Saturday, December 31, 2005

Year-End Musings

In the grand tradition of year-end musings I offer my own version of lessons learned in 2005.

[A note to MP readers: I have chosen the four most important lessons I have learned so that when you too travel to Canada you can carry a print out of these lessons in your wallet very inconspicuously. Trust me, you will be glad to have a copy of these lessons on hand for future reference. I wish someone had armed me with this knowledge before crossing the border.]

Lesson 1: Be wary of children under 10 years old in the Ikea food court.

On two different occasions young children accosted me. On the first occasion I was sitting at a table in the food court waiting for TW to return with our food when a girl of middling height and middling size sat down at my table. When I asked her if she was looking for someone she explained that she wanted my table for her family since I was clearly finished eating. I explained to her that she was mistaken and that my friend was on her way with our food. The middling size child shrugged and in reply told me that it was "not fair for of me to save a table when others who had food could not find a place to sit". I looked at her perplexed and responded, "If I gave this table to you then wouldn't you also be depriving someone, with food in hand, of a place to sit." She smiled sheepishly and said, "But I'm a cute kid and they would understand." We both sat our ground until TW returned to the table with our food. At that point I said to the middling girl, "We have food now so this is our table. See ya."

On the second occasion, TW and I were sitting and finishing our meal and enjoying some quiet conversation when a girl, seemingly tall for her age, came up to us and said, "Are you done?" Since we still had huge portions of eggs on our plates we responded that we were not yet done. This, however, did not deter the freakishly tall girl. Instead she remained standing within one foot of our table and stared at us. TW and I tried to ignore her but her gaze beat down on us from on high and we could not concentrate. As a result, we gave up our table and took our plates and our eggs and stood in a corner of the room trying to finish them without further disruption. However, in mid-bite another child came up to us, pointed at her jackets and gloves on the floor, and informed us that she was saving that corner for her family. We conceded her point and left.

Lesson 2: Canadians take their picket lines very, very seriously.

Canadians take worker rights very seriously. This is definitely an admirable quality but to an outsider it also seems a bit, how shall I put it, overzealous. During my brief time in Canada I have been witness to over 10 striking unions including K-12 teachers, phone company workers, Red Cross workers, and casino workers.

Most amazingly, however, a renegade union worker chose to picket one of the major East-West bus routes serving Vancouver and the outlying suburbs in an effort to galvanize the bus drivers to join her cause. The bus drivers affected by this renegade picket line took her picket line so seriously that instead of driving their buses they chose to eat donuts, drink coffee, and read the newspaper. As a result of her solo picket line she prevented thousands of people from getting to work. Oh Canada.

Lesson 3: The Barenaked Ladies will negatively impact your well-being if you listen to them too frequently.

Every time I turn on commercial radio I hear a refrain from some ubiquitous and sugary sweet Barenaked Ladies song. Even when I try to change the station I am haunted by their ever-present nasally voices. I make this plea to any and all radio DJs out there for myself and all other lovers of good music:

Please have a heart and stop the madness. Each and every time you play the Barenaked Ladies I tear another piece of hair out of my head. At last count TW found two bald patches on my head. So, if for no other reason, please stop playing "One Week", "If I had a $1,000,000" and "Be My Yoko Ono" so that I might retain a full and lush head of hair.

Lesson 4: Stock up on any and all cheeses before you enter Canada.

The cost of cheese in this country is so high that private charter bus companies offer trips to Bellingham, Washington to purchase cheese. TW and I are considering taking one of the trips at a cost of $25 per person just so that we can get our cheese fix.

I miss cheese so much that it not uncommon for me to dream of Gouda, Havarti, Jarlsberg, Muenster, Brie, Edam, Assiago, Goat, or Parmesan cheeses while soundly asleep.

These lessons are no joke. Heed my words if you want to live a happy and healthy existence while in Canada.

Happy New Year.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

You will rue this day

TW and I were walking on a main street in downtown Vancouver on Boxing Day, the day after Christmas. Prior to the walk TW failed to inform me that Boxing Day is a huge shopping holiday in Canada when thousands of people are on the streets "getting their shop on". I panicked when I saw all the 50%-70% off signs because I knew TW would want to shop. In an attempt to preempt her shopping needs I sought an agreeable solution for the two of us. I informed her that I would be willing to accompany her into three total stores but beyond that she was on her own. She begrudgingly agreed.

