Archive for October, 2009

Run Away!

It’s a funny thing.
I’ve recently said (though not on this blog) that Woodbridge is the worst place to be on Halloween. And yet this year – the first year that I have the ability to be away from Woodbridge on Halloween – not only am I planning to be in Woodbridge for Halloween, but I’m going out of my way to be in Woodbridge for Halloween.
As you all know, Woodbridge is full of terrible people. On Halloween, those terrible people become so much worse.
Okay, I get it. It’s Halloween. People everywhere do stupid things. But in Woodbridge we take it to a level where it’s not funny anymore. Egging and toliet papering houses is an awful thing to do, but those activities pale in comparison to some of the other things Woodbridgers do to amuse themselves on Halloween.
In Woodbridge, we like to scare the shit out of each other on Halloween. Before you say "duh.", let me clarify that: 
There are two types of scary on Halloween. The first type involves putting on a hideous mask and leaping out from some dark corner, yelling loudly. This type of scary is completely permissible. That’s what Halloween is supposed to be about. I mean, I don’t think that people should go around trying to scare six year olds who just want some candy to the point of making them cry, but for the most part, this type of scary is fine.
The other type of scary, which disgusts me and makes me ashamed to be from Woodbridge is this: A person will go around wearing black, but with no mask. They’ll wait in a spot with few passerby. When he sees a small group of people (often a mother and a child or two) he’ll approach them in such a way that group knows that he’s walking directly at them. When he gets close enough, he’ll put his hand into his jacket as if withdrawing a firearm, while continuing to walk towards them. When he gets right up to the group, he’ll pull his hand out quickly, revealing that he is unarmed and say something like "Happy Halloween" before walking away.
Where do I begin with this?
1. You should never make another human being fear for his or her life.
2. You should never make a child fear for his or her life.
3. You should never make a parent fear for the life of his or her child.
That kind of thing isn’t funny. In addition to not being funny, it’s also highly illegal. And every year there’s a police helicopter searching Woodbridge for the half dozen people or so who are just that retarded. Two years ago, one particular retard decided that my sister, her friend, and her friend’s mother would be perfect targets for this. That guy is very lucky that I wasn’t with them. I’m not a violent person, but if you threaten my family, you’re getting your ass kicked. And one day, one of these fucks is going to cross the wrong parent and end up seriously hurt. And I will be very happy.
Why on earth, then, would anyone choose to be in Woodbridge for Halloween?
And the reason is this: As I explained recently, Queen’s people have thus far proved themselves to be just as bad as, if not worse than, Woodbridge people. It’s hard to believe, but it’s true. Halloween at Queen’s has the potential to be One Of The Worst Nights In Recent Memory. Being here for Halloween is something that must be avoided at all costs.
The problem is that I have a psychology midterm to write at 6:00 this evening, and the bus home leaves at 6:30. So unless I mange to finish a 75-minute test in under half an hour, I can’t take the bus. Normally this would mean that I’m stuck at Queen’s for the weekend, but I can’t allow that to happen.
So instead, I’m going to take a cab after the test to the train station, and take the next train to Toronto home. Taking the train isn’t cheap, but it’s necessary. I refuse to spend Halloween here.

Who’s “It”?

1996 was a simple year. Most of our decisions were made for us, and those that weren’t were always easy to resolve.
One of the biggest decisions that had to be made on a daily basis was who was "it" for tag. We developed a few methods for solving this problem.
The first and most primitive was the Eeka Laka. The starter would call out "Put your foot in!", and everyone who was playing would arrange themselves in a circle, and put one foot into the centre. The starter would then go onto his knees and place his index finger on a random person’s shoe. He would then start saying the phrase, and would tap the next person’s shoe on each word, moving either clockwise or counterclockwise at his discretion.
"Eeka laka horses caca eeka laka out."
Whoever the starter finished on was eliminated (much to their relief – you never wanted to be it), and then the starter would begin again, over and over again until only one person was left. That person was "it".
The "Eeny Meeny Miny Moe", a classic, was also regularly used in those early days. It was up to the starter to decide which method would be used on a particular day. If he chose the Eeny Meeny Miny Moe, he would speak as follows:
"Eeny Meeny Miny Moe,
Catch a tiger by the toe.
If he hollers, let him go.
Eeny Meeny Miny Moe."
That was the basic Eeny Meeny. However, the starter could choose to continue this if he wanted to:
"So out you go."
If the starter wanted to continue still further, he had that option as well:
"By my big father’s big fat toe."
Probably my favourite of the early decision making methods was "Two Cigarettes." This one differed from the Eeka Laka and the Eeny Meeny in that instead of putting a foot into the centre of the circle, all players had to put two fingers in. The starter would then tap each person on the hand, rather than the foot:
"Put your two cigarettes in,
Let me hear you cough, sir."
And at this point, whoever the starter had just tapped would have to cough. Then the starter would continue:
"Very bad indeed sir,
how much do you need sir?"
Despite the bad grammar, the person who had just been tapped would have to say a number. Any number. The starter would then continue on:
"One, two, three, four, five, six…"
He would count up to the number that the person had said. Unlike Eeka Laka and Eeny Meeny, whoever was out was not instantly eliminated from being "it". Instead, they would put only one finger into the middle for all subsequent rounds. Only once they had been "out" twice were they officially eliminated. Two Cigarettes was unique in that it gave some degree of power to the rest of the players. Alas, it was largely abandoned once we learned how to do simple math.
Along the same lines as Two Cigarettes was "Black Shoe." I never liked Black Shoe much because it was simply a less entertaining version of Two Cigarettes. Everyone would put a foot in, and the starter would say:
"Black shoe, black shoe,
Change your black shoe."
Upon which whoever had last been touched would switch feet. If he or she was called out a second time, they were officially eliminated. Again, just a diluted version of Two Cigarettes.
One that was considered taboo early on was "Snake in the Grass", due to its usage of unsavoury language.
"There’s a snake in the grass with a bullet in its ass,
Stick it in, stick it out, like a good boy scout."
Very few starters ever ventured into this territory. "Ass" was an unspeakable word.
Those are the five that I can remember off the top of my head. I’m sure that there are more that I can’t remember right now.
How did you guys decide who was "it"?

