Friday, December 4, 2009

Zero to Boredom in 48 Hours

“Won't you miss not being home for Christmas?” Ah the fools who have not experienced Christmas in my household. Now, I say my household, because once we hit the relatives, with twenty people around a large table with far too much food and more pies than anyone could imagine – well, then, it's a different story. And oh how I shall miss that pie.

There can be crazy.

But this only happens when boredom strikes. Unfortunately – this... is Florida. The state where people come to die. Although, after having driving these roads, I'm not sure that correlation equals causation. It may, instead, be that people just simply come here, and death is the obvious next step in that equation.

If you're not swerving out of the way to avoid the tiny grandmas cramped up behind the wheels (I swear I thought this was just a joke – a televised hyperbole) then you're slamming on the breaks to avoid the men stumbling across the road with a bottle in their hand, making sure to look one way before crossing the one-way road; of course they'd never think to check the way oncoming traffic approaches from. And if that weren't enough, apparently there are panthers that roam through our backyard. Panthers. Big wild cats that want to make you die. I reckon they sometimes duke it out with the alligators that also live in the creek we back onto. Florida. I'm surprised people live to see their teenage years. Although, those two kids pushing and shoving each other on the highway median... maybe only a select few progress that far. Darwin would be proud.

You would think with all the near death excitement surrounding you that Florida would be a place full of educational enjoyment. But no. Big cities are few and far between, and small towns – well they are without character. And the roads? There aren't even sidewalks along side them. And if you've been paying attention, you'll understand why walking down the side of them is just asking to never reach Africa – where I will be in perfect safety, you must realize.

While things grew to a slow pace – everything that there was to see was seen yesterday, and the rain looming over this day has put a damper on revisiting those locales – the crazy started to grow.

Within moments of waking up a hovering senior citizen was either preventing me from cooking breakfast, or holding up all sorts of random items in front of my face, with what amounted to a catchphrase for each one. First, a power bar: You can plug stuff in! Then a griddle: Bigger than a fry pan! and after who knows how many more, finally a long plastic straightedge: You can use it as a flipper! Yes. Yes you could.

And if you have ever felt that the first seven and a half minutes of waking life should be some spent in silence and recomposing of thoughts, well then – I BOUGHT A MAGAZINE FOR TWENTY FIVE CENTS!


But then there was a lull. A lull brought on by a trip to Wal-Mart. Yes, Wal-Mart reprieve for all those suburbanites who waste away hoping for some slight sampling of hope in an otherwise hopeless existence. They have food there!

And food? Well – food is good. So are bananas. I have not had one for a while. I should get on that. But Wal-Mart could not be all fun and games. No, for the car's turn signal burned out. This would require replacement. This would require replacement that the fine people at Wal-Mart automotive said they could not do. So back home we went, where I had hopes and dreams of being able to easily replace it myself, thus saving the tweaking crazy to grow in those around me.

But this was not to be. The instruction manual for the car leaves out some key details. Sure I took out the rod, and used a socket wrench to take out a screw – but when trying to remove the whole lighting unit? There was no hope. It was still attached to something in the bottom left. Something the owners manual didn't realize existed. Something that would prevent hope repair. Something that would cost – duhn duhn duhn – money to fix.

You could almost hear the blood vessel stretching to their fullest. But for me? I maintained calm. To this point, a full thirty six hours, I had - against all odds – maintained calm. Off to Sears to fix the light.

Total cost? Twenty seven dollars. I asked the matriarch of the expedition how perturbed did she think patriarch would be? My guess? Eighty six. Eighty six was the number of perturbation expected. But she said, “nothing”. Zero. Sometimes I wonder if she really believes the things she says, or is she so lost to false hopes that logic has no place within.

Next stop? Target. Target – the sacred grounds for all Canadians. We have Wal-Mart, sure, but not Target. They sell cookie crisp in Target! Not in Canada though, because it doesn't meet the guidelines for allowable food. For those who don't know cookie crisp, it's a box of chocolate chip cookies sold as breakfast cereal. Yes, that's all it is. There's no trick here. It's like selling cotton candy and labeling it as glucose salad and placing it between the romaine and the mixed garden. In the world of unhealthy children's cereal, this is in a class all its own.


And why was I here at Target? To pick up “Apples to Apples.” A most delightful card game, that I only just realized was available in travel sized packs. Sure the travel sized version meant just one quarter of the cards in the real version – and sure the real version was only four dollars more, but – all new cards! Can't get these ones in the main box. No sir.

And with rules that can be explained within a minute to any and all, it should make for the perfect travel game. That's my hope, my dream, anyway.

Then I drove back home, the crazy grew. Matriarch gripped the door handle, pressed back in her seat as if we had hit mach one and there could be no escape from the tremendous forces keeping her locked to the back of the chair. Every time a car changed lanes shrieks of horror and fear would burst from beside me.

But still I remained calm, only once stopping to remind my passenger that screaming in the drivers ear was more likely to be the cause of an accident than a car changing lanes seventy five meters ahead. Still – as I said – there was no place for logic here. The ear piercing cries continued.

Yes, gone were the days of beaches, and pancakes, blue skies, and tourist villages. Replacing them were bored seniors, broken cars, and household containment. And then we got home. Were it twenty four, the clock would pulsate 47:23 24 25.

When the cost of the bulb change was announced the pit began to bubble. While eighty six was an incorrect guess, 58 would not have been far off. 58 was the answer to the predicted level. Really, zero? Really. A hand was offered – in honor of my being most correct. But I did not take it – for that gesture would require explanation, and that would push from 58 to perhaps 77. Still not 86, but - more.

47:37 38 39.

Water was put on the stove, while I would soon cook pasta. At the moment I was shuffling the two red decks, and one green deck, from my newly acquired entertainment device.

“The water is boiling.”
“O.K. But don't put the pasta in yet!”

47:57 58 59

Boredom had struck. Even the panthers stopped fighting with the alligators. It was just too yawn for them.

And tomorrow? Tomorrow we will welcome another to our hardy bunch. I pray for her. I pray for her like the women who sit on the side of the road with signs telling you that abortion is murder, and in all likelihood, you're going to Hell. Fair enough. At least I can be prepared with my prayer cross.

Yes, the very one from television where the lord's prayer appears when held up to the light! “Almost like magic!” the commercial would have you believe. Yes, almost like magic – or, you know, a View-Master from the nineteen forties? (I lie, of course, I didn't buy said magic cross. But I did think about it – if only for the kitsch value. Still, I've had enough religion related problems in this country already. And it's still been less than forty eight hours. But just barely.

My family – I love them, they love me, it's great... but will I miss being home for Christmas? Well, maybe. It's just like Douglas Coupland says: All Families Are Psychotic.




Fun fact: The right rear turn signal just died. But fear not, the ancient act of smacking a broken piece of electronics, brought it back to life.


  1. Hey, how about an update! Or did you get jacked up in the good 'ol U.S. of A.... your a brave man, would take Somalia over Florida any day!

    Keep up the posts, it's a good read!

  2. updates coming. Writing them now, to be truthful.

  3. Most ramdon blog post ever, but probably one of the most hilarious. I predict a movie with MIchael Cera, or his cheaper counterpart from zombieland....with a beard.


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