Archive for the ‘humor’ Category

Impaired Help Desk

Posted: August 15, 2010 in humor

The jury is out, busily arguing with each other, and ready to head into the realm of fistfights over this one.

When you’re drunk, are you better at socializing?

I’m frankly don’t know.  But it sure seems likely.

But it begins and ends at socializing.   You end up saying whatever occurs to you, as little kids do, with little to no filter.  But if, like me, you’re as charming as hell, it all works out.

I remember others for whom the drink turned out to be their nemesis.  Like the normally pleasant manager from Flint Michigan who turned into this amazing (astounding) pig once he had one or two Long Island Ice Teas into him.  He would hit on everybody, including the taxi driver, if the driver made the mistake of asking “how are you?”

Maybe, if we learned to let the filters go when sober – life would be so much simpler.

I got thinking: what if you showed up to a help desk, entirely drunk?

*******************

Caller:  “Hi.  I’ve got a little problem here.”

Help Desk (henceforth known as HD): “Ooooh.  That’s just too too bad.  Man, that’s gotta suck.  What’s the problem and how can I help you?”

Caller:  “uh… my computer won’t work.”

HD:  “it won’t?  Well that’s just not fair at all, is it?  No, not at all.”

Caller:  “……………what?”

HD:  “I hate it when the computer won’t work.  Messes up my whole day.”

Caller: “um, can you help me?”

HD:  “What?  Oh yes. Sure I can!  Only too happy to help.”

Caller:  “well?”

HD: “What?’

Caller:  “can you help me?”

HD:  “um sure.  Didn’t you just ask me that?”

Caller:  “…..”

HD:  “Hello?”

Caller: “what do I do?’

HD: “about what?”

Caller:  “my *computer*!!!  How do I fix it?”

HD: “I don’t know.  It’s a real puzzle, isn’t it?”

Caller:  “but….”

HD: “I mean, this kind of stuff happens to me all the time.  I hate it.”

Caller:  “but…you’re supposed to be able to help me.”

HD:  “……..OH………right.    Sorry.  Um…..have you wiggled the mouse?”

Caller: “What?”

HD: “I love when I wiggle the mouse.  It makes me giggle.”  *giggles*

Caller: “are you high?’

HD:  “when?”

Caller: “let me speak to your supervisor.”

HD: “Ok.  Hang on a sec.”

*music*

HD:  “Hi.  How can I help you?”

Caller:  “are you the supervisor?”

HD:  “No, he’s not here.  Sorry ’bout that.   It’s just me. PSYCH!!”

Caller:  “………….shit.”

HD:  “yeah, I know, right?”

Caller:  “Nevermind.  I’ll figure this out myself.”

HD:  “well aren’t you the coolest?   You know what?”

Caller:  “what?”

HD:  “I love you.”

Caller: “WHAT?”

HD:  “I love the world, really.  And I love computers.  And I love my job.  And I love you.”

Caller:  “I—-”

HD:  “Oh don’t worry. I’m not gay.  It’s an altruistic love.  Totally non-sexual, man.  Mine is a pure love.”

Caller:  “uh….”

HD:  “Hang on.”

*sound of retching*

HD:  “Whoa.  I’m back.  That totally came out of nowhere.  Sorry about that.  Hope you didn’t hear it”

Caller:  “did you just throw up?”

HD:  “Ohhhh.”  *giggles* “You did hear it.”

Caller:  “are you drunk?  Or high?”

HD:  “I——you know what?”

Caller:  “what?”

HD:  “I’m like, totally shit-faced, dude.”

Caller: “this is unacceptable”

HD:  “tell me about it!!  It’s all I can do not to throw up some more right now.”

*–click!–*

HD:  “well that was easy”

*******************

And…..SCENE

I’ve made the mistake of having just one drink at lunch hour when working from home.  Totally messed with my head.  I learned my lesson:  when doing task-related activities, alcohol is surely not my friend.  But when I’m making new friends, it’s can be a truly cool social lubricant.  Also a social Ex-Lax.

Not cool.

And how was YOUR Saturday night?

**************************************************
News Item:  Russian Spies Prove to Be Amateurs  http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/world/us_and_canada/10564236.stm
**************************************************

Natasha was livid.

“Boris!  This password isn’t working!  You said COME2ME_MYDARLING was it.  I’ve typed it in five times and it won’t let me in.”

A dumpy-looking man glanced up from his newspaper, pencil mustache twitching in annoyance.   “I told you darlink.  I changed it last night.”

The clock on the wall chimed once, announcing to the occupants that it was now one o’clock.  Having done its duty, it commenced ticking.  Boris turned the page of his newspaper, looking for an ad for cheap divorce lawyers.

“VELL????”

“Vell what, darlink?”

“VAT’S THE PASSWORD?”

He glanced down the page.  Nothing.  Make the next page wou—.

“ARE YOU GOINK TO ANSWER ME?”

“I don’t know, baby.  I wrote it down.”

He never heard it coming.  But he felt it ping off of his head.

“OW!!” he yelled.  “VAT DID YOU DO?”

“Oh don’t be such a baby” she growled.  “I just hit you vit a pencil.”

“VAT FOR?”

“Ty glup” she said.  (“Stupid” for those unfamiliar with Russian)

“Vy you be like that, darlink?”

“Boris – you NEVER write down the password.   You *vant* to spend the rest of your miserable little life in jail?”

“As long as I don’t have to spend it vith you” Boris muttered.

“Vat?”

“Nothing, Natasha.  Darlink.”

She wasn’t through.  “Bad enough you put pictures up on Facebook with our real names.   Or that you break into those offices vithout vearing gloves and you don’t vipe everything down after.   Or that you smoke like a chimney and leave your butts everywhere….”

Boris threw his paper down.  “You tink I’M stupid?  Vat about you, darlink?  Do you remember getting drunk at that party, jumping up on the coffee table and yelling ‘guess vat I do for a livink?’   Den you flirted vith the host – a cop – and asked him all kinds of questions like ‘so vat kind of prison time would I get if I were caught selling nuclear plant floorplans to Russia, hmm?'”

Nastasha waved her hand.  “Pooh.  That was nothink.  You tink he took me serious?  He knew I vas drunk.”

“Darlink you didn’t see the look on his face.  I’m tellink you – you let the cat out of the—you spilled the cat”

She sighed.  “So.  Vere is it?”

“Vere is vat?”

“The PASSWORD you idiot!  You wrote it down – so where is it?”

“I pasted it to the monitor.”

On seeing the yellow post-it on the monitor in full display where anyone could access it, Natasha ground her teeth.  She could feel the vein popping up on her considerable forehead.    She shook her head and quickly typed it in:  “glasnost_R_us”

Right away, she noticed one new message in the inbox.  She clicked on it.

