Sunday, November 12, 2017

Mentally Flossing My Own Teeth

I was pulling out my daughter's tooth, dreaming of the Karaoke competition next week, mentally flossing my own teeth.

You constructed a human-sized hamster wheel and spend weeks running in it. There is no way the hamster should have all of the fun.

I am running after the bus, sweating profusely, speaking in tongues (note to self - trying using fewer tongues).

You are walking on a sandy beach, looking for crab shells. Your grand plan is to make a life-sized crab-styled mosaic art piece of a girl jumping on a trampoline.  

I count my toes, then recount them and finally count them a third time. After a nutritional snack, I repeat. Later in the day, I am clearly bored by this activity, so I start counting my fingers.

You are climbing a tree. Each new branch you step on feels like a new height achieved, a new step, a higher bar. You feel such a sense of accomplishment and  strikingly pretty.

The grass seems to move rhythmically in the wind, almost like the dried grass skirt of a hula dancer. The leaves blow to and fro in the air. A thin layer of dust is blown off the basketball court. I sit there taking it all in, playing with my Barbies.

You are so cool.

I imagine that I am a rabbit and that the little girl standing at my door trying to sell me Girl Guide cookies is a ravenous fox. She seems fairly perplexed when I vigorously hop away.

You park your car and race to your house to answer the phone. As you fumble with your keys, you break into a Broadway-style song-and-dance.

I am learning Latin in the bath so when I sink my enemies boats I can gloat properly.

You are in Rome looking at magnificent art work. Next week you plan to go to your mother's house to mock her. Then you will return to Rome looking for a hug.

I sit on my chair laughing and laughing and laughing. Tomorrow I will try to laugh standing up. If that works I will sell my chair.

Water drips from the kitchen tap while you try to sleep. Drip, drip, drip. Finally, after what seems like hours, you turn on the tap in the bathroom full blast drowning out the drip. Ahhhhh, peace at last.

I move in slow motion. When will the madness end, or at least speed up again?

In your dreams you are being tortured by a horrible prison guard who is barking at you for answers. You awake, startled, surrounded by stuffed animals, longing for some lemonade either for drinking or for setting up a lemonade stand as it is quite clear that business would be great.

I am walking down the street in front of my house, eyeing everyone who passes by either empathically or pathetically based on what I think they need at the moment. This fun activity quickly leads to a killer headache. 

After months of planning you break into the library in the middle of the night and set up a huge fort made out of books. Your initial idea was to make a dominos-like display but you are trying to become less predictable over time.

I am trying to lead life more fluorescent-ally. 

You have this great idea to buy bags and bags of marbles and then mail them to me marble each day. I am forced to go buy bags to put them in and I know that was your plan all along. Touché.

I am starting to worry more and more, and I wonder if I should just give up. As a last ditch effort, I drop everything and spend the afternoon on the bench press to work on my pecs because that is what He would have wanted.

You start to act like a king all the time, wearing a crown, acting pompous, using an excessive amount of nutmeg.

I am riding on the back of a motorcycle whipping around tight corners in the Brazilian forest. Where am I going? Who is chasing me? Who is driving the motorcycle? Damn I smell good.

You buy a huge block of ice and melt it with an iron. You immediately realize the error in your ways and attempt to refreeze it. You've never made this mistake before, and you may do it again because it was actually quite fun.

I am sitting in my room doodling. What starts out as mindless, aimless, meandering drawing slowly turns into a succinct and eloquent solution to the problems between whales and seals. A radical solution that the world is just not ready for yet.

You are filled with equal parts remorse, middle-aged ness and nausea. You are nothing if not good at balancing your feelings.  

I decide to start making my own clothes out of sheep's wool. I start with a sweater, then a pair of socks, some pants and finally a hat. I am so proud of my new duds. Life is incredible! New friends, VIP status and a big raise, but inside I know it is so wrong. A few days later I give myself a shear.

You look into my eyes and smile. I look at your smile and we break into a spontaneous waltz.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

The Drum by the Window

He badly wanted to lean on someone for support, but despite their best efforts, his wall did a better job and never let him hear the end of it.

She stepped over the line. She stepped over lots of things, including lines. Her trusty pencil and her walking shoes were her two most prized possessions.

He hated bonsai trees and all that they stood for.

She decided to ignore her best judgment and, instead, took her best friend's advice by putting "that" in her pipe and smoking it. Aside from the near-debilitating cough and occasional disconcerting thick black drool and series of hyper-annoying facial ticks, she was loving everyone minute of it.

He spent the day peeling potatoes, drinking mulled wine and plotting revenge, or in other words, Thursdays.

She always preferred the path of greatest resistance because, although it was very slow and full of friction, she felt that it built character and she was in desperate need of more character especially after all of those years travelling on really easy paths.

He climbed to the top of a tall hill and enjoyed a long, good laugh at all of the smaller hills nearby.

