Prattle on
Thursday, November 17, 2005
So, I have a nervous stomach. Some people get butterflies before they see their cute boy, some get a nerve related need to pee before a performance. Personally, I very nearly vomit before anything big that I have to do. Or sometimes I actually vomit. I also get sick from difficult conversations. It is strange because I am a natural extrovert, and I have always been.

As a kid at Holy Redeemer Catholic School in Pickering, I routinely did well at the annual public speaking contest. And when I say I did well, I always placed second to either Kirsten or Christine, a pair of freckled faced, red headed twins who almost always did a speech about what they would do if elected Prime Minister, why their mom is their hero or, the tried and true, funny things about being a twin. They knew how to cater to a crowd of dim-witted teachers and secretaries. I hated their cute red headed look and freckles. I hated that they dressed the same on speech day. But, mostly, I hated their transparent, yet successful, attempt to romance the judges with inane babble and white ribbons in their hair. I thought they were boring. Holy Redeemer wasn’t ready for my heat; the judges always played it safe. The winner went to the Kawanis festival – the holy grail of public speaking contests – and our school always sent the ‘cute’ speech. There were some that felt my genius. But, I think the sarcasm of a nine-year-old was a bit too abrasive for the chalk and typewriter set.

Starting the speech off with a bang, I held up the compass from my geometry set and said “Our teachers tell us not to run with succors, but then they give us these.” I gave them three solid minutes of brilliance: Why Math is Bad for your Health. I had them rolling in the aisles. It was a great start. I looked the audience members in the eye and played the crowd. God, they were with me every step of the way. I could see the hunger in their eyes for my take on the dangers of a meter stick. They were begging me to kill them with a quip about a protractor. After my speech my schoolmates continued to laugh through the teacher’s introduction of the next competitor.

Kirsten followed my knock-‘m-dead performance. You would think that it would be the prefect position. I had warmed up the crowd. I was actually annoyed because I had to open the show, go in there dry. Even as a nine-year-old I had the instincts to know, I had an uphill battle and they gave Kirsten the sweet spot. She was like the Banyon to my Gerry. Predictably, she managed to kill the mood in the first 30 seconds. A minute into the speech the audience could only manage a chuckle here and there.

I thought I was home free. It was clear – if you were to take audience reaction as a barometer of success – I was the victor. I realize now that the twins had something I didn’t (and it wasn’t talent). They played to the judges. Ignoring the audience, Kirsten looked right at the judges playing with her ribbons at precise moments and then knocking them out with her steel mouthed grin. Obviously Kirsten won first prize that year with a speech about the day she and her sister got braces – fascinating.*

*As a side note to this story, my mother was always appalled by the twin’s domination in public speaking. Mainly because I was MUCH more talented in this realm than they were and she felt I was being discriminated against. She told my teachers as much. If you do wrong by me, or my sister, you will bare my mother’s wrath. My mother also hated the twins because she thinks twins are creepy and she thought this set were particularly ugly. In grade 8 Christine was chosen to give a speech at the 30th anniversary celebration for Holy Redeemer. It was probably the most boring thing I have ever had to sit through mainly because Christine had the presence of a slug. Mom felt the same way, to this day that she thinks I was wronged.
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
So, I Last night while waiting to leave for the city I got a call on my cell from someone in Montreal. We chatted for a few minutes and then he asked me if I would be driving back to Montreal. I was taking the train. Then he said, “That’s good, because there is a lot of snow here.” I immediately accused him of lying. Obviously he was making fun of me. He said, no, there was some snow this morning and now there is a lot.

We ended our conversation, no one likes lies like that, and I headed for Union Station. On the train I chatted with my boss and tried to sleep a little. As we pulled into Dorval I saw what was the remnants of snow fighting off the rain in an attempt to cling to the ground. You know that white crusty look that is transparent enough to show the grass below. A sad sight really. As I was looking at it I felt that the snow was following the train, chasing me. You may think that makes me a little paranoid, but still, it was like it was out to get me.

I closed my eyes and decided not to think about it. Mistake. I got home and when I stepped out of the cab, on to what was largely a clean street, there was a small patch of snow right in front of my door. Seriously, the street was bare, just rained on, but a patch of snow managed to hold on. And that patch was right outside my door.

I am telling you, it’s after me. It’s going to get me. It taunts me. It wants me to know it's coming. I feel like winter is a cat and I am the half dead mouse it plays with for pleasure before striking the final blow. And it will strike.
Sunday, November 13, 2005
So, I just got back from my local Winners with about 4 new pairs of tights (a short skirt and tights is all the rage this winter). While I was shopping I noticed the steady stream of Christmas music being blast over the speakers. Here comes Santa Clause, y’all I hope you are ready. He’s on his fucking sleigh and is getting ready to park it at the Canadian Tire. I don’t mean to sound so angry about it (that’s bull shit I totally mean to sound angry) but every year that goes by, the holiday season just gets more and more plastic.

I think for me, the last straw was when various radio stations in Toronto started playing Christmas music 24/7 from the first week in November. I don’t know where this trend started but it inspired various musicians to write all new Christmas carols meat to turn your bowels. Here’s a ditty we can all vomit to! The one that really stands out in my head is a song called “Christmas Shoes” or something like that. The song is about a young boy who was sent to the store on Christmas Eve to buy new Christmas shoes for his hospitalized mother who needs the shoes to wear when she meets baby Jesus (her death was imminent). The kid was only a couple dollars short so he tells the story of his death-doorstep-mother inspiring charity in the person standing behind him in line. No one in the song wondered why an eight-year-old would be sent to the mall alone on Christmas Eve while his mother lay dying in the hospital, but sentimental drivel has no reason.

I heard that Christmas shoes song a couple years ago while at the salon. For some reason Middle aged Caribbean women love that shit. They are all over the Christmas music 24 hours a day – especially if there is a steel drum involved. While getting my haircut I sat beside a family friend who for the purposes of this blog shall be known as Darleen, mainly because that is her name. Darleen sat in the chair talking at length about how much she loved the Christmas music on the radio – The family thinks Darleen is, in the Guyanese parlance, a “schupidy gyirl.” Directly translated, that means Darleen is an idiot. She sat there complaining that while the music was nice they didn’t play enough Johnny Mathis. That’s when the radio DJ dropped Christmas Shoes. Perhaps, inadvisably, I say “Oh Jesus Christ this has got to be the worst song I have ever heard.” Darleen was aghast, “What do you mean? This is a very nice song.” Darleen said looking at me like I was a cold-hearted heathen. How could I not be touched by the story of a young boy about to loose his mother on Christmas? Then Darleen started swaying to and fro to the insipid melody while trying to sing along. Since she didn’t know the words she did her best to anticipate what they might be but mostly just sang along with monosyllables. Great, I had succeeded in making a bad situation worse. I lived the worst year of my life in that three and a half minutes.

Anyway, at the Winners the Christmas music was especially bad. After Shania Twain’s rendition of “White Christmas” (a song that always creeped me out) another song was played that I can only describe as painful. And when I say painful I mean it sounded like the moaning of a French woman in pain, specifically a dull throbbing pain. It had that unmistakable Christmas sound to it, much like the Christmas smell that takes over malls and department stores. I don’t know how this woman got a record deal, but she did and now I am being punished.

At least, since I don’t listen to the radio, I don’t have to worry about being inundated with bad Christmas music. My pre-Christmas resolution is to stay far away from the mall.

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