Why Charlie Brown Had It Right

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Most folks that have looked at a T.V. screen anytime in the month of Decmber since 1965 have probably seen how the Peanuts gang handles the holiday season. I like it. It’s one of my favorites. There’s something about the authentic human nature of the title character that strikes a chord with me. A whole bunch of the characters get sucked into the frantic commercialism of the season and good old Charlie Brown mopes around all melancholy and pissed off at what capitalism and greed has done to the holiday. I’m with you Chuck. I really am. You know what though? Charlie Brown is braver than me. That’s right! He is. While he was bold enough to call a halt to the insanity by bringing home the pathetic tree, I find myself sucked into the season by buying stuff for people that don’t need anything and could buy most everything they wanted on their own. Why do I do it? Because I don’t want to look like a scrooge. Yes I will sometimes purchase the occasional goat or rooster for third world children on behalf of someone else in order to asuage my guilt, but it doesn’t work. I am haunted by what we have done to the celebration of the birth of Christ. I get it. Jesus coming was a good thing, we should celebrate. Why do we have to celebrate by being self indulgent assholes though? Everywhere I turn this time of year I am reminded to “Keep Christ in Christmas” by never ever saying “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings”. This is all well and good but how about if we as Christians keep Christ in Christmas by caring for the poor, the sick, the opressed and the down trodden. How about if we work as hard at pointing people to the Light that can bring freedom and abundant life as we do at impressing them with our light displays and fancy electronics under the tree. No I am not the Grinch. Yes I have Christmas lights on my house and a tree inside it and I eat turkey sandwhiches on Boxing Day just like everyone else. My hope though is that these things are only outward symbols of my excitement at the coming of Christ. Once the last of the turkey is turned into soup and all the needles have fallen off the tree, I still want to have Christ there, because if we don’t, what is the point? No wonder there is such a thing as the January blues. I’ve got a feeling that there is more to it than just decreased exposure to sunlight. Trying to find happiness by getting more stuff and going to more parties will leave a fella feeling empty everytime. How do we fix it? By taking back our children’s toys and eating KD on the twenty-fifth! Just shittin, don’t do that. Maybe though find a time when the house is quiet and sit back with your egg-nog, stare at the tree for awhile and then follow Linus’s lead and read the second chapter of the gospel of Luke. Think about just what those words mean to your life and figure out what you can do in the next year to make next Chrstmas be a little bit less about us and a little bit more about Him.

Just Don’t Fit The Mold

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A while ago some of my kids and I were hanging out, listening to music, and talking about life. Some time after midnight one of them said “Dad, I didn’t know that you were a hippie!” I said “What? How could you not know that I’m a hippie? I advocate for social justice. I believe peace is the best path. I care about the environment and I grow much of my own food. How could you possibly not know that I’m a hippie?”. They were very quick to point out my brushcut, my middle-class home, my government job, and my conservative moral views. “Ok”, I said, “I guess I’m not that kind of a hippie”.
I like to run. Mostly in my basement on my treadmill. I don’t really have much gear though. Just a pair of runners and some clothes that I’ve always had. I don’t have any calorie burning counter things or music that changes with my pace. I don’t like talking about running either. In fact I hate it. Comparing, discussing up-coming races,talking about the latest technologies. None of that is for me. I’m just not that kind of runner.
As you can tell I like to blog. However, I do not like to blog about my job, my family life, or too much about where I live. I’m just not that kind of blogger.
For the most part I spend a pretty big chunk of my life not realy fitting into any particular mold.If I don’t want to run, I don’t run. If I don’t want to blog, I don’t blog. If I don’t want to listen to Bob Dylan and be all analytical, I just don’t do that either. It used to bother me a little. Then I realized the tremendous freedom that comes with no one expecting you to act in any particular way other than to be a decent human being that cares about others. I sometimes wonder if those of us that are followers of Christ aren’t a little too hard on each other when we just don’t seem to fit into the mold. The irony being that the mold that Jesus created for us is pretty flexible; follow Him, and love your neighbor. That is a mold that can come in a lot of diffrent shapes and sizes and even a guy like me can fit into something like that. We spend too much of our time worrying about what ourselves and others shouldn’t be doing and not enough time worrying about what we should be doing, like loving God and our neighbors. Take a look at the mold that you are trying to fit into. Is it the one designed for you by the perfect hand of God? If not, don’t be surprised if it never seems to fit quite right.

