Questions About Underwear

As I got dressed this morning I noticed something as I put on my underwear. As I’m typing this I’m still wondering whether this is worthy of the finger energy to type it, but it annoyed me, and what better inspiration for writing than being annoyed? I don’t think I’m giving too much away to family and friends that may read this to say I wear Boxer-Briefs. Exclusively. I’m not brand loyal, although it seems as though I should be. I don’t remember the circumstances surrounding my most recent underwear acquisition (Christmas gift, Sale…..), but I will say that the underwear in question were purchased from The Gap. What could possibly annoy me so much about Gap underwear this morning? Was it not a quality garment? It was. In fact, they’re very comfortable, and I would even go as far as saying better than average.

GAP Boxer Briefs for whatever reason, have 3 goddamn labels stitched into the back. Not short stubby ones either. Ridiculously long flowing silky labels. Worn conservatively, these labels are long enough, that they easily pass the top end of the crack in my ass. My questions regarding this are….

1) How much information could The Gap think I could possibly need (to carry around with me at all times mind you) regarding this underwear? Information so important that it wasn’t sufficient to have it posted on the packaging the underwear came in, or on their website, but rather tickling my hind parts as I walk around.
2) Could they not have found a way to somehow consolidate this extremely urgent information so that either the labels weren’t as long, or there weren’t 3 of them, or both?

For those curious as to what information is contained on these labels, let me first assure you that there is typing on both sides of each label, so it’s more like 6 in terms of information provided. My favorite part has to be that the first label says one of two, and the third label says two of two, but the middle label isn’t numbered. It tells you where the garment is made (India). The cotton vs. polyester blend. It tells you care instructions in no less than 20 different languages, and it has importing information in the same amount of languages. All very important information for the paying customer. You may note sarcasm and say “But wait a minute…. Care instructions actually are important for the end-user”. You would be right, but any underwear that has care instructions indicating something other than ‘throw these in the washing machine’ need to be discarded immediately, or never purchased preferably.

To be thorough, I decided to see how the other guys do it. I went through my underwear drawer to see what other brands I wear, and how they handle this important situation. I have some Hanes. They stitch one label into the waistband at the back. Just exactly the way you’d expect. The message is short and sweet. Found another Hanes product here, but they have the information stamped in. No label even. Puma underwear? My favorite so far. No information at all. No label. I can probably go to their website if I have a question, right?? Here’s the thing though….. I’ve been wearing underwear for 40 years, and this is the first time I’ve had a question about it. The question is why the crazy labels, GAP?

On another underwear note, I have a diaper thought regarding my son, who I’m sure would grow up to not appreciate me discussing his underwear situation so publicly. By the time he’s old enough to read this, the internet will have probably exploded or something, so here we go. My son’s diapers have characters from Sesame Street on them. Every time I put a diaper on him, he points at the diaper and says “Elmo?” To which I say ‘yes’ if it is Elmo. Sometimes it’s Cookie Monster, or Oscar The Grouch, and on the night-time diapers, it seems to be Bert & Ernie most of the time. He either asks for Elmo because he’s more familiar with Elmo’s spin-off show than he is with actual Sesame Street, or maybe he prefers Elmo, or maybe it’s because he just knows how to pronounce Elmo, but I wonder this…… You know how adults tend to have a couple of favorite outfits in their wardrobe? You know, the ones that when you wear them to work, you’re full of confidence, and you know it’s going to be a good day?? I wonder if my son has a good day when he draws an Elmo diaper in the morning?


And The Paranoia Begins…..

I went out for a beer last night with a friend of mine. One of those friends who you share old stories with, and then near the end of the night when you start doing the math, you realized that most of the things you talked about happened more than half your life ago which makes you feel old and weird. Nevertheless, these little beer nights seem few and far between for whatever reason, and the last thing I wanted was for either of us to get killed, but I’ll get to that later.

We’re at a bar that I’ve been to a few times before. One of the best beer selections I’ve seen, and they keep the pricing very reasonable considering the rarity of some of the beers they have. Great beer, low price is a fantastic business model if you ask me. I’ll give them all the money I can spare. The food wasn’t as good as I’d remembered, but you can’t have it all. The waitress was cute, and did a good job answering our questions. We had a nice spot right near the front of the restaurant beside a window. Life was good, and we were having a good time catching up, when the paranoia sets in.

