Whipped Fish and other Retro Food Horrors

So a dear friend of mine is hosting a get-together next weekend and declared the theme of the evening to be ‘Retro Foods’.  I thought this was just the cleverest thing – what a fun idea!  We scour the internet or our Moms’ cookbooks for party-favorites of a bygone era, attempt to prepare them, and bring them to share with everyone at an evening that is certain to be a rollicking good time, as always.  Being the slight (throat clearing…) procrastinator that I am, I hadn’t yet settled on my offering, but I decided to do a bit of ‘research’ on the internet today and what I found has frightened me to my core.  I Googled ‘retro appetizer’ and as I scrolled down the images I became more and more certain that the parties of the 50s and 60s were genuine gastronomical horror shows.

I also noticed a bit of a trend towards the following, now near-extinct phenomena:

  • Canned ‘ham’ – or other tinned, gelatinous solids posing as meats
  • Along similar lines, faux cheese products such as Velveeta
  • Pickles – usually sweet
  • Coloured bread – green bread is wrong.  If it’s green, you should chuck it or make penicillin.
  • Jello moulds containing obscene suspended ingredients
  • Balls or ‘loaves’ of ingredients that don’t belong in the same sentence, never mind the same mouthful
  • Whipped fish – need I say more?

Of course I couldn’t resist compiling a small gallery of some of the most terrifying examples I encountered.  Bon appetit!

Jellied eggs:

jellied egg

Almonds in a haystack:

almonds in a haystack

Bologna cake:

bologna cake

Cauliflower with breaded dildos:  (ok, ok, I made that name up)

cauliflower with breaded weiners

And continuing the phallic theme: Ham-wrapped baked banana with mustard sauce  (say what, now?)

baked banana with ham and mustard

Whatever this godforsaken brick is:

brick o food

Creepy smiling salmon mousse:

freaky salmon mousse

Jello with olives. Ya…

olive jello salad

As the Jello Ad says:  Don’t let a week go by without serving one of these magnificent treats.


So I KNOW I can’t dance.

Carlton Banks knows he can dance.

But Carlton Banks knows he can.

I’m not sure whose fault it is, exactly, but I have the coordination of a drunken octopus on rollerblades.

It’s particularly a bummer this time of year because:

1)  There are usually weddings to attend (and unless the couple is really square, there will be dancing).

2)  So You Think You Can Dance is lighting up the small-screen with people who can definitely dance.

I think it’s often the case that we admire those who are immensely talented in areas where we consider ourselves lacking.  After concerts (I sing) there are always a few people who come up to me and say “I just don’t know how you do that!” and I think to myself I don’t know how NOT to.  I’ve been singing pretty much since I could make sounds and singing in front of people since I was 8 or so.  It comes naturally to me.  I have honed my skills with years of training (thanks Mom and Dad!) but it started with just some raw ability and interest.  My parents are musical, so I came by it honestly enough and I was exposed to it a vast amount of good music starting in utero.  (Apparently I would kick my way through my parents’ trips to the symphony before I was even born.)

Unfortunately for me, my parents may be music-lovers, but they’re definitely NOT dancers.  Both were raised in the Baptist church and the Baptists (at least the old-school ones) were pretty firm in their stance on dancing being a direct ticket to hell (with inevitable pit-stops in fornication paving the way).

**I think my Mom would appreciate my clarifying that she is now more of a born-again-skeptic/free-thinker who left her rigid Baptist roots behind decades ago.**

But she was still a pretty conservative parent when my sister and I were growing up:

When all the little girls in my class were drowning in tutus and jazz shoes my Mom was firm in her belief that the dance moves they were learning contained ‘lewd gyrations’ inappropriate for children.  I think she was convinced they were all going to grow up to be strippers or hookers.  As it has turned out, I still know many of them and most are married, have young children and hold university degrees in fields like nursing, teaching and occupational therapy.  I think there’s even one veterinarian and one dentist.  Not quite the heroin-addicted harlots my Mom envisioned.

...or this

I forgive you Mom.  Mainly because there are no pictures like THIS of me.

I forgive you Mom.  Mainly because there are no pictures like THIS of me.

…or this.

Alas, while these unexpectedly upstanding citizens boogie down at special events, I find myself with limited options.

1)  Sit out everything but the slow dances

2)  Dance awkwardly and self-consciously in a style that could best be described as octogenarian-foreign-exchange-student-on-horse-tranquilizers

3)  Get so blindingly intoxicated that my self-consciousness gives way to unashamed ass-shaking  (I spent 4 post-secondary years in this state)

The other complicating factor is my spouse.  My blessed husband falls into the rare and fascinating category of a man with decent rhythm, average dancing ability and limitless confidence about his dancing prowess.  He possesses genuine certainty that he is a dancing-savant and the amazing thing is, everyone is so distracted by his enthusiasm that they think he’s a fabulous dancer.  It’s like a great-dancer-mirage.  Upon consideration though, I think there’s a lesson here:  Dancing is obviously at least 50% confidence.  Do the math.  If you’re 100% confident, even if you’ve only got 60% ability, you get an A.  (Yes, I used a calculator to make sure.)

