Weeks ago, I forced myself to open up to a special someone, baring my soul at the peril of their criticism. His name was Paul.
It was going to be awkward, I knew this going in, but it had to be done. Years of questionable habits had just become routine in my home life. Even my beautiful wife indulged in it, maybe because she liked it too, or maybe just to make me feel better, not wanting to address the elephant in the room that had been growing over the years.
But it was time to accept responsibility for my actions, and to begin taking steps toward my own betterment, for me and for my family. This would require professional help, and of a facility equipped for my needs, so off I went.
I was still embarrassed about it all, but I was determined to change my ways. Thankfully, anonymity gave me the courage to go where I needed to. I wore a dark sweater with a hoodie draped over my head, and sunglasses concealed my eyes. I walked into the building, hoping I could find what I wanted without even having to speak to anyone, but that was too much to ask, apparently. I think they do it on purpose. To find the proper items to help lost souls such as myself, they want to make sure you consult with their members first. Maybe to keep track of item use. Or maybe it’s carefully orchestrated by the big boys in corporate in an effort to curb reform, to prevent people like me looking to wean ourselves of the habit. Maybe. Or maybe it’s just the withdrawals making me paranoid, who could be sure?
A gentleman in a pin-striped apron walked by, saw me searching around with my eyes, clearly not finding what I needed. He wore a name tag. It said Paul.
“Can I help you find something?” he asked.
I was reluctant to speak to him. I looked to my left, then my right, to see if anyone recognized me. No one seemed to, though there were many people around, busily moving about in a quest to feed their own habits. Not taking any chances, I cleared my throat, and disguised my voice.
“Uh, yeah, where do you keep the…um,” I couldn’t help but pause, wondering why I decided to go with Christian Bale’s Batman voice. I swallowed hard, and steeled myself for the question I was there to ask.
“I need…where would I find…veggie burgers?” I whispered the last two words, as if that would soften their impact.
He looked at me like one would look at edible underwear; innocent enough, but why?
“It’s, uh, they’re at the end of aisle 2, with the tofu.”
“Thanks,” I murmured, still Batman. I took long strides to the end of the second row, quickly grabbed a packet of pre-formed veggie patties without inquiring into their chemical makeup, and beelined it to the checkout lanes. I dropped a few other items into my basket along the way to hide the vegetarian burgers amid a sea of unsuspicious products: a box of MilkBone dog treats (despite my not having a dog,) 3 gummi worms, half a lemon, half a lime, and a bulk pack of universal remote controls. I kept my head down the entire time in line while I munched on a MilkBone. No one gave me a second glance.
I high-stepped it through the doors, got into my vehicle, and drove straight home, which made it fairly challenging around the corners.
But I did it.
I felt wild. My nerves were jittery from the sudden jolt of nervous adrenaline, but I had my prize. Veggie burgers. I was proud of myself, almost in tears from the significance of it. I sat in my truck for a long time, parked in my driveway, letting the tears roll down my cheeks in happy elation, listening to “Salvation” by the Cranberries. It was a wonderful moment in my life.
* * *
Okay, that was all horse-pucky. Except for the part about asking directions to the veggie burgers. And I really did buy some. And his name was Russel, not Paul.
Point is, thanks to that little adventure, I honest to Raffi had veggie burger patties sitting in my freezer, waiting to be fried up for my personal consumption. It felt weird to know they were there, getting the stink eye from the frozen packs of bacon and ground chuck with which they shared a drawer.
I like meat. I love meat. So much so that I even married a beautiful formation of the stuff, though I promised never to eat her, barring a soccer-team-stranded-in-the-Andes-and-we’re-all-out-of-chocolate kinda situation. But cooking animal flesh…the taste, the smell of it, especially on the BBQ…Gaddang! Mmm mm mmm!
Problem is, I never really realized how much of the stuff I would consume on a regular basis. That is, not until one particular stay over at my meat-wife’s aunt’s place, enjoying a nice, meatless evening meal. That evening was the catalyst which sent me on that dangerous quest for veggie burgers.
We were talking about different foodstuffs, and jokingly about how our kids won’t eat much of anything besides cereal and hotdogs. And then about the general ease of cooking meat, and how that’s usually the staple fixture in pretty much every meal at our home because it’s nice and filling and easy, with the exception of rushed weekday breakfasts, of course.
My aunt-in-law (I’m running with it) is a classy woman. And she leads a pretty clean life which includes a very balanced diet with limited meat intake, and then usually reserved only to chicken or fish. These two facts about her aren’t necessarily linked together, except to say that she has enough decorum in her not to openly show disgust at my beef and pork consuming ways.
But I could tell she thought it odd that our daily food intake included a fairly hefty amount of animal bits. Which got me thinking. Do we eat too much meat?
