I was going to write, “You can’t make this stuff up,” but apparently you can.
Not only have I been having unusually vivid dreams lately, I’m actually remembering them — something that almost never happens. Although given the occurrences in these dreams, I wonder if I’d be better off forgetting them. Not because they’re terrible, but because they’re so goddamn weird.
Oh, Netflix Canada…
San Francisco for Game Developers Conference, March 4, 2012. Early morning. My friend Danielle and I are sharing a hotel room and we’re fast asleep in our respective beds…
…which suddenly begin to shake. A lot.
The rumbling lasted a solid 30 seconds, but I was so tired that I barely registered what was happening. I heard the rustling of Danielle’s bedsheets, followed by a loud whisper:
“I think that was an earthquake!”
- Sandy: Lots of people have been successful with online dating, she should try that site Too Many Fish...
- Me: ...It's Plenty Of Fish, Sandy.
Not everyone can use the phrase “Sometimes I’m so ESL” to excuse some of the regrettable words that escape your lips.
But my friend Rene can. He began his story with that very phrase, mentioning that he was at a bakery with a friend who was scoping out the array of cakes on display.
Rene piped up, “Why are you looking at cakes, you heifer?”
His friend, shocked, said, “Rene! Are you trying to tell me that I’m fat?”
“No,” he replied, genuinely not knowing that heifer was another word for cow because French is his first language. “I wanted to call you a slut.”
Under any other normal circumstance, I’d agree that the term “feisty turtle” is an odd pairing of words.
But I can’t agree. I’ve looked after my neighbour’s turtle Harold (Harold!) on three separate occasions now and I think that has earned me the prestigious title of Turtle-Sitter Who Can Assign Adjectives To Local Reptiles Under Her Temporary Care, along with Observer of Curious Turtle Behaviour.
One night after feeding Harold, I decided to sit and watch for a while. I’d never actually watched turtles for an extended period of time — unlike most of the general population, obviously.
For one thing: Harold yawned and let me tell you, you really haven’t lived until you’ve seen a turtle yawn.
Imagine a turtle having just been woken from his hibernation. He’s been dug out from his underground haven with fresh soil still spattered across his shell and he’s slowly turning his head side-to-side, as if trying to make sense of his surroundings in his sleepy haze.
Then picture him raising his front foot to his mouth and yawning.
But that wasn’t the end.
As spoken and written by my pal Jon, immortalized on the disposable table cover at the Bier Markt in Toronto. And what quote would be complete without careful illustrations?
Imagine boarding a bus en route to the indigenous Embera community in Panama, a long drive and boat ride down a river, far away from a privileged resort life of excessive food and free-flowing alcohol.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. First, picture a tour guide named Tony, speaking into a little microphone for his voice to carry over the din of the mini-bus speeding its way across the Pan-American highway.
Tony announces that a typical Panamanian salary is around $400 a month, and a post-secondary education runs about $30 for the year.
Suddenly, a woman from B.C. in the tour group decides this is the perfect moment to bring up her own plight.
“That’s so cheap!” she exclaims incredulously. “Do you know how expensive everything is in Canada? It’s going to cost me $100,000 to put my daughter through school! Oh, and our health care system is the worst, you have to wait forever…”
Then you think/hope she’ll shut up any second because she’s embarrassing herself, not to mention the person who chimed in to agree that, yes, everything costs far too much in Canada and we have such a rough life, especially compared to the high-rolling citizens of Panama!
But she doesn’t shut up.
You know what’s a great feeling? Thinking you won’t like doing something, but doing it anyway only to discover that you were right all along.
Not that I have anything against being satisfyingly wrong. But when I realized a long time ago that going to a tropical resort was just not appealing, someone said, “You can’t say you don’t like it if you’ve never gone.”
I’m usually not the sort who will dismiss something because I think I won’t like it. I used to hate olives, then I made myself try them after a long time of staying away and now I love them. I never thought I’d like SpongeBob SquarePants and Matt practically begged me to watch it with him — now it’s one of the only scripted comedies that makes me laugh.
Food and television are easy fixes. You try it and don’t like it? Spit it out. You watch it and don’t like it? Bitch about how unfunny it is and switch the channel. A resort is a much more costly experiment.
Then, just days after Christmas, we had a good excuse: Matt’s friends were getting married.
On a resort.