A guy in his mid 50s comes in with a sandwich board looking sign over his shoulders that says “What Is Love?” He stands right near the front door, which is basically right near us. I’m waiting to see what sort of disturbance he’s going to cause. We were in downtown Toronto, which is really safe by large urban metropolis standards, but there are still quite a few weirdos out there, and on a scale of 1 to 10 in terms of weird parts of town, this bar was located between 8.5 and 9. At first I thought maybe this guy was homeless, but with the sign and all, he’s clearly got a bee in his bonnet. Perhaps he’s protesting something. Or maybe he’s selling flowers. He took the sign off his shoulders to take a little rest. I didn’t see any flowers under there. Have you ever had someone sell you flowers in a restaurant? Not on a Wednesday. He seemed like he was waiting for someone, but he didn’t grab a table (it was seat yourself). Then he went outside for a second. Not for a cigarette, just to do it. Then he came back in and stood. Near our table no less. All of which caused my friend and I to have the following conversation which I sort of remember sounding like this…….

Me: Do you see this guy?
Him: Yeah. What is Love?
Me: Baby don’t hurt me….don’t hurt me….no more….(you won’t get that unless you’re between 38 and 43, so let’s move on)
Him: What do you think?
Me: I think we’re gonna get stabbed. This is the beginning of Fisher King all over again.
Him: Yeah, you might be onto something. Although he doesn’t look too crazy. More like a recluse.
Me: I know. Those are the ones. The ones that look really crazy get arrested more often because people see it coming. This guy? What is Love? Nobody will see it coming, and then on the news the police will be all mystified. The neighbors will be like ‘he was so quiet’.
Him: Should we get our next round somewhere else?
Me: I don’t know. Let’s wait it out for a bit. I’ve still got half a beer left. It’s really good. Do you want a sip?
Him: Sure. Why is he carrying the sign around? Was there a march we didn’t know about? What is he protesting?
Me: He’s protesting happiness man…. He’s gonna off everybody in here that looks happy, and he’s gonna start with us.
(Waitress approaches…..by now the guy has taken a seat, but he’s facing us, and he’s opened a laptop)
Me: Oh, hey…..
Waitress: Do you guys want another beer?
Him: Uhh we’re just debating that right now. We’re kind of concerned that the guy behind you with the sign is going to open fire on the entire restaurant. What’s with that sign?
Waitress: I know, right? He’s been in here before, I think he’s waiting for somebody.
Me: I feel like there’s a button on that computer that is going to blow up this entire street if he presses it, and he’s just deciding whether to or not.
Waitress: I’m pretty sure he’s harmless.
Me: Lower your voice, he might be the type that could hear a pin drop from a mile away. We might be one ill-advised comment away from getting it…… In the meantime, bring us 2 more.
Waitress: OK. (Leaves)
Him: So, what are we going to do if the shit goes down? At least we’re close to the exit.
Me: Keep your bottle within reach.
Him: Maybe we should change the subject.

So the story ends like this…… This fairly attractive black lady comes in and she has to be 15 years younger than him. She gives him a full on kiss on the mouth, picks up the sign even, and walks with him toward the back of the bar where there was more privacy. I debated whether to include her race because it doesn’t matter, but I do think it adds to the ‘that was the very last thing I was expecting’ vibe of the story. She seemed as normal as can be. There were guys in their 20’s in this bar whose dates weren’t nearly as attractive, but she came for this strange older dude with a sandwich board strapped to him. I always think I’ve seen it all. When the waitress came around I asked what they were drinking. Him tea, and her tequila neat. I should have bought them a round just to hear their story. I’ll bet it’s fascinating.

I don’t know how this whole thing reads for someone who doesn’t know me. I really wasn’t overly concerned, but was more just having jokes with my buddy. That said, there’s always some element of truth. I was staying mentally prepared just in case this guy was a psycho, because you NEVER know. On the opposite end of my learnings, the theme of not judging a book by its cover was present here as it always seems to be in life.


#Hashtaggery

This post is a #nowinsituation. Young people are going to disagree, and old people aren’t going to #knowwhatthefuckimtalkingabout. I’m a #hater perhaps. Maybe it’s the #wine, maybe I’m just #frustratedbeyondbelief, but probably it’s the fact that I’m #gettingolder, and the world in my humble opinion is #gettingdumber, but I’m finding that #imgettingirritatedwiththeinternet. It’s a #lovehaterelationship though. I depend on it. I waste hours on it. So in a way I’m in #nopositiontocriticize. I do write a blog though #thoughtsandrantsinjoggingpants, so right or wrong, if I don’t #lashoutagainstpeople from time to time, then #whatgoodami?

Dear internet friends, enemies, and #frenemies…… I hate your #fuckinghashtags!