TW requested that we walk up and then down each side of the street twice so that she could look inside each of the store windows to assess the worthiness of each sale. This time I begrudgingly agreed. As we walked up and then down each side of the street we weaved in and out of the throngs of people standing in roped-off lines waiting to get into various stores.

After much deliberation TW chose a line for us to stand in. I asked her if she knew which store we were lining up for and she admitted to me that she was not sure since the line was so long it required that we line up around the block. We stood in the line for close to 15 minutes before we finally turned the corner. When we did turn the corner we saw that the stores on the horizon included five high-end clothing stores and the Levi's store. As our line moved we continued to pass one high-end clothing store after another. When we passed the final high-end store I knew for sure that we had not chosen our line wisely and were in line for the Levi’s store.

When we were within spitting distance of the store entrance I noticed that there were two bouncers standing at the door counting the number of patrons entering and exiting, checking bags, and stamping hands. I also noticed that there was a DJ standing in the storefront window spinning house music on three turntables. I could not help thinking why anyone would want Levi's jeans so badly that they would endure this experience but then I realized that we, too, were enduring this experience.

When we walked into the store the smell of body odor, hair spray, and bad cologne mingled to create a powerful and unwelcome stench. I began to gag and asked TW if we could leave the store. She, however, gave me one of her "are you crazy looks" so we stayed.

To make the experience bearable I began to look through hundreds and hundreds of jeans. When I finally found my size I walked up the clerk policing the changing rooms and asked if I could try on the jeans. She laughed in my face and explained to me that I would have to take a number. I responded incredulously, "A number? Are you serious?" She assured me that she was and pointed out the machine dispensing the numbers. I noticed that there were multitudes of people waiting in line to grab numbers so I immediately got in line too. When I finally got to the front I grabbed number 68 only to realize that the number called most recently was 49. So in an effort to pass the time quickly I found a seat by the DJ table and watched people shop/dance.

When I finally heard the announcer call my number over the loudspeaker I jumped up and began to weave in and out of other shopper/dancers to get to the front. I was not even close to the changing rooms when I heard the announcer say, "Final call for 68. Number 68 you have five more seconds before we move on to the next number." I tried to yell that I was coming but it was so loud in the store that I could not be heard. In another attempt to be noticed I began to flail my arms but instead of getting the announcers attention I hit another patron in the face knocking her glasses off her face and onto the floor. When I stopped to apologize to the woman I had knocked out I knew I had missed my chance to try on the jeans in my hands.

When I finally reached the announcer I tried to explain what had happened but I could tell by her expression that I was not the first sob story of the day. After much haranguing I finally convinced her to let me slide in when/if someone else did not show up when his/her number was called. As a result I stood and waited for someone to miss their chance too. I was about to give up when number 89 did not show up. I cheered loudly and was escorted into a changing room.

While in the changing room I slipped the pants over one leg and then the other. However, within seconds I realized I misread the label and had grabbed pants three sizes too small in the waist and one size to long in the in-seam. I feared that if I left the changing room that I would not be able to get back in without taking yet another number. So I peaked out the door and tried to see if TW was anywhere in site so that she could find me the right pants size. I did not see her but I did see a 12 year old girl waiting for her sister so my problem solving skills moved into overdrive.

I called the girl over and asked her if she would be willing to go find TW. She looked at me slightly confused until I told her I would pay her $5. I gave her a cursory description of TW, short hair, glasses, 5’ 6”, and sent her on her way. Within five minutes she was back with a woman who matched the description I had given but was not TW. I apologized to the woman for bothering her and asked the girl to try one more time. This time she came back with a man fitting my vague description and knew that I was out $5 and out a pair of pants.

As I readied to leave the changing room I caught a glimpse of TW and yelled at the top of my lungs to get her attention. When TW came over to me I told her of my dilemma and asked her to find my size. She agreed to venture out into the store to find my pants. When she returned with the pants the look on her face implied, “These pants better fit because I am not going out there again.”