At this point you might be imagining me and my family at dinnertimes as a bunch of unrefined Vikings, snorting and huffing our way through greasy hams and turkey legs clutched at the bone, gulping steins of mead with our elbows on the table, and nary a napkin to be found anywhere. But we’re really not that bad. Really. It’s just that we would usually plan our meals around some kinda main course meat thingy, and go from there. Roasted chicken tomorrow? Okay, we’ll throw some broccoli around that with some rice. Ribs on Wednesday? Salad on the side with garlic bread. Pork loin on Thursday? ‘Kay, with bacon on the side. Oops, scratch that. Double bacon.
So we’ve been trying to cut that back a bit. Some for personal reasons (too much red meat be bad for you blah blah blah colon cancer blah blah blah how come I’m lactating blah blah blah) and some because I agree that the way North America currently conducts animal farming is often unethical and environmentally unsustainable. That’s a whole political debate which I am not drunk enough to get into at the moment, so don’t worry. Suffice it to say that it got me thinking of alternatives.
Like these really cool vegetable enzyme burgers gaining momentum in California from Impossible Foods, where veggie burgers even friggin’ bleed like real meat, not to mention they feel, smell and taste just like the real moo-cow versions. Impossible Foods is not yet in Canada (I'm pretty sure,) but we do currently have something similar introduced into A&W restaurants and recently onto the deli shelves at Safeways (and possibly other retailers) across the country, in the forms of vegetable-protein burger patties, sausages and beef-like crumbles for tacos and such. I’ve tried the Beyond Meat burger from A&W, comparing it side by side with their traditional beef burger, and I gotta tell ya, it’s amazing. If I didn’t know ahead of time which of the two had actually mooed in a previous stage of life I would not be able to notice a difference. How cool is that!?
I don’t want meat just because it was once an animal. Animals are gross, really, especially considering the living conditions most of those things live in at feedlots and hog or chicken farms. Not to mention injected hormones and such. Oh sure, there are definitely some quality farms out there where animals are free to frolic over meadows and step on gophers as they please and shit on clover patches just before eating them, but they’re not that plentiful. It’s just economics, really. So to that I say, “Bring on the plant burger!” Shoot, if my taste buds can’t tell the difference and it’s healthier, why not?
But jeez, they’ve got their work cut out for them if they’re planning to make a mock version of a steak. ‘Cause dang dagnabbit, dem things are damn fine every once in a while.
Stay tuned for an upcoming review of Goodfood's meal-in-a-box meal service! It was another way to find alternative meal ideas to lessen our meat intake, so come check out what we think of it, posting soon!
There are caterpillars in my ears.
I have a five-year- old and a two-year old so it's not entirely out of the question that I should wake up one day and learn that my ears have become low-income housing units for fuzzy bugs. But I don’t mean that there are actual real caterpillars in there, it just looks like it.
Though not perpetrated by kids, I've witnessed this kind of mischief before on others, and it's a handiwork that men everywhere are regrettably familiar with. (Weemen experience it too, but in different ways.)
It's from that relentless old codger of curmudgeony -a close cousin of Time - which we all know as Old Age. And from all the wrinkle cream ads, Viagra posters and glossy magazine sports car pages out there to mitigate his influence, it is quite apparent nobody wants that old coot around.
For me, lately, weird, new stuff has been happening. You’re-flirting-with-old-age kinda stuff.
Like, how riding a merry-go-round with my kids will cause me to forget my name for three days…
I now get constantly worked up over political idiocies as if my suggestions actually mattered and could be heard backwards through the radio to the looney toons in parliament...
My inner thighs collide together like unshaven tectonic plates when I walk, creating enough friction and heat to have me banned from fire-sensitive areas…
A single robust, grey hair sprouted by my right nipple and it's tougher than steel wool; damn near broke the wife's garden shears, it did…
Sometime over the last couple decades hiccups transformed from a laughable interruption to a brass-knuckled death punch to the esophagus…
People keep talking about all these great new indie movies and music artists coming up, and I’m trying to figure out how come India is suddenly the world’s largest exporter of worldwide entertainment.
I listen to CBC talk radio, on purpose.
And, and, there's Ovaltine in my pantry. I wish I were joking.
It all points to getting older.
But really, I don't feel old.
Physically, I'm growing weird hair, my abs haven't come out of hibernation in years, and I get winded chasing the kids around the playground (I’ll concede that most of that is because I'm just out of shape, really. There are plenty of seniors out there who could put me to shame without even having to take their dentures out. My grandmother, for one. But still, getting older here.)
Physically, I’m starting to feel it. But mentally? I still feel like a kid most days (except that I listen to CBC, no kid does that), and when I think about how responsible my parents were at my age, I can't help but wonder-
What the fishsticks am I talking about? They weren't any more adult-like than I am!
