Can I Get Extra Plum Sauce?

 

For those of you who are not aware, my wife has become a minimalist. She has decluttered our lives to the point of no return. It seems that mimimalists can never be satisfied with not having less than they need. She buys the only the bare essentials, the necessities, as she likes to refer to it, and nothing more. I have questioned this movement, and after much soul searching, and self examination, do not share the same extreme views. It really makes absolutely no difference, as my wife has taken over control of our spending.

I know that she means well, and I am aware that she is trying to save money for us in the event that there is some sort of emergency somewhere down the road. I, however, would much rather be sitting in a parked car at the side of the road, drinking beer, and eating a burger, than moving down the road, sucking on rice and beans. I informed my wife that I would be starting my own movement, my own philosophy, The maximalists. Our philosophy is quite simply do it now. Buy it now. Enjoy it now. The future may not come. It is in direct contrast to my wife’s philosophical bent, but we manage to coexist.

As I said, she has taken control of the money. I am not really sure how. I don’t remember a coup of any kind, but she has the control. She tells me that I willingly gave it to her, but that is not likely. I just wouldn’t do that. It is more likely than not, she has inflicted upon me one of those Moroccan, voodoo spells, which has allowed her to usurp control of the money, and the power to make financial decisions.

Now, I enjoy take out food. I enjoy it more than home cooked food, unless there is a brisket, or a turkey involved. My wife advised that there will be no more take out food. Everything we eat, must be made at home with food we have in the house at the time. I tried to make it work, I really did, but I just couldn’t figure out what to make with blueberries, chick peas, relish, and potatoes.

“What are you having for dinner?”, she asked me as I came in the door, torn and tattered from the events of the day, and worn and weary from the ensuing minefield I would be forced to maneuver as I entered the conversation we ere about to have.

“I don’t know.”, I replied. “I haven’t really thought about.”

“Well”, she stated, “I’m hungry!”

“Then you should eat.”, I told her.

“But I don’t know what i want.”, she replied.

“Is that now a consideration?”, I asked. “Just make something with the food we have here.”

“There’s nothing good here.”, she said. “I want something good.”

“Like what?”, I asked her.

“I think I want ribs.”, she replied.

“Uh huh.”, I remarked. “So you have decided to become a part time minimalist?”

“No. But I want Chinese food.”, she explained. “Ribs, rice, and 2 egg rolls. Do you want something?”

“From where?”, I inquired.

There’s only 1 place my wife can eat Chinese food at due to all of her food allergies and sensitivities, and I hate it. Really. The food is barely recognizable as food, and they take forever to deliver.

“Can we afford to order in?”, I asked. “What about the future emergency you have been planning for?”

“This is an emergency.”, she informed me. “I’m hungry. Do you want me to get you something?” Oh, those minimalists! $50 worth of Chinese food, and I can’t get $5 for a bagel and coffee at Tim Horton’s!

“I don’t know.”, I answer. “I’d have to look at the menu.”

“We don’t have one. I threw it out when we decided that we weren’t going to order in anymore.”, she told me.

“To be clear”, I reminded her, “we never decided anything. You decided.” My wife informed me that its not important who decided. She said I should remember that we are in this together, and she is only trying to help us save some money for the inevitable, mystery emergency.

“Okay”, she said, “I have the menu online. See what you want so I can order already. I’m hungry.”

I must have read that menu 3 or 4 times, and still nothing appealed to me. “Well?”, she asked, growing more impatient by the nano second.

“Just get me a won ton soup, and a large fresh watermelon bubble tea, no tapioca.”

“I don’t think that’s enough for free delivery.”, she said.

“So pay the delivery charge.”, I told her.

“Are you crazy?”, she asked. “Its $3.50.”

“So you want me to order more food to avoid paying the delivery charge? ”

“Ya.”, she said.

“Okay”, I said as I looked at the menu once again. “The cheapest thing on the menu is $6. You understand that we are now paying $2.50 more than if we just pay the delivery charge?”

“Just get 2 spring rolls or something.”, she said. “They’re $2 each. That will be enough for free delivery.”

“That still costs more than the delivery charge.”, I remind her.

“Yes, but at least you’ll have the food. At least you’re getting something or the money.”

“But I don’t want any spring rolls.”, I told her. “Just soup and a bubble tea. If you want me to get something else, get me another bubble tea.”

“We don’t have money for that.”, she said. “They’re almost $7.”

