Years ago, my beloved friend, CW, and I were sitting down to dinner.
We’d met not long before and were still very much in the ‘getting to know each other’ phase of our relationship.
Things were going very well. We were both quite fond of one another. Conversation was light, entertaining and quite enjoyable. We shared many things in common and were very much ‘on the same page’ when it came to most subjects.
One of the things we had in common was a love for Chinese food and this dinner featured several of our favourite dishes.
We were enjoying dessert. I began to tell her a story from my misspent youth. I looked down at my plate, marshaling my thoughts. When I looked up, judge my surprise when I saw my beloved CW sporting an orange smile.
(Not CW herself… but a reasonable facsimile of the Orange Smile)
She caught me in mid-sentence… which I suspect was her intention all along. I just sort of stared at her as she sat there, eyes twinkling, with her large orange peel grin.
For a moment or two, I didn’t know what to make of this turn of events. While CW had a wonderful sense of humour and could joke and kid around with the best of them, I had to confess that this little piece of schtick caught me unawares.
I burst out laughing. I couldn’t help myself. It was just so ridiculous… so hilariously stupid. How can you NOT love an orange smile, especially one sprung upon you so deftly as this one was upon me.
(Still not CW herself but this one is well executed. Note the coquettish tilt to the head. Excellent!)
CW later confessed that the expression on my face when I first looked up caused her a bit of concern. Apparently, rather than registering disbelief, the old mug had a ‘this girl’s a loonie’ aspect to it. Fortunately, CW is a bit of a loonie but in the nicest possible way.
I’m not sure if I’ve ever told her this but, to me, Chinese food is now inexorably linked with the image of that orange smile … so much so that I have been known to chuckle in the middle of having a spring roll or hot and sour soup.
When asked “what’s so flippin’ funny?” I can only shrug and shake my head.
The other day, I received a series of text messages from my son, Exhibit Two, asking some questions about preparing for The Upcoming Zombie Apocalypse.
Me being a ‘Noted Zombie Expert’ (in addition to his dear old Daddio), it was only natural that he come to me.
I put this question to him… a question I ask most people who come to me with ‘Zombie Preparedness 101′ type questions…
Let’s say there is some kind of disaster in your area… a toxic spill or some nasty disease or chemicals get loose in the vicinity… and everyone is confined to their homes for one week, unable to leave their houses for 7 days. Could you survive?
Oh, and by the way… on the third day, the electricity goes out.
(Exhibit Two blending in with the Zombie Apocalypse background)
How would you manage? Take yourself through the process. Imagine the situation and what you would need.
First and foremost…always remember… you need about one gallon (approximately four litres) of fresh water per person per day. A person can go weeks without food… but no drinkable water at all? You’re looking at about three days… four at the most.
Some other simple things leap to mind. Non-perishable food items, preferably food that has a long or even an almost indefinite expiry period. This, by the way, is why Twinkies and Strawberry Pop-Tarts are the Official Snacks of The Upcoming Zombie Apocalypse!
Think in terms of food that does not require any cooking (i.e. food that is ‘ready to eat’).
Here’s another food preservation tip… Honey is the only food that never goes bad. It may turn hard over time… but it never spoils.
Other good stuff to have on hand. Candles, batteries. You’re probably going to want to know what the heck is going on, so a hand-crank radio is a good idea.
You’re going to want to stock up the medicine cabinet with a lot of the basics and not-so-basics in case someone gets sick during the week-long shut down. A good first aid kit is another good idea. And not one of those chintzy cheap $15 jobs people stuff into their car trunks and never see again. I mean a proper fully stocked first aid kit with everything you will need for most eventualities from a broken or fractured bone to a seriously deep cut.
Everyone should now how to administer First Aid. Up here in The Great White North, the St. Johns Ambulance organization is a wonderful source of information. Everyone in the home old enough to do so should take basic CPR and other First Aid courses through St. John Ambulance or some other such service.
(THIS is the kind of cut I’m talking about!)
For the young ones, a good way to prepare them for The Upcoming Zombie Apocalypse (or any other disaster or emergency situation) is to sign them up for the Boy Scouts, Girls Scouts or Girl Guides, or any one of the many military cadet programs. Up here in Canada, we always sea Air Cadets and Sea Cadets… teenagers who are being trained not only in military subjects but also, naturally, basic survival skills.
Also, over the course of one week, people in our fast-paced society are, even in a disaster, going to be really bored really fast. I suggest having some games on hand to while away the time. But I personally would avoid Monopoly. People have been murdered over Monopoly. Avoid it at all costs is my recommendation.
As I suggested to Exhibit Two, a nice place to start when one is preparing for The Upcoming Zombie Apocalypse (or any other natural or man-made disaster) is the Centres for Disease Control & Prevention, especially their Preparedness 101 page for The Upcoming Zombie Apocalypse.
