The Cool Kids

My darling dog is very popular. In the three months that we have had Ninja she has already made quite a few dog friends at the parks we go to and never lacks a play mate. Ninja basically has more dog friends than I have people friends.

I would be proud of her if I wasn’t so disappointed.

Now, hear me out, Dear Reader (read me out?) before you judge.

I am thrilled that my dog has the friendly disposition that allows her to make other dog friends easily. After all every person hopes their child dog will be well-liked. Ninja isn’t a bully and plays well with other dogs (I know this because the other people at the dog park always mention it).

But this never ending supply of doggy friends is turning Ninja into a snob.

The other day we were at the park and the sweetest, friendliest and most adorable Border Collie was desperately trying to catch Ninja’s eye. Together they frolicked for a bit, happily taking turns chasing each other with their tails wagging. Then Ninja caught a scent and abruptly turned away, far too busy and interesting to continue to have time for this sweet dog.

Ninja was suddenly too cool to play with her.
(I may be projecting just a little bit as this interaction was very reminiscent of my entire adolescence. And, if I am being honest, my entire adult life. I, like that sweet border collie, have never been one of the “cool kids”. Shocking, I know.)

This lovely Border Collie was already being ignored by its owner who was across the field on her phone totally indifferent to the goings on, and now she was being ignored by Ninja. The dog came over to me for a few cuddles and Ninja continued to ignore her, coming by only for a minute to step between me and this other dog in a blatant attempt to banish her and to remind me that my cuddles are property of Ninja.

It broke my heart.

Probably more than it should have.

Dear Reader, that little dog looked so dejected and sad when Ninja walked away. She rolled over in submission, did the puppy bow, and spent about 10 minutes desperate for Ninja’s attention. If she could have stood on her head to get Ninja to play with her I honestly think she would have.

I am not sure what it was about this Border Collie that made Ninja decide she wasn’t an adequate playmate, and since I can’t read minds (not even dog minds) I will be forever in the dark.

Alas, I suppose none of us can choose our kids dog’s friends.

IMG_1279

Why you gotta be so cool?

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Low Brow? How about No Brow?!

I have enough eyebrow stories to write a blog series … which is precisely what I am about to do!

Now before you cringe and skip this entry having convinced yourself that I am about to spout Beauty Advice, please note that these stories contain the customary amounts of humiliation  that you have grown to love and expect.

The first story takes place in the summer before grade 8, long before I even understood that eyebrow care was a thing.

My eyebrows were on my face. They grew and did not connect in the middle. They weren’t massive or practically non-existent. They were just there and that was all I needed to know.

At least until that fateful day …

I was 13 and had decided to try Nair for the first time. For anyone who doesn’t know (Does anyone not know what Nair is? Or is Nair even still a thing?) Nair is a horrible chemical that removes body hair and smells like burning rubber. But none of that mattered because I was oh so very grown up and had seen a commercial on TV about this amazing product that removed hair without any mess or fuss (LIES!) and just knew I needed to try it for myself.

So there I was, hidden in the bathroom on a sweltering August day liberally applying hair-be-gone to my legs and sweating profusely in the heat. Finally after coating each leg in twice as much of the recommended dose (assuming that twice as much would make it last twice as long) I stood up and wiped the sweat off my brow, beginning the countdown until I could wash the crap off.

That was when the burning started.

I felt as though I had fallen into an ant’s nest and not even the nice kind that’s just after sugar. No, this was the burning of a fire ant nest, angry and hungry and unbelievably painful. The bottle had said nothing about burning!

I hopped from foot to foot trying to last another few minutes so I could finish what I had started.

And then the burning started on my face.

That fateful brow wipe had distributed Nair directly across my right eyebrow. I rushed to the tap as fast as I could and tried to wash away the lotion as it burned my face, desperate to minimize the damage.

I wasn’t fast enough.

Three weeks before the start of Grade 8 and most of my right eyebrow was gone.

It was not pretty.

It was, in fact, pretty awful.

