Wednesday, May 31, 2006

No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service - Please

One month prior to moving away from Baltimore I went to a coffee shop where I stood in line with a shirtless man sporting a hairy chest and back. I waited for the barista to request that he put his shirt back on but she never did. I gagged on my coffee. I let that experience go because I thought for sure when moving to Canada I would leave this gauche behavior behind but - I thought wrong.

Yesterday, while I sat at my neighborhood coffee shop, two professionals presumably on their lunch hour sat down in the armchairs next to me. I briefly glanced at them trying to deduce what, aside from work, might connect them since they seemed to sit uncomfortably with one another trying to find conversational topics.

The man, in his early 40’s, wore a blue blazer, crisp white button down shirt, gray tie, conservative tan pants, and matching brown shoes and belt. The woman, in her early 50’s, wore an entirely white t-shirt material outfit of kulat pants and matching shirt. She accented her white post-Labor Day look with white shoes and white purse.

Then, without any warning, the man stood up, sat on the coffee table separating their two armchairs, and pointed to the woman’s feet. She immediately slipped off her shoes, lifted her feet in the air, and placed them securely in his crotch. He proceeded to rub her shoeless feet – for 15 minutes.

He rubbed. She moaned. I waited for someone – anyone – to ask him or her to stop. This did not happen.

So: I asked him to rub my feet next. He declined.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Canadian Cultural Imperialism?

I am a slave to reality TV. I know it is passé but I cannot help myself. The high drama and the twists and turns of the manufactured mini-contests within the larger meta-contest (like the time each of the aspiring models were required to wear 10 inch heels and walk the runway), draw me in. So now that American Idol and America's Next Top Model are finished for the season I am in reality TV withdrawal. But fortunately for me I live in Canada.

I recently discovered that Canadian Idol and Canada's Next Top Model begin in Canada this week. I love this Canadian nod to American’s basest level - yet another example of America’s cultural imperialism.

With the advent of these copycat programs it got me thinking: are there any examples of Canadian cultural imperialism? I thought not – mostly because Canadians are so polite – but as a true investigative blogger I went on a search anyway.

Within minutes of beginning this search I found a website celebrating the successes of Canadian historical figures. On this site, I discovered a video re-enactment of a dandified explorer named Jean Nicollet who in 1634 sought to find a trade route to China.

According to the video’s narrative, he pushed through the wilderness “searching for the Western sea.” As the video progresses, Nicollet discovers a large body of water and is confident that it is the Pacific Ocean. Nicollet convincingly exclaims, “The Sea. China.”

I, a sucker for any and all underdogs who persevere through seemingly impossible conditions, felt my eyes well up at this early Canadian success story. Then as I was about to leave my desk to find a tissue I heard the senatorial voice of the narrator proclaim, “But Jean Nicollet was wrong – it was lake Michigan not the pacific.” Upon hearing this pronouncement my eyes stopped welling up and I started to giggle, guffaw, and chuckle heartily.

So, as an American very familiar with the process of cultural imperialism here is a note to all Canadians: if you want to take over American airwaves I would recommend that the first step in the process is to stop celebrating Canadian failures. Seriously, I can’t think of any American who, on the fourth of July, celebrates the “other guy” on Paul Revere’s journey through Boston.

It’s just a thought – do with it what you will.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Heebie Jeebies

There is just something so utterly disturbing about a sixteen-year-old high school student with a full grown moustache.

I saw one today.

Three hours, two bus rides, and a hearty tuna salad later I still have the willies. Yick.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

How does this $200 T-shirt look on me?

A few days ago, on an especially hot and sunny day, TW decided that she wanted to buy some new summer pants. So we went on a shopping excursion.

Even though I hate shopping, I decided to accompany her on this quest since she would be leaving town for two weeks and I would not see her during that time. However, midway through the day - as soon as the sweat started rolling down my face, sunscreen started stinging my eyes, and my feet started feeling like stumps - I started to regret my accommodating decision.