“Whatever.”, I said. “Just order the food. I’ll pay for the delivery charge.”

“No.”, she stated rather firmly. “Its the principle.”

“Whatever you decide.”, I told her.

About an hour later, there was a knock on the door. I opened it and was surprised to find a Swiss Chalet delivery man standing there. I called my wife and she came to pay the bill.

“What happened to the Chinese food?”, I asked.

“I changed my mind.”, she said. “You were making it too complicated, and I know you don’t like South China’s food, so I just ordered Swiss Chalet.”

“But I was really looking forward to the bubble tea.”, I told her.

“I got you the chicken spring rolls, and the 1/4 chicken, white meat. And, I got you an iced tea.”

These are the moments when I realize that I really don’t care if my wife is a minimalist, or a communist. I’m just glad that she’s my wife.

“Thank you.”, I said. I kissed her on the forehead as I reached for cutlery.

“You’re welcome.”, she replied. “But this is the last time. Starting tomorrow, we eat whatever we can find here.”

I looked at her in disbelief. I had heard the “This is the last time” line many, many times before, and it never really is.

“I mean it.”, she said. “No more ordering in.”

“I understand.”, I told her. “By the way, I have a late meeting at the school board tomorrow. Can I get $5 for coffee at Tim’s?”

“Do you know how much we just spent on dinner?”, she asked.  And there it was, proof positive that a minimalist can fall off the wagon, and get right back up again, faster than you can pick up a knife and fork.

When I woke in the morning, I went out to collect my bags for work. There, on my desk, was a $5 bill, with a note. ‘Have a good day. Good luck with your maximalism. Love you.’

God, how I adore this woman.

 

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The Rites Of Spring

 

Ah, spring. The time of year when trees blossom, and flowers bloom. The days when the air smells like a barnyard, and the dogs go missing, to be found days later sitting on the front porch, smoking cigarettes. My family has always been excited by the announcement that spring is upon us. There is much reflection on what is to expect according to the revelation of Wiarton Willie, the rodent weather wizard. There is an equal amount of joie de vivre, when day light savings time is initiated, and the days get longer. No one in my house dares to complain about the loss of 1 hour of sleep.The highlight of this festive time of year, is the much anticipated 1st Robin sighting. What it does to the heart, and soul. How the sight of this bird is so embedded in the family’s collective psyche.

About 2 weeks ago, my daughter squealed with delight, as she came home announcing that she had just seen a robin, perched in a tree outside of our home.

“It seems a little early for a robin.”, my wife said.

“Not necessarily.”, I interjected. “What kind of robin was it?”

“What do you mean, what kind of Robin was it?”, my daughter asked. “The kind with the red stomach.”

“Well”, I asked, “was it a Canadian robin?”

“A Canadian robin?”, my wife repeated, as skeptical as ever.

I informed them both that there were many birds that no longer went south for the winter. Unlike years ago, I informed her, some of the birds stay here, and now, its mostly the people, the senior citizens who migrate south. I went on to explain that these birds, had adapted, and could withstand the harsh Canadian winters. If it was a Canadian robin that was sighted, well, then it doesn’t really count.

“Why do I not want to believe you?”, my daughter asked.

“Because you’re a skeptic.”, I answered, “just like your mother.”

I pointed out that there are geese, and then there are Canada Geese. There are Arizona cardinals, and St. Louis cardinals. There are orioles, and then there are Baltimore Orioles, as well as Baltimore Ravens. Why then is it so hard to believe that there are Canadian robins?

“How do you tell if it is a Canadian robin?”, my wife asked, suspiciously.

“It would be wearing hockey equipment.”, I answered. “But only because its hockey season.”

My daughter stormed off to her room, cursing under her breath as she walked away. “Why do you always have to torment the kids?”, my wife asked.

“I don’t have to.”, I replied, “I choose to. Its like asking why do you have to irritate me? I know you don’t have to, but you like to, right?” My wife tried very hard not to smile. “I know you do.”, I continued. “As bizarre as it is, you like to watch me get irritated.”

“Oh, I do!”, she stated emphatically. “Its so funny to watch you get frustrated, and not know what to say.”

“Oh, I know what to say.”, I told her. “I’m just not stupid enough to say it.”

It was so much easier when my kids were young. They believed everything. None of them ever doubted any of the stories I told them. “You can’t tell them that kind of stuff anymore.”, my wife said. They’re too old for that. Try talking to them about important things.”

