Saturday, December 25, 2010

Getting to Hope You Like Me

I don't think there's any better way to get to know someone than driving long distances together. I suspect this results from a combination of a desire to break up the monotony of a long drive, and the fact that it's easier to bare your soul to someone if you never have to look directly at them. Because really, what are vehicles if not confession boxes on wheels? Ideally, by the end of a long drive, not only will you know what kind of music your travel companion favours, you'll also know such diverse things as whether s/he prefers Peanut to Plain; who's on his or her Free Pass list; and - if the trip is a successful one - a pantload of personal peccadilloes.

I've done a lot of long drives with a lot of different people, and believe me I've downloaded a whole lot of Grade A personal bullshit to almost complete strangers on a fairly regular basis. (Not even drunk!) This sort of random, intense emotional intimacy has often landed me in awkward morning-after-type situations:

"Uh, hey again. So was it, like, good for you? Bebeh?"

I've never asked if anyone has ever felt burdened (or alarmed!) by my cathartic urges, or resented that I insisted on chatting the entire way when all they really wanted to do was listen to sports radio. And frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn - I can only talk about the weather for so long before I'm forced to either shoot myself or steer the conversation into livelier waters. So I've only ever assumed that it was, in fact, good for them too. Judging by the number of repeat clients I've had I don't think my customer service is falling down too badly on this point, but just in case you wish to be a little more mentally prepared for the next time you're slated for a trip with me, here are some things* I usually** feel the need*** to talk about****:

Educational background; family history; pet peeves; what a jackass my ex is; hot office gossip; super powers; culpability; food; sex; parenting (experiences/ philosophy); relationships (experiences/ philosophy); recreational drugs (experiences/ philosophy).
(Bold type = repeat as necessary.)

* Conversation topics including, but not limited to, the above.
** Items are presented in no particular order. 
*** I never feel the need to talk about sports radio.
**** Expect frequent story breaks, semi-regular mental track derailment and heavy f-bomb deployment. And yes, I'm probably the John Candy to your Steve Martin. Get over it.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Genesis of the Exodus, by the Numbers

Had a truly surreal conversation last night with a dear work friend of mine. It went something like this:

"Remember when we used to do field work together?"

Alright, so you might not feel that's very surreal, but keep in mind we were both sparkly clean, good-smelling, elaborately coiffed, made-up, dressed up, and drunk as skunks on free corporate booze at the time - the very antithesis of the state of "field work". We dusted off our trove of classic field moments, of the variety that only people who had cemented their bonds of friendship in a field truck could possibly feel nostalgic for, and reminisced: that day that was such an embarrassing boondoggle that we swore we would never speak of again; that time we almost died; that other time we almost died; that time we broke some shit; that other time we broke some more shit; that time Jenna was killing Jeff in a wetland.

Maybe it was just the bottomless glass of wine talking, but man, those were the days!

The gods of the Cushy Office Job were clearly angered by this sacrilege, and so are sending me out tomorrow for a little karmic flogging: winter field work. *shudder* Be careful what you wish for, I guess. I've also been commanded to chisel the Ten Laws of Field Work on stone tablets so the people may never again forget why they are grateful for their Cushy Office Jobs.

(But, uh, my chisel broke so I'll just type it up quick and head to bed. Early day tomorrow and all.)

I  Thy destination shall lie always on the crack of thy map.
II  Thine most desperately needed photo shall always be the one that goes corrupt.
III  Thou shalt not open thy truck windows whilst thou art trying to extricate thyself from a giant mud bog.
IV  Thou art never actually alone.
V  Thy batteries shall frequently be dead.
VI  Thine jar of almond butter shall detonate on the back of thine quad and result in great consternation and untidiness. Also, thy fire extinguisher.
VII  Thou shalt pee on the sleeve of thy Nomex.
VIII  If thou art smote in the face with a branch, thou art following too close.
VIIII  If thou art smote in the face with a branch, the person ahead of you is a jerk.
Never sacrifice thy sock.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Eutherians Unite!

Despite his sylvaphilic leanings, ornery temperament, and prodigious ability to wreak dirt and destruction wherever he roams, I'm rather fond of Small Fry. Medium Fry, too. So much so that I'm seized every so often by the desire to have more children.

