Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Running With Geniuses

I was sitting in the car with my cousin James, at the same Radio Shack parking lot where Dad did his drunken Ukrainian folk dancer routine. We were just sitting there, waiting for somebody at the bank I think. It was a warm day, so we had the windows down and we were watching the people coming and going from Tim Horton's. We were a couple of 'geniuses' with nothing to do but get ourselves into trouble.

For those who haven't met my cousin James, he's one of those people who will say or do anything just to see what kind of reaction he gets.


So he's looking out the window when this teenage boy starts running towards us from the far end of the parking lot.

James says, "Look at that guy. He runs like a retard!"

I look and see that the boy is in fact running rather oddly.

James loudly comments on this guys lack of running skill and again uses the word "retarded".

Then the boy gets close to us and it hit us.

"Oh my God." said James, "He is retarded."

The boy was in fact someone with disabilities, struggling his way across the parking lot despite his limitations.

"I'm going to hell." said James.

We started howling with laughter.

I was thinking about this story and I remembered that both James and I were in the "gifted" program in school. At the time we thought it meant we were awesome. We loved it. Eventually though we realized that it was really a special needs program. Many kids with higher intelligence or atypical academic skills have a hard time with social interactions. (For those of you who didn't understand my last sentence; we were nerds.)

So the gifted program was less of an opportunity for us to explore our "gifts" and more of a program to sublimate our unproductive behaviours into more useful pursuits.

I don't think it worked.

I'm still a nerd.

Next Story: The Worst Thing I've Ever Tasted

Previous Post: My Secret Identity

Friday, July 27, 2007

My Secret Identity

Every Superhero has a secret origin story.

As "The Startler"(tm), I am no different. When I was just a kid, mom wasn't as disabled as she is now and she had a good sense of humour. (Pain tends to dull one's sense of humour over time sadly.) We used to entertain ourselves my trying to scare or trick Dad in increasingly bizzarre ways.

One time we hid in Dad's closet, so when he came home from work he couldn't find us. Eventually he went to change his clothes and opened the closet. We yelled, "Boo!" He ignored us and changed his clothes.

So we tried harder.

We came up with the brilliant idea of Saran-Wrap. Over the toilet. That's right, we lifted the lid, discreetly sealed the bowl with transparent plastic wrap, and then put the lid down and walked away giggling.

Dad came in from work and charged towards the bathroom (YES!) intent on his mission. He closed the door, so mom and I sneaked up in the hallway and listened. We heard the sounds of someone using the toilet. Then we heard the flush. Then we heard the sounds of handwashing. He opened the door and looked at us like we were nuts.

"What're you guys doing out here?", he asked.

I bolted past him and checked out the toilet. The Saran Wrap was gone. I found it crumpled into a ball in the garbage. Turns out dad thought it was some kind of protective cover mom had put on the toilet while cleaning, so he just tore it off. Shows how much dad knows about bathroom cleaning. Yeesh.

Eventually one of us would let our guard down and the other would take horrible advantage. One time I went into the bathroom and did my thing. I had not idea that mom had staged herself outside the bathroom door, ready to scare me. I finished up and obliviously opened the door. She shoutet, "BOO!"

For reasons that I will never understand my response to the sudden threat was to dance like an epileptic monkey and scream, "YIN-YAA!"

Mom howled. For months.

To this day I just have to say, "Yin-yaa?" to her and she cracks a smile.

Next Story: Running With Geniuses

Previous Story: I Soiled My Armour I Was So Scared

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

I Soiled My Armour I Was So Scared

This morning I was reminded of the above immortal words from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. It was early and I got up from sleep to use the bathroom. You know how it is, you don't actually open your eyes, you just feel your way around the room since you don't want to turn the lights on and have your head explode. One of the two doors to the bathroom happens to open directly into my bedroom. So I went to the door, wearing only a sleepy smile, and started to open it, while still caught up in my dream about hot girls in Hawaii.

As the door swung open, a deep sepulchral voice boomed, "Yo Ho!" from the general direction of the toilet.