Why Didn’t Anyone Tell Me I Was So Cool

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Not too long ago I took the opportunity to wander through a local farmer’s market. I didn’t buy anything though. I never do. Not that I have anything against farmers. After all, without them, we’d all starve. It’s just this particular form of marketing that gets under my skin a bit. While I was there I watched a farmer from a local religious sect sell a bunch of carrots for three times their value. The purchaser was a yoga pant wearing, jogging stroller pushig, thirty something year old mom. “They look wonderful”, she said. ” Yah, and they are organic too”, replied the black clad farmer. I briefly caught a twinkle in his eye as he was likely wondering if she knew that this meant that they had been grown in cow shit. I’ve got nothing against trying to eat healthy chemical free food. As a matter of fact I try to do it myself whenever I can. What I find amazing is that there is somehow the misconception out there that this is a new idea. At my house in the summer time we grow our own vegetables. We didn’t start out trying to be all cool and organic in the beginning. It just didn’t seem to make much sense to throw our banana peels and bread crusts in the garbage and then go out and buy expensive chemical fertilizer. If only I’d known we were being trendy I could have taken photos of my compost pile and put them on Facebook. I’m not sure that I am the first one to figure this out though. I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that some of the people that have been cultivating crops for the last five thousand years might have figured it out too. While we’re on the topic: Did you also know that you can store rainwater in fancy looking barrels that you can buy for $49.99 and use it to water your petunias instead of paying for treated tap water? Hats off to whoever figured that one out. Whatever you do don’t try this with garbage cans or something else that you might get for cheap or free. You would just look plain stupid watering your flowers out of that while you drink your six dollar coffee.
Here’s another thing that it’s taken corporate advertising to clue me in to over the past couple of years. Cats and dogs like to eat meat! That’s right, according to the best research they prefer it to soy and corn fillers. Some folks are saying that it might be better for them too. I may not refer to her as my ” fur baby ” but I certainly do old Simon’s digestive tract a good turn everytime I give her all the bits that the kids leave on their plates. My wife thinks I’m just being cheap. Phew!
I’ve also learned that if you ride your bike places instead of driving your car, you save money, the air stays cleaner and you get some exercise. Who knew? Don’t try this with a department store model though. That would look just plain stupid with your form fitting bicycle shorts.
Apparently finding a quiet place and meditating about spiritual things is supposed to be good for you too. I guess those fellas that wrote it down in the bible three thousand years ago must have been ahead of their time.
One more bit of wisdom. Did you know that if you wear clothes until they wear out you can save money and resources? It’s true! I heard a guy that had tofu in his beard saying it in the thrift store. I bet all those hand me down wearing depression era folks would be surprised to hear that one.
Now that you’re done reading go have yourself a chai latte and don’t skimp on the soy milk. It’s fine for people, it’s just the critters that don’t care for it.

What A Country!

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  Often as Canadians we try to define ourselves by how different we are from our southern neighbors. I’ve always thought that this does us somewhat of an injustice. Pointing out their flaws just makes us average, not exemplary. I love that we have universal health care, not because they don’t, but because it is a dignity that people with resources should freely give to people without them. I am proud that we tend to avoid involvement in messy un-declared wars simply because I believe our people deserve to know exactly what it is we are fighting for when the need arises. Our taxes are high, yet our children receive a top notch public education, I have never been asked for payment at a hospital and our social safety net protects those who would otherwise fall through the cracks. I can travel wherever I want from coast to coast and no one has the lawful right to ask me what I am up to. I can worship my God when and how I choose and my only obligation is to be respectful of those who do it differently than me. If enough of my fellow citizens are in agreement we can get rid of our government and replace it with a new one without a single shot being fired. 