The pants fit perfectly and I was ready to purchase. However, when I got to the front of the line the sales clerk informed me that the price on the pants was misprinted and they were not $15 but $115 on sale. I turned to TW and said, "Can I borrow a $115?' TW responded, “I will not allow you to pay $115 for a pair of Levi’s jeans!” As she dragged me out of the store to the thumping base of the house music I said, "$115 is a small price to pay when you consider that they frame my butt so well. TW trust me when I say, you will rue this day. You will rue this day."

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

My head hurts...

I was flipping through the 150 digital cable stations on our TV today and heard an "ultra-hip" snowboarder quoted as saying, "If you want Hollywood you go to Whistler. If you want church-Hollywood then you go to Salt Lake City. If you want church then you go to church. If you want the real deal then you go to Banff."

My head hurts trying to decipher the meaning of this quote. Can someone in the know please explain it to me so that I, too, might be "ultra-hip"?

Monday, December 26, 2005

A Dream Deferred

The other day I needed two passport pictures so I stepped into one of those ubiquitous photo stores that promise "passport pictures in minutes". As I stood waiting for the pictures, far longer than the promised five minutes, I realized that this was no ordinary store. Instead, this was a photo store where the DVD-R reigned as king. I made this realization when I noticed a TV monitor playing a five-minute video loop extolling the virtues of the DVD-R.

The loop begins with an instrumental fade-in of the "Chariots of Fire" theme song. As the song gets louder and moves closer to the first crescendo a jumble of letters arrive haphazardly on the screen in an alphabetical scramble. Within seconds the letters unscramble to read, "The Power of the DVD-R: See What It Can Do". Soon after, the song reaches the first crescendo and the letters re-scramble, slip across the screen, and the screen fades to black.

As the volume of the music lessens and returns to a more moderate level a 8mm reel to reel tape takes center stage on the screen. The tape floats on the screen as the background color of the screen fades from black, to bright blue, to fuchsia. As the music begins to crescendo again the tape is summarily banished from the screen. In its place is a glowing DVD-R. Once the crescendo ends the screen returns to black and the next object is introduced. The next item floating on the screen is a still camera, followed by a 35mm roll of film, then a videocassette, a video camera, and finally a digital camera from the era of the early 90's. Each of these objects is introduced as an outdated museum piece that does not compare to the virtues of the DVD-R.

As the song nears the final crescendo the video loop builds to a highly anticipated climax. The screen fades to black and remains black for what seems like 15 seconds. Then without warning, manufactured sunlight streams from the sky and a pair of hands are shown very gently and reverentially cupping a DVD-R. Without the use of words the image conveys the sentiment, "Look what my hands hath borne. I present to you a DVD-R."

At that very moment I knew I had to have one. I walked up to the counter and asked for a DVD-R. The clerk at the sales counter looked at me and said, “We don’t sell them here but we wish we did.” Alas, another dream deferred.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

A day in the life of a haus frau on holiday

TW and I are currently taking a break from our busy lives in Vancouver to spend some time with friends in Portland Oregon. However, TW's idea of a holiday and my idea of a holiday are vastly different. If I had my druthers we would wake up late, sit around in our jammies, read the paper, and ease into a day of coffee drinking, book browsing, and movie watching. TW, however, embraces each new city with gusto unmatched by any person I have ever met. Yesterday was no exception.

TW came into the bedroom and jarred me awake at 0800 hours by dripping water from her wet hair onto my head. When I asked her to stop she told me that I had to get out of bed immediately so that we could make it downtown before we lost our shopping momentum. I looked at her quizzically because I was unaware that I was required to possess "shopping momentum" on this trip. When I finally did get out of bed I could tell by TW's giddy reaction that she thought she had won the shopping war but she did not realize that the battle had just begun.

At 0845 hours we left the house and walked to the bus stop. We waited at the stop with those commuters not high enough on the totem pole to get out of work the day before Christmas Eve. When we arrived downtown and were greeted by a multitude of "closed" signs. After walking three blocks without finding even one store open I looked at TW and said, "You got me up for this?” When we finally found an open coffee shop we nursed our respective drinks until 0950 hours.

At exactly 1000 hours we began the shopping marathon. The marathon consisted of walking 15 feet, entering a nameless store, browsing the nameless products, exiting the nameless store, walking 15 feet, entering a nameless store, browsing the nameless products, exiting the nameless store. This pattern continued until 1200 hours when TW finally consented to a bathroom break. While in the bathroom I crafted my counterattack, "Shop Club".

