Sunday, August 27, 2017

Boys are just plain gross

Boys can be gross little critters.
They don’t necessarily mean to be, it’s just the nature of possessing testosterone without the maturity to wield it.
Testosterone is kind of like the Force. Once you learn how to control it, it can be of great benefit, but if it is unchecked, it leads to the dark side, and the dark side usually involves something that will gross out mom and dad.
Mind you, when boys grow up, testosterone can still lead to some uncouth situations. I highly doubt it was a refined woman who invented the globally popular Pull my finger gag.
Not too long ago, I was talking to a lady who was appalled by the actions of some of the young boys in her neighbourhood. The lads were around 10 years old and full of vinegar and puppy dog tails or what ever else they are supposed to be made of.
It would seem these future leaders of our nation decided it would be more fun to pee in their water guns and squirt each other than to just fill them with boring old water.
When she told me and another father, I had to chuckle.
They looked at me like I was demented.
“You both only have girls, don’t you?”
They did, and were thus unfamiliar with the minds of little men. I doubt a girl would ever think of doing such a thing.
I know it is disgusting and I am certainly not endorsing it, but it is something little boys do, and parents who only have girls simply do not understand.
Most girls are all cute and sweet, while boys are more like chimpanzees on a sugar high.
I am sure boys are where the term ‘perpetual motion’ came from, because it seems little boys never stop moving, doing things or looking for new adventures, which translates into getting in to trouble.
They don’t necessarily mean to get in trouble, it just kind of happens.
One day, my oldest son was looking at this small, black thing he took out of his pocket.
I assumed it was a rock or something and I asked what he had.
“It’s a bird’s stomach,” was his matter-of-fact reply.
I stopped dead in my tracks and contemplated his response.
“A what?” was my somewhat horrified reaction.
“I also have what I think is a heart and a lung.”
My mind raced at the information I was hearing.
“OK, calm down. There are plenty of good psychiatrists in town. That’s it, all he needs is a little assistance. He will be fine. All little boys carry animal parts in their pocket – right?”
My next concern was how he came into possession of said body parts.
He explained that he had found a dead bird behind the shed and decided to take it apart to see what was in it.
He always enjoyed taking things apart which, until that moment in time, I thought was a good thing. He was expanding his knowledge, exploring how things worked – now it was just a one-way ticket to Barf City.
He did not have any surgical tools or even a pocketknife, so he pulled it apart with his fingers.
I would just like to say – eeeeeeeewww. Now, that is disgusting.
He did not know it was gross, he was just a curious seven year old with no concern for minor details like germs, bacteria, malaria or the plague.
Again, I doubt most girls would ever do that.
While girls are having imaginary tea parties, Junior was performing a do-it-yourself autopsy.
“Go in the house and wash your hands – a lot. Use the entire bar of soap and don’t touch anything on the way in. Just keep your hands in the air. Wait, let me open the door and turn on the taps.
No! Don’t touch me. No! Don’t touch the cat either.”
“Can I keep the stomach?”
Boys just do things differently.

Copyright 2017, Darren Handschuh

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Licking the frog to get high

