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Me and the Mouse

8 Mar

scary mouseMany, many years ago when I was not as cool as I am now there was an epic battle between me and a rodent.

I was at work pondering things such as String Theory and its eleven dimensional universe, and how to remove the chewy caramel stuck between my teeth, when the phone rang.

She: You gotta come home now!

Me: Okaay?

She: I’m in the kitchen on the counter!

Me: Okaaay? Why are you on the counter?

She: There’s a mouse in the apartment and he’s sitting there staring at me!

Me: Oh. Okay.

By the time I got home she was still in the kitchen, on the counter.

She: It’s in the bedroom. Get it! Get it!

Noble sire that I am I armed myself with broom and bucket. It was a nasty, vicious battle, attacking and retreating many times. Finally I had the four legged devil in the bucket. Off to the building’s garbage chute. Victory as I closed the chute with a satisfying clang. I was a hero that had overcome tooth and claw. Such power!? Such bravery!

That evening there was a soft knock at the door. There stood  a teary eight year old who lived on the same floor.

He: Have you seen my gerbil? I love my gerbil. I only got him today and he escaped. I really love my gerbil!

Me: Uhm, uhm, oh.





Some People Just Can’t Seem To Take A Compliment

17 Jan


Sometimes no matter how hard I try I can’t get people to appreciate my generosity, my admiration for the results of their hard work.

Recently S-S and I with friends had the unpleasure of having to renovate a condo that tenants had basically trashed after living there for nine years. Big ugh factor. We essentially spent the entire Christmas and New Years period doing major – and I mean MAJOR – cleaning painting and flooring. Big time Ack on this stuff! Not my favourite activity! No way, especially at Christmas. ‘Holmes on Holmes’ can keep this non-delight to himself and his minions,

Anyway, S-S was doing a major cleanup of the door knobs that were covered in tape and paint and some other disgusting grey stuff that was its own ecosystem. She was using Brasso and some liquid that would remove skin, warts and nasal hairs. The results were fantastic. The door knobs glowed a soft pewter-brass, like sun through a light mist on a summer’s day. I was so impressed with the excellent result. But had breathed in too many paint fumes. I merely said,

“That’s fantastic! You’re the Queen of the Knobs!”

offwith his headThe look I got was one of “Off with his head!” or some body part lower down.

I tell ya, some people just can’t seem to take a compliment.


French Canadian Virgins and Sahara Mouth

6 Apr

Have you ever had a moment when you can’t believe what has just come out of your mouth? I’ve been known to do that occasionally. Here’s one.

Quebec Virgin and Child

Quebec Virgin and Child

I was teaching an evening class on Canadian art. That night was on Quebec religious sculpture. There was a good attendance, about 200 students. I mean if you are going to screw up make sure it’s in front of the biggest audience, right? I was waxing profoundly on those marvelous Quebec Virgin Mary and Christ Child statues seen in every Quebec church. At the height of my expert stylistic analysis out came the words,

“You can always tell a French Canadian Virgin by the sway of her hips.”

Now I said big “V” Virgin. Two hundred people heard small “v”.

As the giggles began to roll around the theatre, first like a ripple, then a tsunami, my brain finally caught up with my mouth.

“Humma, humma, humma”,

Attempting a recovery I commanded,

“Next slide please. This is an example of a typical Quebec church window called ‘oeil de boeuf’ which translates as bulls–t.”

There it was, a twofer for the night. Two neurons must have been firing overtime. The class was mostly teachers. What a pack of animals! Cackling like hyenas. One laughed so hard she wet her pants.

Fortunately, or not,  I developed Sahara mouth, both my mouth and throat dried and seized up. From “Humma humma” to “Ack, Ack” all in 30 seconds.

Class ended early that night. Always have an audience, always! The bigger the better!
P.S. Oeil de boef means bull’s eye

Another Great Moment In My Life, Not. Boats and Cars Don’t Mix

23 Mar
A New Concept in Parking

A New Concept in Parking

Have you ever seen a ten foot car on a twenty foot boat? I have and I put it there. But it wasn’t my fault. Honest!

It was a hot summer weekend in Toronto. I was alone on our sailboat, working on an art history lecture. S-S had lent our van to a relative to take a trip to Kingston. In exchange he let us use his car. Well, more of a crapbox than a car. It was a small, rusty, orange Nissan. More rust than orange.

To get some prep time alone I drove it to our club, ABYC in Toronto, and parked it on the far side of the parking lot away from all the real cars. Far, far away.

I had been working on the boat for some hours when the hot still air suddenly became a howling gale, a hot dry, dusty, city-smelly gale. Then just as suddenly it stopped. I continued working on my lecture when I heard a commotion on the dock. It became so loud I had to go and check.