First I feel I need to explain #hashtags. According to my #researchsources wikipedia and urban dictionary, #hashtags are a #socialmediatool to group certain ideas together so they’re easier to search for. #newsflash…. Nobody gives a shit what you’re saying on #facebooktwitterorotherwise to actually search for it later. People are just #doingthistodoit, which I find #superprepubescentofyouall. Especially the 30-50 crowd. #giveitabreaklosers. I promise nobody is trying to find your status updates with a #hashtagsearch.

The other thing which is #waymoreannoying is using the #hashtag as some sort of weird #punchlineindicator. That is to invent a #hashtag to drop at the end of your status update to somehow #punctuate what you’re saying. Are you like #11yearsold??? No. You’re 40. Stop it. Here’s an example I made up. “Just got into a fender bender, and off to the collision center! #happynobodywashurt #shouldntgodrivingbeforecoffee #theregoesmyinsurancepremiums” etc. I guess it seems cute to some. I disagree. Decidedly not cute, just say what you want to say in plain English. Stop trying to #impressyourkids. The thing is, when young people do it, I’m half expecting it. They’ll look back and #realizehowdumbtheywerelikewealldoeventually, but the people my age should know better.

I suppose if a company wants you to use a #hashtag so you can enter some sort of #weirdcontest, then it makes a bit of sense. I just don’t like the gratuitous use of it by people who #dontevenknowwhatitreallyisandthinkthisisjustonebighashtagparty. Hopefully just by reading this post, you’ve been suitably annoyed by trying to read all the #hashtags in it, and I’m super pissed off that my word count is only sitting at 325 right now because every #hashtag is only one word, no matter how many I crammed in there. Spell check is going to be a #nightmareshitshow too.

I guess I’ve been #crankyenoughforonenight. #offtobed


The Time I Worked In A Chinese Restaurant

Sometimes, years later when you tell a story, it can seem so much like a dream. You start to recount the events and the more bizarre it gets, you start to wonder if it actually happened, or did some character in a movie do it? Yeah, I worked in a Chinese restaurant for a bit. Strange thing, because I’m not Chinese. Not close in fact. I’m not suggesting that when operating a restaurant that specializes in ethnic cuisine, that you should have to hire staff only from that particular ethnic background, but for Chinese food…..I’m thinking you do. If I open an Ethiopian restaurant in Toronto tomorrow, and I need a staff of 10 or so to get it started, I just might not be able to easily find 10 Ethiopians that would be qualified to help me. The thing about Chinese food is that no matter where you are in the world, you can be pretty sure that there’s a good supply of Chinese people. Right or wrong, when I go into a Chinese restaurant, and a white guy comes to take my order (which has never happened, by the way), I’m thinking the place is a little suspect. Here’s the story of how I became that guy.

My first job when I was in High School was at KFC. I worked there for about 2 years. I went through 4 managers while I was there, the type of stability which I would imagine is par-for-the-course in that industry. The 3rd of the 4 was a Chinese guy named (or nicknamed) Ringo. By this time I had a few buddies that worked there too since the previous manager’s recruiting system involved asking me if I knew anyone that needed a job once every 6 months. Ringo was something else. He had a ponytail (it was the 90’s), he was fairly muscular, and loved to wear a tight Miami Vice T-Shirt. He was a laid back boss and sometimes would take us out after work. He knew a place or two where we wouldn’t get carded. These weren’t awesome places, but we didn’t have cars and weren’t old enough to drink, so this was living on the edge for us. He was in his early 30’s and my mom definitely found it weird that he would want to hang out with teenagers. As an adult, I now understand that concern, but c’mon now…… we were hilarious. Who wouldn’t want to hang out with us???? He had his reasons. Maybe his other friends were too stuffy. This guy was waaay into MC Hammer at the time too. I swear I couldn’t make this up. He would sing these MC Hammer songs with his Chinese accent all day at work. It was just fun. He once asked us why we didn’t have any hot girls working at our location, because apparently the previous KFC he worked at had several. It wasn’t far away, and he started the process of trying to get some of them to transfer over. This was huge for us, most of whom still had a lot of work to do in the ‘confidently meeting girls’ department. From that time forward our excursions with him generally involved some female company as well. It was a blast.

I don’t remember the details surrounding Ringo’s departure from KFC. I don’t remember if he was good at his job or not. At that age, it’s hard to care about things like that. Going to work was a party, and now that I’m older I understand that we probably weren’t the most productive bunch in the world. I’m pretty sure Ringo was let go, and I wouldn’t be too surprised if there was some money missing or something like that. I could investigate this further, but it’s not crucial to the story. A couple of us kept in touch with him over the next few years. He was working as a waiter at a Chinese Buffet for a bit. Then I had heard that he got his own restaurant. It was right near Greek town. Small place, close to a subway station, but nothing fancy. I went down to visit a couple of times. The last of which I’d been out of school for a bit. I had decided to come back for an extra year of high school with the intention of taking Co-Op for a semester or put off adulthood depending on which sounds more believable, but due to my own laziness and/or lack of focus, I was never able to find a placement. So I took a semester off. I signed up for night school, and had a part-time job, so I was keeping a little busy. Ringo told me that his daytime waiter had quit, and he didn’t have anyone to wait tables from 11am-3pm during the week. This sounded good to me. A new adventure with a familiar friend, and I could get back in time to go to class or work at my other job. Sounded perfect, so I did it. I became a waiter at a Chinese restaurant.