  Yes, it’s true, we are known for being polite, enjoying our hockey and drinking copious amounts of strong beer. Guilty as charged. More importantly though, we are known for being a brave and compassionate people that are well respected throughout the world. Are we perfect? No. Utopian? Not quite. The beauty of it is, I can get angry, sarcastic, and down right belligerent about the way our nation is being run and there are thirty-five million people who will have my back and say I have every right to be that way. What a country! Happy Canada Day everyone. 

Purrfection

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 I like cats. With the exception of a few trasitional years I have had at least one cat my entire life. My wife does not like cats. She has only had cats for the years of her life that have been intertwined with mine. Technicaly speaking though, she has still never had a cat. She reminds me of this often at five in the morning when a cat who has mistaken himself for a rooster begins screaming outside our bedroom door. She says, ” put YOUR bloody cat outside”. Therefore leaving no question as to who is in posession of the feline. Marital troubles aside, I’m not sure I ever want to find myself without a cat. No I am not one of THOSE people. I have two legged friends. Any vet bill with three digits would make me consider euthenasia and I have never donated to a cat charity. I have no pictures of cats in my wallet and every creature I refer to as my child was actually given birth to by my wife. Therefore, I am not a crazy cat lady, or whatever it is the male version is called. Why am I so steadfast on my position of feline ownership then? Simple. It brings me closer to God! “Oh shit”, you’re telling yourself. “This guy has lost it. I’m going to quit reading this before he tries to convert me to some kind of kool-aid drinking, pet worshipping cult!” Don’t click that X quite yet. Give me a chance to explain. I know that you did not learn this in Sunday School, but it is still worth reading. If you believe in the Bible, (or even if you don’t) picture the Garden of Eden for a moment. Trees, deer, gently flowing rivers, flying birds, a snake, two naked people, and …..you guessed it, CATS! There were cats there too. Just as God created them to be. Lying in the sun, cleaning their fur and coughing up hair balls. You can still see God’s hand in their creation. Watch them clean themselves, care for their young, find their way home or even hunt for food. Amazing! Even my cat hating wife has shed a tear as we’ve explained the miracle of procreation and birth to our children as we’ve watched a litter of kittens be born. Anyhow, back to the Garden. Who was it that ate the forbidden fruit, gained knowledge of good and evil and made life a whole lot harder on mankind for all future generations? Not the cats, that’s for sure. Therefore they got to stay the way that God intended them to be. They don’t worry, feel jealous, care about their appearance, or try to climb a social ladder. They get to JUST BE! Watch one for a moment, sitting in front of the fire, lying on the foot of your bed, or even begging for food. They are not worrying about tomorrow, they are just being. What an incredible gift! I wish I could do that. Oh wait, I CAN! Didn’t Jesus teach us not to be jealous, or to worry about tomorrow, or to try to achieve status among men? Doesn’t Scripture say ” Be still and know that I a God”? If we would only listen we might find ourselves able to take a few steps back and become a lot closer to what God originally intended us to be.

   Crazy I know. Becoming closer to The Creator through a creature that poops in a box in the basement isn’t something that everyone can identify with. I think that my wife gets it though. Sometimes when she thinks I am sleeping I hear her put a can of tuna in the garage for the matriarch of our cat family. I’ve even seen her give the odd scratch between the ears. She will never admit it. That’s o.k though. After all, pride is one of those things that we inherited from that couple back in the garden.

Life’s Like That

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Every decade seems to have at least one popular song that talks about rain. Not the literal kind of rain that makes your car dirty or gets worms crawling out on the sidewalk. I’m talking about the rainy songs that are basically saying that sometimes life is going to suck. I think that you know the ones that I mean. While these songs may be catchy, the thing that I don’t like about them is that they are right! Sometimes life does suck.

  My wife often points out to me that I spend a disproportionate amount of my time trying to protect our children from hurt and trouble. In a sense, trying to protect them from their own mistakes. She makes a valid point when she reminds me that there are some things that they are going to just have to figure out on their own. Yeah, but do we really just have to sit back and watch? Yup! Sometimes we do. There is something in our nature as humans that does not want to allow us to believe that we can learn from the mistakes of others. We just go bouncing through life as if there were no way of knowing that A plus B equals C. This brings about alot of rainy days. What about the ones we don’t bring on ourselves though? I think you’re a good person. I know for sure that I am a good and humble person. Why do we have rainy days?

