Tuesday, June 27, 2006

In defense of the term 'rabbity'

To those who protest the use of the word 'rabbity' as an adjective describing old underwear, as used in my previous post:

Yes, this represents some degree of poetic license. But heed the following and I shall win you over. I intend to demonstrate that 'rabbit' relates to old underwear in regards to the state of being thinned down and prone to holes. That anything thinned down and breached with holes may be called

As witness I shall call upon Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary. It's a lovely 1563-page hard-cover tome published 1987 - thus it is hardly 'New' anymore, granted. We shall concern ourselves only with page 969. It's a delightful page, bearing illustrations of a quoin and a raccoon and a highly decorative giant 'R' that marks the beginning of the R-word section.

R-words 14 through 20 all relate to the word rabbit. Webster and I agree, as I'm sure you will also, that rabbity means one thing and that is - rabbit-like. Resembling a rabbit. And how may rabbit be defined? As follows:

As a noun:

1a: any of various lagomorphs that are born naked, blind, and helpless, that are sometimes gregarious, and that include esp. the cottontails of the New World and a small Old World mammal (Oryctolagus cuniculus) that is the source of various domestic breeds.

1b: hare

2: the pelt of the rabbit

3: Welsh Rabbit

4a: a figure of a rabbit sped mechanically along the edge of a dog track as an object of pursuit.

4b: a runner on a track team who sets a fast pace for a teammate in the first part of a long-distance race.

As a verb: To hunt rabbits (and one who does such is a rabbiter).

The remaining definitions refer to words or terms rabbitbrush, rabbit ears, rabbit fever, rabbit punch and rabbitry (a rabbit-raising enterprise) - none of which appear relevant to this debate.

Okay. Got all that? Now to relate 'rabbit' to the state of being thinned down and prone to holes. Let's explore Webster's definitions.

Rabbits are sometimes gregarious. I confess I didn't actually know that about rabbits 'til now. So what else is gregarious? Radio Disc Jockeys, Dalmatian puppies, Don Cherry, everyone's favorite aunt, and my good pal - Roanoke Robb. Agreed? Okay. Let's put that information on hold for a moment.

What other connections can we make? 'Cottontails of the New World'. Underpants are often made of cotton and are worn in the New World. But that's just a minor piece of the puzzle, I realize.

What else? Welsh Rabbit. What the flying ---- is that all about? That's just stupid. If someone didn't know what rabbit meant I couldn't tell him "Oh - it means 'Welsh rabbit'. Now do you get it?"

"Oh - you don't know what sigmoid-flexure means? Let me explain. It's easy. It means Siberian sigmoid-flexure. Now you understand? Is that clear?" Jumpin' jehosifats! I assume this will have been corrected in the Websters Tenth Even-Newer Collegiate Dictionary or at least in the latest edition - the Websters Twenty-Eighth So-Goddam-New-You'll-Shit-A-Brick Collegiate Dictionary.

What else we got? Ah-Hah! Here's the ticket! A figure of a rabbit sped mechanically along the edge of a dog track... Now this concept - as is common knowledge I'm sure - derived from the ancient mouse races in which a cheese or artificial cheese was propelled along the track - made famous at the Bern Mouse Olympics of 17th century Switzerland.

You get it now? Switzerland! Cheese! Is Swiss cheese not thin and prone to holes?

Ah, but of course. Now you understand. We shall require no jury deliberation. Case closed. Those of you who claimed that I merely miss-spelled the word rabbety, meaning 'beaten down, reduced' can go fuck yourselves. Apology accepted!


Sunday, June 25, 2006

Give me stain remover or give me death!

The other possible title for this entry was 'My kingdom for stain remover!' It was a toss up. Either title works well - both thoroughly unoriginal I realize but they work. They float the boat.

After all the chaos yesterday - you can bet I had no plans to venture out of the apartment for the remainder of the weekend. I'm not on a lucky streak by any means.

The aroma of Steve-o's fresh-ground coffee pulls me from bed and into the kitchen.

"How's it going, FWG!" shouts an exuberant Steve-o.

"Excellent!" I say. "Damn fine!"


"Do you have any idea how awesome it is to wake up and know that you have no plans- no appointments - whatsoever for the whole day? That you've got ALL day to just relax and get some stuff done!"

"I know. I hear ya."

"It's like winning the lottery, I tell you. No! It's better than winning the lottery. If you won the lottery you'd probably get roped into a bunch of appointments I'll betcha."

"Yeah. Screw that action!"

One minor flaw. What slipped my mind was the giant bag of overdue laundry lurking in my closet. And we don't have a washer or dryer yet. We got a cute little laundry room just sitting there empty, waiting patiently to be put to use. But no machines yet. So I must venture out to the laundromat at some point. All my office pants are in the bag and I have to work tomorrow. Plus I'm wearing my last clean pair of comfy underpants and I don't want to have to resort to an old rabbity pair from the bottom of the drawer. That's just not good livin'.

About 7:30 in the evening I finally decide I've procrastinated long enough. In the parking lot, bag slung over my shoulder, I'm reminded that I have my mom's van. All my laundry supplies are in my own car, which is of course at Brian's - the mechanic.

'Alright. Don't panic. They sell that dreadful powdered detergent in those mini-boxes in the vending machine. I just need stain remover. I'll buy some on the way. No problemo.'

I head west on Thomas Street. Oops. It occurs to me there is a Shoppers Drug Mart 2 blocks from the apartment on Queen Street but I don't feel like turning around now. There must be something else on the way.

Thomas is a bust. After five blocks I turn north on Erin Mills. This is the way to my laundromat of choice. I travel quite a ways without seeing anything but gas stations. I know the laundromat is coming soon. I come to a large plaza and hit the convenience store.

Here there's quite a vast cleanser section. Little 12-load jugs of Tide are $8.99. No thanks. Ah - but there's an adorable little jug of Ultra Sunlight with the little Snuggle Bear on the label. It only does 5 loads but it's on sale from $2.99 down to $1.99! That's only 40 cents a load. Not too shabby. A better deal than the single-serve powder boxes from the laundromat vending machine. I grab the little yellow jug. It really is adorable. I love it. 'Cleans & Softens', the label promises. 'Fresh Twist', it says. I have no idea what that means. I thought at first it said 'French Twist' and hoped for a moment that it might come with a free donut.

I hold on tight to my little yellow bottle while I continue to hunt for stain remover. Looks like he's got everything but.

"May I hep you?" I hear. I look around. The merchant is approaching.

"Do you have any stain remover?"

He seems a little confused. I realize that English is not his native tongue. Unfortunately I don't speak any Chinese.

"Stain remover for laundry," I say. He looks dazed. I point to an imaginary stain on my shirt and then I mime the squeezing of a spray bottle trigger - aiming at the stain. "Tsh-tsh-tsh," I say.

"Ah!" he says. He hands me a Sani-Flush tablet. I don't take it.

"No, no," I say. "Not toilet. Laundry." We play some more charades. I'm no Billy Van obviously.

"Ah, yes!" he says. He grabs a can of Easy Off oven cleaner. I shake my head. I try once more to explain and suddenly he's clear. "I'm sowwy. I have some fo you next time," he says. He points next door to the dry cleaners but they don't sell stain remover of course.

Back on the road I pass another gas station and realize - too late - that it was also a 7-Eleven store. I've already passed it by the time it sinks in. Ah-hah! 7-Eleven! Now this is very interesting. This will bear further examination some time soon. And I'm not even thinking about stain remover. But more on that later!