Although the picture here is not the incident it shows perfectly the situation. Well, that rusty crapbox, had decided that when that gale blew across its rear that it would shift out of park, into neutral, and merrily coast the whole length of the parking lot, across a lawn, down an incline and park itself onto the bow of a friend’s boat. The two were intimately bobbing up and down in the waves, firmly fixed together, forever, it seemed, in some surf and turf conjugal rite. Eventually I had to rent a crane to undo the perverted car-boat embrace.

Final results: friend not happy (big understatement!); me making the photo headline in the next club newsletter; insurance company person giggling to herself as I explained what happened; S-S calmly stating that I should have parked the crapbox a little bit more to the right so it would have missed the boat entirely and dived straight into the water for an easier insurance claim. Life is so simple when she explains it to me.

I hate “should haves.”

Another Cringeworthy Moment. Of Friends and Funerals

16 Mar
Give me more tape! More tape!

Give me more tape! More tape!

We had good friends at the yacht club. Kind, considerate, helpful people. But the husband had a stroke and died.
His wife organized a wake to commemorate his life. The place was packed, the atmosphere pleasant.
Eventually it was time to go. As I was going out the door, in one of those exquisitely mindless, cringeworthy moments I blurt out to the new widow, “This was fun. We should do it again!”
The door hit my arse on the way out.

Why Don’t We Get Drunk and …

27 Jan

A friend from Palm Springs recently visited. Palm Springs, ah yes. More cringeworthy memories to share.


The scene:  the early 2000s; a restaurant in downtown Palm Springs; participants in addition to self,  S-S, mother-in-law (ML) and father-in-law (FL).


It's 5 o'clock somewhere

It’s 5 o’clock somewhere

S-S and I were enjoying the warmth and entertainment of Palm Springs’ downtown. We are in a restaurant with the in-laws. A singer is  taking requests for songs. S-S and I are on one side of the table, in-laws facing us on the other. Playing the big shot I stroll up to the singer, pay him a whole $1 (US) and ask him to play something by Jimmy Buffet. I love Jimmy Buffet!


I swagger back to the table showing the in-laws how cool and sophisticated I am. I’m expecting “Margaritaville” or “Changes in Latitudes”. ML smiles at me. SL smiles at me. S-S smiles at me. Then, so that you could hear him in San Diego, the singer bellows out Jimmy B’s “Why Don’t We Get Drunk And Screw?” ML shudders big time, flickering eyes avoiding contact with S-S and me and looking to heaven to escape. FL hrmphs and grmphs, wishing he  was kicking tires in the Mercedes sales lot. But S-S gives me the eye; you guys know, THE eye. Ouch! Fear! Big moment gone. On the way home the deadly silence that screams.


Big lecture from S-S that night. Maybe I should have paid the singer $2 (US).

Blisters On The …

23 Jan

This post may contain content and language some may consider offensive. Get a life!

Feet on Fire

Feet on Fire

Have you ever had one of those cringe-worthy moments that you wish you could forget but pop up unexpectedly? Read on.

The trigger was recently having to sleep in a top – wait for it – bunk. Don’t ask why I was doing this but I was. The ladder to climb up had small metal rungs that were quite painful on the soles and balls of the feet.

Flasback. The scene: the early ’80s; a conference in St. John’s, Newfoundland, in an old convent that had been converted into a hospital/nursing school; last night of the conference with a dance in the gym.

In those days I used to kick off my shoes to dance. Better foot action. Lordy I was good! The music was loud and fast. My feet were like lightning. After about an hour my feet felt like they had been hit by lightning: hot and tender and blistering.

Sister Pius Condemnata

Sister Pius Condemnata

Slowly I hobbled off the dance floor and almost crawled to the nun, Sister Pius Condemnata, sitting at the hospital reception. She looked at me as though I had just come from some satanic orgy. I started to say, “I have blisters on the balls of my feet.” She immediately shrieked, “You have blisters on the balls?” and then in an octave and 20 decibels higher, “He has blisters on the balls!” Like ninjas a half dozen student nurses appeared out of the shadows chanting, “Blisters on the balls, blisters on the balls …!” The next thing I knew I was thrown onto a gurney, eager female hands pulling at my belt and slacks. What a male fantasy! “No, no,” I eventually and feebly protested, “It’s my feet, the balls of my feet.” Instantly those grasping, exploring hands bounced back like I was some Ebola patient. “Oh!” and “Eeuw!” became the new chant. The angels quickly became white ghosts and disappeared into the shadows from whence they had come. I was there alone on the gurney in the middle of reception feet still burning. Out of the shadows came a hunched, black-cloaked form, Sister Geriatrica Extrema, with her potions and bandages muttering in Latin, or maybe Newfoundland-speak, “Next time, Bozo, wear shoes when dancing.”

It’s amazing what climbing up a ladder into a top bunk can dredge up. I can remember every detail of that time over 30 years ago. Now, if only I could remember what I had for breakfast this morning?