Saturday, December 15, 2007

Cold in Canadia

Picture above is courtesy of Brian Swetek over at Time to You'll have to Google it because I'm on a Mac and nothing is the same anymore.

So, I've arrived in Mississauga, popular suburb of Canadia and official home of the strip mall. My friend Simon, who is also here calls them strip malls. I'm not even sure what a strip mall is, but I like the sound of it.

I am travelling with my friend Kate, who stepped in to accompany me at the last minute due to my incredible fear of flying. It wasn't too bad on the first flight. I clutched my little Buddha in my hand and thought of hugs and kisses. I tell myself in these moments that everyone gets as nervous at flying as I do, but I know this isn't actually true. You can tell by the look on people's faces. Some people are just chilling out, reading, doing sudoku - I'm quietly confident that these people are not fixing their gaze and silently screaming, 'We're going too fast, we're going too fast, nothing on earth should be going this fast, my ears are exploding, AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHH!" Or maybe they're just convering it well.

Kate said that I seem to deal with the fear pretty well, and this was probably the calmest I've ever been on a flight, but even so, my most comfort comes from just acclimatizing myself to the fact that I'm about to fall out of the sky/crash into another plane/pass out during a spin-dizzy descent following a bird hitting the pilot's windscreen, which doesn't seem to me the most positive way of dealing with fear. Stil, as Miss Sally says, you gotta make it work for you.

It is damn cold in Canadia. Minus 20. There's snow and everything. On the night we flew in, Howard, Simon, Kate and I end up in a restaurant, Moxie's, drinking pinot griogio and laughing a lot before heading back to the house in Mississauga, where we had a snowball at about one in the morning. We're already friends with the neighbours, as you can imagine.

My friend Glenn tried to convince on the night before we left that temperatures this low would freeze our eyeballs. I laughed this one clean off the football pitch of ideas.

"Do you not think we would hear a bit more about that if it were true, Glenn?" I ask, "Do you not think they'd put something in the tourist guides - 'Please bring goggles on your trip if you are travelling to Toronto in winter, as your eyeballs may freeze in their sockets, causing you considerable pain, certain inconvenience and permanent blindness.'"

"It's true," he insists, displaying that incredible Capricorn trait of ignoring you and contradicting you all at the same time.

"Google it," I command. I no longer believe anything that google can't generate at least fifty thousand hits for.

He draws a blank and is kind enough to mumble something about it being a mistake. Glenn is rarely wrong and I know this hurts him. As one of his closest friends, that's all I need and I kindly let it go.

It is bloody cold here though, and I had forgotten that Canadia, like the USA has not learnt yet to put a door on cubicles in public toilets that actually fills the gap made for it. I wrote about this on the Stateside blog last year, but had forgotten. Why leave an inch wide gap around the toilet door? No one outside wants to see me urinating (I'm assuming, and fervently hoping) and I don't want to watch people queuing while I urinate. It's too unEnglish for words. Except these ones, obviously.

My friend Rodders just chastised me on facebook for leaving without saying goodbye, and I need to apologise to more than just her for this, I have abandoned almost everyone without a goodbye as it was all so last minute. I'm only here for a week, so fear ye not, England. We fly back on Thursday night and arrive on Friday, so I will return in time for a cool Yule.

I know it's sappish, but I don't care. I miss you all, of course I do, but I miss James a lot. I've told him this already via email, but I can't tell him too many times or he'll I think I'm overly emotional crazy (I'm certain he hasn't really noticed this aspect fo my personality yet, so don't mention it if you see him, pretend like I'm secure and well-adjusted and for God's sake don't mention the therapy years). He's travelled loads and for long periods of time and he says he never misses anyone. So if you see him, make out like I'm totally stiff-upper lipping it. He doesn't read the blog, so it can just be our little secret......

Monday, December 10, 2007

My weirdness is more benign

Stephen, one of our favourite Peace Cafe Irregulars comes in with some copies of New Scientist, which causes my inner geek to dance the Happy Geek.

"Usual?" I ask him, feeling a little like Carla from Cheers.

He nods and takes a seat. I join him and we sit companionably at the table.

"Who's been in today?" he asks.

I name one our regulars.

"He was in most of the day, sat in the back on his laptop." This is not literally true.

"He was so quiet out back, I kept forgetting he was there."

"Was he watching the golf?" Stephen asks.


"Yeah, he likes to watch the golf on his laptop. That's usually what he's doing."

"Ohhhhh," I exhale, with new understanding, "I always assumed he was looking at porn!"

Stephen laughs. He has a genuine, loud laugh that always makes me feel about three times funnier than I actually am.

"You thought he was sat in the back, watching porn, and you thought this was ok?" he giggles at me, "He could be sat out there wanking, and that's ok?"

I protest.

"I never said he was wanking! Nor did I imply it was ok to sit in the back and look at porn. But working here is not like working in the libraries, where you had to keep a really close eye on what people were doing."

"I've heard bad things about libraries," he agrees.

"You would not believe it," I confirm, "It is my strongly held belief that there are people who only get their rocks off by wanking in public libraries."

The woman at the table behind us, sat scribbling in a notebook (by which I mean she was sat on a chair, not in a notebook), starts to giggle uncontrollably. In hindsight, I'm hoping she wasn't writing a review, because I don't think James will congratulate me for that one.

"There must be a name for that," I muse, "For people who get off on wanking in the library."

I Google search 'person who wanks in libraries' while we continue talking.

I don't find a specific term for this particular preference, but I do find a website with a discussion forum on wanking. Brilliant. Someone has posted a satire on an article on the health benefits of walking, but have undertaken the detailed and hilarious task (for which I have immense admiration) of replacing the word 'walk' with 'wank'. Priceless. This contains such precious gems as:

Regular wanking, like all ‘aerobic’ exercise, can have a dramatic effect on cardiorespiratory fitness or ‘aerobic power’. Regular exercise carried out three times a week for 30 minutes or more at the right intensity will result in increases of aerobic power (Davison & Grant 1993)

The intensity of wanking for fitness benefits varies according to the age and fitness of the individual, but generally, ‘brisk is best’.

A simple way to work out how briskly you should wank is to aim to wank “fast without overexertion”. You should just about be able to hold a conversation while you are wanking - the ‘talk test’.

I show it to Stephen, who tires of it after a few sentences.

"It's kind of based on just one joke, isn't it?" he points out.

I am still laughing at it. "I know! Brilliant!"

Incidentally, if you do an image search for 'person who wanks in libraries' (I can only assure you that I did it by accident while about to search for an image of a library), one of the results is a picture of Arnold Schwarzeneger.

In other news, I have a blog question:

Would you go out with someone who slept in a coffin?