Friday, January 30, 2009

Barf yourself thin

It may not be the best diet plan in the world, but I have to admit it does work.
After the excessive eating of the holiday season, there is the typical groan as I step on the scale.
The first groan is from the creaking floor under the scale as I attempt to see just how much more of me there is to love. The next groan is from me when I find out there is a lot more of me to love.
Following a typical holiday weight gain comes more time on the treadmill, more veggies, salads galore and no more sweets as I make an effort to drop the pounds I had gained and bring myself down to an acceptable level of flabbiness.
This year, however, things went a little differently.
I only hit the treadmill twice the first 10 days of the year because I came down with a nasty case of the flu and spent several days doing absolutely nothing.
But thanks to that pesky little flu bug, I managed to lose every pound I gained over the holidays.
I am still as flabby as I was Dec. 1, but I am no more flabby, which is good enough for me, and I missed the whole painful routine of trying to shed the holiday pounds the old-fashioned way.
Instead of sweat, the pounds were dumped through starvation because I was too sick to eat.
It may not be the most enjoyable way to lose weight, but it worked.
I was thinking of marketing it as a revolutionary weight loss program.
“Feeling fat? Haven’t seen your toes in months? Can’t be bothered with all that pesky exercise? Well, have I got a solution for you. For one easy payment of $99.99 you too can get the flu. That’s right folks, you too can barf yourself skinny.”
I could sneeze into an envelope or something and mail it as fast as I can and, voila, a new diet fad is born.
It’s nutty enough to work, problem is, someone has already come up with a similar plan, except weight loss through this method happens at the other end.
It is quite possibly the dumbest weight-loss idea to ever be devised by the human race.
The creators of the now-defunct diet scheme called it the amoeba diet.
That is where you intentionally ingest the parasitic organism and then you let the little blighter do what it does best – which is to provide its host with a case of the screaming poo-poos.
All that running to the bathroom coupled with the massive expulsions from your posterior region is the key to losing weight.
When the desired weight is reached, you take the appropriate medicines and rid yourself of the organism. At least that’s the theory.
I am serious. I saw a news report on the amoeba diet a couple of years ago. At the time, much like now, I thought you have got to be a special kind of stupid to try something like that.
In a quest to get to the ‘bottom’ of the story, I went to the knower of all things worth knowing: Google.
I could not find the amoeba diet specifically, which I found strange. I cannot imagine why such a brilliant plan would fail to catch on, go figure.
But amoeba lovers of the world need not fear, the bug still has some marketable value as a colon cleanser
Perhaps it is the same person, but some guy is now toting the benefits of the single-celled organism as the best, and fastest, way to cleanse your colon.
Thanks, but I think I will stick to eating more salads.
But anyone thinking of utilizing the amoeba to enhance their social well being are warned, there is a deadly fresh-water amoeba lurking in some waterways of the United States. The organism swims up a person’s nose and infects their brains, causing death.
While most politicians would have little to worry about, I think it is best to stay away from all amoebas altogether and spend a little more time on the treadmill.

Leave it up, ladies

Yay, we win.
Finally, men have a valid, bon-a-fide, honest-to-God excuse for leaving the toilet seat up: safety.
That’s right ladies it has been scientifically proven it is safer to leave the seat up.
I guess I should clarify a little bit before men around the developed world start to do the toilet seat victory dance.
It would seem crashing toilet seats can be extremely hazardous to young boys who are learning to use the flushing mechanism.
According to doctor type people, “falling toilet seats are injuring an alarming number of recently potty-trained toddlers. The medical term for the damage - penis crush.”
Just seeing both of those words in the same sentence is enough to make any man cringe.
Writing in this month’s issue of the British Journal of Urology, (I didn’t know there was such a journal either) Dr. Joe Philip and his colleagues report on four boys under the age of four who were admitted to hospital with injuries serious enough to require an overnight stay.
How are these innocent children injured by a toilet seat? The problem is when they lift the seat to um, er, ah, tinkle they are not lifting it all the way and the lid of doom comes smashing down on their boy bits causing some physical damage and possibly instilling a life-long fear of porcelain.
The good news, according to the pee-pee doctors, is none of the damage was serious or long lasting. But still, the injury is something that must be avoided lest Junior become mentally scarred for life.
Dr. Phil backs me up on my fears.
“We are concerned that the growing trend of heavy toilet seats poses a risk not only to their health, but to their confidence,” Philip says.
It would seem heavy wooden, ceramic and ornamental toilet seats are quite popular at the moment and are aggravating the problem.
This is another reason I am glad I did not purchase that lead toilet seat I had my eye on a few years back.
To help counter the trauma of the falling seat, doctors recommend parents supervise their child, especially in a strange home where a vengeful loo may dwell.
I have a suggestion of my own as well. For whatever reason, some people feel it necessary to put one of those clothe covers over the toilet lid. Why? I have to idea.
Maybe they think the toilet looks better with a hat on. Perhaps when it is really cold, a scarf would also be in order.
If the knitted or plush lid cover does not serve any real purpose, I urge you, no, I implore you, to keep the decorative booby-trap away from the personal facilities.
These things almost guarantee the seat cannot go all the way up, so I beg of you, think of the children.
But perhaps there is a method to this madness. Perhaps, it is a conspiracy by the ladies of the world to guarantee the seat is left down because with the doily of destruction on the lid, there are no other options.
I see it all now. It is so clear. Up until this moment I always thought the lid covers to be nothing more than a decorative chapeau for the lavatory. But now I see a grander, more fiendish plan to keep the lid, and thus the seat, in the down position.
I have to admit, well done to whoever devised the clothe contraption.
But aesthetics (as the covers are ‘claimed’ to be for) has been trumped by science. Good, old fashion science by real, live doctors has proven how dangerous the seat situation can be.
Is there a compromise to leaving the seat in the full and upright position? It depends on who you ask.
Let’s consult the good doctor again and see what he has to say.
Dr. Phil suggested parents who refuse to leave the seat up should consider training their toddlers to hold up the seat with one hand.
However, pediatrician Dr. Marvin Grans disagrees. Grans, the discoverer of the seat-not-lifted-all-the-way-to-the-top-can-cause-a-painful-pee-pee syndrome, feels holding two things at once may be a little too much for Junior.
“The trouble is, when you’re little, holding the seat with one hand requires a bit of a stretch. He just might fall in,” was the dire warning from Grans.
So there you have it, for the sake of the children please leave the seat up.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Shaddap, the movie's on

In my younger days, I used to go to the movies a lot.
We would often go in a pack and more than once we had seen every movie in town and had to decide which one was good enough to see a second time, or even a third time.
Now that I am all grown up and everything, I do not go nearly as often as I used to. We used to go at least once a week, usually on cheap night.
Now we go maybe once or twice a year.
The last time I went to a movie was in late December and I was quickly reminded why we don’t go more often.
It was the first time I have ever had to fill out a loan application to get into a theatre.
As if paying roughly $564 for two tickets wasn’t bad enough, the price of getting a snack was simply off the chart.
My wife and I got a drink, popcorn and some candy. For $17 more, I could have bought a car, and not a clunker, but a really nice set of wheels.
Since when is a small popcorn worth more than my wedding ring?
And unless the water used in the pop was from the Fountain of Youth, it was not worth what I paid for it.
It is no wonder theatre attendance is declining when it comes down to seeing a movie or paying the mortgage that month.
Once I recovered from the sticker shock of getting into the theatre, I had the pleasure of interacting with my fellow movie goers.
Most of them are respectful and conscientious of those around them, except for the people sitting behind me.
Those are the people who choose their snacks based not on price or product, but on how loud the bag is when they open it and how much crinkle noise it makes every single time they retrieve a piece of candy.
It would seem the louder-the-better is the packaging of choice.
But the ‘Crinklers’ pale by comparison to the ‘Guessers.’
At least the Crinklers have a legitimate reason for the noise (sort of). The Guessers are simply incapable of shutting up for two hours.
Guessers are the people who sit there and try to figure out what is about to happen and for whatever reason they cannot do this in their head.
“Is she going to open the door?”
“Is she going into the room?”
“Well, is the bad guy in there?”
“If they go in there, I bet they’re gonna get it.”
I will offer a little tip to the Guessers, whom I also call the Talkers, Yappers and Bone Heads, if you sit silently and pay attention all of those questions will be answered, meaning there is no need to ask them out loud.
It’s a movie OK, it’s not live action and you cannot influence the outcome by talking louder.
“Will she open the door?”
Here’s a plan, why don’t you wait two seconds and you will find out – just like everyone else in the theatre.
The person you are talking to has not seen the movie either, so odds are they do not know the answer, but feel free to ask the same question 2,000 times in a row.
I don’t know why, but the Yappers always seem to sit directly behind me so they can babble in my ear through the entire show.
I had to sell a kidney just to get into the movie, and I would like to watch it in peace.
It also used to be you went to the movies so you could get away from interruptions, such as phones calls.
Not any more.
There are more phones in a theatre than at a telethon.
The variety of ring tones sounds like a schizophrenic orchestra all playing different songs at the same time.
And of course there is always at least one guy who knows the call from his buddy is so important it trumps the need for quiet and he proceeds to carry on a full-volume conversation about what he plans on doing after the movie.
“Hello. It’s OK, I can talk. I’m just watching a movie. No, I’m not at home, I’m at the theatre. Hang on a second, it seems people are gathering pitchforks and torches and are walking toward my seat.”
Correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t that why God created answering machines so you don’t have to talk in the middle of a movie.
I think the 11th commandment should be, “Thou shalt not talk on thy cell phone during the movie lest thee be thought a meathead.”
This is easy for me to say, because I don’t have a cell phone.
That’s right. I have not embraced the instant communication of carrying a phone with me wherever I go.
Why don’t I have a cell phone, because I don’t want people to be able get a hold of me at any time no matter where I am, especially when I am at a movie – that would infringe on my crinkle time.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Nuances of young love

