Thursday, January 18, 2018

Do you qualify for our discount today?

"Do you qualify for our discount today?"

"What discount?" I asked. Even though, from the moment the word 'discount' left her lips, in the back of my head, I knew what she was going to say. But in that 1/4 of a second it took her to reply, I found myself silently begging...  Please don't say Senior, please don't say Senior please don't say Seniorplease don't say Seniorplease GOD don't say Senior.

"Our Senior Discount."

There it was. January 18, 2018. I was mistaken for someone 65 years of age. I am 49 and a half. My birthday's in July.

Instead of laughing out loud at the absurdity of it, I woodenly said "No," while vainly reeling from shock. As I swiped my debit card I justified the mistake. She's young(er), it was because I had asked for iron pills, she saw me limp up after my dance rehearsal as my arthritic hips gave me grief, she doesn't know that asking a middle-aged woman if she qualifies for the Senior Discount is the equivalent to asking a woman who carries a few extra pounds if she's pregnant.

Just a number. It's just a number. It's a number over a decade more than my actual number... but it's just a number. I drove home, my self-pity holding me in a near-hypnotic daze.

I walked into the house. David and Rissa shouted cheerful "Hellos."

"Would you please look up what the Shoppers Drug Mart Senior Discount age is?" I asked, my confidence pathetically crawling along on the floor beside me.  Just a number, it's just a number.

"Sure," said David. "Why are we looking up..."

"Because the girl at the Pharmacy counter asked if I qualified for the Senior Discount!"

There were quickly stifled snorts of laughter from the peanut gallery.

"Not cool guys.  Not. Cool."

When I entered the living room, David and Rissa were each racing on their laptops to find the information. "65 years," David winced. "But some stores, might lower it to 55"

"I am 49 fucking years old! At the least she thought I was 5.5 years older than I am and at the most 15.5 YEARS!! Oh my God! Unless she thought I was 70!! I was having such a good week!"

And then it struck me. "When I went up to the counter, I was wearing my fucking pink sock monkey hat!!"

"This same hat, 3 years ago, got me carded at the LCBO!! Which means that in the past 3 years I have apparently aged 40 years, because they ask anyone who looks 25 years or younger for their ID at the LCBO.  Bring me my hat - this needs to be documented."

"Oh Mama," said Rissa. "You don't look 65."

"It's not that I want to be mistaken for 35," I grumped, slamming the hat back on my head. "I don't even mind being mistaken for my actual age. I don't mind being 49. I LIKE being 49! I'm kicking ass at 49!! But Sixty-fucking-five?!?"

"You totally should have taken the discount," said Rissa.

"If I hadn't been so gutted, I would have," I said, as David grabbed his phone to take my picture.

"You do not look 65," said David. "You do not look 55. You don't look 49." He kissed me before shooting the photo above. "You are a stunning woman who put all other woman to shame. A Goddess. My Goddess."

Next time? I'm strutting up to that Pharmacy counter in all my Goddess glory and I'm taking the fucking discount.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Careful what you say over pancakes.

David, Rissa and I are enjoying our weekly Sunday pancake breakfast.

"These are great!" says Rissa. "The texture is magnificent!"

We've been trying to perfect gluten-free pancakes for the past several years. It's been hit or miss.

"Yeah," says David, chewing on his maple syrup-soaked pancake. "These are the ones. We've done it! Which is great, because these breakfasts are soon going to be a thing of the past."

I swallow my bite of pancake. My throat tightens. Moisture fill my eyes.

Rissa looks at my face. "Dude!" she says to David. "What did you just do?"

If someone were filming this moment, there would be a well-timed shot of a single tear sliding down my cheek.  Suddenly Rissa is no longer living at home with us. She's at university. She's graduated university. She's living in a different city. She's married and has kids but we only see her twice a year, because she's so busy and has so many commitments. "No more family breakfasts?"

David's eyes are wide. "No! I mean..." He shoots Rissa a panicked look. She shakes her and gives him a "you're the one who said this" eyebrow raise. He reaches over and takes my hand.  "No, we'll still have lots of Sunday breakfasts."

"No," I say. "We won't, actually. You're right. I've got The Cat's in the Cradle playing through my head. I know that it's not really completely appropriate to this situation, but the... end... of the song... that kid who now doesn't have time for his Dad...?" There is more than a single tear now.

