Category Archives: Friends

Failure is a Gift… and My Gifts Are Failures

Well, it’s about a month until the big event, and time to start the nightmare that is Christmas shopping.  Trying to buy other people something they want.  What a concept.  If they want it, and are over 16, and they have the means — or even if they don’t have the means but have a credit card — chances are they already bought it.

This makes shopping even harder, because now I have to think like a marketer, and identify an unmet need, and then fill it.  I need to buy people something they don’t even know they want, but that will delight them, ideally beyond their wildest dreams.  This is a tall order, and one that I have been known to take very seriously.

I’ve failed miserably at this in the past.  I used to be a sucker for gadgets. My first gift to my then boyfriend back in 1974 was a “hot lather machine” for shaving.  Seriously.  And I couldn’t WAIT for him to open it. He was barely old enough to shave, and somehow I thought that the only thing lacking in his life (now that he had me, the ultimate prize) was the foam that he put on his face before scraping it with something sharp, was too cold.  Life altering indeed.  Even more staggering is that he used it, but I think that’s just because we were in the early stages of relationship training where he still did what I said.

And I distinctly remember presenting my sisters with such technological wonders as nail dryers.  Because what girl hasn’t suffered  through the cruel hardship of having to wait for her nails to dry, or heaven forbid “wrecking” a freshly polished talon (which we all sported in the 70s) before it was sufficiently hardened?  Much like Dr. Drew, I was able to act as a Lifechanger and bestow upon them these nifty gadgets that would actually blow on your nails FOR you. Talk about luxury.  Ivana Trump had nothing on us.  I think that these gifts would have been more meaningful if my siblings were asthmatics or something, and blowing on their own nails presented more of a problem, but sadly these ladies have always enjoyed perfect health so I wasn’t able to have quite as dramatic an impact.

What other useless gadgets have I gifted, you ask?  Well, I’ve attempted in good faith to transport my sisters and girlfriends from their kitchen tables to luxurious spas, by providing them with the rare and coveted facial steamer.  So what if you can accomplish the same thing by leaning over your boiling kettle, or opening the oven door during broiling – at the time I was almost exclusively shopping at the high-class “Consumers Distributing” store, and from the picture in the catalogue it seemed like a definite  life changer, in an  elegant  “Calgon take me away” sense.

And remember back in the seventies when everyone smoked?  Well, everyone except my dad.  My mom chained smoke (God rest her soul – not a coincidence ).  So I was able to find the perfect gift to solve the problem of my dad’s constant bitching about secondhand smoke.  It was of course to buy her a ‘smokeless ashtray’.  I expected to win hands down the favourite child of the season award that year.  But surprisingly, turned out not to be a big hit.  Mom was annoyed because the thing basically smoked her cigarette down to the filter in seconds, as it was powerfully “inhaling”  the whole time it sat in the ashtray.  Consequently her number of smokes per day skyrocketed.  And while Dad was hard of hearing, the industrial sounding hum that this thing emanated seriously impacted his enjoyment of Bonanza reruns.  Conclusion:  total bust.

 And sometimes, without intending to, in my zeal to dazzle I guess I could be downright insulting.  But, keeping in mind that I aspired to improve lives in a similar fashion to Richard Simmons and  “Oprah’s Life Class”, when my dear friends complain about cellulite, naturally I take that as a challenge to come to the rescue.  The quizzical (disbelieving?) expressions on the face of recipients whom you’ve just (at no small expense, might I add) gifted with an anti-cellulite product is something that must be seen.  Never mind that in my head I visualize them, because of me, now being able to rock their Daisy Dukes, and not in a “the People of Walmart” kind of way.  It’s true what they say, no good deed goes unpunished.

But I am not always on the giving end of crappy gadget gifts.  My husband gave me something for Christmas early in our married life, that signalled that indeed the honeymoon was over, and had me seriously questioning our compatibility.  My feelings were hurt and I couldn’t believe that he thought that this was a suitable gift for me, his trophy wife.  It has gone largely unused, but I’ve kept it over the years, just for spite. 