As I watch my children get older, I harken back to the days of my youth and think, “Am I ever glad that is over.”
I remember that transitional stage of life when I went from being a kid to a young man and all the confusion that came with it.
The biggest area of confusion revolved around members of the female persuasion.
I can remember the actual moment girls became girls in a much more significant manner.
It was near the end summer holidays going into Grade 8 and I saw a girl from school who had always been a Tomboy.
She was one of the best athletes in the school and her nickname was Sam, which was an abbreviation of her last name.
I had known her since Grade 2 and never thought of her as anything more than one of the first picks when choosing a team.
But seeing her at the mall a few days before school started again, she went from being Sam to being Shelly.
Anyone standing close by may have heard a barely audible ‘ping’ as my brain switched from ‘Girls are icky’ to ‘Helloooo ladies.’
From that point on girls took on a whole new meaning.
The problem was communicating those new-found feelings. It is no secret that young men are not the greatest communicators in the world.
Actually, many fully grown men have a hard time communicating which might explain the never ending series of wars.
While girls could most often express their feelings verbally and with insight, guys would likely just mumble something before punching the girl in the shoulder.
Nothing says “I like you” like smacking them on the arm.
The way a young man communicated with a young girl was also dependent on the environment.
If it was winter and a young lad was smitten with a young lass, there was a good chance the lass was going to end up face first in the snow or clobbered by a snow ball as the young lad attempts to express his feelings.
Not possessing the words to say how he feels, the young man decides hurling a ball of compressed ice particles at the fair maiden will get the message across without the need for verbal interaction.
When he gets older, he figures out intelligent banter is a much more effective way of getting a girl’s attention.
Mind you, pushing someone in a snow bank does get their attention, but usually not in a positive way.
Girls have a much different – and more civilized – approach to the opposite gender. The girl will try to engage the young man in conversation, or maybe try to help him with his school work or something as a way of spending time with him on a meaningful and intellectual level.
For the guy, in the winter anyway, young love is expressed with projectiles of the snow variety.
In the non-winter months other methods of communication must be devised. In elementary school, chasing a girl with a snake that was found in the tall grass was one way of saying, “You’re kind of cool.”
At that age, the young Romeo may not know why he feels this way, but for some reason he feels the need to scare a particular girl.
If a snake could not be found then a bug, worm or other objects could be used. They just had to be scary or gross, because as every young man knows, a young girl will like you if you frighten them or make them feel nauseous.
As they head into the teen years, snakes and other such critters are replaced by more mature forms of communication.
For example, young men will try to impress the girls with their video-playing skills. He is sure she will be amazed at his ability to get Scooter to level nine without stopping even once.
He will spend hours and hours impressing his love interest, who, no doubt, will sit in absolute awe of what a big, strong man he is because he can defeat the ice dragon before it melts his suit of armor.
Guys will also try to impress the opposite sex with acts fuelled by testosterone.
In the animal world, gorillas beat their chest and jump around to show how big and strong they are, while in the human world, um, well, actually it’s not that different.
They may not actually thump their chests, but teenage boys will find a plethora of other ways to strut their stuff.
Thank God for sports, or teenage boys would be walking around with sore chests and girls would be wondering what the hell they are doing.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Bye bye balls


Poor Charlie is more like a Charlene right now as he no longer has the required elements to be a “man.”
Actually Charlie is a dog, my friend’s dog that recently underwent a certain operation that makes grown men cringe.
My friend called the other day and asked if we could give him and Charlie a ride to the vet where the “job” would be done (on Charlie, not my friend.)
Like all dogs, Charlie had no idea what he was in for, because if he did, he would not be nearly so happy to go for a car ride.
Ignorance is bliss and Chuck the dog was about as blissful as any pooch can be.
Charlie was looking out the window and sniffing around like any dog does, completely oblivious to the fact his family lineage was about to come to a screeching halt.
It has been a long time since I have had to take a dog of my own to get the chop.
The dog’s name was Homer and at the best of times he was not too bright. He was just under a year old when we took him to the vet to “alter” him and he too was quite happy to go for a car ride and was even chipper when we got to the vet’s office.
He was bouncing around, sniffing other dogs and trying to mark his territory every chance he got.
There was not a hint of concern in any of his actions.
I on the other hand was solemn and sympathetic to the poor beast because I knew and appreciated the life-changing experience he was about to undergo.
The vet came out, called our name and Homer quite happily trotted to the back room with his usual goofy look of “What’s going on? Are we gonna play? Hey, who’s that guy?”
When we picked him up a few hours later it was a much different story.
He was all whacked up on drugs and looked even more tuned out than usual. The first couple of hours he just slept in the corner, but as he regained his senses, he began to realize all was not fine in Dogville.
He would sniff and stare at the area where his boy bits used to be with a confused look on his face.
“What the…They were there this morning. Where did they go? Houston we have a problem. What the heck is going on around here? I usually don’t go anywhere with out them. Um, excuse me, human people we have a slight situation here.”
He spent several days checking out the private property wondering where the rest of him had gone.
Eventually he got over it (at least I hope he did anyway.) He quit looking for what he had lost and life resumed with him chewing on everything he could find and barking at everything that moved.
It had to be done, no matter how temporarily traumatic for the hound. I am a firm believer in having your pets spayed or neutered, but I still felt some guilt at having him turned into an ‘it.’
It’s kind of like one of those old war movies where the general knows he is sending his men to their doom, but he also knows it is for the greater good.
He doesn’t really want to do it, but he has to.
While Homer may have forgotten about losing the accessories he was born with, he did not forget who removed the accessories.
He was still excited about going for a car ride and would practically turn inside out when the words were spoken. I have always wondered why dogs get so hyper when you mention going for a car ride.
It’s a good thing people don’t do that or the roads would be chaos as people bounced up and down in their seats, tried to jump from side to side and rode with their head out the window.
No, the Homeboy had not lost his love of going for a ride. However, the next visit to the vet proved problematic.
Apparently, Homer associated the smell of the veterinarian’s office with something terrible that happened to him because the instant I opened the door, he cowered and refused to move another inch.
“No, no, no. I remember this place and unless they are going to put them back on, I am not going in.”When the vet came out, we had to drag Homer across the linoleum floor as he stretched out all four legs in an effort to stop the forward progress.
That visit was merely a check up, but until the day he died Homer hated going to the vet – and I can’t say as I blame him.

Feed me


There was once a time in my humble home when there existed a thing called leftovers.
You know, those convenient and quick lunches that were composed of dinner from the night before.
They were a wonderful invention, and a handy time-saving accessory, but those days are no more.
Why are they gone you may ask. No, it is not because the economic downturn means we are buying less food, it means my home has teenagers.
I have two teenage sons roaming the homestead and most of the time that roaming is done in search of food.
“I’m hungry, what do we have to eat?”
“You’re hungry? We just had supper.”
“I know, but that was like 20 minutes ago.”
As if a 13 and 15 year old cannot go through the food fast enough on their own, there is always at least one add on, sometimes more, hanging out with plate in hand.
I don’t even bat an eye when there are two extra people at the dinner table, but I have to admit, as my kids and their friends get older, keeping them fed is becoming more of a challenge.
At this rate, I might have to refinance my home just to buy food for teens that can chomp their way through a full fridge like a horde of locusts through a prairie field.
And we are talking biblical hordes here, not the wimpy ones of the last 1,000 years or so.
When these guys start to eat it, is best to stay out of their way until they are finished. If you get between them and food, well, let’s just say I am making a full recovery and the teeth marks in my arm are barely noticeable.
Always having extra kids running around the house was fine by me. What did I care? It was a little louder that usual, but God has blessed me with the ability to tune out the sound waves that swirl around my home.
One of my favourite quotes of all time is, “You can ignore anything if you try hard enough.”
Sometimes I have to try a little harder than others, but generally I can tolerate the organized chaos that comes with being ‘the house.’
By ‘the house’ I mean we have become the house everyone hangs out at. One day I came home to find 12 kids milling about in our backyard, of which only one was mine.
They had found some cans of spray paint and decided to customize their shoes. Apparently solid gold shoes were all the rage, so several pairs of feet left looking like they had been touched by Midas.
Some of the shoes were really expensive too so I wondered what their parents thought when they got home.
It’s not the like the shoes were ruined, they were just personalized.
The noise is not a problem – most of the time anyway - but the food consumption is starting to be noticed.
Two days after spending roughly $87,000 on food, the pitiful wail of a young voice can be heard, “There’s nothing to eat.”
“What do you mean there’s nothing to eat? There was half a water buffalo in the fridge two days ago and enough cereal to stucco a house.”
Cookies have a shorter lifespan than a fruit fly and granola bars last only slightly longer.
We are starting to buy bigger and bigger boxes of food stuffs and pretty soon I will have to rent a flatbed truck to get it all home.
Perhaps we should buy a farm and then the kids could just graze through the garden. The cattle could go straight from the field to the barbecue.
But even then I do not know if the cows can reproduce fast enough to keep up with demand.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Rulers of the world