Kingston vs. Woodbridge

It’s Friday night (or Saturday morning, I guess), and I can’t sleep because people outside are shouting loudly.
No, I’m not in Woodbridge. I’m in Kingston.
The longer I stay here, the more I tend to compare Kingston and my hometown.
Like the stupid people shouting at the top of their lungs at 1:30 in the morning. I want to open my window ask them why they feel the need to scream at each other when they’re all standing a few feet away from each other. Surely normal conversation voices would suffice.
But I already know why they’re screaming. They’re all drunk.
That’s different from Woodbridge. In Woodbridge, people scream at 1:30 A.M. because they’re retarded – not because they’re drunk.
And there are more screaming people here than back home. That’s because in Woodbridge, a fair chunk of the retarded people are leaning on Honda Civics outside of Tim Hortons at this time, and so less of them are around to scream at each other.
That hobby doesn’t exist in Kingston.
I never thought I’d say this, but I miss the Ginos (the retarded people of Woodbridge). Sure they were obnoxious, but for the most part they weren’t to blame for their shortcomings. You can’t blame them for being born in Woodbridge, after all.
But these people can choose whether or not to act like retards. And the vast majority of them choose to act like retards. They are university students. They should know better. But they don’t.
I should be clear though: So far, when I’ve referred to Kingston, I’ve been referring specifically to Queen’s. The actual city of Kingston is an entirely different story.
Kingston itself has a population of 115,000 or so, which puts in the same population range as Woodbridge (101,000). But in terms of the quality of people, it’s no contest.
Seriously, the residents of Kingston are the nicest people ever. Strangers will say "good morning" to you when you pass them on the street. I don’t know how common that is elsewhere, but it doesn’t happen in Woodbridge.
And the city itself is gorgeous. Actually, downtown Kingston sort of looks a bit like uptown Toronto. Every time I walk there I have a moment where I forget what city I’m in. It looks a lot like the Eglinton and Bathurst area (which happens to be one of my favourite areas of Toronto).
And, despite having approximately the same population as Woodbridge, there are actually things to do beyond going to the movies and leaning on Honda Civics. There’s still a movie theatre, and there’s still a Tim Hortons on every block, but there are other things, too. There’s a theatre (not the movie kind). And an art gallery (actual culture?!?). And classy restaurants (food!). And about a billion other things that I haven’t discovered yet.
In summary, Kingston>Woodbridge, but Woodbridge>Queen’s.
Oh, one other thing about Kingston: It’s always raining. Always. Even if it’s sunny outside, it’s probably raining. And if you get really lucky and it’s not raining, enjoy it, because it’ll be raining within two hours. 
And guess what just started? Rain.
And guess what just stopped? The screaming.
That’s what I call just deserts. Now if only a tornado would rip through campus…

