Monday, March 26, 2012

I love the Tape, my wife doesn't

Being a guy, I have an affinity for duct tape.
I love the stuff. It is one of the greatest inventions man has ever come up with. Duct tape is right up there with the wonders of the modern world: the ability to fly, heart transplants, putting a man in space and duct tape – to name just a few monumental achievements.
In fact, the only achievement that rates higher on the man-meter than The Tape is the remote for the TV, now that is an invention worth not getting up for. As I mentioned, I am a guy so I like The Tape, but I can also be a wee bit of a jokester.
Or a real pain in the posterior – depending on your attitude toward jokesters. My wife knows me very well, but I can still zing one past her on occasion and on this occasion I was able to combine my love of The Tape with my inability to not be a pain in the butt. You see, a piece of arborite was coming off of a countertop and I had promised my wife I would fix it.
Now, now don’t get ahead of yourself, duct tape was involved but remember, I am also a pain in the, um, er, I am a jokester. I knew all I had to do was glue the offending strip of countertop back in place and viola, a very simple repair. Problem was I did not feel like standing there holding the piece to the countertop for two hours while the glue dried so I called upon the Mighty Tape to save the day.
Once I applied a liberal amount of glue, I used a few pieces of duct tape to keep the arborite in place while the glue did its thing. That is when the light bulb over my head went off. The little guy in the red suit on my shoulder hatched a deviously funny prank to play on the Missus.
The little guy in the white suit tried to intervene and talk me out of it, but eventually he too thought the plan was too good to pass up on and last I remember he was high-fiving the other little dude. The plan was simple: even though the glue had dried hours ago, I left the duct tape in place for when the little woman came home. “Hi honey, how was your day at work?
That’s good. Oh, yea, by the way I fixed the kitchen counter top today. See.” She froze in her tracks when she saw the bright silver strips of tape attached to the countertop holding the offending arborite in place. For a moment a brief look of horror crossed her face before she regained her composure. “So what do you think?
That sucker is not coming off again. I used enough tape on there to seal up Titanic. Look, it is as solid as it will ever be. Pretty good, huh?”
Her face changed expression several times during my little speech and I could see she was trying to formulate an appropriate response.
“Um, er, it um, it’s, I think, um er…”
“I know, it kind of leaves you speechless doesn’t it. Best part it only took a few minutes to fix. Anything else you need looked at? I have a lot of tape left.”
All the Missus could do was stand and stare at the tape that was now a dominant feature in the kitchen. Meanwhile the little white and red dudes were laughing their heads off.
I was looking as serious as possible, but it was getting harder to keep up the ruse without smiling. Eventually I broke down and told her the tape was a temporary measure that I used to hold the arborite in place while the glue dried.
A visible wave of relief flowed over her and she smiled at the hilarity of the prank. OK, maybe she did not find the prank hilarious, but I did bring much joy into her life. She was very happy I had not taped the kitchen countertop together.
And if there is one thing I enjoy in this world, it is bringing joy to others – even if they don’t always appreciate it.

Going green in a whole new way

I know I am not the only person who has had this happen to them because I have witnessed the dilemma from both sides of the table.
The other day I spent a few minutes chatting with a buddy of mine after church. Nothing odd or embarrassing about that – well, wait for it.
The conversation was not the problem. The problem was I had a booger hanging from my nose that was just slightly smaller than a Smart Car. I had no idea this Green Monster of Ick was crawling its way out of my nose ready to destroy the world like a Canadian version of Godzilla.
However, as soon as I ran into the Missus, she kindly pointed out I had this thing sticking out. The only thing that kept it from escaping completely was my abundant nostril hair. Now, the question is: was the Booger of Doom hanging out the entire time I was talking to my buddy, or did it get loose after the conversation? He never said anything about it, so maybe it wasn’t there.
But if I were on the other side of the situation would I mention it was there?
“Hi Gary, how are ya? Good to see you. By the way, you have a giant snot slinky slithering out of your nose. So, how are the wife and kids?”
It is not something you can casually slip into a conversation without the recipient of the news feeling at least somewhat embarrassed. And once the protruding bit of nose phlegm is pointed out, what then?
Does the bearer of the booger just go macho and wipe it away with their hand? If they do, will you shake their hand at the end of the conversation? I thought not.
They could excuse themselves, head to the nearest box of tissues and reign in the offending piece of matter, which is probably the most sanitary and least disgusting thing to do. Of course, the conversation is over at that point.
“Sorry pal, I’ll be right back I just have to shake this booger loose.”
Not many conversations get restarted after such an interruption, unless the conversation is about boogers hanging from your nose. If so, you have the perfect conversation starter at hand, or rather, in nose, or should it be partway out of the nose? I don’t know, booger etiquette has never been my strong suit.
When you are a kid, having a greenie hanging out is a topic of laughter from the boys and, usually, an ‘Ewwww, gross’ from the girls.
Why boys find gross things funny is a topic for another column. But the younger the kid, the less they care about nasal discharge. Every parent out there has seen their kids come home with ‘glassy sleeves.’ To a kid, sleeves were invented to be portable tissues.
What other purpose do they serve than to slide across your nose? To a kid, none. Being a snot collector is about all they do. And children use the full length of the forearm – from elbow to wrist – without so much as a second thought.
Hey, I can remember being far too busy playing to go find a tissue and wipe my honker every few minutes. Besides, I had these cool sleeve things that were the perfect built-in tissue. The sleeve device was always with me, I had two of them should one lose its absorbency and I did not even have to stop playing to take care of the situation.
Of course, as an adult I now know how truly revolting walking around with a sleeve or two covered in nose goo is, which is a strong argument for washing the children’s clothes separately from the civilized people in the house. Like death and taxes, boogers are a part of life.
I just hope to avoid all three for as long as possible.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

