Tomorrow, being Sunday, we are scheduled to attend the annual Home and Garden Show.
I seriously don't know why we go. The fees for parking and admittance are egregious, and paying them inspires sensations not unlike being anally raped with a pineapple.
Without the benefit of lube.
And if we forego the expense of parking, we are required to take public transit (better known as the Loser Cruiser), where I invariably end up separated from the Fragrant Missus, and seated next to someone inflicted with mental illness/homelessness who has recently shat their pants. And most of my brief, but terrifying , trip is spent avoiding the gaze of the Aboriginal/adolescent/douchebag (pick one, or all three), who wants me to pay his/her fare. Or else.
I hate to sound like an elitist, but there are some very compelling reasons why people resist the allure of public transit. Especially in this neighbourhood, it is far outdistanced by the allure of staying alive.
Once inside the Home and Garden Show, however, all we do is walk around a crowded trade hall for hours, suppressing the urge to cock punch the yuppies who insist on taking their crotch fruit and blocking the aisles with strollers that rival Hummers in size, while watching a demonstration of the latest rubber broom. We shuffle through the halls, smelling popcorn and mini doughnuts, and collecting a small library of pamphlets that we are going to recycle the moment we get home, even if we climbed over nineteen yuppie bitches with expensive haircuts and torn designer jeans tucked into knee-high suede boots to get them.
Ultimately, we sigh about how we can't afford a hot tub while simultaneously thanking the gods that we don't have one to share with people who would pee in it, or, just as bad, expect to share it naked.
I don't understand the appeal of the Home and Garden Show, to be honest. It is expensive, stuffy, crowded, always a potential scene for a richly deserved homicide, and a constant reminder that, compared to a lot of others there, we're poor. We never end up being able to afford doing anything to the house that was even remotely inspired by something we saw at the Home and Garden Show. We are generally confined to sewing new curtains and throwing paint at the walls. Once a year, the Fragrant Missus rearranges the living room furniture. Hardly revolutionary stuff requiring the expert opinions of vendors at the Home and Garden Show.
Yet, every time it rolls into town, we get as excited as a couple of teenaged girls with backstage passes to a Justin Bieber show. I don't know why this is. Is it the potential ("Oooh! This time, were gonna get that skylight in!")? Is it the fantasy ("Man, if I had the money, I'd totally install that rainfall shower with the colour therapy lights--IN MY BACK YARD!!!")? Is it the new and innovative technology ("PLASTIC LAWN?! Where do I fuckin' sign?")?
Clearly, this guy just isn't on the ball. When you write to someone twice and they do not respond, it is clear that they are not going to. So maybe you should stop trying to contact them.
But Professor Scruffy is not acquainted (or is ignoring) these subtle social nuances. I had, early in the day, offered him to give him an old, cheap set of gouges that I no longer use. Last night, he sent me a private Facebook message saying, "did you find those gouges".
I went to the Fragrant Missus with my dilemma, explaining that I really want him to fuck off, but he has thus far failed to detect my blatant "Fuck Off" message. She suggested that I write to Scruffy, telling him that if he wants the gouges, he will have to take the bus all the way over here and retrieve them from my mailbox. This, she explained, will be inconvenient for him, and will ensure that I do not have to interact with him. And might, in its own way, be yet another "Fuck Off" message.
So I wrote to him this morning, explaining that I have started a new job, am busy in the evenings, and that if he wants the gouges, these are the hoops he has to jump through some day next week. Further, I'll sharpen his other gouges THIS ONCE, but he has to leave them in the mailbox and I don't know when I'll get to them.
And this just made me crazy, because last Friday, we couldn't get him to shut the fuck up, especially about his "greatcoat" and his OCD bacon issue and his mother's irascible bowels. But now all he wants to do is badger me. So I wrote, "Also, I am accustomed to people saying please and thank you when I offer to do something for them. Just sayin'."
Kids these days. Honestly. Was this little goof raised by wolves, or is it because technology has made people lazy/impolite? There's no excuse, of course, technology or not. It would make me nuts, but he could say "plz" and "ty" without fear of his thumbs snapping off from fatigue while texting.
I know I probably sound like an old, old fart, but goddamn it, I have standards, standards that Professor Scruffy is not even close to meeting.
I declined to answer Professor Scruffy's inquiry regarding a suitable time to give me his gouges for sharpening. The next day, he sent me another private Facebook message that said simply "THEE."