I guess that’s where the booze comes in handy.  You can drink your way to confidence and then even a failing dance grade of 40% gets you a solid B (or B- depending on your scale).  Perhaps I’m confusing confidence with not-giving-a-shit, but either way, you’ll have a better time.

Napoleon Dynamite has confidence!  Vote for Pedro.

Not unlike the tone-deaf music lovers who are ‘rock stars in their own cars’, I have been known to dance around my (empty!) house while cooking or cleaning.  The dogs look at me funny but who are they to judge?  Crotch-sniffing creatures don’t get a vote.

I guess me and my 8 left feet just need to learn to ‘Dance like there’s nobody watching’ or some other cliché meant to make clumsy people feel better about themselves.

Nah, fuck it.  I’ve never been one for clichés.  I think I’ll stick with liquor.

This guy has 200% confidence.  For NO DAMN REASON.

This guy has 200% confidence.  He needs 0% skill to be an awesome dancer.  He must be blitzed.

Poor Kate’s Royal Vagina

Kate's Ladybits

I’m certain this is the first and last time I’ll ever utter these words:  Poor Kate.

I know, I know.  Maybe you’re finding it hard to summon any sympathy for her.  After all, she’s thin, beautiful, stylish, rich beyond measure (by marriage…although I think she was quite wealthy even beforehand) and married to the future King of England.  (I imagine she’ll be Queen when he ascends the throne, although you never know with those royals and their titular trickery.  I thought she’d be a Princess when she married Will and they pulled a fast one that time.)  Regardless, her life looks pretty damn peachy.

Sorry...can't resist.  Peachy Kate.

Sorry…can’t resist. Peachy Kate.

But if I may, I’d like to provide a brief argument in favour of extending some sympathy her way, just this once.  Consider this:  millions around the globe are currently fixated on her vagina.  Seriously.  How would you feel?  Unless you’re a porn star, I’m guessing the answer is ‘not great’.  Personally, I’d like to think the number of people thinking about my vagina at any given time maxes out at two.

I hesitate to admit it, but I’ve read countless articles about the upcoming royal birth.  I’ve tracked Kate’s maternity fashions with rapt interest and read extensively about her supposed nursery décor and prenatal care which leads me to the reasonable assumption that today and in the weeks to come we’ll be seeing scads of stories about the birth itself.  I’m guessing everything from how long Kate laboured, what drugs, if any she used, the breathing techniques she employed and whether any sweat dotted her brow or noises escaped her lips to the designer label in the nightie she was wearing, the colour of polish adorning her toenails in those gilded stirrups, and the thread-count of the Egyptian cotton sheets on her hospital bed will no doubt be scrutinized.  Much of it will be suppositions or outright falsehoods, but we’ll gobble it up nonetheless.

Shit, it was international news last year when she got bangs.  The woman can’t change her pantyhose without it hitting the front page.  (Ok, I also feel a bit sorry for her about the pantyhose.  Apparently once you’re royal you can’t go barelegged anymore and to me, donning pantyhose daily is kind of on-par with having regular root canals.  Those royal privates haven’t been able to breathe properly in several years.  Perhaps the variety of pantyhose she spends all her time in are exceptionally comfortable and breathable, but I kind of doubt it.  I’m convinced a man invented pantyhose and no one has put much time or effort into improving them in the last half century.)

Anyway…Kate must know this (not just about the pantyhose; but about the international obsession with her current predicament.)  Although I haven’t had any babies of my own, I’m inclined to think that most first-time mothers have enough on their minds during labour that they don’t need the added stress of knowing the world is waiting to hear every detail of the less-than-glamorous situation south of their belly buttons.  Any of the Moms I know would readily tell you that your dignity goes out the window during childbirth.  Your body and mind are likely to betray you and any semblance of pride you previously possessed gets trampled by the hordes of medical professionals who come to have a glance at your hooha.

So just this once, I think we should extend Kate a little sympathy.  Not because she’s doing something women around the world do every day (most in considerably less posh surroundings) but because she has to do it knowing that her ladyparts are the subject of international buzz.

Soon enough the media will turn their attention (and ours) to Kate’s post-pregnancy fashions and weight loss, her breastfeeding choices and parenting decisions, not to mention the future monarch’s every move.  I would think this might be a welcome shift after the global obsession with her reproductive organs over the past nine months.