It was from moose_squirrel@spyinc.org

And it read:

———————————–
Dear B&N:

You thought you were safe but let me tell you a tale
While you snooped all around we were watching your mail
Don’t try to run (as I told you before)
It’s too late for that – better answer the door

Love always, R&B
———————————–

She gasped and sat back. 

Just then, the doorbell rang.

Hot E-Book

Posted: June 21, 2010 in humor, Life
Tags: ,

Sitting near the back of the bus, I had a clear view of the girl, as she sat at the front.  Her face was as busy as it gets, as she thought through various possibilities, reactions, memories and events.  It was hard not to smile.  She was doing what I do – her mind was processing at a mile a minute and the results were clear on her face, as she frowned, smiled slightly, turned her eyebrows into questions.

It was disappointing to see her get off of the bus early.  I would have loved to have had a chance to chat with her.

The ability to read people is both a blessing and a curse.

The curse involves knowing all the possible responses to a suggestion or idea ahead of time, and knowing that you have to incorporate all that knowledge to mitigate those responses.  It’s trying, and tiresome.  Once you read someone, you can’t unread them.  It doesn’t work that way.

You have an idea for a project, but it’s going to cost money.   The people you have to sell this to are your colleagues.  People you’ve read over the last few months.  So you know going into it that Alex won’t commit unless he knows every last little detail.  He is uncomfortable with surprises, and is the one person in the group who is least risk-tolerant.

Jamie will enthusiastically endorse your idea, until someone else disagrees, and then she’ll back down and reconsider.  She just wants to be loved, validated.  She’s protective of her self-esteem that way.

Eric will reserve judgement until upper management has spoken, and then he’ll go for whatever they think.  If they approve, then he’ll approve and he’ll step in, willing to lend a hand to make it a success.  If they don’t approve, he’ll provide a white paper, outlining the pros and cons – while making sure the latter outweigh the former – and then conclude it was a great idea, but not to be.  Eric is upwardly mobile.  His agenda isn’t yours.  It’s not even his bosses’ agenda.  He only knows one word: up.

Pamela is there to work.  And anything that can make the job easier or more fun is something she’ll get on board with.  She has no room for boring people, or people who will bog down the process.  She and Alex are passive-aggressive mortal enemies.  She’s also your best supporter.

So you have to form your idea carefully, making sure there’s something in there that will cater to all personalities.  You believe in your idea, so you’re willing to spend the effort.  You don’t have all the details but you bow to Jim’s need by offering to set up a working group to iron out the nitty-gritty stuff.   You ignore Jamie for the moment.  You make sure your idea has enough buzzwords to satisfy management (thereby satisfying Eric) and you bring Pamela onside as a co-sponsor.  And you do this in a short meeting so that she won’t lose interest too quickly.

It’s a tough deal, but fun once you understand it.

The blessing is that you get an instinct for what will resonate with people in real life (in the blogging world, not so much).   You know what that girl you’re into really likes, and you find inventive ways to show her your appreciation.   And then she rewards you in a brilliant way. 

It’s an ability, this being able to read people, that you know can be misused.  It can be used to manipulate, and you’re so completely aware of this that you take steps to be as transparent and as sincere as you can be.  After all, you have to look at yourself in the mirror every day.

Sometimes, the gift can make you a little crazy.

Like the other day, when I read an email response from someone on Craigslist who wanted to buy my e-reader.  We had dickered back and forth, finally agreeing on a price.  In one of her emails, she had said “but I can buy it quickly, and take it off of your hands” – a ploy she used to ask me to lower the price.  Or so I thought.

Once we agreed, she replied back “Ok I shall ask a friend of mine to meet you at a coffee shop.  He’ll be wearing an old black cap”.

“Shall”

No one in Canada uses “shall” unless they’re old-school British patriots.   So I made the (correct) assumption that for this person, English was not her first language.

I replied back.  “Ok done deal.  What’s your friend’s first name?”   I really didn’t want to go with “hey you”.   And I understand the valid paranoia of the internet, which is why I didn’t ask for his last name.

Her response:  “oh you won’t miss him.”

I shrugged.  She was paranoid.

Later that day at the coffee shop, an Asian gentleman walked up to me, tentatively, and said “e-book?”

I started to rise from my seat.  “Yes.  I have it here.”

He said “ok I’ll get the money” and with that he scurried off to another section of the coffee shop.

Then he brought out the cash and quickly laid it all out on the table, instead of into my hand.   I started to explain about the attachments, and the website you could go to, to download the software for it, but his nervousness grew.  I could tell in reading him that he wasn’t interested in any of the details.  He just wanted the transaction over and done with.

“It works, yes?”

I nodded.  “It works.”

He nodded, grabbed the e-book reader and scurried away again.

This behaviour puzzled me until later that night, when I finally had my “A-HA!” moment.

He wasn’t being anti-social, and neither was his girlfriend.

They thought they were dealing with a black-market guy; a guy who sold stuff from off the back of his truck; stuff that had fallen off of *other* trucks.  He thought the e-book I was selling him was “hot”.

If I wasn’t working for The Family, then maybe I was a narc, and that’s why I wanted the guy’s first name.  Start there, and work out exactly who I was dealing with.

I laughed.

It was entertaining, if nothing else. 

And in the end, it didn’t matter.  He got what he wanted, as did I.

Watch yer gramma

Posted: June 20, 2010 in humor, Life, writing

I don’t know why but it tickles the hell out of me when someone gets all ornery and persnickety about something and then fires off all cannons, like so:

Well did another day of hoop jumping.
I know for a fact that Rogers are stupid, have no COMMON cents!
This is no lie. Common cents is not a fact in there line of work.

“Rogers” refers to our local internet/cable/wireless company.  It’s big and it therefore often becomes the righteous target of many customers.  I recently had my own troubles with the company, involving several hours of phone conversation with someone who was desperately trying to help me.   In looking online for comparable stories, I stumbled upon the story belonging to the above-quoted gentleman.

As frustrated as I was, the above outburst of irony made me bust out in a massive grin.  The pinball game of his rage is flashing “tilt”.

You can’t vent your rightful wrath on someone if you don’t at least take the time to make sure you’re being coherent.  I know this, from a few times when I found myself attempting to verbally smite someone with my anger, only to fumble my words.   The resulting chorus of giggles left me undone.

Also, the irony of his second sentence left me howling.   Rogers doesn’t barter in cents.  They do it in dollars, thankyouverymuch.  Lots and lots of dollars.   And there’s nothing a damned bit common about their greed.  Those of us who cheerfully buy their services are complicit in their larcenous billing schemes.   So I guess our ugly customer’s last sentence is technically correct.   Common cents truly is not a factor in their line of work.  (One has to take a deep breath and make the grand leap that he meant “their” and not “there” – unless one is otherwise willing to twist one’s brain into contortions, in order to glean some sense of meaning.)

