Monday, June 09, 2008

Combing It Over

When I lived on the north side of Edmonton, I used to ride the same bus to and from work every single day. And every single day, the bus was filled with the exact same people that sat in the exact same seats in complete silence.

No one talks on the bus in the morning because most people haven't had coffee yet and are barely coherent. If I managed to actually do my hair and get a lunch thrown together before the bus arrived, it was a very good morning. The trip home from work was exactly the same at the trip to work. Everyone’s caffeine had long worn off and they were tired from dealing with difficult people and silence reigned over the bus...for the most part. Some people have spent years riding the bus with the same people and have formed 'bus friends'. So now and again some people talked, some people talked very loudly. Usually these people talked about things no one else ever wants to know about, but the whole bus ended up having to hear about it.

Bertha: Morning Gertrude. How are you?
Gertrude: Oh Bertha, my psoriasis is really acting up again!
Bertha: Don’t I know it?! My joints are positively aching and I barely made it to the washroom to put my teeth in this morning. If I wasn’t meeting my new boyfriend, Wally, this morning at the Southgate Seniors’ Drop in Centre I would have just stayed in bed!
Gertrude: Wally? My Wally?!??!
Bertha: Um, yeah. I thought you broke up after he moved out of your lodge…
Gertrude: Well, if we weren’t broken up before, we certainly are now!

On one particularly quiet afternoon, a man found one of his long lost bus friends and started an extremely loud conversation. His running commentary on the sad state of the public school system and 'what are they teaching those kids these days anyways?' was so loud that I couldn't get my cat nap in before I arrived home. So I came up with a plan of action. I decided to give him the no-bus-talking-glare. I've used this specific glare before and it works wonders. It's a mix of disgust and surprise at the audacity of the loud bus-talker.

As I turned abruptly in my seat to give the no-bus-talking-glare, I was unable to pull it off due to shock. I got a full, head on view of one of the biggest comb overs I have ever seen in my life. He had even dyed it a reddish blonde that only enhanced the ridiculousness of his hairdo. I was stunned. I couldn’t stop staring for quite some time. He caught my eye and smiled, mindless of the horror frozen on my face. I managed to curtly nod and look away before bursting into hilarious giggles and having to smother the laughter in my coat.

How and when do men start combing it over? At what age does the comb over start to be acceptable? Does it sneak up on men like crows feet and grey hair does for women? I mean, do men wake up one day and all of the sudden notice that they've got a comb over? Would this result in un-manly screaming?

Just for the record, there is something that is actually worse than the comb over. I am sure many people think the comb over is the worst possible hairdo for a man, but the comb forward is even worse! It lifts up like a garage door in a severe wind and has a daily requirement of half a bottle of hairspray. And how do they get level bangs? Do comb forward men have to trim their bangs every day after it gets plastered down?

If you are tempted to comb it over, STOP. Embrace your baldness and know that the comb over doesn’t fool anyone, it only shocks the general public.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

I am Camerican.

In a few months, I will have lived in Canada for 10 years. 10 YEARS. When I stop and think about this, I am shocked. I came here, only planning to stay for 1 year, and suddenly 10 years have passed by.

After 10 years of living in the Great White North, I think I can officially be considered a true Camerican. What is a Camerican, you ask?

Camerican – (Kah-mare-ick-en). Noun. A Camerican is a person that has duel citizenship in both America and Canada and has spent large amounts of time in both countries. This person can also be referred to as a ‘duly’.

I am very proud to be a ‘Camerican’. There aren’t many of us out there. We bridge the divide between Canadians and Americans. We are the ambassadors that help Americans and Canadians to respect and learn about each other’s country. I help Canadians understand that America doesn’t want to conquer and take over their country and I am living proof to Americans that people do live and survive in northern Canada, don’t live in igloos, have normal jobs and homes and we travel via car, not dogsleds.

An issue that most Camericans deal with is that they are always told they have an accent. In Canada, I am ‘SO American’ in the way I speak. When I go home to America, I am told, ‘You have such a Canadian accent!’ I just can’t win.

Having gleaned so much information about Canada in the past 10 years, I think it only prudent for me to share some tips for Americans that want to visit Canada.