  I think that Forrest Gump summed it up quite nicely with one of his more profound statements: “shit happens”. It does. Sometimes it doesn’t seem right or fair, but it just does. We’re on this planet and no one gets an exemption. I think that Jesus put it a little better than  Forrest ever could when he said, “In this world you will have trouble.” Does that sound like a promise to you? It is.

  Not too long ago my wife and I had a couple over for dinner that we have been close to for nearly a quarter of a century. After dinner we sat around the table, shared a bottle of wine and talked about life. We shared funny stories and painful ones. We talked about broken relationships and new friends. We talked about infertility and surprise fertility. Financial hardship and financial success. Deceased parents and growing children. Before I knew it hours had passed, the bottle was empty, and I was left contemplating the rythyms of life. You see not all days are rainy. In fact, many of them are bright and beautiful. As I’m sure most of you know, Forrest Gump had lot’s of days filled with love, friendship, and prosperity. As good of an actor as Tom hanks is though, I still like it better the way Jesus put it. You see after he promised that we would have trouble he said, “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” If that isn’t something to hang your hat on then I don’t know what is.

  Recently we had a situation come up in our family that I figured I should probably tell my mom about. I wasn’t looking forward to the conversation so I put it off for a few days. Do you know what she said when I called her? She said, “Oh well, life’s like that.” You know what mom? You’re right. Life is exactly like that.

   

I Meant To Do That

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Once in awhile it occurs to me that I should probably keep some kind of log as to how much time I spend watching mind numbing television in a week. Then I decide that that kind of record keeping would likely lead to bouts of depression so I don’t follow through with it. I do know that the numbers would be higher than I would like them to be though. To me it is a little bit frightening how much time a person can spend floating through life doing a bunch of stuff that doesn’t have anything to do with the goals or plans that an individual might set out for themselves. According to my calculations, based on the North American average, we’ve each got about 709,650 hours to spend on this planet. It makes sense to me that we should try to be pretty intentional with how we use up most of these.

     As of late, our society seems to have become quite consumed with promoting the concept that we should all be spending a whole bunch of our time doing as much as we can to make ourselves feel good. Alot of us are whole heartedly buying into it too. After all, we are hard working people. We deserve it. The best thing about it is that if we ever start feeling a little bit too narcisistic about our self gratifying lifestyle, we can easily appease our guilt by recycling a paper coffee cup or “liking” a dolphin rescue group on Facebook. We are great humanitarians after all. The world could never get by without us. This is not humanity at it’s best.

    I wonder what it would be like if we all started to live a little more intentionally and started thinking about how the choices we make and how we spend our time effects the people and world around us. I am certainly not suggesting that we spend hours anguishing over whether we should go for the latte or stick with the trusted cappucino. As a matter of fact, if you are ahead of me in the drive-thru, please don’t spend ANY time thinking about this. What if once or twice a week we avoided the drive-thru all together though? Check out some charity websites and you just might be amazed at the diffrence they can make in people’s lives with the twenty or thirty bucks a month that you could save. How about where, why and how we spend our vacations? Are we building relationships with friends or family in a relaxed environment, or are we just getting our entitled asses pampered because we can afford to do so. If you’re a guy like me, somewhere in your garage you’ve got some beer stashed away. Is this an opportunity to share stories with, and encourage a good buddy, or are you going to catch a buzz and ignore your wife and kids for a Saturday afternoon? (You’re not off the hook on this one ladies. Think bottle of wine and living room. You know what I mean).

      Are you starting to get what I’m trying to say? It’s not all about us or how we feel. Like it or not everything we do or don’t do affects someone else and it ultimately affects who we become. I believe that we as humans are inherantly selfish and unless we make a decision to live intentionally otherwise, we may just end up at the end of our 709,560 hours being bitter, self centred, and having contributed very little to the world. How do we avoid this? By with great intention make good choices and allowing those to shape who we become. Do you think generosity is a good thing? Then give some shit away. Want to be a good parent? Then spend time with your kids. Don’t want to be seen as a drinker? Then don’t drink. Don’t want to be out of shape? Then exercise. Point being, who we end up being and the impact that we are able to have on those around us is ultimately up to us. Thinking about life instead of just bouncing through it like a ping pong ball seems to be a little more in line with what we were created to be. I guess I should turn my T.V. off a little more often then.

