It took seven minutes for the tickets to sellout online.
From the moment the date was announced, there was a collective clamoring for babysitters. The emails have been flying around, fast and furious, about what to wear. Once the women were sorted, the emails sailed around once again, this time asking whether tuxedos or simply shirts would suffice for the menfolk. Then began the chatter about the before parties, and for those with more stamina, the after parties.
Thrown in to the regular hectic schedule of shuttling children to activities and feeding them their vegetables this week, a rush on pedicures at Four Seasons Nail Salon, and an unusual amount of coiffed women walking the hallways.
(I have even made my own feeble attempts at beauty, to be honest. I exfoliated my elbows in the shower yesterday, and last night I slathered self-tanner on my legs, which triggered my eczema to kick in at around 2 am. Instead of getting out of bed to find my cream I scratched and tore at my skin like a madwoman, and woke up with an angry rash all over my calves, and orange palms. My elbows, however, are very smooth and dazzling, so I’m hoping people will look no further.)
The only thing that can whip our little elementary school into a frenzy of this magnitude, and make me worried about my so-white-I-look-sickly skin, is the Fundraising Gala, which is being held tonight at a very generous parent’s swank home. Donations to be auctioned off have been gathered, the tents have been built, the caterer has been dicing all day. Typically the hottest thing on the auction block is the class art projects that our children have laboured over. Tonight, these will be auctioned off at an enormous expense, and this year it is my mission to not get drunk and monopolize, or perhaps sit on, the donation sheet. (If I got out more, and experienced open bars on a regular basis, I would not be like a kid in a candy store with the free booze. This I know.)
It’s not the Academy Awards, but let’s face it, for me it’s as close as I get, which makes it all the more exciting. I am looking forward to drinking champagne and eating tiny little quiches that will burn my fingers and leave spinach stuck in my teeth. I am looking forward to laughing about nothing in particular and not worrying about the soccer carpool. I am looking forward to finding a corner to dance in, although there is no dancing advertised (I scrutinized the invitation). We will do all of this and raise funds for our children’s school, an investment in their future, hoping it will make things a bit easier for teachers, and make their excellent school even better.
The elevated atmosphere around our school and the hype in the air reminds me of the formals my university held every year at a local hotel, way back when I was a student. The big difference being, of course, there were no children to care for the next day while nursing that hangover. But that’s tomorrow. Tonight, we party.
It is beautifully and perfectly ironic that there is nothing real about The Real Housewives of Vancouver. From the prominent tips of their fake breasts down to their carefully shellacked toes, these girls elicit as much reality as a happily married Kim Kardashian.
And all this before they have opened their mouths. As soon as they do, I’m wishing their lip enhancements could inhibit their speech. Every non-thought they utter collectively shrinks progress made by women globally. Just when feminists had propelled us forward, the Real Housewives of Vancouver use their fuzzy Prada slippers and stilettos to step back into a time and place where boyfriends need to be found to provide them with expensive presents, and new horses to ride, so to speak.
Yet, we are watching, but not to be inspired or lifted. Rather we are watching for the same reason we crane our necks to get a glimpse of a car accident on the highway as we pass safely by and privately think, better them than me! We are watching for the same reason we watch any reality television, to see people make fools of themselves. (And possibly to see if any of their faces will move in this episode – so far, they haven’t.)
If nothing else, it is fascinating to watch five women who spend entire days on their appearance. Who knew you could look so terrible after all of that time and expense? So perhaps there is another reason we are watching: to revel in our normality, and decidedly low-maintenance approaches. For me, another housewife of Vancouver, it’s a big day is when I floss my teeth and manage to take my multi-vitamin; two little gestures that are all about me. Facials of whale sperm are far from my reality, which is fine in practice, but clearly not when it comes to entertaining television.
Even the most gullible among us realize the Real Housewives of Vancouver are as far from a real housewife of Vancouver as you can get. We should launch a counterattack, a backlash series, entitled creatively The REAL Real Housewives of Vancouver. The first episode could be called “Multi-tasking,” and the opening scene would feature a rather harried woman slapping peanut butter on a slice of bread with one hand, while arranging a playdate on her Blackberry with her other hand, and helping her daughter with her homework with her – shoot, I’m out of hands – spare toe. An amalgamation of Edward Scissorhands and motherhood. Truer to life than The Real Housewives of Vancouver.
Boring, say the executives in Hollywood, who really are masterminds, to be fair. Much better to throw five
strangers housewives together on a deserted island in Vancouver and watch them try to survive. Reality television is nothing if not original.
To find out the antithesis of what a real housewife of Vancouver thinks about, looks like and acts like, be sure to tune in to The Real Housewives of Vancouver, tonight, on Slice. Did someone say pizza party?
(Still, it is shocking they have no shortage of incendiary characters to choose from in our fair city, women who must have willingly walked around with ‘kick me’ on their backs as kids, or yesterday. I know, I get it, my life is boring, who would want to watch a real housewife of Vancouver floss her teeth whilst shuttling her kids to soccer? But seriously, what price for fame, girlfriend, what price for fame?)