Shoot, I remember Dad goofing around pretty much all the time, setting a fine example for his impressionable son. Even recently we shared a fine learning experience together where we wanted to see if we could ride a mountain bike on mum’s treadmill (my kid was there too to witness the moment, three generations of incorrigible fools.) Or the time he tried salamandering up a snow covered hill after midnight on New Years’, hollering for the hill to come down to his level and fight like a man… I could go on for days with stories from that guy.
Okay, so maybe Mum was the more level- headed of the two, so calling them immature might not be fair. And nor can I just call Dad immature, that's not right either. He was an incredibly responsible and caring father figure, he was just young at heart through it all. And he still is.
I dunno. I guess it's all relative. Just because Old Age seems to be visiting more and more these days like an uninvited second cousin doesn't mean I have to hang out with the old gaffer all the time. If he doesn't feel up to going on a hike or bouncing like an idiot at a trampoline park designed for kids, well, nuts to him, Old Age can just stay home. I don’t need to bring him with me everywhere I go.
I suppose the fuzzy ears and ab-less mid-section will have to come with me regardless, but at least that Donnie Downer of getting older won't be around to constantly remind me of them, so I can have some un-adult-erated fun anyway.
I just gotta remember to tell Old Age to piss off a little more often and to suck a lime when I don't want him around. Which is pretty much all the time.
I'll just block his number.
Wow. Did I say “next week”? Obviously, I meant several weeks into the new year. I hope you weren’t expecting me to be punctual on my blogs, especially around the holidays.
Aw, who’m I kidding, I got a Playstation and got lazy.
Anyway, last time I wrote about the tricky social challenge that is establishing a loving relationship with another human. If you’re only into sheep, I don’t think I can help you. Unless you just want inflatables, in which case send me a private email.
So where did we leave off? Oh, right, we were just digging into how people change over time, whether you like it or not, and what programs are out there for when things get too tough.
People change. Take my wife's enthusiasm for monster movies. When we were dating, my love for her grew with every exploded alien's demise which we celebrated with popcorn and laughs, huddled under a blanket in the dark.
And then we got engaged.
Suddenly my proposals for "horrific" evenings at home were stonewalled, albeit cleverly.
"Sorry, babe, I've got an exam in the morning," she'd say.
"Yeah, we could do that. Or, OR, we could watch that new romantic comedy instead...I'll take my bra off, ooo-oo..."
"Ah, shoot, wouldn't you know it? I just had my retinas waxed. Gotta wait at least a month before watching anything gory or bright explosions. Doctor's orders."
I didn't fall for that last one the third time around, I’ll tell ya. Nice try, woman.
But I should have seen the signs. My monster girl was gone. It was only years into our marriage that she finally came clean.
"I just can't do scary movies anymore, hon. I'm sorry."
Like. Ripping. My. Heart. Out. I understood then, boy. It became crystal clear, let me tell you. It was all a big charade. Her plan was to seduce me in a monstrous way (teehee) and use me to her means. She was just trying to land herself a sugar daddy who would marry her and sire her children! The audacity of women these days. Joke was on her though. I was a broke student at the time of our engagement, so she only married for love. Sucker.
Her tastes in music changed too. She stopped following rock, flocking instead to moon-fruits like Rascal Flats and Michael "Blehbleh". She started eating peppers and spinach like a mature person. Thoughts of skydiving and rock climbing were replaced with gravity-compliant yoga, and she no longer had an affinity for lingerie, no matter what I wore.
And as far as I know, she's still the roller coaster thrill seeker I fell in love with, but that was last tested before we had kids. I've heard the bearing of little bipeds can ruin a person's rollercoasterability. (Eat it, Webster's, it’s a word now,) so we have yet to see if that quality is still intact.
So, in all honesty, there was a lot more change in my spouse than was ever promised in the brochure, but that’s okay. People evolve. And that's good, isn't it? Right? Like, changes can be good for everyone, right?
Huh. Well, I’ll try to break this down for you fine readers anyway.
Now imagine if the relationship between a penguin and a bunch of fish changed after a while. Instead of the fishies constantly swimming away in all directions like jerks, they decided to stop and try talking to the penguin instead. Now, the penguin is, at first, weirded out by this odd, new behaviour in fish. But soon he sees the good in it, right? Now he can easily gobble up finfuls of the foolish little morsels like they're rainbow Skittles. See? A little change in behaviour can be a good thing. The fish can be eaten happily, knowing they weren't deliberately ruining a fellow sea creature's day by zigzagging all over the place like a bunch of fish-dicks. And the penguin? Well, shoot, he's fat an' happy.
Not to brag or anything, but I don't think a better analogy for evolving human relationships has ever been told. Good for me.
Anyway, expect some change in your life partner over the long run. I have to remind myself from time to time, too, that it happens. Embrace it. It's normal. And it’s important to remember, not all spouses / partners / love-monkeys come with a satisfaction guarantee at time of commitment. Heck, even if you spring for the extended warranty there's no safe-guard against your other half turning into a complete ass-hat the moment a pregnancy is announced, or you've given each other apartment keys, or you come home with onion rings instead of curly fries.
