Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Get Your Potatoes In!

I spend a lot of time in the playground after school. It’s a great place to meet people with similar interests and hobbies as me such as: sleep deprivation, getting feces out of clothes without leaving a stain and how to keep children from opening the bathroom door while in use. It’s also a great place to learn the newest and coolest playground games.

I have already covered the thinly veiled sexual assault known as “Kiss Tag”. The current game of choice in the school yard is “Grounders”, which is a type of Marco Polo tag on dry land.

Oh shit, that's not a game of tag. Those people are trying to abduct her!

I’ve spent the last few weeks observing and making notes on this game without the children spotting me. Many parents and police officers did, which is why I’m starting a kickstarter campaign to both further my research and raise bail.

"I understand I'm under arrest, but why did you remove my pants?"

Grounders has a ruling class who decides the initial fate of all players. The “King Counter” is a Benevolent Dictator that decides who is “it”. I say benevolent dictator because though King Counter is in charge there is a wing of government below him that has some influence. That is the Song Chooser, who chooses which rhyme will be used to decide who is “it”.

Despite using only one hand, Napoleon was a hell of a tag player.

In Senior Kindergarten there is four main rhymes in rotation right now.

Each Peach Pear Plum

Come on, they already have six inch claws, jaws that can bite through pine trees and now some idiot gave them guns?

“Each peach pear plum
You are not it, or your very best chum.”

The player this lands on chooses another player who is also exonerated with him. This instantly creates jealousy and hurt feelings as some other child with a complex will whisper “I thought I was his best chum,” through salty tears as he cries himself to sleep that night.

This rhyme also has the added bonus of being an unpopular four course meal menu.

Eenie, Meenie, Meinie, Moe

“Eenie, meenie, meinie, moe
Catch a tiger by the toe
If he hollers let him go
Eenie, Meenie, Meinie, Moe”

The question is why catch a tiger by the toe? You should go for the throat. If he hollers let him go? Of course he’ll holler, you are subduing a wild animal here. This is a very inefficient way to get medicine for erectile dysfunction.

Nothing goes to waste.

I also remember when I was a small town rural child in the 70’s the word tiger was replaced with the n-word. That’s right... “necrophiliac”.

Dip Dip Chocolate Chip

“Dip, dip chocolate chip
you are not it.”

I’ve also heard a variation from older kids:

"It dit dog shit,
you are not it"

Listening to these rhymes made me think back of the incredibly violent rhymes we had as children.

“My mother and your mother were out in the yard, hanging up the clothes.
My mother hit your mother right in the nose.
What color was the blood?"
(Person counter ends on picks a color, counter spells it)
And you are not it."

If you really wanted to fuck up the King Counter you would pick a colour like “turquoise”.

My money is on the one on the right. The one on the left has a glass jaw.

Once you have the person to be it. They count to ten, or whatever a five year old can count to so the other players can run off onto the playground equipment. Every kid does the same thing, they count as fast as they can in hopes that the other players do not get very far. I wish anytime there was a counting situation in life this would happen. That would liven up shuttle launches and New Years Eve.

I remember being in Ottawa at Capitol Hill for New Years Eve in 1999. The Hill was crowded with people and a mist of pot smoke encircled your ankles. The countdown was projected on the Peace Tower, but whoever was in charge of the slideshow either hadn’t bothered to double check the slides, or had spent some time lying face down in that mist. The numbers started at 10, went to 8, then quickly jumped to random numbers some of which were upside-down. This is similar to how a five year old counts while being it in tag.

Then the player who is “it” closes their eyes and tries to tag the other players. This is a loose rule as most kids are squinting so hard they develop bright white laugh lines within a few minutes of playing.

The other players are supposed to always be off the ground, and if the player who is “it” calls “grounders” while someone is on the ground rather than on the playground equipment that kid becomes it. Most of the time the children trying to evade being tagged lie and yell back “No One!” This then leads to an interesting Catch-22. The kid who is "it" knows, because he was cheating, that there was indeed someone on the ground. However, in arguing his case he would then incriminate himself proving he too is a cheater by having his eyes open. Often this is cleared up by either saying the unpopular kid was on the ground, who is so desperate for attention will gladly be it, or everyone sulking and shouting, “I’m not playing!”

Again, I wish that in adult life we could do this. For example during a presentation in a Board Room an executive points out a fatal flaw in a project, the presenter could just yell, “I’m not playing!” and leave the room. Then everyone would just move onto the next item on the agenda.

"But if it's on a Power Point, it has to work!"

The other rule in grounders appears to be that anything at anytime can become “T.O.” or time-out. My daughter is particularly is fond of this. When the kid who is “it” even comes close to her she shouts. “This pole is T.O!” or if she is helping out a friend will pick a colour, “Red is T.O.” Oddly, most of the time all the kids are fine with this. She tried to use me as T.O. a few times which lead to me shouting there was no way I was time out and to get off of me. As she was tagged she saw me as a traitor that day and looked at me the same way Han Solo looked at Lando Calrissian in Cloud City. I am not a fan of Star Wars so I had to watch an online clip of this scene. I really don't see why people are so gaga over this flick. It looks pretty cheap and awful to me:

The other quick way to get out of being tagged is to yell, "I’m hungry," and leave the playing field to get a snack, then eat at a painfully slow pace so the others won’t wait for you to return to the game or hope your father gets tired of standing around and wants to go home. Spoiler alert: He does.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Heart Attack and Banana Vine

Last Sunday I took part in the Becel Ride For Heart. I wish I could say it went as smoothly as margarine through my arteries but ironically, the ride nearly gave me a heart attack.