Was it a problem that I didn’t speak Chinese? Ringo didn’t seem to think so. Lunch service would have maybe 5 tables. He probably didn’t need a waiter, but he was in the back cooking, and it was hard to keep walking away from that to seat customers. Most of the time I just hung out. He didn’t pay me well, or consistently, but he’d feed me breakfast and lunch while I was there, and always made sure I had bus money. If a Chinese person that didn’t speak English came in, I would just smile at them, and hand them a pen and paper with their menu. If they seemed like they were asking questions, then I’d just get Ringo to pop out for a minute.

We had a couple of regulars. One girl came in every day. She was a student at an Adult Learning Centre nearby. Every day she ordered the same thing. Chicken Wings with Pork Fried Rice, and a large Chocolate Milk. Strange that a Chinese restaurant would carry Chocolate Milk you say? It’s because we didn’t. EVERY SINGLE DAY when she came in, I would take her order (which was always the same), and walk into the back to tell Ringo. Ringo would reach into his wallet and grab $5, and send me out the back door so I could run across the (busy) street to buy a Chocolate Milk at the Convenience Store. Had the customer really been paying attention, I was in plain view. I always tried to seat her away from the window, and if she was near the window, I’d run way down the street, then cross, then back down, then cross back so she wouldn’t see me. I’d be panting as I ran through the back door, poured the Chocolate Milk into a glass, and casually walked it over to her table. EVERY SINGLE DAY FOR MONTHS.

To take it a step further only because I can’t leave this one out, I worked the evening shift once, and only once when the regular waiter called in sick. This was tricky because even though I’d been doing lunch service for a month or so, I never got any better at being a waiter, mainly because I was never tested with any level of restaurant traffic. Dinner was busier. Still not busy by successful business standards, but more than what I was used to. At one point in the evening somebody had requested a Spring Roll with their order. I brought the order back to Ringo, and he shot me a pained expression, like he was obviously hoping nobody would order Spring Rolls because he didn’t have any. “Ice, I need you to go to another Chinese restaurant nearby to order a Spring Roll. It will only take 2 minutes!!” OK, let’s start with the Ice thing. It was the early 90’s and my hair was styled not too unlike Vanilla Ice’s hairstyle minus the dye and the shaved eyebrows. I could do the thing where I insist that I had that haircut first and blah blah blah, or I could just let it go, and let you think what you want because I’m old and I don’t care anymore. Ringo called me Ice….exclusively…..sigh……Now the thing about the Spring Roll. This didn’t seem like a good idea, but I shot out the back door (like I do), and ran over to the Danforth (Torontonians will know where this is). I ordered a Spring Roll to go from a competing Chinese restaurant. It took what seemed like forever, probably because there was a dining room with people who might be waiting for me to bring their food or bill or something like that. I remember this place was right across the street from the Danforth Music Hall. There was a concert that night by a group called Moxy Fruvous who were pretty big locally at least during that time. They were right off the heels of the Barenaked Ladies, and it was the same sort of funny-hippie-pop as I recall which I despised at the time. I remember seeing all of the people lined up with their wool socks inside of their Birkenstock sandals. Gag! (2 interesting side notes. First, I decided to google this to see if I could find out what date the concert was, and was able to ascertain that the date this particular story took place was October 2, 1993. That’s probably only interesting to me. Second, the group Moxy Fruvous had a member – Jian Ghomeshi – who went on to become a successful radio talk show host, then became even more famous for trying to sue his former employer for $55 million dollars for letting him go after the word got out that he was into rough sex, but then he withdrew the suit when all sorts of women came out of the woodwork to say it wasn’t always consensual. This was one of Toronto’s top news stories of 2014. Apparently he’s a big deal. I hadn’t heard of him because I don’t nor can I believe that other people have time for talk radio. I was familiar with Moxy Fruvous though, and they were getting ready to perform across the road while I was waiting for this Spring Roll). I made it back, Ringo with the “What took you so long?” BS, and me putting a Spring Roll from another restaurant onto a plate, and walking it out to a customer. So unbelievably grateful that they did not order a second.