I come to the plaza that is home to the laundromat. I drive by and check the posted hours. Open 'til 10. Last wash at 9. Lots of time. I already know that they do not offer stain remover. Nor does any other merchant in this plaza.

Back on the road. I'm still heading North. Nothing. I pass the 401, knowing I've got to turn around soon. We'll hit farmland soon. Here comes a big convenience store. Really big. I'm optimistic.

But no luck. No stain remover. Upon my inquiry the cashier suggests I take the highway west to Winston Churchill where there's every store known to mankind. But that's way too far out of the way. 'Screw that action,' as Steve-o would say.

I head East on Derry Road a few blocks. Nothing. I go south on Creditview. Nothing, nothing, nothing 'til I finally hit Britainia. Now here's a big Pharma Plus drug store and a Loblaws grocery store. I'm surely in business now. I weave my way though the throng of low-rider pick-up trucks and pseudo sports cars laced with flags. Italy and Portugal are prominent. The cars are strewn about every which way. It's some kind of spontaneous World Cup tailgate party or something.

In spite of every damn light in the drug store burning, the door does not open. According to the sign they closed at 5. 'Crap!' Back in the van, I cruise by the Loblaws store. I can read the sign. They close at 8. My clock reports that it is 8:10. 'Crap and double crap!'

East on Britainia. South on Queen. I end up at the damn Shoppers Drug Mart two blocks from my apartment - 50 minutes and 10 litres of gas later. Brilliant.

I choose the 'Shout' brand spray at $3.99. Some fabulously tall kid is at the till. He's probably a college athlete.

"Do you have an Optimum card?" he asks.

God! How I'm sick of being asked if I have an Optimum card! They ask me this every single time and it makes me crazy. Just crazy, I tell you. I don't know why it bugs me so much. My kingdom for someone to not ask me for an Optimum card! I briefly consider some annoying answers, just to get even.

'What's it to you?'
'No. Do you?'
'No, but I have a one-eyed cat and a fiddle. Will that do?'
'Yes. It's in my front pocket. You want it - go get it.'
'No. Do you play basketball?'

That would really get him - the basketball question. Tall people hate to be asked that. As they should. It's just an asinine thing to say and it's insulting. People who do this are the same boors who try to humour shy people by announcing, "Hey! Shy person! Keep it down over there! We can't get a word in edgewise! Har har har!" - which of course puts the spotlight on the horrified shy person and further aggravates their shyness. Shy people spend a lot of time plotting the quiet murder of these people but alas, shy people tend not to follow through on such plans hence the boor population thrives.

Stain remover on board, I retrace my old steps. Thomas to Erin Mills and north. Ah! But now I stop at the 7-Eleven, giddy with anticipation. Why? Anyone? Anyone? Because I'm hungry, yes. Of course. But why else? Anyone? Anyone? Because I've become addicted to their burritos! Oh yes. It's true. Hopelessly, madly, shamelessly addicted. I wouldn't kid you about something like this.

Ferdinand's Red Hot Beef and Bean Burritos! That brown slimy paste... Mmmm-mmmm. I tell you, it's a little pocket of brown slimy heaven. And they go perfect with a 1.2L Big Gulp. Furthermore they are literally the perfect microwave food and they are the perfect size. Two of 'em fills up a hungry man precisely.

I make my way to the Gulpery and survey the selection. YES! They have Fruitopia Strawberry Passion Awareness on tap! An FSPA-equipped gulpery is rare. This is too good to be true! You mix about 500mL FSPA with 700mL Coke or Diet Coke and you got yourself the king of all swamp waters. A cocktail fit for the gods for only $1.69 - or $1.99 for the 1.8L Double Gulp.

There's something about the flavour marriage of coke and berries - especially cranberry or strawberry. It's the most delicious non-alcoholic beverage I've ever had. But ever so strangely, Coca Cola - as far as I know - have never explored this. They've had Cherry Coke, Vanilla Coke, Coke with lime - gawd knows what else. But where is the Cranberry or Strawberry Coke? I gotta talk to them about that. That and my new Fruitopia flavor ideas. I got some doozies. You know where those flavor names came from? 'The Grape Beyond', 'Orange Tangerine Wavelength', 'Raspberry Kiwi Karma', etc? Young people came up with them. Teenagers. It's true. Coke (makers of Fruitopia) is one of my clients at work. They tell me so.

Here's some of my ideas:

Cactus Fruit Cacophony
Raisin Cranberry Carnage
Apple Pomegranate Planet
Lemon Lime Jihad

I'd buy 'em. What do you think? Got any ideas? Let's here 'em. I'll bring 'em to the Coca-Cola marketing people.

The pair of burritos go into the waver for a good 2 minutes (this is a long time. 7-Eleven wavers run very hot). This'll ensure they're still hot by the time my laundry is sloshing away in the washer and I'm back in the van enjoying a kick-ass burrito dinner.

And so it played out. I'm sitting in the van, just outside the laundromat, windows down, nibbling away while listening to the sound of the shop's automatic sliding door open and close as various interesting patrons enter and exit.

The opening of this mechanical door makes a noise ever so exactly like the sound effect they played over and over again on a certain tabloid TV show years ago. The sound is like a buzz that falls in pitch, ending in a sort of 'slam' and a lot of reverberation. I can't recall the name of the show. Does this ring a bell for anyone? It goes back a few years. My darling used to make us watch it back when I was prone to cohabitation and TV-watching and all those other ridiculous societal conventions!

It appears the burrito packaging has been remodeled in orange. Curiously I have a hard time finishing the second one. What I haven't realized just yet is that the orange version is actually a different product. This is actually Ferdinand's Extremo Red Hot Beef Bean and Cheese Burrito! Furthermore they are not 300g like the others but 400g! Hence - doing the math - one and a half is all I'm cut out for.

But I persevere. I manage all 800 grams and then head back inside - through the tabloid TV door. This is a great laundromat. Very big. Very clean. Very modern. That's why I go so far out of my way to use it. The digital timers tell me I've still got a couple minutes left on the wash cycle so I carry on to the back of the shop and into the washroom. Here I do my business just as fast as ever I possibly can. Why the speed routine? Anyone? Anyone? That's right. Because they have no lock on the door. Stupid, eh?

I'm attaching a photo of me and my Ultra Sunlight bottle - now with just 3 doses remaining. You can see a bunch of shelves in the background. That's how I spent the bulk of the day. Cutting and assembling shelves for my bedroom. 30' worth. I figured I'd get all my paperbacks onto these shelves. I started with the Sci-Fi and Fantasy novels as they are the most abundant. I arranged them alphabetically of course, by author. Anderson, Anthony, Asprin, Asimov...

I got as far as Saberhagen. Thirty feet and I didn't even make it to Tolkien - not to mention all the other genres: thriller; adventure; biography; literary... I'm gonna have to buy a lot more shelving material apparently - and a lot less books from now on.


Saturday, June 24, 2006

Booby bites, donuts denied, runaway beards, pregnant men, nice cops and the curse of the "CRDS HEADER 100/PK HH"

What a dreadful title eh? So much has happened over the last 12 hours and I couldn't come up with a common theme. Maybe you can help! Submit your title idea. I shall award a prize for the winning entry!

I know. You're skeptical. You're thinking the prize will be a big wet kiss on the lips or a year's supply of haggis or something equally unpalatable. Well - as with all things in life - you takes your chances don't you?