Aah, you say sagely, the little one is 2 1/2, right? Just at that age where you forget the pain.

Common misconception, my friend. Not only do I have a very distinct memory of "the pain", but have you ever met any mother who didn't have a well-rehearsed armoury of birthing horror stories ready to whip out at the slightest provocation? And as for men? I can't speak for your hubby, but the next time you see DH, casually slip the word "vasectomy" into the conversation and watch him drop faster than a fainting goat at a fireworks display.

The truth is, no one forgets the pain.

So why then the proclivity to procreate? It doesn't hurt that I've produced some seriously high-qual offspring - in fact, a dear friend of mine recently said that, if DH and I were horses, she'd definitely put us in her breeding barn. Quite a compliment! ... I think. Primarily, I chalk it up to feeling a little placentamental every now and then.

Placentamental (pla-SENT-ah-MENT-ul) (adj.): characterized or swayed by the desire to be pregnant and/or bear children; resulting from or coloured by such sentiments, as opposed to reason or rationality; appealing to the sentiments, particularly maternal (or, less frequently, paternal) feelings.

(Heavy on the mental.)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Oh, Tannenbaum

Small Fry, being small, has no recollection of Trees of Christmases Past. So his relationship with this year's tree has thus far required a lot of "parental management". A LOT of it. And it's only been one day. Here's how the First Day of Christmas(Tree) panned out:

7:53am: Small Fry stands, starry-eyed, in front of the tree. His mesmerized state lasts approximately 0.4 seconds - just long enough for a misguided "Oh, he's so sweet! I should get the camera" synapse to fire in my brain - at which point his secret tree-worshipping pagan alter ego is released. Small Fry begins cataloguing ornaments by way of jabbing each one in turn with his chubby fingers and screaming its identity: 'Snowman! Mittens!! SANTA!!! CANDY CAAAAAANE!'.

7:53:20am: I am forced to intervene. "Sweetie, the ornaments are not for playing, only for looking at with our eyes. Okay?" I let up on the headlock enough for Small Fry to nod his assent.

7:59am: In what appears to be an exceedingly literal interpretation of my previous statement, I find Small Fry holding his eyes as wide open as they'll go and attempting to touch the ornaments with his naked eyeballs. I am forced to amend my statement: "Little one, you can't touch the ornaments with your eyes. You might hurt yourself! Eyes are only for looking at things, not for touching them. Just look at ornaments with your eyes, okay?" (Nod of assent.)

8:02am: Small Fry has lifted his pyjama shirt up to his chin and, keeping his head as far away from the tree as possible so as not to violate the terms of my previous cautionary statement, is trying to touch the ornaments with ... his chest? Swift intervention: "What are you doing?" "I'm touching de tree wif my nipples." "Oh my gawd. Listen, honey, you don't touch the tree with any parts of your body, do you understand? The tree is not for touching." (Emphatic nodding.)

8:07am: Small Fry has discovered a loophole in my phrasing and is now driving on the tree with a toy car. "Hey, cut that out! Don't touch the tree with any toys, either." (Assent.)

8:10am: Touching tree with dinosaur toy. "Hey! I said don't touch the tree with your toys!" "I'm not, he's eating de tree. Nomnomnom." "Your toys are not allowed to touch, or eat, or anything, alright? Just stay away from the tree!" (Assent.)

8:18am: Standing further away, touching tree with light sabre. Tree is not for touching with any parts of the body, or any things that you are holding on to in order to touch the tree. (Assent.)

8:25am: Rolling fire truck toward base of tree, from respectable distance away. Gaaah! No rolling things at the tree! (Assent.)

8:29am: Tossing sea creature finger puppets into branches of tree. No throwing things at the tree!

8:33am: Gently kicking ball at tree.

8:33:32am: Pitch fucking tree out window.

Okay, so I didn't really. But let me tell you, I was sorely tempted to pitch one of them out the window, and the small one looks way more aerodynamic.

We eventually arrived at an understanding of what constitutes an appropriate level of engagement with the Christmas tree, and Small Fry settled for dancing "special dances" and singing garbled Christmas carols for the tree, punctuated only occasionally by furtive gropings of ornaments.