Just remember, a few years from now we’ll be doing this again, albeit with somewhat less vehement fervour.  After all, Kate’s not finished yet: she owes them an heir and a spare.

Heir & Spare

Monday. Coffee. Swearing.

Coffee - Don't make me kill you

Look, the title’s got it covered.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you about the swearing.

This could get ugly…for various reasons, the most influential of which is that I’m short on sleep and it’s Monday.  (Or is that two reasons?)  Sadly, I don’t even have a great excuse.  It’s not like we were out having a roaring good time drinking with friends.  (Hubby always says Sunday beers taste better than beers any other day of the week.  Personally, I think beer tastes like lightly carbonated piss any day of the week.  But Sunday drinks, definitely.  It’s just that somehow Sunday Drinks doesn’t have the same ring to it.)  Anyway, we weren’t drinking.  We went out for a Sunday drive (true story), meandered all over the countryside and then into the city and had some ice cream.  Very G-rated.  I loved it.  It reminded me of Sunday outings with my parents when I was a kid.  Driving around on a beautiful day with no set destination or agenda other than a desire to locate and consume ice cream at some point is one of those childhood memories I most cherish and one of those rare activities I savour as an adult.

At the end of our outing we picked up a couple of movies from the Zip rental machine and headed home to flop on the couch.  By the time we got the movie started it was nearly 10pm, which is the approximate time most weeknights when I notice hubby is snoozing on the sofa with his mouth wide open and I shove him and suggest we head for bed, however, we’d slept in til after 9 that morning so we weren’t getting sleepy yet.  We proceeded to watch We Bought a Zoo, with Matt Damon (yum!) and Scarlett Johansson (meh.  she only has one character in her thespian arsenal and if you don’t get a glimpse of her exceptional cleavage I’m not sure I see the point in casting her.)  Decent movie actually.  A little predictable, but heartfelt.  The zoo animals are spectacular.  I cried quietly (on and off) like a loser over the dead wife and the poor sick tiger (but had to contain the ugly cry for fear of hubby razzing the crap out of me.)

It’s Monday and I’m overtired not because I was drinking like a normal childless adult on a beautiful summer night, but because I went on a Senior Citizen-approved Sunday outing and then watched a slightly-better-than-average movie.  Here’s where I was headed with that:

On my way into work this morning I decide I want a coffee.  I didn’t have time to make one at home because I was in a rush (I’m pathologically late but trying to improve).  So I stop at McDonald’s.  I like their coffee (and service) better than Tim’s (gasp!) and it’s in a convenient location on my commute.  I go through that McDonald’s drive-thru probably 2-3 times each week and they’ve NEVER screwed up my coffee.  (Whereas Tim Horton’s can be counted upon regularly to hand you a multi-grain bagel with strawberry cream cheese and 20 of those godawful un-iced Timbits when you ordered a toasted plain bagel and 20 assorted Timbits and specifically requested they leave out those stupid unglazed ones.  ‘Cus who in the hell wants a dry little ball of cake?  Not this gal.  In my humble opinion, the purpose of Timbits is two-fold: 1 – to increase the ratio of icing to donut and 2 – to allow me to consume way more than 1 donut’s worth without the guilt of eating three or more donuts.)


Back to McD’s:  I appreciate that they are usually extremely timely and accurate in the drive-thru and employ staff with sufficient IQ to string together a coherent sentence.  But this morning is different.

1)  I pull into the parking lot only to discover the drive thru lanes are blocked by milk crates and a miraculously typo-free sign indicating their regret that the drive-thru is closed.  What the fuck?
2)  I circle the building (cus I actually have time) and park my car so I can go inside.
3)  Once I get three steps from my car I look over and see a McEmployee in the process of removing the sign and milk crates.
4)  I actually utter aloud “What the fuck!” which seems to amuse the construction guys in their truck nearby with the windows rolled down.  Oops.
5)  I get back into my car.  THIS TURNS OUT TO BE A CRITICAL ERROR.
6)  I steer over to the drive-thru and find myself third in line.  Third!  What the fuck?
7)  I get up to the speaker and hear an unfamiliar voice.  Shit.  I order my coffee exactly as usual.  Large, 3 creams, 1 sugar, shot of caramel.  (Yes, I admit I like it sweet and creamy.  I don’t eat breakfast, so I guiltlessly enjoy this.  If coffee doesn’t taste dessert-like, I don’t bother with it.  My eating philosophy is explained further in Healthy Shmealthy.)
8)  The girl sounds confused.  Flustered.  Repeats “So that’s a large with, uh, 3 creams, a shot of sugar and, uh, – long pause – caramel?  Uh, I’ll have your total at the window.”  The screen reads cream, sugar, shot caramel but I’m kinda driving ahead already because I don’t want that bastard in the other lane to sneak ahead of me.  I was here first, dammit.
9)  I wonder to myself, doesn’t the screen usually say ‘3 creams’?  I get to the window.  Shit.  She looks dopey.  I’d remind myself to confirm my order before I proceed to the next window.
10)  McDopey says ‘That’s the coffee with caramel?  It’s $2.15.”  I hand her a $10 bill.
11)  McDopey hands me $1.55 in change.  What the fuck?  I look at her with squinty eyes and say, “Didn’t I give you $10?”
12)  McDopey looks at me blankly for few seconds, then realizes what I’m saying.  ($10 minus $2.15 probably isn’t $1.55).  She has to go get someone who is allowed to open the register.  I hear her ask them how much change to give me.  Oh my god.
13)  McDopey now wants the $1.55 back so she can give me proper change.  Huh?  I finally get my $7.85 in change and am so befuddled by this turn of events that I forget to confirm my order. (CRITICAL ERROR #2)
14)  I pull up to the second window and a woman hands me my coffee.  It’s too late to ask her what’s in it without looking neurotic so I drive away, simply shaking my head.
15)  I open the peek-a-boo lid to take a sip.  It smells caramel-icious.  Great.  I sip.  Yech!  I look inside and see murky brown coffee.  What the fuck?

