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

Friday, August 10, 2018

My mother's obsession with my toilet

It’s good to do a little touch-up in one’s home every few years.  Whether painting, the swapping of hardware, or even a full-on renovation, those updates keep things fresh.

After living in my home for more than a half-decade, I think it's time to make changes.  The biggest one is the staircase: currently covered with old carpet, I want it replaced with wood.  It’s not as easy as it sounds, but I found an independent contractor who can make it happen.

Once the staircase is refinished, my second goal is to replace the faucet/sink/cabinet in my bathroom.  It isn’t a priority since they're all still functional.  Not pretty, but functional.

While talking about start dates with my mother, she careens the conversation to how she’s going to redesign the bathroom.  Did I forget to mention she’s referring to my bathroom?  And she's obsessed with my toilet.

“What is your obsession with the toilet?” I ask while we’re both sitting at the dinner table at my parents’ house.

“You said you wanted to replace it,” she replies while leaning back in her chair.

“When did I ever say that?”

“When you said you wanted to fix your bathroom.”

“That was you.  You said that not me.”

“You didn’t say it?”

“No!  I said I needed to replace the faucet, not the toilet.”

(To backtrack, my faucet needs replacing since it’s cracked.  I found a model, with one lever instead of the two standard hot/cold ones.  The issue is it’s designed for a sink with one centre hole; mine has three.  Faucets similar to the model I want that have a wide base are much more expensive.  So, it’s cheaper to replace the faucet and the sink at once.  The thing is, the cabinet will look old compared to the new faucet/sink combo.  In the end, it’s just easier – and a worthy investment – to replace all three at once.  Never did the topic of replacing the toilet come into play; that was all in my mother’s head when she was mentally redesigning my bathroom.) 

“Where did you ever get this thing about the toilet?  You don’t even visit enough to have an opinion on it.”  It’s true. She visits probably three times a year.  I use my bathroom three times before lunch.

“Well, you said you were going to renovate the bathroom, so I assumed you were going to replace everything.” She waves her hand in the air, combined with a nonchalant eye roll.

When she gets up from the table and walks towards the kitchen sink, it's a sign the conversation is over.  I don’t have the strength to continue it, either.

Someday, if my mother renovates her house, she can do whatever she wants (as long as I'm consulted on the colours, finishes and everything else).  Until then, I get to pick what goes where.  And since I’m paying for it, it’s going to take a while for me to replace my toilet.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Tweezing white nose hairs

No matter what people say, growing older isn’t a blessing. Yes, for the optimists it means another year of life, but for everyone else, it means much more.  Not only do you look worse for wear, but you feel it, too.  The aches and pains, the wrinkles, the loss of memory, the loss of memory... 

Aging like a fine wine?  More like fine whine.  But, I digress.

One of the most annoying parts of getting older is white hair.  Not the hair on your head – you should be blessed to still have some there – but in your nose.  It’s bad enough they keep growing at an increasing speed (why don’t they slow down, like everything else that’s older?), but now they’re highlighted.

(And you know that line about if you yank one, two grow in its place?  That shit is true.)

Since those hairs are black (which is fine – insides of nostrils are dark), it’s not an issue.  What is an issue is when you can spot a white strand.  It pops.  A neon billboard that hums in the middle of a dark field at midnight is less noticeable.

And because beauty is pain, it has to be removed.  I’m not a fan of the electric trimmer since all that does is cut them down, leaving a blunt edge (and the same amount of hair).  No, no.  I tweeze them.  Luckily, since they’re a different texture than normal nose hairs (they’re thicker but with a weaker root), they’re removed rather painlessly.

Now, the only problem is they grow back.  And I haven’t reached the point to get laser hair removal for my nose hairs.  I think that’s a bit much.  Then again, if I see a snow covered pine forest growing out of my nostrils, it’ll be time to reconsider.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

My dad doesn't know how to flush the toilet

It's about 20 minutes after lunch, and my parents want some coffee.  They're visiting me in the city and would rather - or, I would rather - go out for some than make it at my place.  Three hours in a small, enclosed space, and it's time to get some fresh air.