When I emerged from the bathroom I implemented the counterattack plan. I told TW that if we were to do anymore shopping that she would need to abide by these few rules:

1st RULE: You do not talk about SHOP CLUB.
2nd RULE: You DO NOT talk about SHOP CLUB.
3rd RULE: If someone says, "stop" or goes limp the shopping is over.
4th RULE: One store at a time.
5th RULE: Shirts and shoes must be worn while shopping.
6th RULE: Shopping will go on as long as it has to.
7th RULE: If this is your first time at a nameless store, you HAVE to shop.

This last rule required that TW try on at least three items of clothing at each and every store when/if there was a pleasant seating area for me to rest my weary legs.

At 1300 hours we resumed shopping. The first store we entered sold shoes. TW tried on three pairs of shoes and we left without a purchase but my legs felt rejuvenated. As we continued onward TW was soon seduced by another window display. When we walked into the store TW soon realized that the store sold ballet gear including tutus. TW began to backpedal when I reminded her of the 7th Rule of Shop Club, "If this is your first time at a nameless store, you HAVE to shop".

I sat back on the couch and watched TW squirm. First she picked up a pink tutu but I told her that pink is too cliché and that she needed to venture "outside the box". She headed my advice and put the pink tutu back on the rack and gathered up three other tutus, one green, one red, and one camouflage. As she tried on each tutu I required that she come out of the dressing room and twirl. Oh how I reveled in the absurdity of the moment.

As we continued to shop I kept a running tally of all that I required TW to try on so that I might remind her of this day when she suggests that we shop again. In all, TW tried on two cowboy hats, one bowler hat, two pairs of mittens, one pair of gloves, two dresses, one skirt, three jackets, one pair of pants, two pairs of shorts, three pairs of socks, two pairs of glasses, one monocle, and three pairs of leather chaps including one with fringe tassels.

Finally at 1500 hours the shopping war of attrition ended and I declared victory. However, I soon learned that TW actually won. While I sat watching and waiting in the wings, TW purchased some great wares including a doorstop in the shape of a banana, cowboy adhesive strips, and two books. I purchased nothing.

Oh how I want that doorstop.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Guns, Heart Monitors, and Maple Leafs

In an attempt to appease the English speakers in Canada, the top four parliamentary candidates participated in yet another debate - this time in English. The format of the debate mimicked the "town hall" meetings made popular during the Clinton era in the United States. However, in this case there was no "town" in the "hall". Rather, "people on the street" peppered the candidates with pre-recorded questions from their homes, their places of work, and their gun shops.

The first question came from a woman standing on a cold and snowy street in Montreal. She stood bundled in a puffy coat, hat, mittens, gloves, and two scarves while asking a three-part question on the subject of gay marriage. Her casual demeanor belied the fact that she was likely experiencing frost bite on her two little toes, her nose, and her right ring finger.

The second question came from a nurse, dressed in scrubs, who stood in front of a heart monitor machine and an empty gurney. She asked a question about health care which given the backdrop did not surprise me. What concerned me most about this question was what happened to the patient who until that moment lay on that now empty gurney and heart monitor machine.

The third question came from a man, surrounded by a backdrop of rifles, shotguns, and handguns. He asked the candidates about thier views on gun control. It was at this point in the debate that I sensed a theme. I suggested to TW that we not only watch the debate as passive observers but also participate in the debate. She did not immediately understand my request until I said, "This is the perfect opportunity to create a new drinking game."

I suggested to her that every time the camera panned to a "person on the street" we guess what question will be asked based on the background cues. The person that is wrong would be forced to drink. She reluctantly agreed.

We continued to watch the debate with great interest as a woman in a nursery asked about child care, a man on a soccer field asked about youth sports, a woman in a museum asked about funding for the arts, a man in a car asked about the high cost of car insurance, a woman surrounded by old growth trees asked about environmental conservation, and a man in a bright orange neon hunting vest asked about hunting rights. Since TW and I were able to guess every question without error we decided to add more complexity to the game.