After I climbed down from the top of my bookcase I hurled a few choice insults at the demonic voice on the can. He started to chuckle. I realized it was my dad and mumbled, "S'not funny." He started laughing. I told him to stop laughing, so of course he laughed even harder.

What kind of demented psychopath says, "Yo Ho!" to warn someone that the bathroom is in use? I thought I'd suddenly stumbled into the lair of the Dread Pirate Roberts and he was about to send me to Davey Jones' Locker.

Believe me, you really do not want to frighten someone with an overactive imagination, like yours truly.

Oddly, just the day before my mom was sitting at the computer working on her lit blog and she was so deep in concentration she didn't notice that I'd come around to the other side of the room and was standing behind her on the right. I started to say, "Hey Ma..." and she screamed like the computer had suddenly turned into a snake. She was actually quite upset but I couldn't stop laughing at her.

Karma. She's a mean-spirited bitch that one.

I don't know why it keeps happening but I seem to startle people a lot. I'm fairly large and heavy and my friends can attest to the fact that I generally make a lot more noise than I'm entitled to, so you'd think people would hear me coming. We've got a girl who comes in to take care of the laundry and dusting and such since mom's disabled. I've started singing as I walk down the stairs so that by the time I get to the laundry room she knows I'm coming. The first few weeks I would walk in and say, "Julie, where's the..." and she'd jump like a rabbit.

Now when I walk into the laundry room, even though I'm singing for her benefit, she laughs at me. The nerve.

I get a superpower and instead of something cool like X-ray Vision(tm) or Super-Strength(tm) I get "Sneaky Startle!"(tm)

Great. I'll wear blue tights and a silly mask and walk around calling myself "The Startler"(tm).

Be afraid. Be very afraid. Eat your vegetables or "The Startler"(tm) will get you!

Next Story: My Secret Identity

Previous Story: Ignorance Is Bliss - Part One of Many

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Ignorance Is Bliss: Part One of Many

Well I was going to write about how the human experience is built on ignorance but instead I have to share what is happening at this very moment.

The smell of aftershave is burning my lungs. It's my grandfather's aftershave. Problem is, he's DOWNSTAIRS and I'm UPSTAIRS and the air return and ducts downstairs are CLOSED OFF this time of year.

He's wearing so much aftershave it smells like someone broke open a can of "Off!" bug spray in here. He's heading out to visit his "Girlfriend" around the corner. I'm sure she'll appreciate having the lining of her sinuses and lungs burned off.

Holy crap he's outside the house now and I can still smell it. WOW.

Ok back to the subject of ignorance. I woke up this morning remembering a silly song they taught us in school. Here in Canada we learned...

"I'ze the bye that builds the boat,
I'ze the by that sails her!
I'ze the bye that catches the fish,
And takes 'em home to Liz-er!"

We learned about doing hard work and going home to eat a meal we earned ourselves. And we learned how to speak like a Newfie.

What did American schoolchildren learn?

"1814 took a little trip,
Along with Colonel Jackson down the Mighty Missisip!
We took a little bacon and we took a little beans,
And caught the bloody British in the town of New Orleans."

They learned about war.

But wait, that's not he best part. It was a war essentially between Canada and the United States and we BOTH think we won. I am not kidding, check out the Wikipedia entry.

Quote - "The war had the effects of both uniting Canadians and also uniting Americans far more closely than either population had been prior to the war. Canadians remember the war as a victory by avoiding conquest, while Americans celebrated victory in a "second war for independence" personified in the hero of New Orleans, Andrew Jackson."


Man I didn't even get to the point about ignorance. As in, I wonder how many people realize that we once fought a war with the U.S. that both sides feel they won. Good thing there's so much of it that I can write about it again and again.

Man it still stinks in here, I'm going outside.

Next Story: I Soiled My Armour I Was So Scared

Previous Story: Kids Do the Funniest Things

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Kids Do the Funniest Things

I spent a large part of the weekend with my cousin Leilani, her husband Greg and their two adorable kids. Avery is two years old, almost three and is the cutest little girl I have ever seen. Micah is one, nearing two and he's huge, built like a small truck. He is unusually friendly and smiles a lot. Together Avery and Micah are comedy gold. They love each other and they love to get into all kinds of trouble together.