It’s Black Friday and I’m hitting the mall.  Let the games begin.



Filed under Aging, Fashion, Friends, Humor, Memories, Thats Life

Hockey Parenting – Not a Spectator Sport

You know the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull? Lipstick.
Sarah Palin

Honestly never expected that I would ever be quoting Sarah, but just spent a great weekend travelling north with friends to see their son play hockey, and it seems applicable.  Their son plays in an elite provincial league which for many is a stepping stone to the NHL.  He’s 19 and lives 8 hrs away from home.

This young guy is such an amazing talent – but I just can’t understand  how he  got this far with our friends for parents. For one thing, they don’t go to any of the practices, to help the coach with strategy and whatnot.  They don’t have the coach on speed-dial, and I didn’t once witness them critiquing the plays or offering suggestions.  My son played hockey, and even though he mysteriously chose to stop playing once he became a teenager, I’m sure he couldn’t have had the stellar house league career he did, were it not for the fact that his dad was the coach, offering tips and direction 24-7,  and had I not been dedicated enough to faithfully stand  and bang on the glass for every practice and game , yelling helpful reminders such as “SKATE!” and “SHOOT!” and “GET IT OUT OF THERE!”

Instead,  this poor young man’s parents just watched and made noise only at the obvious times — even when he got a penalty, whereas everyone knows that if you stand up and make wild hand gestures whilst loudly screaming things like “COME ON!!!” or “HOMEEEEEER” (where applicable), that the referee will see the error of his ways and the next penalty will go to the opposition.  (His team ultimately won both games, but no thanks to these spectators.)

Plus, they sit in the stands with the rest of the audience, and if someone around them comments on their son’s play, they don’t even respond with a normal reaction of (if a positive comment): “That’s my son out there”, or if a negative comment*: “Shut your effing mouth and watch the game”, or blast an air horn in their face to set them straight or anything – they just sit there like bumps on a log.  Also, my suggestion that we paint their son’s name on our bellies for the home opener fell on deaf ears.  They politely declined.  (I think it may have been related to my caesarean scar but I can’t be sure.)

Then, the part after the game when people gather outside the dressing room door to wait for the team, they could and in my opinion should take this opportunity to network with the media and say things like, “Do you know who I am?”  Like honestly, ever heard of Walter Gretzky?  That kind of press doesn’t just happen on its own you know.  They also should take the time to talk to the other parents to give them specifics on how their kids could step things up, and give examples of how the game could have gone better if their kid had only passed the puck to their offspring.  But no, they just stand there, smiling and chatting, and are satisfied instead with a quick hug from their boy when he emerges from the dressing room.

And they completely missed the boat on the fact that the opposing team’s bus was right outside, and they could have easily taken the opportunity to put the fear into that team about the remaining season by at the very least, issuing veiled threats as the players boarded,  or by slashing at least one tire.  At one point I thought things were going to get real interesting because after the game they were marching purposefully toward the opposing team’s bus in search of one particular player.  They seemed very focused and intent on finding this guy, and I thought “FINALLY!” and racked my brain to remember what this player had done during the game that they were going to get retribution for!  Turns out, they were just trying to find this guy because he used to be on the same team as their son, and they wanted to say “Hi” and ask about his parents.    Hopeless. 

Actually, the only real hockey related comments from mom were health and safety related, like is the chin strap on his helmet tight enough to protect his noggin, and did the team issue a coat that was going to be warm enough in this cold climate.  Two words, mom and dad – embarrassing much?

*Pure speculation on my part -there were no negative comments


Filed under Family, Friends, Sports

What happens in Vegas … is a blur

Just flew in from Vegas, and boy are my arms tired.  Almost as tired as that joke. It was my first time ever in Sin City, and when your group of four ladies has a combined age of 225, it’s a somewhat different experience than the one depicted in the movie “The Hangover”.