After all of that, I’ve got a large coffee with a shot of caramel and precious little else.  Maybe a miniscule splash of cream.

W h a t   i n   t h e   n a m e   o f   f u c k?!

I cut my losses and continue on my way to work, aggravated.  After arriving at my desk and a quick scan of my inbox for items of imminent urgency (there aren’t any),  I head for the lunch room with my miserable, ill-fated coffee.  Once there, I pop the lid and pour in some more cream and a sugar.  Stir.  Sip.  Yum.  But it’s now lukewarm.  Grrrr.  I decide to pop it in the microwave and proceed to bump it on the lip of the turntable and spill at least a third of it in the microwave.  Seriously?  Just kill me now.  I have to remove my coffee cup and the glass turntable, wash everything off, and try again.

I no longer need coffee.  I need Valium.  Or a drink.  What do they say about Monday drinks?

Healthy Shmealthy

orange vs oreo

It would be delightful if I were one of those bok-choy-loving-kale-juice-drinking-organic-vegan-cheese-eating-pomegranate-facial-scrub-yoga-obsessed people.  I’d probably live longer and sleep better and have flawless skin…

…the thing is, I think I’d also be fucking miserable, and I’m well aware of the role mental health plays in overall longevity and life satisfaction.

I can’t seem to help it.  When given the choice between the healthy option and the tasty option (not that they are always mutually exclusive) I’m going to pick taste.  Would I like some kale chips?  Well sure, if they’re the only available snack – I’ll grudgingly admit that I actually think they’re fairly tasty – but would I like some kale chips if they’re sitting next to a bowl of Cheetos?  Not on your life.

Now here is my theory:  (and I’m going to go ahead and throw my sainted Mother under the bus here)  I think the reason I love sugar and salt and spice and grease so much is because I didn’t eat enough of it growing up.  My mother wasn’t the macrobiotic, organic, vegan freak-type, but she was firm in her mission to serve healthy, non-processed food to her family.  She avoided buying prepared foods and sugary cereals and pop.  We almost never went out to eat in restaurants, except for very special occasions, although we occasionally ordered pizza or had Chinese takeout.  There were usually plenty of cookies around but they were always the home-made variety (which thankfully are infinitely yummier than store-bought).  Don’t get me wrong: we weren’t completely deprived or anything, it’s just that the less healthy options were a bit of a rarity.

As for the current organic craze – sure, I’ll gladly eat organic produce – but only if it’s not prohibitively expensive and I think there’s a discernible difference between it and the alternative.  (Organic baby carrots are the most obvious example I can think of – they’re not crazy-pricey but they taste exponentially better.  Try ’em.  You’ll thank me.)  Also, I think hearing from family friends who told my Mom their son did nighttime pesticide crop-dusting for organic growers put a damper on my faith that organic is always really organic.  If I’m going to pay $8 for a banana I just think it should come with a certificate of organic authenticity signed by the Pope.

When they’re in season, my husband and I buy fruits and veggies from the local farmer’s roadside stand and we have been trying to buy more of our meats from a local butcher, (although I have a sneaking suspicion that the hormones I’ve ingested from grocery store meat are the only reason I have breasts whatsoever.)  Anyway, it’s not like we aren’t giving the eat-local movement a fair shake.  It’s more that I think getting obsessed with it isn’t worth the fuss.  I’m just not one to get caught up in dietary or fashion fads.  I’m a naturally skeptical consumer in all my shopping.  Salespeople everywhere, take note:  you’re not gonna get me on the upsell.  I don’t want your extended warranty or that weather protectant spray or an ugly carrying case.  I’m not interested in buying 4 more to save 50 cents or signing up for your emails or your loyalty card.  The answer is ‘no’ to whatever you’re hawking.  Seriously.  No.