In cases of irreparable disappointment, hopefully you can just walk away from such poopery. In most relationship setups, it's fairly simple, just grab your stuff and call an Uber. It's with full-fledge marriages that it gets tricky. Luckily, God invented the "divorce" for just that reason.
Well, okay, divorce is probably just a concept of man. Many men are a bunch of perpetually unsatisfied babies (see earlier submission titled "Big Burly Babies/ Sept 2016" for some in-depth research into that maelstrom) and so they wanted a way out of "unsavory marriages".
And God was all "Oh come on, you wankers! What's the problem? You have wiggly bits, they have complimentary wiggly bits, just have a cuddle and talk things through, fer cryin' out loud! Jesus, I can't believe I made you shmucks in my own image, it's embarrassing, y'know? Holy Goats, I need some wine. Where's the water?"
Anyshits, divorces have been around since the time of Babylon, where ungrateful whiners were dissatisfied that their wives would not bear them a son and were spending far too many dinars at Sears. So, with the blessing of whichever priest was part of their Sunday foursome at St. Andrews on any given weekend, the poor, victimized menfolk of olde were able to cast off their defective wives and upgrade to newer models, even though Redbook wouldn't give them much remaining value on the trade-in.
Thankfully, times have changed, and these days, men as well as women are using divorce as a sort of cancellation policy out of one of society's biggest commitments, second only to a subscription to Columbia House (I realize they don’t exist anymore and my comparisons aren’t usually kept up-to-date topically, but it was a big deal once upon a time, so there.) So now, when married women are displeased with their partner's spending habits or their husband's wearing of lingerie in public, they can sock it to the chauvinistic pigs of yore while hollering "Women of Babylon, unite!"
Point is, no matter what your relationship situation is, there’s always a failsafe. Sometimes it might be messy, but no one needs to worry about being stuck with the wrong partner forever, so if you’re really inclined to find yourself a mate for life, go for it. Meet others, do your due diligence to ensure best compatibility, and take a chance. You can always cancel if need be.
Not that I’m condoning divorces or anything. Yes, they have their purposes and sometimes really are necessary for all involved, but I feel the commitment of marriage requires a person’s utmost willingness to stick by their partner and to work hard at it through thick and thin. It seems these days that as soon as even minor challenges arise some wafty couples rush to the courthouse while downloading Tinder onto their phones. In my opinion, if you’re not fully determined to share a life with someone for the long run, maybe it’s best to avoid the big ceremony and the paperwork and the gift registry that comes with the big M and just stick to sharing an apartment lease until ya know for sure.
Boy oh boy, that got real for a minute. Whew, shake it off now, let’s get to the end already. Here’s the review.
User ID: Mezzer
Item: 1980’s-era model female, Canadian, marriage compatibility package, Dutch Chocolate upgrade.
Rating: 4.9/5 Stars
I’ve been married for over 12 years now, and have been with the same woman since the Y2K bug was dismissed as fodder for idiots. I was still young, but keenly interested in finding a mate, and hopefully for the long run. In the summer of ’00 I became very close friends with a particularly attractive female unit, and decided to try it out.
I started by taking advantage of the free 30-day trial (Offer-code SUMMERLUV) to test out this unit, and it was an eye opener. The model I found was a very limited edition (only one minted, in fact) and came with way more options than I realized at first. Some stuff I wasn’t sure I would use (like country-music playability and an anti-jaywalking safety feature), but all in all, it was very user-friendly from the start. It was obvious a lot of care went into programming this female, and software upgrades were clearly well thought out, including things like Vehicle Driving Awareness – Advanced Version, Credit Building/ Responsible Fiscal Management, and a really handy Emotional Drama Auto-Delete Feature.
From day one she was fun, and after the trial period and thinking about it, I decided to opt in for a monthly subscription. The unit adapted nicely to the fast paced changes in life, and thrived under challenging circumstances. It was remarkably adept at trouble-shooting, and never resorted to throwing money at a problem. Very good for the wallet, and made our relationship better, definitely.
Soon after, I decided to go for the lifetime membership, which included perks such as occasional foot rubs, joint bank accounts, and long-term dream merging. It’s very compatible with pets, a nice plus, and never put in absurd requests for gross things like tarantulas or rhesus monkeys. A few signatures and a cocktail party finalized the official marriage, and there ya go, I had me a very compatible, loving and hard-working wife.
This model was very in-tune to my needs as a person thanks to high quality sensors and receptors. Even though there would sometimes be minor discrepancies between our moods and intents, I found the programs to be pretty sound and free of glitches. I did have to change my way of thinking sometimes, realizing that some programs would simply not allow the unit to partake in certain activities at the level which I would like (mountain biking, skydiving, discarding of corpses for money), but I made do. And to the credit of the upgrade programmers and their keeping with current trends regarding male maturity, this unit never received procreation inclination updates until I was into my thirties, which was perfect for me.
