Chicken bones in the biffy? Say it ain’t so

It has become painfully apparent to me that, on certain levels, the human race is a waste of skin.
I believe I arrived at this realization the morning I discovered a dozen chicken bones on the floor beside the toilet in one of the stalls in the ladies’ washroom at a local nightclub. Or perhaps it was the morning I came across a full roll of unwrapped toilet paper lodged in a toilet bowl in the ladies’ loo in a pub.
In either case, I’ve long held that the human race would be a concept with considerable merit…were it not for the people.
I say this because I’ve cleaned toilets for four years. Public toilets.
All one need know about the human race can be found in a public washroom. And it isn’t pretty. Anyone who has had the misfortune to clean public biffies for a living can regale you in toxic tales of projectile vomit and human waste on floors, walls and ceilings.
But food? In a public toilet stall?
I mean, I can think of a whole lot of things that I’d just as soon not do. Like attend a Celine Dion concert. Or an all-night Adam Sandler movie marathon. But I’m pretty sure that chowing down in a public washroom is near, or at, the top of my never-in-this-lifetime list.
Yet, apparently, dining in a public loo is as commonplace as breathing.
Examples:

  • The aforementioned chicken bones. Someone actually plopped her hide on the biffy and gnawed away on a dozen chicken wings.
  • One morning, I entered the ladies’ washroom at the same nightclub and immediately noticed the walls and floor of one stall splattered with a red substance. I’m here to tell you it was everywhere. Except for the fact Helter Skelter hadn’t been scribbled on the wall, I would have sworn Charlie Manson and his gang of cutthroats had paid a visit. Either that, or some poor girl was having the worst menstrual period in history. Upon closer inspection, however, I found a half-eaten hot dog and French fries in the container for discarded sanitary products. The red substance was ketchup! This is not normal behaviour.

Nor is this:

  • I was vacuuming the carpet in the ladies’ chamber at a golf club when suddenly Kerclunkslurp! Such a noise. A foreign object had been sucked into my vaccum and, upon investigation, I found a pair of white, lace panties. Help me out here, girls. How do you forget you’ve taken off your panties? And leave them on the floor? I don’t know about you, but I never leave home without my panties. And never return home without them.

Perhaps the ultimate example of bizarre bathroom behaviour visited me the morning I discovered a broken flushing handle on one of the toilets. Because I didn’t have a spare handle in stock, I carefully placed two strips of 3-inch wide masking tape across the seat with the words “Out of Order” on one strip and “Please Do Not Use” on the other. Well, I’m here to tell you that I came in the following morning and said toilet had, indeed, been used. Odd thing is (and this is reeeeally odd), the woman didn’t remove the tape. She actually attempted to piddle between the two strips of tape. Unsuccessfully, I might add, since she washed away all the lettering except the word “Out.”
I understand the need to pee right now. Believe me, when I’ve got to go right now, I run like a scalded dog and whip down my tights faster than the Happy Hooker on a 2-for-1 weekend. But to not remove the “Out of Order” tape on the toilet seat before peeing? Oi!
Now, before anyone runs off with the notion that these peculiar findings are restricted to the ladies’ loo, be advised that men are a rather disgusting breed. If it’s true men are from Mars, I don’t want to go anywhere near the place.
Tell me, fellas, must you really toss your chewing gum in the urinal? Must you really plant your boogers on the wall? Must you really hack up your loogies and splat them on the mirror? If you’re going to pick your nose or clear your throat, there’s a wonderful invention to take care of that. It’s called a Kleenex. Ask your girlfriend. She probably has one in her purse.
Also, boys, I’m guessing your momma toilet trained you, but I’m also guessing that you skipped a couple of classes in Potty Training 101. Like hitting the bowl. And when you actually manage to hit the bowl, flushing.
The flushing mechanism can be found on either the side or the front of the toilet tank. It looks like a handle because it is a handle. Alas, flushing apparently is much like expecting a man to ask for directions, but it’s dead simple, lads. Push down. Whoosh! Waste gone.
Still, having established that guys are gross, I must confess that the real Ripley’s Believe It Or Not nonsense transpires in the ladies’ loo.
So straighten up and fly right, girls.
And, one more thing, ladies: Leave the picnic basket at home.