In a fit of misguided decisiveness I tried to remove some of the left eyebrow to make them more even, as if that would improve things.

It didn’t.

Instead I was left with two oddly shaped and barely-there eyebrows that took months to grow back in. I was teased mercilessly and managed to spend the first few months of my Junior High career looking perpetually surprised and as though I had a very large forehead.

Thus began the start of my eyebrow paranoia, something I carry with me even now.

Post Script: Dear Reader, of course there are pictures of this incident, but the pain is still too fresh to share them. It’s amazing how different a face looks without eyebrows …

A Letter to My Parents: The Childhood that Could Have Been

Dear Mom and Dad,

Yesterday my friend sent me this picture of what is probably one of the coolest things ever invented in all of time. It is beautiful in its simplicity, marvelous in its design, brilliant in its function.

That could have been me!

That could have been me!

But rather than being excited at this awesome innovation I felt the green eyed monster rise up inside of me and if that kid had been in front of me instead of in a picture on my phone I would have stolen that Dino-Cob right from his sticky hands and not felt a single drop of regret.

That is how much I love it.

My friend and I got to talking about the Corn-a-Saurus and I couldn’t help but think about how much better my life would have been had I owned one growing up.

I think of all the veggies I could have eaten but didn’t, my pickiness solved by a dinosaur companion.

I think of all the friends I would have made when I unpacked it from my lunch bag, attaching it not just to corn on the cob but to apples, bananas, heck, even hot dogs!

I think of all the stories I could have now but don’t.

But most of all I think of the joy it would have brought me.

Joy that I now know was robbed from me by parents who didn’t think to make me my very own Corn-a-Saurus.

Mom and Dad (mostly Dad), I really want you to sit and think about what you have done here. Or, more specifically, what you didn’t do.

Take a moment and just think hard about how much better my life, the life of your youngest child, would have been if I had this product.

Think about how much more successful I would probably be right now, my shy awkwardness driven away by the popularity the Corn-a-Saurus would have brought me. I could have been Queen of the Playground! Benevolent but firm as I ruled with my Dinosaur Accessory at my side.

Think about how much more creative I would be having had such a neat start to life, learning early on the things you can do with a little imagination.

Please know that while I have forgiven you this obvious failure I will not forget it.

With affection (the love will come back in time),

S.M.R.P.

PS. Dear Parents, it would go a long way in healing this wound if you would make me one now. I promise to use it every day.

The Story of Zipper and Cuddles

The names of the animals have been changed to protect the innocent. *This is a repost, originally featured on The (Western) Canadian.

The Story of Zipper and Cuddles, our two family bunnies, is not a very exciting one.

Sure it has violence which seems to be all the rage these days (Pun Alert), but beyond that it’s pretty mundane.

Cuddles was, as you would expect, a very cuddly rabbit. She was all soft white fur and floppy ears, even tempered and the perfect pet for a young girl.

Zipper was sharp and jagged, perpetually cross and furthering the stereotypes that brunettes are mean and vindictive. There was also something in her eyes, a look that I didn’t recognize as disdain until many years later.

Zipper hated everyone and everyone hated Zipper. In fact, I would go so far as to say that Zipper even hated herself and that self-loathing was her everyday companion causing the fits of temper and the lashing out. I’m not 100% certain that bunnies can have self-esteem, but if they can I am sure Zippper’s was in short supply.

Still, the only creature on this planet Zipper did not hate was Cuddles.

They were inseparable, mostly because they shared a hutch, but also because they shared a deep bond that was evident even to my young eyes. The bond of sisters.

Cuddles and Zipper loved each other and though that love in Zipper never carried over to her owners, it was enough for me to see that Zipper was capable of love at all. At five I was quite the optimist, believing that one day Zipper could come to love me as Cuddles did. (Cuddles loved everyone.)

And then it all went to shit.

Cuddles had her pelvis broken in an accident that should have been avoided (my cousin was far too rough when putting Cuddles back in her hutch). She had to be taken inside where she was lovingly nursed back to health by my sister, hand fed and nurtured, cared for with every breath in my darling sister’s being.