Booby bites

So I awaken around 8 this morning - 6 hours after slurping the last dribble from a bottle of Australian Shiraz and stumbling off to bed while my pal Spooky crashed on the couch - out like a light. She wouldn't help me with the wine. Had to do it myself. She's not allowing herself alcohol while on medication. Her doctor prescribed antibiotics - a very serious dose - after she kept passing out and crumpling to the floor in the wake of the nastiest spider bite I ever seen. Got her right on the boob. I kid you not. She first told me about it Friday morning over MSN Messenger and insisted on sending a picture of it.

'Come on! What's your email address? Don't make me have to look it up!' she typed.

'fwg@dontwannaseeyourboobs.com' I replied.

She wasn't fooled for long. She looked up my proper address and sent me a gallery of boob-bite photos. Four of them. And - like - gag me with a spoon. The damn bite looked just like a third nipple only bigger and redder with a giant pustule instead of a - uh - whatever - you know - a nipple nubbin.

Okay - have I killed your appetite yet?

"Who wants to see pictures of a spider bite on my friend's boob!" I shouted to my office companions - which prompted an immediate chorus of "No thanks!" Not one taker. Go figure.

Okay - back to the present. I get up and check on Spooky. She appears to still be asleep. I do a bit of writing. A scene from the Elvenkind novel. At 9:30 She knocks on my bedroom door, returns some bedding. I go shower. We're out on the road at ten. Writing group starts at 11. It's a 45-minute trip to Orangeville - home of the Headwaters Writers' Guild. (Is that a pretentious name or what? I wanted to call it the Lost Apostrophe Writing Group on account of the massive confusion and disagreement over the proper placement of the apostrophe in 'Writers'. Before the 'S'... After the 'S'... None at all...)

So - 10 o'clock. Curse me and my disorganization - or procrastination - whatever. Discrastinization? Now we don't have time enough to stop somewhere for breakfast. Double dang-it. We've at least got time to stop for take-out coffees and bagels at the first coffee shop along the way. We pass by Starbucks and Second Cup without a glance but that's okay 'cause I don't think they even have bagels. Then we miss Tim Hortons which is fine with me 'cause I think they're crap anyway. We get on the highway 401 and I suddenly recall that we're totally out of gas. I'm talking the last fume.

Donuts denied

We exit the highway at Hurontario Street and hit the nearby Petro Canada. There happens to be a Tim Hortons next door so we have to hit that too. Spooky actually claims to enjoy their coffee. I can't deny her it forever. She waits in the car reading the Elvenkind piece I'd just written. I run into Horny Tim's without any inclination - without the foggiest notion - that this will be my very last time ever entering one of their establishments!

I wait in a long long line. Finally - my turn.

"I'll have a large double-double and a medium decaf, both with a shot of hazelnut. And a whole-wheat bagel, toasted with cream cheese and a 20-pack of Tim-bits - just the dutchie and apple fritter kind please." She punches all this into the Timmy-Ho's super computer and two other staff, eyes glued to their respective computer monitors, spring into action. One grabs a bagel and inserts it in the THBS (Tim Hortons Bagel Slicer). The other grabs a pair of coffee cups and heads for the THHD (Tim Hortons Hazelnut Dispensary). My gal, the origami queen, slips an apparently flat and featureless slab of boxboard into her hand and whoop-whoop-whoop, with a flurry of manual deftness and nary a glance at her hands she has turned the sheet into a fully functioning double-flapped timbit tote box (THFFDFTBTB).

I whip out my debit card - to the collective gasp of 43 staff and 181 customers.

"We don't take debit!" says the origami queen, obviously shocked. She's wondering how this foreigner could have actually made it an entire 11 kilometers from Pearson International Airport without discovering the two most important things to know about Canada. 1 - that you can't take two steps without bumping into a bloody Tim Hortons - and 2 - that they only take cash.

"You've got to be kidding!" I say, slipping Mr. Debit back in his pouch and reaching for Mr. Mastercard.

"We only take cash." She says.

"That's absolutely ridiculous!" I say, clearly pissed off. "I don't have any!"

"Cancel that order!" she hollers into her headset microphone.

"I hope when cash becomes obsolete this shit-hole company goes with it!" I bark. "I'm never coming back to one of your stores again!" I turn and march away and out the door, already feeling guilty for having given her a hard time when it's surely not her fault that she works for a shit-hole company. Times are tough for some people. I'm normally not so insensitive.

Runaway beards

Now we're really running late so we get to the library's conference room at 11:10 with empty tummies and no coffee. Our mates are already seated around the big table and there's a stranger among them. He's an older man with an enormous white beard and moustache that entirely blankets his face - south of the nose, that is.

'Who the hell's this new guy?' I'm thinking. We just added two new members in the last month to make us probably the largest bloody writing group in the history of the universe - which, by the way, is no feather in our caps. Efficiency is important. Getting 5 minutes floor time per writer during a two-hour meeting is simply no good. I'm a little irked. I would later find out that no one actually invited him to join. He seems to have showed up at the library asking about us and was sent right along by whatever library worker we're gonna have to be tracking down and tying down and neatly drawing and quartering when we get a chance.

Our mates are taking turns introducing themselves and stating what kind of writing they do. I take a seat close to him and immediately it's my turn.

"Hi," I say, reaching over and shaking his hand. "I'm [FWG] and I write hard core pornography." The room erupts with laughter but none from New Guy. His eyes remain expressionless. There's no sign of a mouth anywhere on him. "I'm just kidding," I say. "I write pretty much everything but."

Eventually New Guy is asked to introduce himself. The muffled sound that emanates from behind his beard - presumably from a mouth - seems to say that his name is 'Claire' and he was a political cartoonist and now he's retired and wants to write fiction. Thus he has sought us out. Lucky us.

Pregnant men

We get down to business. We're going to start with a 10-minute prompt exercise. We explain to New Guy how the prompt activity works.

This week's leader, Anita, passes out a sheet of paper to everyone that lists 5 suggested writing topics. Item number 5 is actually just a list of a dozen-or-so words. Sometimes just the combination of two or more words can spark a creative path for a writer's pen, you see.

One of the prompts is "Believing that yourself or someone else is pregnant". Another is "I couldn't believe my eyes, looking at the reflection in the mirror".

I decide to combine these two and I write a brief story. Here it is. It's entirely true by the way.

I couldn't believe my eyes, looking at the reflection in the storefront window. I paused on the sidewalk and stared at the enormous belly, shocked to realize that it was my own, amazed to discover how far I'd let myself slide.

It hadn't escaped the notice though, of crazy Jeanette at the office - who'd long ago stopped asking me to go swimming with her.

I'd been startled when a shadow fell over my desk and I'd looked up to see Jeanette standing before me with that usual half-demented look in her eyes. She leaned toward me, bending, bringing her face scant inches from my own. My hand tightened around the stapler I'd been holding. I'd use it to protect myself if need be. She spoke very slowly, the only way she knew how.

"What are you doing about your weight problem?" she asked.

"What weight problem?" I whispered back.

"You look like you're pregnant." She stated quietly.

"But I am pregnant," I said matter-of-factly.

"Oh!" she tittered, louder now. "You're so funny!"

"There's nothing funny about it," I replied, indignant. "It's the miracle of life."

We read our little stories and finally Nancy asks New Guy if he would like to share what he wrote.

To share is not mandatory, you see - though we almost universally do. Only one time have I declined. I'd gone to a very personal place with a prompt. Still I didn't hesitate to read at first. We have an ironclad bond of trust and confidentiality within the group. I started to recite it but lost my composure and chose not to go on. Simple biochemistry I guess you'd say. It's difficult to shed tears and read at the same time - especially when your handwriting is as messy as mine is.

