You’re Doing It Wrong!

“You’re doing it wrong!”, my wife said.

“I’m used to hearing that in the bedroom.”, I told her, “But I’m only making a peanut butter and jam sandwich in the kitchen.”

“But you’re doing that wrong, too.”, she continued.

“Really?”, I asked, with just the right amount of sarcasm to piss her off.

“Yes, you are.”, she continued. “You’re supposed to put the jam on top of the peanut butter, not on the other piece of bread. If you do it your way, jam winds up dropping all over the counter when you flip the slice.”

“Well”, I told her, “I have been making it this way for 55 years. Its how I want to do it.”

“But its wrong!”, she repeated. Wrong or not, I proceeded to complete the sandwich making festivities, and enjoyed building my PB & J, as I have always done.

It wasn’t the first time I have been been told that I am wrong in the kitchen. In actuality, I think the only room I do not do anything wrong in, is the bathroom. NO. Not true. I have, according to my wife, been wrong in the bathroom as well, but that will be a whole other story.

So, back to the kitchen. I have been informed that I do not make over easy eggs correctly, either. I do not know how to flip them properly, to ensure even cooking without any breaks or ruptures of the yolk. Sometimes, she says that she even finds shell in it! There have been many times when she has given me directions as I am holding a spatula and a frying pan, and it is with great restraint that 1 or both of these items has not been formally introduced to the back of her head.  “Do you want to do it for me?”, I ask.

“No.”, she answered.

“Then go away.”, I tell her.

“You don’t have to be so nasty.”, she says.

“Um, yes I do.”, I advise her, “If you don’t like how I do it, then do it for me, or be quiet.”

“I’m just trying to help you.”, she answered.

“What would be really helpful would be if you just made it for me.”, I said.

“You’ll never learn that way.”, she told me.

There are also huge issues with grilled cheese, as I apparently have the burner set too high, and this makes the bread too dark and crispy for her. And coffee, well that’s entirely an issue that will never go away. She will ask me to make her coffee, and insist that the milk must go into the cup before the coffee. “I don’t like the milk in first.”, I tell her.

“But it tastes so much better.”, she replies.

“I don’t think so.”, I respond.

“No. It does.”, she says. “. It tastes better that way.”

So, I make coffee wrong, as well. And pasta, well, it seems that I don’t make it ‘mushy’ enough for her. I follow the directions, and wind up with wonderfully al dente pasta. She hates it. She says that its too hard. “Why can’t I hear that in the bedroom?”, I ask.

We agree to a compromise. I agree that she is, as usual absolutely right. In exchange, I get to practice pleasing her in the bedroom. I am not sure if she plans on joining me there or not, but either way, one of us is going to be happy.

 

 

 

The Rebellion of 2010

 

Moving with my family was one of the most horrifyingly traumatic events in our lives. My wife and I were busy in our search for a home in the city’s downtown core, while my kids were opposed to leaving their lives in suburbia.

We searched and searched for the ideal home, but everything we saw raised at least one significant issue with my wife. It was  too far from a school, or not near enough to a subway station. There were homes that were too close to the main street, or too far from a grocery store.  And  the search seemed to continue for what seemed like an eternity. After intensive investigating, and viewing, we finally found something she could live with. It was just blocks away from a high school, right next door to a grocery store, a few blocks from a subway station, and about a 1/2 hour walk to a hospital. “Well.”, she said, “I suppose its as close to perfect as we’re going to get.”

“What do we tell the kids?”, I asked.

“Leave that with me.”, she said. “It will be a piece of cake.” Now, I don’t eat cake. I never did. I just don’t like it, but I was almost certain this would not be a piece of cake.

We sat down with the 4 remaining kids still living at home, and my wife broke the news. “We’ve found a place. We’re going to be moving downtown. You guys will love it.”

“What the hell?”, one of my daughters shouted.

“I’m not going.”, my son said. “I hate it downtown.”