It took weeks before Cuddles was ready to go back outside and I could tell that those weeks wore on poor Zipper. Zipper was lonely, fervently plotting her escape every chance she got (she often tried to dig under the fence and escape underground, perhaps imagining a bunny sanctuary just over the horizon). It never mattered how much chickweed I piled in her home (her favourite), she was growing angrier by the second.

Finally when Cuddles returned it seemed to calm Zipper, her nose twitched warmly when we brought Cuddles closer and for the first time since we had brought her home Zipper even took a few tentative hops towards us. This was the only time during our acquaintance that Zipper did not try and disembowel me and I cherished it.

I still cherish it.

Alas Cuddles died that night, her first night out. My sister and I were devastated (my sister because she had lost her loving pet, and myself as I mourned the only creature that made Zipper less of a monster). We buried her in a simple ceremony, my sister standing over the fresh grave in our backyard as I tried to hold Zipper in my arms while she scratched until I bled, bolting for the fence as soon as my abused arms let her go. It was beautiful (the ceremony, not the attack).

Weeks went by and turned to months and Zipper appeared to waste from sadness, the loss of her sister and only friend becoming too hard to handle.

And then things got worse.

Our new dog, a feisty poodle named Frenchie, found Cuddles’ final resting spot either through the power of smell or some odd and unfortunate intuition. Frenchie dug poor Cuddles up, excited at her buried treasure.

My sister had the misfortune of finding the remains of poor dearly departed Cuddles, stumbling upon Frenchie sprawled across our family room couch and chewing on the half rotted skull of her darling bunny, traumatizing her for life. My sister still has nightmares of this moment, the empty sockets starring imploringly at her, the indignity of it all.

(Perhaps I myself have a bit of Zipper’s vindictiveness in me after all as to this day I still laugh at my sister’s disturbed screams. Perhaps this is something I should keep to myself?)

With this last insult Zipper seemed to shatter, watching forlornly as her sister was reburied. But over time Zipper became less despondent. Sure, she was still the devil incarnate but the fight seemed to be drained from her and replaced instead by a desperate fear of our dog.

Zipper’s terror of our young pup only seemed to encourage the poodle. Frenchie wanted more than anything to be friends with the vicious rabbit, playfully bounding across the yard whenever Zipper came outside. Our poor poodle did not understand that eating the rotted flesh of one’s sister does not encourage friendship.

Or perhaps she had just developed a taste for hasenpfeffer?

Time sped by and it was not long before another tragedy befell us. While most of the family was on a long weekend getaway Zipper, already on edge for the last several months, was terrorized under the cover of darkness, scared so deeply that part of her exploded and she was left paralyzed in fear after screaming deeply into the night. My father grudgingly rushed the hated animal to the vet only to find there was nothing to be done. She too passed on, joining Cuddles finally in death.

We placed a marker in the grass by the fence, symbolic of Zipper’s time with us and her successful escape from life. At least dear Zipper would not be dug up by Frenchie, her final resting place an incinerator at a vet’s office far away from Frenchie’s curious nose.

Despite the obvious hatred that Zipper felt towards me I mourned her passing and for many years I despised raccoons, believing the adorable bandits of the mammal world to be the culprit of the murder of my beloved yet terrifying bunny. It wasn’t until many years later that my father gleefully told me the true story.

Zipper had been frightened to death by Frenchie who, while outside on a late night pee, decided to check to see if Zipper was game for a midnight romp, barking playfully at the hutch and waking Zipper from her sleep in what I am sure was the equivalent of a human being waking up to find a strange masked man standing over their bed with a knife.

She had never stood a chance.

With both my sister and I traumatized for good and my father thrilled to be bunny free the story ends, Zipper and Cuddles gone from our lives in all but memory.

PS. If you would like to know the whole truth about “Zipper and Cuddles” please click here and here.

 

A Birthday Story on My Birthday

I don’t normally post on Thursdays but in Honour of my 28th Birthday Today I have decided to share a Birthday Story for you, my dear readers. Please read and enjoy.