Oh, and the subject of his rant is singular, not plural.  “Rogers” is the company name, and it’s one company, not two.   Therefore,  “Rogers is (a) stupid (company)” would be better.  Best bet though is: “the people who answer phones at Rogers are stupid”.  Though I would respectfully disagree.  You can’t call someone stupid when you yourself write something at least as visually stupid as you purport your subject to be.

Credibility’s trousers are puddling around his ankles, having lost the belt of thought.

Anyone familiar with the Microsoft Outlook email program at their workplace might be familiar with a feature that allows you to claw back a message sent in error.  Sometimes, it’s done because it went to the wrong group, or because it contains errant information.   Or because it was too emotional, or contained grammatical errors.

Here’s the thing though:  the recipient has the choice of ignoring the clawback request until after he’s read the original message.   The evil sadists in our organization (raising hand) often will opt to read the hapless sender’s original email first.  Just because it’s fun.

It’s always better to proof-read one’s email/post first.   Spell-check utilities are great to use too but, let’s face it – a spell-checker wouldn’t have picked up a damned thing in that quote at the top, would it?  Every misplaced ironic word is spelt correctly.

(Don’t worry, I checked:  “spelt” and “spelled” are both correct, and can be used interchangeably.  That one bugged me for quite a while, until I finally took the time to research it.)

(You’re welcome.)

Simple errors can be forgiven, usually.  Certainly here on WordPress, I don’t go looking for errors.  God knows I’ve made enough of them myself.  I’m a forgiving guy.  Usually.   Except when corporations, newspapers and incensed letter-writers don’t take the time to proof-read their stuff.   If you’re trying to make a hard point, you’ve GOT to take the time to make sure you don’t distract from that point with the hilarious misuse of words.

And now, my reply to him:

“You might want to jump through a few more hoops, junior.  Rogers are not stupid.  The company is uncaring and hapless maybe.   The cents they gather are entirely for themselves, and so therefore aren’t common.   So perhaps you’re right, there.   I’m having trouble parsing how currency equates to a line of work though.  (Your last sentence).  Did you mean to say “their line of work”?  I hope so.  Otherwise I’ll be up all night trying to decipher your meaning.”

No doubt he’ll get all angry at me.   I hope so.  I’d love to read what he has to say this time.

*waiting with breathless grinning anticipation*

Oh wait – this little sketch kind of makes things a bit clearer:

UPDATE #1

He responded:

Royu ewtri , yhte shldn’tou etl peaepl ohw t’nca lleps no eth ten.
Ylno fi yeht aveh a dferunstnading of eht ngelshi langage.
Nda era wide awake.

If you don’t feel like trying to figure it out, the gist of it is:  “you shouldn’t be critical of a person for whom English is not their first language.  Or wasn’t wide awake at the time.”

Uh huh.  Looking for the sympathy factor.

My response:

“That’s cute. It doesn’t matter if English is a first or eightieth language. In fact, none of this matters to me at all, really.  Just stating the facts, dude – if you don’t want to get laughed at, make sure you’re making sense (not cents).

Don’t call anyone “stupid” if you’re not using the right words – it’s way too ironic and people (not just me) are going to just laugh.”

Appointment With A Dead Doc

Posted: April 18, 2010 in ADHD, humor, Life
Tags: , , ,

My motto at the top of this blog is “Awake, Aware and In Constant Movement”

Well tonight’s the “awake” part.  It’s 2:06 a.m. and I’m just so jazzed to be so vibrantly awake right now.

In earlier blogs I mentioned that I’m getting assessed for ADD.  I just learned tonight that the doctor who was going to do the assessment has died.  I don’t know if I should keep the appointment anyway.  I doubt he’ll be able to shed much light on my situation.

Doesn’t matter.  I can talk better with him dead anyway.  For one thing, he’ll have a hard time interrupting me.

Dead people make such great listeners.  And they hardly ever complain about your hygiene or what you’re wearing either.  I can wear age-inappropriate leather pants with rips and coloured beads and I can wear a t-shirt that says “FUCK  WHAT WAS I THINKING WHEN I BOUGHT THIS SHIRT” and it won’t matter.

His hygiene might be a problem though.  I can always take off my t-shirt and wrap it around my head so that my nose is covered.   Won’t matter if I’m topless.  My words will be muffled that way but then again – it’s not like he’ll complain.

I’m worried he might nod off though.  Nod off and fall to the floor.

Are dead people shatter-proof or do they just fall apart at the slightest provocation?

He’ll probably just lay there, looking stupid and lifeless.

(No, that’s not what my last girlfriend said about me.  And anyway I was drinking)

(Like I am now)

Roses are red

My doctor is toast

I had an appointment

But doc’s done gone and give up the ghost

Inappropriate

Posted: April 15, 2010 in humor, Life
Tags: ,

I swear to God – Mom brought us up properly.

We learned to say “please” and “thank you” and how to keep silent when People Who Mattered were speaking.  (“Shh.  People Are Talking”)

I don’t blame her.  There were six of us kids, after all.

We learned to be Super Canadians:  polite to a fault, and always wary of the accidental social infraction.

I remember slamming my hand between the door frame of a car, and the door itself.  I remember yelling the word most appropriate for such an occasion (shit) and I remember Mom berating me most furiously.  I remember hanging my head in shame.  With my hand still trapped in the door.

Mom was a hard ass.

I don’t know when my social skills started going sour, or what precipitated it.  I just knew that I was starting to have fun.

Fun is addictive.  The more you have, the more you want.

As you know, I’m not a fan of The Beast.  That’s old news.   But, um, well people at work don’t know this, nor do they know my history with him.

Some of it peeks through though sometimes, and I can’t help it – it’s fun to see the look of shock on some of their faces when it does.

Take last week for example.

Someone complimented me on my good looks.  I never know how to handle this (and I’m not convinced that I’m all that hot, and no, that’s not an invitation to correct me with more compliments).  I usually respond with “well thanks”.  Or I’ll say “I know.  I’m AWESOME, aren’t I?”.

Last week we were talking about heredity and my haircutter guy said “you look good.”   I said “I know.  I think I got it from my Dad.  He was good-looking- ” and I swear I was going to say “all of his life” but for some reason it came out “he was good looking for a long time.  He’s not looking so good now though.  On account of he’s dead.”

The barber didn’t want to grin, but he couldn’t help himself.

It’s funny, watching hilarity and guilt fight for facial dominance.

I’ve used my worm-eaten dad on other occasions too.   Like the time when a group of girls at the office were talking about a funny story.   I popped by near the end of the story and added “I know what my dad would say about that.  Well, he wouldn’t say anything today though.  Other than ‘MMMPH MMPH'”)   This time there was just shock as they glanced at each other.