“I can’t believe you’re doing this to me.”, another daughter chimed in. “I love it here. I’m not going.”, and she burst into tears. They all got up and left the room.

“Well, that went over well.”, I said to my wife. “Perhaps they don’t like cake either.” And, as I have so regularly been subjected to over the years, my wife gave me the Moroccan death glare, the one that implies “I could kill you with just a blink of an eye.”

“You could have helped out a little.”, she said.

“You said to leave it with you.”, I replied. “Remember? It was going to be a piece of cake.”

“What do we do?”, she asked, “Do we stay here?”

“I think we just leave it alone.”, I told her. “They’ll get used to the idea. It’s not like they have a choice.”

Well, things went from bad to worse, and of course, I bore the brunt of the blame. My son had decided that he was moving out. He had a friend who was looking to share an apartment, and my son was moving in with him. One of my daughters was okay with the move, as long as she had her own bedroom, and we took the dogs with. The 2 other girls were emotionally wrought, filled with anxiety, fear, and hatred. They said that they would not move. They informed me that I could not make them move. They threatened to contact Children’s Aid, and have themselves placed in foster care in order to stay in outer suburbia.

“Its all fixed.”, I told my wife. “We lucked out. One is moving in with a friend, and two are going into the care of Children’s Aid. So we have 4 out of 5 kids no longer living with us. And, just to let you know, there was no cake involved. I substituted pie.”

“Nobody is going into Foster Care.”, she bellowed. “They’re coming with us. It doesn’t matter what they say. We are the parents. We decide what’s best for this family.” She often said we, but in reality, she meant that she decided what was best for this family.

The kids continued to be adamant about not moving, singing rousing versions of ‘We Shall Overcome’, and  ‘I Shall Be Released’, that came out as “I hate you”, and “I wish I was never born”. Over the following days, and weeks, they began a campaign to try to force us to change our minds. They employed subversive tactics such as ignoring us when we called them, refusing to do their chores, and refusing to clean up after themselves. They kept their lights and televisions on, and stayed up late in the early morning hours, on their computers. They posted on social media just how unfair and cruel their parents were. They left us notes stating that they would run away, and we would never see them again. I bought them suitcases on wheels, like a good and thoughtful father, so their departures would be easier.

As the moving date neared, their defiance heightened. They flat out refused to pack up their things. They would hold sit ins in their rooms so my wife and I could not pack for them. “It’s really a simple choice.”, I told one of my daughters. “You can leave with your stuff, or without it, but you will be leaving.”

“You can’t make me move.”, she replied.

“That’s true.”, I told her. “I just hope the family moving in doesn’t mind having you here.”

By moving day, my daughters had, I thought, surrendered, given that they had packed what they wanted to take with. Once we arrived at our new home, they amped up their disapproval of downtown living by refusing to eat, staying in their rooms, and giving us the silent treatment. My youngest daughter gave up the battle soon after we moved in.

The older of the 2 dug her heels in, with letters expressing her absolute and total disapproval of our parenting style and decision making process. Apparently, she believed that she had rights, which my wife and I had violated. I reminded my daughter that, since she was over 16 years old, I no longer had to allow her to live with me. I could, if I so desired, toss her sorry ass out on the street. She reminded me that she had rights. “Not in my dictatorship.”, I advised her. “You’re not obligated to stay here. You can pack up, and leave. Sail away to undiscovered lands, and start a new life. But if you choose to stay here, remember, this is not a democracy. I am not taking votes.”

“I want to talk to mommy.”, she said.

“That’s up to her.”, I said. “But I will ask.” I spoke with my wife about my daughter’s requrest.

“What am I supposed to say to her?”, my wife asked.

“I guess you don’t want to try that cake thing again.”, I remarked, as her Moroccan eyes darted back and forth searching for her prey. “Just tell her the truth. She will come around.”

“And what if she doesn’t?”, my wife inquired.

“Well”, I responded, “she really has no choice. Where is she going to go?”