So: when we arrived at a high end store where I could not even afford the cheapest piece of clothing – a pair of $150 cut off jeans – I decided to take a seat. While I sat resting my stumpy feet I noticed a smattering of decorative books adorning the shelves. So in an effort to entertain myself while TW shopped I headed to the shelves and scanned the books. After inspecting the books – mostly classics I read in high school – I chose the Charlotte Bronte classic - Jane Eyre.

I took the book back to my seat and immediately became so engrossed in the goings on of Jane that I lost track of TW in the store. Then about fifteen minutes later TW came to find me to request that we leave since she too realized that she could not afford the clothes. I explained to her that I was really interested in reading a bit more so asked that she continue onward and come back to find me when she finished shopping for the day. She agreed.

Fearing that a salesperson might wonder why I sat in the store alone reading I decided to look up every so often, mimic feigned interest in the shoppers in the store, and look at my imaginary watch. This tactic worked – for 45 minutes.

Then, one of the salespeople – a twenty-something woman wearing size two pants – asked if I was waiting for someone. I explained that I was waiting for TW but that she was actually in another store. The bemused salesperson stammered, “Uh. Well. I ask that you please leave since you are not shopping and you seemingly have no plans to buy anything.” Aghast, I pointed at the book in my hand, “Well, I am planning to buy this copy of Jane Eyre.” She chuckled, “Those books are not for sale. We use them to show off our fabulous foot ware. When you picked up the book you might have noticed the Van sneakers we sell for $300.” Not ready to give up my seat I asked, “Well, if I buy the sneakers do I get the book for free?” She told me no but after a protracted argument/discussion she relented.

So, I spent the next twenty minutes trying on Vans – none fit. But I swear, some day that book will be mine. All mine.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Gotta Have Heart

I recently saw a moving truck advertising the services of: "Two Small Men with Big Hearts." I considered hiring them for all of my future moves but then realized that a small man with a big heart is actually a heart attack waiting to happen. So I guess I shouldn't move until I find two big men with small hearts.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

A night like no other

At 10:25pm last night, TW and I discovered that we were in dire need of a toilet plunger. So, as she is apt to do, TW jumped on the computer and found a drugstore open until 11pm. The store in question, within walking distance on a normal day when a jaunty stroll is in order, was just far enough away that it required we jump on a bus if we were to make it in time.

At 10:28pm we sprinted out the front door. Actually neither of us has the lung capacity to sprint so we put our arms and hips into the proper position and attempted to speed walk to the bus stop. However, since neither of us really has the hip strength required for such a physically demanding sport we soon slowed to a relaxed lope.

At 10:37pm we reached the bus stop. We looked far down the horizon for a bus, any bus, but did not see any coming. So: we waited.

At 10:43pm the bus finally arrived. We boarded. The bus lurched forward. We looked for the drugstore from the dirty bus windows. TW looked at her watch and calculated the number of minutes remaining before the store closed. We prayed.

At 10:50pm we disembarked from the bus – at the wrong stop. So: as we watched the bus roll forward to the correct stop we speed walked – again. We prayed – again.

At 10:54pm we reached the store entrance.

At 10:55pm we reached the hardware aisle but could not find a plunger. We searched frantically.

At 10:56pm a woman in her early twenties asked our opinion about which martini glasses she should buy. We tried to put her off by ignoring her request but she insisted. So, we asked her to show us the glasses so we could give her a quick assessment but she explained that the glasses were two aisles away.

At 10:57pm I tried to explain to her our toilet situation but she seemed perplexed so I relented and followed her to the martini glass aisle. I recommended she choose the glasses with the rounded stems. She agreed.

At 10:58pm the store manager announced that the checkout counter would be closing in sixty seconds. We continued to search. We prayed.

At 10:59pm we found the plungers. TW dashed to the only open checkout counter behind a man in his forties buying a stuffed teddy bear at 11pm on a Friday night.

At 11:01pm we questioned why a man in his forties would be buying a stuffed teddy bear at 11pm on a Friday night.

