I'm not your bitch, don't hang your shit on me.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Walk on by

If you see me walking down the street
And I start to cry each time we meet
Walk on by, walk on by...

The words and music of Burt Bacharach and Hal David pop into my head after he passes by me. Ok, so I don't cry and it isn't Dionne Warwick's voice I hear, but Kelly Clarkson's (when she blew that eh-sounding song out of the water on the first season of American Idol and the judges were like, "Why didn't you pick Anyone who had a heart" and Kelly was like, "I just liked this song better" - TMI, I know).

Moving on...

Coming home after a rather uneventful afternoon downtown, I'm about to cross through the park and before coming to the curb, this man (who just crossed the street) walks towards me. He looks like a young version of Pat Foran (anyone who watches CTV knows who I'm talking about, for everyone else, imagine a good-looking, suburban, WASPy soccer dad who just dropped off his kids at a friend's house while he searches for a coke dealer and a quick fuck in his minivan with the DVD entertainment system in the back).

He smiles and says, "Good morning." I mumble something back, like, "Yeah, uh." It's not my best moment of verbal dexterity, but I have to admit I'm figuring out what the hell he means by saying "Good morning" in the middle of the afternoon. Did I misunderstand him?

Did I ever meet you before? I'm good with faces. Names, not so much (but it doesn't matter since most guys I know are named John, Mike or Matt). Have you serviced me recently? I don't think he works at Walmart. Were you the Jehovah's Witness that keeps on knocking at my door? If you are, I already believe in Jebus, or whatever, and I don't need another Bible - mine makes due levelling out my couch with the missing leg.


Crossing the park, I realize I have no idea what he really said. I look back and I see that he looks back, as well. We have the same expression. You know the look - one hand is on your head while the other is on your hip, and your forehead scrunches while you're raising an eyebrow. An amazing technical feat, I'd say. It conveys the message of, "Where have I seen you before?" without saying a word.

Maybe we have. Maybe we haven't.

From now on, you'll be known as the guy who says "Good morning" in the middle of the afternoon. Another nameless face to add to the list. I could call him John, Mike or Matt, but that would get too confusing. Simplification is the key. And as I contemplate this, the song chimes in my head. Kelly's voice is coming in loud and clear.

Walk on by, walk on by...

Saturday, April 23, 2005


My ass hurts. It hurts pretty badly. A throb continually pulses through my backside. Muscles clench and release. I can’t sit down. There isn’t a comfortable place to rest. When I have to move around (which isn’t as frequent as I’d like), my walking is slightly impaired, and my legs look a little bow-legged. My ass has been pounded into submission, which is a bad thing because I am usually the dominant one.

How could this happen? Let me explain.

Thursday afternoon in my parent’s kitchen, my sister and I are sitting at the table and we’re talking about something which I can’t even recall. My mother hovers around us, like she normally does, because she doesn’t want to miss any of the gossip that zings back and forth like an competitive ping-pong match at the Olympics. Her baby (my niece) sits on her lap, enjoying the taste of the placemat in front of her. After 10 minutes of discovering her snack isn’t as tasty as she initially thought, she begins to squirm and whine. It must be time for a feeding.

“Would you mind holding onto her for a second?” asks my sister. She phrases her question would, instead of can. From experience, she knows the baby is sometimes uncomfortable and fussy around people she doesn’t recognize. The end result is a lot of crying from a little being. Me, being the baby’s uncle, shouldn’t be considered a stranger by any means. She recognizes me as the man with the dark clothes, curly hair and a three-day stubble. I shouldn’t make her cry. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case.

My niece has the unfortunate luck of being around me at the most inopportune times. She has associated me with the man who: eats in front of her when she’s hungry; drinks in front of her when she’s thirsty; doesn't change her when she needs a diaper change (it isn't like she tells me she needs a change); doesn't soothe her when she's cranky, gassy, sleepy, etc. You get the point. I don’t think I have ever been hear her when she’s in a good mood. She associates me with pain. It’s a symbiotic S&M relationship gone bad.

The scary thing is that I like babies. Babies like me. Well, every baby except for my own niece.

Not wanting to stigmatize myself with this dilemma, I decide against my better judgement and reach over to pick up the baby. I pull back the chair, get up, lean over the table and pick up the baby.

With the baby in my stretched-out hands, I reverse the actions mentioned above and I lower myself onto the seat. Slowly. Slowly. The seat isn’t coming into contact with my ass. I bring the baby closer to me as I continue to lower myself onto this elusive chair. Then, in one false move, imbalance strikes and BAM! My ass has slammed onto the ground.