Firstly, I think Priceline has a bit of sick sense of humour.  That’s the site where you plug in your bid and what area you want to stay, and then if your bid is accepted it books you at a hotel without letting you approve it first.  It’s also the one that has William Shatner as a spokesman, and he must have a dark side even darker than the one he sometimes vented on  Mr. Spock.  Otherwise, I don’t know why else they would book a group of women celebrating a 60th birthday, into the hotel on the strip that’s known for having the “hottest, most action packed pool in Vegas, complete with DJ”.    We couldn’t wait to get into our string bikinis and let the masses feast their eyes on us, bat wing arms, surgery scars, spider veins and muffin tops be damned . The pool turned out to be even more action packed than advertised, and while kind of entertaining to watch, we decided not to actually swim, for fear of contracting an STD or worse – an unwanted menopausal pregnancy.

I found Vegas particularly exhausting, because as a mom of 20 somethings, I was continually fighting the urge to dispense my sage advice around to the young girls wearing impossibly high stilettos and outfits comprised of small pieces of string and glitter.   I wanted to be an evangelist for good.  You would think a tattooed, fist pumping, young girl grinding up against a chiseled guy at the bar would be keen to learn about the connection between 6 inch heels and inevitable bunions that will eventually have her busting Hulk-like out of her footwear – but you would be wrong.  Even the show-and-tell part, where the Crocs came off for the big reveal didn’t do the trick.

I never really got the hang of the slot machines either.  I prefer the ATM drill, where it spits money out at you if you are lucky enough to remember the right numbers.  It just seems wrong to sit there pushing perfectly good $20 bills into a machine for the privilege of listening to bells and whistles and then staring trancelike at a row of pictures of fruit and gold bricks, without having a clue about what it is that I want to come up.  I found Pac Man complicated, so I’m pretty  well lost at “Progressive Flaming 7’s with 20 lines”.

I know lots of people love to play the slots, but I had trouble concentrating, when merely a few feet away there were scantily clad young ladies the age of my daughters, wearing red and black bustiers and thong underwear dancing on the tables to a deafening beat.   I wanted to let them know that in a flash they will go from $20 dollar bills stuck in their thigh-high fishnet stockings, to Kleenex stuck in their sleeves, and they ought to start preparing for that eventuality with a little dignity.  They were really distracting, and I wanted to bring them a robe and a sandwich, and mostly a vat load of Purell.

We did have lots of laughs, but in true mean-girls fashion, they were usually at each other’s expense.  Highlights included my sister getting off at the end of the moving sidewalk in the airport, then realizing she had gone the wrong way, and she promptly tried to get back on, heading the other way.  Like it was going to magically change direction.  (She thinks the world revolves around her).  Naturally it tried to toss her off, which still makes me smile when I think of it.

However, we were able to stay true to one part of the Hangover movie . No, it wasn’t a tiger in the bathroom.  In spite of not actually having been roofied, we did have considerable difficulty remembering stuff.    We had many false alarms, where each of us separately thought we lost something critical – a wallet, a passport, etc., only to find it shortly thereafter,  –  sometimes after having made a scene like chasing a cab down the driveway or rooting through the garbage in the airport – and always in a location where we ourselves had placed it.  The worst memory lapse was the morning after “2 for 1 cocktails night” when we tried to remember who paid for dinner.  To make it easier on the waiter, I had paid the bill and the girls paid me.  At least some of them did.  Try as we might, we can’t remember who paid me and who didn’t.  We had to end up splitting the difference.

At this rate I think the next trip for the four of us might have to actually involve a tour bus and quite possibly, hanging onto a rope.  That’s fine, we’ll still be making memories … however fleeting they  may be.


Filed under Aging, Family, Friends, Travel

Best(ies) Ball

It’s almost golf season.  Well, technically it’s already golf season but the weather has been uncooperative so we haven’t made it out yet.  We 12 local women (give or take) have been golfing 9 holes quasi-faithfully once a week for about the past 10 years. (You might think that in that time I would have shown some improvement. You would be wrong.)