I thought about what was important to my kids. Wifi was certainly important, and shoes, shoes were a very important issue for my daughters. I had no desire to talk to my kids about the internet, or footwear, or, in the case of my sons, gaming systems. “I’m not sure there’s anything that I can talk to them about, that they’re interested in.”, I said.

“Well,”, my wife responded, “then just don’t talk at all.”

“I’m sorry.”, I advised her. “That’s really not an option.”

“Do you remember what you told one of them years ago, and the trouble it caused?”, I was asked.

Many, many years ago, when my middle daughter was in elementary school, grade 1 or 2, I had informed her that my family was from another planet, far far away. At school one day, they were asked to talk about their families, and where they were from. My daughter spoke up, and reported that her mother’s family was from Spain, and Morocco, while her father’s family was from another planet, that she couldn’t remember the name of. Well, there was a big tadoo at the school, and my wife and I had to attend to discuss my daughter making up stories, and disrupting the class. My wife was embarrassed, but she embarrasses easily. I informed the school administration that unless they could prove my daughter had been untruthful, we really had nothing to discuss. I was asked by the Principal to confirm that my family did indeed come from another planet. I merely replied that I could not answer a question like that as it could jeopardise the entire mission. We left the meeting no worse for wear, and my daughter received no consequence for the revelation of her family history.

“I remember.”, I told my wife. “And I still think that I should have shot them with my laser.”

“Go talk to your daughter,”, she advised me, shaking her head in disbelief.

I went for a walk with my daughter, to Riverdale Farm,  and Sugar Beach. It was, after all spring, and the smell of manure permeated the air.

“Did you bring your camera?”, I asked her. “You’ll never know when you just might see a Toronto Blue Jay.”

 

 

Canadian As A 2nd Language, eh?

My new daughter-in-law, has started taking conversational English classes. As she is Japanese, she thought it would be a good idea for her to learn how to speak English like a real Canadian. Prior to her 1st class, she asked me, over dinner, what does it mean when Canadians say ‘eh’. I informed her that the word itself had no meaning, but was more of an idiom of speech, to imply right?, or okay?, often used in sentences like, ‘Its really snowing out there, eh?’, or, ‘ That moose looks like he’s gonna try and steal our beer, eh?’. I told her that it was an essential part of speaking like a Canadian, and she should employ it in her conversations whenever possible. My wife, and daughter, who were with us at the time, we equally encouraging, and we sent the lovely, young woman off to be with her husband, my son.

The next day, my wife received a call from my son. “Did dad lose his mind.?”, he asked.

“You’d better talk to him.”, my wife said, and handed me the phone.

“What did you do to my wife?”, he asked me. All day and night, anything she says, is followed by eh. Can you pass the milk, eh. Its cold, eh. Give me a kiss, eh.” I tried to hold my laughter inside, but it was swelling up like lava in a dormant volcano.

“So, what’s the problem, eh?”, I replied. “She wants to be a real Canadian, and I offered to turn her into one.”

“She’s driving me crazy.”, he continued. “All day and night, that’s all I hear. Eh this, or eh that. Sometimes, its just, Tony, eh? I don’t know what she wants half the time. Its driving me crazy. And I cant get her to stop because she says dad told her to practice using it all of the time.”

I love my daughter-in-law. She’s smart, and funny, and full of life. She’s also cute as all get out. My son found himself a great girl. Its just too bad he has no idea how to relax.

“You need to relax.”, I told him. “Take a pill, or something. If this is stressing you out so much, what the hell are you going to do when I teach her how to make moose calls?”

“Please.”, he begged. “Can you just leave my wife alone?”

“You need to get a sense of humor.”, I advised him. “You should probably go to Bulk Barn, and get a good, Canadian one. And as for leaving your wife alone, well, just grow a pair, eh?”

He didn’t want to speak with me any longer, and asked to talk to his mother. “Why do you have to get him going like that? Why must you agitate the kids?”, she asked as I passed her the phone.

“Its what I do.”, I replied, but she was no longer listening. She was on the phone, promising my son that I would no longer teach his wife to do things that irritated him, and that she would keep an eye on the crazy, old man.

“He’s pretty upset.”, my wife said after hanging up the phone.

“Who?”, I asked.

“Who do you think?”, she replied.

“The boy?” , I asked as I started laughing. “He’s an idiot. What the hell is wrong with your son, eh?”