Thoughts on Aging

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  I am healthy and in reasonably good shape. I thank God for that. Still, when I get up in the morning it hurts. Everything that is, everything hurts. My body has begun the slow process of betraying me. Not moving quite as quick as it did a decade ago and taking a few minutes to loosen up in the morning. That’s o.k. though, I wouldn’t trade it. I like this firm foothold that I have now gained into the world of the middle aged. I no longer have to worry about being or appearing youthful. It would be pointless. As a matter of fact, it would look, and be, downright silly. Take music as an example. When I started being able to buy recordings, everything was still on vinyl. Not this new/retro digital vinyl either. The old kind that went snap crackle and pop when you played it. It was awesome. I still have a lot of my old records and I listen to them on one of those giant coffin looking stereos that I keep in my garage. In the summer time I open up the door so the neighbors can hear too. I think my kids find it a combination of humiliating and pathetic. I don’t mind though, embarrassing or not I like rockin 80s style while I change my oil. I’ve even caught the neighbor singing along to Bon Jovi while he works on his kids cars too. Awesome. I am comfortable with this technology and these artists. While the prospect of humiliating my children by dancing in front of the stage at a Hedley concert is tempting, trying to keep current with pop culture is a really good way for a middle aged guy to make himself look stupid.
Wardrobe is also a front that I have decided not to fight old age on. While I realize that I am likely passing up even more opportunities to embarrass my kids by taking this stance, there are few sadder sights in the world than a guy in his forties trying to look like a guy in his twenties. Besides, I like my dad jeans and old T-shirts. I figure I’m likely doing a public service by covering up the shape of my body. Now if you’re one of those GQ types, good on you, I don’t mean to be judgemental. I’m just saying that me in a ninety dollar shirt isn’t likely to cause the lady folk in my town to have impure thoughts.
Sometimes when I am not on duty I don’t really bother shaving. In recent years I have noticed that my beard grows in a kind of three tone patchy grey pattern. Now you can get any images of George Clooney out of your brain. I’m talking more like the ass of an inbred alley cat kind of three tone patchy grey. For awhile I was convinced that by keeping my hair cut in a close brush-cut, I was able to disguise the grey in my hair and make my entire head look blonde. However, I began to notice that whenever I would share this theory with people they would look at me the same way they do when I tell them that I don’t believe that man ever really did land on the moon. There goes that theory.
My wife is only one year younger than me and she tells me that she hurts in the mornings too. I don’t know if I believe her though because on the outside she looks great. She’s got this crazy reverse nature thing going on where she seems to age backwards. She gets a little younger and hotter looking every year. When we go out in public together, strangers stare at me as if I’m some kind of pervert. I don’t have to put up with their hostility for long though because we usually go home at about nine so we can get a good nights sleep.
I’m not sure that getting older actually makes you any smarter but the longer you live, the more stuff you experience and you start to know a little bit about a lot of things and a lot about a few things. Sometimes I work with people that are literally half my age. Once in awhile when things are quiet we talk about stuff that is going on in their lives and if it’s wanted, I give some input. They say, “thank-you, it’s nice hearing an older person’s perspective”, and I say, “you’re welcome”, and then it gets awkward so they put in their ear buds and I go back to reading some book that was written before they were born.
I have no concept of half of the technology that people are able to carry around in their pockets. One part or another of my body aches a good percentage of the time and I find myself saying “pardon” a lot. Would I trade in my aging body and mind and go back to being twenty again? Not a chance. There is a certain freedom that comes with being middle aged. You become very comfortable with yourself. You begin to be able to freely speak your mind without worrying about impressing anyone. Who is there to impress anyhow? You’re just some half deaf older guy with a weird beard and ill fitting jeans. Without the need to impress anyone you suddenly have more time and energy to take an interest in other people’s lives and maybe even help them out a bit with whatever it is they’ve got going on. It is marvelous. I will gladly trade having sore feet for the freedom that this brings.
Enough writing for now. I am going to go listen to some Fleetwood Mac. I love the lyrics of “Landslide”. “Time makes you bolder, even children get older, and I’m getting older too”.