In addition to guessing the question correctly I suggested that we also guess the number of times the camera would pan to the 10ft. X 10ft. Maple Leaf painted on the floor in front of the candidate podiums, the order in which the candidates would respond to each question, and the amount of righteous indignation the conservative candidate would invoke when responding to questions about gay marriage. This last aspect of the game was a little harder to assess since it was somewhat subjective but I insisted we try because what is more enjoyable than making fun of a right wing zealot.

By the end of the debate we had plowed through a once full bottle of wine, two beers, and three shots of whiskey. It goes without saying that we are now both looking forward to the next debate with great anticipation.

Friday, December 16, 2005

All Canadians Must Now Eat Horseradish!

As much as I like Canada there is one thing about this country that terrifies me - French speakers. I failed French in high school and have never recovered from the terror of sitting in a classroom full of teenagers whizzing back and forth in incomprehensible French.

I raise this issue because last night the four major parliamentary candidates engaged in a debate - in French. I feared flashbacks to high school French class so I chose not to watch the debate. Instead, I immersed myself in all things English including cricket, fish and chips, darts, and Guinness.

When I returned home from my gluttonous night on the town I turned on the news and came head to head with the news coverage of the debate. At first I considered changing the channel but then I realized that the only way to overcome this fear of French and French speakers is to face it head on. I decided watching the news coverage of the debate would be like eating bran cereal - it is terrible going down the gullet but ultimately good for you once you are finished.

Once the news coverage began I settled into the couch, closed my eyes, and braced myself for the worst. The newscaster began the coverage by discussing one of the primary issues of the debate, childcare. I knew the next step would be to pan to each of the candidates and listen to each of their responses to the question - in French. So I breathed deeply and held on tightly to the couch pillows. When the first candidate began to respond I could not hear any French. Instead I heard an "Iron Chef" style voice-over translation of the French into English.

Much like the Iron Chef, each of the translators overtly enunciated each word making their speech pattern seem awkward, stiff, and somewhat Eastern European. In addition, the lips of each of the candidates moved faster than the translation making it feel like I was watching a badly dubbed Kung-Fu movie. I could not believe the unintended comedy of the debate and continued to watch in stunned amazement.

At times I half expected one of the candidates to reply to a question by saying, 'I quite enjoyed the use of horseradish in the dessert. The taste is disguised quite well but still offers an edge to the chocolate éclair. If I am elected I will make it policy that all Canadians must consume horseradish in 60% of all dishes they eat." Delicious.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

The Life of Leisure

You know that you are a haus frau when....

1. You start seeing reruns of Oprah.
2. You know the laundry schedule by heart.
3. You can predict to the minute when the mail will arrive.
4. You let the dishes pile up in the sink so that when you do them it is an event.
5. You engage in in-depth conversations with telemarketers so that you can remember what your voice sounds like. Sometimes you even ask them to call you again later in the day so that you can continue the conversation.
6. You organize all of your books by the color of the spine.
7. You count the number of times each day you use your bus pass to ensure that you get all that is coming to you.

Ah, the life of leisure.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

I stand corrected

In my previous blog entry I mentioned "the Queen of England is on every single piece of major currency from the quarter, to the toonie, to the $20 bill on up." I, however, stand corrected.

I recently had the chance to hold $50 and $100 bills, which is rare for an unemployed ex-pat haus frau. When I looked at the bills I noted that the Queen is not on either of those bills. Instead old, white men grace the $50 and $100. Now that is what I am talking about - old white men on currency – just like home.

I really like the gumption of those Canadians to throw off their imperialist British oppressors by banishing the Queen to all currency under $20. You show 'em.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Revolution or Evolution - What's the Difference?

Recently when I went to the post office and asked for a book of stamps the postal worker asked if I would prefer the stamps with the profile or the frontal view of the Queen. I asked for clarification, "What Queen?" The postal worker said, "The Queen of England of course". I asked to view both sets of stamps and opted for the stamps with the profile.

Later that same day I ordered a soy hot chocolate at one of the five Starbucks around the corner from my house. When I was ready to pay for the hot chocolate the server was ensconced in a conversation so I had a few moments to really look, and I mean really look, at the $10 bill. I am not sure why but at that very moment it hit me that the Queen of England is on every single piece of major currency from the quarter, to the toonie, to the $20 bill on up.

Both of these incidents raised two critical questions. Question 1: Is Canada still British a colony? Question 2: If Canada is not currently a British colony, then why is the Queen still such a prominent force in the country?