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I’m no “fag hag;” I just like hanging with men who happen to be gay

I don’t like the term “fag hag” even though, by definition, I probably am one.
It sounds so…nasty.
First of all, the word “fag” is a slur. Unless, of course, you hear it in a gay bar, where it’s often used in a non-offensive, self-deprecating tone by gay men talking with, and about, gay men.
They’ll also call each other “fruits” and “queers” and “queens.”
It’s a no-harm, no-foul situation for them.
That, however, doesn’t give the rest of us license to use those terms and, because I have so many gay friends, I find “fag” most inappropriate.
As for “hag,” it conjures up an unflattering image of a witchy, old woman with a wart at the end of her long, bent nose and hair that looks like something you’d use to mop the floor.
So, no, I don’t like “fag hag.”
Trouble is, I’ve yet to hear a less-lewd label for a woman who tends to spend a fair amount of her social time with gay men, which is what I do.
Quite frankly, I believe labels are for beer bottles, shirts and skirts. Not people. But these descriptives appear to be an inescapable reality in our society.
At any rate, I hang out with gay men. A lot.
Usually, we gather at a local watering hole on a Sunday afternoon for laughs, conversation, nibblies and pints and, to this point in time, we’ve only been banished from two bars (one mainstream, one gay).
Two of the lads are married. Another is in a longterm relationship. Every so often, others join us and they’re usually very gay men.
I’ve dined with them, I’ve been to their homes, I’ve shared special occasions with them, I’ve spilled tears on their shoulders and I’ve laughed long and loud with them. Oh, how I have laughed.
But I don’t hang out with them because they’re gay. How shallow and hollow would that be?
I hang out with them because they’re lovely lads and I very much enjoy their company.
Having said that, however, the fact they’re gay is a bonus.
I can sit with these boys in any bar in town and never does a wandering hand land on my lap. Never does a lewd or crude word arrive at my ears. They’re about as interested in me sexually as Charlie Sheen is interested in another ride in the back seat of a police cruiser. If there’s any sexual energy at our table, it’s only when a good looking boy enters the room. If an attractive lass appears, I’m the only one who notices. Or comments.
This, of course, is a departure from many of my experiences with straight men.
Not so long ago, for example, I was flying solo and enjoying a bite and a pint when a fellow approached my table for two that normally only sits one (moi).
“You’re beautiful,” he said by way of introduction.
“Excuse me?” I responded.
“You’re beautiful.”
This stranger, who was not tall, dark or handsome, then plopped himself down next to me.
“I assume you’re taken,” was his next gambit.
“If by that you mean am I in a relationship, yes I am,” I lied.
“That’s too bad…do you realize I’m in love with you?”
It was 3:24 in the p.m., a full 11 hours before closing time.
“I don’t know how long you’ve been here,” I said with a healthy laugh, “but I think maybe you’ve got your vodka goggles on.”
“No,” he persisted, “you’re beautiful and I’m in love with you.”
Good grief, Charlie Brown.
This past weekend, another man plunked himself at the table next to mine. He could have chosen any table in the empty place. But, no, he had to be right…next…to…me.
“Are you married?” he asked.
“Wow,” I responded, “you don’t waste any time, do you? Usually I get a free drink before I have to answer that question.”
It brought to mind the results of a recent study that claims men get smarter when they have a couple pints in them. (As if.)
As it happened, 40 men were asked to perform word gymnastics, in that they were given three words and required to provide a fourth word that would apply to the first three. For example: Tool, lunch and toy. The fourth word would be box.
It seems that 20 men who were given two pints of beer to drink solved more of the word puzzles than the 20 non-drinkers. And, they did it in less time.
Whatever.
I can give you three words straight men don’t understand after two or more pints: “Get lost, loser!”
Which is why I say the fact most of my male friends are gay is a bonus.
So, go ahead and call me a “fag hag,” if you like. I make no apologies for hanging with a bunch of gay boys.
After all, they can drink beer all day and still solve this three-word puzzle: “Boobs, vagina, lesbian.” The fourth word would be “Patti.”