I heard about it on Twitter, which should have given me pause. But since I had an hour to kill and a handy new e-reader on which to burn money, I thought I would flaunt 2012 technology in my face, and download Fifty Shades of Grey, by E.L. James, right away, to see what all the fuss was about.
This novel, which women are gushing about and apparently buying since it’s on the New York Times Best Seller list, is best described as a poorly written Harlequin romance that tousled with sadomasochism in a back alley (or in Christian Grey’s red room, whichever.) It’s Danielle Steele’s alter ego. It’s Twilight gone wrong. It does for literature what porn does for the film industry – which is to say, extremely little.
Taken at that level, if that’s all you’re looking for, it has its fair share of sex scenes. My greatest disappointment was that the characters having the terrific, “mind-blowing” orgasms – as they are often described (does that mean anything to you?) are, how can I put this delicately; dumb. Thus, the dialogue, and the email correspondence that we must endure is more painful than the positions Christian puts Anastasia through.
I love being taken new places in literature, and within the confines of an S&M relationship is definitely new to me. I thought I might learn something. Stop snickering. Not just a few new moves; I was hoping to get a glimpse into why people get off on getting whipped. It’s the inflicting pain thing that I stumble with, the line (or, in my case, the mile between) where agony becomes pleasure. The protagonist (I can’t use the word heroine, I just can’t), Anastasia, is as perplexed as I am about this, but is so desperate to keep Christian that she bends over backwards (and sideways, and stays on her knees, and gets tied up, etc.) in order to keep him.
Here is the very likely, believable scenario: Christian Grey is a young, enigmatic, billionaire, who meets and is bedazzled by Anastasia Steele, despite her being a clumsy, virginal, poor, insecure college student. She has a habit of biting her lip, which drives Christian mad with desire. This either leads to his eyes darkening, or alternatively causes him to look at her with hooded eyes.
A small aside here: have you ever been driven mad with desire by someone chewing on their lip? Have you ever noticed someone’s eyes changing color simply because they are turned on? And by hooded eyes, does the author mean half-closed? If the answer is yes, and you don’t have a problem with eyes being hooded, you might in fact enjoy this book. But beware, it happens repeatedly.
The kicker, the most unforgivable aspect, is that James tries to use Anastasia’s favorite book, Tess of the d’Urbervilles, as a metaphor for her twisted relationship with Christian. As though Tess and Anastasia can have anything in common, besides youth and breath. If Anastasia were to be dragged dramatically to the guillotine, she would likely grace us with her usual eloquent answer to everything, “Oh, crap.” Or might it call for her more earnest reaction of “Double crap?”
I can only wonder. I certainly won’t read the other books in the trilogy to find out.
The sound of silence has settled over the city.
Vancouver is nothing like it was this time last year, when it was brimming with Canuck fever from Langley to Horseshoe Bay, from Fort Nelson to Victoria, encompassing not only the city but the entire province. By June it eclipsed the country, with Canadians from coast to coast preferring the Stanley Cup remain in Canada, routing for the Sedin’s and Luongo.
No, this time it’s different. As the Canucks hover on the brink of elimination, the mood in the city and environs is so deflated there is almost no oxygen with which to whisper, “Come on, Canucks”, no winds to carry the hope that somehow, our team will rise above its 3-0 deficit to the LA Kings.
The fall from glory has been swift – in fact, more like a free fall. From the winners of their regular season division to an almost certain first round play-off defeat – perhaps the worst kind, wherein they can’t even register a single game victory. Fans are trying hard, but failing to close their jaws that have dropped open and are lying in a puddle of beer-infused saliva on the floor of Rogers Arena, the Staples Center, and in living rooms everywhere. This is just not what we expected, not in our wildest Ryan Kesler dreams.
A reformed Toronto Maple Leafs fan by virtue of location, I guard myself from heartache during the regular season by not watching; the ups and downs are too taxing, not to mention frequent. But playoffs are open for business. I hop on the Canuck train with glee and look forward to the many social occasions the playoffs present, and the new topics of conversation they bring. It’s fun to participate, and there’s always beer involved. The playoffs, crackling as they are with excitement, seem like a worthwhile investment.
For a reasonably athletic person, I am a complete hockey loser. I still don’t understand half of the calls and can rarely decipher a clean hit from a dirty one: every hit on a Canuck seems dirty to me. Henrik’s infamous hit from Game 3 looked all wrong in my eyes, despite the commentator’s remarks to the contrary. I blame it on never playing the game, but this hasn’t held back my ten year-old daughter from understanding everything, and she patiently tries to enlighten me. The playoffs present me with yet another opportunity to understand this national game of ours, to the chagrin of the spectators around me. I’m not always invited back, to be honest. These are my own, personal, hockey limitations that I’m trying to work through.
Canuck fans are notoriously fickle, and I don’t want to add fuel to the inferno that has been raging ever hotter as Game 4 rolls around, especially since I’ve herewith admitted to being a firm bandwagon fan. But even so, I’m struggling internally with this decision I’ve made to roll up my sleeves and invest in what could easily and quickly lead to heartbreak. Without getting overly dramatic about it, is it better to have loved, and lost, than to never have loved at all? This year, at least, it was a fleeting romance.