I loved it.

They asked me to be the M.C. for a large tech workers conference a few years ago.   I had to make an opening statement, for about five minutes, before introducing the first speaker.  Probably not the best idea on their part.   I did a lot of thinking about it before hand.  And some ideas occurred that just seemed wrong.  Unfortunately, I had gotten used to doing improvisational comedy and the first thing you learn there is to never say “no” to an idea.  Saying “no” to some of the ideas I had for this opening statement just seemed to go against the grain, and I wanted to go with my own flow.   So that’s what happened.

I can’t recall everything I said, but I do know I started it off with something like this:

“So I was sitting at my kitchen table last week, masticating furiously on my sandwich”.    I looked at someone in the audience and said “that means ‘chewing’.   Why?  What did you think it meant?”

And I said a bunch of other stuff, and then finished with something that went like this:

“You know, when you have a client who is simply too demanding, and she says wants an answer to her computer problem NOW, and that she has waited for like fifteen days for someone to respond and she’s had this happen a zillion times before and she wants to know what’s wrong, and why can’t you fix it once and for all and what’s wrong with you anyway?  You know who I’m talking about, right?  And you know that sometimes you just don’t have an answer because you haven’t investigated yet, but she wants an answer now.  You know what you should do, right?

“You should employ the MBP solution.

“Here’s how it works:  you can tell her that there’s something wrong with the server’s Phase Converter Array (and then you look at her closely to make sure she’s not familiar with the Back to the Future reference and if you’re satisfied you continue on).  You tell her that there’s a weight problem that affects the array and that it comes from emails and Word documents that use too many full colons.  You then tell her that she should avoid the use of colons in her writing altogether, and that if she feels she really needs to use one, she should use a semi-colon instead, as the weight will only be half that of a full colon.  And you do this with a straight face and you wait for her to nod knowingly.

“And that, my friends is the successful application of the MBP solution.”

“Oh, and what does MPB stand for?  I’m glad you asked.  Your solution is strong, right?  What you might even say ‘mighty’.   And it’s big too.  The bigger the lie, the more believable it will be.  So that’s the ‘B”.  So ‘M’ is for ‘Mighty’ and ‘B’ is for ‘Big”.”

I looked around the room.  “But really, what we’ve offered her is just a bunch of crap, right?

“So the ‘P’ is for ‘Poop'”.

There was a lot of shocked laughter.  One of the directors came up to me afterward and said (while grinning) “so and so wasn’t too happy with your choice of illustrations.  She thought it was inappropriate”.   (So and so was a highly placed and very proper executive)

For some strange reason, this made me happy, and it just reinforced my desire to be as fucking inappropriate as possible whenever the occasion presented itself.

Also I find myself relating well to others who’ve discovered the beauty of inappropriateness.  It’s possible to be inappropriate without being a dick, though it’s a fine line for some.

Check out some of the blog writers to the right of this blog, on the blogroll lists.   Some of the most inappropriate and funny people I know.

Anticip………..ation

Posted: April 1, 2010 in ADHD, humor, Life
Tags: , , ,

I woke up this morning, startled.

I could see daylight, and that never happens.   Blearily, I squinted at the clock, which wavered back and forth, like a bad 3D movie.  The damned thing wouldn’t stay still.

“Stand still”

“Um, no.”

I pushed my knuckles into my eyelids, massaging the eyeballs, trying to coax them awake.  I opened my eyes again.

Oh dear lord.  It was worse.

Finally I dragged myself out of my warm – oh so warm, and comfy – bed and staggered over to the clock, which finally relented and maintained a constant pose.

“Oh good.  It’s only 7:00”

Wait.  7:00?  That means I only had………and I tried hard to compute the sleep hours I had tucked into my consciousness.  And failed.   Whatever it was, it wasn’t enough.

Stumbling into the hallway on my way to the bathroom I noticed a smell.  I stopped, sniffing.

Then I realized it was coming from me.   The smell was familiar too.  It was like a long-lost philandering cousin.  It wrapped me in its embrace.  And that’s when I realized what it was.

I was bleeding alcohol through the pores of my skin.

Ew.

Strangely, I didn’t have a headache, or exhibited any other signs of being hung over from last night.

I remembered last night and I smiled.   Such a great night.  I haven’t had such a full night like that in a long time.  One thing that happened though:  my companion and I closed the bar.  One of us noticed one of the servers sweeping up and suggested we leave.  It seemed like a good idea, so we did.

As I staggered to the sink, and closed my eyes for a few seconds, realization dawned.  There was a good reason as to why I had no hangover.

I wasn’t quite done being drunk.

That truth brought a grin to my face.   There was time to get on top of this thing, and that’s what I did.  I made a beeline for the water cooler and started loading up, in an attempt to stave off dehydration.

Work of course was a complete write-off.  I tried.  My eyes rebelled though.  Bad enough that they were red and watery.  Asking them to look at a computer screen was too much.  I brought a newspaper to work with me too, and was just as successful getting through that.

Finally, after lunch, I put my feet up on my desk, and thought “just a couple of minutes of shut-eye should do it.”  In theory, it’s supposed to work.  I nodded, and jerked awake, only to hear the ongoing sounds of productive work being done by my colleagues.   Figuring it was safe, and no one could see me, I closed my eyes once again.

And woke up startled once again.  This time, there were no sounds around me.  I’m not positive, because I was unconscious at the time, but there’s a 95%  chance I snored out loud.   No one was that uncouth as to ask about the state of my consciousness.  For that, I was grateful.  Had they done so though, I would have laughed.  What are you doing to do?

It’s not as if I regularly close down bars and try to work the next day.  A family member suggested I “work” from home.  In retrospect – that was a damned good idea.

I gave up trying to nap.  It wasn’t working and I was still pretty much dragged out.  Placing my feet back on the floor, I pulled my chair over to the computer, only to hear my cell phone ring.

“Sir?  We have an appointment for you.”

I was stunned.  I’d been waiting for this phone call for four weeks.  It was the doctor’s office, letting me know I have an appointment to be assessed for ADHD/ADD.  I had been calling them once a week, looking for that appointment, and they hadn’t gotten back to me.

Until now.

I was elated!   Finally – a time and date.   She gave me the details and we hung up.

It’s like you have this limp all of your life, which prevents you from full-out running.   You think everyone has this limp; that it’s normal, and that you’re just not trying hard enough to run, because you see other people around you running just fine.   And then someone comes to you one day and says “you realize that there’s a group of people who limp the same way you do, and that they’re born with this limp, and that there are ways to get around it, so that you can run like the rest.”

The elation only lasted for a while though – I still had the lack of sleep and the after-effects of the full-on drunkfest to deal with.  So I returned to earth, a little regretfully, but happy just the same, both with the memory of last night, and this news percolating gently on my brain.