Depression, golfers and gunslingers

Nobody is going to drive me around the bend, because I’m already there.

patti dawn swansson
patti dawn swansson

Yup. Depression.

The diagnosis arrived last week. How deep is my depression? Well, when I left my doctor’s office he handed me a coal miner’s hat. And a canary. So it’s bad.

Oddly enough, however, the knowledge that I’m officially depressed made me feel better.

Seriously. It did. And I actually went two complete days without crying.

Chronic weeping, understand, is what sent me in search of answers. It was imperative that I understand why I was crying every…single…day. Not just once a day. Not just twice a day. Sometimes the tears would flow more than half a dozen times. And I’m not talking misty-eyed sentiment. I’m talking full-blown blubbering. Or, as I like to call them, Patti-melts.

And what triggered my Patti-melts? Just about anything, everything, anyone and everyone.

Tiger Woods is just one of the many culprits who set off my waterworks. Yes, Tiger Woods. His Royal Randiness.

As it happened, I was lounging on my loveseat one Sunday afternoon when I stumbled upon a golf tournament on TV. It was the Bay Hill somethingorother event and Woods had matters well in hand as he approached the 18th green. This was to be his first PGA victory since his former bride, Elin, took a 7-iron to his head after she discovered he’d been sleeping with every bimbo/waitress/hostess on three continents.

And I started crying.

That’s when I knew I was sick.

I mean, Tiger Woods is foul-mouthed. He’s ill-tempered and ill-mannered. And he’s a male oinker. Yet there I was, bawling because His Royal Randiness was about to do something that had exactly zero impact or meaning on my life.

Good grief. What next? I cry because Sarah Palin won’t be President?

Spare me.

I suppose I should thank Tiger Woods, though.

The moment he made me cry, you see, I began to track my Patti-melts. I recorded the dates and noted the triggers that set me off. In a 31-day period, I cried 77 times. I had just six cry-free days. I cried when I watched Doc Adams pull a bullet out of Festus Haggen‘s back on Gunsmoke. I cried when I heard Alan Jackson singing Here in the Real World. I cried when I was telling my friend Cullen about coaching Peanuts baseball back in the 1970s. I cried five times while watching a movie about Jesse James, for goodness sakes.

You know you’re deep into depression when you’re weeping over golfers and gunslingers.

I just hope there’s a way out.