This happens with some regularity. We've all shared our tears together. Our writing group is as much a support group as anything.

New Guy has very little writing on his page. That's no surprise. Neither did I, my first time out.

"May I just talk instead?" asks New Guy.

"Of course," we say.

"Well - I chose this one - Write about something you feel very strongly about. I feel very strongly about the environment these days. And it really bothers me when people put out a lot of garbage bags at once. I thought I'd write a piece about people who put out too many garbage bags. But I don't think I could finish that in ten minutes. I'd like to take this and do it at home."

"Uh - sure," we say. "If you'd like to."

"So I'd like to ascertain the rules around this. Do I have to use all the words on this word list - Pristine, Feline, Formula, Grecian, Naked...?"

"No - no," we say. "These prompts are just suggestions. There's no rules at all. You can write about anything you want. The point is just to write for ten minutes - just following the pen - wherever it takes you. Some of us prefer to be given a starting point. That's all, Claire. These aren't serious assignments. We just like to get everyone's pen moving - to make sure that none of us fall out of the habit. It's easy to not write for a few days and then start to forget that we're writers. So we make sure to exercise the pen at every meeting - every seven days. It's just a safety net. That's all. Okay?"

New Guy's eyes betray no emotion and no sound escapes the white forest that is his face.

Later though, he speaks up suddenly. "What's this journal you guys are talking about?" he asks. It's very common for writers to keep daily journals, you see. I don't have a diary per se, but this blog serves as my journal. I think Nancy has misinterpreted the question. She holds up her large blue hardcover notebook.

"This is my journal," she says. "I prefer hardcover. What about you, [FWG], you like hardcover too, don't you?"

I look down at my black hardcover notebook. "Yes," I say. "That way I can write on my lap if need be - in case I find myself in a waiting room - or a prison cell."

New Guy has more questions about this blue journal concept.

"She has 200 of them," states Gaetan, Nancy's husband. "She orders them by the case every time she's getting low." I happen to know this is true. Nancy's handwriting is extremely large.

"Would you like one?" asks Nancy. "I've got lots to spare."

No voice or eye-signal comes from the bearded stranger. I for one am at a loss. The significance of the journal is in the intellectual process, not the format of the paper. I'm zoning out of the conversation.

New Guy suddenly rises to his feet and announces that he must be going. It's 12:30. Our meetings run til 1PM. This is highly unusual but perhaps he has other commitments. He slips out the door.

One of our mates begins to read a piece she has brought to share. We're all silent, listening intensely. Suddenly the door opens and she is interrupted.

"Um - yeah," comes the muffled voice of Treebeard. "Bring me one of them blue journals next week." Nancy smiles politely and promises that she will.

Nice cops

Meeting over, The Dumas family, Anita and myself go for lunch at the Nifty Nook restaurant. I get the Orangeville Grand Slam. It is 3 sausages, 3 thick slices of back bacon, 3 eggs, 3 slices of French toast, home fries and regular toast. I also drink 3 cups of coffee.

Next I take my car to Brian's - my mechanic - because there's a serious exhaust problem. I'm waking the dead - everywhere I drive. Pops meets me at the garage to drive me to the farm where I take Mom's van. I'll borrow it for a couple days. Brian can't look at my pipes 'til Monday.

On the drive home I take Mississauga road. Passing through the municipality of Huttonville - a thoroughly unremarkable place marked only by a pair of signs - one that reads Huttonville and one that reads Maximum 50 KPH Begins. As I come to the crest of the big hill I'm confronted by a fleet of police officers standing on the shoulder motioning everyone to pull over - the cars in front and behind me as well. By the strictest interpretation of their hand signals they seem to be asking us to run them over. I'm wise enough to disobey. I pull ahead of them and then pull onto the shoulder. While waiting for one of the officers to approach I'm busily doing some math.

12 points less the 4 that dropped off is 8 - plus the 3 from a couple months ago is 11. Plus 3 more today makes 14. Whew! Still one away from the magic number - 15.

An officer approaches. She's a young woman. We exchange pleasant hellos.

"Were you pointing at me?" I inquire, vainly hoping that my inclusion here is in error.

"Yes I was, sir,"

"Oh. Do you mind if I ask how fast I was going?"

She nods politely. "75."

"Okay. I see," I say sadly. I realize that's about a $150 fine and indeed 3 points.

"Did you know this is a 50-zone?"

I give her my best 'bad puppy' expression. "No. I didn't. I wasn't paying attention. I'm sorry. I guess you'll want my documents." I pop the glove box. "This is my mom's car, by the way."

"I'll need to see her ownership and insurance - and your license of course."

"Her insurance or mine?" I ask, while routing through the giant stack of roadmaps and napkins that fill the glove compartment.

"Either is fine," she says. I pull my birth certificate and insurance slip from my wallet and hand them toward her. She's hesitant to take them.

"Oh! That's not my license." I make the correction.

I have the distinct feeling that I will not find mom's ownership - that it's in her purse at home. That'll be another $150 - at least. We're at $300 and counting. I'm beginning to regret not running them over.

"My goodness. I don't know where she keeps the ownership. I wish I had a cell phone. I'd call her and ask." Ironically I had a cell phone right up until today. I'd just returned it to Mom 30 minutes ago - expecting my new home phone to be installed any day now (Gawd - there's another story that I won't go into just now...)

"If you find the ownership bring it to me. I'll be in the black car," she says. A glance in the mirror reveals a trio of police cars lined up in the parking lot of the long-abandoned retail building behind me. Two cruisers of the standard sort and one black unmarked car. A Chev Impala of course. Story of my life.

Indeed - I find no ownership. I feel a headache coming on. 'Huttonville,' I'm thinking. 'Land of two signs, one hill and a fleet of blueshirts - and nary a house in sight.' Perhaps I'll have to add this to my list of proposed municipal slogans. You see my buddy, Ben Knight once told me how he likes to make up slogans for those poor towns that have none on their roadside welcome signs. An activity to occupy one's mind during long drives through rural towns, you see. Since bringing this to my attention I've felt a lot of sympathy for those places that suffer slogan neglect. I've started to come up with my own suggestions. For instance: 'Welcome to Orangeville - The town where nothing rhymes' or this one: 'Welcome to Melville - The only village in Ontario taller than it is wide. Home of the world famous Melville speed bump. Be sure to visit the Melville Speed Bump Museum'.

Okay - I shall add this: 'Welcome to Huttonville - The hill is alive with the sound of radar guns'.

Do you have any slogan ideas for neglected towns near you? Why don't you post them here? Let's do something noble with this blog. Let's start a slogan project. They don't have to be as profound and insightful as the examples above. Don't be intimidated! They can be simple. I think Ben's tend to go something like this: 'Welcome to Oshawa: Ah-choo! Gazundheit!' See? It's easy. I hope you'll participate.

Okay - so my new friend returns.

"I want you to make sure you have the ownership certificate from now on - whenever you borrow someone else's car. Okay? We need to know that it isn't stolen. We were able to check on our computer today but we can't always." I nod my head. "I've knocked your ticket down to 60. That's only 10 over the limit. It's a $40 fine and no points."

"Thank you so much. You're exceptionally kind," I praise.

"We'd like you to slow down please - and pay attention to the posted limits."

"Oh - I will. I absolutely will."

"Have a good day."

The curse of the "CRDS HEADER 100/PK HH"

So I lower the cruise control to 19 over the limit and zip on home. Oh - but first I stop at a Home Hardware store to pick up some home hardware. I need two hooks from which to hang two plants from my bedroom ceiling. Well - one real plant - a Spider plant - and one artificial plant. I like to mix and match genuine and fake plants and keep everyone guessing.