The negotiations were long and arduous. Hour after hour, day after day of back and forth bargaining had the parties at a standstill. “Why don’t you say anything?”, my wife asked me one night.

“I am using my silence to confuse and befuddle her.”, I said. “I will talk when it is time to deliver the one crushing blow that will bring this to an end once and for all.”

“This isn’t a game.”, she said.

“Ah, my dear wife,”, I advised her, “but it is.”

About 1 week later, my daughter made a fatal mistake, and I could see the end in sight. She had made plans to spend the weekend with a friend in suburbia. She approached my wife and I, asking for money to finance her trip. I took money out of my pocket and placed it on the table in front of her. “How much do you need?”, I asked.

“$20.”, she said.

“Okay.”, I said and I picked up a $20 bill, and held it in my hand. “Let me explain how this is going to work. As long as you need to come to me and ask for money, there are rules that must be followed. I will always provide for my family. It doesn’t require you to like me, I really don’t care if you do or not. It does however require you to respect me and your mother. Nothing is free. This money is not just money, it is time taken from my life that I can never get back. It is mine. I have the option of sharing it with you, or not. I am under no obligation to provide with anything other than food, shelter and clothing. I don’t even have to pay for your cell phone. In fact, if this continues, I will cancel it. Do you understand?”

“Yes.”, she said.

“So”, I asked, “What do you want to do, because today we are resolving this. The revolution is over, and we now need to negotiate peace”

“Can I use the money you were going to give me to go to see my friends to paint my room instead?”, she asked.

“When do you want to paint it?”, I responded.

“This weekend.”, she told me. “I don’t think I want to see Elana right now, anyway.”

“Go and get dressed, and we’ll go get paint and the brushes.”, I said.

“I’m sorry.”, she said as she walked to her room to change.

“Me too.”, I told her.

“Well”, my wife said, “that turned out okay.”

“Okay?”, I questioned. “That was a superbly executed act of patience, power and control.  I told you not to worry.”

“I am impressed.”, she added.

“Thank you.”, I replied. “And notice that there was no need for any cake.”

My daughter remained with us for another 5 years, before moving in with her boyfriend, who resides in an outer suburban community. She calls her mother everyday, and comes by and visits at least once a month, whether we want her to or not. She learnt her lesson, and I was proud as hell of her for at least attempting to overthrow the powers that be. None of it really matters to me anymore though, as her boyfriend, who we care for very much, has inherited the little guerrilla inside of her, laying dormant, but waiting for the opportunity to jump out and usurp power and control before he even notices that it is gone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sons & Mothers

 

Not only are my kids moving out, but those who are on their own, are now considering moving away. I waited for years to get them the hell out of my house, but I am having mixed feelings about their relocating to different cities.

My wife informed me that my eldest son and his new wife are moving to Hamilton, on June 1. While it is not that far away, a mere 45 minutes down the QEW, I have reservations about this decision.

“Are you kidding me?”, I asked her.

“No.”, she answered. “They’re going to Hamilton. Houses are much cheaper there.”

“Well of course they are”, I advised. “Its freakin’ Hamilton.” This was very disturbing to me. “Hamilton?”, I asked again, hoping that I had misunderstood. Just hearing myself say it, sent shivers down my spine.

I called my son. “What the hell are you doing moving to Hamilton?”, I demanded an explanation.

“Ya.”, he said, “We just can’t afford to live here anymore. Its killing us. We have to find somewhere that’s more affordable.”

“There’s nothing in Hamilton.”, I inform him.

“I have friends there.”, he said. “There’s a bunch of stuff to do, if you live downtown. So we’re going to see some places this weekend that are right downtown. Near the clubs, and stuff.”

“And don’t forget the drug dealers, crack addicts, prostitutes, homeless, and runaways”, I told him.

“We’ll be alright.”, he told me.

“Hamilton?”, I questioned again. “Its like Canada’s version Buffalo & Pittsburgh, only worse!”