I’m not ROFLLMAO about UR new way of writing

Once upon a time, people wrote in sentences.
Oh, yes, as sure as Mark Twain scribbled The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, people would use nouns and verbs and adjectives and periods and commas and italicize words for effect. They would spell out their words. And spell them correctly.
So, what happened?
When did the written word become a lost art?
Was it when Paul David Hewson named himself Bono, put on a pair of sunglasses, got a few lads together and named his band U2?
I mean, shouldn’t his band be called You, Too?
And when did the word “boys” become “boiz” and the word “girls” become “gurls?”
I realize that English is a living language, but it appears to me that what passes for the written word today is the fast-food version of English, which is to say not terribly nourishing or appetizing.
Let me provide an example.
“I had a gr8 time @ ur party 2nite. HF, LMAO. Am 4tunate 2 have such a BFF.”
I actually found that on a Facebook page. And by no means is it a rare example of the bludgeoning the written word is taking these days. I see it all the time.
I am being dot.commed to death with ROFLLMAO, LMGAYAO, LMAO, HFA, HF, LOL, WTF, OMG, keep ur $$$ and the like.
I swear, I need some1 from U.S. Army Intelligence to decode my e-mail and Facebook messages.
Like, what the H are u telling me when u stick a D: @ the end of ur missive? It was bad enough when I received one D:, but then I received a double whammy—D:D:. What’s up with that? R u swearing @ me? R u mocking me? R u laughing @ me? I know DD isn’t my cup size, so what does it mean?
Then there’s :*(. This means exactly what?
Help me. Please.
I haven’t been this confused since I first heard Sarah Palin speak.
& what’s the deal with all the UPPER CASE? Don’t u realize that when u use upper case ur YELLING @ ME? Y R U YELLING @ ME?
I must confess that I am somewhat dinosaurish, in that my embrace of new things often arrives grudgingly. That’s not to say I cling to the past like an old hippy who has yet to escape the ’60s. I very much live in the present.
But, I still prefer to play my vinyl albums rather than CDs and I have a larger collection of VHS movies than DVD flics. My TV, meanwhile, is so antiquated that I think it still has tubes in the back, and my tendency is to watch older shows. In low def.
Seriously. Don’t even get me started on hi-def TV. Why do I need hi-def TV? Does Elliott Ness catch more bad guys if I watch The Untouchables in hi-def? Does Perry Mason win more cases in hi-def? Does Granny Clampett cook better hog jowls and possum shanks, or does Jethro Bodine get past the sixth grade in hi-def?
The thing is, I can understand why other people want all these fancy new gizmos. Like automobiles that talk to you and park themselves, telephones that take pictures, and TV screens that are the size of a soccer goal.
But the rot of the written word I don’t get. I’m definitely not LMFAO or ROFLLMAO about that.
Y do u have 2 write in code? Y can’t u type out the words why and you? 4 goodness sake, r u in that much of a hurry?
Oh, and one final thing: If all those symbols that I don’t understand really mean that you’re swearing at me, then :*(:):):D@$oP to you, too!