"Awwww... Mama," says Rissa. "It's okay. We'll still do Sunday breakfasts."

"But not every Sunday! Not if we're living in different cities! And I know that life is like that. I know that. And I know that we don't see Mor-Mor and Far-Far all that often because we live far from them, but it's different because they had two kids and weren't as hands on and really didn't care when I left home, hell they wanted me to leave home, were wondering why I hadn't yet, but we really like you and like spending time with you and..." I can't continue speaking.

Rissa's taken my other hand. "Mama. It's okay. I promise we'll still have breakfasts. They won't be all the time, but we'll still have them. Just like we have them when we're at Mor-Mor and Far-Far's."

"Yeah?" I sniff, before wiping my eyes with my pajama sleeve.

"Yeah." She turns to David. "You can't just say shit like that. I mean, seriously! She's fragile!"

Turns out? I'm that Mom. If we had a problem child going through her teenage years in a funk of eye rolling with a side of whiny sarcasm, peppered with irrational outbursts, we'd be opening the door for her, we'd be packing her bags.

This is what you get for having a functional relationship with your daughter. Spontaneous fits of weeping over gluten-free pancakes.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

YouTube University

"Do you think there are videos on YouTube on how to do minor surgery?" I ask David.

"No," David says with a note of finality in his voice.


"No, you may not do minor surgery on yourself."

"Don't be silly. I wouldn't do minor surgery on myself."

David's eyebrows rise as high as they possibly can on his forehead. "No?"


"Good," he says, obviously relieved.

"Of course I wouldn't do that. Well, really, couldn't do it, not well at least."

David closes his eyes and shakes his head.

I know that with logic, I can make a good argument. "You, though, YOU could totally learn how to do minor surgery and do it on me. It could be like those scenes in Travelers when David does home spinal taps for Marcy."


"It just doesn't make sense for me to do it."

"It doesn't make sense that you perform minor surgery on yourself?!?"

"Well not in this area, it doesn't," I explain patiently.

"What area? What could you possibly want to remove from your body?"

"My armpit pudge. Nay, verily, my armpit boobs," I say. "I have had armpit boobs ever since I've had breasts. And no matter how much I exercise, no matter how healthfully I eat, no matter how many pounds I lose..." I poke my left armpit boob.   "I still..."  I poke my right armpit boob. "Have..." I cross my body and poke both of them.  "Armpit boobs."

I am apparently speaking in a foreign language. There is no comprehension on David's face. I'm sure that I can get through to him.

"And I know that all it would take is a little 'zip-zop' underneath my pits, a little detail nozzle suck with the Shop Vac and BOOM! They'd be gone."

David opens his mouth to speak. He closes it. He opens it again. "What can I say to dissuade you of your commitment to this plan? Hey! Remember when you were learning to decorate gingerbread houses from YouTube videos? Can we go back to that? Please?"

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The Squirrel Nurser

Steve and Lola are looking out the kitchen's east window. Staccato tails twitch back and forth in tandem - something is definitely up. I figure it's our resident chipmunk taunting them from below the window.

"What's going on guys?" I ask, giving them both a scritch behind their ears before looking down.

My hand cames up to my mouth. Not a taunting chipmunk. A dead squirrel. A dead little squirrel. Flat upon our gravel driveway.

"Oh no," I say.

"What? What is it?" David asks from the loveseat.

"There's a dead squirrel outside."


We allow a silent moment of commiseration to make its way through the room. I look back out the window.



"Not dead. It's not dead!" I watch as the supposedly flattened squirrel struggles up before lurching to drag itself under our Honda Civic.  "Oh, buddy. Not there. Don't go under the car. It's not going to be safe under the car."

"Leave it be," says David. "Heather, do not touch that squirrel." (One episode with feral kittens and subsequent rabies shots and I'm no longer given a lot of leeway with wild animals.)

"I won't. Its mother might be around."

I wait. I wait an entire 17 minutes before I go out and lie on the driveway, feeling the gravel leave its imprint on my stomach. Squinting, I can see the squirrel tucked in by the front right tire. It is still, not making a sound. If it is dead I'm going to have to move it so that we don't inadvertently squish its little squirrelly corpse. I shudder at the thought.  I look around. No mother squirrel anywhere.  Our driveway is not close to any real foliage - no overhanging branches - just three car lengths of gravel. 100 feet to the south, the bottom of the yard has trees and then 100 feet to the north there are more trees.