Before heading out, my father tells my mother and me he has to go to the bathroom.  Fine.  It shouldn't have to be an announcement, but with him, it usually is.

While my mother and I wait, we can hear muffled words from the bathroom.

"What is your father saying?" my mother asks.

"Wait.  Did he not shut the door to the bathroom?" I say aloud to no one.

"Did you shut the door to the bathroom?" my mother yells upstairs.

"Why would I shut the door to the bathroom?" I can hear my father bellow from above.

"Just watch," I tell my mother, "he probably didn't even turn on the fan."  He has a habit of not turning it on because it wastes electricity.  "Could you at least turn on the fan?"

"Why?  We're all in the same family," my father says.  I'm not sure if he's disgusted by the thought or insulted.  I, on the other hand, am both.

My mother and I hear the toilet flush and think he's done.  Then, we wait a few minutes.  And a few more minutes.  The water is still running.  I start to worry.  God forbid there's an overflow issue.  Reflecting on personal history, it's happened to my mother two times when she visited (not because of her, but of the internal mechanism malfunctioning).

I start to walk up the stairs.  "Dad, what are you doing?  Why is the water still running?"  I can hear the filling of the tank.

"Ugh, your toilet doesn't work." I can see my dad leaning in front of the toilet with his hands on his hips.

"What did you do?"  What I really mean is how much did he do.  Peeking into the bowl, there's nothing in there but some toilet paper.

"It doesn't flush."

"Of course it flushes."

"No, it just swirls." He'd been pulling on the mechanism for at least two minutes.

"It's these low-flush toilets," I point to the toilet.  "They don't have that woosh that older toilets have.  And because I'm on a lower floor, I don't have gravity to help push things down."

"You and your house."  My father shakes his head in disappointment.

"It's my fault the toilet doesn't work?"  They're always blaming me for things beyond my control.

"It's your house, isn't it?  You chose it, you live in it."

"I didn't choose the toilet."

"Hmph." My dad puckers his lips.  "You need to get a new toilet."

"It works fine for me." I raise my eyebrow.  "Are you going to buy me a new one?"

"This isn't my house!"

"Well, don't complain.  Or next time, don't use the toilet."

"Are you two done up there?" my mother yells from downstairs.  "Are we getting coffee, or not?"

After the toilet tank finishes refilling, my father and I head downstairs.  My mother is waiting with her coat on by the door.

"What was that all about?" she asks.  "You two were up there forever."

"Dad doesn't know how to flush the toilet," I reply.

"What?" She's not sure how to react.

"Don't ask." I quickly throw on my coat and push them out the door.  After what happened in the bathroom, I need some caffeine and a croissant.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

There's no use crying over spilled coffee

It's the weekend and my parents have come to visit me in the city.  After lunch, it's customary for my parents to either make coffee at home or go out to the coffee shop.  Because my mother wasn't feeling too well, I made the pilgrimage to get coffee.  Two mediums with double milk for them and a large with two milks, two sugars (a.k.a. a double double) for me.

Arriving at home, I pass two coffees to my parents and place mine on the kitchen counter.  I had a sip before and it needed a little bit extra sugar.  After adding a spoon of it into the cup, I place the container in the cabinet, shut the door and tap the full cup with the edge of my hoodie.

What comes next is nothing short of a deluge of coffee.

In a few seconds, the liquid managed to get itself on the counter, floors, in front of the kitchen cabinets, inside of the kitchen cabinets, underneath the kitchen cabinets, on front of the dishwasher, underneath the dishwasher, inside of the dishwasher (still can't get my mind around that one), on the stove, on the side of the oven and underneath it, too.

The splash was so massive, the coffee managed to hit the other wall of the kitchen.

"What happened?" my mother asks as she begins to walk towards the kitchen.

"Nothing.  The coffee spilled," I say as I go to the hall closet to grab a mop or towel.