I’m old, I’m wrinkled and I’m going to get in your way

Aging sucks.
Oh, yes, aging sucks because, whereas I once went years without so much as an annual checkup, I now have a squadron of medics. More than you’ll see on any episode of Grey’s Anatomy.
I have a GP. I have a doctor for my failing kidneys. I have one for my gout arthritis. I have one who monitors my hormonal levels. I have one who checks my eyes. I have three who examine the odd notions that gather in the chunk of grey matter between my ears.
Aging sucks because I leave half of my teeth in a glass at night. And, I swear, it takes me less time to complete the New York Times Sunday crossword puzzle than it does to get my two partial plates and what remains of my natural teeth brushed. By the time my pearly whites are shining and in place, it’s mealtime again.
Aging sucks because I’m a “ma’am” instead of a “miss.”
Aging sucks because of all those potty trips in the middle of the night, which may or may not have something to do with failing kidneys.
Aging sucks because I have vivid recall of events that took place 40 years ago, but I can’t remember where I put down my reading glasses 40 seconds ago.
Mostly, however, aging sucks because of what I refer to as Green Banana Syndrome.
That is to say, once there are a certain number of candles on your birthday cake, society views you as an antiquity whose sole value is limited to keeping bingo parlors in business, watching Matlock reruns and bitching about the Harper government.
If you think not, try going for a job interview once you’re north of 60.
The date on my birth certificate, you see, is the very reason that I twice have received the official stamp of disapproval from would-be employers in recent months.
In the initial instance, a young lady in the power chair lobbed a series of powder-puff questions about my recent work history, all of which I handled as smoothly as Lady Gaga hitting the high notes. I even managed to squeeze some lighthearted banter into a chin-wag that would determine if I was to remain between assignments or make a re-entry into the work force.
Then it happened.
“What’s your five-year plan, Patti?” she asked.
I looked at her…and smiled, ever-so-coyly.
“Five-year plan?” I said, giggling. “Four years from this very month I’ll be 65 years old, so I don’t do a five-year, five-month, five-day or five-minute plan. I don’t even buy green bananas, because there’s no guarantee I’ll be around when they’re ripe.”
It was a joke, but I noticed she wasn’t laughing. And, the very next day, it was confirmed that she didn’t share my humor, because I received an e-mail advising me that I wouldn’t be cleaning her downtown hotel.
A month earlier, meanwhile, I had applied for a dishwashing/cleaning position at a small cafe/bake shop on Cook Street, a misadventure that involved a lady owner who had the bad manners to arrive 30 minutes late for the agreed-upon starting time of our tete-a-tete. And, in short order, she dismissed my stellar history of cleaning spillage, slopage, food scraps and vomit from the tables, floors, walls and washrooms in nightclubs and/or restaurants for the past three years.
“You know,” she said in the first 30 seconds of what was more a condescending, motherly sermon than a job interview, “when we get to a certain age there are things we can’t do anymore.”
Well, duh. Thanks for the bulletin, lady. What will you tell me next? That it snows in Winnipeg? That Adam Sandler makes bad movies? That I shouldn’t buy green bananas? I know already.
Nobody has to tell me that I can’t skip rope like I used to, nor do I play a mean game of hop-scotch anymore. But I can bloody well still lift this half-baked bakery boss’s 10-pound bags of flour, sweep her filthy floors and scrub her soiled baking pans without slipping into a Grandma Simpson seniors moment in mid-mop.
Yet, it’s as if my skills have vanished into some sort of Bermuda Triangle that swallows up the silver-thatched and wrinkle-skinned. My resume is, apparently, as worthless as last week’s losing lotto ticket.
Look, I make no apologies for the fact that I’m old enough to recall when Kennedy and Kruschev were engaged in a nasty game of chicken just off the shores of Cuba; when Timothy Leary was telling kids to turn on, tune in, drop out; and when the entire family would gather around the tube on Sunday night to watch Ed Sullivan get all warm and fuzzy with a faux mouse name Topo Gigo.
So what if there were 61 candles on my last birthday cake? When I look in the mirror, I don’t see 61. But, then, I don’t know what 61 is supposed to look like. Heck, I don’t know what old is supposed to look like. Is old supposed to look like Keith Richards?
Indeed, how old is old, grasshopper?
But, you know something, if society is going to treat me like I’m getting in the way, then that’s exactly what I’ll do. I’ll start acting my age. And you know what that means, don’t you? That’s right. I’m going to really get in your way.
Heaven help you if you’re ever south of me when I’m behind the wheel of a car. I’ll go 30 km/h in an 80 km/h zone and you can be sure I won’t be in the curb lane. Nothing but slow moving in the fast lane for this little, ol’ lady from past-her-prima. And don’t even bother honking or giving me the finger. I’m old. I can’t hear. My eyesight is suspect. That’s why I use two spaces when I park and still manage to ding the side of your car with my shopping cart.
And be advised that if you’re standing behind me in line at the checkout counter at the Market On Yates, I’ll be doing the “old lady thing.” Oh, yes. I’ll dig into my change purse like a National Enquirer reporter digs for dirt on Lindsay Lohan, and I won’t stop digging until I find the exact change for my purchase. Right down to the very…last…penny. By the time I’m through counting coppers, that loaf of bread in your basket will be as stale as a Bob Hope joke.
I don’t want to be this way, but I have no choice. Society has forced my (wrinkled) hand.
Society, mind you, has also given me a boffo idea for my next job interview.
To wit:
Instead of taking along my worthless resume, I’ll just bring along a bunch of green bananas…just to prove there’s lots of life left in this ol’ girl.
How’s that for a five-year plan?

Canadian Newspapers: Where are the strong female voices?

As I gaze across the sports writing landscape in Canada, I am troubled. Not so much for what I see and hear as what I don’t see and hear.