“What the hell was that?” yells my father from the living room. Still in a moderate state of shock, I can’t respond.

With one eye open, I catch the baby’s expression change from happy to shocked to, well, you know the rest. I am sitting on the hard tiled floor, with a hysterical baby in my stretched-out hands.

My sister grabs the baby from me and asks if I’m alright. Then, she hones in on my mother. “Why did you do that for? Why did you take the chair away? Couldn’t you see he was going to sit down? What is wrong with you?” She turns around and walks out of the room. The sound of crying echoes in the hallway.

I see my mother’s feet in front of me while she responds to me (not my sister). “Why did you do that? Can’t you see where you’re going?” Her index finger wags at me. “Why were you going to sit in the chair, anyway?” She’s incredulous that someone would accuse her of doing something idiotic like removing a chair from someone who is about to sit down. Who sits down in chairs, anyway?

“Where did you think I was going with the baby?” I respond. “Ow. Ow. My ass. It hurts. Why the fuck did you take the chair away? What is wrong with you?” I’m still sitting on the floor. Because of my head’s proximity to the table, I am surprised I didn’t hit it with my noggin and let the baby fly backwards, doing a flip in the air, while my sister catches it mid-turn. Now, that would be something to see.

The baby’s cries are heard from the other room as my sister tries to calm her down. I was right when I said I am a disaster around my own niece. She’s going to hate me forever. Unless, she has a memory like my father, then she’ll forget everything in a week, or two.

A few days later, my ass still throbs. The sensation pulses its way through those muscles like an uneven, four-step disco baseline. Thump-thump-thump-thump. I hate the four-step. This feeling is putting me off of throbbing pain. All of this is due to the fact that my lack of dominance was beyond my control. This better not happen again.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Hard core blur

Even though they see each other from across the room, they know it will be moments before they'll do unexplainable things to each other. Moments become minutes. Minutes become seconds. Seconds become insufferable.

They give each other the eye. Their signal consists of a nod, and a set of fingers that trace down a thin top to the waistband of a pair of fitted jeans. They get up. One follows the other through the throng of people. The room is crowded. It's hot. You want to lean over someone's shoulder at the bar, asking the bartender for a drink, and wanting to brush your lips past the nape of their neck. You don't because you have someone else on your mind. They require your full concentration.

One enters the bathroom after the other. Single, private stalls. No time to waste. Kissing turns into licking which turns into pushing and pulling. The temperature rises. Beads of sweat form on their skin. Clothes are being quickly taken off. Not fast enough. The waiting is teasing them. There is nothing between them, now. They're up against the wall. They breathe hard. Then.

The rest is a blur...

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Diametric diarrhea

There are times in one’s life where certain bodily functions are blocked, while other times they flow uncontrollably, like, well, you know…

These erratic, tragic eruptions come when you least expect them (and they will happen in the worst of places, namely at church, in the library, and at the grocery store check-out line). You’ll have to run far, far away from anyone due to sheer embarrassment and the fact they’ll look for the culprit (you), and point their fingers while making the face.

There are multiple triggers: eating food that is prepared at a shady-looking, Eastern-inspired restaurant where a pack of dogs hover around the kitchen entrance (only to mysteriously disappear at dinner time); finding an ex in a store, willing them to go away with your mental powers of persuasion, but they don’t since you don’t have mental powers of persuasion, so you end up hiding behind tall shelves trying desperately to avoid any kind of eye or physical contact (not that I would know from first hand experience); or realizing family is coming over and you have to endure eight excruciating hours of “What is wrong with you? You are so ungrateful after all I’ve done for you. I should’ve never given birth to you. You are not my child!!”

You don’t know what to do. You’re left speechless, or you ramble uncontrollably. There is a name for this and it's called Mental Irritability Syndrome (MIS) - the inability to control the departure of certain words or thoughts in your mind at a specific time. The result can be a spewing of random, unconscious ramblings at the most inopportune moments.

Being proactive, I’ve decided to come up with an effective solution for any future occurrences: I am using a dictionary and thesaurus as a means of research. If there is a blockage (or spewage) due to MIS, I’ll make a mental note to come back to it later (because I won't be carrying around two books with me), hoping it wasn’t a mistake, per se (horrible joke, I know). Later, the grammatical error will be disposed of, like so much crap that occupies my mind.

Also, for future reference, I will abstain from eating at dodgy-looking places, avoid exes in public spaces, and make up an excuse for when my family wants to visit (like I’m having unnecessary surgery that day).

But I can’t guarantee any of that, because for me, MIS is a euphemism of shit for brains.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Getting it good from behind (pt. 3)

“Just what the fuck do you think you’re doing??”