There's a row of packages hanging from one of those little metal horizontal poles with a $2.99 price sign on the end of it. Each package holds various assortments of hook devices. I find one that contains two hooks and four screws. Two options per hook. There's the regular screw or the really long kind that has a 'pop-out' thingy on the end so that once it penetrates the open space above the ceiling it spreads out, resting on top of the ceiling. Is that called a toggle bolt? I dunno. Who cares?

Two cute youngsters are working the tills. One boy and one girl. The girl offers to help me. I lay the package on the counter and reach for my wallet. It's not in my pocket. Crap. With all that Huttonville hullabaloo I left it on the passenger seat.

"I'm sorry," I say. "I forgot my wallet in the car. I'll be right back." I take two steps toward the door and then discover there's a fiver in my pocket and a looney too. Anita had given me them at the Nifty Nook after I'd paid for our brunch on debit.

I back-step to the counter. "Here we go!" I say and slap the bill on the counter. The girl just looks at me as if waiting for something. So I pick it up and hold it right in front of her so that she doesn't have to reach for it and strain herself. "Here you go," I repeat. Her eyes shift from the bill to me, back to the bill and over to her computer monitor, which sits sideways on the counter - visible to both of us. It reads:

CRDS HEADER 100/PK HH ........... 9.99
PST.............................. .80
GST.............................. .70
Total............................ 11.49

"Oh," I exclaim.

"It's 11.49," she confirms.

"Oh. Okay. Um. I'll be right back." I fetch the wallet from the car and return. There are now 2 people ahead of me in the girl's line. I wait to the side of the line unsure whether I'll be invited in ahead of them or not. I'm standing there for awhile, debit card in hand when I realize that nothing is happening except that the girl is standing there looking at me.

"Oh - am I still up to bat?"

She nods. I step up and pay my 11.49. She hands me the receipt. I pick it up and there is that mysterious line again: 'CRDS HEADER 100/PK HH'. I can't help but think that this description is inappropriate. I wonder, shouldn't it read 'SCR HOOKS 2/PK HH' or something of that ilk?

"Am I paying for the right item?" I ask. Silently she takes my receipt from me and gazes at it for a while. I see the boy coming over. He takes the receipt from her and takes my little package of hooks and compares the two.

"No, you're not," he says. "This isn't right." He holds the package in front of the girl. "Did you scan this?" he asks. The girl does not reply verbally. She stands very still and keeps her mouth closed. Perhaps a bird has landed on my shoulder and she wishes not to scare it away? I carefully shift my eyeballs left then right. I see no bird. Perhaps she is showing us her best statue imitation. I'm not sure what this means - this statue imitation thing. Neither does the boy. "Did you scan this?" he says, now pointing at the bar code printed on the package. Now he points at the scanner on the counter and then waves his finger back and forth across the bar code. "DID YOU SCAN THIS...! DO YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT I'M ASKING YOU!"

"Um. I d-" She starts, then pauses. She must be terribly confused about something though her expression and posture betray no signals that she's confused. Very mysterious - this girl. I wonder if there's a not opening your mouth event at the Olympics. If there is - we gotta send her 'cause she's a guaranteed champion at not opening her mouth. She'll kick some ass. She'll bring us home some gold.

The boy rolls his eyes and punches a few keys and scans the package. Two more transactions appear on the monitor - one is a refund. The other reads 'HOOKS+SCREWS. W/TOG....... 2.99'

"We owe you an 8.05 debit refund," he says. I hand him the card and we process it. The girl is still standing there in a daze. Maybe her dog died this morning. Maybe they should send her home. Or maybe they should put her head on that counter over there with all the other vacuums.

"Sorry for the trouble," he says - handing me a stack of little receipt papers.

"Oh - that's quite alright," I say, feeling sorry for him. "Have a good day."

Well kids, that's all for now. Don't forget your town slogan ideas!


Thursday, June 22, 2006

Real swell email survey

Okay - this is a bit of a cop-out. I'm letting some friends do this post for me.

Captain Vino had the balls to send me one of those goopy little email surveys that you're supposed to share with all your friends so that you can all get to know each other and have these great friendship relationships without actually dragging your ass away from your terminal and actually seeing these people!

Normally I hiss like a snake at these things while slamming the delete button repeatedly - but - the other day I decided not to be such a miserable internet grinch for once and I completed and forwarded the survey. I was surprised that about half of them were returned - completed.

So here's the survey. I've supplied a cross-section of answers - some from everybody. This will give you an idea of the sort of characters I associate with. You may think they're a little weird. Personally I think they're pretty cool - and - you know - weird.

1. First name?
Kristina. I used to be Kris but my ex's name was Chris and that was just a little too cutesy. The last straw was when my old boss introduced me to my new boss as 'Krissy'. So I promptly changed It to Tina and it stuck.

2. Were you named after anyone?
I wouldn't give my parents credit for putting that much thought into anything. I suspect it was a random outcome - possibly chosen by monkeys - or by Mickey Dolenz.

3. When did you last cry?
Upon receipt of this email.

4. Do you like your handwriting?
Can't say. I've forgotten how. I've printed everything since grade 8. I like my printing - although I have a hard time forging it.

5. What's your favorite lunch meat?
Egg salad - but without onions.

6. Kids?
No thanks. I got enough already.

7. If you were another person would you be friends with you?
Heck yes. Maybe even lovers.

8. Do you have a journal?
Wait a minute. Are eggs considered meat?

9. Do you use sarcasm a lot?
See answers 1 through 51.

10. Do you still have your tonsils?
Nope. But I've still got that dangly thing at the back of my throat.

11. Would you bungee jump?
Are you kidding? At my weight I'd pull the bridge down.

12. What's your favorite cereal?
Froot Loops. Ever since I met Toucan Sam down at the 'Bijou'. He was drinking Mint Juleps and got very ornery when I asked him where the post office was. "Follow your nose, jack ass," I believe he said. But if you're persistent and get to know him he's still the same lovable old bird deep inside.

13. Do you untie your shoes before you take them off?
Sort of. They're velcro.

14. Do you think you're strong?
After eating certain foods. And I don't mean spinach.

15. What's your favorite ice cream flavor?
Midnight Blue

16. Shoe size?
Why would anyone care unless they were planning to steal my shoes?

17. Red or Pink?
Okay, if you throw one more question mark in front of a hopelessly incomplete ambiguous sentence I'll hunt you down, rip off your head and spit down your neck, you dull illiterate twerp!

18. What is the least favorite thing about yourself?
Probably my jaw line but I'm not even sure I have one. Just call me Gord Miller.

19. Who do you miss the most?

20. Do you want everyone to send this back to you?
No thanks. I've already read my answers.

21. What color pants and shirt are you wearing?
That's a big assumption.

22. Last thing you ate?
Tuna sandwich on some kind of bird-seedy brown healthy bread.

23. What are you listening to right now?
Water pouring from the filters into my aquariums. Very soothing but it makes me have to pee.

24. If you were a crayon, what color would you be?

25. Favorite Smell?
Vanilla. Although - the most transcending smell is that of a certain small grocery store in Northern Ontario. Occasionally in a local store I'll catch a similar whiff and it reminds me of being a kid and buying candy with the quarter given me by Mom or Dad. That was a lot of money back then - Oh no! I sound just like my parents! Next I'll be saying things like 'I remember when all those houses used to be farm land and we bought our eggs straight from Joe McFarmer...'