I recently received an email with little-known facts about life and the world we live in.
Information such as at any given hour there are more than 61,000 people in airplanes over the United States is interesting.
Well, it is to me anyway, which gives you some idea of just how pathetic my life is and just how easily amused I a can be.
I would also find life much easier if there were not so many shiny things lying about to distract my already distracted brain.
Another amusing, yet absolutely useless piece of information is the first couple to be shown in bed together on prime time TV were Fred and Wilma Flintstone.
Oh, how times have changed.
Now it would be acceptable to show Fred and Barney in bed together.
Anyway, one of the items in the email of useless (but interesting) information sent me on a short-lived quest to verify the validity of the claim.
The statement was simple: you cannot lick your elbow.
My first thought was, “Why would you want to?”
My second thought was, “I wonder if that is true.”
So I casually found a quiet space where, that’s right, you guessed it, I tried to prove them wrong.
Feel free to give it a try yourself. Go ahead, you know you want to.
You have likely just learned the same thing I did, which is the same thing the original author learned and that is you can’t lick your elbow.
Perhaps some people can, but they are as rare as an honest politician.
I got to wondering who the first person to try this feat was, and more importantly why did they try it.
I guess some people just have waaaay too much time on their hands.
It is just another example of people doing strange things that most of us probably would never even think of trying.
The elbow incident got me thinking about other strange activities and how they came to be. There have been stories over the years about people licking toads and frogs to get high.
First of all, that is truly disgusting. Secondly, who knew licking an amphibian would give you a buzz?
Who was the first person to lay tongue to toad and think, “Wow, that’s groovy man.”
Were they sitting around a campfire moaning about not having any money for beer when a frog hopped across the lawn and someone said, “I know, let’s lick that frog for fun?”
The only thing stranger than the guy who came up with the idea, is the person he got to join him in getting fresh with a frog. I refer to the inventor of the getting-personal-with-a-frog-as-a-form-of-entertainment game as a male, because, honestly, I do not know any females dumb enough to try licking a frog for fun.
Or perhaps it started at Woodstock where someone decided to take the ‘experimental stage’ of their life to the next level and include woodland swamp creatures to help with the expansion of their mind.
“Hey, what’s wrong with Mikey? He’s freaking out.”
“He got hold of some bad frog, man.”
“Bummer man, I wonder how many flies he’s gonna eat before he comes down.”
In my years on this earth, I have never considered a frog a party accessory, but others have and if it wasn’t for those willing to push the limits of idiotic behaviour, there would be much less to talk about in this world.
Thank goodness it never caught on, or police would be raiding grow ops one week, and frog farms the next.
“Pssst, hey buddy. You lookin’ to score some amphibian? I got frog. I got toad.”
And as everyone knows, frogs are the gateway amphibian.
One minute it’s a simple pond frog, then it’s a big ol’ bullfrog and the next thing you know, you’re all the way up to snogging an iguana.
Pretty soon you are sleeping in the bushes next to the zoo just waiting for the chance to sneak in under the fence and make off with a creature of the Kermit variety.
Instead of asking for spare change, you are asking for directions to the nearest swamp.
As if actually licking a frog was not enough of a reason not to try it in the first place, the thing that creates the ‘high’ is actually a mild poison secreted from the critter to fend off attackers.
How smart do you have to be to ingest poison for a cheap high?
I guess if you are willing to lick a frog in the first place, the answer presents itself.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

A camping we will go...for some reason

I have to admit, I didn't really understand the whole camping thing.
When I wed my beautiful bride, she wanted to leave our home and sleep on the ground under the trees wrapped in canvass.
I had been working hard for many years to prevent that sort of thing and now I was supposed to do it voluntarily.
Like I said, I didn't really get it, but because I was in love I readily agreed — and the cooler full of adult recreational beverages didn't hurt in convincing me either.
So off we went, leaving our lovely rented apartment behind so we could sleep on the ground like a wild critter.
The first thing I noticed about camping was how much work it was. You had to load everything you needed into a vehicle, drive to the campground, unpack everything, set up the tent, bedding, cooking utensils etc. only to reverse the whole process a few days later.
And don't even get me started on the insects, especially the eight-legged monsters that haunt my dreams when I am in my own bed, let alone sleeping in a sack of stuffed material on a thin layer of foam in the middle of bug central.
Camping actually goes back to biblical times. Moses did it for 40 years. It may not have been by choice, but he still spent four decades pitching a tent and looking for just the right fauna for personal use.
I get tired of camping after just a couple days.
And speaking of fauna for personal use: where the heck did they find fauna in the middle of a desert in the first place? And if there was no fauna, what did they use?