And now, my other son is planning on moving to Belleville. That’s right, Belleville, Ontario. population 50,000. Situated in the beautiful middle of nowhere, halfway between Where The Hell Is That?, & Can You Even Get There By Car?. “Houses are really cheap in Belleville.”, he advises me.

“I’m sure.”, I agree. “They’re even cheaper in Iroquois Falls, but I wouldn’t recommend that you live there either.”

He informs me that his live in girlfriend is having a difficult time securing a position as a teacher, and has applied to The Hastings & Prince Edward District School Board. I ask him where he plans on working, and he begins his ADHD laden dissertation.

“Well”, he said, “I could find work cooking in a golf club, but I don’t want to turn 50 years old and still be on my feet all day, cooking. I’m going to get a job at a gym, and take a training course to become a personal trainer. The course is short, so I can start working on building up a clientele right away.”

“How many gyms are there in a town of 50,000 people?”, I ask.

“I don’t know.”, he tells me.

“How many personal trainers are there in Belleville?”, I continue to probe.

“I don’t know.”, he responds.

“Well”, I said, “Sounds like you’ve thought this through.”

“I don’t know why I even tell you things.”, he states.

“Because I’m the only one who tells you what you need to hear. There’s no reason for you to move to Belleville to buy a house. You don’t need a house. And you certainly don’t need to follow Cruella Deville around the province while she looks for a job. Let her go to Belleville. Tell her to send you a postcard. Go visit on weekends. I don’t give a shit. But I think its time you took your balls back from her, and made a decision that works for you.”

My wife had been standing in the doorway, listening in, as usual, to my conversation with the boy. “I think that you’re being a little hard on him.”, she said as she walked into the room.

“You told me to talk to him.”, I reminded her.

“Yes, I did.”, she replied, “but I didn’t want you to yell at him.”

“I wasn’t yelling.”, I corrected her.

“I heard you.”, she said as she rubbed the boys back.

“You realize that he’s 32 years old, right?”, I asked.

“Yes.”, she replied. “What does that have to do with anything? What do you want to do?”, she asks him.

“Go to Belleville.”, he tells her.

“Listen to your mother.”, she begins. “That girl doesn’t know what’s best for you. If you move to Belleville you’ll be too far away. We’ll never see you.You need to stay here. If you need help, we can help you out.”

“Do you understand what your mother is telling you?”, I asked the boy.

“Ya.”, he said, somewhat dejectedly.

“Well.”, I tell him. “My advice is to go and pack. I’ll drive you to Belleville myself.”

Later that evening, when we were alone, my wife reminded me that I have 3 daughters who, one day, may decide to move away.

“Its okay.”, I tell her. “I may finally have a chance to use a bathroom around here.”

“You an joke about it all you want,’, she stated, “but it will drive you crazy.”

“That’s okay.”, I said, “I’ve had an enormous amount of practice living with you. I’m pretty sure I’ll get through it.”

“Keep it up”, she advised me, “and you might not make it through the night.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Ghost Of The Mouse In My House

 

It was hard to believe, but it was true. Or so they said. As weird as it seemed, there was a mouse in my house, appearing sporadically, and moving through walls and doors as if they weren’t there. Its mere presence had my wife and daughters standing on beds and table tops, to avoid its malevolent mischief making. “The mouse is back.”, my wife informed me.”

“That’s impossible.”, I advised her. “We have 3 different kinds of traps, poison all over the house, and we haven’t seen a mouse in a couple of months.”

“Well then,”, one of my daughters stated, “then we have the ghost of a mouse.”

“Really?, I asked, somewhat amazed at this turn of paranormal events. “A ghost mouse?”

“It’s haunting us.”, my daughter added.

“I see.”, I said, dreading what I knew was soon to come.

“I want you to get rid of it.”, my wife ordered. “I want it out of here. For good.” I thought about this for a long time, considering all possibilities, and rejecting only the insane.

“We should have a seance.”, I advised.

“A seance?”, one of my daughters asked quite surprisingly.