26. Who was the last person you talked to on the phone?
My crazy counterpart from Montreal (In case you don't realize, Lesley, that's you!)

27. The first thing you notice about people you're attracted to?
That they don't even notice me. Who am I? Mr. Cellophane? Should I bend my name?

28. Do you like the person who sent this to you?
He's a rather unique individual. But once you get to know him you find out - that he's rather a unique individual.

29. Favorite drink?
Diet Coke or Diet Pepsi - but not warm stuff from a box on the floor that cries out, "You can't drink me because I'm warm and disgusting, sucker! Go drink that last awful diet ginger ale from the back of the fridge!"

30. Favorite sport?
Texas Hold'em poker. It is TOO a sport!

31. Eye Colour?
Wild Watermelon

32. Hat size?
Nobody knows that except for cowboys and members of the Red Hat Society and I'm not either - although I do have a rather nice pair of boots...

33. Do you wear contacts?
No. I'd rather poke you in the eye first.

34. Favorite food?
Godiva Grand Marnier Dark Chocolate Truffles

35. Scary movies or happy endings?
Is 'When Harry Met Sally' scary? - Or just the fact that I enjoyed it?

36. Last movie you watched at the theatre?
'Poseidon'. I then promptly cancelled my plans for my 50th birthday Disney cruise.

37. What colour shirt are you wearing?
Same shirt as from question 21. Surprisingly I'm still on day 1 of this project. Ask me again later.

38. Summer or winter?
Both. Annually.

39. Hugs or kisses?
Your place or mine?

40. Favorite Dessert?
Must I repeat myself again and again? GODIVA GRAND MARNIER DARK CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES!

41. Who is most likely to respond?
Ernie I hope. We used to laugh our asses off back in college. It
grew back.

42. Least likely to respond?
Doug Hobson. I haven't heard from him in ages. He may have been taken by aliens. He's a strong candidate for alien abduction. The first time we met I said, "You should be careful. You look like a strong candidate for alien abduction." We hit it off pretty good after that.

43. What books are you reading?
'Rusty Bedsprings' by I. P. Nightly. Just kidding! It's a joke! Get it? Hey - did you hear the one about the chicken who crossed the - no, wait. WHY did the chicken...

44. What's on your mouse pad?
The mouse.

45. What did you watch on TV last night?
Something lame, innocuous and forgettable - apparently.

46. Favorite sounds?
Night sounds - like when you sit out after dark. I think they have CD's of that stuff - in those stores that sell rain sticks.

47. Rolling Stones or Beatles?
Even though I once had a Rolling Stones tie (don't ask), I'll say Beatles.

48. Furthest you've been from home?
Florida. Although some drives home on a full bladder have seemed longer.

49. What's your special talent?
Laughing and making milk come out my nose.

50. When and where were you born?
None of your business.

51. Who sent this to you?
[Fantasy Writer Guy] - who loves the song 'Janey's Got a Gun', but
whatever you do, don't mention it around him. He'll go ballistic! No, seriously!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

FWG’s World Cup Predictions

Ten fearless FIFA World Cup soccer predictions from sports prognosticator Fantasy Writer Guy:

1. Team Ghana will score only one goal in the tournament but when they do, all six Ghanaians living in the GTA will go driving around Toronto in Khumu’s Aerostar honking the horn - until Khumu gets arrested for drunk driving.

2. Team Canada will not qualify for the World Cup - ever again.

3. Two TV announcers will suffer mild strokes while announcing goals and one will die of asphyxiation.

4. Two World Cup soccer players will get into a fight during the tournament and both will lose.

5. 138 World Cup soccer players will on one or more occasions during the tournament, fall down, apparently unscathed, writhe in agony and wail at the ref, begging him to kiss their boo-boo better.

6. At every World Cup match the grass on the field will grow marginally longer during the course of the game.

7. 5404 Italian soccer fans will get drunk in pubs watching team Italy and then go home and beat up their wives.

8. 5760 English soccer fans will get drunk in pubs watching team England and then go home and get beaten up by their wives.

9. 60,000 Brazilian soccer fans will be inconsolably and royally pissed off when their team does not win the cup.

10. 24,000 Canadians will ask each other ‘Whats up with all the flags and all the beeping eh? And when’s NHL training camp start?’

Sports prognosticator Fantasy-Writer-Guy has a solid record predicting hockey outcomes under the alias Chippy-the-Wonder-Pimp. This is his first forray into the soccer realm. Fantasy Writer Guy is not a racist. He is a proven champion of racial tolerance. He loves Italians, Englishmen and Canadians and never heard of Ghana until yesterday. His comments are all in fun and are racially colorful only because the World Cup is a multi-cultural event which is cause for great celebration in Fantasy Writer Guy's household.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Fantastik Fresh Brush!

I hadn't intended to review products on this blog but I think this device deserves special mention. Besides, nothing about this blog has gone as I intended. It was supposed to be an exercise in noble philosophy and a new enlightened spirituality. A celebration of literature. A guide to finding the good and unspoiled elements within an otherwise corrupt society. That was the plan. It turned out to be a whole lot of bitching and four-letter-words. What can I say? Sorry.

So Steve-o arrives home this evening. He's been doing some shopping.

"Hey, I noticed our toilet bowls are looking like the entire Guatemalan army have used them," he says. "They're looking kinda brown."

"Yes, I've been meaning to make a purchase to that end. Some kind of brush or something."

"Well come and see this. It's a Fantastik Fresh Brush!"

I join him in the kitchen where he's ripping open a package. The kind with a clear plastic bubble on one side and a sheet of glossy boxboard on the other. He pulls out two white plastic wands and a white pouch.

I read the package.

Fantastik Fresh Brush

Fushable! New scrubby pad!

Cleans 2X better than ordinary brushes!

Kit contains 1 handle and 4 flushable pads

Best New Product Award 2005 (voted by consumers)

From SC Johnson - a family company

I'm impressed. Steve-o has pulled a flushable pad from the pouch.

"God - I love the smell of this thing!" He gives it a good sniff. It's the coating of water-activated soap substance that does it for him. "The pouch is re-sealable," he states and proceeds to zip up the remaining three flushable pads. We both raise our eyebrows and nod our approval.

He takes the two white wands and attaches them to make one long dangerous looking device with a button-activated clamp on the curved extremity - perfect for gripping a new-and-improved flushable pad. He tests the clamp device by using the extended wand to grab various kitchen trinkets and to open and close cupboard doors. I instinctively fold my arms across my chest thus guarding my nipples - lest he get any silly ideas.

"Time to clean up after them Guatemalans."

We proceed to bathroom number one. Steve-o removes the tank cover. I'm confused. I thought this was for cleaning the bowl. He produces a sleek hook-and-clip device that straddles the side rim of the tank so you can hang the fantasticfreshbrush discreetly on the side of the toilet. Those family folk at SC Johnson think of everything.

He replaces the tank lid, pops up the other lid and dips the wand - pad now attached - into the water. He starts scrubbing the bowl. The curvature of the wand is perfect for getting under the rim!

"Oh yeah! I can really smell it now!" Steve-o exclaims. The water is turning an enchanting shade of blue. "Can you believe this is the most exciting thing I've done all day!" he says and then begins to sing at the top of his lungs:

"I'm cleaning the toilet! I'm CLEANING THE TOILET!"

I'm very pleased with that of course. I like it that all our neighbors now know that we clean our toilets. I wouldn't want them to believe otherwise.

Enough beating around the bush. He goes for the jugular. The epicenter. Ground zero. The engineering of this device is superb. It slips easily into previously inaccessible depths.