Greg showed me pictures from the time Leilani left the room for just a minute with Micah safely strapped into his high chair and little Avery "watching" him while mommy was gone. When Leliani got back in the room, she found Micah had been painted with prunes. Avery was gently doling out spoonfuls of prune preserve onto Micah's head, who giggled and squealed with delight as though it was his favorite thing. The mess was awesome.

So on Sunday night Leilani says to Micah, "Tickle-Shark Uncle Teddy!" I waited, having no idea what was coming. Micah gave me a smile from across the room, put his two little hands together and made a swimming fish gesture, while singing "Doo-DOO, doo-DOO!" and slinking towards me. I started laughing even before he reached me. I made a big fuss when the "Tickle-Shark" arrived and proceeded to tickle my leg, since that was the highest part on me he could reach. Priceless.

At one point, my cousin James says to Micah, "Show us your belly!" So Micah calmy walks over to the couch where I'm sitting and lifts my shirt up, which started everyone into gales of laughter. Later Avery played "I'm the mommy, you're the baby" with James. He put his head on a cushion and pretended to sleep while Avery sang "Rockabye Baby". Of course her take on the lyrics was a little off, turning what should have been a short, harmless ditty into a marathon of gut-busting silliness.

I am trying to remember the story Leilani told me that I wanted to post about something Avery pulled recently but I was drinking Rusty Nails and my memory is foggy. Let me talk to my cousin(s) and I'll share it with you later. I still haven't fully recovered from the weekend, ha ha!


Next Story - Ignorance Is Bliss: Part One of Many

Previous Story: Window Cleaning - Great in Summer, Horrible in Winter

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Window Cleaning - Great In Summer, Horrible In Winter

Worked for George again this morning. Cleaning windows in the summer is actually kind of nice. You get fresh air, some sunshine. You hair gets natural highlights from the sun, the work is fairly easy and you can use lots of water since it's hot and your water evaporates fast. Lots of water makes it easier. Summer is great.

I would get my own contracts, except for one small thing.


Just for fun, George asked me to go with him one time in the dead of winter. Once.

My first clue should have been when we added antifreeze to our water. Half water with with detergent, half -40 antifreeze. Oh goody. So we get out to this crummy filthy restaurant, early in the morning when the sun is barely up and it's -25 real with a -35 windchill. Oh boy. George sends me around to do the front. I plunge my applicator into my bucket of antifreeze and hot water, but the applicator won't go in because A LAYER OF ICE HAS FORMED in the time since I'd left the truck.

I calmly broke the ice and got my applicator nice and wet. Keep in mind that I was not wearing gloves. It's very difficult to wear gloves and handle your equipment properly. Also, George has no feeling in his hands and thinks anyone who works with gloves on is a pansy. Since then I have ignored George's taunts and jeers and have bought myself a pair of the most awesome gloves ever created.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Sealskinz.

But back then , I didn't have my Awesome Waterproof Gloves of Stupendous Glory. I just had my hands. My poor, sad, exposed hands.

So of course as I applied the water to the glass and it poured down onto my hand, the -35 windchill said, "idiot at seven o'clock!" and decided to give me a real thrashing. The cold was horrific. If you have ever been ice fishing and put your exposed hands into the water and then waved them around your head till they froze, you know what I am talking about. If you haven't done this, you can't understand.

I painfully and slowly worked my way across the front of the restaurant, my hands turning into lumps of ice, my feet slipping constantly on the skating rink that was the sidewalk, my very sweat dripping from my brow onto my glasses where it FROZE. I had to scrape the frost OFF MY GLASSES. Whee.

But the moment of true evil was yet to come. As I worked my way around the restaurant, I came to the final plate of glass. The window sat between the buildings in an area that hasn't seen sunlight since 1941. Somehow the cold had numbed my brain and it just didn't occur to that cleaning that plate might be a bad idea.