I recently read an article that said the common house cat was a direct descendant of wildcats.
“Domestic cats can be traced to wild progenitors that interbred well over 100,000 years ago, new research indicates,” said a CNN website. And if CNN says it, it must be true.
So house cats come from wild cats, well there’s a shock. Let me guess, dogs are somehow related to wild wolves and a budgie is the long-lost cousin of a condor.
I am more of a dog person than a cat person, but after having my ancient and somewhat senile dog put down earlier this year, the family homestead was left with only Gilbert the Wonder Cat as a pet.
Sushi the Siamese Fighting Fish and Mario the Super Hamster have both also passed to the realm of animal Valhalla.
Fathead, as my wife calls him, is actually my son’s cat, or from the cat’s point of view we all belong to him.
We also call him Gilbutt, Gilford, Gilmeister and the Gillinator. I have never understood the point of naming a cat anyway.
The fickle feline will come when he wants, go when he wants, eat when he wants and, in general, he will act very much like a teenager all the time.
You can call a cat anything you want, because it won’t come when you call it anyway.
Cats do everything on their terms.
And when Gilfart – I am not sure who came up with that one – does want attention, he bumps against you until you pet him.
Now, could someone please tell me why he has to stick his butt in the air when you do pet him. It is most unappealing.
A dog would not do that. Mind you I have seen a dog eat its own barf, which is something a cat would never do.
A dog looks at it and thinks, “Hey where did that tasty treat come from?” A cat looks at it and thinks, “Somebody better clean that up.”
We were kind of reluctant to get Gil at first, because I can’t stand the spastic, hyper-freak cats that go through the roof at the slightest sound.
If you are going to have a pet, it might as well be one you can interact with. As far as I am concerned pets are something to, well, pet. That’s why they are called pets.
If the cat clings to the ceiling every time you walk past, it likely will not be the best critter to have around children.
Some friends of ours had a monstrous black tabby name Figaro. The cat was a freak of nature. It was not only big, it was mean.
“Uh, you better not pet him. He’s not real friendly. In fact, you should try to keep a couple feet away from him at all times” was often what the owners told people who saw Catzilla for the first time.
Figs, as he was called, would take a swipe at you just for walking by. Only one of their daughters dared touch the beast that, for reasons only a cat can understand, was as gentle as a baby fawn with her.
With the rest of the world, he was more like one of his wildcat ancestors – only meaner. They endured Figaro for 12 years. I think they were too afraid to touch him, which is why they never got rid of him.
He was the only cat I have ever seen with a tattoo and leather jacket.
Gil on the other hand, could not be any more mellow if we fed him valium. Nothing fazes him - not loud noises, sudden movements – nothing.
And that is a good thing.
When he first came to his home (it used to be my home until he moved in and declared it his own) he was an adult so we missed all the clawing and stuff kittens do.
He is also an accomplished hunter and is a killer through and through.
Within a couple weeks of his arrival, mouse and bird carcasses (or what was left of them) began popping up in our yard.
One day he left almost an entire mouse on the front steps. My son was proud of the hunting ability of his furry friend and I explained it was an offering from Gil to him declaring they were part of the same pride.
I told him it was a cat thing.
He thought that was pretty cool, until I told him in keeping in the tradition of the cat kingdom he had to eat the mouse.
His jaw hit the floor and his eyes bugged out until he realized I was, of course, kidding.
Gil was also a bit of scrapper when he first showed up. He and a few neighbourhood cats quickly established a pecking order and as far as I can see he is pecking the heck out of the other cats.
So for now our home has only a single non-human mammal living under the roof.
We are thinking of getting a puppy however, and I am sure Gil will think that is a great idea.



My wife was recently treated to an experience women who reach the age of 40 can look forward to – a mammogram.
I am sure every woman who has had such interaction with the medical machine is screaming, “Treat, you call that a treat. Buddy I outta kick your…”
Calm down, I use the word ‘treat’ in a sarcastic sense (it’s kind of what I do.) My wife also used a one-word term to describe it, but I think that word was “ouch,” or “sucked,” or something like that.
Anyway, when she clicked over to 40 it was time to get the physical check up that comes with reaching such an age.
My son, who is almost a teen, was curious about the procedure, and asked what it was and why it was happening.
My wife explained it was something a woman has to do when she reaches the F-years.
He then asked if there was a thing called a ‘man-ogram.”
Once I was done chuckling, I noticed my wife was looking at me and I knew it was time to step up and explain the male procedure that is to be done once a man reaches the milestone that brings with it a very complete physical which leaves no place untouched - literally.
I thought about how to explain the procedure to my son, but struggled to tell him in a way that would not gross him out, embarrass him or make him dread seeing a doctor ever again.
“Son, do you see this finger. Well, um, I, ah, you see…First the doctor takes this stuff that is sort of like a medical version of wheel bearing grease and…”
Fortunately his 12-year-old brain decided it was not that interesting and something happened and distracted him before I had to get into the exact details of the personal invasion disguised as a medical procedure. He will learn when the time comes what I was talking about. Oh yes, he will learn.
It is just another thrilling aspect of hitting 40, something I did a few years ago.
My hair began to fall out when I was around 20, so hair loss at 40 was not a big deal. I already had 20 years experience at it.
However, I am not totally convinced my hair is actually falling out because I am sprouting hair where it never used to be before.
I suspect my hair is actually migrating from my head to different parts of my body.
For some reason my ears seem to be a popular place for the migrating follicles to settle.
I guess I should have seen it coming. My dad has enough hair in his ears to hide a covey of quails.
If it were any longer, he could braid it, so when I noticed the locks sprouting from my ears like a stand of corn, I decided to keep it trimmed rather than go for the you-have-a-squirrel-stuck-to-the-side-of-your-head look.
I have also developed a rather impressive mop of nose hair. Giving your nostrils a buzz cut is always fun and I even have a mini-electric razor that is designed specifically for ear and nose hair.
It was gift from my wife and not the most subtle hint she has ever dropped. In case getting the little shaver wasn’t enough of a clue, she also included a card that said ‘You’re not getting older, you’re getting hairier (especially in your nose and ears.)’
I still say Hallmark is getting a little carried away in their specialized cards.
The problem when shaving the nostril follicles is there is always at least one hair that puts up a fight and ends up being ripped out by the razor, causing watery eyes and bad thoughts about nasal hair and why it is needed anyway.
I liked it much better when my nose had short hair and my head had hair.
Eyebrows are another area where trimming is needed. If I once again may use my dad as an example – his eyebrows were once described as two Persian cats sleeping on his forehead.
At first, I thought if my eyebrows grew long enough, I could just comb them over my forehead and it would look like I had a full head of hair.
Instead, it just looks like two Chihuahuas sniffing noses above my eyes (I haven’t worked my way up to cat status yet.)
I wonder if there is a world record for the bushiest eyebrows.
If so, some of my ancestors could have a shot at the title, and I am not talking about just the men here.
But world-record aspirations aside, I will continue to keep a close watch to see where all that hair is going to pop up next. It’s not on my head, so it has to be going somewhere.

Weirdness thou art my friend

I sometimes wonder if I was ever dropped on my head as a child.
If so, I am sure it was accidental, at least I hope it was anyway.
Perhaps a head injury could explain why such strange and random thoughts pop into my cranium for no reason.
These questions come out of the blue and often make me wonder if my brain is possessed by some strange medieval court jester, or I am just plain weird.
People who actually know me are not allowed to respond to that last query because I am pretty sure I know what the answer will be. And besides, it’s not nice to talk about people that way.
Often, I will be minding my own business, perhaps playing with a shiny object or something, and a random thought will pop into my brain.
For example, I was wondering why it is called a cat when you tie some one in tic-tac-toe? Why a cat? Why not a platypus or a gazelle or something?
“We tied. I guess that game was an ostrich.”
I have never claimed to be the brightest bulb in the marquee and some things are just a mystery to me.
I read a story where an animal rights group offered scientists $1 million if they could create a commercially viable meat substitute in the laboratory.
I thought they had already done that. It’s called Spam. I guess the hook is it has to be commercially viable (and edible.)
The amazing part about Spam is it has been around for more than 2,000 years. I am not positive, but if you look at the bottom left part of the table in the Last Supper painting, I am pretty sure that is a lump of Spam. I am also sure that’s also when most of it was originally packaged.
There could be a nuclear war and everything on earth would be obliterated except for insects and cans of Spam, which not even the insects would eat.
Speaking of meat, or things resembling meat anyway, how come vegetarians are always scarfing down meat-flavoured veggie products?
They have veggie burgers, veggie hot dogs and a plethora of veggie edibles pretending to be meat. If veggies are so great and meat so terrible, why do they have to pretend their sprouts are some form of dead critter.
I don’t have any vegetable-flavoured hamburgers in my fridge, or broccoli dogs on the barbecue, so eat your lawn clippings and leave us carnivores alone.
Is it just me or does everyone have this problem? How come you have to fart every time you sit down for a meeting with the boss? You could spend the entire day sitting at your desk, surrounded by co-workers who, more than likely, deserve such an occurrence and nothing happens.
But the boss calls you in the office and the next thing you know, you are firing like a howitzer.
Flatulence thou art a fickle creature.
The other day I saw a toy that was a remote-controlled submarine and my first thought was, “How much fun is that?”
You take the craft, put it in the water, it disappears and you get to stand on the shore with a little remote control in your hand.
“OK, I’m turning it to the left. Now I’m turning it to the right. I’m turning left again.”
You would have to take the operator’s word for it because the little grey machine would be underwater and no one would be able to see it.
That sounds like a whole day of fun doesn’t it - standing on the shore, looking at the water while imagining all the cool things your submarine was doing.
You could spend an afternoon doing the exact same thing without the submarine.
And why is it when you turn on the radio you catch only the last 15 seconds of a song you have been wanting to hear for weeks.
For the rest of the day that song will be going through your head and because the radio station just played it, you know they will not be playing it again for a while so you are left to keep replaying the snippet of the song you have memorized over and over and over…
It’s no wonder someone invented Prozac.
When I was a teen, why did my dog bark at me when I came home only if it was after curfew? Any other time, not a peep, but five minutes past the midnight hour and Fido was sounding off like a one-hound pack of wolves.
I am not positive, but I think my sister’s cat made him do it because the cat and I had a hate-hate relationship going on.
In my defense, I would just like to say the cat started it.
Yes, the universe is full of strange and wonderful things, and I am sure my brain will waste plenty of time trying to figure them out.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Off to the races