Maybe a month or so later, my father’s office had a real back log with their files, and needed someone to organize that mess. 40 hours a week, and much better pay. I traded in my Cantonese Chow Mein for a shirt, tie and paper cuts until the second semester was ready to begin. I know Ringo lost that business not too long after that, and ended up working as a waiter again for a bit. We might have hung out a couple more times, but I lost track of him after that. Those were some fun times.


Four…..Eight…..Ten…….

I promised I wouldn’t turn this into a parenting blog. I’ve tried so hard to remain interesting without resorting to that. I tried to maintain this blog once a week. Now I’m lucky if I do it twice a month and it’s still a challenge to find anything interesting to say. Maybe it’s because I haven’t been riding public transit lately, and therefore limiting my exposure to nut jobs. Not to say that people in cars aren’t nut jobs too, but if I’m not in the car with them, it’s hard to catch them doing something idiotic for long enough to inspire me to write about it. So I have to write about my son this time. What can I say, I like him. I would probably write about him more, but to be honest I want to respect his privacy, especially while he’s young enough that he can’t make decisions on his own. That sounds crazy to most parents who flood the internet with all this ‘kid talk’, but I don’t want some chick he wants to date 20 years from now to google him (if that’s even a thing by then) and find out he did a bunch of weird shit when he was a baby, and his own father sandbagged him by putting it on the internet. I’ll have to answer to that. While he did bite me like a frigging vampire a couple of weeks back, I don’t think he had any malicious intent, so I don’t think there should be any retribution on my part.

My son is two years old. 27 months for those that count by months when the kid is over two, but if you are one of those people, you’re an idiot. Stop it. He doesn’t talk yet. No big emergency. It seems like a lot of kids his age talk, but he hasn’t quite figured it out yet. He knows some words. He’s putting together a few phrases. He’ll get there. I’m not worried. The things he has figured out seem crazy to me. If you’re telling him something he doesn’t want to hear, he’ll point at the door, and forcefully say “GO!” To the point where I’ve actually left the room because I didn’t know what else to do. He made it clear he doesn’t want me there, and if you heard him say it, he’s not fooling around either. So moody. I have no idea where he gets that, because neither of his parents get upset to the point where we order people out of the room. This kid’s got his own agenda.

Part of the not talking has to be my fault though. He’s too cute, I’m not even sure that I want him to talk. When he asks for ‘nacks’ I don’t even correct him, I just get him potato chips or something (yesterday it was Moroccan Spice flavoured chips, I shit you not, this kid will eat anything). Probably the most adorable thing that he does which I’m working on now (and please understand that I don’t use the word adorable, so for me to say it, it means cute to the 5 millionth power), is that he doesn’t count properly. He can count to 10. I’ve heard him do it, and when we do it with him, and prompt him, he seems to know which number comes next. In situations however, that require him to do a ‘ready set go’ thing, which numerically is represented by 1-2-3 or if it’s a countdown, then it’s 3-2-1…….. he says 4-8-10….. every time. It just makes me laugh, I can’t even correct him. I know it’s wrong, but its way more fun to go with the 4-8-10 thing. I mean, who cares??? Why does it have to be 1-2-3 anyways??? 4-8-10 are at least in ascending order. Plus you can’t correct him because 4-8-10 signifies some form of chaos which means he’s going to run away from you, throw a ball at or near the TV set, or smash a toy train into another toy train.

I guess the last thing would be picking him up from daycare. I’ve been doing drop off and pick up all week this week. It’s two very different experiences as most parents know. My son doesn’t wake up too early these days, and when I wake him up, it’s at the last possible second (because I want to sleep in too), at which point he usually tells me to “GO!” (and slaps at my hand) I usually give him a minute, but then we gotta get moving. When I drop him off, he’s less than 30 minutes removed from being asleep in his crib, so he slumps into his little daycare chair with his thumb in his mouth and gives me a dirty look as somebody passes him a bowl of cereal. When I pick him up I get a much different reaction. One that almost singlehandedly justifies procreation. He sees me, and drops whatever toy he was playing with, yells “DADDY”, and runs toward me. It’s like I’m a war hero in a movie, even though he kicked me out of his bedroom less than 8 hours earlier……. Now today at pickup the boy had a toy in each hand. One made of plastic, and the other of wood. When I walked into the room, he saw me, and threw the plastic toy to the side as he got up and ran over, but it hit this little girl in the face. I was super conflicted because my son was running towards me, super excited to tell me about the wooden thing in his hand (and thank god that’s the one he DIDN’T throw), and blissfully unaware that he had just pinged some other toddler in the forehead with his dramatics. There was no blood luckily, but an ice pack and an incident report were in that child’s future (she seemed OK when I left…phew). At some point I’m going to have to teach this kid not to throw his toys. We have to correct behaviour like that, but I can’t lie…. there was a small part of me that was pretty stoked that my son was so enthusiastic about seeing me that he was willing to endanger the safety of others to make it happen quickly :)


