Wednesday, February 25, 2004

The year of the monkey

Who first hypothesized that with enough time and enough monkey power, primates could eventually randomly reproduce the works of Shakespeare?

Well, it may soon be time for that forethinker to receive a sorrowful pat on the back. If that guy Bush of "peeance freeance" and other garbled nonsense succeeds in changing the constitution to deny same sex partners the right to marry, I fear we'll witness in our lifetime, the true power of a single monkey.

Thank gawd they can't ALL talk.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

My Violent Valentine: Bruised hearts, puppetry and wrestling

It's time for me to update so you don't all think I am stuck, wallowing like a pity piggy, in my pen of
S.A.D. (that's Seasonal Affective Disorder for those of you who don't live here).

On Valentine's Day, one of my closest single friends came to my house to indulge. We'd decided to claim the day as our own and gave ourselves permission to drink red wine and gorge ourselves on freshly made brownies laden with Hershey Kisses. The pity party became a piggy party. What could be more appropriate?

Well, all around university campuses there have been posters advertising V-Days. Should you notice one of these and read the not-so-fine print, you'll realize this is a re-appropriation celebration of the day that makes so many lovers-scorned mournful.

V-Day, as opposed to Valentine's Day, doesn't take Cupid's shot lying down. Plans included renditions of the Vagina Monolgues and puppet-making workshops advertising the opportunity to show your vagina's true personality, but alas, I already had plans. Arriving at my house with craft supplies, my friend suggested we have a sort of do-it-yourself puppet conception session. And, so it was.

After consuming an entire pan of brownies and polishing off a nice bottle of one of my favorite econo-Reds, Casillero del Diablo, we created said puppets. Giggling and certain the night could not possibly be dull, we donned our winter gear, puppets on-hand, and set out for some Rockabilly action. On the way, we stopped at a store near the bus stop to use the ATM. While we were there a nice looking, preppy, clean-cut guy in an overly shiny black leather jacket and manicured everything dropped a loonie.

We heard the clink. We all watched it roll and ultimately find a new home for itself under the ice cream freezer. The man, obviously concerned about his image, looked at my friend and me. We could see the desire in his eyes; he wanted that loonie back. There he stood with a decision to be made. He shifted his weight to-and-fro, slightly favouring the direction of the freezer. Finally, he left with his pride intact and the loonie remained lodged under the unit.

Without hesitation, as the door clicked shut behind the preppy man, a truck driver who'd been perusing the map section of the depanneur was heard to mumble, "I'll get the damn thing." With relative ease, this man lifted the freezer, exposing the dirty loonie and told my friend to fetch it. She did. When she straightened herself out she motioned to hand him the coin. He told her, with a smile and a wink, "Keep it." I was tempted to thank him with my vagina. Cheerful and realizing this was the kind of night strange men would lift large appliances for us, we caught the bus. The 30-minute ride passed quickly, and only we knew what we had up our sleeves.

The bar scene was perfect. There was a mix of young and old. A faux-lace tablecloth adorned every table, and wilted roses topped all flat surfaces. The bartender, 80, called everyone "dear" and poured pitchers of flat draft like a pro. It was delightfully ridiculous and I didn't know anyone there.

Over the course of the evening, my friend introduced me to her boss and some acquaintances. There were several girls who personified indifference, even when they danced, and a few men managed to entertain me, just enough. I was having a good time. My vagina was getting a lot of attention and to my surprise, other women were borrowing it, making it talk and growl. My friend's vagina was eventually clamped to a Rockabilly's face. He wore it well.

There were lots of laughs and I was still having a good time when I was smacked in the head with a wilted, but thorny rose. Even in my warm and fuzzy draft-y brain I knew it was going to leave a mark.

Now, I know a lot of people have issues with Valentine's Day and I know some people have issues with the opposite sex in general, but c'mon. I'm not exactly sure what events led to this, or whether it was before or after the same guy sprayed beer from his mouth all over me, but I do remember acknowledging that I'd had enough. I'd been sitting behind him and after I wiped my shirt dry on his, I stood. And, then he stood.

A small part of my brain recognized him as the same guy at the last Rockabilly show who was being an ass to another girl. Almost at that same instant, he pushed me. Later I would realized he poked me with his thumb hard enough to leave a small bruise on my left breast, just over my heart. I think he was projecting.