“Yes.”, I told them all, “a seance. You know, we sit around the table in the dark, hold hands, and try to contact the spirit to find out what it wants so it can cross over to the other side.”

They grew disturbingly quiet, and then began whispering among themselves, occasionally looking over at me with disapproving eyes.

“Are you making fun of us?”, my youngest daughter asked.

“Oh, no.”, I told her. I would never do something like that. We only have so many choices. We can have a seance, or an exorcism. And since the mouse is dead, I don’t think he needs any exorcise do you?”

“It’s not funny!”, my wife shouted from atop the bed. “Get the damned thing out of this house.”he gave me the Moroccan look, the one that she always gives to show me that she is going to put a curse on me. I have told her for years that I am immune. It is my superpower.

“Okay.”, I said. “Everybody out of my room. I need to change into my mouse catching gear.” What I wouldn’t have given to have had a deer stalker hat, a red cape, and blue tights to change into. I could be Exterminator Man.

“Where should we go?”, one of the girls asked.

“Go stand on your own bed.”, I said, and they left, tip toeing as they walked, checking the hallways, and the corners for its presence. I put on some old sweats, and began my crusade. I checked bedrooms, pulled everything out of closets, moved furniture, and looked under beds, but I saw no trace of this revenant rodent.

“I’ll look again tomorrow.”, I told them.

“How can I sleep tonight,” a daughter asked, “when there’s a ghost mouse roaming around the house?”

“If you’d like, you can stay awake all night, and if you see him, call me.”, I answered.

I went into my room. “Does a mouse really need to haunt someone?”, I asked my wife.

“Why not?”, came her response.

“Well”, I postulated, “When he’s alive, he’s haunting you. I don’t understand why he would need to continue that after death.”

“Maybe he has some unfinished business.”, she replied.

“What unfinished business could they possibly have? Did he not eat half a piece of cheese?”

“I don’t know.”, she answered. “I do know I want that damn thing out of here, tomorrow!”

Sometime in the middle of the night, I went to the bathroom. As I opened the door, and turned on the light, there he was, the little brown bastard. He ran out of the bathroom, down the hallway, and into one of my daughter’s rooms. I grabbed a broom from the kitchen, and we met on the battlefield. He was hiding in the closet, and I began to move boxes, and bins out. I saw him! Hiding behind a box of mementos, his beady little eyes peering out at me, and I, in my boxers, holding my broom. The lines were drawn. The little rodent was not getting out of this room alive. He made a run for it, and I swung my mighty broom, making contact, and knocking him over. I held him down with my broom, and that was it. It was over. He was terminated, no longer terrifying my family with his malevolent mouse mischief.

I disposed of the remains, made coffee, and waited for the haunted to awake. I was sitting at the table, drinking coffee when they got up. I had my broom of power at my side, and nothing else, except for my boxers of bravery.

“What are you doing?”, my wife asked.

“Drinking coffee.”, I replied.

“Why are you holding the broom?”, she clarified, “and why are you walking around half undressed?”

“I came, I saw, and I conquered.”, I told her.

“What are you talking about?”, my wife asked.

“It was horrible.”, I explained. “I woke up and saw the ghost mouse.”

“Really?”, she asked, filled with the wonder of a 10 year old child.

“Really.”, I continued. “He was just sitting there in the bathroom, staring at me. He was dressed in a kilt, and playing little wee bag pipes.That’s all he wanted. It seems he was a Scottish mouse, named Angus, who left this realm, happy to be playing his pipes again. I don’t think he’ll bother you again.”

“Really?”, she asked, although I was sure she didn’t believe me.

“I drove him out with the broom of power. Its over. He’s gone.”

“Broom of power?”, she questioned.

As we walked out of the kitchen, she turned to me. “You know”, she said. “Since you’ve got that broom of power handy, how about sweeping the kitchen floor.”

“I don’t know.”, I told her. “Its extremely powerful.”

“I know.”, she said. “Just be careful, and you’ll be okay.”