I never understood the whole NASCAR phenomenon.
Even as a kid I just did not get the thrill of watching a pack of cars going around in circles.
“They’re on the starting grid. They get the green light and they’re off. They’re coming to the first corner and they are turning left. They are coming out of the back straight away into a left hander which will be followed by a left hand turn. Hang on folks, they’re turning left again. Wait, no, yes, it is another left-hand turn.”I just didn’t get the thrill. Going fast was thrilling, and of course the crashes were often spectacular – where else can you see a Chevy do 6,000 barrel rolls in a row - but I was more inclined to watch Formula One or rally racing where there were numerous turns and twists and places to pass and crash.
The history of NASCAR is pretty cool though.
Stock car racing was bred from moonshine runners who would deliver their load of booze in modified cars designed to out run authorities. They would then race each other around a track to see who had the fastest car.
It was all fun and games for the good ol’ boys of the Deep South, which, by the way, is where NASCAR has its most rabid fans.
NASCAR is absolutely huge in the United States and is one of the top spectator sports going. Like I said, I didn’t understand the attraction so I figured I should check out a race in person.
As luck would have it, the NASCAR show came to the Okanagan when Sun Valley Motor Speedway hosted the big boys, including Canadian racing star Alex Tagliani – a very big name in the world of motor sports.
I have watched stock car racing on the TV before, but only with mild interest, so I headed out to the tri-oval to see if I could figure out what all the hullabaloo is about.
Outside of the grandstands was the usual myriad of vendors selling shirts, hats, hoodies, small Caribbean islands and anything else they could think of that would voluntarily get people to lighten their wallets.
The grounds were buzzing with a palpable excitement that even a non-hardcore race fan such as myself could detect. I like racing and all, but I am not a rabid fan like my buddy Kevin, who went to the track with me. He soon became my race guru and fielded a variety of questions. After a little while I felt like I was five years old again asking question after question, so I decided to sit back and let the racing speak for itself.
It didn’t speak so much as scream.
The first thing I noticed once the race began was just how loud – and I do mean loud – the cars are.
I was told these cars had some volume to them, but when you get 20 of them roaring past at full throttle they are louder than a taco fart in a crowded elevator.
Ear plugs were the must-have fashion accessories for the evening, at least where we were sitting. The cars were so loud the ground actually vibrated as they went past – cool.
I was somewhat unprepared for the magnitude of their exhaust. When they were doing a few warm-up laps I thought, “Ya, they aint so loud,” but then someone said “Go” and the volume increased dramatically.
Once the race began, I learned what the hullabaloo is all about - it is about going fast – really fast. They are still making all those left-hand turns, but they are rounding the track faster than a gas executive can raise the price at the pump.
Like most sports, watching it on TV pales in comparison to watching it in person.
If I had any hair, it would have been blown into a messy tussle by wind generated from the cars as they sped past at about three million miles an hour.
To see just how fast they move in such close proximity to each other was quite exciting. They were mere inches from each and pretty much every car had tire marks on it from a competitor, now that is close racing.
Seeing it live is a far cry from sitting on the couch in my underwear (I know, that’s a little too much information) with a remote in one hand and a bag of chips in the other.
Instead, I was sitting at the race track in my underwear...(I am kidding of course.)
There was even some high-spirited drama when two drivers clashed, one crashed and then retaliated by bumping the offending driver with his slightly damaged car.
The announcer, who did a brilliant running commentary over the loudspeakers, said the cars can round the half-mile course in 18 seconds. That’s rather speedy actually.
The A&W 300 took a little over two hours to complete and that included a few spin outs, a couple crashes and a blown motor that puked oil all over the track resulting in a stoppage while crews cleaned up the mess.
Overall it was a fun evening. For die-hard NASCAR fans it was a must-see event and even for those not-so-die-hard fans it was an interesting evening of motorsports.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

If it fits, wash it

When it comes to loading the dishwasher, there pretty much are no rules for guys.
There are no boundaries either.
When my wife loads the dishwasher it is with a purpose and grand design. Everything is symmetrical with plates, bowls and cups all in their own special little spot.
Should a utensil dare to get out of line, a wrath would befall it that would result in it being put back in to place.
Personally, I tend to be a little more liberal in my stacking of the eating apparatus.
While her loading could be compared to the Mona Lisa, mine is more along the lines of a Picasso.
Sure I have a basic design of where things should go, but the word symmetrical does not necessarily apply.
My vocabulary of what goes in the dishwasher is more extensive as well.
I have narrowed it down to just about everything.
If I can some how get it to fit, then it pretty much qualifies as eligible for the machine. The only other restriction is it cannot melt nor disintegrate, and believe me, that leaves a lot of options for automatic cleaning.
I bought the dishwasher to do dishes - not some of the dishes, not a few of the dishes, but as many dishes as possible.
I also classify pots, pans and associated lids as fair game. Casserole bowls? No problem, if it fits, it goes in.
It has come to the point where I consider it a challenge to do as few dishes by hand as possible.
It is an insult to my personal ingenuity if an item ends up in the sink when I believe in my heart it could go in the dishwasher.
Lately I have been expanding my view of just what can be washed in the machine.
“Honey, the dog needs a bath.”
“Hmmmm, really. It’s a small dog, I wonder…….”
I am kidding of course. I would never put a dog in a dishwasher, (that would take up far too much room and I might be forced to do some dishes by hand.)
While I never had dishpan hands as a kid, I did my share of washing, but the only time dishes were done willingly and with enthusiasm was Christmas Eve.
My family opened their presents on Christmas Eve partly because it was my Grandmothers birthday and partly because it is a German tradition of some sort that my dad inherited from his parents.
At least that’s what we were told. Maybe they just didn’t want to have a house load of kids wake them up at 5 a.m. to open presents.
Perhaps my parents were smarter than I give them credit for.
I always thought being born on Dec. 24 would be a drag because Christmas would always over shadow your special day.
However, a friend of mine had it even worse. He was born on Dec. 26. That is possibly the worst birthday going because by then the party is over.
On Boxing Day, people are unwinding from their gift-giving hangover of Christmas Day and don’t feel like going to another party.
More often than not most of the cards my buddy received were Merry Christmas and Happy Birthday all in one. The upside was he usually got a present for Christmas and cash for his birthday and he made out like a bandit in the finance department more than once.
Anyway, us kids were always eager to do dishes Christmas Eve because no one was allowed to open any presents until the table was cleared and the dishes sparkling clean.
That meant the kids would hover over the adults as they ate, asking every 3.7 seconds if they are done with their plate yet.
“No, I’m not done yet.”
“Well you should be. I didn’t want to bring it up, but you are getting kind of fat lately so it might be a good idea to push away from the table, and there’s no time like the present to start. I’m just thinking about your health. Now, let me take that plate for you.”
All four of us would be crowding around the sink frantically scrubbing pots, pans and dishes. I asked my mom once why she doesn’t just get a dishwasher. Her reply was she already had four of them.
Eventually the dishes would be washed, dried and stacked, the table wiped down and the frenzy of opening would begin.
Oddly enough, none of my sisters ever asked for a toy dish set, I wonder why.

Dentist dilemma


OK, I’ll admit it, when it comes to going to the dentist I am a shameless chicken.
I just do not like to visit anyone who will be using power tools on the inside of my mouth.
My lack of enthusiasm for dentists started when I was a kid and had a dentist we nicknamed ‘The Butcher.’ The funny part about that is a friend of mine, whom I did not meet until I was 17, had the same dentist and he too called the masked mad man ‘The Butcher.’
The problem was the man was quite rough and for a tiny little cavity, it seemed like he drilled half of your face off.
I expected to walk out of the room of doom and look in a mirror and see that half of my face was not frozen, it was actually missing.
The feeling of having frozen lips is a special kind of treat as well. You could have a two-foot long drool rope hanging off your face and not know it.
If there were a wind outside, the slobber slinky would be flapping like a loose string.
I had regular cleanings when I was a kid, which were not as bad as getting a cavity filled, but was still just slightly more fun that hitting your kneecap with a hammer.
The dental assistant would scrape and poke and dig around with those stainless steel torture devices that masqueraded as dental tools, all the while preaching the virtues of brushing daily.
At the end of the session was the lovely and, might I add, tasty fluoride soak where you had to bite down on those rubber mouthpieces filled with jelly fluoride.
“What flavour would you like? We have bubble gum, cherry, mint…..”
“Hmmm, seeing as how they all taste the same and odds are I will be barfing like a hungry dog by the time I get home, it doesn’t really matter, now does it.”
Of course, once the cleaning was done your gums were so sore you lost four pounds because you could not eat for 36 hours.
“See you in six months.”
“Yeah, and I’ll see you in he……”
Having a sweet tooth since I was old enough to know was sweets were, meant I got to know my dentist quite well over the years.
Being a big strong adult, I am no longer afraid of the people in white. OK, not afraid might be a bit of a stretch.
How about mature enough not to run out of the building crying and hiding in some nearby bushes until they stop looking for me.
Getting a cavity filled is psychologically more demanding than the actual filling itself, especially when you consider I have a really good dentist and it is the most painless dental work I have ever had done.
Did I mention I am the king of poultry when it comes to seeing a dentist?
It’s not his fault, but some memories die hard and every time I walk into that office and smell that dentist smell that can be found only at a tooth health-care facility, I am transported back to being a little kid in a big chair where the drill looked like it could grind its way through the earth’s core.
But I am all grown up now, so I take it like a man – a scardey cat man who would rather give CPR to a warthog than go to a dentist, no matter how good he is.
My dentist is a good guy and a really good dentist, but like every other dentist I have ever been to he will occasionally try to make small talk when there is two meters or rubber dam, three pounds of metal, a drill, a shop-vac and a miniature blow dryer in my mouth.
I think dentists do this more for their own amusement than for the benefit of the patient.
Dentist: “So how was your summer?”
Quaking patient with enough equipment in his mouth to build a small space shuttle: “Ug-ughm-mghn.”
Dentist: “Really, that’s very interesting.”
It’s just a little game dentists play.
I am sure when the day is over they sit back and have a laugh at trying to make people talk with all that gear in their mouth.
Finally the job is done, the tooth is good as new and I get to go home.
“Don’t eat or drink anything for the next couple of hours.”
“Dude, I couldn’t eat if I wanted to because I can’t feel half of my face.”
That one section of lip that is number than a politician’s brain will not allow food consumption because it always betrays its master and lets food dribble down the front of the shirt.
I guess one solution to my dental woes is to simply not go to a dentist anymore, but then I would have to cook all my food into a paste because you can’t gum a steak into submission.