I made my first swipe my applicator and before I was finished the antifreeze on the glass had turned to slush. In the short time while I stood there stupidly, marveling at the emerging frost designs, my applicator FROZE AGAINST THE GLASS. I had to break it off. The solution on the glass froze solid every quickly, so I walked around to the other side, where the sun was and told George what had happened.

He laughed so hard he nearly split his pants. That George. Ha ha. What a kidder.

Next Story: Kids Do the Funniest Things

Previous Story: The Great Timbit Incident

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Great Timbit Incident

For those of you sad, silly boobs who've never experienced the joy of a fresh Timbit, this is a Timbit.

The chocolate glazed Timbit is currently the most awesome flavour, although the blueberry Timbit they made around here in the 90's was probably the closest thing to baked perfection I'm ever going to know. I hope there's a Tim Horton's somewhere that still makes those. Some place where the sun lights the glass up like fire and an angelic chorus thunders every time a new customer enters.

Blueberry. (sigh)

It happened when I was in high school, "The Great Timbit Incident" of '88 that is. Mr McCutcheoun took our geography class on a field trip all over the contryside to experience the glacial landforms left behind by the ice that once covered this area. It was actually cooler than it sounds.

So partway through the trip, we stopped at a Tim Horton's for a break. I felt generous, so I bought a huge box of Timbits and offered them to everyone. I'd always wanted a valid reason to buy the party-sized box of timbits and it was great.

We headed for the vans, a gaggle of noisy, sugar-hyped teenagers thrilled to be outside instead of trapped in the classroom. I excitedly bounced around, talking about something goofy and gesturing madly with both hands. Hands that were swinging the precious Timbit box.

Apparently the box didn't like the way it was being treated. Suddenly and spectacularly, the bottom of the box came apart. A hail of assorted Timbits launched into the air like mad missiles, dropping onto the pavement and rolling for freedom.

Horrified, I ran. I had to save them. That's when the screaming started. Somewhere in the back of my mind the screaming became more important than the escaping Timbits and I froze in confusion.

That's when the transport truck arrived. Horn wailing, a huge gasoline tanker truck from hell blasted across my path, obliterating the fleeing Timbits and spraying me with dust, dirt and mashed donut matter.

I wept quietly as I rescued the surviving Timbits from among the smashed bodies of their fallen brothers. I gently, reverently placed them back in the box where they could be safe once again.

Poor little Timbits.

The girls laughed and thought it was awfully gross when the guys ate the Timbits that had fallen on the ground. We knew better. It was a badge of courage.

We honoured the fallen by eating the survivors.

Next Story - Window Cleaning: Great In Summer, Horrible In Winter

Previous Story: The Worst Smell Ever

You Think You're Tough?

As Neal Stephenson wrote, "Until a man is twenty-five, he still thinks, every so often, that under the right circumstances he could be the baddest ************ in the world. If I moved to a martial-arts monastery in China and studied real hard for ten years. If my family was wiped out by Colombian drug dealers and I swore myself to revenge. If I got a fatal disease, had one year to live, devoted it to wiping out street crime. If I just dropped out and devoted my life to being bad."

Well these three guys win.

Boy, 5, Subdues Rabid Fox To Protect Family
"A 5-year-old boy grabbed a rabid fox by the neck and pinned it to the ground during a family cookout, protecting six other children until his stepfather could kill the animal."

Man Sucked Out Of Plane At 20,000 Feet Survives
"I was just sitting in my seat, chitchatting with the pilot and then there was this huge explosion, like this real loud popping sound," Fogg said on "Good Morning America." "I was immediately sucked to the right, right out the window."

With his legs and left arm inside the plane, Fogg fought to break free from the intense suction and 200-mph winds.

72 Year Old Ex Marine Beats Down Mugger
There are certain things in life one should learn at a young age. Don’t touch fire: it is hot and will burn you. Don’t dive in shallow water: it is not deep and you will break bones. Apparently someone didn’t learn another valuable lesson; don’t mess with a former marine, or you will likely get owned.

Enter 72-Year-Old Bill Barnes.

Next News: Good Thing They Have Flippers Not Hands

Previous News: We Don't Know What Ignited The Fire - Police Say

Friday, July 6, 2007

The Worst Smell Ever

If you have a weak stomach, leave now.