Lock, Stock & Over The Falls Without A Barrel

 

Niagara Falls has always held a special place in my family’s collective heart. Just over an hour drive away, it had always been the go to destination for family outings, and weekend getaways.

The other night, all of my kids and their significant others were over for dinner. As the conversation turned to our family trips to Niagara Falls, the day trips and the weekends, my wife asked if I remembered the first time that I took her there. There are many things that my aging memory has lost somewhere in that time and space that seems to swallow up my keys and eye glasses, but that first weekend in The Falls, is forever tattooed in my brain, and on my right forearm.

We were still dating then, in that place between let’s live together and what the hell is going on with you? We went for a weekend, and now my wife was questioning my ability to remember that trip.

“Well”, I said, “Let’s just go back a lifetime or two. Pay attention boys and girls, this will both shock and amaze you.”

“Its not going to be about sex again, is it?”, one of them asked.

“No.”, I said, “Its been so long, I don’t remember any of that stuff.”

“You’re such an ass.”, my wife said, as she hit me in the arm.

I began my tale of the most expensive weekend in Niagara Falls history. “We left on Friday afternoon and, before heading out on a mere one hour drive, we stopped and had a late lunch, as your mother was hungry. Back on the road, after her cheeseburger and fries, I took her to Niagara-On-The-Lake. We parked and walked down the main street, filled with artisan boutiques and shops. Your mother had ice cream. We dove on to The Falls, and checked into our Hotel, a quaint little establishment complete with a heart shaped Jacuzzi, and water bed, nestled between a Wedding Chapel, and a liquor store. To this day, I am still not sure if the trip to the liquor store is to be made before or after the stop at the Wedding Chapel.

After settling in, we headed out to wander around the falls. As we walked along Ferry Street, she spotted a Taqueria, and decided that she was in the mood for a snack. Two tacos and a white wine later, we were off to see The Falls. We walked along the pedestrian pathway that edged the gorge, and marveled at the international tourists  who ‘ooohed’ and ‘aaahed’ at the wonder of it all. By now, it was rapidly approaching feeding time, and when she spotted the sign in front of The Love Boat advertising Prime Rib, our dinner plans were secured. Your mother had the prime rib, complete with a baked potato, and some green vegetable thing. I had mussels in garlic and wine sauce. We left the restaurant, satiated, and headed back to the room. As we neared our hotel, your mother spotted a 7-11, and determining that we should have emergency rations in the event of a sudden global shortage of prefabricated junk food, stopped to purchase a bag of potato chips, a bottle of ginger ale, several chocolate bars, and a pack of beef jerky.”

“And you had to pay for all of that?”, one of my daughters asked.

“Oh,”, I said. “In her defense, she always offered to pay. I wouldn’t let her. I figured that she was bound to make herself sick long before I ran out of money.I was however, wrong. I had to make several trips to the ATM just to keep her fed. I mean, she only weighed 100 pounds. How much food could she eat?

Anyway, we spent the night in the room where she finished off the chocolate bars, half a bag of potato chips, some ginger ale, and most of the beef jerky. I was starting to feel sick just watching her eat.”

“You should have dumped her, right there.”, one of them blurted out.

“I thought about.”, I said, “but she was so damn cute. The next morning, we went to Perkins for breakfast. Your mother had an order of pancakes, an order of bacon, and order of sausages, toast and coffee. I kept asking myself where all of this food was going, and hoped that it wasn’t some sort of gastrointestinal parasite. We spent the morning horseback riding along a secluded spot on the shores of Lake Erie. On our way back to Niagara Falls, we stopped at a farmer’s roadside pie stand, and purchased a fresh, home made apple pie, although I have no idea how it was made fresh in the back of his pick up truck. On the way back to the hotel, we had to stop at the 7-11 because, as it was explained to me in the car, no one should have to eat apple pie without ice cream!

