A Man, a Plan, a Canal, Panama


I’m in the midst of my first teenage parenting issue.  I’m forcing Freddy, age 16, to get his lifeguard certification. It’s 2 weekends, 10 hours a day, 4 hours on Friday.  In a pool.  I get it, gross.  Public water is the worst: the fear of accidently swallowing one of those mysterious floating seahorse shaped booger blobs, there are always band aids at the bottom, and micro germs you can’t see but you can feel crawling in all your orifices.  He HATES it and it’s only Day One.  As a young child, he was stubborn with a hot little temper when you had to move him from Point A to Point B, but once you got him to Point B, you couldn’t get him back home, he was having such a good time.  He would throw a screaming fit.  I shamed him out of that behaviour and by the time he hit his teenage years, all that was left from his tantrumming ways was a low incoherent grumble and cute little flaring nostrils.

Except for this lifeguard thing.  When he came back last night, his rage was palpable.  His usual lanky,carefree body was all stiff and tense, he looked like he was going to explode, steam was coming out of his ears, he hissed:  “I do not want to go back.”

“But it’s paid for, you have to go.”

“I will pay double to get out of it.”  Yeah, right.

“You need this for your camp counselling in the summer and you can also get a lifeguard job with the city and make $18 an hour.”

“I told you I want to work in a grocery store AND STOCK TRISCUIT BOXES ON THE SHELF!”

“Nice work if you can get it, Freddy, but you are still going to have to go.”  I think I like him all full of rage, he enunciates better, I still can’t decipher most that teenage mumbling.

Of course, I pulled the “when your grandpapa was your age, he was storming Normandy” card.  And the “when I was your age, I had to do things my parents made me do that I hated.”  I went to charm school every Saturday morning.  I would waaay rather have swam in cold urine than sit in a circle jerk with a group of fugly teenage Jewish princesses discussing nose jobs and their Sweet 16 parties. We are all there to learn correct posture and the proper way to sit in a chair without showing off our meat departments.

Anyway, off he went this morning, grumbling something about hell to pay.  Honestly, kids today.

I’m just trying to save him from having an existential crisis like his mama, which brings me to Part Two of the VAMPIRE LIFT from previous post.

I called my mother last week, in melt-down mode.  I need steady job and career path, all this freelance hustle business is for extroverts, not Jungian introverts like moi.  If there were jobs like shepherding or lighthouse keepers in this city, I would be so down (as the kids say:  “down” means “in”, they keep changing prepositions probably to keep us from figuring out what they are up to:  I’m at school probably means they are under a bridge smoking a doobie).  This was our conversation.

Mother:  “I always told you that you should have gone to teacher’s college.”

Me:  “What?  You never said that, when did you say that?”

Mother (ignoring the question because she actually never said out loud  “go to teacher’s college”):  “It’s not too late you know, you are still young, you’ll have a pension…”  Some more blah, blah, blahs.  The word “pension” makes me sick to my stomach.  I secretly am hoping this Mayan calendar comes through because you know, pensionless.

Me:  “But you need a bachelor’s degree to go to teacher’s college and then you need to actually go to teacher’s college.It’s like years.”  I hate school, at least I think I do, maybe I’d like it now that I am old and can sit still and proactively do kegels or whatever.

Mother:  “You have a bachelor’s degree already.”

Me:  “Oh!  Right!  Huh.  Where is it?”

Mother:  “I gave it to you a long time ago.  I hope it didn’t end up in that fire.”

Ugh, that fire in the old house also makes me sick to think about so when I got off the phone, all I could think was “must get to teacher’s college” because that is how powerful force my mother is, but first I have to find my degree that I completely forgot I had, it’s a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Concordia University.  For some reason I had it in my head that I didn’t finish it and lied to everyone that I did.  Seems like something I would do.

Do I actually want to go to teacher’s college?  Not so much.  I don’t even really like children, they make me nervous, they always stare at you eerily and have no filters and they have no qualms pointing out the hairs you forgot to pluck. Besides there is a surplus of wannabe teachers these days all pension-hungry so maybe not such smart hockey.  But! I could get a teaching certificate  to teach English as a second language, and then maybe can blow this shitty hog town and move Costa Rica or Panama and teach English. The ultimate plan! Fuck yeah!  Let’s go find that degree.

It was in the basement, the first place I looked, bottom drawer, middle filing cabinet.  I consider that a sign from the gods. I don’t believe in struggling to success, in my opinion it either happens freely or it ends in colossal failure.  Show me the path of least resistance and I will you how a sloth can bust a move from Point A to B, Gangnam-style.

I stayed in the basement for a while because there were drawers filled with old photos that I completely forgot about. As an aside, I think my tenant has a cat because I found an empty box of anti-furball cat treats…?  Or is that just something young people are into now? Anyway, I found this photo of me as a young Elvis Presley looking lovingly at the back of my nephew’s head, like I am his spiritual guide, talk about the blind leading the blind…and then I remember it was he who didn’t finish his degree! So finish your degree, Arne, you might need it in 20 years:

me and arne

He’s like, ugh, let’s go grab a drink or whatever.

The same day I ran into David, a fitness instructor at my gym.  David is my Personal Jesus, I love him so much.  He is on my Top Ten Favourite People list, which includes celebrities but excludes people I am related to because there are so many loveable Petersons and I would feel bad if I left Furious Freddy off that list…just jokes, I love my Freddy, I just wish he wasn’t so stubborn and listen to his mama.

David calls me Freddy, by the way, always with exclamation point, like “Freddy!  What’s up?” That day, it was:

“Freddy!  I’m reading this book called “The Plan” by Lyn-Genest Recitas. Do you know what are the four worst things for your health?”

I know this is a trick question and it’s going to be thought-provoking because he’s all excited about it.  Crystal meth is pretty bad, but that’s too obvious.  Self-loathing? Anxiety?  That’s bad for your health, I have those problems, it makes me chew my nails and probably ingest all kinds of bacteria, including my own candida.  If you know what I mean.

“Too much sodium is one,” he says, “Not enough water is another.  And over-training.  Do you know what the fourth one is?  I’ll give you a clue, it’s a not enough one”

I can’t follow this conversation.  There’s always a new plan or some new diet with new rules.



“It’s not about a diet,the book is about everything,” he says,” The fourth one is NOT ENOUGH SEX.”

Oh, great, I really am going to close over and die re-virginized.

“What if you don’t have anybody?”  I protested.

“That’s what fingers are for, Freddy!” he says.

Oh how laughed.  I’m going to live forever then.  With carpal tunnel and no pension.  Good times.

One response »

  1. Huh…I wouldn’t have pegged you as someone who had gone to Charm School. Although your comments “I would waaay rather have swam in cold urine” and “the proper way to sit in a chair without showing off our meat departments.” are pretty charming. Okay, I’m being sarcastic, but if you’re not already getting paid for your writing…you should be. You always have me spewing coffee all over my monitor! And I thank you for that.

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