It’s in the beginning of July.  Closer than I thought but still pretty far away.

Still – I can’t wait.

Act Your Age

Posted: March 29, 2010 in humor, Life
Tags: , , ,

I saw a gorgeous woman today.  She had to be in her 50’s but…she had a gorgeous presence about her.  An elegance and wonderful shine to her that wouldn’t quit.  Right away I surprised myself by giving into an impulse – to check her left hand for a ring.

It wasn’t just that she was svelte, or that she took such great and obvious care of her physique, her clothing and her hair.  I mean, that was all part of the package, but…she had a body language that spoke of confidence, of girlishness without compromise, regret or apology. 

I saw all of that within ten seconds.  She was on a mission somewhere and so was I.   We’ll likely never meet again.

Later on, I saw a comment on a friend’s Facebook wall, written by a stranger:  “the only thing worse than someone dressing their age is someone dressing as if they were still the age you want them to be.  Look in your closets people!  We all grow old…”

What utter shit!  There’s so much wrong with that statement, and I don’t mean just the grammar.  Basically what that’s telling me, is that when I get to be age 60, I should be prepared to put on a pair of old man’s pants, hike them up to my nipples and therefore be prepared in case of an ad hoc flood or two.

And women should just dye their hair blue, find the most baggy Mrs. Roper outfit they can find, and sit around blinking their Betty Davis eyes in constant surprise.  That is, when they’re not out playing bingo with their troll dolls.

Don’t get me wrong – I have an idea of what the guy was talking about.  I’ve seen all kinds of people wearing spandex, when they really really really shouldn’t.  I just think he took his point about a mile too far.

Someone once said that every time they look in the mirror, they’re shocked.  They expect to see a 20-something person looking back at them and can’t understand why a 40-something face is staring at them.    No worries, folk – you won’t read me saying something as abhorrent as “you’re only as old as you feel” or “she’s 953 years young”.  Nope.  You won’t read that here.

The fact is though – in our society we have a tendency to hurry the process.   Why does a 31-year old girl feel the need to wear dowdy clothing, and sport a coiffure worthy of Phyllis Diller?   It happens.  It really does.  It’s so disappointing and sad.   She obviously feels this is how she should look.  Someone fed her a line of bullshit and she scooped it up with a spoon.

I’m convinced it starts when we’re young, when some well-meaning but exasperated parent says “act your age!”.   When they say that, we have no point of reference, do we?  We hear that and we process it as “act older”.   And once we start down that road, we don’t know when to stop.   So many of us end up interpreting it as “stop growing, start aging already.”

Prepare yourself.  There’s a wide open grave with your name on it.   Get ready to jump.  Got your will in order?  Do you have any money in the bank to leave for the kids?  We’re going to give you a warning signal, so that you can get a running start.  When I say the word “retirement”, then…GO!!!  Run as fast to the cemetary as your wrinkled feet will go.  Smell the flowers?  FUCK the flowers!  That headstone won’t wait forever.

Fellow bloggers and readers, let me tell you something.  Indulge me, OK?  This won’t take long.

When a friend of mine talked me into taking improvisational comedy courses, she had no idea what it would do to me.   Performing in front of others was OK as long as it was scripted.   But this wasn’t scripted.  We were told to use our imagination.  Play.  Pretend we were someone else.  Build a history, and work within that character to create a scene with one or two or bunch of other people. 

“But….what if I don’t have any ideas?”

“Well.  Let’s see. Were you ever a kid?  I mean, ever in your life – did you at any time arrive at the age of five, seven or nine?”

Nod.

“Remember what you did back then?  Remember how you formed characters and situations and you played them with your friends with all seriousness, as if your character was real?  Remember how much fun that was?”

“Yes.”

“It’s just like that.  Children just let go.  They have no social filters.   They adopt and drop characters like crazy, just doing whatever comes into their minds.  Their main purpose is to have fun.  That’s what you have to do.  Become a kid again.”

You know what?  *smiling*  It worked.  I mean, sure we – I – looked as goofy as hell.  I began not to care though – this was too much fun.  I had learned what it meant to be a kid again.  And now I can’t shut it off, even if I wanted to.   I’ll blurt stuff out in serious meetings sometimes.  Others will look at me as if I’ve lost my marbles (and heck – maybe I have).   That stunned silence lasts for a few seconds until the laughter starts.   Fun.  So much fun.

The second thing:  my most favourite book ever is a small novel called “Jitterbug Perfume”.  I recommend it to anyone and everyone (and have mentioned even here in these blogs at least a couple of times).   I don’t know if the author intended this or not, but the book has acted as elixir of youth, not just for me but for countless people who have eyes to read.   I’m not spoiling it too much when telling you that the main character – a king named Alobar – makes a decision that he’s not going to age. 

It’s a decision anyone can make, when you get right down to it.   It flies in the face of science, and more importantly, of tradition.  Who said tradition was the be-all and end-all arbiter of our progress anyway?  Scientists will tell you that not everything that can be known is known.  They do know we only use about 10% of our brains. 

So why the rush to the grave anyway?  Who do we accommodate when we do this?  Not ourselves, certainly, and not our families either.  Something to consider. 

If I decide I’m going to dress up in wide-cuff bell bottoms, dye my hair purple and green, and put some piercings in my face, just because I want and need to express myself that way, who is anyone to tell me I’m not socially acceptable? 

If you decide to do something outlandish, like the 80-year old woman who had never sky-dived and had suddenly decided this was something she needed to do, who is ANYONE to tell her to act her age?

Aging is for lazy wimps.  It’s for other people.  Not you.  Not me.

Fierce Sheep

Posted: March 25, 2010 in humor
Tags: , , ,

Good morning ladies and gents.

I’ve been out-of-town for most of the week, hence my lack of participation here.  That will change starting this weekend when everything gets back to normal.  (Just had a thought:  it’s a good thing my real name doesn’t show up here, considering that I’ve just announced to the world that my apartment has a dearth of occupants and is therefore ripe for the picking)

Anyway, one of my readers – a talented cartoonist named Dan Roth – has published a cartoon based upon *wolfshades*.   I’ve been a fan of his for quite some time, and his comic strip is in my blogroll – Sheep Laughs.

Anyway, I invite you to check out his latest strip, which can be found here:   http://sheeplaughs.wordpress.com/2010/03/24/fierce-sheep-part-ii

Once you’ve seen that one, take a look through his archives.  It’s a fun trip!

Skinny

Posted: March 19, 2010 in humor, Life
Tags: , ,

One of the highlights of each week involves crawling out of bed on Saturday morning, getting washed and dressed, avoiding breakfast, and heading on over to the local Jenny Craig outlet, there to visit with some of the city’s most beautiful women.  Getting weighed in is an added bonus.