George regularly cleans the windows at KFC. For those of you from parts of the world where there is no KFC, it stands for Kentucky Fried Chicken and it's a fast-food restaurant that serves... well... fried chicken.

Interesting aside: KFC is the most popular Western fast-food chain in the People's Republic of China. Also KFC is so prevalent in Japan that many Japanese unknowingly consider it to be a Japanese Company. Most KFC stores located in predominantly Islamic countries prepare foods in accordance with halal guidelines. So it's not just a North American thing, it's international.

Oh yeah, apparently KFC products are the most popularly requested items for death row inmates' final meals.


So usually George cleans the KFC's in our area on Monday. But sometimes, due to holidays or exceptionally bad weather, the schedule gets changed. That's usually when I get called in to get things back on schedule. So one day he sent me to clean the windows both inside and outside of a KFC... on degreasing day.

I rang the bell and the manager let me in. (It's much easier to clean a restaurant before there are any customers inside.) As I went in, I couldn't help but notice the giant noisy tanker truck with the hoses, sitting behind the restaurant. The nice manager lady explained to me that it was degreasing day. She explained that they basically vacuum out the scum and grease that collect in the bottom of the chicken frier's. Apparently this has to be done regularly or the stuff will rot and then the chicken will get contaminated. Oh boy.

She was very serious and insisted that I listen carefully. So I listened, wondering what any of this had to do with me. I was just there to clean the windows. She explained to me that most people cannot stand to be inside during degreasing because the smell makes them sick. I laughed. She shook her head. She explained that it was not a laughing matter. Some employees actually throw up uncontrollably the first time they are present for a degreasing.


I said I'd go outside if it got too bad and went ahead and started cleaning. The degreaser guys started up their equipment and the air began to fill with rotting fried chicken and grease particulate. I calmly cleaned away, and when the smell hit me I thought "OH MY GOD!"... but I didn't barf. I was proud of myself. I kept cleaning.

The initial smell was a rose bouquet compared to the colossal stench when they exposed the lower, more rotten layers of filth. If death wore the worst cologne ever imagined and walked through a palliative care ward while vomiting and defecating, the odour would be a sad, pale imitation of the vile, putrid, festering unholiness that came out of those frier's.

It got so bad I started to black out. I had to run outside and put my head between my knees. Even outside the smell was horrific.

After that, I couldn't eat KFC for more than a year.

Now, I laugh at horrible smells. When others turn green I smile and take a long deep breath. I survived degreasing day. Everything else is a walk past the Macy's perfume counter.

Next Story: The Great Timbit Incident

Previous Story: I Should Be Having A Rotten Day But I'm Happy

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

I Should Be Having a Rotten Day But I'm Happy

I had to get up at 5:30 this morning, to do some catch-up window work for George. Having to work on a day I was expecting to have off is usually enough to make me miserable. But today has been a descent into madness. Madness!

It started at 1:30 am when I had to get out of bed to call the police.

I wish to God I were making that up.

Some "how YOU doin'" construction worker left one of the excavation machines overnight in the schoolyard across from our house. Apparently they're tearing down some of the portables or something. Some good-for-nothing lackwit teenager who should have been at home in bed decided to vandalize said machine.

This all became evident when the horn / alarm on the machine went off. It was so loud that when I called the police dispatch room, the pleasant but bored dispatcher said, "Wow that's loud, I can hear that clearly over the phone!" Everyone wandered outside in trackpants and nighties to gaze at the noisy spectacle.

But wait, it gets better. Since it wasn't an actual emergency, the cops took their sweet time getting here. They took so long that the machine's battery died and the horn / alarm slowly dwindled until it sounded like a pathetic robot fart, if robots suffered from incontinence. Eventually it stopped, so I called the radio room back and told them the danger had passed. They were relieved, decided to cancel the call out, and went back to watching late night TV.

I went back to bed but was unable to sleep. ARGH.

So I got up at 5:30 and got started on the window cleaning jobs.