The one and only exception to my ‘no upsell’ policy is sauces and condiments.  Waitress:  if you offer me additional quantities or options on those, your tip just increased.

In fact, my personal eating philosophy can really be encompassed in one simple phrase:  I don’t think life would be worth living without condiments.

I’d probably lay down and wait to die if I found out that I could never have mayonnaise again.  (Likewise ranch dressing – not on salads, ironically I think that’s gross, but as an accompaniment to my hands-down favorite food; Buffalo Fingers.)

Let me give you some examples:

  • I like my coffee with lots of cream and sugar.  (And not the ‘5% tastes like 10%’ shit.  Read the label, it’s full of carrageenan.  That is seaweed, people. )
  • I adore Eggs Benedict.  It’s the breakfast equivalent of my relationship with Buffalo Fingers.  But don’t bother serving it to me unless the Hollandaise can be measured in cups.
  • Aforementioned Buffalo Fingers (or wings) must be breaded, deep fried, doused in medium or hot sauce and accompanied by a vat of ranch dressing.
  • Chips have a best friend called dip. Pitas and dip are also on affectionate terms.  (BH – your epic ‘Oh Shit’ dip changed my life.)
  • Fish & Chips are lovely, heavenly greasiness – but utterly pointless without loads of tartar sauce and malt vinegar.  And how about some gravy for the fries…
  • Tacos or fajitas aren’t complete without loads of cheese and sour cream.  Ditto that for baked potatoes – but please add butter, bacon and green onions too!
  • While we’re on the topic of butter, if I’m going to eat bread, it needs plenty – salted butter (not margarine, blasphemer), preferably slightly cooler than room temperature if possible.  And fuck whole wheat.
  • Anything involving whipped cream should be almost entirely obscured by it.

The way I see it, we’ve all got to die at some point and if I die of congestive heart failure, at least I won’t have the right to be indignant over it.

If my body is a temple, I’m pretty sure it’s the Southern-Baptist variety.  And I’m only really there for the church picnic of fried chicken, potato salad, apple pie and the like.  I’ll raise my hands and shout ‘Hallelujah!’ to deliciousness with a born-again zeal.  If I croak afterward, so be it.  I can think of considerably worse ways to go than with a drumstick in my hand.

Death by Drumstick

Gasp! Heaven forbid that hockey stars should marry EACHOTHER

hockey players kissing

Good job, 98.1 FM

During my morning commute each weekday I tend to have radio listener’s ADD.  I don’t like to listen to the morning hosts’ senseless blathering.  I don’t care about Bad Boyfriend Poker.  (Or much worse Roses; a dreadful gimmick where the DJs trick douchey boyfriends or spouses into answering a brief telephone survey in exchange for a dozen free roses to send to anyone they wish – which these fools inevitably send to someone other than their girlfriend or wife who is listening in on the whole thing, live on the radio.  The Jerry Springer-esque fallout that ensues is meant to be entertaining. If you have half a brain, it’s not.)  I don’t particularly enjoy the Classical 96.3 Snooty News, or the weather (which is wrong more often than it’s right), or the generally obnoxious Dean Blundell Show (sorry honey, I just don’t like it, I tried).  So what I do is surf incessantly.  As soon as the mindless chatter commences, I hit the button until I get to a station playing something that could pass for music and return to my state of head-bobbing highway hypnosis.

Yesterday morning however, I was in perhaps a greater state of Monday morning apathy than usual and was listening idly as the chatter on 98.1 FM (a mind-numbing ‘current hits & yesterday’s favorites’ kind of station that sticks to a steady playlist of easily palatable pop hits) led into their daily entertainment update.  I soon had the enormous pleasure of hearing the following exchange:

Cheesy lady host:  “Two NHL stars got married over the weekend”.
Even cheesier guy host  “But not to each other” (with an audible smirk)
Lady host:  “THAT wouldn’t be a good thing!”

It was at this point that I groaned aloud and then exclaimed, to absolutely no one “SERIOUSLY???!!!”

What exactly would the crisis be if two NHL stars married eachother??  Would the entire sport of hockey grind to a shuddering halt?

(Wait, just let me get my soapbox…)

It’s unfortunate, but the world of professional sports continues to be an unwelcoming climate for gay athletes.  I’m no fool:  I understand that the men’s locker room is one of the last bastions of unbridled machismo and that the use of homophobic slurs has long been part of the ordinary banter, but acknowledging the status quo and accepting it are two different things.  “We always have” is not a good enough excuse to continue.