This has been a routine for about five years now, I think.

In a previous incarnation (read: before five years ago), I was over 300 pounds.  I don’t know by how much, on account of I stopped checking once I hit the 300 mark.   I don’t think I ever managed to attain Beast level, which is 350 pounds.  I probably got pretty close though.

It’s a funny thing – when you’re not self-aware, you can miss so much.  Like the fact that I was not only fat, but my life was in danger.  I didn’t know I was fat.  I know that just as sure as I know that the last sentence doesn’t make any kind of logical sense.  In my mind’s eye, I was still the teenage boy who couldn’t get over 128 pounds.  Ever.  I remember looking in the mirror back then, breathing in, and being able to count my ribs.   I suppose semi-starvation will do that to you.

One day some nasty evil family member took a side photo of me, sitting at the dining room table with my family.   That wasn’t nice of them at all.  And then, to add insult to horror, they showed it to me.

And that’s when I knew I was fat.   I wasn’t overweight, stout, big-boned or obese.  I was friggin’ FAT.

I had to do something about it.

In looking around, I saw other friends who had become overweight.  I saw them start various starvation diets, and fad diets, lose weight and gain it all back again.

Then, when I was doing improvisational comedy, I met this beautiful blue-eyed blonde girl.  She saw my shyness and something clicked for her, so she made it a point to draw me into her crowd and we became friends.

I only learned about six months later that she had once been overweight too, and had gone to Jenny Craig.   When we met up for the first time, she had been out of the Jenny Craig program for two years, and had – obviously – kept the weight off.

That was good enough for me.   I joined.  I lost.  And lost, and am still losing.

Yes, it’s been five years, and I’ve gained a little back now and then but for the most part, the slide has been a very very slow slide downward.  They say that’s the best way to lose.  If you lose it gradually (just as you gained it gradually) you have a better chance of keeping it off.  I agree.

My Jenny Craig counselor is a gorgeous laughing brunette named Maria.     Every week she weighs me in, and then we sit down and talk about the previous week.

“What’s the plastic bag for?” she asked me.

“Um, well that’s something to have so that I can empty my pockets before getting weighed in.”  I then proceeded to put in my wallet, keys, change, iPhone, ebook reader, and everything else you can think of into it.

“Oh” she said, thinking.  “So that’s kind of like your purse, huh?”  Her blue eyes were twinkling, even though she kept a straight face.

I looked at her.   And then I smirked.   “No.  Get it right.  It’s not a purse.  It’s a murse.   A man-purse.”

She laughed.

One of the things we talk about is technology.  She is severely behind the times when it comes to the latest gadget, even though she thinks the iPhone is pretty neat.   I have counseled her about it, advising her when to buy, and what to get in terms of a data plan.

Last week as we sat in her office she said “guess what?  You’ll never guess what I got.”

I looked at her.  “An iPhone?”

She grinned.  “No.  An iPod thingy.”

I chuckled.  “You mean an iPod Touch?”

“YES!  That’s it!  An iPod Touch!”

I shook my head in disbelief.  “Maria, Maria.”

“What?”

“An iPod Touch?  Really?  Why didn’t you go all the way and get an iPhone?”

“Well I…”

“And what size did you get?  Tell me you got a 32-Gig model”

“No. I got a 16-Gig.  Why?”

I grinned.  “You know what this is like?  This is like you going on The Price is Right and having Bob Barker announce that you’ve just won a brand-new 2010 Chevy….windshield wiper”

She laughed.  “No.  I want to get an iPhone someday but the guy at the shop told me the timing is wrong.”

[Note: when she read this blog, she corrected me.  She actually got an 8-Gig iPod Touch.  I’m shaking my head sadly in shame over here]

We talked some more and then she weighed me in.   I had lost another pound.

When I lose weight, Maria likes to put a sticky on my record.  After doing the customary male pride rejection of that idea – and after she persisted anyway – I gave in (really, I didn’t have a chance – her and her idea were just both too cute).   Every time I lose weight now, she drags out that sticker book and announces that I’m getting another one.   It makes me smile every time.

When she got out the sticker book last week, I thought about our iPod Touch conversation.  “Hey can I pick out the sticker this week?”

She gave me the book.  “Sure!  Go ahead.”

I hunted around for a good one, struggled to get it out, and then, instead of placing it on my record I grabbed her arm and affixed it to the back of her hand.  “There.  That’s your prize for getting an iPod Touch.”

She laughed.

And you wonder why I like Saturdays so much.

*********

Hope you have a great weekend!

Guilty Pleasures

Posted: March 17, 2010 in humor, Life
Tags: , , , ,

“So, what do you do in your spare time?”

The question was number 583 of the typical first date question list.  I knew this one by heart by now.

“I like to read a lot.” 

(My subconscious whispered “when I’m not killing aliens on my Playstation 3”.   My subconscious does that a lot.  Provides the inappropriate answer when I’m talking.  Sometimes it blurts it, actually.  And sometimes my mouth gangs up with my subconscious and some of the alarming stuff make it to the open air.  I like it when that happens.  Sort of.)

“Me too.  What do you read?  The classics?” she asked.

“Um, no.  I read espionage thrillers.”

“Oh.  Spy novels.”  Her disappointment was acute and embarrassing.  Evidently I was definitely not the super-intellectual she had mistaken me for. 

(“As evidenced by the placement of the preposition you decided belongs at the end of  the last sentence.”) 

(Note to subconscious: Ok shut up.  Shut up now.)

I’m pretty sure that was the turning point in our date.   She was not impressed, and I wasn’t impressed with her either.  Ah well.  Let’s see if date number 241.5 works out. 

(“Why the .5?  You didn’t date any midgets did you?”) 

(Subconscious:  they’re not called midgets.  They’re little people.  And no.  And once again: shut up)

So yes, I read spy novels.  Notably: books by Brad Thor, Alex Berenson, Daniel Silva, James Patterson, Vince Flynn and Barry Eisler.  I’m sure there are others out there – I just need to find them. 

(“Tell them why you read these”.)  

(Dude, seriously – you’re distracting me.  I’ll get to it.)

I read them, partly because my brain just loves shiny things – action, constant movement, attracts my attention and keeps me somewhat focussed.  Focus is a problem, so reading stuff like this, where the conflict and tension keeps rising is like a soothing balm to my psyche.   

I also read them because they satisfy, to a degree, the side of me that longs for justice.  

(“You’re not going there.  You’re not getting serious are you?”) 

(Yes.  Yes I am.  But only for a moment or two, aiight?)