So this one time my Dad totally forgot about me on my birthday. I guess he forgot about my sister too, but seeing as how it was my birthday I feel like I’m the daughter more entitled to indignation.

Yup, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that forgetting about one’s daugher on her birthday doesn’t sound like a very nice thing to do. And you know what? It wasn’t!

I was 13 years old and I had been forced to go to a Sea Cadet function on my birthday where we marched for hours and did parade drills in the chilly April morning. It was hell and I was miserable.
(I loathed every second I was in sea cadets. I had joined because my sister was in it and because my parent’s thought it would give me more self-confidence and make me less of an awkward duckling, but alas it definitely did not work. If anything it made me more terrified of social interactions.)

The entire ordeal lasted about four hours which when you are 13 is basically forever and ever and ever. When it finally ended at 1pm my sister and I milled around the parking lot with our friends waiting for my Dad to pick us up. (Ok, fine … we milled around the parking lot with my sister’s friends. I did not have any friends. Happy now?)

Slowly Julia’s friends left us, their parents arriving on time or slightly after, rushing up and apologizing for being late. As the time dragged on Julia and I got more and more uncomfortable. Two of the officers were forced to wait along with us unable to leave minors unaccompanied in a parking lot in the middle of nowhere. Their annoyance grew thick as the minutes ticked by.

Finally all of the other kids were picked up and we were left just the two of us and the officers. It was the age before cell phones were commonplace and we had no way of contacting our Dad. We couldn’t accept a ride from the officers as Dad knew he was supposed to pick us up and he would have panicked if he had arrived there to find us gone. The four of us stood in our two groups of two with embarrassment and frustration filling the air and making things uncomfortable.

I still remember it so well.

Finally it was 10 after 2pm and a familiar sight approached us. My Dad’s car, Jaguar Racing Green, slowed down beside us, my Dad smiling without a care in the world and completely oblivious to how irritated we both were.

He parked and got out of the car, looking around at the empty parking lot, his brow furrowing as he realized something was off. Dad was usually one of the first people to arrive and it was odd to him that no other kids remained. I think too that the expression on the officer’s faces was also quite telling.

“You’re late!” my sister and I both accused him.

He looked down at his watch.

“Only 10 minutes” he replied defensively.

“Actually you’re an hour late” one of the officers bit off then checked himself and smiled awkwardly in an attempt to be polite. Both officers said goodbye and hurried to their own cars, ready to finally leave.

Julia and I stared at Dad, glaring with all the attitude available to teenage girls (which is a lot of attitude!).

Dad looked at his watch again. “I thought I was supposed to pick you up at 1?” he said.

“You were!” I stamped my foot melodramatically. “It’s after 2! And it’s my birthday!” I added sullenly, Julia reached her arm around me in a gesture of comfort and solidarity.

We all piled into the car and after a moment Dad let out an exclamation, cluing into the problem. It was daylight savings time and he had forgotten to change his watch ahead an hour.

He explained it to us thinking the matter settled but neither Julia nor I cared. Both of us were cold and pissed off and even though his explanation was totally reasonable to us it seemed a bit halfhearted. He was a Father, after all. Don’t Dad’s just know instinctively to change their watches? Can’t they sense when their children are in trouble? (Or at least mildly perturbed?)

It’s been 15 years (Gosh, has it really been that long?) and I still haven’t forgotten. The scars of childhood run deep and being forgotten on my own birthday is one I still carry with me.

Ok. Fine. Dad, I acknowledge that you didn’t really forget about me since you thought you were on time, but that doesn’t change anything. And yes, I will definitely still be bringing it up, even when it’s been 25 years.

Whatever, it’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to.

It's been 28 years and yet that is still my Go-To Photo Face. Looking Good ;)

It’s been 28 years and yet that is still my Go-To Photo Face.
Looking Good 😉

 

 

Valentine’s Day: A Story of Love and Humiliation

My all-time, number-one favourite Valentine’s Day Memory also happens to be one of the most humiliating memories of my life. (Yes, I know that’s weird.)