"Whaaa?" I see my mother about to step into the puddle of brown liquid.

"Stop!  Don't move.  Don't come into the kitchen."

"Why?" She's trying to look around the corner of the cabinet.

"There's coffee everywhere.  It's everywhere.  Don't move.  Go back into the living room.  Don't.  Come.  Into.  The.  Kitchen."

As she skulks back into the living room, I start to sop up as much of the coffee with a towel into a large bowl.  Fuck, this is a lot of coffee, I think.  How could one cup of coffee make such a mess?

With most of the coffee now in the bowl, I go to the sink and pour it out.  In one quick swoosh, it splashes out of the sink and back onto the floor.

"Fuck," I say to myself.

"What happened?" asks my mother.

"It's alive.  This coffee is alive," I say incredulously while looking down into the sink.  My shoulders are slumped forward, in a pose of defeat.  "I just poured it into the sink and it slipped out and back onto the floor.  It's alive."

Feeling bad for me, my parents take a little of their own coffees and put it into another cup.  I thank them because after 15 minutes of cleaning up this mess, I feel like I deserved something.  And I was dehydrated.

True, there's no use crying over spilled coffee, but now I know to leave the cup far away from me when I grab something to sweeten it.

Friday, December 15, 2017

My father wants to smell good for Christmas

On Christmas day, when it's time to open the presents, my father will inevitably shake the package I give him while he's siting in his overstuffed recliner.  It's tradition.

"Is this something that smells good?" he asks every year.

"No, it's not," I reply, focused on my own lack of gifts.

"It's not?" My father slumps his shoulders and pouts.  He thinks it's a bottle of cologne.

"What do I tell you every year?" I look up at my father, still cross legged on the living room floor.

"You get me something that smells good for my birthday."

"And what day is today?"

"It's Christmas."

"Exactly.  Wait a few weeks and you'll get something that smells good."

It's not as if I didn't buy him something for Christmas.  I do that.  I just don't buy two bottles of cologne a year.

Good thing his birthday is only a few weeks after Christmas because I couldn't deal with six months of a grown man pouting.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017


Like many children her age, my niece requires the attention of every adult within a 10-mile radius. It’s not co-dependence; it’s just that she wants someone to play with her because she doesn’t like to play by herself. It makes sense, even for a two-year-old.

Even though I enjoy playing with my niece, there are times when I need a bathroom break. Lucky for me, my mother is in the other room and can distract her while I take care of business.

In a matter of seconds, my niece finds me with her version of the Doppler radar. You can practically hear the beep beep sounds speeding up as she gets closer to her target.

“Uncle?” asks my niece on the other side of the door as she knocks. “UNCLE!!” she yells as she knocks even harder. Good thing the door is locked, I think, or else she’d be able to come into the bathroom.

What happens next is the knob starts to turn and I begin to panic. Shit, she’s coming in. When it turns all the way, she walks into the bathroom with a big smile on her face. I clench my muscles while sitting on the throne.

“Uncle!” She smiles and comes towards me. She’s such a pretty girl, but it’s unfortunate she doesn’t know anything about personal boundaries, yet.

“Hi, B. Go outside and wait for uncle.” I wave my arm towards the door for her to get the hint. “He’s almost done.”

As she walks towards me, I grab a hairbrush that’s sitting on the counter. “Here, take this brush and brush your hair outside.” I point towards the door with the hairbrush.

She walks towards me, grabs the brush and puts it back on the counter. Then, she takes a roll-on deodorant that’s sitting in a basket and begins to twist off the cap.

“No, don’t do that.” I lean forward to stop her, but she’s out of my reach. “That’s messy. No, no…” She doesn’t hear me. She unscrews the top and begins to roll it on her face.

“Hands?” she asks as she points the roll-on at my hands.

Oh, what the hell, I think. “Yes, hands.” I lay out my hands and she rolls deodorant on them. I bring them to my face and inhale deeply, hoping she’ll do the same.