Movie madness

Warning: The following contains spoilers that may ruin forever the way you view certain movies.Or maybe you won't care, but either way you have been warned so read on at your own risk.Since I was a kid I have been drawn to the escapism of a theatrical adventure – in other words, I was (and still am) substituting my pathetic version of reality for the fantasy of a pretend life that is always better than my own.
But sometimes I will watch a great movie and one thing will happen that will forever cloud the shining light of fun the show used to be.A prime example is the 1930s version of King Kong.
It is a really cool movie and I love the overacting of the era and the groundbreaking claymation special effects, however it was part of the actual story line that diverted my attention.Between chomps of popcorn, a question formed in the far reaches of my cranium, the area of my brain that is typically reserved for truly baffling questions like, ‘Why do they call pants a pair when there is only one of them?Some people say it is because we have two legs, thus the plural reference.A fine argument indeed, but do we not also have two arms and we don’t call it a pair of shirts. It is just a shirt, singular.
They also don’t call it a pair of bras.Anyway, mysteries of the universe aside, I was watching the old black-and-white flick when this question leapt from the darkness: Why did they have a huge gate the same height as the wall?The people were of normal size, so why build a giant gate which would be a weak spot in their static defense against the Kong-meister?Technically, all they needed was a little door they could run out of and yell, "Hey King Kong, I got your banana right here buddy," and then jump back inside and close the door.It could have been a game where they would jump outside of their little door, throw a couple of insults at the gigantic one, like ‘Your mom was an orangutan,’ and go back inside for a lager and a laugh.
Instead, they go and build a full-size gate the Kong-inator can smash his way through.Which he does of course, and all the little people run around screaming, except for one guy who is calmly leaning up against a tree saying, "A little door. I told you, all we needed was a little door. But did you listen to me? Noooooo, you gotta go and build this great big gate. Well, I hate to say I told you so, but…"Another movie that caused me distress (which gives you some idea just how sad my life really is) was the Lord of the Rings.It is by far one of my most favourite movies, but once again the deep, dark reaches of my brain barfed out a thought that would forever taint the way I watch the moving picture version of J.R. Tolkien’s literary masterpiece.
LOTR is a noble tale of good and evil, where just like in real life, good triumphs and all the hero types slap each other on the back for a job well done, while the bad guys go back to their day jobs as lawyers and politicians.
The main characters are Frodo and Sam, Hobbits from the Shire who take the Ring of Power from their quaint little home to the ominous Mount Doom, which is a far more intimidating name than Mount Unpleasant, or Mount Not a Very Nice Place to Visit.The heroes fight their way through a massive army of some seriously ugly critters, a few flying lizard thingies and a spider large enough to beat Elvis in a doughnut-eating contest. Well, the spider would give the King a good run for his money anyway.The trek takes who knows how long and they pay a heavy emotional and physical price.So what is my problem with the 95-hour long movie epic?Why didn't they just fly?Gandalf, the resident wizard and one of the chief back slappers, called upon the giant eagles a couple of times to help out in a tight spot.
It was part way through my second watching of part one of the trilogy when the idea exploded in my brain, why not simply give the birds a call, or even a text message, and ask if they wouldn’t mind giving Frodo and Sam a ride to Mount Doom?
To me, that makes way more sense than hiking the entire distance and having to use leaves and who knows what else for personal use.
They could have even flown around the tower a couple of times yelling, "Hey look what I got. It's your ring. Here, do you want it? Oops, that's right, I forgot, you don't have any hands because you are just a giant eye. Oh well, sucks to be you. Later dork."The entire trip would have taken a few hours.
They hitch a ride with their fine feathered friends, run into the cave, drop the ring in the lava, run back to the birds and still be back home in time for dinner and a movie.Piece of cake.Or, they could spend days hiking through the woods eating dirt, dodging bad guys and, I am sure, building up a case of body odor that would make even the nastiest of Orcs cringe.I'm just saying, perhaps they should have thought it through, but then again, where’s the fun in that.

Monday, January 12, 2009

I was watching my daughter play with some electronic, computerized doll house thingy that talked, lit up different rooms when the digital character entered and did everything but the dishes and was intrigued by the complexity of a young child’s toy.
It even talked to you, which is a feature I discovered when I bumped it late one night.
“Where have you been?” this unfamiliar voice said from right beside me.
Upon hearing the strange voice in the darkened room I did what most people would do – I jumped three feet in the air and nearly had a heart attack.
When I calmed down, I investigated the device and harkened back my own youth and the toys we had.The biggest change in youthful entertainment is the rise of computers and the toys the techno age has spawned.Computers are in everything. I am sure it is a sign of the times – which is a nice way of saying I am getting old - but some of the electronic toys kids have today are so complicated I need to take a day off of work just to read the instruction manual.My kids on the other hand, have the game figured out in about 30 seconds.When my son was seven he was going online to get information about Pokemons, or whatever the latest craze was at the time.When I was seven, I kept myself amused by trying to spell words on a calculator. If I recall, 07734, if held upside down and punched in the right sequence spelled 'Hello.'If you left off the zero at the end, it turned into a naughty word which was good for a snicker among my juvenile peers.Wow, the technological marvels of my youth were amazing.Of course today, kids have computers, video games and hand-held electronic games with enough power to run the space station.
They have all sorts of gadgets that I could only see in sci-fi movies when I was a kid.To the kids of today it's just another toy that need batteries, has interchangeable games and makes lots of noise.I remember when Pacman first came out. The game consol was the size of a Smart Car. Now, they can put 27 of those games in a wrist watch.That was my first foray into the world of digital entertainment. Before the yellow eating machine came along most toys did not need electricity.Today, you need solar panels on the roof of your house just to power all the electronic doodads cluttering up the homestead.When I was a wee lad, an Etch-a-sketch was a wonder of science."If you turn this knob the line goes this way. If you turn the other knob, it goes that way. Incredible."An Etch-a-sketch was good for drawing all sorts of things, as long as all they had were straight lines. Angles and other such intricacies were beyond my ability, so I drew lots of castles, with big, rugged walls – full of straight lines.OK, I actually just drew one castle wall. OK, it was just the top of a section of castle wall – left knob, right knob, left knob, right knob – and so on until the wall was built.
My kids saw an Etch-a-sketch once and were amused by it for about three minutes."Where's the on button?"
"It is on.""Really, what does it do?" "Actually it's pretty much doing it, but if you move this knob the line goes this way...."Another low-tech toy of my youth was a Slinky. Those metal marvels that could walk down the stairs, walk from hand to hand and, well, that's about it.You could hold the top and watch it stretch and retract as well I suppose - kind of like a metal yo-yo. Talk about a full day of fun.When you were bored with the Slinky, you would grab one end, your friend would grab the other and you would stretch that sucker out as far as you could.That, of course, would be the end of the Slinky as there was no coming back from that and you were left to play with a very long piece of metal instead of a coiled piece of metal.While visiting my parents a few summers ago we came across an old lawn dart set.My children wanted to try them so my oldest - who was around nine at thetime - grabbed one and threw it straight up in the air before I could explain the subtle nuances the sport entailed.Too young to know he should dive for cover, Junior stood there while the dart landed about a foot away.OK, that's enough fun with lawn darts.It's amazing my friends and I survived such a toy because we used to throw them at each other all the time.We would lob the metal projectiles - that I am pretty sure could have killed a moose if thrown hard enough - toward the other person and the first one to move was branded a little sissy boy. Bravado is a strange thing because we would rather take a lawn dart to the throat than risk the moniker of fraidy cat.The idea was to plant the metal-tipped toy of doom into the ground as close to your friend as possible. Fortunately emergency rooms weren't that busy back then so everything worked out just fine.We also used to play with knives, pellet guns and bow and arrow sets. It was just a regular arsenal of merriment.Today, many kids aren't allowed to play with any of those items for fear they will grow up warped and shoot, stab or stick people.I never did any of those things (outside of the realm of fun and games anyway).So when I get home today, I will plunk myself in front of the Playstation for a few minutes and try to get Scooter to level three. Of course this will only happen if my son is in the same room to tell me how to do it.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Operation Rescue Tweety