I was confounded. What did this mean? Was it some obscure code, standing perhaps for "To Hell, Effete Elitist"? Somehow, I doubt that he has ever heard the word "effete", so that's probably not it. Yet how was I to reply? With an equally emphatic "THOU"?
Suddenly, I realized I had already wasted too much time and energy on the subject, and deleted his second message, too.
I am currently reading We Need To Talk About Kevin, by Lionel Shriver. This is the novel that inspired the film starring the ephemeral Tilda Swinton, about a boy with mental health issues who kills some of his classmates. I have not seen the film, and I'm still not sure how I feel about the novel, being only nine pages in. The cover tells me that We Need To Talk About Kevin is the winner of the Orange Prize (?) and promises me further delights such as Insights and Interviews. This makes me vaguely worried, as if this novel has been poisoned by the touch of Oprah and her Jodi Piccoult-loving legions.
Anyway, I just finished Guy Vanderhaeghe's The Last Crossing, which was spectacular, and therefore has set a pretty high standard for Mr. Shriver to meet. And so far, not so much. I'll give it until the end of the first chapter before I make up my mind, but the jury is still out.
Life is too short to waste on crappy writing (or television or film or music or anything else, for that matter).
I am not a nice person. Oh, don't get me wrong; I recognize that I have a few redeeming qualities. I'm intelligent, enthusiastic, humourous, loyal, and I try, most of the time, to be pleasant. But it would be an error to mistake my superficial pleasantness for anything that approaches compassion or kindness. Because the other side of the coin is that I am judgemental, dismissive, and impatient with the stupid, rude or self-indulgent. Possibly because I have been exposed to vast quantities of insanity, especially (but not limited to) my working life, I simply do not have the time, energy or willingness to entertain the company of those who cannot (or will not) conduct themselves in a socially acceptable manner. Society, as far as I am concerned, is entirely too cooperative. Occasionally, I struggle against my true nature, and think I should be more charitable towards those less fortunate than myself, that I should cultivate patience and compassion for my fellow human. That I should cease to struggle against my true nature is proven over and over again by the asspain disasters that occur when I try to put aside my misanthropic ways in favour of a kinder me. For example, the last time I decided to be nice to someone, it was an old creep in a medical scooter who asked me for a hug. Typically, such a request would be met with flaring eyes and nostrils and an involuntary step in the opposite direction. And to be sure, each of my interactions with this guy in the past had been characterized by inexplicable feelings of disdain and "eww". It had nothing to do with the unknown medical condition that confined him to the scooter (athough I confess, amputees make me queasy); I had scarcely exchanged more than a dozen words with "Chester" in my whole life, but each time I saw him, I had fantasies of that scooter bursting into flames and careening up our street in a fiery inferno of Chester destruction. But I couldn't tell you why. There was just something inexplicable and visceral about Chester that I didn't like. And because I couldn't put my finger on any reasonable excuse for wanting Chester to burst into flames, I decided I needed to work harder at being nice to him. You know, for my own development as a person. Sadly, when I acquiesced to his request for a hug, he groped my breasts. I called him on it, and he responded with, "What? It's just my hands!" I briefly considered punching him in the throat, but if he called the police, it was his word against mine vis-a-vis the groping, and I would look like an even bigger twat for punching the cripple. I share this anecdote as an illustration as to why I--from this day forward--will resist my nobler inclinations to be "nice" or "helpful" to others who have not been admitted into my sanctum sanctorum. I learned that lesson for the last time yesterday. The Fragrant Missus is, on the surface, a much nicer and charitable person than I am. Although she is occasionally taken advantage of by douchebags, she is much more forthcoming with acts of kindness. Thus, when one of her young companions expressed a desire to go to Lee Valley to look at tools, she offered to take him there. As a carver of soapstone, I am a big fan of Lee Valley and chose to go along for the ride, thinking I could score some tagua nuts in order to try my hand at carving netsuke. I knew in advance that this fellow was young, between 19 and 21 years of age, and some level of social ineptitude was a given, since she knows him from the steampunk community. I have met several members of this group, and am left with an impression of dysfunctional and eccentric individuals who, if they devoted as much energy, time and money into getting and keeping jobs as they do to their hobby, would be successful adults indeed. But Professor Scruffy exceeded all of my expectations.From the moment he walked into my house with his straggly black hair, a patchy adolescent beard and a trenchcoat too big and long for him, he exhibited a flair for