Monday, February 23, 2004

Tammy Faye Heyday!

Some women that I know just don't feel very pretty unless they have a bit of rouge on their cheeks, a tint to their lips, or some glitter to add drama. Dangerously long eyelashes, at the very least.

Some women do it all; some indulge in only one or two rituals of feminine beautification. Some women, like Simone, do one thing very poorly.

Simone, as I came to know her, was looking good, dressed as she was in a conservative black pant suit and black wool overcoat. She held a newspaper, which is usually a sign of a well-informed, literate mind (unless the paper in question is the Sun. . .occasionally the Star). In fact, the only thing that drew my attention to her was the fact that she was applying bright red lipstick like she was preparing for an appearance in Cecil B. DeMille's The Greatest Show on Earth.
And the fact that on her newspaper she had scrawled, again in bright red lipstick, RAT FINK.

Otherwise, a perfectly normal middle-aged woman.

Her pattern of lipstick application was this:
A--ever-widening NASCAR loops around her lips;
B--a red dot on her forehead;
C--colouring her nose;
D--putting lipstick on her finger, then rubbing the excess on her cheeks;
E--sticking the fully-extended lipstick directly up her nose and twist, twist, twisting it like a standard pencil sharpener;
F--standing up on her tiptoes and reapplying to her lips.

She would then retract the lipstick, cap it, and place it in her pocket. Then, she'd shake her head no, and start all over again with the same pattern as described above.
This cycle continued with little change until a Braintrust sitting opposite her dropped his bottle of Canadian Sherry (screw cap) and, while already unsteady on his pins, began to chase the runaway libation down the moving streetcar.
I would have been happy had I witnessed either event on my way home; to see both was a rare delight.
Once Johnny Snakebite had reeled in his catch of fortified wine, he decided to deboard. Noticing Simone, he enquired:

A- "What's yer fuckin' trip?"
B- (with surprising conviction)"Lipstick. Lipstick is my trip."

One mystery solved. Simone liked lipstick.

At the same time, at the front of the streetcar, a woman boarded who serves as a perfect example of my argument that people in Toronto pay ABSOLUTELY NO ATTENTION to what is going on around them. For obvious reasons Simone was sitting by herself; the new commuter plopped down right beside her.
Simone was, by this time, more red in the face than W.C. Fields. She was clearly not sane.
The best moment on my ride yet was this when this oblivious newcomer stole a glance, as all commuters do, at her seatmate. She nearly jumped out of her skin. And just guess what her first words were--

C-"I think that you have enough lipstick on."

I have to give her some credit: she was only saying what we were all thinking.
Well, to be honest I was thinking "Holy FUCK, she's got a lot of lipstick on!!".

And do you know what our lovely little Simone said, without missing a beat?

B-"Gotta take care of my lips; my lips are my ticket! I'm a lip model!"

For a moment I admired the clever wit of Simone and her lightning-fast mind. Perhaps there was more method to her madness than I was giving her credit for! Maybe the light behind her eyes was not quite as dim as I had thought? The golden rule of "Judge not lest ye be judged!" came to mind--all those moments when my mother had scolded, "Don't judge a book by its cover!", "Still waters run deep", etc. etc. etc.

Then I noticed that Simone had stuck her lipstick so deep into her nose that it began to bleed.
Book covers be damned. This woman was crazy.

Sunday, February 01, 2004

Madeline Horrified!

Often I have described events in this blog that involve the stupidity or embarrassment of others. My friend at the Riverdale Farm can attest to that.

But the time has come to take one squarely on the chin.

My immoderate bowel has reached legendary status among my peer group. Close calls in Walmarts and fleet-footed flights from A to B have been the food to fuel many many stories in the past; that is why, when going against my older brother's advice while at Price Club to purchase the jumbo pack of Imodium, I inadvertently set a course for disaster of Germanic proportions.

The victims of today's tale are myself, a legion of school children, and good taste.
But the first step in a good colon-related story is admitting that you have a problem.

Morning came, but I hesitated to greet Her with my usual song and dance routine to Billy Joel's 'Uptown Girl'. Contorting uncomfortably in bed, my body was telling me that the dinner I ate the night before was going down with more drama than the Soviet K-19 Widowmaker.
The morning passed like rolling thunder--noisy and foreboding--but I was determined to make an appointment that I had been eagerly anticipating.

The streetcar is not a place to 'ride out' a colonic storm; the stifling recirculated air is, in many ways, a hard way to keep the aforementioned storm a private pain. The experience of traveling from Broadview and Gerrard to King and Simcoe gave me new sympathy for others who have been forced to live their private pains in the public eye: Ben and Jen, David and Liza, me and Swiss Chalet.
But something changed when the streetcar approached King and Simcoe, deep within, that led me to pull the bell chain a little harder than needed. A quiet anxiety that had been building within me from the moment my foot touched the sidewalk outside our home was coming to a boil.
Hundreds of school children happened to be gathering at Roy Thompson Hall that day, yellow buses constipating movement around the concert venue, much to my chagrin.
Acting like nothing big was up, I casually deboarded the streetcar and glided into the streetcar shelter. My brother, I thought, must be called and employed as a secretary on my behalf. He'll call the producers I was to see and tell them that the "chefs" at Swiss Chalet were sons of bitches and I was unable to hold my appointment. Or something to that effect.
Just as our cell phones connected, Fate dealt the final, humbling blow.
All my brother heard on the line was a tremendous heave, followed by a mighty splash of vomit, then legions of children screaming and fleeing the scene. In desperation I tried to answer his cries of "Tell me where you are! I'll come for you!" but my body was busying itself with the manufacture of unsavory orange and chicken flavoured snow cones.

The next recollection I have is scornful looks from school teachers, teary-eyed fear from a random collection of school children huddled as close to the crosswalk as possible, and my brother heroically placing me in the passenger seat of his Vibe.

Nothing puts life in perspective like vomiting in public. Trust me.
If I had children, I would have gone home and hugged them.
But I don't.
So I watched a movie and went to sleep.