One day my wife came charging into the house telling me I had to come with her – quickly.
A look of concern was on her face and I thought some tragedy had befallen one of the kids, our vehicles or the house itself.
Instead, sitting near a juniper on the ground, was a small, fluffy robin.
The bird was not quite old enough to fly and still had its baby feathers mixed with its adult feathers.
“Is that it? That’s the big emergency?”
“Yes. You have to do something.”
Looking under our van, I noticed at least six neighbourhood cats, all waiting intently for the right moment to pounce.
I said, “No problem. This will take care of itself.”
It was kind of creepy actually, kind of like a Hitchcock movie or something. The cats were just sitting, silently staring.
“We can’t let the cats get him. Do something,” was my wife’s plea.
“What do you want me to do? It’s the circle of life. The strong survive and the cats eat the tiny birds that fall out of the nests. Wait, let me get the video camera.”
Wrong answer.
After a stare from my wife that could freeze molten lava, I tried to formulate a plan.
I knew there was a nest in a large birch tree in our front yard. I assumed that’s where the little critter came from.
Problem was, it was about 10 metres in the air and as much as I would like to risk my life carrying a small bird to safety, I just didn’t feel like riding in an ambulance that day so I went on to plan B.
I didn’t even have a plan A, let alone B, but I stood there examining the situation looking like I was thinking hard to solve the problem when in reality I was thinking, “I wonder if I have a beer left in the fridge.”
After several minutes, I had to admit I did not know what to do and again suggested we grab the video camera and make our own survival-of-the-fittest nature documentary.
I would call it Cats Eat a Baby Robin.
Another icy stare later and it was back to planning the salvation of the beaked beast.
We had an old bird’s nest that came out of a tree I had cut down in the spring, so my wife decided I – notice she didn’t say she should – grab the bird, place it in the nest which will be placed in a bucket which will be hung from the tree.
OK, we have a plan.
Not wanting to get baby bird kudies all over me, I put on a pair of work gloves, put the nest in the bucket, hung the bucket on a tree branch and Operation Rescue Tweety Or I Will Have to Sleep in The Garage was well under way.
Just as I started to head toward the bird, my son’s cat came calmly strolling from the backyard, saw the little pre-dinner snack and pounced like the natural born killer he was.
He actually had the bird in his grip when my wife yelled at him to let go.
At least six adult robins took turns dive bombing the cat, but it was my wife running over to him that made him relinquish his version of dinner to go.
He looked at me with a what-is-that-all-about look and all I could do was shrug my shoulders. He then joined his compadres under the van and waited patiently.
By now there were about 349 cats surrounding my house.
The little bird had managed to hop under the juniper bush, which meant I had to get down on my knees to grab him.
The second I got even close to him, the robin Luftwaffe started their bombing runs again.
Fending off the frantic attack I carried the little bird to the ladder, climbed up to the bucket and placed him the nest – where he stayed for about two seconds.
I had not even started coming down the ladder and this feathered genius had already hopped out and landed on the ground.
This got the attention of the 1,436 cats that had now completely encircled my yard.
“That’s it, I’m getting the video camera. Could get You Tube going for me?”
The icy stare was gone, as my wife realized there was nothing we could do for the bird. Operation Rescue Tweety had failed.
We watched it sit on the grass for a second and then my wife insisted we grab our son’s cat so she could rest assured he was not the one to ‘do the deed.’
I gathered up the feline and we headed into the house as dusk settled over the land.
I do not know what happened to the bird (but I have a pretty good idea). The next morning it was gone and there were no feathers in the yard, so it may be escaped or something.
It could happen.
But fear not dear reader, the day was not a total bummer. I did in fact have a beer left in the fridge.
Cubs are cool

Growing up in a rural area meant, as a community, we had to find our own fun and one way we did that was through the Cubs
The Cubs would hold weekly meetings at a school near my home where we would learn such vital things as how to tie a knot 1,467 different ways.
In the years since – which are many – I have had a need for about three different types of knots and they are all a variation of the same method.
But I guess it is better safe than sorry, so if the need arises where I must use a double-twist-super-grab-upside down-inverted-bow knot with a full locking mechanism I am prepared.
Actually I am not prepared, because all I can remember is the three knots I use to this day – the bow is not among those claimed fastening systems because I learned that before I entered the Cubs.
The Cubs also instilled such life skills as helping little old ladies across the street – which is something I never did – but they did teach us to be good citizens. Well, as good as a group of young boys can be.
We also played a variety of games to help burn off some of our youthful energy.
One of the games involved a Scout leader kneeling in the centre of a circle of uniform-clad kids while swinging a rope several inches off the ground with a bean bag attached to the end of it.
The idea was to jump over the rope as it came around. The problem was if you didn’t jump in time the rope would wrap around your ankles like a bolo and you would go crashing to the ground.
Once in a while someone’s head would bounce off the varnished hardwood floor with a splat. The game would stop until that person regained consciousness and then it was back to the fun.
We would also play dodge ball – a game the token fat kid hated because he presented a bigger target than the rest of us.
It was a game that I was quite good at, and is yet another skill I possess that is completely useless in the real world.
The object of the game is simple – don’t get hit by the ball.
I could duck and dodge and twist and was often the winner.
There is not a lot of need for skilled dodge ball players out there so I knew I would never go pro, but I will always be comforted by the knowledge I could have.
Cubs were also big on badges. Some of the veterans – Scouts who were at least 15 – had more badges than Hugh Heffner had pick up lines.
There were badges for community service, sporting events, model building and, of course, for tying knots.
You even got a badge after getting a certain number of badges. The badges were worn with pride and there was one keener who had more than the rest of us and made it his life mission to collect all of them
He had so many he had to wear two shirts just to fit them all on.
I had a few badges, but I can not remember what they were for. I think one was for not setting anything on fire which is another story.
They did not have a dodge ball badge, which I harbour bitter feelings about to this day.
Overall, the Cubs were a positive experience and I will likely write more about my time with the intrepid organization that is not afraid to get a group of boys with pocket knives together.
Until then, does anybody know how to tie a sheep-shank?
Happy New Year, can I go to bed now?

With the second week of 2009 well underway, I wonder how many people have already failed on their New Year’s resolutions.
I used to be among those who made resolutions every Dec. 31, and I was also among the many who failed miserably at keeping them.
I would throw out the typical resolutions: I will exercise more, I won’t say any bad words (that one often ended with the morning hangover), I will not get so frustrated, I will stop eating rabbits, you know, the kind of resolutions everyone makes.
The futility of such declarations became obvious quite a few years ago and I decided to make one final resolution which turned out to be the only resolution I ever kept: I made a resolution to never again make a resolution.
Mission accomplished. I have never been plagued by the ridiculous self promises since.
Life is much easier when you lower the bar.
I have managed to stop saying bad words (well, mostly anyway) and I quit smoking many years ago, but neither was done because of a resolution.
Many of the changes have come with maturity, also known as getting old.
I will be in the middle of my F-years in 2009 and I posses the wisdom that comes with being an old fart in training.
I have it all planned as well. I want to be a crotchety, grumpy old man who spends his time lamenting about the “good ol’ days” and how these young pups have life so easy.
I can hardly wait. But I am not there yet and am in a sort of transition stage of life. It’s kind of like a reverse tweenie. You know those confusions years when you are not a kid and not a teen, but stuck somewhere in the middle.
Well I am definitely not a pup anymore and I am still have a while to go before becoming a grumpy old man, so I am spending my time maturity limbo.
Every morning I roll out of bed – which typically involves a lot more noise than it used to as my knees and back pop so much it sounds like someone is twisting a sheet of bubble wrap – I have another day to add to my list of memories.
Things have changed greatly since I was a young lad. Not just the world around me, but within me.
No, I am not talking about the need for the proper kind of fibre, but more of a mindset.
Seeing as how we are on the subject, let’s use New Years as an example.
When I was younger, and had a lot more hair, I had a lot more energy. Maybe it’s the whole Samson thing where your hair is the key to your strength, or maybe I was just full of pee and vinegar and had to get it out somehow.
Either way, I am now balder and much more energy reduced than that strapping lad of yesteryear.
I can remember when the clock struck midnight people would whoop and holler and hug and jump around and the serious partying could begin.
“Yeeeehaaaaw, it’s midnight. Happy New Year. Party On. Whooo.”
Oh, how things of changed.
Now it’s more like, “Yeeehaaw. It’s midnight I can finally go to bed. ZZZZZZZZ.”
Also gone are the bottles of Vodka that screamed to be slogged as fast as possible, replaced by a bottle wine that whispers to be sipped with some friends.
The huge parties are replaced by intimate gatherings with a few fellow OFITs (old farts in training.)
Back in the day, a New Years party lasted into the wee hours of the morning. Now, the New Years party lasts until roughly 12:10 when all the OFITs agree it is time to celebrate the arrive of the next year by getting some sleep.
On a brighter note, also gone are the hangovers, the empty wallets from a night of boozing and the “At what bar did I leave my car?” conundrum.
The good ol’ days may have been good, but the current days are a lot less tiring.
Happy New Year and good night.
Happy New Year, can I go to bed now?