Oh Boys!

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  Last weekend I had Saturday off! Nice right? An entire day to hang out with my offspring and cement paternal bonds. Well, none of my older children got the memo. They were all previously engaged. Not a problem though. The ten year old and I set out to have an epic day that included everything that ten year old boys love. Fast food, a movie, a trip to the library and yes even a stop by the comic book store. Now I’ve been to the comic book store before, and to be honest, I had previously noticed a marked lack of juvenile customers. This day was special though, I had never seen anything like this before. For this day, was…….Tournament Day! Now let me start off by saying that I have nothing against hobbies. In fact, I’d even say they are good for you. Everyone should have one. What I witnessed here though, put stamp collecting and classic car tinkering to shame. These guys were committed. Many of them had been there all through the previous night playing some kind of card trading game that is unknown to a mere mortal such as myself. This was surreal, this was like Twilight  Zone episode weird! What startled me the most was that they spoke like boys, they played like boys, they seemed to lack any real world commitments like boys do, but they looked like…..Men! I don’t mean pimple faced, squeaky voiced, borrow dad’s car kind of men. I mean move out, get a job, start a family kind of men! They seemed other worldly, many of them had pasty skin that likely hadn’t seen the midday sun for years, nearly all were overweight with that unhealthy slurpee and nacho kind of belly and more than half of them were wearing pajama pants. The air held the aroma of bodies that were likely only washed on a weekly basis and once in awhile the constant murmuring would be broken with a shout of,”I am the Master”. There was an attractive young woman that the owner had likely strategically placed to work behind the counter. Many of them kept staring at her with a kind of “who is this fair creature with the soft voice and hairless face?” kind of look. Given their current path it’s likely many of them will never find out. I know, I’m being a judgemental prick right? Here’s the thing though, I’m noticing a disturbing trend, men aren’t wanting to grow up. It’s not just comic book store groupies either. There are thousands of well educated, well employed men in this country who don’t want to grow up. They run from commitment like it is poison. They obviously possess the biological qualities of men as they seem more than willing to pursue and mate with women, but sadly that’s where the commitment ends. Don’t believe me? Check the statistics on how many children are growing up without emotional or financial support from their fathers. These guys need a kick in the pants. The fingers can’t all point at the single guys though, lot’s of us married guys are stuck in a perpetual Neverland too. Lot’s of kids only get bedtime stories read to them by mom because dad is busy at the poker table or in the garage or doing whatever it is to avoid accepting the responsibility that falls squarely on his shoulders. Time to man up guys. Why am I so passionate about this? Simple. I am trying to raise boys who will one day be men and a lot of you guys are being shitty examples. I tell my boys not to be manipulated by a consumer culture that preys on men’s sexuality by using ginormous fake tits to sell everything from chewing gum to sports cars . When I see grown men overtipping not because of good service but because of good cleavage I know my warning has not been in vain. How do we fix this so that our sons might have a hope of growing into the full potential that God intended for them? How about we start holding each other accountable and make it really uncomfortable for men to act like boys. Can you imagine if instead of ordering another round our buddies said, “it’s late, we’ve already had two, let’s go home now so we can be up to help with the kids in the morning”. Wouldn’t that be a much more positive end to wing night? How about, “you’re married dude, why do you keep flirting with that chick?’ That would make me sweat and stutter. Maybe you single comic book store types could try ” maybe we should take better care of ourselves and find productive things to do as well as our hobbies?” I must seem like I have all the answers. Truth is, I don’t and I am writing a lot of this as a reminder to myself not to take my responsibilities lightly. Being a man can be scary and hard. If we all man up together though, I think we can make it a little less scary for our sons.