When, over the last 75 years or so, professional sports began to admit black athletes, the concept and individuals themselves were met with resistance and experienced a period of transition – I’m sure members of public and teams alike shrieked ‘it’ll never work!’  Hell, there was a time in the last half century when African Americans were thought to carry different diseases than whites.  They were forced to use separate rest rooms and water fountains and sit at the back of the bus and frequent separate movie theaters.  Now, looking back, how batshit crazy does that seem?

I’m confident that in the foreseeable future, the concept of segregation and intolerance linked to sexual orientation is going to seem equally ludicrous. People will scratch their heads and wonder how they ever thought there could possibly be a difference between the love shared by heterosexual couples versus that of same-sex couples.

No one truly believes that there are no gay players in professional sports but there continues to be an unwritten policy of ‘Don’t ask don’t tell’ and breaking down the communication barrier is critical to fostering a climate of acceptance and respect.  Baby steps are being taken (and since they are a relative rarity, they are regarded more as massive leaps).  I wept to read Jason Collins’ article in Sports Illustrated.  One player coming out should NOT be a news sensation – but it still is. and so I cheer for those who are brave enough to do it!  The only way we can hope for the next generation to be less homophobic than ours and the ones before it is by providing kids and teens with positive LGBT role models.  The Arts sphere has been doing an exemplary job of this recently (and been more quietly welcoming to the LGBT community for decades) but, (as I’m about to point out) not all gay kids want to work in the Arts and unless we make it known to them that they can expect a culture of acceptance and equality in ANY field, the closeting will continue.

Newsflash to the ignorant masses:  Not all gay men are musicians, interior decorators and fashion designers.  They haven’t all been carefully corralled into LA or the big-city Gayborhood.  They’re EVERYWHERE – your bank teller, your doctor, your travel agent, your kid’s teacher or your auto mechanic.  Your trash collector, your landscaper, your next-door neighbour, or your boss.  And if you didn’t think any less of them when you thought they were straight, why change now?  (The same sentiment obviously applies to the stereotyping of LBT individuals).

Look, maybe the radio host didn’t mean any harm.  Maybe she realized she’d said something homophobic afterward and felt like an ass.  No matter what, unfortunately, her words simply reflect the majority of sportsfans’ attitude today:  “Gay athletes – no way, they couldn’t be!”  And just in case you hadn’t caught my drift yet, I’ll distill it down: that is NOT OK with me.  I’m hoping that in my lifetime we’ll get to the point where ‘coming out’ goes like this:

Guy to his buddy:  “So, uh, I don’t know if you know already, but, uh, I’m gay.”
Buddy:  “Cool.  Whatever.  Lace up your skates before the ice fucking melts, buddy.”

A non-event.  A passing conversation of the same level of importance as what we ate for breakfast or how bloody hot it was yesterday.

And when the day finally comes that two gay NHL stars wed, I will be pumping my fist instead of shaking it.

hockey bums

I can’t wait to go for a run later! (said this gal, NEVER)

…alas, I hate running.

Which is a bummer because it’s probably the most practical form of exercise ever – all you need is a pair of half-decent shoes, operational knee joints and the motivation to get your ass out the door in said shoes.  It’s inexpensive, you can do it almost anywhere and it requires no special training (unless you want to go to the Olympics or something, but clearly, most people don’t.  And if you do, have you really thought that through?  ‘Cus the Ethiopians seem to have it pretty much covered, at least for the longer distances.  Maybe you should try badminton, or bobsledding.)

I’ve run a couple of 5ks (for charity, badly, slowly) and running a 10k is on my bucket list.  (And from a purely practical standpoint, I probably shouldn’t leave it til my knees completely crap out.) But here’s the thing:  I hate running.

There have been times in my life (two, to be exact) when I actually managed to get into a regular running groove, so it’s not like I’ve never given it a fair try.  I ran every day the summer I was 16.  I was working at a Resort and I was going mental so I got into the habit of running every day.  This was pre-iPod era so all I had to listen to were my own thoughts.  I suppose I could have bought myself a Walkman, but then I would have had to heft it around.  (Plus, I was making almost negative money for my superlative ice cream scooping skills once my employer deducted room and board.  They had the audacity to pay less than minimum wage – which charities can get away with – and then charge us to live in an ancient boathouse building that was literally condemned a couple years later.)

ANYWAY…For those of you who are old enough to remember the Walkman, enough said.  For those who aren’t or who have blocked out those memories, they were about the size of a sandwich (maybe made on texas toast) and had super dorky headphones (see figure 1).  You put cassettes in them (see figure 2) which usually contained 12-16 songs and had to be taken out of the machine, flipped and reinserted mid-way through the album.  Even the bloody cassettes were bigger than iPods.

orig walkman

A Sony Walkman
(and its accompanying super-sexy headphones)

girl w cassettes

Figure 2:  Cassette Tapes
(Also, feel free to enjoy the chia-pet perm.)