With the second week of 2009 well underway, I wonder how many people have already failed on their New Year’s resolutions.
I used to be among those who made resolutions every Dec. 31, and I was also among the many who failed miserably at keeping them.
I would throw out the typical resolutions: I will exercise more, I won’t say any bad words (that one often ended with the morning hangover), I will not get so frustrated, I will stop eating rabbits, you know, the kind of resolutions everyone makes.
The futility of such declarations became obvious quite a few years ago and I decided to make one final resolution which turned out to be the only resolution I ever kept: I made a resolution to never again make a resolution.
Mission accomplished. I have never been plagued by the ridiculous self promises since.
Life is much easier when you lower the bar.
I have managed to stop saying bad words (well, mostly anyway) and I quit smoking many years ago, but neither was done because of a resolution.
Many of the changes have come with maturity, also known as getting old.
I will be in the middle of my F-years in 2009 and I posses the wisdom that comes with being an old fart in training.
I have it all planned as well. I want to be a crotchety, grumpy old man who spends his time lamenting about the “good ol’ days” and how these young pups have life so easy.
I can hardly wait. But I am not there yet and am in a sort of transition stage of life. It’s kind of like a reverse tweenie. You know those confusions years when you are not a kid and not a teen, but stuck somewhere in the middle.
Well I am definitely not a pup anymore and I am still have a while to go before becoming a grumpy old man, so I am spending my time maturity limbo.
Every morning I roll out of bed – which typically involves a lot more noise than it used to as my knees and back pop so much it sounds like someone is twisting a sheet of bubble wrap – I have another day to add to my list of memories.
Things have changed greatly since I was a young lad. Not just the world around me, but within me.
No, I am not talking about the need for the proper kind of fibre, but more of a mindset.
Seeing as how we are on the subject, let’s use New Years as an example.
When I was younger, and had a lot more hair, I had a lot more energy. Maybe it’s the whole Samson thing where your hair is the key to your strength, or maybe I was just full of pee and vinegar and had to get it out somehow.
Either way, I am now balder and much more energy reduced than that strapping lad of yesteryear.
I can remember when the clock struck midnight people would whoop and holler and hug and jump around and the serious partying could begin.
“Yeeeehaaaaw, it’s midnight. Happy New Year. Party On. Whooo.”
Oh, how things of changed.
Now it’s more like, “Yeeehaaw. It’s midnight I can finally go to bed. ZZZZZZZZ.”
Also gone are the bottles of Vodka that screamed to be slogged as fast as possible, replaced by a bottle wine that whispers to be sipped with some friends.
The huge parties are replaced by intimate gatherings with a few fellow OFITs (old farts in training.)
Back in the day, a New Years party lasted into the wee hours of the morning. Now, the New Years party lasts until roughly 12:10 when all the OFITs agree it is time to celebrate the arrive of the next year by getting some sleep.
On a brighter note, also gone are the hangovers, the empty wallets from a night of boozing and the “At what bar did I leave my car?” conundrum.
The good ol’ days may have been good, but the current days are a lot less tiring.
Happy New Year and good night.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Artsy fartsy

A co-worker of mine told me about this workshop that combines art and wine. It sounded interesting – I could bring my artistic ability to the forefront while sipping on a glass or two of some of the Valley’s finest, but after a few glasses my crayons would be going outside the lines and it would all be a big mess akin to my childhood years.
A few more glasses and everything I did would look like a Picasso, only not as organized.
Picasso went through the blue period, well I would call this the drunk period, which would be followed by the sick period, which would be followed by the hung-over period and it all would end with the I-promise-to-never-to-do-that-again-just-make-the-pain-in-my-head-go-away period.
The co-worker went on to explain I would sip the vino while a real artist did the actual painting, which makes much more sense.
It got me thinking about art, what it means, why it is worth such obscene amounts of money and why some of it is so weird.
For whatever reason, it seems the stranger the piece, the more it is worth.
I am no authority on art, but I know what sucks and I have seen some paintings that make me wonder how the ring-tailed lemur that painted it managed to hold onto the brush for so long.
I have been to art shows and some of the stuff I understand, but some of it makes less sense than a gas company’s explanation for the price of petrol.
Some of the work is amazing and I thoroughly appreciate the talent, but others look like someone barfed up a box of crayons, signed it and put a $10,000 price tag on it.
Now, before all the artsy types light their brushes on fire and storm the office in a rampage akin to the Frankenstein incident of 1722, I know it is artistic expression and the person is reflecting a part of their deep inner soul and all that stuff.
I am just saying I am not their soul mate when it comes to art I guess. I also think if the jumble of colours is a reflection of their soul, some serious interaction with a mental health expert, or even an exorcist, might need to be added to their ‘to do’ list.
Grocery shopping – check.
Pick up dry cleaning – check.
Have ancient Monrovian spirit Zolthar exercised – check.
I am sure some art lovers consider me a boorish peasant for my lack of artistic aptitude, and that’s OK, because it is not like we were trading Christmas cards anyway.
I realized I am not exactly an art aficionado when my wife and I were on a trip to a quant little resort town.
It was a quiet little hollow with quant shops, a beautiful lake, excessive prices and everything else a resort town is made of.
The weekend we were there, an art show and sale was being held in the park.
We casually strolled over to check it out and the first painting we came across looked like someone had rescued a piece of canvass from a paint factory explosion.
I am sure to the trained eye it was a titillating dance of hues that came together to express man’s struggle with one’s inner self.
To me, it looked like the artist simply used whatever paint they had left over while sampling some of that wine we were talking about earlier.
I nearly fell over when I saw the price tag of $3,000. My wife and I stood in shocked wonder. Three Gs for something that looks like a two year old with a hyperactivity disorder had painted seemed insane.
However, looking at the ‘art’ did give me an idea.
I figured when we got home I would run out to the art supply store, buy a whole bunch of paints, brushes and enough canvass to wrap a mummy.
I would then hand the supplies to my two year old and tell him to go to work. He is not hyper, but a cup of coffee or something would have worked I am sure.
The plan was to let him go crazy with the colours before taking the canvass to a park art show and selling it for a gazillion dollars.
He could crank out four or five of those a week, easy. I had dollar signs spinning in my eyes like one of those cartoon characters.
We could tell people the art work expressed the child in all of us and I would ramble on about how the random use of colours was designed to invoke a childlike glee of painting.
Anybody dumb enough to buy that line of drivel deserves to pay $3,000. And if they were willing to pay me $3,000 for $10 worth of art supplies, I was willing to let them.
I never did enact the child-artist plan, but I have a niece who will have a kid this summer and I think maybe we could work something out.
Playing the waiting game

Anyone who has been to a doctor knows an appointment is more of a guideline than an actual time you will see said practitioner.
Appointments are made so people can rest assured that eventually, they will get in to see their doctor and are not just hanging out in a public waiting area half the day for the fun of it.
I can appreciate how busy doctors are and I understand stuff happens and appointments get delayed, so my new goal is to have as much fun with the waiting process as possible.
The challenge is to have fun in the mind-numbing vacuum of boringness that is a waiting room.
I can remember when doctor’s offices used to have National Geographic, or some other cool magazines.
The last time I was waiting for a doc, the magazines were the most uninteresting pieces of glossy fluff I have ever seen.
The lets-visit-the-doctor routine goes pretty much the same way every time it happens.
I check in with the receptionist upon arrival – because the sign tells me to and if I don’t will be lost in the waiting room black hole forever, which I am convinced is what happened to Jimmy Hoffa. He’s probably still in a waiting room, reading the latest issue of Modern Unions and Mobsters because he did not check in with the receptionist.
So after I check in, I spend a couple of minutes looking around before seeking out some reading material that will help make the minutes fly by.
In one doctor’s office I was impressed to find the magazines actually had a protective plastic binder around them.
That makes sense. You wouldn’t want that vintage May, 1972 copy of Better Quilts and Pillows to get damaged. How else would you know what kind of throw pillow goes best with orange shag carpet?
Fine literature like that deserves to live for all eternity (and probably will in the waiting room.)
After spending 18-43 seconds looking over the magazines and realizing watching a fly crawl across the wall is more exciting, I begin to check out my fellow doctor seekers.
This is a more in depth scrutiny of my waiting room brethren than the cursory glance I give when I first arrive.
That initial check is an absolutely vital part of the waiting room experience. Remember, these people are here to see a doctor because they are ill, and that means the room is full of koodies (which I believe is an actual medical term.)
The initial glance when you first walk in will give you some idea of the people you do not want to sit beside. The lady with the tissue permanently welded to her nose is the first person to avoid.
As is the guy who is coughing to so much his face has turned so red it could guide Santa’s sleigh.
Once the room is surveyed and you have checked in with the receptionist person, it is time to select your seat based on your cursory examination of the room. This is a very important decision because that will be your seat for the next seven to 10 days, depending on how far behind the doctor is running.
Once a chair has been selected and having exhausted the thrilling and educational stack of magazines it is time to check out the crowd and play ‘What’s your ailment.’
Mucus girl and phlegm boy are easy to figure out, as is the kid with cast and the lady in the neck brace, but there are always a few people who look absolutely fine.
Those are the ones I decide to give an ailment of my choice to.
“Really. Wow, not many people contract malaria in the Okanagan.”
“Diphtheria. Now there’s a disease you don’t hear nearly enough about.”
I don’t even know what diphtheria is, and if it wasn’t for spell check I wouldn’t know how to spell it either, but being married to a nurse I hear about all sorts of nasty diseases that I can’t spell or pronounce and certainly do not want to contract.
During the wait, people come and go and every time the receptionist grabs a file you secretly hope it is your name being called so you can get out of the germ factory and on with your day. You know eventually your name will be called and when it is, it is like winning a mini lottery.
But, having your named called is a little misleading because all that happens is you leave the big waiting room and end up sitting in a smaller room that, without the doctor in it, is essentially another waiting room. But at least I know I am getting closer to my end goal so I cheerfully flip through the latest edition of Modern Squirrels and Muskrats while waiting those last few minutes for the doc.
For some reason that kind of wait seems limited to when I go to see the doctor.
When I go to the dentist, I am ushered into the chair of terror .04 seconds after walking in the front door.
I haven’t even taken my coat off before the receptionist starts dragging me into the room where people are going to stick sharp objects into my gums.
I don’t even know if my dentist has magazines because I am never in the waiting room long enough to read one.
I appreciate their efficiency, but when it comes to seeing a dentist I am an abject coward. I do not like going to the tooth doctor and I actually don’t mind waiting for a while, it gives me time to psych myself up.
It’s kind of a ‘Rah-rah, you can do it’ time.
The ‘What’s your ailment’ game cannot really be played at the dentist office anyway because I know what people are there for – their teeth.
The upside is, the sooner you get in, the sooner you get out, and when it comes to the dentist, getting out is all that matters.
Hunting for a hound
(note this was orignally published in May/2008)
Can we get a dog?
That is the questioned being floated around the family homestead lately, mainly by the children.
We haven’t had a dog for several months after putting our last beast down to end 16 years of pet ownership. She was old, deaf, mostly blind, her hair was falling out and she would bark at the wall for no particular reason so we all agreed it was time for her to go to the great doggy park in the sky, or where ever it is dogs go.
I could tell you I miss her, but ‘thou shall not lie.’
After we put her down, we agreed (OK, I suggested) we go one year without a dog before we consider getting another hound. Well, that year is almost up.
I have to admit, I have been enjoying life without a dog running around barking, digging up the yard, dropping little doggy landmines all over the place and in general being more work than I care to take on at this station in life.
I have been compiling a mental list of the good points and the not-so-good points of owning a relative of the wolf clan.
On the upside, dogs offer companionship and make sure you are never alone. In a house of five people plus their friends and an often-visiting mother-in-law I relish being alone.
In fact, I cherish it. In fact, I look forward to it. In fact, if I didn’t get some alone time I would probably wind up with one of those fancy fashion accessories that magicians are always trying to escape from.
Mind you the dog won’t talk, change the channel or hog the couch, so that argument is iffy at best.
Another good point about a dog is you can play with it and whatnot when you are bored. Correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t that what they invented video games for. And a video game will never make a stinky on the floor.
But the dog is more interactive than a video machine, so the hound will have to get the nod again.
Another good point about a dog is they are a walking food disposal system. If you drop a piece of food on the floor, the mutt will be on it like piranhas on a cow. But, without the dog, the food just sits there, so that is a definite plus to owning such a creature.
OK, there are three points in favour of bringing an entirely different species of life into my home.
Let’s see if we can find a couple drawbacks to adding a furred critter to the fold.
The dog might not get along with the cat, but that is more of the cat’s problem than mine so that one doesn’t really count.
As puppies, canines tend to chew things. We had a dog many years ago that ate all the wood skirting around a shed. I am not kidding. He ate so much wood I was convinced he was terrier crossed with beaver.
He also ate a $10 bill, a couple of cassettes, some Christmas decorations and part of our couch to name just a few of the items he dined on.
Dogs can also be truly gross little critters. I have touched on this briefly in the past, but it is so significant it deserves another mention: dogs eat their own vomit.
Enough said in the gross-out department.
The truly icky thing is I have been witness to such culinary madness. I have also seen dogs eat their own recycled food byproduct commonly known as doo-doo.
Let’s just say I do not let dogs – no matter how big or small – lick me on the face, or on the hand, or even on the sleeve of my jacket if I can help it.
The whole vomit-as-a-food-source thing is a pretty strong argument on its own. Mind you that might cut down on the amount we spend on dog food.
The real problem is, I am a dog person so I like having a dog around. We have a cat, but a cat just can’t be compared to a dog.
For one, a dog will generally come when you call it, while a cat will just stare at you with a look of ‘if you want to pet me, crowbar your butt off the couch and come over here.’
Dogs are also eager to please their master. Cats think they are the master.
The upside of cats is they are a lot less work than a dog. When we go away for the weekend all we have to do is make sure the cat has enough food and water and it’s ‘See ya later.’
If you do that with a dog, all of the food will be eaten in the first 10 minutes and there is only so many times a dog can barf, so eventually its food source will run dry and it will become quite hungry.
But being a dog person, one would think it would be an easy decision. The thing is, not having a dog means a lot less work for me.
“But we’ll help look after it,” is the plea of my children.
“Right, and Elvis is going to come out of hiding to become the next president of the United States and solve global warming by eating every cow on the planet, thus saving earth from their harmful emissions.”
I kind of enjoy going away for the weekend and not have to worry about what we are going to do with Fido.
Camping also brings its own set of challenges when you have a dog because you have to keep them on a leash, off the beach and silent.
All of these items have been debated with my wife, who is on the ‘Yes’ side of the debate.
It got to the point where I had to put my foot down and say, “As the man of the house I decree we are not getting a dog – until the fall anyway, or sooner if you want, if that is OK with you dear.”
Yule part all night