Another New Year’s Eve Story

I sat down with the intention of writing about the millenium which was 15 years ago. Funny that nobody seems to be talking or reminiscing about that much. It was hilarious. I just texted my buddy to remind him that exactly 15 years ago we were on the way home from a crazy little Y2K party at some weird guy’s cottage almost 4 hours from home. On the drive home, I do recall listening to Eminem’s first album for I think the first time. That was definitely unlike anything I’d ever heard before, but this isn’t about him.

The thing is, I’ve already half told that story in another post. I had to check before I wasted my time doing it again. I think I covered it pretty well here.

http://thoughtsandrantsinjoggingpants.com/2014/01/02/oh-ive-had-some-new-years-eve-moments-in-my-day/

The above link is a post with a few abbreviated versions of stories from New Year’s Eves in the past. I can’t believe I didn’t tell this one though. I have a buddy (who is one of the main characters in this story) who makes me repeat this story ad nauseam. Writing it down will ensure that the next time I’m asked to tell it (and I am aware that it’s a better story told verbally than written, but 15 times or so is my limit), I can just pass on this link. You ready??? Here we go……

December 31st 2001. I can’t remember what was happening during the day that would have led up to this, but I was to spend my New Year’s Eve with my friends Jay & Dwight (yes those are their real names…..I usually protect the innocent, but Jay’s the one that keeps making me tell the story, and Dwight is always late, so they deserve it). Who am I at this point in time?? Working in retail management at a shitty store in a bad situation, driving a horrible vehicle, and living in my parent’s basement. This is mere months before my wife swooped in and straightened me out (somewhat). As I think back, this might have been the only New Years Eve where all 3 of us were single. In those situations it always seems like it will be better than it actually ends up being. I was at the point in my life where I accept no less than being at a Night Club on New Year’s Eve, and we had purchased tickets to go to Guvernment which capacity wise was probably the biggest club in the city at the time (and is apparently closing its doors soon…Oh the memories). We also had been invited to a condo party that night as well. Perfect. Since the club thing wouldn’t get good until about 11pm, we had time to go to the party first.

Logistics play a role in the first part of this story. Since not all of my readers are from Toronto, I’ll just use the 3 locations ‘west-end’, ‘downtown’, and ‘east-end’. As I describe this, it’s going to sound like one of those math problems you get in school where they describe the scenario, and you try to figure out how many cookies Johnny actually ate vs. what’s still left in the tin for Jenny. I am from the west end, Jay is from downtown, and Dwight is from the east-end which is probably 40 minutes from the west end, and 30 minutes from downtown (with traffic). The club is downtown, but the party is on the west-end. Dwight and I have cars, but Jay doesn’t. Jay has an apartment that I will sleep at, so I don’t have to drive home from the club, and Dwight has to work the next morning (New Year’s Day??? Sucky), so he will drive us to the club, leave early, and we can take a cab back to Jay’s, so no drinking and driving. It’s organized perfectly.

Dwight is always SUBSTANTIALLY LATE. For everything. Always. For dumb reasons sometimes too. On this night, he had to work until 6 or 8 or something. He works downtown. He can’t just bring a change of clothes with him to work. That would be too logical. He wants to go home to the east end to groom himself so he can drive us to the west-end, then back downtown, then back home to the east-end at the end of the night. That’s how he rolls. When I finally get in touch with him, he’s at home eating dinner. It’s probably after 8 by now. They are totally serving food at the party we’re going to, but Dwight is going to take his sweet time like he always does. So I call Jay and incorporate plan B. I’m going to pick up Jay and go to the party without Dwight. The way he wastes time, there’s no way he does all this east-end primping, comes to the party, and then still gets us to the club in time. The club is what matters. It’s where we will ring in the new year, and where we have shelled out money ahead of time to be.

Jay and I arrive at the party, have a drink or two and some dinner. I call Dwight for an update. He’s still in the east-end. It’s getting closer to 10pm now. We’re about to leave this party, and drive downtown to Jay’s apartment so I can drop off my car. I tell Dwight that under no circumstances should he try to attend this party because Jay and I are now leaving to go downtown, and he should head straight there to pick us up. We get to Jay’s place and go upstairs for a drink. It’s pushing 11. I call Dwight so see where he is. He tells me he’ll be there soon. I hear people in the background. I ask who the people are. He confesses that he is at the party. The party I just forbade him to go to. I had kittens.