Lunch was McDonald’s, and there was fudge from a dessert shop that was being saved for later. After visiting several tourist attractions, and The Harley-Davidson store, I took her across the border to one of the best Italian Restaurants known to man, Como’s in Niagara Falls, New York. We both had veal parmigiana, served with pasta, salad, and a basket of bread big enough to feed a small orchestra. After dinner, there was fudge at the hotel.

Sunday came, and it began with breakfast at a local greasy spoon, after which we checked out of the hotel, and headed back to Niagara-On-The-Lake, to wander through Fort George. We left Niagara, and headed back to the big city. We spent the afternoon at my place, and went out to Swiss Chalet for lunch. It was time to call it a weekend, and I was taking her home, when we passed The Towne & Country Buffet.”

“I think you’re making a lot of this up.”, my wife said.

“Really?’, I asked. “You don’t remember going back 3 times for the prime rib? You also had apple cobbler with chocolate ice cream for desert. Remember now?”

“No.”, she said. “I do not!”

“Well, that’s pretty much how it was, give or take a few meals and snacks. After dropping you off, I went straight to the hospital to donate a kidney. I needed the money for the rent, and a car payment or two.”

“That’s a lie.”, she exclaimed.

“Yes”, I said, “that’s a lie.

“I can’t believe you went out with her again.”, one of them stated. I looked at my wife, and saw in her eyes what I had seen so many years ago.

“She’s was worth it.”, I told them. “Still is. But now you know why I can’t afford to retire. I’m still paying off a restaurant tab from 1995.”

 

 

 

Put Your Left Foot In…

 

My wife has brought some wonderful things to our relationship over the years. Restless Leg Syndrome is not, however, one of them.

The woman can’t sit still. Her legs are constantly in spasm, and she claims that when the syndrome acts up, she gets anxious and ‘antsy’. I don’t really notice it, except at nighttime.

She has her routine, designed to help her fall asleep. Lay down, and then toss and turn for 1-2 hours, until she passes out from the exhaustion from all of the exercise she has just participated in. I lay awake, and watch this, amused by her supine callisthenics, and at the same time, worried about just how the hell I will be able to wake up in the morning, and head off to work.

She cannot keep her legs still. Prior to her diagnosis, we simply referred to it as ‘crazy legs’. She moves them all across the bed, left to right, up and down, to the point where we have had to replace several fitted sheets due to the holes she has dug through them. I have suggested that she use this skill to dig for buried treasure, or perhaps diamond mining, but she finds little humor in it. She has been prescribed assorted medications for the problem, but nothing seems to alleviate the ever moving legs.

She kicks blankets off of the bed, swings her legs like a Vegas chorus girl, and gets in and out of bed several times throughout the night, pacing the house, trying to get her legs to be less restless. On one occasion, and only one, as she was walking around the bedroom at 2 in the morning, I started singing ‘The Hokey Pokey’, thinking that this would be a practical use of this dreaded disorder. My wife failed to see the humor in it. She did not find my suggestion to tie pieces of cloth onto the bottom of her feet, and get the floor moped when she was wandering around the house humorous either. She is a hard woman to please.

I understand how upsetting it is for her, to not be able to sleep, to not be able to just relax, without the appearance of ‘crazy legs’, that seem impossible to control.

But I have always been more solution focused, and believe that every cloud has a silver lining. I have told her that I think she could be very successful on ‘Dancing With The Stars’, as her sense of rhythm is beyond reproach. Alternately, she could join the chorus line of any reproduction of ‘Riverdance’. She is that good. In the meanwhile, as she sorts out her aspirations, and future of her restless legs, I continue to lay in the bed and coach her.

“Okay, honey.”, I say, “You need to try something different.”

“Like what?”, she asks.

“Try standing up.”, I advise her.

“What for?”, she wants to know.

“Trust me.”, I tell her. “Stand up.” She does and I tell her to move to the foot of the bed, as there is more room. She complies.

“Okay.”, I add, “Now, put your feet together.”

“I can’t stand like this much longer.”, she barks.