It’s Christmas time once again and that means non-stop gatherings.
Work functions, church events and family and friend get togethers make for a busy Yule Tide schedule.
Recently my wife and I were invited to a get together held by a lady she works with.
Upon arrival we quickly realized this was not the kind of gathering we were used to.
Now I am not a slob or anything, but I do prefer to dress for form and function rather than fashion.
My wife has a similar view on apparel, so we showed up dressed rather casually. We do have nice dress clothes, we just didn’t know we were supposed to wear them to this event.
It was a house party, not a gala ball.
I was wearing a blue fleece and blue jeans and my wife was wearing a hoodie.
Everyone else was dressed much nicer.
It was like a scud missile blew up a Yuppie mobile. There were cardigans and dress pants as far as the eye could see.
Suddenly I went from being casually dressed to feeling like a hillbilly visiting the big city.
“Well gawrsh, look at them thar fancy clothes. These folks must be rich or famous or something. If I would have known this was a fancy pants party I woulda worn clean underwear and everything.”
OK, so maybe it wasn’t that bad, but I did feel a little self conscious, until they started bringing out the food.
It’s amazing how a buffet of Roman proportions can make me not really care about being the most dressed down person at the event.
One of the highlights of the feast was the shrimp. I am used to the shrimp ring variety commonly found at parties, but these were big, fat shrimp that made the shrimp ring ones look like anorexic cast offs from the reject pile.
Fancy pants people eat pretty good.
I already felt like a factory worker at a royal ball, but coupled with the fact I knew a grand total of one person at the party (my wife) I found it hard to blend in.
Being over six feet tall, it is hard to have a casual conversation when there is a room full of people all babbling at the same time. The noise level dictates you be close to the person you are talking to.
Most people talk into my nipples, and the only way I can hear what they are saying is to bend down to their level. So I spent the evening bobbing up and down like one of those birds that sip water from the cup.
Extended conversations leave me hunched over like Quasimodo.
I was introduced to some people, but never encountered a Biff or Skippy. They were all just regular people who apparently owned some really nice clothes.
I found it rather amusing to watch people sip martinis from tall glasses. I am more of a beer-from-a-can sort of guy.
I could almost hear some of them talking.
“Our hosts are so generous. It’s so nice that they invite people like that. The common folk need to get out once in a while.”
“I agree. It’s good for us to associate with ‘those’ people as well. It reminds us that not everyone will be getting a new Benz for Christmas.”
The first person to flip me a Looney was going to get an atomic wedgie their children would remember.
So for a couple of hours we mingled and chatted and laughed all the way home, feeling much more cultured now that we had spent some time with the Trumps of the Okanagan.
Christmas shopping at its finest

Last-minute shoppers are amusing creatures
Typically, they are men who left their Christmas shopping to Dec. 23 and are running around frantically trying to find something for the missus, mom and the kids.
They go tearing through the mall like madmen, trying not to run in to all the other guys who are body slamming each other in the aisle ways.
A frenzy develops, and soon no one is safe.
“Get out of the way grandma. That dolly with the pink dress, pleated skirt and matching hat is mine.”
“Back off sonny or I will give you a granny size butt whoopin’ you will never forget.”
Men are not great shoppers to begin with, but add the pressure of a deadline and things get down right nasty.
“You want some of this granny,” our shopper says while slinking away knowing, that when cornered, grannies are dangerous animals.
But, our intrepid shopper endures and eventually all the items are collected, and with a sigh of relief he heads for the check out.
While waiting in line, the adrenaline starts to fade and our shopper comes back to reality. He watches the chaotic gift grabbing going on around him and vows, “Next year, I will not wait to the last minute.”
Of course, next year he shows up at the same time and goes through the same routine except this time he does not back down and granny has to lay a beat down on him he will never forget.
But at this moment in time, he swears he will never leave it to the last minute again. In fact, he’s going to start in November. No. In June.
As he glances to the front door he sees a steady stream of people who are doing their shopping at an even later hour.
Our shopper feels smug.
“Look at those guys, leaving it so late. All they need is some time-management skills, like me.”
Our shopper is declaring victory and plans to be out of the store in a matter of minutes.
Then in the outer reaches of his thoughts he hears the most terrifying words any shopper can endure: “Price check on...”
Our shopper freezes as his mind locks in on the source of such angst.
Again he hears the voice, “Price check on aisle five.”
Those poor suckers. Here it is near closing time, they are in a rush to get home and now they have to survive a price check.
The smugness grows as he looks around to see what aisle such a tragedy has befallen.
Deep in his heart he fears the answer.
He looks to the left and a rush of panic strikes him. It’s aisle six.
Hoping for some reason the store reversed the numerical order of the check outs, he looks to the right only have the last vestige of hope dashed when he sees the number four.
He realized it is he who is in the ‘line of the damned.’
All our shopper can do is wait and watch as the other lines progress in a timely manner. He can hear people breaking out in joyous Yule tide song as their items are passed through the machine that goes boop.
“It’s the most wonder time of the year - boop. Dashing through the boop in a one-horse open boop…..”
He tries to block out the merry chatter of shoppers as they head for their cars, but all he can hear, being repeated over and over again are those two words: PRICE CHECK.
Then, a ray of hope. The check out person’s phone rings, they get the price and things are moving.
Our shopper rejoices at the Christmas miracle and the joy of the season comes flooding back as he steps up to the till and his items are put through the machine that goes boop.
He digs out some plastic, pays for his items and happily skips to the car.
Looking back he sees enough people waiting in the check out line to populate a small European country.
Plopping himself down in the driver’s seat, our shopper rests for a brief moment knowing he has survived another round of holiday shopping.
He puts the key in the ignition and is about to start the car when a voice screams in his head louder than the air horn of an ocean liner: “YOU FORGOT BATTERIES.”