At 7:00, it started to rain. -sigh-

You might think that cleaning windows in the rain is impossible or at least, impractical, but let me tell you; with the proper training you can do ANYTHING in the rain. Well, maybe not Origami but pretty much anything else. I guess tailoring a wool suit in the rain would probably not work either. You know, the bad smell, the way the fabric turns itchy, the shrinkage.

Ok so maybe you can't do EVERYTHING in the rain, but you CAN clean windows.

Tomorrow I'll get into the HORRIFIC nightmare I experienced when I got to the KFC. I'll give you a hint. Two words.

Degreasing day.


P.S. Why am I happy? I just am. I could let it all get me down but instead... aw who am I kidding, I'm excited because Dad and I are going to see TRANSFORMERS this afternoon. Giant alien robots that disguise themselves as vehicles smashing each other to pieces and in the process, demolishing most of Los Angeles. YAY! It's pretty much the ultimate premise for a loud, summer action movie. I can't wait!

Next Story: The Worst Smell Ever

Previous Story: It's Canada Day!

Monday, July 2, 2007

It's Canada Day!

I woke up this morning and for some odd reason the first thing that came to my mind was how Canada is different from (read "better than") the United States. So in the spirit of fun, since it is the Canada Day long weekend, here are some of my half-baked insights.

We have Tim Horton's. Everywhere. Let me give you some current facts about Tim Horton's.

"Tim Hortons has supplanted McDonald's as Canada's largest food service operator; it has nearly twice as many Canadian outlets as McDonald's, and its system-wide sales surpassed those of McDonald's Canadian operations in 2002. The chain accounted for 22.6% of all fast food industry revenues in Canada in 2005. Tim Hortons commands 76% of the Canadian market for baked goods (based on the number of customers served) and holds 62% of the Canadian coffee market (compared to Starbucks, in the number two position, at 7%)."

Let's address that final statistic. Tim Hortons 62, Starbucks 7. Our coffee shop is also named after record-breaking NHL star Tim Horton who died tragically in an alcohol related car accident on Feb 21, 1974.

Starbucks is named after a Battlestar Galactica character with really bad hair.

On to celebrities. Canada has given the world comedians Jim Carrey, Mike Myers, and Dan Akroyd. America has given us Pauly Shore. Canada has given the world James Cameron, creator of The Terminator. America has given us director James Sargent, creator of Jaws 4: The Revenge, a film hailed as one of the worst films ever made. It also won the award for "Worst Special Effects" due to "Bruce", the painfully obvious small rubber shark model who roared. I am not making that up. In the movie the shark roars. Like some kind of aquatic lion.

Roars. Out loud. In the air.


Jack Bauer, America's darling anti-terrorist superhero? Played by Canadian actor Kiefer Sutherland. His tremendously hot daughter Kim Bauer? Played by Canadian vixen Elisha Cuthbert.

But perhaps the most powerful and frightening evidence of Canada's superiority comes in the form of James Tiberius Kirk. That's right, Mr. "I'm sorry, I can't hear you over the sound of how awesome I am." was brought to life by Canadian thespian William Shatner.

And for those who still aren't convinced. Two words.

Wayne Gretzky

Number 99... a.k.a "The Great One". The greatest hockey player who ever lived.

And the truly scary part? I haven't even scraped the surface.

Next Story: I Should Be Having a Rotten Day But I'm Happy

Previous Story: Sales Clerks - Where Do They Get These Guys?

Vote For June's Post of the Month

I know June didn't have as many posts as May or April did, but with Blogger locking Popular Fiction and my crazy schedule, things just got out of hand. I know there aren't many to choose from but please, post a comment and vote for your favorite story. Here's the complete list for your convenience.

P.S. I promise there will be more posting in July. Back on Schedule!

If Animals Could Talk It Would Be Scary
The Time I Almost Died
The Time I Almost Got Run Over by a Bus
Frodo and the Old Nazi
Excuse Me Sir, There's a Tree in Your Car
Sorry Buddy
Sometimes the Funny Just Isn't There
Roast Beef Is Not For Puppies
Even The Dog Won't Eat It
CIBC Lost My Bank Account
Sales Clerks - Where Do They Get These Guys?

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