social awkwardness that bordered on the pathological. As he waited for us to get ready to go, he asked us pointblank, "What is your relationship?" The Fragrant Missus told him we are married. He wanted to know for how long (as if it is any of his business). I told him we married in 2006. He counted on his fingers to determine that was eight years ago. Then he mused aloud--because none of Professor Scruffy's dialogue is internal--on the "dynamic" of our relationship. I could tell this was going to be a long day. Once in the car, he asked us if we self-identify as pagans, a question I found both personal and impertinent. Of course, Professor Scruffy doesn't work, but he does occupy his time by carving magical wands out of various wooden doweling for the pagan community. He hopes to sell these at an upcoming "Witch's Fair". He doesn't have any tools, per se, he's been using an exacto blade and files on bloodwood. He told me he has a set of gouges given to him by another steampunker, but they are too dull to make an impression in the wood. And I felt a little sorry for him (the contempt hadn't set it just yet), so I offered to sharpen his gouges. Remember this for later. We stopped at A&W for breakfast, at which point, Professor Scruffy proceeded to inform the Fragrant Missus and me that, when he eats bacon, he always takes a small piece of it and sets it aside to eat later. It's only with bacon. He doesn't do it with any other meat or food, not pork chops or ham or chicken or anything else. It's only bacon and he's been trying to think of the last time he did this with any other food and he can't remember it, so it has to be bacon only. At this point, I looked at the Fragrant Missus and said, "You owe me big time." During our time in the car, Professor Scruffy wanted to talk about his wands (insert eye-rolling here), and how he should market them. I told him he has a wealth of material to work with, since he is selling to the pagan market. Without coming right out and telling him that they are highly susceptible to specific kinds of manipulation, I told him to advertise that he first cleansed the wood with smudges and clear quartz under a full moon, and that he carves exclusively in a circle of power while burning dragon's blood incense. I told him further to tell his clients that the images for his wands come to him in meditative dreams, and...well, you get the idea. He took it all in, but I don't know how much of it will stick, since I get the impression that his brain is coated in teflon. I got rid of him as soon as I could, dropping him off at one of the train stations downtown, but by then we had heard all about his mother's irritable bowel syndrome and his grandmother's Alzheimer's and how many times he steps on the hem of his "greatcoat" (it's not a greatcoat, it's a trenchcoat), or gets it caught in doors, etc, and then he wanted to thank us for taking him to Lee Valley, but he couldn't remember my name. Yet when we got home, there was a private message for me on Facebook from Professor Scruffy, asking when would be a good time to have the gouges sharpened. There was no preamble, no "It was nice meeting you" , or "Thank you for your thoughts on marketing", or "I appreciate the guidance you gave me regarding how to use my tools." No. Just, "when would be a good day to bring the tools to be sharpened." Just like that--no capital letters, no punctuation, no thank you. Just that. And of course, now I'm sorry that I gave in to my impulse to be nice to this socially crippled pre-adult who characterized the Fragrant Missus as "the nice one," and me as "the opposite", despite only having known me for four or five hours. And it's not that I disagree with his assessment--I spent the preface of this blog entry emphasizing that I perceive myself to be something of a selfish cunt. I just think that Professor Scruffy needs to keep his mouth shut, or, alternatively, realize that when he tells people to their face that they are "not nice", those not-nice people will reinforce his belief by refusing to sharpen his fucking tools for him. So it is entirely possible that with this new resolve to be less kind to those I deem unworthy or too bothersome, I have joined the ranks of douchebags, which abound. But I'm afraid that I have neither the motivation or desire to spend any more time in Professor Scruffy's company. In fact, I will go out of my way to avoid having to do so. I recognize that he has some mental health/social issues, and that possibly what he needs is guidance and education, rather than to be shunned. But I've decided also that it's not my job to teach people how to behave. If I wanted children, I'd have had 'em. I don't believe in taking on people as "projects"; I find that attitude to be arrogant and patronizing. When confronted by bad behaviour or douchebaggery, I may, given the right set of circumstances, offer feedback. But I will not seek out these opportunities or waste my time and energy on People Like That. We all walk different paths, and too often my path has intersected with those who have crumbled under the burden of too many challenges, or who have not the wherewithal to reflect or make changes. Their path is their path and my path is my path, and I will not--cannot--walk alongside Them. That is someone else's job. And if that makes me a douchebag, so be it.