True, I only did it because my brain was warm and fuzzy enough to allow for my body to react instinctively, but the singular most empowering move my self-defense instructor taught me nearly 10 years ago, resurfaced. With relative ease, I swung him to the floor. Then, I literally (and just once) kicked his ass. Not to hurt him of course, just to humiliate.

I was surprised, when my brain finally caught up with me, that he was laying on his back on the floor beneath me. His eyes were glassy and he looked mad. Really, very mad. I realized this might be the first Valentine's Day I'd be receiving a black eye. Instead of waiting for this to happen, I grabbed a chair and pinned him to the floor with it, by his neck.

With my vagina somewhere else in the bar, I conjured the balls to say, "Do you wanna go at it like this? Or, you wanna call a truce?"

Luckily, he called a truce and I took a cab back downtown with his girlfriend (who said he probably deserved it), and some guy who had a penchant for female wrestling.

Valentine's Day is one thing when you wear your heart on your sleeve, and something completely outrageous when you wear your vagina in its place. It was one of the most interesting holidays I've had.

What is Valentine's day if not for the hottest guy in the bar to be falling at your feet?

Friday, February 06, 2004

Old people 101

This project I'm working on recently required the creation of a radio spot to promote a non-profit organization. It only had to be 30 seconds long. I had no idea it was going to take me 10 hours to make it. OK, so it might not have taken sooooo long if my plan hadn't been so ingenious.

I chose to support a project that assists the elderly in Montreal. Basically, they pair up a fogie with a yungin' and, if all goes well, they'll help them shop and get to appointments...and go to picnics...and all that sweet stuff.

Imagine how good you would feel knowing that because you gave 2 hours each week, an older person was able to continue living in their own home? I mean, no one wants to be institutionalized and it really pisses them off that just because they are scared of breaking a hip on the ice, people start treating them like they're crazy.

To promote these people properly, I was going to have to give them a voice. So I wrote a script, armed myself with an audio recorder and realized: I don't know any old people.

Well I do, but Peter and John don't count. Even with their 0/20 vision they undress me with their eyes. In fact, if they slipped on the ice in front of me, I would suspect they just did it to cop-a-feel when I pick them up.

Where could I find old people? I mean, the whole point is that they can't get out of their houses in this crappy weather! Then, then I realized just how resourceful I could be, donned my boots and headed for the food court at the mall.

Now, I don't know if you've ever approached old people with a tape recorder and some papers, but it was generally like approaching an injured bird. They get really flustered as you near them, and wish more than anything that you would just go the hell away.

These people have been harassed by soliciters for nearly as many decades as there's been electricity. If they seemed like injured birds to me surely I was a frothing rabid toy-poodle to them.

To put them at ease once I introduced myself, I assured them I was trying to sell them nothing. And when I heard myself reassuring them, I realized I sounded like a door-to-door religious recruiter. Apparently I did, because the question to follow was inevitably, "Are you one of those Jehovah's Witnesses?"

OK, so I got off to the wrong start...there was still hope. I told them I was promoting a non-profit organization, supported by credible insititutions and can assist older people in need of a little extra help with grocery shopping and other errands...

At this point they would cut me off and tell me how old they were, what diseases they'd suffered, wars they'd fought, the number of children they'd raised and to which Christian sect they are part.

Then, I would remind them that I needed them to read a sentence aloud that I would record for this commercial. The most common answer: "No no no no no. Ohhhhh, no no no no no. Good bye."

I'm sure it would have been easier to convert them to Raelianism, than get them to co-operate.

Some of the people I asked were downright rude, some were mean, some were annoying, some were scared of me, some were really wonderfully sweet...

... but it took me nearly 3 hours to find them.

Old people, my friends, are simply people who've gotten old. I fear not all of us learn to be kind to our neighbors and love unconditionally...some of us just get pissed off.

In any case, I wish I had more time to share the bloopers of the project, the strange things said and just why it is complicated to have diabetes, high cholesterol and a bum knee...

But, with limited time and space I will simply share my successes.

A delightful woman, aged 86, was kind enough to yell into the microphone: "THERE'S GOING TO BE A PARTY!"

And a delightful man, aged 80 with a thick Russian accent, yelled "RHOCK MUZEEK, RHEALLY HLOUD MUZEEK, RHEALLY HLOUD HROCK HMUSIC..."

I didn't *ask* him to say that...but he did.

And it made my day.

So, thank you to the food court crew! May the coffee be fresh and the summer come soon.