"Look at that!" he gasps.

"It's going where no man has gone before," I offer.

"Where only Guatemalan ass residue has gone before!"

Needless to say - we're both pleased with our Fantastic Fresh Brush. I score this product as follows:

Engineering: A+
Clarity of instructions: A
Pricing B
Environmental friendliness: C+
Entertainment value: A
Overall: A-

Steve-o gives it an A+ for smell. That's all he cares about.


Thursday, June 08, 2006

‘Emergency 9-1-1. Do you have an emergency to report?’

Oh dear. We’ve had quite a hullabaloo tonight. Very nasty.

I was sitting at my computer adding recently acquired book purchases to my little personal library database - something I do much too often. The window - looking over the rear parking lot - was wide open beckoning a marvelous cold breeze - very nipply but welcome after the recent heat-wave.

Unfortunately the window also beckoned the voices of the teenagers loitering in our parking lot - a constant presence. Our little 8-unit complex is a magnet for teenagers. I can’t imagine why.

I hear their voices rise. There is some kind of agitation among them. A serious argument perhaps.

And then I hear a deafening bang. A crack that splinters the night and echoes off nearby buildings. I stiffen in my chair, horrified and look toward the window. ‘Could that have been anything other than a gun?’ It was certainly not a backfiring car. The lights are bright in the room. I see only blackness through the window screen.

I hear a young man shouting. I hear fast footsteps of someone running away. I hear a female in obvious distress speaking semi-hysterically.

“Someone call an ambulance!” a young man shouts - panic in his voice.

I slip away from my chair, thoroughly - oh so thoroughly - alarmed. I back away from the window and pace the hallway for a moment, trying to conceive of an alternate explanation for what I just heard. Something other than a shooting. Nothing comes to me. I grab my cell phone and dial 9-1-1.

“Emergency 9-1-1. Do you have an emergency to report?” says the operator, efficiently, proffesionally.

“I believe someone was just shot in the parking lot of my building - with a gun,”

“What’s the address?”

I tell her.

“What’s your name?”

I tell her. I spell it for her, wondering if someone will die this night on account of my name being so long.

“Did you see this happen?”

“No. I didn’t see anything. I only heard it.” I describe everything I’d heard through the window.

“You didn’t look out the window? You didn’t see a victim?”

“No,” I say. “I tend not to stick my head out the window when there’s guns going off. It’s kind of a superstition in my family.” I don’t mean to be snarky with her. Really. It’s just a nervous reaction.

“Okay sir,” she says with strained patience. “I understand. I’ve put the call out for police and an ambulance. Are you able to watch out for them? To be sure they come to the correct place?”

“Yes. I can do that. In fact - I’ll take a look out the window now.”

“The police will want to speak with you.”

Great, I think. I'll put coffee on.

I kill the light switch and then I turn off the computer monitor. In a veil of darkness I peer out the window.

“Oh,” I say.

“What do you see?”

“About five people. Um. They’re playing with fireworks! I guess there wasn’t a gun after all!” Now I feel stupid.

“Is someone injured?”

“I don’t know. I can’t see well enough. But I imagine so. I stand by my earlier comments. Someone shouted about an ambulance.”

It’s common knowledge that kids these days have turned fireworks into a sport much like laser tag or paintball.

Shortly, two cruisers arrive and an ambulance. They drive right by the van that contains the fleeing teenagers. They see it leaving the parking lot that is there destination but they don’t stop it. I guess that’s not there way.


Thursday, June 01, 2006

Moving Can Be Fun

Moving can be fun when you're getting screwed without a kiss

So - the new roommate Steve-o is a pretty shrewd operator. He books a truck online from one of those big interNATIONAL CAR AND TRUCK RENTAL places which I shall leave respectfully unnamed (ahem). Not only does he piggyback on the corporate account of the company we work for but he redeems some coupon or special offer. The result is a double-discount and a final price of $60 for a 24-hour rental. Insurance included. 50KM are free. We'll need about a 100KM. Ultimately a very tidy little $80 deal. A bargoon and a half. And the depot is right around the corner from the apartment to boot. Bravo. According to the web site a live person will call back within one business day to re-confirm the arrangement.

Mr. Live Person calls back the next morning. "Sorry sir. We have no trucks available for you."

"Oh?" says Steve. "How come the web site says you do? I have a confirmation number."

"Oh - the computer wasn't up to date."

Translation: We don't want to rent you a truck for $60 when we can get $120 from another - less shrewd - customer. Sorry about your luck, loser.

Steve-o considers the evidence, goes back online and re-books a truck - same deal - but from another depot not quite so close to us. The internet transaction is successful. He immediately picks up the phone and calls the depot location directly.

Rental Girl answers, reviews the booking and announces that all is in order.

"Yes sir. Your truck is booked! It will be here waiting for you!" Bravo. We're back in business.

The next morning Steve-o gets a mysterious phone call from Mr. Slick at the new depot location. "Sorry sir. We have no trucks available for you!"

And we're back out of business.

"But I think you do," says Steve-o, "Because we've already been given confirmation. I talked to Rental Girl yesterday."

"That's not possible," says Mr. Slick. "We don't operate that way. We don't call back until the next day."

Translation: We also don't wish to rent you a truck for $60 when we can get $120 from another - less shrewd - customer. Sorry about your luck, loser.

"Ah - but I do operate that way." Says Steve-o. "That's why I called your location right away and accepted confirmation from Rental Girl."

"No no. That's not possible," says Mr. Slick. "We don't have any girls working at this location!"

Translation: I've already diddled with the computer and un-confirmed your confirmation so that we can get $120 from another - less shrewd - customer. Sorry about your luck, loser.

"Excuse me," says Steve-o. "It was a guy with a very feminine voice, then. And he already confirmed that you had a truck available and it was assigned to me."

"Well - um - somebody else - a customer that booked prior to you - he called back and needed an additional truck. So there."

"That's not my problem. That's his problem. I booked it first. We have a contract both written and verbal. You're obliged to honor it. Get a truck delivered from another location if you have to."

"Oh - we don't do that here. All our depots are independent."

"Well that's awfully strange," says Steve-o, "Because my friend works for your company. And his job is delivering vehicles from one depot to another! I guess you didn't know about that. But now you do. Go get me a truck. I expect to hear from you by the end of the day. If not - I'll be contacting your head office and inflicting a litany of rage upon them. Goodbye."

End of day. No call from Mr. Slick.

Steve-o calls back the next morning. Rental Girl #2 answers the phone. Apparently they've been on a recent girl-hiring binge behind Mr. Slick's back.

"Mr. Slick please."

"I'm sorry. Mr. Slick is out of the office at the moment," says the girl - or the eunuch - whatever the case may be.

"I presume he's out looking for my truck then. Be sure to inform Mr. Slick that he must contact me by noon or else I shall be settling this affair with your head office and I assure you that encounter shall be far from pleasant. Goodbye."

Noon. No call from Mr. Slick.

Steve-o does some settling with the head office and true to his word, it is far from pleasant.

Mr. Slick comes out of hiding. “We have a truck for you sir. But you won’t get it from 9AM Saturday to 9AM Sunday. You’ll get it from 3PM Saturday to 3PM Sunday. That’s the best we can do.”

Translation: You fucked with me and now I’m fucking with you, you belligerant little snot-nosed prick.

We’re back in business. Little does he know - the new time zone will work for us just fine. I call up my friend, Porn King and apologize for the change in plans. ‘Can you help me tomorrow evening instead of tomorrow morning?’, I ask him. He says he can. He’s a good guy. The best. He doesn’t even watch porn as far as I know.