On a quest to find answers to my questions I opted to go to one of the most knowledgeable sources around - the reference librarian at the public library. When I walked into the central library I noticed a bespectacled man sitting at the reference desk reading The Enquirer. Since he seemed wrapped up in his "research" I stood as his desk and waited patiently for him to notice me.

When he looked up from The Enquirer I waved at him to make sure he noticed me. When I was sure he saw me I asked, "Is Canada still a British colony?" In answer to this question he politely laughed. He then explained to me that Canada is not a colony but has always had a "very polite, long relationship with British government." I retorted, "Then why does the Queen hold such a prominent place on Canadian currency and Canadian stamps?"

In response to my last question, his polite demeanor waned and he asked in an irritated voice, "Are you an American?!" I explained that I am indeed American and asked why he wanted to know. He explained that at least once a year he is peppered with questions about Canada's colonial status. He then went on to explain that it is almost always Americans who ask these questions. I pushed further and asked, "Who, other than Americans, ask you questions about Canada's colonial past?" He responded, "Actually, I was being polite. No one but Americans ever ask if Canada is still a colony."

At this point he was visibly annoyed but went on to explain that there was "No Canadian revolution, but instead an evolution. Britain ceased to be involved in Canada's internal affairs in 1867. In 1982 Pierre Trudeau, the former Prime Minister of Canada, retrieved the constitution from the British. Specifically, he went to British Parliament with the intention of bringing the constitution back to Canada."

As the librarian continued with his canned presentation I could not get the image of a French speaking older white man in a tailored suit boarding a plane, landing at Heathrow airport, taking a taxi to the British Parliament, knocking on the door, and demanding the Canadian constitution. I can only imagine his rallying cry, "Please give me the constitution or else we will spread rumors about what you wear under those wigs." I am sure the Brits were quaking in their boots.

When the reference librarian finally ended he asked if I had any final questions. I said, “Only one. Did he take a private plane or did he fly business class?"

Friday, December 09, 2005

Another night I will never get back...

Although I consider myself to possess a fairly sophisticated sense of humor there are times in my life when I wonder, what is so funny? Last night was one of those times.

Last night, TW and I went to go see a former 90's lesbian queercore punk rocker perform a solo comedy show. The local alternative weekly billed the event as a “queer, homohop, punk rock, standup comedy on transgender bodies, feminism, family, and community.” As an aside, I am not much for stand-up comedy but TW loved this musician in her heyday and was eager to see the show, so we went. I realize now, that was a mistake.

When we arrived at the bar we paid the $12 cover and ordered a couple of beers. We milled around for a bit drinking our beers and talking to other friends. When we learned the show was about to start we looked for two seats together. Unfortunately, all of the aisle seats were taken so we took two interior seats.

As soon as we sat down the performer jumped on stage and the "fun" began. As she stepped to the microphone a blaring base rhythm began to emanate from the speakers. The performer then pulled out two small stuffed animals. She introduced both animals, one a teddy bear wearing a pleather jacket and the other a seal. She then proceeded to give them anthropomorphic voices. In those two distinct voices she began to make the animals sing.

The bear began with the phrase, "You shut up." The seal responded, "No you shut up." The animals went back and forth with this combination of phrases for close to five minutes. After the first five minutes the performer asked the audience to join in. Soon all those around me were chanting, "You shut up. No you shut up. You shut up. No you shut up." I was holding my head and wishing that everyone would shut-up. To my surprise my mental machinations worked and the crowd soon shut-up. Unfortunately, the performer did not get the message.

Once the "shut-up" piece ended the performer proceeded to try her hand at comedy. It soon became clear, however, that she never learned the basics of comedic timing. All of her punch lines fell flat, her stories dragged on well past their natural ending point, and her jokes - well let's just say - were not the least bit funny. However, as I looked around the room I observed heads thrown back in gales of laughter, huge smiles, and guffaws. I could not, for the life of me, understand what was so funny.

I wanted to get "it" so I tried really, really hard. I let my guard down by looking inside myself and trying to find my more base sense of humor. I even tried to smile non-stop just so I was that much closer to laughing. As hard as I tried I could not figure out how to make myself laugh at jokes that would make a 14-year-old boy hyped up on hormones fall off his chair in uncontrollable chortles of laughter.