Those of you who read my last post know that I devised a foolproof way to raise money for the cause. Those who didn’t read the previous post are obviously self absorbed assholes. My plan was not to ask anyone for money, and it worked! I fundraised by writing my sponsors' names on my body and although no one came forward to get the top tier, I raised more than zero dollars!

Representation of what the top tier of sponsorship.

Actually given my lack of enthusiasm at asking for money I think I did okay. I’m not going to give you an honour roll of pictures of people who donated, but I will throw this picture of the top sponsor’s name:


I hadn’t thought much about my connection to heart issues, but when my parents donated money in memory of my grandparents I was reminded that many members of my family drop dead unexpectedly from heart attacks. I remember that after my grandfather died we were cleaning out his house and I noticed that he about a third of the way through a Robert Ludlum book,  I imagined him wandering around the afterlife looking for someone who had read it that could tell him how it ended. Since then I try to read obscure books quickly.

A fitting tribute, no?

The ride was tough. It took me about 90 minutes to do the 25 kilometre ride, with my eldest child attached to the bike. She, of course, was on a bike attached to mine - I wasn't just dragging her along the asphalt by the ankles or anything. My wife had the baby in the Chariot, or given how much she screamed in it “The Skinner Box”.

Yesh, just learn to press the red lever and you'll stop getting shocked.

We almost missed the starting cut off due to a last minute bathroom break. We were literally some of the last people to start the ride, which meant we missed the glut of A-type people who awoke at 6:30 in the morning to conquer the event. We hand had come from a drinking event the night before coupled with a baby who wouldn’t sleep. Here’s a tip, you know you are in trouble for the next day when you are walking home and you find yourself saying, “Who the hell would have a baby out this late at night?” only to find that it’s your jacked up baby with the sitter.

The ride started out fun along the Gardner Expressway which sits above ground level. I was close enough to the city smog to write our names in it. My daughter had a good time looking at the elevator going up the CN Tower, and all the other riders on the road. It wasn’t long before she got bored and started just talking at me. She is in a phase now, where I no longer have to acknowledge or respond to the things she is saying, “Daddy, what if this road was a pony, and we were ponies. Ponies that could fly and when we got off the road we all ate cake? Cake in the shape of ponies!” At first I tried to answer the hypothetical questions. “Well sweetheart, that would mean we were a pony riding on a pony’s back and I’m pretty sure cake isn’t good for ponies.” About 30 minutes in I responded with “yup.”

The flaw to this system of ignoring her is that I don't notice for hours after she's fallen off.

I think one of the hard parts of this event, unlike a marathon, or a walk is that people are of varying skill levels, equipment and patience for one another. Many people on very fancy bikes whipped by me as a blaze of spandex, while we were like a huge jabbering snail plodding along on the road, at least that was when I wasn’t walking the bike complete with pony spewing daughter up the hills.

It was supposed to look like a squid. I know, I know many other people already pointed it out.

The thing that struck me as most fascinating was the sounds during the ride. There would be a pop, and a sound of rushing air followed by a “Fuck, shit, fuck!”; the noise a punctured tire naturally makes in the wild.

As ridiculous a notion that dragging our kids behind us was, it was way better than the parents of small children that let their kids ride their own bikes. I heard parents screaming and struggling to stay balanced while keeping pace to their children who were riding in circles or dragging their feet on their tiny bikes. I imagine those parents are still out there a week later hoarse from yelling begging their children to keep pedaling.

"What do you mean these peddles aren't just for show?"

At the midway point my daughter got very bored. If ever you thought that driving a car while a child asks every few seconds how much longer the drive is, try physically dragging their sorry asses at the same time.

We happily got to the end of the ride to find the most anti-climactic end ever. I had imagined that we would triumphantly use a last burst of energy to pedal across the finish line to cheers, confetti and gold bullion thrown our way. Instead the one lane road caused such a jam of bikes that everyone had to get off their bikes and shuffle along trying not to bump into the guy ahead of us. Plus, because we were among the last riders, workers were deconstructing the starting line when we arrived. Nothing feels like a real accomplishment like teamsters swearing at one another, “Why am I carrying all these fucking things? You lazy piece of shit!” I would have plugged my daughter’s ears if I hadn’t been trying to keep the bike upright.

"I swear, we all really did bike it."

Because it was so late into the day and we were all starving, we decided to sneak into the VIP lounge for their brunch meal. We were told that it wasn’t allowed, but because it was the end of the day and no one really cared, we should go in. We were of course the only people standing in line without a fancy monogrammed shirt, so I felt rather conspicuous.

My plan was to eat quickly, and head out before anyone noticed that we shouldn’t be there. My brother in law decided to keep a low profile by having all the kids in our group go to the centre of the hall where announcements were being made and dance on a stage to music blaring along with a slide show on the giant screen behind him. Let’s just say he won’t be an undercover officer anytime soon.

It did however affirm that naming our next child “VIP” will ensure being allowed into anything.