So what you should be grasping from this is that a Walkman was not a super practical running accessory.  (Just so you don’t think I’m ancient, they had invented the Discman by then but it was even bigger than the Walkman and the CD would skip if you subjected it to vigorous jostling, so it was even less practical.)

The next time I got into running was more than a decade later and that time, I was doing it to get fit.  By then, thank god (or Steve Jobs) the iPod had been invented, so at least I could rock out while I ran.  We lived in the hood at the time, so I ran with my iPod and my ‘pepper scented bear repellant’, just in case I encountered any skeezy, downtown bears with bestiality on the brain.  (Is it still bestiality if the animal initiates the sexual encounter with the human?  Or would bears call that something different?  Like humanality?)  Whatever.  I ran.  After a few months of running I decided to set a goal to put my efforts to use in the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation’s Run for the Cure.  Unfortunately it got stupidly hot in July and August (as it tends to do in Ontario in the summertime) and so I sort of lost my mojo.  When September came around I got back into the swing, but it was only a few weeks before the RFTC 5k, so I wasn’t exactly in my best form (and let’s be accurate, even my best form was still seriously pathetic.)  I managed to finish the run in a not-heinously-embarrassing amount of time (and promptly gave up running after that.)

The following summer I meant to get running again…but didn’t.  And the summer after that I tried again, going for a few runs on the trail, but what can I say?  I FUCKING HATE RUNNING.  I was an idiot and did the Run for the Cure anyway that fall (after only a few practice runs) and I finished it…but it wasn’t pretty.  I’m not sure if you can still call it running when the fast walkers are passing you by times, but I thumped out the 5k because it meant something to me to do it (and I am ridiculously stubborn).

Now I find myself at the time of year again when running is an option (ok, I guess it has been an option in terms of weather for a couple of months already) (**unless you’re one of those hardcore freaks who’s willing to run in sub-zero conditions and risk the loss of their nipples to frostbite) but right now I can see the RFTC looming three months away and I don’t want to embarrass myself again.  The friends I ‘ran’ it with were literally out of my field of vision within a couple hundred metres last year and I don’t want that to happen again.  They may very well leave me in the dust at some point, but hopefully not within the first kilometer.

So I guess, (better sooner than later) I need to dust off my running shoes, squeeze my tatas into a sports bra and the hit the road or the trail.  I’m SO looking forward to first-week-running-and-I’m-basically-disabled syndrome.  At a time of year when I can get sweat ass walking from my office to the car, it’s gonna be a real treat.  I guess I just have to focus on the positives: the intoxicating wave of self-righteousness that accompanies a completed run and the opportunity to unabashedly adore Carly Rae Jepsen’s bubblegum pop songs.  (It’s a short list, but I had to find something…)  I can promise you this, I won’t be virtual high-fiving myself on Facebook every time I do. It’s not that I think this is the worst FB sin ever, although people posting about their workouts all the time makes me feel like an epic underachiever/sloth, it’s more that if I do, I’m afraid people will notice when I stop and that’s bound to happen because at the core of my being,

I just really hate running.

ecard running

Vanity…(the deadly sin, not the messy cupboard in your bathroom)

SO Hawt.   (Side bar: Do you think $2000 stilettos would be more comfortable than their $100 counterparts?)

SO Hawt.
(Side bar: Do you think $2000 stilettos would be more comfortable than their $100 counterparts?)

Only a few days into my new blog and I found myself fretting – ‘what if I can’t think of anything interesting to say now that I have a limitless forum in which to share it?’
(Also, to be fair, I’m now wondering…is it still a forum if no one reads it?  But fuck it.  I’m doing probably the most worthwhile thing I’ve done all day and I work full time…which means my unsuspecting employer is in fact compensating me presently for these ramblings.)

So I kinda loved this article.  Are women foolish to love stilettos?  Ch-ch-check it out.  I started reading the article because I love my stilettos (deeply, all of them) and I was intrigued about where they were going with the ‘foolish’ angle.  From a strictly medical standpoint, I completely agree – high heels are asinine.  My feet are half destroyed and I’m only 31.  Look at the millions that are being made in the ‘holy shit, these shoes are gonna kill my feet what can I buy to mitigate that agony industry’: I have a bin full of insoles and grippy things and tiny bandaids and even [I shit you not] foot lube (which by-the-way is an awesome product: For real, get some.)  From a social standpoint though, high heels are genius.  Nothing makes me feel more confident than strutting around in heels.  I feel thinner, sexier, more powerful and more in-control: my confidence level shoots up right along with my height.  And that is why I suffer – because confidence is an elusive quality: if they bottled it and it tasted horrible, I’d be guzzling it down by the bottle-ful – but they don’t (and becoming an alcoholic isn’t really an option I’m up for considering), so I slip on my high heels, throw my shoulders back and feel kick-ass despite the occasional blister.