This union brought us two fine little implings, and our little family is now set, growing together through the good and the tough, but it feels great to know she’s always got my back.
I’m very pleased with my spouse, I’ve never had any reason to return her to general inventory. Sure, countless newer models have come out in the last fifteen years or so, certainly, but from what I hear they just don’t make ‘em with that kind of quality anymore. Besides, for sentimental reasons, I’m sure I’ll keep her until her battery eventually dies out and they can’t find any spare parts to keep her going. Definitely worth keeping for the long haul. Heck, I might even have her stuffed when the time comes.
Overall opinion: Definitely worth the investment. I highly recommend getting a compatible spouse if you can find one. But I’ll admit it’s not for everyone. If you want a partner in life but don’t want the “weightiness” of marriage, you can definitely do that to. Plenty of models out there are looking for just that. Even then, maybe being with another human isn’t your thing, perhaps the company of an animal or other entity is all you need. It’s all good. But I do think we all need a partner in life to help us navigate this crazy world, and I urge you to try out options if you can.
For me, it just worked out very much the way I wanted, even though I have put in several requests for monster-movie enjoy-ability upgrades that she has yet to receive, but it was definitely the best move I ever made.
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It's been 12 years now, 12 years of marriage. I decided to give it another couple years (not the marriage, this review) just in case. I mean, it happens all the time. You've had something for years, works great, then as soon as the extended warranty expires, that thing you've enjoyed flawlessly suddenly explodes and starts emitting nuclear radiation. Even if there wasn't a speck of nuclear material in the silly thing to begin with.
So, yeah, I wanted to place a thorough consumer review out there in the off chance that it could help a myriad of troubled souls out there, wondering feverishly if they too should bite the bullet and follow in my footsteps.
But I really felt I should wait the extra 2 years. 10 years (the normal span for a marriage warranty) is actually a pretty good run, especially by today's standards, but you just never know.
So, without further adoooooo, for others out there thinking of getting one, here is...
An Objective Review of My Spouse!
* * * *
Now, because I forgot to close my office door and my wife saw that last line, I will now be continuing this review from the comfort of a hospital ER waiting room chair.
So, let's get on with it, shall we? I'm not quite certain how long my spleen will hold out, so here we go.
I always knew I'd get married. I was the fortunate by-product of a healthy, happy union between my Maw and Paw, so getting hitched always seemed like a good way to go.
And so, like a conscientious consumer, I began my languid search for a long-term mate like a teenager kicking tires at the neighborhood car lot.
"Eh, she's pretty, but low on ambition. She'd be fun for a summer but that's about it, methinks."
"How's the quality regarding the leather? I need to know she'd be okay getting dirty with a landscaping shovel."
"She doesn't like the mountains and wants to live in a big city?! No thanks, not looking for a project girl."
In my youth, I went on a few dates with a couple girls, a dinner here, a movie there, but nothing amounted to much more than a nice time out.
And then we moved.
The parental units thought it was high time we moved to a smaller, cleaner community, closer to the natural areas we loved to play in during the weekends. At first, I was apprehensive, as any socially awkward high school teenager would be. I would be leaving my old neighborhood and friends, trying to make a new life in a strange community, all during my final high school years. That's a lot of adjustment for a young lad trying to figure himself out.
And then I saw some of the houses the folks were thinking of moving into, which, really, made our old place look like a pile of nutty crap.
"Holy Hell! Nuts to childhood memories, we're moving into this muthuh right now! Where're the keys to the moving truck? I'm driving. Let's go, Ma!"
And it turns out, that move was the best thing that's ever happened to me. Because, just a couple weeks into our new home, I met my future wife.
She wasn't in the home, or anything, like a squatter or weird transient or something, hiding by the fireplace. I just meant, well, you know what I meant.
It was at a church youth group that we met. I know, I know, I'm such a good boy. But to be honest, it was my folks who kind of pushed me to go, and everything changed for me after that.
With subsequent group outings and a few warm summer evenings spent comfortably in each other's company, I soon fell completely in love with a one of a kind girl.
Olive skin, bright eyes, an entrancing smile and infectious laugh, I was downright smitten with her. She was adventurous, compassionate, and she was so refreshingly down to earth that she could have been the fifth element.
And that was it. Before long, I knew I'd found my soulmate, and I couldn't imagine not being with her.
Now, I think of myself as a conscientious consumer, and I tend to be as diligent and thorough as I can before I finalize any agreement, purchase or acquisition.