Sammy Sits On The Porch

November was Sammy’s least favourite month of the year. It was always too cold outside to ride her bike, but too warm for the annual snowball wars to begin.
But as luck would have it, the temperature outside on this day was 10 degrees – almost unheard of in the middle of November. Every kid within a thousand miles was on his or her bike.
Not Sammy. She didn’t have a bike.
Oh, she had begged and pleaded with her parents to get her a new one, but they had refused on account of the time of year. Late September was no time to be buying a new bike, they had told her, since she would only get one or two uses out of it before it would be time to put it away for the winter. Sammy had argued that one or two good bike rides was enough reason to justify making a purchase, but to no avail.
As such, Sammy sat on her front porch all alone, listening to the laughter of her friends off in the distance. Then a voice called out to her.
"Hey you!"
Sammy looked up. It was the boy from a few weeks ago, minus the bike.
"Hey." she said.
The boy walked up to her porch. "You’re the crazy girl who thought I took your bike, right?"
"Yeah, that’s me." Sammy replied. She was hoping that the boy had forgotten her.
"Well… what are you doing on your porch?" he asked.
"I don’t have a bike, remember?"
"You didn’t get a new one?"
"Not yet," she said, and proceeded to tell the boy how she had begged and pleaded with her parents, and had been rejected. "Parents just don’t understand kids sometimes." she finished.
The boy pondered all she had said for a moment, and then replied "They’re right, you know."
"You make it sound like your parents are condemning you to a life without fun. They’re not. All they’re doing is saying that you can’t have a bike right now."
"But then what am I supposed to do on Saturdays?"
"Whatever you want," The boy said. "I don’t know why everyone feels like the only way they can have fun on Saturdays is by watching cartoons all morning and bike riding all afternoon. There are plenty of other ways to have fun."
"Like what?"
"Look, were you having more fun before or after I got here?"
"After," Sammy said. The boy was certainly amusing, if a little strange. Besides, almost anything was better than sitting alone on her porch.
"But we’re not bike riding. All we’re doing is sitting and talking, right?"
"Yeah, I guess…"
"Well there you go. It’s not about what you’re doing, it’s about who you’re doing it with."
"I guess that makes sense," she said. The boy nodded. "I just have one question though."
"What’s that?"
"You said it’s not what you do, it’s who you do it with. But when I met you, you were riding your bike all alone, and today you were walking all alone. What’s up with that?"
But the boy just said "I have to go now," and walked away.
I recognize that these characters aren’t realistic. I’m well aware that kids don’t talk like this. But this is fiction. I think that writers are often overly concerned with making sure that their characters are true-to-life, and this often hampers the writing. 
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that using realistic characters is a bad thing. Some of my favourite characters (e.g. Charlie, from The Perks of Being a Wallflower), are of the realistic variety. At the same time, using characters that defy reality (e.g. Peter Pan and the Little Prince) gives you the ability to go almost anywhere with your writing. Personally, I like that freedom.
Besides, I’m trying to send a message here. Hopefully you can figure out what I’m trying to say here. It’s not all that difficult.

This… Is A Disaster

Generally, Thanksgiving is a good holiday. Not quite up to the lofty standards of Christmas, but joyful nonetheless. I mean, it’s a day of good food in the company of your family. Few things are as precious. This year’s Thanksgiving weekend was somewhat marred by a tragedy within my family.I noticed during Sunday’s dinner that my aunt was mysteriously absent, but I didn’t think too much about it at the time. She’s often on business trips and the like, and so her absence, while noticeable, wasn’t completely out of the ordinary.

As I found out today, the reason for her absence was that she and my uncle are separating.

This is a disaster. Wrong, all wrong.

And I know what you’re thinking. It’s not my parents. I’m overreacting. Worse things have happened in the world.

That’s true. But here’s the thing: It’s a blow to my spirit more than it is a personal blow.

Here’s what I mean by that: My uncle and aunt were at the very top of my list of favourite couples. Number one, out of every single pairing of human beings that I know. And now it’s over, after what? 12 years of marriage and dating, all told?

I mean, they had the occasional argument, but what married couple doesn’t? The fights weren’t frequent, and they were always short lived and never devolved into shouting matches. Nothing ever set off any alarm bells inside my head. Whatever problems they had were kept well hidden.

They were such a refreshing couple to be around. I mean, my parents sometimes make marriage seem like a business transaction. But my aunt and uncle were different, somehow. I don’t mean that they were overly romantic with each other. They just always seemed to be having more fun than other couples. Always laughing and making jokes.

Like the way he proposed to her, for example. He purposely acted like a jerk to her for about a week, leading her to believe that the end of the relationship was imminent. And then he proposed.

When she asked where he got the ring, he replied “You know the gumball machine at the Bonanza Mall? That thing’s amazing.”

It’s damned near impossible to fully explain a single human being in a blog, so the idea of explaining the relationship between two human beings in a blog is beyond ridiculous. If pressed to describe them in a sentence, I would say that they were the closest thing to kids that I’ve ever seen in people of over thirty years of age.

That’s what I loved about them. Their relationship gave me faith. I thought to myself, “If someone like him can meet someone like her, and they can make things work, then maybe there’s some hope for the world.”

But maybe the reason that I loved that relationship is the reason why it ended. Marriage is for mature adults, not kids.

No one knows except them. I could be entirely off the mark here. But for whatever reason, the relationship is dead.

My faith in the world has taken a bit of a hit today, my friends.

Fuck. Just fuck.

I Wonder…

We all know what happens when a new student enters a school in the middle of a year.

There are several possible reactions from the other students, ranging from complete ostracization to general acceptance of the new kid. The actual result depends on the school and on the student, but the behaviour of the students is generally predictable and falls into one of a few categories.

But what happens if the new student isn’t a complete unknown.? What if he’s a young minor celebrity? How then would the other students treat him?

I wonder…