“I’m adjusting the hair at the back. And, if you keep moving, I’m going to make a mistake and the hair won’t be straight.”

“Who the fuck cares if the back is straight?? People don’t look at the back of my head when they’re talking to me. If they do, I don’t want them talking to me. I talk to people to their face.” I wave my hands in front of my face in a circular motion.

“Just don’t move…” He walks around the chair, stands in front of me and points the rusty scissors at my face. “If you move, I’ll make a mistake.”

“You know what? Why don’t you just stop trimming the back of my neck and start with the rest of my hair. Look at this,” I say while pulling at large clumps of hair on the side of my head. “It’s still the same length. You haven’t even touched the rest of my hair.”

“Fine,” he says, exasperated. He continues to cut the rest of my hair very slowly. He pulls at my hair with the comb, gathers a clump with his hand and snips.

“Why aren’t you using the clippers?” I ask after a few minutes.

“I’m not supposed to use the clippers.”

“I said I wanted a buzz cut. That means you use the the #2 head on the clippers. It cuts your hair the same length all over your head.”

“You never told me you wanted that.”

Is he for real? “You know what?” I grab the sides of my chair, turn around and look at him. “Enough. Cut as much as you can in the next 15 minutes, and I’ll finish the rest on my own time.”

“Fine.” He trims some of the hair that doesn’t belong on the back of my head and I count the minutes. “Don’t ever ask me to do this again. I was only doing it as a favour to you,” he says. I let this last comment go. He does not want to push me any further.

Fifteen minutes pass and I stand up. His time is up. My father stands back, tools in hand, and says nothing. He isn’t impressed and, quite frankly, neither am I. I walk out of the bathroom with my schmatte on. As I pass the kitchen, my mother sits at the table with her guest. My sister is at the head of the table, one hand on her side, the other on her stomach. Her face and eyes are red from both laughing and crying. She’s been having a howl over this. I’ll get around to her later.

I know I have to say something to the guest. It is considered bad manners not to. She’s already heard me yelling and cursing at my father. Now she’s seeing me wear a ratty pair of gym shorts and a transparent schmatte. So, I make a desperate attempt at a greeting.

“Good afternoon,” I wave with a half-smile on my face. “I can’t come over there to greet you yet because I am covered in hair.” I blow some hair off my face. “I’m going to wash up and I’ll be back in about 15 minutes. Oh, and sorry you had to hear me screaming in the bathroom, but what I said had to be said.” I continue on with my journey.

Frustrated when I enter the upstairs bathroom, I turn on the lights for a closer inspection. Either my eyes are out of focus, or my hair looks horrible. No, it isn’t my eyes. The hair on the top of my head is a lopsided mess. My head looks like it was taken advantage of by a maniacal blind person with a pair of scissors and a grudge.

Attempting to correct some mistakes, I pull out a pair of scissors from a drawer and perform my own version of resuscitating an already dead body. It’s hopeless. My hair is still limp and lifeless.

After my shower, I finger style my mop to look presentable. It can pass for normal… in the dark. When I come downstairs, I notice the company has left. My sister comes up to me in the kitchen and asks whether I’m fine. She’s laughing while saying this. I tell her I’m alright.

“You know,” she continues, “I couldn’t stop myself laughing. You should’ve seen me. Mom thought I was going to pee myself from laughing so hard.”

“Gee, thanks,” I reply.

My mother gives me a look. She isn’t impressed with my behaviour (surprise, surprise) towards my father. She claims it was disrespectful. “I don’t know what your problem is.” She makes me turn around. “Your hair looks fine… from the back.”

Raising an eyebrow, I could answer with a pithy remark, but I figure why disrespect both my parents in such a short time span. Better spread the insults over a longer timeframe.

Spending the next few days with my hands on my head, I’m obsessively tugging and pulling at my hair. This side still feels a little longer than the other. He cut off way too much on this side of my head. All that wasted time and he can’t get the basics right. A pair of scissors in my hands is my hair’s friend for the next five days.

Of course, the back of my head looks great. That was my father’s intention all along.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Getting it good from behind (pt. 2)

The sadistic session begins with me getting a folding chair from the basement that manages to let your thighs stick to the seat even when you’re wearing trousers. An old schmatte replaces the cape used at salons. The only thing I’m wearing is an old pair of gym shorts (never used them for gym, so I better use them now).

A feeling of déjà-vu comes over me. Not only am I regressing back to when I was nine, but the room reminds me of the scene in Marathon Man where Laurence Olivier continually repeats the question, “Is it safe?” while he performs unnecessary surgery on Dustin Hoffman – sans anaesthesia.