A female presence. A female voice.

It is as rare a species as a virgin at the Playboy Mansion. As scarce a sighting as Brian Burke and Donald S. Cherry sharing a cozy corner table for two in a French cafe.

And that’s sad.

No, I don’t mean it’s sad that Burke and Cherry, Canada’s two most noted blowhards (non-political division), don’t make nice and break bread anymore. After all, those of us who live out in the colonies get our jollies listening to hockey’s version of those two grumpy, old gasbags on The Muppet Show, Waldorf and Statler. So let them have at it. May the most leathery lung win.

What I am saying, however, is that here we are, comfortably into the 21st century when women do everything from raising families to arresting bad guys to traveling into outer space, yet there is a grand total of zero females scribbling a sports column for one of the major English daily newspapers in the Great White North.

Nada. Zip. Zero.

Talk about the loneliest number.

Is this by accident? Coincidence. By design?

Surely, in a vast land that accommodates 34 million souls and takes pride in a Charter that pooh-poohs gender-based barriers, there must be at least one female who has enough writing talent, reporting skill and subject knowledge to pen a daily sports column at one of the main sheets in Canada.

Perhaps she wouldn’t be able to do it as well as, say, Bruce Arthur or Cam Cole, but, then again, perhaps she would be every bit as good. If not better.

I mean, for example, you don’t literally need a set of balls to have the balls to take the aforementioned Burke out to the woodshed for assembling such a rag-tag shinny side in the centre of the hockey universe. A figurative pair of balls will do just fine, thank you.

And, trust me, a girl can get just as down a dirty as a guy.

You think girls don’t have opinions on Burke, the Maple Leafs general manager?

You think girls don’t have a take on those incredibly disappearing Sedin twins, who apparently have gone into a witness protection program in Vancouver?

Or how about Jonathan Hefney, the Twitter-challenged Winnipeg Blue Bombers defender who likes to post raunchy pics of women in the throes of wardrobe malfunctions?

Peyton Manning…a head coach in Montreal who doesn’t parlez vous en Francais…an anti-homophobic campaign featuring NHL players…Sidney Crosby’s head…Sheriff Shanny’s heavy hand…the Blue Jays starting rotation…you think girls can’t write about these, and other, issues?

Once upon a time, Christie Blatchford did that very thing, in the Globe and Mail and Toronto Sun sports sections. Today, Christie writes about the real world, leaving Rosie DiManno of the Toronto Star as the closest thing we have to a female sports columnist. Trouble is, Rosie flits between the toy department and the real world at the Star, so she makes cameo appearances at best.

And I just don’t get it.

I realize that the upper echelon of the sports writing community in Canada remains very much like the large majority of jock enterprises that they cover—a good, ol’ boys club. The Fraternal Order of Ink-Stained Males, if you will. They’re like the neighborhood boys and their treehouse with the No Girls Allowed sign nailed to the door.

But seriously. Not one fulltime female sports columnist? Out of 34 million people?

And this apparent discrimination extends to the country’s two sports networks, as well. TSN has a stable of 25 columnists/bloggers. Sportsnet has 16. None of them wears a bra (unless he’s got a secret, Victoria).

I see the same drab, unsmiling faces on The Reporters with Dave Hodge every Sunday morning on TSN. All men.

I see the same drab, unsmiling faces on The Hot Stove on Hockey Night In Canada every Saturday. All men.

I see all sorts of pretty, blonde heads reading sports every day on the telly, but no female faces, pretty or otherwise, in the sports column flags of daily journals or the websites.

Or on TV sports chin-wags, for that matter.

Is the establishment telling us that the pretty, blonde heads can only read a teleprompter? That they have no thoughts? No opinions? No knowledge? That they can’t string three sentences together, in print or during a TV panel discussion?

Of course they have/can.

So, I am left to ask this question: What are you afraid of, boys?

It’s time to let the girls play in the treehouse.