She spent considerable time each morning grooming herself, then grooming her cat, and finally spending a large amount of time looking at herself in the mirror just knowing that the person looking back at her was finally starting to look more and more like her cat. And now, on to step 2 of the plan.

He arrived at the party and checked both his coat as well as his ego at the door as he just loved the combination of being slightly chilly as well as being incredibly selfless.

She bolded and italicized a large number of words in her word processing as she believed it helped the words appear more thrilling and practically leap off the page. In her quieter moments, she often escapes to a fantasy world inhabited by bolded and italicized words that, while thrilling and leaping up and down, were incredibly boring to hang out with.

He spent the better part of his teenage years walking to the beat of his own drum. It was the drum his mother had bought him when he was 12. It was the drum that was always sitting there, in its spot, by the window. It was the drum that, when struck just so, created a beat. A beat that, after all of those years, he could finally walk to. A beat that gave him life. A beat that made him a man. A beat that made him whole again. It was that drum. The drum by the window. Thanks mom.

She cut out strips of black paper. The next day, she cut out strips of white paper. The third day, she cut out strips of gold paper. "There. Who has more strips of paper now, dad?" she remarked with  jealously as she knew he still had more.

He walked into the building hoping that they had removed and placed their shirts in a pile as asked, to make his weekly "literal taking shirts off their backs" collection easier. He once figuratively attempted this, but ended up on a small plane headed for Brazil. 

She spent her days admiring her golden locks, just longing to be fleeced knowing full well that she had no real idea what that really meant.

He really wanted to run away and join the circus, but it just seemed too obvious and stereotypical as EVERYONE he knows had already done that.

She badly wants to scream out "ME!" whenever her roommate inadvertently calls out "Who let the dogs out?" or "Who keeps on screaming?" or "Who borrowed my phone without asking?" or "Who got blood all over my phone?" or "Who called for an ambulance?" or "Who got da funk?"

He had an overwhelming desire to prune something, anything, just not those plums that were, for all intense and purposes, begging to be pruned. It just seemed wrong and a bit disturbing.

She took a long walk in the woods on a cool, crisp winter's day leaving fresh footprints in the white snow. She was surrounded, on all sides, by tall, majestic trees in all of their beauty. As she walked on, she breathed in the delicious mountain air and felt at one with the nature all around. How she loved the woods on a winter day such as this. Closing her eyes, the world seemed to disappear and time slowed to a halt and she smiled, as she felt so at peace. And then, she became acutely aware that she was the only one in the woods at that moment who was not covered with bark.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

My Speech at My Sister's Wedding

Good evening everyone. Welcome to Niki and Aram’s reception. My name is Tommy and I am the brother of the bride which is, sadly, a historically undervalued and underappreciated position, until today.

I will also be your Master of Ceremonies. When Niki and Aram first approached me about acting as their emcee, I paused and considered running as it was two against one, but I decided to hold my ground and play dead which didn’t work as, much to my surprise, they aren’t bears. I know, I was as surprised as you are. I then responded as any proud and eager person with my level of education and articulation skills could, I barked like a seal. Aram, you should know, that seal barking is quite the tradition amongst the men in our family going back many generations though my understanding of the original Hebrew texts, to be totally honest, is non-existent at best.

But, seriously, I was literally as proud as a peacock to be chosen –that’s right, that proud. This emcee gig had me instantly at a level of euphoria that is the reason my wife has her paramedic friend on speed dial. I considered covering myself with thick layers of creams and lotions, so that if the evening didn’t go as planned, at least people could take turns sliding me around like a human curling rock.  Human curling rock is, quite coincidently, what I affectionately called Niki as a young girl. I was dangerously nearsighted.

For many years now, I have had but one goal that has helped give me the motivation to keep going when times got tough: to bring something, anything down from the inside and failing that to emcee Niki’s eventual wedding reception. I know what many of you are thinking – wrong tie – and also, is he really planning on killing two birds with one stone? Bringing something down from the inside while emceeing this reception? The short answer, no. The long answer, nooooo. But yes, I do plan on killing two birds with one stone, if those two birds are Niki and Aram who I am “killing” with this “stone” of a speech.

I am living a dream right now as I’ve wanted to follow Niki around with a microphone and commentate parts of her life so badly for so long now. By the way, early reviews of this speech from the critics are in and they are calling it “the best speech since sliced bread” and “a call to arms” and “proof that exposure to large amounts of industrial strength glue is bad.” I like to think my job has been well done if Niki and Aram are smiling - not under duress this time, as this evening is all about them (and a little about me) as we celebrate their union. I also want to argue that we are also celebrating their intersection – don’t spend too much time thinking about that – I didn’t and I said it.

