!