And that's why YOU'RE here too, am I right? You're not interested in all the silly, fluffy details about how some shnook fell hopelessly in love. You can't measure that stuff. Love is subjective, so it doesn't mean a heck of a whole lot to someone trying to make a sound life decision. You want quantifiable data, something you could stick in a bar graph and say "Well, that is something to consider... As a wife or husband's inclination for collecting Beanie Babies goes up, there seems to be a reverse trend for them wanting to attend monster truck rallies. How curious…"
So here it is, O' shrewd marital investor. An objective and measurable account of my experience with a spouse and whether or not it's a good relationship move. Just don't let your significant other read this if you can help it. Hospital beds ain't that comfortable, trust me.
Disclaimer: Although this review focuses on my experience with a traditional spouse, a full-fledge married-by-the-book type-o-wife, it can easily be applied to any other relationship permutation, whether married, common-law, polyamorous, partner (loving or cowboy; see"podnuh") or Stockholm syndrome hostageness. In short, if at some point in the relationship there exists the possibility of accidentally using someone else's toothbrush, then this applies.
* * *
The first thing I had to figure out was What kind of mate do I want? That question helped me determine where I should concentrate my search efforts.
For example, if I wanted to find someone who was athletic, sporty, or at least didn’t get winded getting off the couch, I might want to skip scouting the electronics store. If I had any kind of artistic ability -or even artistic interest for that matter- and I wanted a lovely lady with whom I could sneer at fancy paintings through condescension usually reserved for the French (it's okay, I can say stuff like that, I once ate a croissant) then I might sign up for a pottery class or something and try the old "Oh fiddlesticks, I just can't seem to get this" routine so that I might be able to re-enact that classic scene in Ghost. Or, if I were interested in meeting a female human whose goal in life was to stop deforestation, I'm sure I could have gone to any controversial clear cutting operation and I'd be sure to find all sorts of people out there tied to trees in protest. I would bet there's no better place to spark up a meaningful conversation then when two idealistic goobers are strapped to a tree together.
Anyway, targeted mate-finding would have been the way to go but, like I said, I did none of that. I was "gently coerced" into going someplace where serendipity saw to it that I would find my future wife, and it all worked out.
So get out there, you studs and stud-ettes. Go mingle, get to know people who do what you do, and bring them home to meet the folks. And if that just sounds like too much work, you can always try PretendingtobeChristiantofindsomecleannookie.net or PlentyofSiphilous.com. (Did you just try clicking that? You did, you sly dog, you. Don't lie.)
So, long before I even had to pretend studying for my senior high school exams, I had me a lovely young lady by my side to help fill my afternoons and weekends, and maybe only sometimes in the pursuit of learning anatomy.
She was a fine girlfriend indeed, with promise of eventually becoming a beautiful bride, mother, and responsible taxpayer. She was fun, adventurous, practical and affordable, all qualities you'd want in a fine woman (or even a personal vehicle.)
And I can’t stress this enough: affordability is a big one, boys and girls. You want to find yourself a good ol' fashioned down-to earth kinda life partner, one who won't break the bank every time they step outside in the pursuit of impressing fellow idiots. Quick rule: If the person you are courting insists on dressing their labradoodle in designer pet ware, guard your wallet like a mother badger would her young, and RUN AWAY! In fact, it is your civic duty to make sure those kinds of human parasites do not reproduce in the first place. And be sure to pepper spray them as you flee for good measure.
Now, sometimes society- and in most cases, religion- tend to influence people's next step in a relationship after dating someone for a respectable amount of time. I'm talking about the hallowed tradition of merging belongings with one another and finding discreet methods of destroying the ugliest of them without getting blamed. This is also known as the classic act of “moving in together”.
Some people (mostly religious types) would argue that living together should never take place before marriage. And though I’m somewhat religious (and will undoubtedly ramp up my piousness to full-bore zealot when I’m sliding into my deathbed), I would be the first to say nay-nay. Open toilet seats, frayed toothbrushes, piles of hair stuck to the shower walls, smooth peanut butter, country music, the dog-earing of paperbacks; you just can't get that kind of insight into a person's troubled soul by merely asking questions. You need to experience that shit first hand.
And because it's far easier to make up my own facts to support my claims, 98% of divorces are a direct result of people not spending enough time together pre-nuptually and learning some hard truths that only living in close quarters for an irritating amount of time can adequately provide. The other 2% divorce rate is due to asparagus spears.
So, think of "living in sin" as a trial period where you get to "try out" your potential mate for life before you even have to worry about putting a deposit on a banquet hall. You don't even need to be engaged to enjoy this little preview of what life would be like together! Just start shoving some of your stuff into their place and hide their ugly crap in the closet for "safekeeping" 'cause, hey, that ain't the image you're trying to maintain here.
Now, I know I might come off like a big-shot know-it-all with all the right answers to couples' psychology with a "real enough" printed-off-the-Interweb certificate to back it all up with. Aaaand that I should be paid handsomely for all this high-quality mentoring I'm doing here. Feel free to do so, by the way, I won't stop you.