“My son?”, she asked. “Now he’s my son? And don’t start that ‘eh’ thing with me.”

“Indeed.”, I said. “From now on, not a word. I will behave myself, and sit silently. Be sure that I will no longer willingly upset those who have come to grace our table, but forgot to bring their balls along.”

“Good.”, my wife said. “Its about time.”  I was feeling angst ridden, at the prospect of having to stop my mind from going for its customary walks down whatever road it happened to find itself on.

“Do you want me to start now?”, I asked. “There are a couple of things I would like to address before I put my sense of humor away-eh.”

“What is it?”, she asked, although I was almost certain that she didn’t really want to hear it.

“Well, firstly, I already promised Saori that I would teach her how to cuss like a Canadian. I would really like to honor my promise to her.”

“No.”, my wife said.

“Its okay, You can take your time and think about it.”, I told her.

“No. And second?”, she asked.

“Well, your boob has fallen out of your top. If its intentional, I just want to thank you. And if its an accident, just forget I mentioned it.”

My wife didn’t move. Accident or not, she left her boob right where it was.

“Wanna fool around?”, I asked.

“Will it shut you up?”, she queried.

“Probably not”,  I said, “Its likely that I’m going to cuss like a Canadian. But I’m willing to give it a whirl.”

“By the way, how do Canadian’s cuss?”, she asked as I moved up next to her.

“You’re about to find out.”, I answered. “Let me know if you like it, eh.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over The Hill

My children, my loving, caring children, have decided that I should try to find a seniors’ living center to move into. They are very concerned that I am having difficulty with my memory, and my ability to complete basic, daily living tasks. I have ensured them that my memory is fine, I merely choose not to remember things that have little or no interest to me, including their piddly ass opinions.. And as for completing basic daily living tasks, well, nobody, and I mean absolutely nobody, can cook osso buco or make matzo ball soup, like I can.

They have sent me a barrage of links to various programs and centers, each with a specific theme. There are a few outdoorsy adventure ones, nestled in Elliot Lake, about 200 light years from anywhere else, and a couple of far more passive, and sedate ones in the heart of the city. I have confirmed with my wife that this is not happening. Not ever.

We discussed our position with our kids, and informed them that while they may think that they know best, in fact, they still don’t know anything. I requested input from the dogs, the 2 smartest creatures I have raised, and my sons became offended.

“Alright”, I told them. “Here’s what’s going to happen. You’re going to mind your own business, and leave me alone. If you need to worry about something, worry about yourselves. I’m fine. Your mother’s fine. Go home.”.

My kids were silent. They were shocked. My kids just looked at each other, none of them sure how they should respond to the crazy, old man who stood ranting before them. One of my daughters started to cry. She was worried that there would be no one to take of me once they all move on to different cities, to live their own lives. It was all so very ironic.

“I can’t get any of you to take out garbage, or pick up after yourselves. And now you’re worried who will take care of us?”, I pointed out. “If you want to help, go clean the mess you just made in the kitchen. Or cut the grass, or clean the damn bathroom. That would be a big help.”

“We’re taking about what’s going to happen later on.”, one of my genius sons said.

“I’ll tell you what’s going to happen later on.”, I replied. “You’re all going to leave, and your mother will clean the mess you left in the kitchen, and I will cut the grass. Any more thoughts?”

“You’re just being difficult.”, another son said.

“Perhaps.”, I said. “But your mother and I will decide what’s best for us. Until I start walking round the house in my underwear, trying to watch Rocky & Bullwinkle on the microwave, I can make my own decisions.”

” We just want to make sure you guys are alright.”, one of my sons replied. “Its only because we love you.”

“I know.”, I said. “But it would be okay if you spent less time loving us, and more time cleaning up after yourselves. Now, you can either go home, or stay here and mind your own business, but now I feel like taking your mother into the bedroom, and getting naked. When I no longer want to see her with her clothes off, you can look for a place to put me. Until then, we’re good.”

It came as no surprise, really, that they put their coats and shoes on, and left.

“I hope you don’t think we’re really going to get naked.”, my wife said.

“Well, I did.”, I told her, as I headed into the kitchen, trying to improve the reception on the microwave.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Return Of The Mouse In My House

 

“He’s back.”, my wife informed me as soon as I walked in the door.

“Oh, hell.”, I said. “Which one of the boys have moved home?”