As you can plainly see, I am overjoyed for Niki and Aram. Or at least I was. Not that I’m making excuses, but I just spent the past 9 months living in such a state of extreme joy and it is just really hard to maintain that level of stress on my cheek muscles and brow area. And as happy as I am for the newlyweds, I must admit that my second thought upon hearing the wonderful news of their engagement was how is this a positive for me, Tommy? I know how selfish and horrible that sounds, as I recorded it at listened to a few dozen times. But all of you out there who claim to not be thinking about how you too can use this wedding for their own gains, either monetary or spiritual, are completely lying to themselves and everyone they love and care about. I, for one, refuse to lie to my loved one any longer.

But is that too much to ask, that the marriage of two other people who are both not me nor marrying me make my life noticeably better? Shockingly, some would argue ‘yes’ and that I need to get off my high horse once and for all as men of 46 shouldn’t spend so much time on a play horsey anyways to whom I reply, “whatever Niki and Aram.” But all joking aside, I am so happy for Niki. I will now resume joking.

I know for years Niki was looking and looking for Aram, even with her glasses on intermittently and once using a high-powered telescope that I “borrowed” from the local observatory, but he proved elusive. And then Aram finally decided to show up and their paths crossed sort of like those of two nearby large celestial bodies that would cause the cataclysmic end of our world, only with significantly less destruction.

Though Niki’s adorable belief that everything would work out in the end occasionally wavered, she continued to believe in the age-old clichés that good things come to those who wait, that someday her prince would come and when a door closes a window opens. Little did she know, but a window was open the whole time thanks to yours truly who was just messing with her, opening random windows, letting the breeze in and leading her to buy tons of new sweaters and blankets that she didn’t need. Joke was on her. And now they are married and the joke is on me. Ha ha ha, really funny guys. I, for one, hope they don’t get too cocky and let this day of adoration go to their heads and we find them walking around acting all cool and stuff, like they are better than everyone as that would get insufferable, believe me, I’ve been there and I know.

But, what is marriage? What is it really if not a joining of two, hopefully healthy, mostly youngish, people who feel a love for one another that is infinitely more love than they feel for a good cup of coffee, to which some people would say “shouldn’t you know, you are married?” to whom I say “quiet kids, daddy is doing his speech right now.” It brings me great joy to welcome Aram into our family, which is quite exclusive I must add, I now see you as the brother I never had or the brother I once tried to bribe with...oops, that’s a bit too weird, scratch that.

Let me wrap this up by proposing a toast to the married couple. To Niki and Aram, may you have years and years of love and happiness and wedded bliss. May you also continue to find opportunities for me to write speeches and then perform them in public that will allow me to shamelessly plug my wonderful blog (search for Tommy Paley on when you have time). May you continue finishing each other’s sentences, aggressively if necessary, and counting to ten in unison just to prove that you can. May you never cease being unrelentingly silly together for the rest of your lives only taking breaks when chopping vegetables using sharp knives and using the washroom as that is not a time to be silly I was told in preschool. To my wonderful and amazing sister Niki whom I am infinitely proud of, congratulations from the bottom of my heart. Also in the bottom of my heart, according to Wikipedia, are my ventricles.

To Niki and Aram! 

Their Love

He loved her like others loved the rain although he wished she stopped literally showering him with water unexpectedly.

She loved playfully chasing after him in a field of spring flowers up until her allergies caught up with her or until he handed over the allergy medication.

He loved watching her eat despite her protestations that it was creepy and weird especially when he insisted on recording it for exactly those reasons.

She loved invading his space on the couch utilizing the most modern warfare techniques and strategies that she could reasonably afford given their tight budget.

He loved standing in long lines with her because of her unique way of making all lines paradoxically appear circular.

She loved that he never gave up until he actually turned molehills into mountains.

He loved the period of peaceful serenity each morning just after she woke up and just before she started screaming at him for putting lipstick and blush on the dog again.

She loved making him lunch for all of the wrong reasons.

He loved taking her on long romantic walks to his favourite spots while she argued that his definition of romantic needed a complete overhaul.

She loved helping nurse him back to health when he was sick, but she refused to have him sit on her lap while sucking from the bottle.

He loved spending weekend afternoons watching paint dry, while she absolutely adored painting him.

She loved packing up all of her belongings, leaving abruptly and waiting down by the train station that he built for her in the backyard as she needed a place to play make believe with all of her dollies.

He loved her way with words in all of its nonsensical, raving and quite worrisome detail.

She loved smashing his sand castles and then intimidatingly standing over him celebrating the fact that her castles were now clearly bigger.

He loved her smile and her laugh and, to a somewhat lesser degree, her unrelenting and quite brutally sarcastic satirical love letters.

She loved his carefree and whimsical approach to life except in those moments when he was operating heavy duty machinery.

He loved sitting next to her at the table both because it was her, but also because it was just a really fine table which displayed expert craftsmanship.

She loved when he first referred to her as his peach, though as time went on, it became more and more concerning especially considering the crazed smile on his face whenever he said it.

He loved walking a mile in her shoes equally because of the perspective it gained him as well as the comfort that custom-made insoles provided.

She loved his bear hugs which were now thankfully given using 50% less bear.

originally published in The Bitchin' Kitsch