Staring into the face of this abbreviated playoff season, it may have been a good one to miss. The playoffs started, but the Canucks didn’t show up. This is the wonder of sports, the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat that happens when an eighth place team handily devours a first place team. But this agony, on the heels of being so close to the biggest of victories last year, tastes particularly sour, and many of us have lost the will to cheer, or even watch.
There are many firsts to celebrate: first words, first steps, first day of school. Before the dust has settled on the dazzling accomplishment we start to look forward to the next, with hopeful hearts. They are precious, these firsts, and so we mark them with balloons and cupcakes, we snap a hundred photos when one would suffice, we take video footage we may never watch. We sigh and oh and ah and gaze in wonder at our talented, beautiful protégé. These moments are our payback for all those times we thought about packaging our sweet darlings up and shipping them to where the sun doesn’t shine, but then thought again.
Today, her first regulation field hockey game, followed by her first date. The game was exciting, but it’s the date we are buzzing about.
At this very innocent and tender age, parental involvement is a key component, so when she asked would I drive her to the theater to meet her date, there was no hesitation. In the midst of a crazy weekend that involved too many things, book clubs, skiing, soccer, field hockey, and dinner parties, the answer was a resounding yes. For you, I would move mountains. Not that I’m keen to thrust her into the world of dating, but for this first, her first innocent coupling, which caused a glow in her eyes and a blush in her cheeks, this we can manage.
He asked her over Skype, which is apparently how it all shakes down these days. My instructions were to deliver her to the theater at the appointed time. I quelled my desire to phone or email the boy’s mom, to her great relief, as apparently landlines are provincial and only a step above snail mail. Yet checking with other moms is as instinctive as putting butter on my popcorn. It felt funny to not double check the time and location with another adult; leaving the logistics up the kids is foreign to me. This is a first, I reminded myself, this is what it must be like, back off.
Sensing this moment called for something – advice? didactic story from my past? lecture? – I readied myself to impart wisdom, but she wanted to listen to the radio. She spotted the boy and his mother waiting outside the theater from two miles away. I instinctively reached for her hand as we approached them, which seems more awkward since we are the same height, and she politely rebuffed me, of course.
Mercifully, the other mother was as perplexed as I was about how to handle the situation. We laughed and talked and watched our kids turn three shades of crimson before sending them in together. I resisted the urge – however powerful – to record the moment with a snapshot, and instead recorded a mental image of two kids, both with freckles, braces, and red ears. Another first to celebrate, albeit quietly.
Friday nights mean a lot of things to different people – clubbing, high calibre reality television, Quidditch, poker – pick your poison. At one time in my life, Friday’s meant parties, dates, and the heady possibility of sleeping in on Saturday. But introducing children to my life has effectively squashed those options, making room for new traditions and more family-friendly rituals. Friday nights have evolved into family movie night, alive with the possibility of escaping to the wintry depths of Narnia, the vestiges of piracy in the Caribbean, or perhaps days gone by in Hollywood or Hogwarts.
I like doing errands almost as much as I like scrubbing toilets, but going to fetch our Friday night movie is one errand I enjoy: my store of choice is located next to the liquor store, a marriage of convenience if there ever was one. One competent double play – wine, video – guaranteed a night of fun. But recently, as I pirouetted towards the video store entrance, singing that annoying song “It’s Friday, Friday, Gotta get down on Friday,” I came face to face with an Out of Business sign.
I was stunned. To ensure this wasn’t some sort of hoax I pressed my face to the glass, and sure enough the shelves were empty, workers already in the process of dismembering the counter where I used to stand and make small talk with the red-shirted employees.
This, on the heels of my other neighbourhood video store going bust a couple of months ago. I’m officially in no man’s videoland. It is the end of an era, before I was ready to be done with the era. As I did when the bootcut leg gave way to the skinny jean, I am recoiling and resisting, lingering in my outdated video sense.
I know there are alternatives. I simply don’t like them as much as my weekly jaunt to the video store. My cable company provides a video on demand service, but the selection is paltry and depressing. People are buzzing about Netflix, but gathering the family around our Mac isn’t enticing, and our Wii is hooked up to an old t.v. in the basement; switching it seems like too much work (and likely impossible). I bought my husband Apple TV for Christmas, but it’s not up and running – something to do with the seventeen remotes we have for our main television. (Whoever set up our system never heard of KISS – keep it simple, stupid.)
It’s not like I’m resistant to change. When winemakers ushered in perfectly acceptable vintages with twist-off caps, I barely batted an eye. I gladly sign up for a web-chats with my bank rather than wait on hold for a live person. Volleyball did away with side-outs, and I sucked it up. I roll with the punches pretty good, for the most part.
But the death of the video store has caught me with my boot-cut pants down. I’m aghast and dismayed, not to mention video-less. If video killed the radio star, then who, in turn, killed the video? Netflix, I’m looking at you.