One final word of caution. Depending on the nature of the disaster, it may be days or even weeks before authorities can bring things into line again. In a serious ongoing disaster situation, zombie or otherwise, the most dangerous risk to your personal safety, especially in the first few days, will most likely come from other humans. People panicking, looting, rioting or just being desperate and losing control. Just think of your neighbours and their kids, hungry and dying of thirst… and they know you have food and water. Only the thinnest veneer of civilization separates us from chaos and anarchy. Those who remember Hurricane Katrina and the Louisiana Superdome will know what I am talking about.
It’s pretty much common knowledge that when a guy gets sick, he turns into a big, kvetchy, insufferable sucky-baby.
Why is this?
Well, I have a theory that I developed this past week when I myself was down with a cold.
It started as a cough last Wednesday, then developed into a pretty darn annoying cough by Thursday. By Friday, it was a bad cough with sniffles. By Friday night, I was quite sick. I went to bed early and woke up Saturday morning feeling awful. This continued through the weekend with me spending a good chunk of it either in bed or sitting in my trusty leather wing back chair feeling miserable. Fortunately, I live alone so no one was subjected to my beasty society except me.
Suffice it to say that I had a lot of time to ponder this profound question. Why are guys such sucks when they’re sick?
We’re generally OK with putting up with the big stuff. Death, divorce, loss of employment, etc. We take in stride, to a large extent. But give us the flu or even a common cold and we’re quite pathetic. The whining, the whimpering, the kicked-puppy look. It’s quite sad, really.
I think it goes something like this…
Women are used to physical discomfort. Periods, pregnancy, morning sickness, swelling, child birth, bloating, water weight, cramps… the whole nine yards of being female. Guys, on the other hand, don’t have to go through any of that.
They way I try to explain it to women is as follows: Try to picture in your mind your best day of the month. The one day where you have no aches or cramps or swelling or anything. The one day of the month where you feel absolutely fantastic. Got that firmly in your mind? Good. Now imagine having that day every day for the rest of your life. THAT’S what it’s like being a guy. You feel great all the time! So when guys get sick, it seems like the end of the world because it is such a foreign feeling to us.
I try to keep things in perspective. It’s just a cold or the flu or whatever this thing is that’s making me feel so horrible. At least I can afford medicine and have a warm, dry place to live and a bed where I can lie down while I cough all night. On Friday afternoon, I made a big pot of chicken soup (thank G-d for Jewish penicillin!) and I have an entire library from which to choose what to read.
But the most sobering reality check came just after Sabbath when I turned on the computer and learned that about 150 rockets had been launched so far over the weekend from Gaza into southern Israel. Almost 300 in all over the weekend. My daughter, Exhibit One, lives in the seaside city of Ashdod, well within rocket range of Gaza.
Nothing like a nice dose of the real world to put one’s petty problems into perspective.
There is a song they did (Paralyzer) that does, however, sound familiar to me.
But the name ‘Finger Eleven’ did not become burned into my memory until one lovely Sunday afternoon when my dear friends Ray, JM and JM’s son were enjoying a lazy lunch at Mossimo’s, a local pizza place.
As sometimes happens, the topic rolled around to music and bands and who was on tour and what was coming to Toronto, Hamilton or Buffalo. We chatted about the bands we’ve seen and the concerts we’d attended.
It was about the point – mid-pizza, I would say – that JM’s son mentioned the band Finger Eleven.
The reaction was swift and severe.
“F#@k Finger Eleven!” Ray shouted.
Mossimo’s ground to a halt.
The three of us froze for a moment, shocked into silence and a bit stunned.
JM and I then burst our laughing. Poor JM’s son was still nonplussed which, of course, only made me and JM laugh even harder.
Ray, as always, put on his customary boyish smile, grabbed a piece of pizza and ate, enjoying the reaction to his over-reaction.
It is too easy these days to lose friends. Ray and JM are too important to me. I don’t want us to drift apart and find out that several months have gone by without one of us reaching out to the other, even to get together for a coffee.
So that is why, ever since that lazy Sunday afternoon, Ray and I have used ”F#@k Finger Eleven!” (or FF11 for short) as a kind of rallying cry. It makes for a nice text message and is a fun way for us to keep track of each other and to remind ourselves of who our friends are.
Finger Eleven is a Canadian rock band from Burlington, Ontario, formed in 1989. They have currently released five studio albums, with their album The Greyest of Blue Skies bringing them into the mainstream. The 2003 self-titled album achieved Gold status in the United States and Platinum in Canada, largely from the success of the single “One Thing“, which marked the band’s first placing on the US Hot 100 Chart at number 16. Their 2007 album Them vs. You vs. Me launched the single “Paralyzer“, which went on to top numerous charts including the Canadian Hot 100 and both US rock charts, as well as reaching #6 on the US Hot 100 and #12 on the Australian Singles Chart. They won the Juno Award for Rock Album of the Year in 2008. (Wikepedia)
Many years ago, when I worked at a law office in downtown Toronto, I had a friend with whom I would love to lunch.