“NO, not one of the boys!”, she shouted, bordering on hysteria. “The mouse. The damned mouse is back.”

There was a time when I was greeted on my return from work with a hug, and a kiss. ” I doubt it’s the same mouse.”, I told her.

Oh, it’s the same one.”, she exclaimed. “I recognize the look in his eyes.”

I didn’t doubt, not for a moment, that my wife had seen a mouse. I had some reservations that she could tell one mouse from the next, by the look in its eyes. She has a gift for the paranormal, all things ghostly, and weirdly, but retinal recognition of rodent’s was not something I would be willing to believe she had mastered. I told her I would buy some traps to get rid of the rodent, but she only balked at the suggestion. I offered to call a pest control specialist, but that too did not bode well, and she rejected the use of poison, as she was afraid that she would find the mouse, laying on the floor, dead.

“What is it that you want?”, I asked. “Should I try to capture and rehabilitate it?”

“If you could.”, she said in all seriousness. “catch it and release it in the wild.  That would be best.”

“You understand, this mouse is not wild.”, I told her. “There are no field mice scampering  through the forests.”

She a bit disconcerted, but it was made clear that there is no mouse sanctuary. This was a city mouse.After much deliberation, we agreed that I would dispose of the mouse in any way I saw fit, but would never, ever, reveal what I had done to this rodent.

“Can’t we keep it as a pet?”, my daughter asked. “I’ll keep it in my room.” I looked at my wife, the explosion was imminent.

“There will be no mice, and no snakes, and no spiders or lizards in my house.”, she exclaimed.

“Have you seen a snake in here?”, I asked.

“Not yet.”, my wife replied, “but I’m sure that’s coming next.”

“Well”, I said, “if its any consolation, they are much easier to catch. They move very slowly.” It was no consolation.

The following morning, on my way to the kitchen to make coffee, I saw the little bastard on my kitchen floor, twitching his whiskers. He didn’t look like much of a threat. based on my wife’s reaction, I was anticipating a much bigger mouse. As I got closer, it ran off, scurrying under the oven, and vanishing into thin air. I said nothing to my wife. I left for work, leaving her alone with a desperado mouse, hiding out in our kitchen.

Several hours later, I received a call informing me that Mr.Tarkanian, had come over to catch the mouse, as it ran past her in the kitchen this morning. He was unsuccessful, but in his exuberance, had smashed one of my classic posters that had been on the wall in the living room. “What was he doing in the living room if the mouse was in the kitchen?”, I asked her.

“Well, the mouse ran out from behind the oven, across the kitchen floor. Mr. Tarkanian tried to get it with the broom, but the mouse was too fast, and ran out of the kitchen and into the living room.  And the rest, well, he just has very bad hand eye coordination. “. she explained. “Sorry.”

“Did he catch the mouse, at least?”, I asked.

“No.”, I was advised, “he got away. And just so you know, I’m not making dinner tonight.  I’m not putting one foot in the kitchen until that mouse is gone.”

On the way home I stopped at the hardware store and picked up some traps. “Don’t you think you should have got poison too?”, one of my daughters asked.

“I’m trying to catch a mouse.”, I told her, “I only need to kill it once.”

“You’re going to kill it?”, she asked.

“No.”, I told her, “I’m merely going to hold it hostage, and wait for his family to bring the ransom of cheese. Then I’ll let him go.”

“Not funny.”, she advised me. I never realized  before that my family had no sense of humor. None. I was certain that it was, indeed, funny.

The next morning I checked the traps. Nothing. For 3 days I baited and left them for the pest. For 3 days he eluded me. “I told you he was a smart mouse.”, my wife reminded me.

He was a smart mouse, alright. Shockingly elusive. “Well, what are you going to do now?”, my wife asked

“I don’t know”, I told her.

The next afternoon, she called me. “We got the mouse,”, she told me. I wasn’t sure what she meant, I mean we had had the mouse for about 5 days now.

“What?”, I asked.

My wife told me how my son had come over, and saw the mouse running across the kitchen floor. He jumped up and threw a book at the rodent, and as luck would have it, hit the mouse and stunned it long enough for my son to trap it in a box. He was going to take it over to the park behind the school, but the mouse died. It was tragic.

“Just out of curiosity, what book did he use?”, I asked.

“The Southern Cooking cook book.”, she said. “You know, the big one.”

After careful consideration, and a thoughtful pause, I let her know that I would not be home for dinner.