Post-911, it seems that western society at large wants to have a freaking dialogue with terrorists.  The images of those towers falling and people falling or jumping from them remains a permanent fixture  in my memory.  A good friend of mine – a doctor, who lived in the U.S. but has since moved to Panama – told me right after 9/11 “just you watch:  this will all fade from American thought within two to three years, and people will go back to wanting to ‘just talk’ with Muslim extremists”.   To my horror and outrage, he was right.   Oh dear Lord, I could write a monstrous treatise on all of this and about how wrong-headed we are, but that would be another blog, and THIS one isn’t about foreign relations or terrorism or politics.   There will be one though, so you’ve been warned. 

‘K?

So anyway, my guilty pleasure is that I read these books for the fiction-based sense of justice they bring – where the good guys *know* (because they’ve investigated and found evidence) that the bad guys want to blow up stuff.  And, knowing that American politicians want to see the terrorists tried in open court and then jailed if found guilty, only to be let free to terrorize again eventually, the good guys take care of business.  I know it’s juvenile, and I’m OK with it. 

There were other guilty pleasures.  Like chocolate – the Achilles’ Heel to my Jenny Craig protocol. 

(“See?  You’re not a stumblebum: you used an ancient reference.”) 

(Yeah, I wasn’t worried.  You, on the other hand – well you said ‘stumblebum’ didn’t you?)

(“BLEAH”) 

(Oh that’s ugly.  Put your tongue back in your mouth.)

Also wine.  There was a time I drank wine every day.  I liked it so much that I worried about liking it so much, and so I stopped just to make sure I could.  Didn’t drink it for a month.  Satisfied myself that I wasn’t dependant on it.

Oh and let’s not forget gadgets.  I LOVE my gadgets:  it started off with my PalmPilot…..

(“*snicker*”)

(What?)

Anyway, then I purchased anything and everything that was electronic, computerized and new.  When the iPhone came to Canada I was the first in line at my local store to buy one.  And the next year when the iPhone 3G came out, once again I was first in line.   There’s a rumour that there’s a new one this year too, and I plan to be first in line.  Plus, I plan to buy an iPad, which will replace the Sony PRS-600 ebook reader I bought just a few months ago.

(“Why you aren’t fending the babes off, I’ll never know”)

(It’s not the gadgets, dude.  It’s the fact that you’re talking to me.)

(“Yes, and that you’re answering me”)

………

(Touché)

So…there you have it.  My guilty pleasures:  gadgets and reading.

I’m certain YOU have some guilty pleasures.   Mind telling me what they are?

Wanderer

Posted: March 12, 2010 in humor, humour, Life
Tags: , , ,

It all started when my friend Abe (you’ll see him in my blogroll) asked a question I had asked myself so many times before.  I don’t think he’ll mind my sharing it here, as I’m sure many of you have asked the same thing too.

Which is:  is there a way to email a blog that you read to someone’s email account? 

I started to reply to him and then thought “hey maybe I should take a good look” and so that’s what I did. 

Or started to do.

I went to wordpress.com’s personal dashboard, which is basically a menu system that allows you to customize the crap out of your blog.   Everything from general appearance to widgets (that’s those things you see along the side of this blog, like stats, and twitter comments and the like), to how many nested comments are allowed.  (I set mine at the max, by the way, which is ten.  Apparently that’s still not nearly enough).

And then I discovered a menu item called “domains”.  

“Hmm” I thought.  “Maybe there’s something in there.”

I’m an IT guy, so I know damned well there would be nothing in there having to do with emailing blogs elsewhere.   Still, my ears were up and so I went sniffing around.

“Interesting!” I thought.  This was clearly an item that, when accessed, would allow you to provide your own domain for your blogs.  I didn’t have a domain though.

“Hmmm.   I wonder if anyone’s chosen wolfshades.com yet”  (Those of you who’ve looked at your address bar at the top of your browser now might have an idea where this is going.)

So…I went to godaddy.com.  Bear in mind: I still hadn’t replied back to Abe’s email yet.

Nope.  wolfshades.com was available.   For only $7.99 or something.  Such a deal.  I thought I should go for it.

So I decided to buy the domain.

The sign up area wanted an email address, and not one of those throw-away free ones either.   The website indicated that a godaddy.com email address would work.

“How do I get one of those?” I wondered.  “Maybe I should click on ‘new account’ and I’ll get one that way.”  The website wasn’t clear.

I set up my new account, but it was still wanted an email address, so I gave it the one I’m using.

“There” I thought.  “Done.”

But wait.  Where’s the godaddy.com email?

So I spent another fifteen minutes looking around for that option, clicking on various links.  And then finally I found it.  And yes, it costs money.

“Well screw that” I thought, disgusted.  “I already pay enough for my current Apple email account”

So…I went back and purchased my wolfshades.com domain.  And I also bought the Canadian version – wolfshades.ca – just to keep it safe and out of other people’s hands.

Then came the add-ons.

“Do you want five email accounts with 2 Gigs of storage?”

“Or maybe ten email accounts with unlimited storage?”

“Or do you want the Deluxe package?”  (Ten email accounts, unlimited storage and I think a yearly vacation in the Bahamas and they come take your ex mother-in-law away, never to be seen again.  I could have that last one wrong though.)

I started to sign up for the middle option so that I could have unlimited storage.  Then I thought “what in heck am I going to do with ten email accounts?  That’s just stupid.  And do I need storage?  No.  Absolutely not.”

“In fact, I don’t even need one email account.”  And with that, I clicked on “remove”.

“Do you want to protect your domain?”   From what?  Raiding invaders?  Gingivitis?   I read a bit further.  Apparently there are people who will park themselves, just waiting for your account to lapse just so that they can scoop the domain.  Yup.  Need to protect myself.  So I clicked on “buy”.

“What about privacy?  Do you want your real name, address and email blasted across the internet, whenever someone does a WHOIS on wolfshades.com?”  (Not in those words of course.)   Absolutely not.   I’ve got stalkers out there (long story, and another blog).  I figured I’d better buy my privacy too.

“We’re assuming you want two years on this account right?”   I looked at the bottom line.  We were into about $120.00 by now, so I changed that to one year.

“Do you want people to know your website is safe?”   Kind of like “stampsies” I suppose, where you slam your foot to the ground and say “HOMEFREE!”   Yes, I suppose I want people ot know my site is safe.  Buy.

Are we freaking done yet?

Nope.  “Time to pay sucker sir.  How do you want to do this?  Credit card?  PayPal?  Two goats and a pig?  Staring contest?”

I made my chose and, just before I click on “buy” I noticed that there was a little field called “coupon code”.

SCORE!  That must mean I can get this a bit cheaper.

So I googled “coupon code for godaddy”.  Found a site immediately, and plugged in a coupon code. 

The page refreshed.   The cost hadn’t gone down.   Damn.

I went back to the coupon page and chose another one and plugged that one in.

The page refreshed, and there it was.  $10.00 cheaper.

Man do I rock.