I won’t reveal who said this during lunch at the Whistler Film Festival, but I will give context, even though it could be just as fun and inappropriate to leave it be as I’ve done in the past. (Or the times I probably went into far too much detail.)
A person at my table commented that the chocolate cake for dessert was quite rich, to which someone else piped up, “Rich like Warren Buffett.”
The man on my left looked up for a moment, gave his head a slight shake and said, “…I totally thought you said something else and you really don’t want me to repeat what I thought it was.”
Of course when someone says that, you do want him to repeat it. So he did. And I thought my hearing was bad…
When I encounter a restaurant that offers a completely unrealistic eating challenge, I can’t help but wonder what deluded masochist would be so ready, willing and able to tackle ungodly amounts of food.
Then along came my cousin Mark.
Mark, he of steak and Jell-O-filled plates. He whose sky-high piled meals cause paper plates to literally bend under the weight of the food. With his boundless energy and active lifestyle, he manages to keep a trim figure — one look and you’d never guess he could eat his weight in food.
Last month, he came pretty damn close.
It was his sister Kris’s birthday and a bunch of us gathered at RealSports Bar and Grill, where we discovered The Hail Mary on the menu:
That’s right: 67 oz steak. One pound of fries. One pound of coleslaw. One hour.
It began as a joke. He even dared to utter the phrase, “I’ve always wanted to try that.” But as the jokes progressed, they soon become, well, not jokes at all.
Then he spoke the inevitable words: “I’m gonna do it.”
We weren’t sure if he was serious, but he shut his menu with such conviction that we knew he’d made up his mind.
“DON’T DO IT!!!” cried Kris, arms outstretched.
He wouldn’t listen. It would take an hour and a half for the steak to cook, meaning he had an hour and a half to mentally prepare himself. (And you can bet there are pictures…)
A Fredericton cabbie to my cousin Kris when she was on a business trip in New Brunswick last week.
Really? Really? The same cabbie also turned to her earlier and said very slowly, “Your English. VERY GOOD.”
In discussing my friend Kym’s neverending obsession with New Kids on the Block last night, she recounted the day that her husband Adam (who plays on my softball team) waited by his computer until the very second that he could enter a code online to buy $500 VIP concert tickets, which would grant her backstage access to talk and *gasp* touch her favourite boy band.
She then told us about his experience in picking up the tickets from the box office, at which time he also happened to be getting Nine Inch Nails concert tickets for Kym.
The box office attendant did a double-take when he handed the tickets to Adam, then turned to him and said, “Either you’re fucked up or you have two girlfriends.”
“They’re for my wife,” he replied. “And yes, she’s fucked up.”
- Me: Hey, do you know a place around here where I might buy a pogo stick?
- Weird ex-Marine cousin: Dick's.
- Me: ...Dick's?
- Weird ex-Marine cousin: It's a sporting goods store. You'll see it in the mall. It has a huge sign that says DICK'S.
It’s not a euphemism. Dad actually found a piece of a banana in his pocket when we were about to leave Cleveland. Grandma, brother and Mom look on with unidentifiable expressions in the background.
More than 15 years (15! 1-5!) have gone by since I’ve gone on a road trip with my parents and brother, and I thought those days were long behind me. But this past weekend, we took a whirlwind weekend trip to Cleveland, OH, where my cousin Jenny became the second in the family to get married.
The trip was more than a little surreal when I realized that my brother and I spent most of the time in the front and behind the wheel while our parents took it easy in the backseat.
We spent much of the trip making Simpsons references, from imitating Homer’s scream when he tried to sneak fruits and veggies across the border — and then driving past Bort Road shortly thereafter (!!!) — to saying “Free shower curtain!” when we arrived at the hotel and wondering whether or not Free Willy would be on TV.
We’d burst into random spurts of laughter, making our parents laugh.
After the fact, Dad would say, “What are we laughing at?”
Mom replied, “I don’t know. They have their own inside jokes, we’re just laughing at them laughing.”
We stopped at a McDonald’s for a pee break — Mom always has to go…again, weird role reversal — and Dad bought a coffee. He was confused trying to figure out the newfangled coffee lid when my brother impatiently flipped up the flap.
Dad’s eyes lit up in fascination and he exclaimed, “Amazing!”
To which Andrew dryly responded, “What a time to be alive.”
More tales from Ohio to come, including strange pictures, bananas and polka dancing. Welcome (back) to my life.