But the truth is, this is all just from personal experience. And isn't that how it works nowadays? Experts are overrated anyway. Once someone has experienced something even just a single time, they become perfectly qualified to throw the hefty weight of that singular experience wherever they please.
"Ayup. Definitely the fuel injectors, that there's yer problem. I had them go on me one day in a completely unrelatable circumstance."
"My transmission fell out. It's laying on the highway...hmm, right there."
"Myeah...never know, I guess. Still... I'd bet fuel injectors. Or the air filter."
My point is, I'm an expert in marriage, so listen up.
But enough with methodology. You want to know if it's worth it. So here's the skinny.
Having a partner by your side in this crazy, mixed up world is by far the greatest thing you could ever have in life. To be so intimately known by a person you love and trust, well, there's just nothing better.
Someone who knows how you like your coffee and steak done (both bloody), someone who shares your opinions concerning the important stuff (like how to mess with the kids), and someone who will give you a foot rub without being asked (and only if you've earned it,) is a rare gift indeed.
But it's not all rainbows and minnows, of course. Good relationships take work. And sometimes things change, because people change as they grow older, and on more levels than you'd find on Donkey Kong.
Tune in next week for PART 2 of my Spouse Review! There we’ll get into the meat of things, including the tough parts about relationships and the ointments you can use to avoid disappointment! Thanks for reading, hope this helps on your quest for mutuality.
“But what if there are bears on the plane?”
“Sir, I can assure you there are no bears on the plane.”
“Have you personally checked the plane yourself? For bears in particular, I mean? ‘Cause sometimes when you’re just looking around for general hazards you might miss ‘em, because your mind isn’t deliberately looking for bears, I mean. I can understand that, happens to me too. Like when I’m making sure I’ve got both kids in the car after going grocery shopping. To be honest, most times I’m just doing a quick headcount. But it’s those times that only mid-point on the drive home do I notice in the mirror that one of ‘em’s Hispanic all of a sudden and-“
“Sir, there are no bears on any plane-“
“What about a zoological transport plane? Maybe our plane was hired as one just prior to our flight and they missed one? Maybe a cub in the overhead bins?”
“Pepper spray, and this INCLUDES your bear spray, is a restricted product in aviation transportation. I have no choice but to confiscate it, period.”
… Damn. She was tough.
“If I slipped you ten bucks would you keep it for me ‘till I get back?”
Nothing but a stern look was her reply.
“Ooo! And I’ll even throw in a pack of Fruit n’ Veggie gummies?” I pulled out a children’s snack packet out of my back pocket.
She was no doubt on the verge of handcuffing me when my wife yanked me (a touch harshly, I might add) towards the rear of the lineup for airport security, muttering something under her breath, probably asking sweet baby Jesus for another mug of spiritual strength. In hindsight, she might have saved me the uncomfortable awkwardness of a body-cavity search (I mean, are you supposed to maintain eye contact with them during the exam? Is dinner with the agent a pre-requisite? I just never know how to behave in public.)
We didn’t mean to bring the bear spray. It just kinda hitched a ride with us, like a capsaicin stowaway. We unfolded the stroller at the airport, and voilà, there it was, our ever-present backwoods trail companion. The bags were checked, so sneaking it into the baggage hold was not an option, and we’d parked remotely, having taken a courtesy bus from the parkade. I tried leaving the spray at the “information/lost and found” booth, but seeing as how we were booked for a wickedly early flight, the booth was still unattended and quite closed, attendants decidedly preferring to deal with bear-spray wielding idiots at a more sensible hour.
Still wandering around while carrying my young daughter, I briefly thought about ditching the aerosol can behind a bench or dark corner somewhere and hope it would still be there upon our return over a week later, but I’ve seen too many terrorist action movies to know that the multitude of security cameras keeping an eye on things would probably betray me, leaving my wife to wonder where she went wrong so many years ago. Sigh. Always the bad boys.
So, I had no choice but to allow the lovely, physically superior security officer to take my bear spray while I witnessed little stacks of winged money flapping away with it, and joined my family at the gate to board a (supposedly) bear-less plane bound for California.
A cousin was getting married, and what better excuse for a stretched-out family vacation? A little mountain getaway for a few days, with relaxing trail walks and games by a fire, followed by a beautiful wedding with delicious free food, and finishing with a sunny visit to San Diego and the aquatic wonders of Seaworld with the family… it had all the promise of a terrific trip, and really, it was.
Yes, yes, the kids drove us nuts a lot of the time, what with the disrupted sleep schedules and the constant stimulus and the acclimating to eating out all the time and new toys and souvenirs and lockable bedroom doors and LIGHT SWITCHES THAT ARE SUDDENLY WITHIN REACH WHILE TRYING TO COOK SOME FRIGGIN’ DINNER?!!