At 11:02pm we decided we did not want to know the answer.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

I feel rested.

Last week I fell asleep on the bus, at the movies, and analyzing the prices of the peanut butter jars at the grocery store. I told TW that I thought I had narcolepsy but TW told me that she dated a narcoleptic in college and assured me that I was not a narcoleptic. She also told me that I slept because I was just so easily bored. Of course TW re-thought her diagnoses when she discovered from one of her students that I fell fast asleep in her lecture class – while she lectured.

In an effort to defend myself for falling asleep during her lecture, I explained that even in college – where my grade depended on it – I fell asleep during each and every one of my art history classes. I told her that each time I sat in the darkened classroom auditorium the professor’s monotonous voice lulled me to sleep within seconds of his first word. I described to her how every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon my eyes closed, my mouth opened, my drool landed on my shirt, and my head bobbed back and forth on the chair as I slept through class. She seemed unimpressed by this explanation.

So I continued, “My guess is that when I fell asleep in your class it was my muscle memory kicking in – since my muscles are so used to sleeping in anything resembling a darkened classroom I could not help but sleep.” TW stopped listening to my explanation. She also stopped making me dinner. My guess is that she is still a little perturbed but that is just a guess because she also stopped talking to me too.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Have you done something different with your head?

I recently made a startling realization: I gained wait in my head.

Yesterday, in an effort to avoid the glare of the ruthless UV rays I pulled out my beloved 1975 replica Boston Red Sox fitted baseball cap. The cap – sized 7 and 5/8 – already marked my head as unusually large but I dealt with the trauma of my head size when I bought the cap in college because the cap fit me so perfectly. But now, when I put the cap on, it sits on top of my head like a beanie making me look like tweedle dum. As much as I try to pull the cap over my hair and down to my ears it is an effort in complete futility.

TW suggested I pull out some old pictures of me wearing the cap so that I might assess if my hair is bigger now than it was then. I checked. My hair is smaller – much, much smaller – than it ever was in college. Which conversely means that my head is just bigger – much, much bigger – than it ever was in college.

So: I decided to start the Atkins diet tomorrow in an effort to lose weight in my head. I’d like my head size to be down to 7 and 3/8 by the end of the month. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Your voice sounds strangely similar

As TW and I sat in our seats at an outdoor restaurant soaking up the sun we glanced at the drink menu debating whether or not to order pre-happy hour drinks. Then, when the server finally came to our table she asked, in a lilting voice reminiscent of a sultry, artificial, phone sex operator, "Do you need a few more minutes?" Aghast, by her lavish voice, I laughed nervously, "Uh no."

After we ordered our meals I asked TW if she thought the servers voice sounded strikingly similar to that of a phone sex operator. TW told me that I was hallucinating. So I asked if she would close her eyes when the server returned so she could hear just her voice without the distraction of her uniform. TW smirked, "I will not close my eyes in the middle of the restaurant. She might think I'm on drugs or that I'm narcoleptic. I am neither." I begged. I pleaded. I cajoled. She agreed just so I would stop whining.

So the next time the server came to the table to drop off our meals she asked if there was anything else we needed. As she asked the question TW closed her eyes – tightly. The server looked at TW strangely and asked me if everything was OK with her. I explained that TW preferred to close her eyes when she ate so that she might really savor the flavors of the meal. The server seemed content by this answer even though TW and I were not yet eating.

As soon as the server left I asked TW if she agreed with my assessment of the server’s voice. She did not. I pushed, "What? How can you not hear the phone sex operator voice? It is so disturbing. Each time she says, 'How is everything?' or 'Are you finished?' or 'Do you need anything else?' I feel dirty." TW ignored me.

Then, at the end of the meal the server told us "to leave the money on the table" in that same lilting voice. After we finished paying, TW turned to me and said, "Oy. Now I see what you mean. I feel dirty too." I questioned, “Want to come back here tomorrow?” She nodded vigorously, “Heck ya.”

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