Thank God for Girls

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I’ve heard it said many times that a couple blessed with a child of each gender has a “million’ dollar family”. We have two of each, so I guess that makes us a “two million dollar family”. This number is also roughly equivalent to the amount that it is going to cost to usher our offspring into adulthood. Our girls were born first, thirteen months apart. I had no issue with this. I was used to this. I had grown up with two older sisters and no brothers, this was going to be a piece of cake. I figured that I would have to master the geography in the area of diaper changing and then I would be set to go! I am so thankful that God does not place a crystal ball in our hands at times like these. If I had known what the next twenty years would hold I might not have been so cocky. In fact, I might have changed my identity and fled to South America! I was always offended when my first son was born and people would say, “so you finally got your boy”. Yes I was thrilled when each of our sons arrived, but I certainly did not view the girls as a consolation prize. “Besides”, I would tell people, “girls are easy”. Often at hearing this, balding, nerve rattled, middle aged men with teenaged daughters would look at me and begin to laugh and cry at the same time. I figured they were unstable.
I think that girls are great. That is likely why I married one. Not too long ago I was sent to a grocery store that is roughly the size of a west African nation with the dreaded “list”. I figured that I would get the food items first and then ease my way over to the cosmetics and such. That would be easiest. This is how I found myself standing in front of 2.3 million bottles of shampoo with no more written help than “the right kind”. I started reading the adjectives that were inscribed beneath the brand name: greasy, frizzy, heat stressed, split ends, dye job gone wrong! None of these seemed like a way in which I should be describing my wife’s auburn tresses. Nowhere did I see beautiful, shiny or youthful used as descriptors. I became tachycardic and began to sweat. I looked to me left and realized that the seventeen year old sales kid in the ill fitting uniform would be no help. I looked to my right at the poor bastard ten years my junior that was trying to figure out if “super absorbency” was a good quality in feminine hygiene. It was then that I realized that I was on my own. I had been set up for failure.
Recently, due to the en-suite shower curtain being laundered, I found myself performing my daily rituals in the bathroom that is normally frequented by my daughters. As the standard bar soap seemed to be absent I ended up cleansing myself with something composed of coconut water and bamboo leaf extract! If I poured rum on myself and offered an all you can eat buffet, people would likely pay a thousand dollars a week to hang out with me.
My feminine challenges don’t all revolve around beauty products though. The dinner table has been the source of plenty of grief as well. I once said, “does anyone want the last pork chop?”. My teenaged son picked up his fork and prepared to do battle. The rest of the room grew deathly quiet. Even my ancient female cat that I’ve had for two decades was looking at me like, “you’re such an asshole, I can’t believe you would ask something like that”. There were a few slammed doors and some shouts of “I can’t believe you think I’m that fat”. Then it was just me and my two boys sitting around the table thinking that maybe the next night Midol soup might be in order.
I work with girls as well. Now I must say that these are some bright capable women. However, I often find myself treading the narrow ground between chivalry and chauvinism. Often I can be heard saying things like, “I’m sorry that door hit you in the face but I didn’t want to offend you by holding it open”, or “I know that you are perfectly capable of lifting that but I want to see if I can do it”. I have learned what not too say as well. As we work in emergency services we are often called upon in the middle of the night. I have decided that it is generally not a good idea to say, “boy, you sure look different at 3:00 a.m than you do the rest of the day”. Eight hours at work, eight waking hours at home. That’s basically two thirds of my life that I have to spend trying to get my foot out of my mouth.
I am a volunteer firefighter. The overwhelming majority of people at the fire hall are men. This is my safe ground. We call each other old, fat, and impotent and then give a slap on the back and promise to save each others lives if it comes down to it. We talk about cars, wives, kids, and taxes. I need this. It energizes me and let’s me know that there are plenty of others in the same boat and we all willingly keep rowing. It gets old after awhile though and it is time to go home.
I have been blessed with a wonderful wife. Her, my now adult daughters and all the other women I come into contact with add flavour and diversity to my life. After all, I already know what myself and other guys think about things. I sometimes want to understand things from a feminine view point. God most certainly knew what he was doing when he put Adam and Eve together in that garden to keep each other company. I guess I’ll have to thank God for girls!