All par for the course when it comes to travelling with children, I suppose. Or having children, for that matter. But the smiles of new experiences and discoveries make it all worth it, even if the checkbook doesn’t balance once the travel bills come in. To a point, of course. We had a good enough read on our munchkins to know that cashing in our RSP’s for admission to the bigger theme parks would be like hucking pearls at piggies. Seaworld was a good bet, though; ya just can’t go wrong with dolphins.
And California’s nice. Good people, easy climate, and oh good gravy, are the roads ever smooooooth… We really noticed the difference this time for some reason (maybe it’s a sign of age; I’m now more concerned with taxpayer stuff.) While our roads are subjected to the relentless onslaught of seasons (don’t give me that lip, California. You have summer, that’s it. Any cold spots you have actually belong to Oregon,) the mind-boggling freeways of southern California are watched over by fairies and sprites and elves, where every journey is like floating in the clouds.
Except for the drivers.
Can you believe we never received a single wave from merging traffic? Nothing! I tells ya, they were lucky to be sharing the road with a nice, laid-back Canadian on vacation.
But I could understand that, really. I’m sure very few people pick “Wave appreciatively at fellow motorists” when they register their vehicles. Don’t know what I’m talking about? Obviously, you’re not from around there. Let me lay it out for you, my friend.
When we got our rental car we were able to choose which laws we would abide by, kind of a motoring à-la-carte thingy. It’s California law. Don’t ask me why, I just vacay down there. There’s no maximum, but you need a minimum of 5 “law abides” for any car on the road. We scrolled down an expansive list while our children went through the luggage of people standing in line at the rental agency.
• Use of turn indicator while changing lanes.
We’re good little Canadians. Of course we picked that one. If we’d known no one else in California bothered with it, we would have skipped it, choosing to flip lanes Indianapolis 500 style. I should have clued in when “Turn indicator” was a hardware option when we selected our vehicle. Cost an extra four bucks.
• Speed beyond safe limits, up to Warp Five.
Shit, why not? We were on vacation. Less time on the road meant more time relaxing. Oh wait, I remembered we had kids. Relaxing isn’t in their programming. Eh, thought we’d try it anyway. Good thing too, ‘cause I’m pretty sure everyone had that one. Any freeway we were on, the flow of traffic was set minimum at 10mph faster than the posted limit. Once, we were chugging along with the rest of the freeway goers at 90mph (signs meekly displayed a max of 65mph), and a Sheriff was in the mix, not pulling over a soul, no camera flashes anywhere. All seven lanes (this is just one direction, mind you) were packed, wall to wall traffic as far as the eye could see, and eerily quiet as we moved in unison far ahead the wall of sound. Obviously, the Californians got organized ahead of time. “What’re they gonna do, pull us all over?! Yeah right, dude. Weeeeeeehaw!”
We topped off our selections with Use headlights at night, Stop at most stop signs, and Mandatory bird-flipping when honked at. I’m not much for bird-flipping other motorists, but hey, when in Rome. I didn’t want to miss out on tradition, you know?
But we must have missed a few on that list, being distracted with the kids committing felonies and all that, because it seemed most drivers had selected something akin to Drive however the fuck you want because no one got pulled over for anything. Motorcycles zipped between cars on the dotted lines, drivers didn’t slow down in school zones. But, to be fair, the signs always stated ‘Maximum 25mph, WHEN CHILDREN PRESENT’. The hell is that?
“Your honor, we the defendant feel that my client should not be held responsible, because that kid really was a short sumbitch.”
*Wham* “Case dismissed. Next!”
…And not to mention passenger-less motorcycles in the carpool lane. Uhh, were we the only ones to see these guys?
But there is something about weaving through traffic like a cannonball racer bent on breaking the record. It’s a game, and if I were stuck dealing with a million other cars on multi-lane freeways on my way to work every day, I’d probably take it up right quick just to keep it interesting. Shoot, after the first day battling traffic I was on board. “Get ouddadaway, dammit! I’ve got some relaxin’ to do!”
But that stuff needs to stay in the states, I’ll tell ya. I like the laid-back I’ll-get-there-eventually attitude of driving up in Canada. Sure, the driving in the big cities can be a touch busy here in the Great White-Most-of-the-Time North, but it’s nothing compared to the likes of L.A. Did you know Mad Max Fury Road was filmed at the dropoff/pickup area at LAX airport? They didn’t even needed modded vehicles and makeup, that’s actual footage.
But it does give me an edge for when I get back on Canadian Roads. When I pull out at intersections now I’m leaps ahead of the other drivers, sometimes wondering if the light was still red when I stomped on the gas. My turn indicator lever is collecting dust from marginal use, and I see speed limit signs as more of a suggestion than – whoa! Barely missed that pothole… I’d better slow down.
Meh. It’s a nice day anyway, and the view is beautiful.