Our local course holds a weekly ladies night, coincidentally on the same night that we go out – but we don’t participate in it.  That’s because after 10 years of play together, we have customized and refined the rules somewhat.  Since we are such a mature, elite, finely tuned advanced golf playing unit, we can’t be integrated into the general ladies night population. Subtle differences in our playbook are:

  1. We have been known to call off the golf date without notice if any of these circumstances arise: a)Too Hot b) Too Cold c) Too Rainy d) Might Rain e) Too Windy f) Too much gossip to be realistically dealt with during the après golf session.
  2. We do not adhere to the dress code.  When it’s hot and menopausal out, the last thing you want is a collar.  We sometimes go with the tankini or muscle shirt.  Plus, golf shoes are not always the best fashion choice.  We live by the motto that “It is better to look good than to golf good.” (Grammar is not a strong suit either.)
  3. We walk, we don’t cart.  If we participated in real ladies night we would be expected to cart it, but we enjoy our leisurely strolls down the fairway, even when the Marshall is lurking along behind us, trying to hurry us along.  (He is never successful.  As if we got this far in our lives without being able to ignore an irritated man.)
  4. We don’t keep score.  Well that’s not true.  A couple of the girls who are good (and I use the term “girls” loosely) secretly keep their own scores. And when I say good, these individuals could play on the Pro Circuit.  (I amuse myself by commenting “good try” every time they knock one down the middle of the fairway.  It never gets old.  They in turn, try to look busy during all of my practice shots that we both know are in reality, swings and misses.)
  5. We take snack breaks.  Golfing is hungry work. On any given night, our golf bags are filled with ju-jubes, trail mix, Pringles, granola bars – and that’s just to tide us over until the post-golf fellowship session at somebody’s house, featuring beer, chips, cheese trays, multiple dips, fruit and veggie platters and a selection of delectable sweets.  Luckily we’ve learned that our golf shorts must offer the same flexibility as turkey pants.
  6. We are sometimes noisy. The whole notion of silence when someone is driving or putting or whatever just doesn’t work for us.  We have a lot of material to cover.  On average each of the players has 2.5 children, and we need weekly status updates on each of them, including job prospects, romantic couplings, changes of address and news of any impending or existing grandchildren, so at 12 women x 5 minutes per update – think  “The View” on steroids.  We can’t be simply shutting up every few minutes, we’re all accomplished multi-taskers and it’s just not a good use of time.
  7. We are sometimes excessively noisy.   When something completely unexpected happens, like the ball goes in the hole without the benefit of 4 or 5 putts and a well placed tap with the foot wedge,  we have been known to scream, jump and carry on a bit like  pubgoers did when Canada won the men’s Olympic hockey game .
  8. We sometimes use profanities.   Like when we (and in this case, when I say “we” I mean “I”) yell “Whore” instead of “Fore”, at the foursome of our friends in front of us, when they are in imminent danger of being hit by one of our balls.  This almost never happens, because they tend not to walk in the bush or wade in the water where my balls usually gravitate.
  9. We have been known to sneak onto parts of the course we’re not supposed to.    Every year, for the past 10 years, the SAME 9 holes.  Honestly.  The golf course business has done really well, and expanded to a spectacular 27 hole course –  yet we are expected to play the SAME 9 holes.    Sometimes, when nobody is looking … and things are really slow in front of us … we just make a break for the nice, newer sections of the course.  If discovered, we have no trouble pulling off the old “disoriented” routine.
  10. Sometimes we lose control.  (And in this case when I say “we” I mean “they”) When something really remarkable happens, like somebody chips it in or gets a hole in 2 or 3, all out hysteria, flatulence and/or mild incontinence has been known to ensue.

Even though there has been surprisingly little effort on their part to recruit us, we must nevertheless decline joining the local ladies night group.  Sorry about your loss – you can keep your carts and your scorecards and your collared shirts and your etiquette.     In short, after 10 years of golfing, our standards are set pretty high, and we’re a little too discriminating to play with just anybody. See you on the links next week.  Weather and other stuff permitting.

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Filed under Friends, Sports