“You won’t have to.”, I tell her. “Now, put your left foot in.” As she starts to comply, she realizes what I have tried to get her to do. If I was not as agile as I am, one of the numerous projectiles that she launched at my head, would have knocked me out cold.

“I’m sorry.”, I told her. “I couldn’t resist.”

“You’re such an ass.”, she informed me.

“Not really.”, I said. As I massaged her legs, she fell asleep, while I stayed awake for the rest of the night, trying to figure out how I could get her to do ‘The Time Warp’.

 

The Sun Rises Over There

 

I have recently confirmed what I have suspected for years. My family is directionaly impaired. There is now, no doubt. Not one of them knows east from west.

“How do I get to the H & M clearance store?”, my wife asks, as I really don’t want to have to waste a day shopping for a new coat.

“Take the Yonge Subway to Queen St. Take the Queen streetcar going west. Get off at Spadina. Walk north about 2 or 3 blocks, and its on the east side of the street.”, I tell her.

‘S0, when I get out of the subway, which way do I go on the streetcar?”. she continues.

“West.”, I repeat. “You go west.”

“Which way is west? Is it my right or left”, she inquires, near panic.

“It depends which way you are facing.”, I answer.

“I don’t understand.”, she moans.

“Okay.”, I explain, I’ll take you.”

We have been dancing to this tune for many, many years, and I am still being asked the same questions.

“The lake is south.”, I tell them all. “If you know where the lake is, the rest is easy. If you’re looking at the lake, your left hand is east, your right hand is west, and behind you is north. The zoo is east, and Kensington Market is west.” Simple? Right. Not to my family.

“Which way is the lake?”, they ask.

My eldest daughter found her way to The Confernece Centre, at Queen and Bay, a mere 30 minute walk from our house, to attend a symposium on Mental Health. Sometime late evening, she called me to tell me that she was lost. She was at Queen & Ossington. “How did you get way over there?”, I asked.

“When I left the building”, she said, “I turned left, and kept going until I realized that nothing looked familiar.”

“You were supposed to go east, not west.”, I told her. “You were supposed to turn right.” I got dressed and drove over to pick her up. I have asked them about this inability to find where they are going, and the consensus is that they all use landmarks to identify which way they should go. The trouble is, they have no idea which way to go to locate the landmarks!

I have purchased compasses, but this  proved unhelpful as well. I have provided each of them with maps I have drawn indicating the route there in green, and the route back in red. They still get confused, and call me to ask for directions. I have suggested using the GPS on their phones, but my frugal wife will not spend the money for the service. It is obvious that my kids inherit this directional impairment from their mother, who I am certain received it from her mother. It is astounding to me that no one can seem to find their way to where they have to go and then get back home again. I have recommended a trail of bread crumbs. They are concerned that the birds will eat them, and they will not be able to follow them back.

“What is the easiest way to get to the clinic?”, my wife asks.

“Take a cab.”, I tell her.

“There’s no way I’m spending that kind of money on a cab.”, she says. “I’ll go by transit.”

“Okay.”, I say. “Go down to Queen, and take the 501 streetcar westbound.”

“Westbound?”, she asks.

“Westbound.”, I repeat. “It will be the one that stops on the north side of Queen. The front of the car should read Neville Park or Roncesvalles. Get on it. Get off at Landsdowne. Its right there.”

“Landsdowne?”, she asks.

“Are you okay with that?”, I inquire.

“Well, it seems complicated.”, she answers. “I don’t know any of those places.”

“Never mind.”, I tell her. “I will drive you.”

“Really?”, she exclaims.

“Ya. It will probably take less time than to have to go out on a search and rescue mission after you don’t come back.”

And I often do lay awake at night wondering if they will all make it back. My family goes out into the great unknown like a rolling stone.And while I am certain that they will gather no moss, I have reservations about their ability to find their way home.It’s enough to drive a directionaly competent person south. On the upside of all of this, I am pretty certain that I could leave, give them directions to where I’ll be, and they would never be able to find me.I am seriously contemplating using this technique as I plan my next vacation.

 

 

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.