Pronunciation Guide for All Americans Traveling up North

  • Asphalt – (Ash-fault) Apparently Canadians don’t want to appear to be swearing…even if it’s how the word is spelled…
  • Project – (Pah-roe-ject) Something to get done
  • Vase – (vah- zuh) At least you get to feel sophisticated while talking about your home d├ęcor items.
  • Pasta – (passed-uh) It is most important to say it correctly while ordering in a loud restaurant so as not to confuse your waiter.
  • Mario – (Mare-ee-oh) Just go with it.
  • Decal – (deck-uhl) rhymes with freckle…
  • Z – (zed) This is how Canadians pronounce the letter ‘Z’. If you have to spell something, make sure to do so correctly.
    “How do you spell your last name Mrs. Maritzo?
    “M-A-R-I-T-Zed-O”
  • Measure – (meh-zure) To be honest, this may be a Donloree issue, not an American/Canadian issue. I pronounce this ‘may-zure’…but then so does my family, so I have lumped it in here for your reference. If you do pronounce it the way I do, woe to you! You will be severely mocked while in Canada!!
  • Garage – (Gah-rah-juh) A place to park your car.

Words to use, so they don’t know you are American

  • States – You ARE NOT from America, you are from the ‘States’.
  • Eh – Put this at the end of some phrases here and there. It can be used to ask a question, agree with someone or just fill in dead conversation space.
  • Hey – To be used synonymously with ‘eh’.
  • Bum – This refers to your posterior, not a homeless person.
  • Chesterfield – A couch. Use this word sparingly, and only around people that are older than 70. Though, when used in the correct context, people will be amazed at your knowledge of the Canadian language.
  • Toque – Beanie or stocking hat

You are now fully prepared to travel up to the Great White North…and when it drops to -40 Celsius, don’t forget to wear a toque, hey?!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Whatever you do...don't ask!!

Almost every male over the age of 15 knows better than to ask a woman if she’s pregnant. So why haven’t women learned not to ask?

Every non-pregnant woman that has ever been asked this question is emotionally scarred for…well, life really. Every woman knows what a horrible question this is; you would think they would never, ever ask it of another woman.

Women should only ask their friends after they drop hints like, “So after the baby comes” or only when they are obviously pregnant. The 8 month mark is a safe time to ask, and even then it is still only marginally safe.

A few years ago I was running some errands downtown after work and I happened to see Alice, one of my over 60 year old friends. I popped over to say hello to her and a woman whom I had never met. As Alice and I were chatting away, I felt an odd sensation on my stomach. I glanced down to find a hand that was not my own rubbing my stomach in wonder. I immediately stopped talking. The strange woman noticed the pause and burst into our conversation exclaiming, “You’re pregnant!”

I froze and stared at her with my mouth open.

Alice froze and stared at her with her mouth open…and then she hit her.

Once I got my mouth snapped back into place, I calmly removed her hand and told her that I wasn’t in fact pregnant but a bit chubby around the middle. I tried to put this obviously misinformed woman at ease despite her epic faux paus. After all, if I were to make such a glaring mistake, I would hope for some grace.

Do you know what she said next?

“Well, you sure look pregnant.”

There needed to be some back pedaling or severe remorse at this point! Even blank, uncomfortable silence would have been better than her snappy comment. Appropriate responses include:
"Of course you aren’t. I am severely delusional and off my meds.”
“Oh. My. Gosh. I am SO sorry.”
“No…no you are not…have I mentioned how much I like your outfit?”

In the code of womanhood, there should be a clause about never informing a non-pregnant woman that she looks pregnant.

I went home that night and had celery for supper.

Once a strange woman rubs your chubby tummy, you’ll even give up chocolate for a day or so in an effort to make yourself look less pregnant-esque.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Ridiculous Rules

This Christmas my family decided to partake in a past time that we all grew up with and remember fondly – bowling.

In my opinion, bowling is a ridiculous sport. Fun, but ridiculous – and for several reasons.

Reason #1 You have to rent shoes! There is no other sport so stringent on attire while sporting. I could wear a down filled parka in +48 Celsius while golfing, there are no swimsuit specifications at the local swimming pool (unfortunately people can wear Speedos and bikinis despite what the mirror tells them), and I could run a marathon in flip flops if I so desired. When you go bowling you HAVE to wear shoes that 8,000 other people have worn and are still warm and a bit gooey from the disinfectant that was just sprayed in the shoe. Why? It’s not like I arrived in 4 inch stiletto heels! What are my non-marking tennis shoes going to do out there in bowling land??! Not only do you have to wear the horrible shoes, but you have to PAY the bowling alley to wear them! Somehow, it just doesn’t add up.