TW and I were ready to leave within the first 10 minutes of the show but since we sat in interior seatswe were boxed in by endless chairs, bags, and people. So we decided to give the performer the benefit of the doubt that she would finish her first set within the standard 45 minutes. We would then duck out at the intermission. However, to our chagrin when the 45-minute mark rolled around there was no end in sight. Instead the performer continued well past the hour mark. When the performer hit the hour and 15 minute mark TW and I grabbed our jackets and began to move through the human gauntlet. However, the performer saw us immediately and yelled out, "Don't get antsy. I'm almost done." After the public shaming we immediately sat back down.

As we sat in our chairs we continued to wait patiently with the knowledge that she was "almost done". As we waited she began at least 5 new jokes/stories, each taking close to 7-10 minutes to complete. The remainder of the show, from the point at which she yelled the phrase "I'm almost done" to the show's completion, took close to 50 more minutes. In total, the show lasted over two hours. When the performer finally uttered the words, "Thank you. Good night." I looked at TW in shocked amazement and said, "Let's make a break for it."

The evening was so traumatic for the two of us that we have been unable to communicate with each other about the events of the previous night. I am not sure we will ever be able to speak of that night again. Another night bites the dust...

Thursday, December 08, 2005

I must have been in Vegas when the government fell....

The Canadian government toppled last week. A coalition of minority parties ganged up on the party in control and politely demanded a "no confidence" vote - the end result of the vote was to topple the government. I am still wrapping my head around the concept of politely toppling a government.

The reaction on the Canadian news stations and in the local papers to the toppling of the government was fairly blasé. For every one article about the toppling of the government there were two, if not three, articles about the National Hockey League. One of the local news stations even spent three solid days focused on the trade of Joe Thornton from the Boston Bruins to the San Jose Sharks and the impact of this trade on the entire league.

I could not understand this "take it in stride attitude" so I dug deeper. I asked several average Canadians their thoughts about the toppling of the government and the responses I received further confounded me.

How did you react when the liberal government toppled?

"Huh, the government toppled. It must have happened when I was in Vegas."
"It's the first time in 14 years - I guess it was due."
"Hmm. Do you know where I will be able to vote in this neighborhood? I should find out."
"I'm not too worried. We will bounce back."

Since I did not have the answers I needed I turned to the undisputed arbiter of news, CNN. I camped out in front of the TV watching CNN Headline News eagerly waiting for a story on the toppling of the Canadian parliament. I watched the TV for close to five hours. The only mention of the recent events in my adopted country was displayed on the headline news ticker. The ticker read, "The liberal government of Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin loses a no confidence vote. Elections to be held in January 2006." I could not believe that a news station that spent three solid weeks and countless human and monetary resources on the "runaway bride story" could not send a reporter up to Canada to cover this story.

I guess I should thank my lucky stars that the government, and not the NHL, toppled. Now that would be national news – I think.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Don't I know you?

I took my car in for service today. While I sat waiting in the dealership lobby for the shuttle driver to arrive I picked up the local newspaper. As I scanned the paper I noticed a picture of Jake Gyllenhaal. The caption below the picture read, "Heath Ledger is enjoying life as a new dad, at home in New York with four-week-old Matilda and his wife Michelle Williams." I was a bit confused by the juxtaposition of the picture of Jake Gyllenhaal with a caption of Heath Ledger so I examined the entire page trying to find the story about Jake Gyllenhaal. To my surprise, there was no story.

After much thought, I deduced that since Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger, are playing gay cowboys in the upcoming film, Brokeback Mountain, that they are now victims of the "gay male clone" syndrome even though they are not gay men.

I think I speak for all lesbians with short, spiky hair who have been confused with other lesbians with short, spiky hair, that it is nice to know that all straight men look alike too.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

The Great Cheddar Burger Incident of 2005

Since TW and I could not afford to go on a honeymoon we opted for the second best thing - lunch out. We chose a restaurant in downtown Vancouver that we had not yet been to but had heard served great food.

When we arrived at the restaurant we waited to be seated. There were plenty of empty tables but the server was chatting with a friend on the phone. She looked askance in our direction and waved at us. Her glare and wave implied to us that she would be there to seat us when she was good and ready. We stood and waited for at least five minutes until she finally got off the phone. She finally came over and sat us at one of the many free tables.