This memory lacks the deliberately awful jabs that were so evident in my baseball encounter but it still has all the hallmarks of a terrible experience. Crowds of people? Check. Unnecessary (albeit unintentional) cruelty? Check. Feeling vulnerable? Check.

So prepare yourself dear reader, this is going to get good.

This Valentine’s Day, in the lovely and not nearly futuristic enough year 2015, marks the 10 Year Anniversary since ‘it’ happened and I am actually rather fond of retelling the story. I’ve told it hundreds of times and have really turned it into a near perfect performance. I know the best moments to pause and I have the sad yet nostalgic smile down to an art. Heck, I even know the exact second to let a tear quiver in the corner of my eye. (Alas, knowing this hasn’t helped me to produce the tear. I have unfortunately never been able to cry on command.)

I just wish I could go back and tell my 17 year old self how great this memory would become because at the time I certainly didn’t see any humour in the situation.

Let me paint the picture for you, dear reader. I am 17 years old and in my final year of high school. My three closest friends are all lovey dovey and annoyingly happy with their significant others who they have been dating for ages and were totally going to marry and love forever and ever. Everyone else in my social group is with someone whether seriously or ‘just having fun’.

I am the only one who is single.

Still, that didn’t bother me overly much. Sure I felt awkward being the fifth (or sometimes seventh) wheel on our super awesome Friday Night Movie Nights but I’ve always possessed enough self-deprecation that it’s never been hard to laugh at myself and brush the worst of it aside.

Until Valentine’s Day.

Unbeknownst to me my darling besties were all quite concerned about my single state. Imagine, being alone on Valentine’s Day. Alone. Unloved. Unwanted. It was a serious tragedy.

Which is why in their love for me they decided to cheer me up in what I am sure seemed like a good idea at the time. (You know, kinda like how it seems like a good idea at the time to tie a rope around your waist, stand on a skateboard, and have your friend drive you around the neighbourhood really fast. Road rash may not last forever but the YouTube video certainly will.)

So here I was on Valentine’s Day, single and ok with it, working my afterschool job at Taco Time with another good friend (who also happened to be in a relationship). The restaurant was completely full, busy with all of the couples clamoring for their tacos (no euphemism intended). And then in walks my friends, boyfriends in tow.

The six-some stood right up next to the counter, edging between tables of people to get as close as possible and presented me with the ugliest stuffed heart pillow (purple and pink and red and just plain hideous) and then all looked at me with identically pitying glances.

Just to give you an idea, this is kind of what the pillow looked like, only uglier ... So. Much. Uglier.

Just to give you an idea this is kind of what the pillow looked like, only uglier … So. Much. Uglier.

My best friend at the time took the lead, offering me a sad smile. “Sarah, we wanted to let you know that just because no guy loves you doesn’t mean that we don’t love you. Thank you for being you!”

I promise you, dear reader, with no word of exaggeration that the entire restaurant went quiet as she spoke, her voice carrying in the silence. All eyes turned on me as I blushed furiously and accepted the Heart Pillow. Then the snickers started. Then laughter took over. Even my co-worker had to run into the back room laughing so hard she almost peed herself.

I was humiliated and left to stand there at the counter helping customers as people at their tables sat and pointed or just stared, the same pitying expression in their eyes that my friends had carried with them. My friends all left, eager to get their dates started now that their errand was complete.

I went home and cried that night huddled alone in my room watching ‘Titanic’ and cuddling my dog, still burning with humiliation. It was awful.

It’s been 10 years and the memory is now coloured with humour and fondness instead of the dread that it used to inspire. It is still so fresh and vivid in my mind.

Dear reader, you could not pay me to be young again.

Disclaimer: I spoke to my friends the next day and they were all genuinely horrified to find out my reaction to what they had honestly thought to be a kind gesture. What can I say? The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.

Oh, Titanic. Has there ever been a more romantic movie? You know ... aside from the whole tragedy of the sinking boat and all of the people who died.