Mmmm. They smell nice?” I ask her. She does the same hand-to-face motion and nods her head.

“Face?” she asks. Now, why would she want to do that? I think. Before I say anything, she’s rolling the deodorant on her cheeks and forehead. There’s a light film that’s reflective in the overhead light fixture. It resembles mucus.

Where the hell is my mother, and why isn’t she telling my niece to get out of the loo?

She brings the roll on to my face and I tell her to put some only on my cheeks. As she’s doing this, I’m pulling my pants up and my sweater down since they keep on falling down and shimmying up, respectively.

When she’s done, I swipe my fingers across my cheeks and smell them, hoping she’ll do the same. She doesn’t. Instead, she unexpectedly asks something I’m not waiting for.

“Bum?” There’s a Can I? smile on her face.

God, no. This is one of those times where your patience is gone and you want to pick up the roll-on and throw it away, but you can’t because you’re sitting on the throne.

“No, no bum,” I say, exasperated.

“Bum!” She gets excited as she begins to pull my pants down and my shirt up. I, on the other hand, am trying to push her away with one arm, twist my body around and down so she won’t see anything and pull my sweater down with my free hand. She’s stronger than I thought, and just as lithe as a Martha Graham-trained dancer.

“Leave uncle’s bum alone. Go, go and put some on uncle’s feet.” I wiggle my toes even though they’re barely seen under the fabric of my pants.

She bends over and rolls some deodorant on the top of my toes. The slimy substance is cold and makes my muscles tense up. After a few swipes, she’s disinterested, and goes back to my bum.

“Leave uncle alone and come into the kitchen,” says my mother. “Grandma has something here for you. Get out of there and let uncle finish his business.”

Finally, I think. What the hell took you so long?

As I’m pushing my niece’s head away with my hand and arm, I hear my mother coming closer, as evidenced by the thwacking of her slippers on the floor.

She walks into the loo and looks at us, disinterested and non-plussed. We’re in a tangle of limbs, with me half-naked and my niece attempting to roll deodorant on my bum.

“Come, B. Come with Grandma.” She practically pulls my niece out of the loo by the arm and gives me a look that doesn’t mean Sorry, but says You should’ve been quicker or else this wouldn’t have happened. When she closes the door behind her, I finish as fast as I possibly can, and wash up.

As much as I love my niece and enjoying playing with her, she has to learn that the loo is off-limits when it’s in use. And I have to learn to lock the door when I’m using it.

Note:  This is an unpublished piece, written several years ago (my niece is no longer a toddler).

Monday, July 10, 2017

I don't have time to be indirect

Having a type-A personality means I don't have time - or patience - to dick around.  Things are planned in advance because I lead a busy life.  So, when one of my friends passive-aggressively mentions I don't have time for her, I tell her I'll set aside some time for coffee for us to catch up.

We like each other a lot and get along very well, but that's only when we can coordinate things to accommodate her.

She doesn't like my original plan, so I let her pick the day, time and place so I wouldn't have to hear any complaints about how I make all of the final decisions.  In the end, V chooses an outdoor patio for lunch, close to her, so she doesn't have any excuse to back out at the last minute.

Before I go to bed, I have a feeling I'll be getting a morning text from V about cancelling lunch the next day.

The next morning, my phone shows a missed text from V: It's not too miserable out, is it?

It's part of her code talk - she never directly says she wants to cancel.  While some people say "Can we move this to another day?" she'll have a message that, if read between the lines, is her way of bailing.

I knew this was going to happen.  V regularly does this, like frequently "remembering" a previous commitment (which doesn't make sense since she doesn't work and has plenty of free time), or becoming "suddenly ill" an hour before we meet only to get miraculously better the next morning (and having the strength to go to a few events and posting them all on social media).

That's fine.  I'm busy and have a lot of work to do today, I text back and go back to work.

At noon, I get a text from V.

Well I'm here so you better be soon, LOL.  It's followed by a phone call.

I don't reply to either.  Don't have the time for this, or for her.  Hope she got the hint.