I call up the bro and leave a message. I know he's golfing on Saturday and he offered to help out on Sunday if applicable.

"Dude, we're gonna be doing some unloading on Sunday after all. Meet us at the apartment whenever you're able. Thanks!"

I call up Maritime Kevin, our buddy from the office.

"Dude, I know you have to baby-sit Saturday during the day but we're gonna be doing some unloading Saturday evening starting at 7 or so. You mentioned you'd be free after 6."

"Yeah," says Maritime Kevin. "Sounds good."

"Thanks!" I say.

"I'll let you know," he says.

Huh? Wha? He'll let me know? I thought he just said it sounded good? What the heck's up with young people these days? You can't get any kind of commitment out of them. There's no honor. There's no such thing as solid plans for them. Everything's contingent on a last-minute analysis of all offers on the table.

"Youth these days - they're all hormones and cell phones," said Candy Man once. He comes out with some dandy quotes now and then but this is one of my favorites. He's an Englishman with a thick accent and about 35 years experience in the chocolate business. He's also a historian by hobby and my favorite fish-and-chips dining companion.

I think he's on to something there. Cell phones have eliminated the necessity of advance planning.

"Frank! It's Bill! What up!"

"On my way to Paul's party. Sounds like the place to be tonight."

"Not so, dude. Paul cancelled out. Changed his plans. Got a better offer."

"Shit. Now what?"

"Obviously - Peter's party. I'm on my way. See you there."

"No way. That gig's off. Peter got a better offer."

"Shit. That leaves the bar."

"See you at the bar." Click.

I think that bars invented cell phones in order to get more business. Think about it. Cell phones combined with the absence of integrity have created a permanent uncertainty within the world of youth culture in which bars are the only constant - the last resort. Voila! Another conspiracy revealed.

Moving can be fun when you're sitting around on your ass

Saturday. 3 PM. Pick-up time.

Steve-o and I have our asses parked in two of the dozen or so chairs that fill half of the Rental office. In hindsight I should have been suspicious that half of their real estate is devoted to a waiting room.

The two customers at the counter have been there for the hour that we’ve been present. How long they were here before that - who knows. There’s some kind of quiet dispute going on. The counter agent - the only employee on site - trades a few quiet brief words with the customers between 15 minute sessions of uninterupted keyboard clacking. I start to wonder if this man is actually writing a novel while on the job. I look around for employment applications but see none.

Finally we’re up to bat. It takes another half hour to settle the transaction and get the keys in our hot little hands. Counter Agent informs us that the truck is due back by 9 o’clock this evening.

“But we were told 3PM tomorrow!” we cry.

“No sir. We rent this particular size truck on a shift basis.”

“Fine,” we say. “Be that way.” We suspect that Mr. Slick is behind this.

Now we have to get all the unloading done tonight. And there will only be four of us to do the job. Actually six if you include Proffesor Plonk and Captain Vino but they’re getting up there in years and have not the sturdiest of backs. I don’t want them participating in the heavy stuff.

We take the truck and fly. The Streetsville apartment is on the way to the Hamilton storage unit so we stop to pick up a stack of old blankets to protect the furniture with.

Moving can be fun you meet a couple of hillbillies visiting the city

I park the truck strategically in the parking lot so that it’s only blocking 2 vehicles. We exit and rush up the exterior stairs to the great shared balcony and enter our apartment. I gather the blankets and a roll of tape while Steve-o grabs a case of bottled water. We hear a car honking repeatedly below us. Over and over and over again.

Christ! What timing! We only parked 60 seconds ago!

Steve runs out to the balcony to get a look at the action. Incredibly - the occupants of both cars are wanting to leave!

The folks in the red S.U.V. have gone off the deep end for losing 30 seconds of their life and are not prepared to lose another 30. They drive over the parking stones and into the next parking lot in order to escape. They fuck up the bottom of the truck’s body en route. Scrape it up real good. Steve-o has a good howl over that. The two men waiting to leave in the other car are out of the vehicle, standing beside it.

As I pass Steve-o, my arms loaded with blankets and the truck keys, he says:

“Hey! Do this!” He begins speaking in a debilitated voice - imitating one who is entirely deaf. “Thanks for honking so much! I’m hard of hearing!”

I don’t act on this advice. I just descend the stairs and head for the truck. The motorists have words for me.

“Hey - you’ve just started a war you know!”

“Really,” I reply, clearly disinterested.

“Some guy just drove over a cliff to get away!”

A cliff, he says. I kid you not. It was just a stupid parking stone.

Ignoring him, I thrust the stack of blankets into the back of the truck.

“You moving out?” asks the other guy, another real bright spark obviously.

“No,” I mutter. “I’m running a shipment of guns.” ‘…to service all the wars I’ve started, you stupid pea-brained cow-fuckers,’ I add under my breath. I hop in the truck and move it aside. The hillbillies take off. Steve-o appears in the passenger seat with the case of H2O and we split - Hamilton bound.

I call Porn King on the cell phone to change the plans on him yet again. I tell him to meet us around 5:30 at the storage unit. To the best of my knowledge Vino and Plonk are already aiming for those specifics. Just to be sure, I give Vino’s cell phone a jingle.

‘Hi you’ve reached Captain Vino’s voice mail on the crappy Fido network. My crappy Fido phone is probably sitting right beside me refusing to ring. If you leave me a message maybe I’ll get it in a day or three.’

I leave a brief message. “Don’t come until 5:30,” I say. Immediately upon hanging up I get a voice mail notification. We were trading messages simultaneously. He and Plonk are already waiting for us at the storage unit building. Now they’ll go for coffee and return to meet us there.

Steve-o’s cell phone rings. He talks. Trades some laughs. Hangs up.

“Was that Maritime Kevin?” I ask.


“Is he coming tonight?”

“No. He has to baby-sit tonight too.”

“FUCKER!!” I cry. “Remind me to dust his cubicle with anthrax!”

“Okay, but save some for the truck. We want to fill the vents with it before we return it tonight.”

Upon arrival at “The Hold” storage facility we find Plonk and Vino have returned and are waiting for us.

“You’ve got a key, right?” asks Vino - very seriously. Too seriously. I suspect he’s setting me up for some gag.

“To the unit,” I say. “Not the building.”

“So how do you get into the building?”

“Through the main office. I sign in, show ID. They let me in.”

“But there’s no one in the office. They left. The ‘Open’ sign is turned off.”

“You’re fucking kidding me.”

“I’m not.”

He isn’t. They’re closed for the night. We’re fucked.

Moving can be fun when you’ve got great friends

Too make a long story short -- things improved from that point on. I got a hold of Porn King who had almost arrived when I warned him to turn around. Incredibly he was not put out and was more than happy to come back Sunday morning to help out. This guy is the bomb, I tell you. You gotta love him.

We left the truck in their parking lot in order to avoid extra mileage expense. Plonk and Vino drove us home to Streetsville and together we dined at the local Pickle Barrel - purveyors of decent food and wine, big servings, water-walls and light-emanating floors. It felt just a little bit Star-Trekkish. Ten thumbs up for the California Spring Rolls. Mm-mm good!

Vino and PK helped us load up in the morning. PK and the bro helped us unload.

We got the truck back to the depot at about ten-after-three Sunday afternoon.

Miraculously Counter Agent was easily swayed and we escaped with only an $80 bill! We traded very cool glances and a half smirk on the way out.

All’s well that ends well…