Now for those that think I’m overreacting, please understand that you don’t mess with a man’s New Year’s plans. Timing is everything. The big celebration is at 12, and if you can’t get there before then….. I don’t know…..what’s the point? So now that I’ve screamed at Dwight, he’s on his way to come pick us up, but the clock is ticking quickly. There is a real chance that we won’t be there to toast in the new year. I’m sure the tickets to get in are like $50 each. That’s a lot of money to spend so you can bring the new year in with 2 dudes in a Volkswagen Golf. The guy’s giving me a lift. I don’t want to seem ungrateful, but I can’t repeat any of the things I said to him in the car when he finally picked us up at about 11:35. We arrived at the club at about 11:52. We got in fairly quickly, rushing around because we knew we had 8 minutes to check our coats and get a drink in our hands.

We get to the coat check only to find out that it’s full. Yes. Full. The implications of that are that I will be carrying my coat around for the next several hours. Did I mention I was single? Did I mention it’s the dead of winter in Canada, and I don’t know how I’m getting home, so I have to bring the warmest winter coat I have? Did….I….mention…..that…. the coat….was……..WHITE???????????????????? Ok, I have to take partial blame for that. It was 2001 and puffy coats were everywhere, and where I worked, we sold them, and while most of the universe bought the black one……. I went with the white. I thought it looked hot, get over it. Now I have to either carry that big goddamn coat with me everywhere, or find a corner somewhere, dump it and hope for the best. At least nobody would confuse it for theirs.

What could I say to Dwight that I hadn’t already said? It was midnight, we had drinks in our hands. He just gave me that semi-remorseful smile, we toasted and moved on. I can’t stay mad at him. The alcohol was taking the edge off, and I started to have a good time. I don’t remember the rest of the night too well. Dwight left an hour or two later, but Jay and I got word that the place was going to be open until 6 am or some crazy goddamn thing. We decided that we should try to close the place. At some point we either got bored or ran out of money (probably the latter), and we left to head back to his place. There was a supply and demand problem with the cabs outside. I suggested that we should walk toward his place for a few minutes, and just flag one down. We were super hammered. We started walking, and in what seemed like 2 minutes we had arrived (but let me assure you, there’s no way that walk is less than 30 minutes, and it was way below freezing, just that we were too smashed to notice). Jay’s apartment was a pretty small one-bedroom unit. He didn’t even have a couch. There was a love-seat. Me being 6 feet tall didn’t fit too well on it, so I put the cushions on the floor thinking maybe I could lie on them with my legs hanging off the end or something. He didn’t have a carpet or rug or anything, and the wood floors were kind of slick, so the cushions kept sliding apart, causing my ass to fall in between them. Finally I gave up and just laid there on the hard floor with my head on my puffy white jacket which had a drink or two spilled on it for sure. I slept.

Woke up the next day. I would say morning, but I’m sure it was already afternoon. Felt MISERABLE!!! What a horrible start to 2002. I had the hangover to end all hangovers, and I couldn’t just take some Advil and try to nap. I wasn’t at home, and I was super uncomfortable. Jay wakes up cheerful as shit, and tries to get me to go have breakfast with him (at Fran’s!! Torontonians know what I’m talking about). I reluctantly agree, but there’s no way I ate anything. I needed to get home. I needed to get into my own bed. This day was a write off, and I had to be at work on January 2nd. There needed to be a New Year’s resolution regarding this too, but I didn’t know what. After breakfast Jay and I went our separate ways. Him to his apartment, and me to my car.

About the car……. So I’ve alluded a little bit to being broke and living pay cheque to pay cheque around this time. My car was a piece of shit. No different from its predecessor. This is kind of that rock bottom moment that makes the story funny, but also super depressing for me (although it’s over now, so I can laugh). My car was in bad need of repairs. The rad had a sizeable leak. For those that don’t know cars (like me), coolant is the thing that keeps your engine from over-heating. The Rad holds the coolant. When your rad has a leak, you need to get it fixed for your own safety, and probably the safety of others. There is a band-aid solution however, and I was all about band-aid solutions at this time. Until I could afford to fix my rad, I was REGULARLY putting a product called ‘Stop-Leak’ or ‘Gunk’ in my rad, and then adding a bunch of coolant before I went on the highway. This was to be a necessary step on January 1st, 2002 if I wanted to minimize the horribleness I already feeling in the form of the worst headache ever, and just a general dissatisfaction with the direction of my life as a whole (because it’s New Year’s Day and everyone takes inventory whether they want to or not).