Since we were both starving we immediately looked at the menu. I ordered a cheddar burger with a side of hash browns and a glass of water. TW ordered eggs benedict with salmon served on a bagel and a glass of water. Our waters arrived almost immediately. When the server put each water glass on the table she said, "That is going to cost you." Both TW and I thought she was joking so we laughed and thought nothing of the comment. It was only much later in the meal that we realized our server was not one prone to jokes.

When the meal arrived we immediately began eating. My cheddar burger was all I anticipated it to be. The burger was a full 8 ounces of meat covered with a pile of shredded cheddar cheese, ripe tomatoes, sliced pickles, raw onions, and a layer of lettuce. The burger was so sizable that I filled up almost immediately. I could not even attempt to eat the hash browns without making myself sick. In the meantime TW finished her eggs benedict and salmon but left the bagel on the plate untouched. We then placed our knives and forks in the five o'clock position and waited for the server to pick up our plates and give us our check.

When the server came to the table she asked in a very stern voice, "Are you done?!" We both replied that yes we were indeed finished. She then said, "Are you sure?" We looked at her again and both informed her that we were indeed sure. She then left the table, without our plates, and walked toward the cash register. When she returned to the table she slammed a tin coin bank onto our table. The loud, clanging bang startled us and got the full attention of the other 10 patrons in the restaurant. She then said, "I have to fine each of you a dollar since you did not finish your meal." I promptly replied, "Fine me? Are you in cahoots with the Japanese restaurant down the street?!" She was not interested in my witty repartee and got back down to business. She replied to my attempted joke with a very unyielding, "You must each put a dollar in the tin before you can leave the restaurant." Since I had failed to sweet talk our server TW made her own attempt. She said, "I thought I ordered a low carb meal. I did not realize there would be a bagel included." The server, undeterred, repeated her mantra, "You must each put a dollar in the tin before you can leave the restaurant."

I realized at that moment that our humorless server was not joking. As she stared at me I began to search my pockets for any and all change but could not find a dollar or anything that could pass for a dollar. I turned to TW and asked her if I could borrow a dollar but she said she only had fifty cents and that I would have to fend for myself. We continued to search for money under the watchful eye of our server until she got fed up with us. She finally said, "While you two work out who does and does not have money I am going to leave this can on the table and go take another order." As she walked away she turned back and as an afterthought said, "Don't steal it."

Once she left the table I turned to TW and said, "Let's not worry about it. When she comes back we can tell her that we put money in the can - she will never know the difference." TW did not like this idea so she continued to search her pockets, her wallet, and the bottom of her bag. She found seventy-two cents and put it all in the can. Since I did not have any change I decided to take the gamble that our server would not notice the difference.

When the server returned to the table she immediately picked up the tin. She shook the tin vigorously back and forth. Once she finished this ritual she looked at the two of us and said, "One of you did not put any money in the tin," I said, "Huh. How could you possibly know that?" She replied, "I have been working here for 15 years - trust me, I can tell. If I were to guess I would conjecture you might have put a few nickels, dimes, and maybe even a quarter or two into the tin but neither of you put a full dollar in the can." She took her parlor trick one step further and said, "I would guess that you put between sixty-seven and seventy-five cents in the tin." At that moment we knew we were beat. I admitted to putting nothing in the tin and informed her that TW put seventy-two cents in the tin. The server responded, "I like your moxy. I'll let you go this time but do not and I repeat do not try to get away with this again."

TW and I skipped out of the restaurant like giddy school-girls because we were free. As we skipped down the road I asked TW when she wanted to go back. She stopped mid-skip like a cartoon character and said, "Go back?!" I said, "Yes, that burger was so good. Public humiliation is a small price to pay for a good burger."


Friday, December 02, 2005

Name Changes

Even before GF and I got hitched we spent many hours, days, and weeks talking about whether or not to change our names. We hemmed and hawed and hemmed some more and finally decided to go for it!

We decided that I will remain Mini Proportions because I do not want to disappoint my fans but GF will take on a new pseudonym. Instead of being referred to in blog entries as GF she will now be known as TW (the wife).

Please make a note of this change wherever it is you make these kind of notes.

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