ANYWAY…the actual article is less about shoes and more about women and beauty in the 21st century.  Pretty fascinating, when you hear it elucidated so clearly: “At a moment when girls and women have never been more empowered, they are in thrall to ever more ruthless standards of beauty.”  It’s true, of course, women today (let’s be clear that unfortunately my use of the word ‘women’ herein only refers to women living in Western cultures) have more options than ever before and are continuing to achieve a greater standard of social, economic and vocational equality than ever before.  (Crap.  I could go on at length about the changing roles and definitions of women in our society today…I’ve gotta stop there and hop off my soapbox or else this post is going to veer way too far from its intended course.)

The troubling thing about the article is this: if you’re a woman with even the remotest sense of vanity, it can’t help but leave you asking yourself “would I rather be hit by the truck?”

And I guess I’m pretty much morally bankrupt…because as long as I didn’t suffer any lasting physical disfigurement, (which would completely defeat the purpose of choosing the truck over getting fat), I’m leaning towards the truck (no pun intended).

I’m not going to lie, I was really rather relieved (and not actually too surprised) to read that a majority of women (near my age bracket) feel the same way.  There’s no real way around it…I’m vain…we all are, I guess, at least to a certain extent.  I have admiration for the women out there who love their bodies no matter what and feel so confident they can appear in public without makeup on…but then my internal mean girl is judging them too – and usually the bitch has her say first and then I do the mental correction ‘no, no, self, you should admire her!  She’s so much less self-conscious than you are!’  (Funny how I can manage to put myself down, even while putting others down.  But more on that in a future post.  My digressions here are already digressing.)

Where was I?  Oh yes, the truck.  The truck is more appealing on so many levels.  Get hurt?  Sympathy cards, flowers, ice cream.  Get fat?  Gossip, pity, judgey stares while eating ice cream.  I think it’s time to clarify that for every woman, ‘fat’ is a different thing and not only that, the definition for ‘fat’ that I would apply to my own body is considerably more stringent than how I would classify others as fat.  In the last year I lost 20 pounds.  I felt SO fat with those extra 20 pounds on me – in fact, I’d love to lose another 5 (or rather, re-lose the 5 that snuck back on, plus another 5).  Anyone who knows me would likely agree I was never fat.  Just a little curvier than I’d ever been previously.  I actually think curves look utterly fabulous on many women and I’m in strong agreement that beautiful bodies come in many different dimensions – we don’t come out of cookie cutters and I’m glad of it.  But that doesn’t make me any less hard on myself and I know I’m not alone in this state of mind.

I think that more than anything else, the article has me wondering whether our society’s increasingly restrictive standards of beauty will reach high tide anytime in the foreseeable future.  Because if not, before long, only genetic and surgical manipulation will be able to produce women who measure up and the rest of us will be comparing ourselves to a bunch of mutants.  You don’t have to look any further than the covers of the beauty and gossip magazines to come to the startling realization that it’s already happening.  The women who grace the covers of these publications are, more often than not, altered both physically and through digital means to make them so utterly flawless that even the most stunning of natural women can’t help but feel ugly.

Thankfully, there are caricatures like Joan Rivers to serve as cautionary examples.  Seriously, if we don’t get a firm grasp on a more realistic standard of beauty we’re all going to end up looking like pincushions.  In my golden years, I sincerely hope that I am more focused on living life to the fullest than making it to my Botox appointment on time after a day that included a grueling workout with my personal trainer and 4 hours at the salon having my hair coloured some ridiculous shade in an attempt to retain a youthful appearance that simply isn’t realistic.  My role model for appearance in my 8th and 9th decades (should I have the good fortune to live that long) is Betty White.  She obviously takes great care of herself and has beautiful skin and hair but let’s get real:  her skin has wrinkles and her hair is white, and although she isn’t overweight, he hasn’t retained her pin-up figure of a bygone era.  (Google Betty and have a look at some old pictures – she was an absolute stunner!)

I am looking forward to the day when there is a collective revolt against the unattainable standards of beauty that grip our culture and we can all stop wishing so fervently to be women we’re not: because the truck is coming, full speed, loaded to the gills with cosmetics and hair products and workout equipment and body-shaping undergarments, and beauty magazines and surgical implements and ‘experts’ of all varieties proclaiming our inadequacy that we’re not going to survive impact otherwise.