There's no way I would make it as a pioneer

I admit it. I would have made a lousy pioneer. I am just not a settle-the-new-world kind of guy. I enjoy camping and living among nature, but my version of roughing it is not showering for a couple of days and flicking a bug off my plate before I eat. When I camp, it is in a trailer with a cushioned bed, stove, bathroom and most important of all, a furnace to keep me toasty warm at night. I recently visited a historic ranch and heard tales of pioneers that confirmed I am not the gold-rush type. Some of these hardy souls would spend weeks, even months walking to the gold fields of B.C. in the hopes of striking it rich. My first thought was, "What kind of bathroom facilities were there along the gold trail?" Even before the question finished forming in my cranium, I knew the answer involved sticks, leaves and probably a rash of some sort. Sounds like a good time to me. I pity the uneducated prospector who grabbed a handful of poison ivy after a trip to the bush to take care of some personal business. I would imagine word about that particular plant and the need to avoid it would have spread like wildfire. Who would be providing this information? The guy who had been walking funny for the past three days, that's who. Having lived on the land for generations already, I would imagine the local aboriginals already knew to avoid the plant. Maybe it was a local native who suggested to the fat, white guy with the beard the ivy was perfect for personal use and then ran home to tell the rest of his village what he had done. "You will not believe what I just got some white guy to do. You know that plant that makes you itch really bad, well." They of course would break out in roaring laughter every time they saw a cowboy doing the poison ivy shuffle. "Hey white guys, you know what else is a good idea - sleeping with food in your tent. Bears hate that and will avoid you like the plague." Then there was the bathing issue. Many of those intrepid pioneers would bathe once a year whether they needed it or not. That's why so few of them were actually eaten by bears. The bear would take one taste, hunch up and spew his breakfast before swearing off those smelly white things in favour of berries and grubs. You know it's bad when bug larvae is the most delectable meal in the woods. It was not an easy thing to lather up in those days and the last thing someone wanted to do was dive into an ice cold lake or stream. It was much easier to just smell bad and besides there were no ladies to impress anyway so what's the point? "Frank you smell absolutely delightful today, what have you done?" "Well Bob, I took a quick bath in that crick over thar and then used the aloe vera plant to keep me smelling like a fresh spring rain. It also helps keep my skin soft and supple." Somehow I doubt that conversation was every uttered among the tough-as-nails customers of the old days. Of course the natives were kicking back and lounging in local hot springs. "Do you think we should tell the white guys about this?" "Naw, it's way more fun to watch them the way they are." "Good point." So, pioneers searching for gold were a smelly lot with poor hygiene - using your finger for a toothbrush does not count as cleaning - who would spend months on end living with other men. Is gold really that important? I would much rather have found a job somewhere in the city and slowly squirreled some money away for retirement. Who needs to settle a new land anyway? Look at all the land we have now, going out and claiming more would just be plain greedy. But the lure of gold was too strong for many and they left the comfort of the city and plunged head first into the challenges only Mother Nature could provide. And after a while I am sure even Mother Nature plugged her nose when ever an intrepid gold seeker went by.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