Reason #2 There are so many rules regarding the wooden floor area that makes up the bowling lanes. Above every lane a sign is posted that reads, “Do Not Cross White Line.” Why? If you step across the line, what’s going to happen? Is there a secret infrared light that detects even a toe that has broken the rule? Does a silent alarm go off and the bowling police come escort you out of the bowling alley? It seems a bit over the top. Nor can you have food in the bowling area. If you want a snack, you have to sit about 20 feet back from your friends. Eating people are segregated from the non-eaters. It’s not really fair. If you want to share a plate of nachos with someone you have to notify them when you’re leaving the snacking area to go bowling and that they better come supervise the snack. Usually this involves loud yelling that people 3 lanes over can hear. “Hey Frank, I am up next – do you want any of these nachos?” It’s important to notify your friends that you are leaving the snack post, lest the server come and take your nachos away!!

Reason #3 The whole point of the game is to huck a heavy rock straight down a very long strip of hard wood to knock down the 10 pins (or 5 pins, depending what country you’re in) all at once. I have a feeling that this sport was created about 300 years ago in a small village somewhere. Back then, I am sure it was quite the sport!

So, there we all were…the whole family with ridiculous clown shoes on and bowling balls in hand. We began hucking our bowling balls down the long lane with much hilarity.

When I was about 13 years old, I got over the fear of sticking my fingers in the dark, unknown bowling ball holes and began to throw the ball like most normal people. No longer was I relegated to walking up to the white line, bending over at the waist and rolling the ball down the lane with a good heave-ho! This particular day, I was bowling with confidence. I grabbed my 10 pound purple and green psychedelic colored ball, took a few confident strides and hucked the ball with flair down the lane.

My husband, sportsperson extraordinaire, is always telling me how important follow through is when playing sports. I could hear his patient voice in my head and continued my forward stride when I released the ball, after all, I wanted to get a strike! Then, unbeknownst to me, my right foot crossed that sacred white line of the bowling lane only to be followed by my left foot. Suddenly it was as though I was on ice skates! The bowling people had that lane waxed to a high sheen and my rented clown shoes were no match for it. My follow through was now pushing me forward down the bowling lane towards the pins. I was unable to get any footing and was tripping forward due to the immense amount of momentum my follow through created. I made a split second decision to lean backwards to counteract the forward motion in order to stop the crazed, head first careening down the bowling lane.

Sometimes these quick decisions you make in life, aren’t always the best ones. I was quite panicked, so I over compensated on the mid flight correction. I ended up going straight backwards onto my butt with my head cracking the bowling lane a split second later. It happened so fast that I didn’t even put out my arms! I don’t think many people noticed the deafening noise my head made on the lane, because it was so similar to the sound of the many bowling balls hitting the ground.

Once I stopped seeing stars, I opened my eyes to see my whole family peering down at me in complete horror and shock. I laid there for a moment, unable to move from pain and embarrassment. I am sure I was quite the sight all sprawled out on the bowling lane 8 feet from the white line. The craziness of the situation hit me and I laid there giggling, but unable to get up due to pain radiating from my head and the large amount of wax on the lane.

I was a quite shaky from the trauma of the whole situation, so the family decided to push me down the lane on my butt – they were able to do it with ease since the lane was so slick! As I was being delivered to my seat, I noticed that 10 lanes of people had stopped bowling to watch my latest fiasco. The lady at the front desk ran over in a tizzy to make sure I was ok while I was being slid down the lane. In between my giggles and embarrassment I assured her that I was ok. She seemed quite relieved, mostly because she realized that I wasn’t going to sue her. What would I sue for? Allowing ridiculous and clumsy people such as myself into the bowling alley?

The next day when I could barely move my neck due to the whiplash I gave myself while bowling, all could see in my mind’s eye was that sign mocking me:

Do Not Cross White Line

No kidding! Who knew that not following such a silly rule would cause a person to get whiplash while bowling?!

I think my new motto in life needs to be “Do what the sign says, no matter how ridiculous it seems!