So.  Are we done NOW?

Not quite, as it turned out.   It took a bunch of verification mechanisms, including one phone call to my cell phone, before godaddy confirmed my purchase of the two domains.   Time to plug that sucker into WordPress.

I tried. I clicked on Domains and then entered wolfshades.com.

“Sorry dude.  We can’t even see you ever here.  Did you enter it correctly?  Did you wiggle the mouse?”

I had.  But I did it again, because as everyone knows it takes a least two tries at doing the same exact thing before it works.  Right?

Wrong.  It didn’t work.  WordPress suggested that I needed to add their name servers (it’s a long story.  If you’re in IT you’ll understand but if you’re not, don’t worry your pretty little head about it, ‘k?).   Anyway, I went back to godaddy.com and entered wordpress’ name servers.    Then I went back to WordPress and tried it again.

It worked.  But we weren’t quite done.  WordPress wanted its slice of the pie too.  “That’s gonna cost ya, buddy.”   It sure did.  $7.99 per annum.

I paid, and now finally, it worked.

But wait.  What was I trying to do in the first place?

Oh right.  Figure out if it’s possible to email a blog to someone.   I spent another five minutes looking around and googling.

Nope.

And so finally, two and half hours after Abe sent me the message, I finally replied back to him.    

Sorry, Abe.   I just lost focus again.  I would tell you that it won’t happen again but …. I’d be lying.

Who knew a simple email would cost me $62.00?   

Got any more questions for me, buddy?  :)

Life in the Artistic Lane

Posted: March 4, 2010 in dating, humor, humour, Life, romance

The title of this blog is a bit ironic, since art really doesn’t follow a line, or a lane for that matter.  It tends to wander over the terrain of possibility, poking its nose in normally closed, otherwise unremarkable places.  The successful artist knows that his work will hit each observer differently.  That dynamic, the doing and the observing – whether we’re talking about painting, interpretative dance, acting or music, is part of the artistic process.  The artist who insists the observer see his work in only a determined fashion is likely not a true artist.   (That’s my opinion, not fact, and I’m sticking with it)

The Girl and I went to see a stage show, based upon improvisational comedy, at Second City in Toronto.  Fortunately, we were early and so managed to grab some seats right at the front of the place.    It was a treat to hear her musical laugh all the way through.

After, we got to talking. 

She shook her head. “I could never do that”.

“Oh I don’t know.  I’ll bet you could.  I used to be fairly shy on stage but once you get into it, it’s a lot of fun.  And there are so many other benefits too.”

“Like what?”

This took me back about five years ago, when I started taking improv classes.  For those who don’t know what improv is, think about that show “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” with Drew Carey.   The four member cast at the front would take suggestions from the audience and then build stories that they would act out.  For example, they would ask the audience about an object that they might find in the trunk of their car.   “An old doll!”

“OK, and what kind of room can think of that would only hold four people?”

“A closet!”

“A bathroom!”

“A sausage factory!”

“A sausage factory?  Wow.  You’re weird. I want to talk to you afterward.  I think we’ll go with the bathroom.  So, right.  We’re talking about an old doll in a bathroom.  And…..SCENE!”

With that, the actors would act out a story using those two elements.  It remained for them to figure out the relationship between the four people.

It sounds difficult but really, it’s about going back to your childhood.  Any of you reading this can probably remember playing with your friends at a very young age, and making up stories and relationships, right?  It’s about letting go of your dignity long enough to be a child again.

When you take the improv course, there are two important rules:  one, everyone participates; and two, no one is allowed to say “no” to any suggestions being made.  Since everyone in the classroom has to participate, it’s pretty difficult to feel shy or centered out.  The risk belongs to everyone, not just one single person.

I frankly can’t think of another adult group activity that was ever so much fun.  You got to be as creative as you like.  You could learn different personalities and act them out.  And once you did it in class for a few years, as I did, going up on stage wasn’t that big a deal.  It kind of made it more exciting.

I once played an old man who was married to a gold-digging wife who was seeing a doctor on the side.  Her and the doctor decided they wanted me dead, so he prescribed an experimental drug on me, which had the unfortunate side effect of causing a permanent erection.  For that, we developed a prop which I wore under my medical gown, creating a larger than life tent, which I used to bump into things and people and knocking things over.  A little low-brow perhaps, but you couldn’t argue with the audience, all of whom were laughing in disbelief.

In one of our classes, the instructor was teaching us about the weight of our imaginary set.  In this case, he wanted us to imagine a heavy heavy door, and he wanted us to build a scene where we had to open and close that door with great difficulty.  Anyone could go up, and so we did.  The first guy walked about to the door, took out an imaginary heavy set of keys, stuck it in the lock, fooled around with it for a while trying to get it to work.  Once unlocked, he had to put all of his body weight into opening it, and then again when he had to pull it shut.   The next guy went through the same routine, entered the room and began to have some low chatter with the first guy.  A few more went up, using different variations.

Until that point, we didn’t know what this door was, or what room it opened into.  So I went up.  Like the others, I had difficulty opening this imaginary door.  Once I got inside though, I looked around in disgust at them.  “Hey, how many of you guys here? ”  I began counting.  “One, two, five. Ok you’re all here.  So let me ask:  WHO THE HELL IS OUT THERE GUARDING THE PRISONERS????”   With that, they all scurried back out of the door.

The side benefits? 

Well, hanging out with all of these vibrant creatives types after the show was just magical.  So many summer nights when we tried out different late night restaurants, or went to one or the other’s house, where we’d end up drinking and talking until the wee hours of the morning.  Our discussions turned serious sometimes, and we got into some heavy topics.  We also got into a lot of “what if” topics – perhaps a by-product of the improv creative process.

We learned to practice our improv art in real life situations too.  One night, three of us talked about what we wanted to do for Hallowe’en.

“I know!” said our host.  “Why don’ t we go as priest and nun?”

The girl in our little group looked at me.  “You can go as an altar boy.”

Our host grinned.  “And I can put of those S&M dog studded collars on your neck and we can walk down Yonge St., just to see the reactions.”

I both loved and was horrified by the idea.   We never got around to doing it, of course, because by the time Hallowe’en rolled around we were all off doing our own thing.

My friends and I had such a good time, being on stage and then hanging out afterward, that I kind of took it for granted. 

This, for me, represents the artist lifestyle.  Being with people who by virtue of their own fertile imaginations, allow and provoke creativity in your own mind.  It, along with Tom Robbins’ book – Jitterbug Perfume –  provided a sort of life epiphany for me. 

“Epiphany” murmured The Girl, in her sweet Russian accent.

“Right.  A sudden insight, usually brilliant, which can cause a change in your thinking and actions.”  That was the best I could come up with.

She smiled.  “I’m adding that one to my vocabulary.”