I know what my cat is thinking

I caught a glimpse of a book cover the other day about cats. The book was called ‘What your cat is thinking.’ I know what the cat is thinking without reading the book. The cat is thinking: Feed me, worship me, feed me, worship me, feed me, worship me… There, I just saved you $29.95. On occasion the feline may be thinking ‘pet me,’ but that is only on their terms, and only for as long as they want. Once they are done, they cast you aside like a worn out shoe until the next time they feel like interacting with you. And as every cat owner knows, interacting with a cat is entirely up to the cat. You can call the feline, tempt them with a treat and even chase them around the house trying to pick them up, but at the end of the day a cat will cuddle only when the cat wants to cuddle. I don’t know if this has happened to anyone else, but when my son’s cat gets out when he is not supposed to he will walk just slightly out of my reach as I try to grab him to bring him back in. Sometimes he is mere inches away from being snatched, but when you move forward, so does he. Then you move, then he moves then you move, then he moves…until you finally give up. “Fine stay outside you dumb animal. See if I care.” OK, let’s review. If the cat is such a dumb animal how come I am the one chasing him around the yard like some hunched over troll? If he is so dumb how come I am the one who provides meals for him several times a day? If he is so dumb how come I am the one cleaning up his messes while he lounges on the couch, the bed or pretty much wherever he wants? If he is sooooo dumb…OK, I think we know who the dumb one is. Cats obviously have brains and do think of things or else they would just sit around like a federal Senate appointee. Do not underestimate the brain power of a feline. They are thinking alright. Dogs think about things as well, but in a much different manner. I read this online and it could not be more accurate: A dog will think, “They pet me, feed me and take care of me. They must be God.” A cat will think, “They pet me, feed me and take care of me. I must be God.” Cats also spend a lot of time thinking up ways to be annoying. Like sleeping on the computer keyboard, or, as Gilbert the Wonder Cat has done on many occasions, blocking the dog food dish with his body while he eats his own food. He will also leave his food alone once in a while and eat the dog’s food. Both scenarios cause man’s best friend to whine and wait. Does the cat care? Nope. I could swear that on more than one occasion, the cat actually smirked with satisfaction after making his canine counterpart wait, and wait, and wait for his food. So why doesn’t the dog just take what’s his? Because he is scared half to death of that cat, that’s why. When we brought Murphy the Mutt home I am pretty sure the two reached an agreement: the dog agreed not to annoy the cat, and the cat agreed not to kill the dog. So far they are holding up both ends of the deal. Mind you in the middle of winter the cat has been known to hunt the dog for sport and fun. No wonder Murphy is so jittery. So, yes, it is safe to say cats do think. But I do not need a book to tell what they are thinking. However, in retrospect, a feline’s brain may be more active than I originally gave them credit for: ‘feed me, worship me, annoy the dog, feed me, worship me, feed me, attack the dog, worship me, feed me, claw something for no reason, worship me, sit on someone who is allergic to me, feed me, worship me…

Monday, March 5, 2012

How can i miss you, if you won't go away

I didn’t understand what they were talking about, and it wasn’t until many years later that I was hit by the proverbial bolt of lightning and my little brain suddenly screamed, “OK, now I get it.” The ‘they’ to which I am referring was a group of middle-aged gentleman who stopped by the convenience store I was working a graveyard shift at. It was the wee hours of the morning and they were collecting some much-needed supplies: beef jerky, chips, dip and a couple of, ahem, magazines. It was obvious they were going somewhere, so while the others were foraging and gathering, I chatted with one guy about their destination. Turns out they were headed to the hills down yonder to spend three days at a fishing cabin where the agenda called for them to drink beer, fish and drink beer. The man then said the best part was there would be no wives on the trip. To which the other gentlemen all let out a cheer, in unison. They really did. Being 20 years old at the time, I could not understand for the life of me why they would be happy to not be around the ladies. At that age, the ladies was about all I was able to think about. It didn’t make sense to me, but they were quite pleased with their looming women-free adventure so who was I to argue? They gathered their stuff, piled into a couple of pick-up trucks and off they went. Fast forward a couple decades and that bolt of lightning finally found its mark. Don’t get me wrong, I love my wife and she really is the person I am meant to spend the rest of my life with, but after almost a quarter century of marriage attitudes change a little bit. When we first started dating I would jump for the phone every time it rang in hopes it was her. Now, I check caller ID and if I feel like talking to her… Come on, we have all done it at one point and you know it. Back in the day, if the little woman accidentally locked her keys in the car I would drop everything and go rushing to her rescue like a knight in shining armor. I would drive all the way across town through rain and snow and blazing heat just to unlock the door for my sweety lest she be inconvenienced. Things are done a little differently nowadays. The Missus: Hi, I just locked my keys in the car. Me: Well, why would you want to do that? The Missus: I didn’t want to, it just happened. Can you come unlock it for me? Me: Why don’t you call BCAA? The Missus: Because they take too long. Why can’t you? Me: Because, I am busy. The Missus: Doing what? Me: Well, right now I am busy not driving all the way across town in the rain and the snow and the blazing heat to unlock the van. Does it mean I love my wife less today than I did in the 1980s? Of course not, it just means our dynamics have changed somewhat. When we were first wed I would never think about going on a weekend fishing trip without her, but I now understand how accurate the term ‘separation makes the heart grow fonder’ really is. Besides, how can I miss her if we are always together. In fact, we are apart this weekend as she is on a ladies’ getaway to a local ski resort where instead of fishing and drinking beer, she and her friends will be lounging in a hot tub sipping wine. And if the ladies stop at a convenience store along the way and the clerk asks where they are going and why, you can bet your bottom dollar there will be a cheer or two from the other ladies before the conversation is over. Will I miss my wife when she is away? Of course I will, but probably not until I am done watching a manly movie about manly men doing manly things. You know, the kind of movie most women hate.