I drove to a gas station near Jay’s apartment. Probably put $5 of gas in the car, or some crazy thing. Pulled the car off to the side, and went inside to purchase some stop-leak, and the smallest bottle of engine coolant I can get. I walk outside only to be met with the most unforgiving, howling goddamn sub-zero wind that’s making my face scrunch up, which is aggravating my headache. I lift the hood of the car up, and open the cap to my rad. I grab the stop-leak and read the instructions carefully. It says to shake the bottle before opening. I shake that thing like a sonofabitch, and puncture the seal, then SPLATTTTTTTT!!!!!! Doesn’t half the bottle of Stop Leak explode onto my fucking face, and what doesn’t land there ends up on my white puffy jacket next to whatever footprints and mixed drinks ended up on it from the night before. I’m a grown man saying this to you right now, but I never came so close to just breaking down and bawling my fucking eyes out than I did at that very moment. Instead, I slowly collected myself, put the remaining stop-leak into my rad, and opened (carefully) the bottle of engine coolant, and proceeded to pour it in as well. I closed the cap, and commenced my walk of shame which was much different from most of the other walks of shame that people were doing on January 1st. Mine was into the gas station to ask the attendant if he would be so kind as to give me a bit of paper towel to wipe the stop-leak from my face, and coat.

My car survived the ride home, and with a raging hangover, I was finally soooooo close to my pillow and mattress (which by the way are just a regular-ass pillow and mattress, but compared to what I slept on last night, they might as well have been a cloud). It’s like 5 pm by the way. I have no idea where the day went. I get inside and my mom asked where I’d been and told me it’s a good thing I was home because dinner’s almost ready. I told her that I wasn’t hungry and really needed to go to sleep. She got mad because she had prepared a nice New Year’s Day dinner. She also made it sound like our family having a new year’s day dinner was some time-honoured tradition like Christmas or Easter or Thanksgiving, but for whatever reason I just wasn’t remembering that from any other year of my life. We argued. I thought I would die if I didn’t sleep, so I negotiated a 30 minute nap. As I walked down the stairs to my room, all I heard was “YOU’RE SELFISH!!!!!!!” Awesome.


Evil Forces in The Mall Parking Lot in December

People seemed to get a kick out of this when it was a Facebook Status update. Can I elaborate it into 500 words? You bet I (hope) can.

I have a pet peeve which I’m sure some of you can relate to, and ’tis the season for this type of thing to be happening. Let me set the scene. It’s December. The shopping mall parking lot is packed. I’m in Canada, so it’s pretty cold, but not any more than normal for those that live here, and should be used to it, or dressed appropriately. People are desperate to finish up their Christmas shopping. The parking lot is a zoo, which shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. Christmas comes once a year. The day never changes. The list of people you would have to purchase gifts for doesn’t change often for most of us. Wait, is this going to be a rant against procrastinators? No. That would be ridiculous. Is it a rant against people with lofty expectations of their shopping experience less than a week before Christmas? No. I think I might have done that one already. If not, I’ll do it next year.

This is a rant against people who instead of finding a parking spot far away from the mall which would be just punishment for not getting their shopping done earlier, decide to look for parking right next to the door, and stalk people as they exit the mall, hoping to inherit their parking spot. It inspired me to put the following status update on Facebook……..

“When I’m at the mall during holiday season, I park as far away from the door as possible. I love it when people stalk me in their cars trying to get my parking spot. I like to walk towards closer cars with a sense of purpose, and watch their eyes light up. Only to then suddenly shift directions and walk to my actual parking spot which is a kilometre away. It brings me great holiday joy to see their mad little faces after. Does this make me a bad person?”

Nobody thought I was a bad person (unless it was someone who preferred not to comment) except my mother, who felt like I was making the holidays even MORE stressful for my victims. This comment bugged me for a few reasons.

1. The holidays are only as stressful as you make them. If life is stressful, it’s probably like that all-year-round. Don’t blame the ‘most wonderful time of the year’.
2. I don’t go way out of my way to do this (ie I walk toward my car, I don’t zig zag around the parking lot trying to see how many times I can be an asshole.)
3. I do not do this to the elderly or the polite.

I do this to the people who feel they are too precious or awesome to walk with the common man. It’s usually like an extra 2 minutes out of their life to walk to where the available spots are, but they’ll spend 15 minutes trying to get that closer spot, and then complain about it later to anyone who will listen, like the poor retail associates who have to absorb EVERYTHING FROM EVERYONE. To be honest though, there are some legit reasons to why you’d need to park closer. Maybe people are disabled in some way or whatever, but just don’t stalk me in your car when I’m walking through the parking lot. Wait patiently, and hope you get lucky like all the other lazy slobs.


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