I go back inside.  I sit. I try to read.  I play Scrabble on Facebook, comment on some posts before I walk nonchalantly towards the dishtowel drawer.

"Don't you even think about it," says David.

"If it is dead, I don't want it to get squished."

"If it's alive, you're going to get bitten."

Temporarily deaf, I grab a tea towel and head back outside. The squirrel has crawled out from under the car and is again lying flat on the driveway. It doesn't even twitch as I approach.  Using the dishtowel as a makeshift glove I scoop up the squirrel. It barely struggles. I cradle the towel against my chest. This is bad. Wild animals don't like to be touched - it's letting me touch it. This sucker is going to die and I'm going to see it happen.

"Uhhhhh... David? Can you, uh... would you grab another towel and maybe the cushions from the storage unit?"

David sticks his head outside, takes one look and rolls his eyes. He then disappears for a moment before coming back with a hand towel from the 1/2 bath.  He's shaking his head as he pulls the outdoor cushions out and places them on the outdoor sofa. I very gently wrap the second towel around the first one and lower myself onto the sofa. The squirrel doesn't move. I open the tea towel and look down.

I touch a finger to its head. Nothing. I contemplate asking David for a miniature hand mirror so that I can check that it's still breathing, when it shifts slightly. Still alive.

"Would you grab me a syringe with some water?" I ask. The squirrel opens its eyes, giving me a paralyzed look of horror. "It's okay buddy. We're just going to get you some water so that you don't become squirrel jerky." My suggestion doesn't seem to impress the critter. 

"If I were a syringe, where would I be?" David asks. 

"Maybe in the first aid kit?  Oh, or maybe above the stove where the pet pill crusher is."

He returns with the syringe.

The squirrel lets me drop water into its mouth before burrowing down into the tea towel, nuzzling into my cleavage and closing its eyes. I look down at him and I swear to God, my boobs start to tingle. 

"Oh, good God," I say.


"You know how when I see a nursing Mom, my boobs get all tingly and I feel like I might actually have milk?"

"You're not."

"I am."

David winces. "Uhhhhh... You, uhhhh... You're not..."

"Dude, I'm not going to try and nurse a baby squirrel. I'm just saying that my boobs are going all maternal on me. Besides, if we're being 100% frank here, this sucker wouldn't get 1/8 of my nipple in its mouth. Plus... squirrel teeth."

"Just when I think you won't go past a line..."

I enjoy a squirrel nap in our backyard before Rissa and her boyfriend name the wee rodent Edwin Von Lichtenstein. We foster Edwin for the weekend before David transports him to a Wildlife Centre where he is placed with other adolescent squirrels. This was his last feeding before we said goodbye. Godspeed Edwin.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Anorexic Caterpillars

Rissa is taking up all the space in front of the bathroom sink - arranging her eyebrows.

"Excuse me hon," I politely request - reaching for the taps so that I can wash my hands.

"Sorry..." She scoots out of the way, allowing me full tap access, before returning to the mirror with tweezers in hand.

Moments later, I remember having caught a whiff of my armpits as I left the bed. They really need a good wash... with soap.

"Excuse me," I repeat, reaching for the soap at the edge of the sink.

"Sorry..." She twists her body to allow me entry to the water once more, while somehow managing to maintain full facial focus in the mirror.

As I dry my pits and hands, she moves back to glue herself against the vanity - sheer concentration on her face as she landscapes the browal region.

I'm not going to ask a third time, it would just be mean. I reach under her for the toothpaste and toothbrush and covertly turn on the water.

"Sorry, sorry," she says, stepping back again, giving me full use of the sink so that I can spit. "I just can't see if I'm farther away from the mirror and if I have my glasses on then I can't control the tweezing /slash/ makeup process." She has now grabbed her eyebrow pencil and is applying it with determined precision.

"Ahhhhh... Totally makes sense when you put it that way. I do find it strange though that the only makeup you apply is to your eyebrows."

"It's all because before I grew them out* I used to have anorexic caterpillars for eyebrows," she says, now pulling clear eyebrow gel from its tube. "With really LARGE heads."

I snort.

"It's true! Remember? They used be all anemic and anorexic... Like caterpillars trying to fit into a dress from three years ago, but finding out it's way too tight and they end up looking like this..."