The bathroom is nippy, like a night in October, and the only thing that is covering my torso is this ridiculous, flowered shamatte, which is not only scratchy, but also makes you hot and sweaty while leaving your skin cold to the touch. Ah, the miracles of polyester.

Taking my seat as my father walks in, he looks at me and asks, “Are you ready?”

I nod as a reply. Lord Jesus, I think, this is as ready as I’ll ever be.

He pulls out the clippers, the same pair of scissors he’s been using to cut hair for the past 15 years, and that same, nasty comb. He turns on the machine and begins trimming the hair on the back of my head. The buzz of the motor massages my scalp.

Voices are heard from the radio in the kitchen. There must be a soccer game on, as is usual with Saturday afternoons. My fingers twitch and are getting cold. I can barely feel them. Tilting my head down, my eyes tell me they’re blue.

“Stop moving your head. Do you want me to make a mistake?” says my father behind me. Finding a more comfortable position on that sticky chair, I hear the doorbell ring. It’s a friend of the family. The last thing I need is an audience for mine and my father’s oratory performance behind the bathroom door.

My mind wanders. God, is he still cutting the hair at the back of my head? He’s switched to the scissors. How long has he been doing that? By my estimates, an hour has passed, judging by the beeps on the radio, indicating two news breaks.

My legs start to grow numb while my feet turn blue. I smack them a few times. Great, I can’t feel anything. Rigour mortis is currently taking place on a living person.

I can’t handle it. It’s really bothering me. He hasn’t spent barely five minutes on the rest of my head. This isn’t going to be like last time. I am not going to let him take two hours of my life while he maniacally manicures my head.

“Keep still,” he says. “Don’t move. Keep you head still. Still!” He grabs the back of my head with his mitt-like hands and turns it one direction and then another. My blood simmers. I haven’t said anything for the past hour. I try to keep my conversation to a minimum so as not to bother the maestro. I can’t. I just can’t. It’s about to come out. If he twists my head once more in a direction God didn’t intend it to move, I’m gonna…

“Sit still!”

My blood has boiled over.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Getting it good from behind (pt.1)

Unless I have somewhere I need to be at a specific time, I hardly ever look at my watch. Therefore, I don’t notice how fast the hours pass. The same can be said about my hair. Since I don’t always look at it, I never realize how fast it grows. And when it grows, this mass of coarse, thick and curly matter, grows up and out. As much as I don’t want to admit it to myself, I have to make the time to book an appointment to get my hair cut.

Scheduling haircuts every six weeks is bothersome. How can I stretch six weeks into eight? Suffering a lack of cognitive thought, I realize drastic times call for drastic measures. I want a buzz cut… a moderate one. It’s a quick and relatively painless procedure. If Demi Moore can do one-arm push-ups and give herself a buzz cut in G.I. Jane, then so can I (the buzz cut, not the one-arm push-up).

At mealtime, I tell my parents about my decision and they look at me like I’ve lost my mind. It isn’t as if I’m leaving everything behind for the armed forces. How could I? No way will they allow a neurotic, neat-freak like me to join. I’ll spend most of the time organizing the weapons of mass destruction and removing the dirt from my uniform and in between my nails. Well, that and I don’t look good in camouflage.

Hearing my dilemma, my father nominates himself as the barber - it's not too much of a shock. He’s qualified (and cheap). He used to cut my hair in the downstairs bathroom for years before I started going to the salon. Anyway, how uncomfortable can it be to have your father cut your hair? From what I can recall, there was a lot of crying on my behalf while having my father continually twist my head every which way while yelling at me, “Stay still! Don’t you move! Leave it like that. Like that! Keep your head down. You’re moving your head. I told you not to move your head…”

My responses were normally caught in between sniffles and tears. “I didn’t move. Can I go? I can’t move my head any further down. My head hurts. My feet are cold. Owww, you hurt me. You’re pulling my hair. Owww! That hurrrrts…”

“Fine. I don’t care,” was his usual reply. “If someone says the hair on the back of your head is crooked, it’s your fault.”

After two hours of screaming and crying, the haircut would end with me running up the stairs and into our other bathroom, wanting to take a shower and wash all the itchy hair off me. Oh, the memories.

It’s funny (well, not funny, as it is amusing to anyone who hears of your misfortune and laughs about it) that after having my hair cut in a proper salon for almost 15 years, you’d think my father would’ve changed his methods of lopping off some hair with a comb that tugs at your scalp, and a dull, rusty pair of scissors that couldn’t cut through air.

Uh, no. But, I digress.