Oh, Titanic. Has there ever been a more romantic movie? You know … aside from the whole tragedy of the sinking boat and all of the people who died.

Hey Batter, Batter (Or, Why I Hate Baseball)

In everyone’s life there are experiences that shape them. Moments of time that are frozen in your memory and are able to be recalled with perfect clarity no matter how many years have passed since they occurred. They can be flash moments like the first time you set eyes on the love of your life or they can be longer memories where you relive entire conversations from that one magical sunset.

I have many of these experiences but there is one that always sticks in my mind more than any other: Grade 8 Gym Class in the spring. I wish that I could tell you this was where I discovered a love of sports that had heretofore been unknown. Or even that this was the moment I met my best friend and we have been inseparable ever since.

Nope. Not at all.

(Let’s be honest, if you’ve read my blog before you know that what’s coming next isn’t sweet or nostalgic, but rather painfully awkward and probably a little bit humiliating.)

Dear reader, this moment, my most relived memory, was a lesson that taught me that life isn’t fair and that the bullies you know in high school don’t grow out of it but instead become adult bullies (otherwise known as the worst breed of bully).

My grade 8 gym teacher was one of those bullies.

Mr. P hated me instantly along with every other kid in his class who didn’t possess a love of sports and an effortless skill. The feeling was mutual. All of us misfits hated him with a passion and dreaded the hours we had to spend in his class. He taunted, belittled, and just genuinely made life hell for the uncoordinated.

Yet none of his behaviour could have prepared me for what happened when we played baseball.

I had actually been looking forward to the baseball unit because in the past it had meant I could hang out in the field and make daisy chains while the kids up front ran and threw to their hearts content. Also in the past it had always been the teacher who pitched the ball, throwing easy lobs to give each student a chance at bat.

But not Mr. P.

Mr. P thrived on discomfort. This is why one day I found myself at bat, facing the only boy in the class who played baseball recreationally. I didn’t mind too much, three strikes wouldn’t take that long and I had already watched the pitcher strike out almost everyone in the class with curve balls and fast balls and all the balls (I don’t really know a lot of baseball terminology). But Mr. P was a bully and he decided to do what bullies do best. Humiliate.

baseball

I solemnly vow that none of my offspring shall ever play baseball. Not my children, nor my children’s children and so on. Amen.

At the end of my three strikes I went to pass the bat to the next in line when Mr. P yelled at me to stop what I was doing. I was not going to be granted three strikes, I was meant to stand there at bat until I hit the ball. He didn’t believe I was trying hard enough and he made sure everyone knew it.

I was being singled out. The colour drained from my face and even the students who regularly bullied me looked confused. This wasn’t an appropriate action for a teacher.

I am an introvert and this became the darkest kind of torture. Not only was I the centre of attention in the worst way possible, I was also being yelled at by the teacher with each pitch I missed. The pitcher took pity and tried to throw me a few easy ones but I was so flustered I could barely swing in time, my brain going fuzzy and blank, and my arms shaking.

I can still remember it all so vividly. It took me 17 tries before I finally hit the ball. Everyone in the class was deeply uncomfortable and the pity was palpable. No one wanted to knock me out of the game after the humiliation I had endured so I made it to third base before the next batter struck out on three.

Mr. P stared at me with a smirk as the class ended. He had enjoyed this moment, revelled in feasting on my terror. I narrowed my eyes at him and didn’t break eye contact in what was one of my first and most memorable acts of defiance. It was not the reaction he had expected and I still smile when I think about how much that must have pissed him off.

Even knowing that I got the last laugh by refusing to let him break me I have never quite gotten over this humiliation and to this day I still loathe baseball.

Disclaimer: In the fifteen years since this happened I have grown to find this story hilarious in the way that all of our most unpleasant memories become a joke to be told at parties. Rose coloured glasses have added a nostalgic air to even the most dreadful of memories and I honestly believe this event shaped me in many ways.
Still, if I ever meet Mr. P again I plan on kicking him in the shins twice and calling him a poopy face before running away waving my arms like a lunatic.