I am using the word lunch here as a verb because when it came to my friend, lunch was not just a noun. It was definitely not a thing. With him, lunch was alive, it was something you did. It was an action, an activity – and an active one at that, if I may be permitted the redundancy.
With my friend, lunch was an experience.
Because at one point during lunch… it could be right at the beginning, it could be while waiting in line, it could be during the meal, or just after dessert… but sometime during lunch, it was all but inevitable that my friend would do something or say something stupid, bizarre, unexpected, ridiculous and, usually, quite memorable.
It was an average run-of-the-mill day when my friend called me up and said that his morning plans had collapsed and that he was ‘open for suggestions.’ Within the hour we were standing in line at a semi-trendy eatery around the corner from my office.
My friend was blithely gabbing away about the video project on which he was presently working. He was about two-thirds of the way through it and he had not quite decided yet whether it was merely awful or truly dreadful.
We were seated in fairly short order. He continued on about the project non-stop (my friend is a compulsive talker) when I suggested he shut his yap and tell the waitress what he wanted for lunch. Swinging back and forth on the odd metal chairs upon which we were sitting, my friend charmed our waitress and somehow managed to keep the topic of his conversation with her more or less on the subject of what was on the menu.
It was my turn to fill in the air time. My friend, pretended to listen to me while experimenting with just how far back he could lean in the chair without flipping over. I had to say that I was fairly impressed, although I had my doubts as to the chair’s ability to withstand such a work-out.
It was at this point that I realized that during his last back-bending stretch, the longish hair at the back of his head all but fell into the food of the young woman seated at the table directly behind him. Oblivious to the situation, my friend held his position, complimenting both his own skill and that of the chair’s designer. The young woman stared at my friend’s head as it hovered above her lunch. Had I been in her position, I could not have resisted the urge to jab a fork into his neck. Clearly, she was made of stronger stuff.
He looked up into the somewhat startled and puzzled eyes of the young woman and muttered a “Oh, I’m terribly sorry” in that kind of sincere yet off-hand tone one uses when accidentally bumping against someone in an elevator.
He sat up and began tucking into his lunch with a disturbing enthusiasm.
I am afraid I could not look the woman in the eye and, therefore, could not tell whether she touched her food after The Incident.
I did notice, however, that she had ordered the souvlaki.
Let’s face it… lunch can be boring. One way to inject a bit of fun into this run of the mill activity is to invite a loonie to share lunch with you.
I try to do so whenever I can and I have rarely regretted it.
For those of you unfamiliar with this delightful improvement on the old Rock Paper Scissors selection method, let me quote from Wikipedia:
Rock-Paper-Scissors-Lizard-Spock is a five-gesture expansion of the classic selection method game rock-paper-scissors. It operates on the same basic principle, but includes two additional weapons: the lizard (formed by the hand as a sock-puppet-like mouth) and Spock (formed by the Star Trek Vulcan salute). This reduces the chances of a round ending in a tie compared to the more traditional game. The game was originally invented by Sam Kass and Karen Bryla. It was mentioned in an article of The Times in 2005.
The rules of Rock-Paper-Scissors-Lizard-Spock are as follows:
Scissors cut paper
Paper covers rock
Rock crushes lizard
Lizard poisons Spock
Spock smashes scissors
Scissors decapitate lizard
Lizard eats paper
Paper disproves Spock
Spock vaporizes rock
Rock crushes scissors
There are ten possible pairings of the five gestures, where each gesture beats two of the other gestures and is beaten by the remaining two.
And for those who have not yet experienced the exquisite pleasure of having the rules personally explained to you, here is the amazing Dr. Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory to do the honours!
International Talk Like a Pirate Day (ITLAPD) is a parodic holiday created in 1995 by John Baur (Ol’ Chumbucket) and Mark Summers (Cap’n Slappy), of Albany, Oregon, who proclaimed September 19th each year as the day when everyone in the world should talk like a pirate. For example, an observer of this holiday would greet friends not with “Hello,” but with “Ahoy, matey!” The holiday, and its observance, springs from a romanticized view of the Golden Age of Piracy.
(Mark “Cap’n Slappy” Summers and John “Ol’ Chumbucket” Baur, the founders of Talk Like a Pirate Day)
It was, however, humorist Dave Barry who really got the whole thing off the ground in 2002 after Baur and Summers talked him into writing about it in his syndicated column. The piece gave ITLAPD national attention. Thankfully Baur and Summers never claimed any exclusive intellectual property rights on the concept. As a result, the idea has gone viral internationally and now belongs to all us scurvy dogs.
Over the last six years that I have been observing ITLAPD, I have tried as much as possible to inject pirate phrases in a variety of criminal court proceedings in which I appeared on September 19th, for example calling fellow counsel “matey”, responding to the Court in the affirmative with, “Aye, Sir!” and telling overly-chatty clients to “belay that talk” or “face a keelhauling!”
(Stick it in yer maggoty gob, ye salty bilge rat!)
So put yer backs into it, ye lily-livered young puppies!
And have yourself a merry little International Talk Like a Pirate Day!