*To encourage her anorexic caterpillars to have a healthy BMI - Rissa spent our European vacation last year growing them out over a three week period - where only strangers could watch the process.

Monday, August 21, 2017

VERY deep thoughts.

"You look like you're having deep, introspective thoughts," says David. We sit with Rissa, waiting for her first university tour.

"Hmmmm...?" I am, indeed, lost in thought - imagining a future where my daughter is not a daily presence.

"You're looking very deep," David continues.

I snort.


"All I can think now is that I'm DEEEEEEEEEP."


"Like I have a very cavernous vagina."

"Argh..." Rissa shakes her head.

"Like a...?!?"

"I have hidden depths!  My vagina is so deep, it's contemplative. Great pub name - The Contemplative Vagina. There'd be lots of deep pinks and roses. "

"Uhhhh...." David guppies.

"My vagina philosophizes."

"No it does not, and you may not share its philosophy with anyone on the tour!" states Rissa.

"How deep is my love, how deep is my love..."

Go to 0:49 to get to the punch line.

Husband and daughter might give themselves brain aneurysms from eye rolls at this point.

"I really need to know... but can one really measure a cavernous vagina?"

Rissa is now banging her head on the back of her Adirondack chair.


"Ouch," says Rissa. "You'd need to take off the pointy bits."

"And a protractor for the angle.  To get a full picture. It'd be useful in women's studies. WE COULD CHART THE G-SPOT!"

"No we cannot," from Rissa.

"Next time I'm at airport security I'm going to volunteer for the full body scan and request a print out of the results."

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The Destruction of Generation Z.

It might take a village to raise a child, but God forbid if you actually attempt it in North America. 

Parenting in the new Millennium seems to have taken on the Three Monkeys approach: See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil. 

Parents have become myopic helicopters hovering over their children's playgrounds, test scores and job interviews. The result? You can't swing a selfie-stick without hitting an entitled, self-serving Millennial or Gen Zer who is in no way ready for the real world. Basically our generation is fucking over our children's generation  - all in the name of supportive parental love.

I never thought I'd become that vintage dinosaur.  "Back in the day..." if any of my parents' friends saw me fucking up, I'd get called out on it and after I took that deserved tongue lashing, I'd get to tell my parents what I'd done. Now? Our village is more apt to speak up about strangers' kids than friends' kids. When a child's safety is in question? Folks mobilize. That kid left in the backseat - the child teetering on the edge of the sea wall? Emergency Services are called and the parents are virally shamed. But with friends' kids? When their kid is behaving abominably, when they themselves are sucking at their job? Surreptitious, eye-rolling silence.  You don't mess with other people's parenting. It's the unspoken rule. "Darling, it just isn't done." 

Why not? Why can't we tell our best friend that their kid is a whiny asshole? In the nicest way possible, of course. Why aren't we speaking up? Why do we not call out our friends' bad parenting choices - when they allow their 7 year old to take them hostage because they don't want to cause a public scene? When they do their kid's homework so that little Morgan gets her 'A.'

Isn't it our job as parents to raise contributing and functional members of society? Can't we help each other do that? We're not supposed to be their best friends, we're supposed to teach them not to be dicks. For every autonomous young adult, it seems as if there are three more absolute dicks beside them. 

So, no, your kid doesn't get a ribbon just for showing up. Mediocrity isn't something that should be celebrated. Having a cell phone active in class is not a requirement. Your kid is in school, learning - if it's an emergency the office will contact her! Didn't you see Ferris Bueller's Day Off? Please don't call to negotiate with potential bosses when your kid fails at a job interview. You're ensuring that they will NEVER be considered for employment. Don't text your 19 year old every five minutes while they are at their summer job - they are fully capable of putting in a full day's work without communicating with you.

Kids need to fail to thrive. They really do. Failure will help them learn. They need to be able to regroup on their own. Allow them the opportunity to make mistakes in safe ways, like not studying for a quiz and roiling in the "12% OF MY FINAL GRADE!" panic when they get that D+. Sure, you can proofread their essay, but don't rewrite it for them. They can do it. I promise you. Kids are resilient. They're smart. They can multi-task, plan and figure shit out. They're the future -  please, for the love of all that's holy in the universe - don't fuck it up for all of us.