On second thought, maybe I don't want the answer.
Fortunately, provincial campgrounds have bathroom facilities of some sort and what a thrill it is to make a boom-boom in an outhouse.
The most distressing part of the outhouse was the aromatic essence of the structure. Outhouses have a special odiferous quality that just can’t be described without actually experiencing it.
But young love ruled the day, so camping became a regular part of our summers — wooden toilets and all.
The longer we were married, the more our camping evolved. We went from a small, three-person tent to a 10-person tent that was so large it had room for our queen-sized air mattress, baby playpen, luggage, a full basement and in-ground pool.
The tent of wonders eventually gave way to a tent trailer, and not just any tent trailer, the largest tent trailer ever built by the human race.
The thing was so big we dubbed it The Land Whale. With the wings out, it was 26 feet long. In the right light, it could be seen from space.
What an improvement it was. I was no longer a ground-dwelling barbarian, but had an actual bed to sleep in. Camping was still a lot of work, especially with three little ones, but the Land Whale made it a lot more bearable.
My favourite part of camping was sitting around the fire with those adult bevvies I was talking about while the kids slept quietly in their beds.
But it still took many years for me to really enjoy camping.
The change started when I saw how excited my children were to leave our home and head for the hills.
When my son was 18, he said he can't wait to go camping with us and his own family (when he has one).
In that moment, the importance of family camping became clear. Suddenly, I loved camping. What an awesome way to spend a weekend with the family.
Now, if we could just do something about those bugs.  

Copyright 2017, Darren Handschuh

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Beware the spider vendetta

We all saw its shadow before we saw it.
“It” was a humungous rock spider that was walking out of the campfire. That’s right, I said walking out of the campfire.
It was the colour of granite with a big round body, huge fangs and a bad attitude.
It cast a shadow from the fire and was calmly walking within inches of the hot embers.
A friend took a stick and poked the multi-legged terror and it reached up with one of its front legs grabbed the stick and slammed my friend to the ground.
OK, maybe it wasn’t that bad, but you could see it pushing the stick down a little bit.
My buddy was stunned at the strength of this thing and I felt a shiver go up my spine that lasted for the next 17 minutes.
I had visions of this Godzilla of the spider realm hiding in my sleeping bag or attacking me from below as I used the outdoor loo.
Any such interaction with the arachnid (especially the loo part) would cause me to squeal like a small, frightened school girl moments before I passed out.
Spider, one; big, strong man, zero.
As we examined the spider he, or she, or whatever it was, took up a defensive pose and would push the stick every time it came near him.
I suggested we nuke the spider, so it would never frighten small children or big adults again.
“Hey, why don’t you put on those leather work gloves, pick the spider up and throw it in the fire?” I suggested to my friend with the stick.
“Why don’t you?” was his response.
“Are you out of your mind? Look at that thing. I’m not going anywhere near it. Why do you think I suggested you do it?”
Four fully grown adults stood trembling in fear over a spider that probably weighed less than my fingernails, but no one was going near it — no matter what.
OK, plan A was a bust.
Plan B involved death from above and a bombing run using a five-pound stone was decided upon as the best way to rid the world of the grey terror that was holding us at bay.
I threw the rock and it kind of hit the spider on his side. He then seemed to bounce off the rock and the last we saw, he was shooting across the hot embers to the other side of the fire.
No carcass was found, so we assumed he had survived the assassination attempt, which sent more chills up my spine (kind of like right now actually.)
This freaked all of us out as none of us are overly fond of spiders or any other type of insect, for that matter.
I had more visions. This time it was of a wounded monster spider hiding in the woods, plotting its revenge, waiting for the perfect moment to attack.
Perhaps it would limp its way up the tree behind me, climb out on a limb and then drop onto my hair-challenged head.
“Eeeek,” does not even come close to what my reaction would be.
Maybe it would die a slow death, but survive long enough to pass on a message of vengeance to its 20,000 offspring.
That would be just my luck — to have a small army of ticked off arachnids hunting me and my kin down to fulfil some sort of insect vendetta.
There were only so many rocks I could throw.
Fearing retribution, I conducted a more thorough search of the area around the campfire, but no sign of my new nemesis could be found.
Sure, we all hatched the murder scheme, but it would be my scent on the rock. I don’t know if spiders can smell, but I do not want to take the risk.
We tried to relax around the fire and laugh off the incident, but deep down every one of us was keeping a close eye out for any sign of the spider of terror.
We have been back to that spot since that fateful night and have yet to be carried off into the woods by avenging insects, so our fears of a sci-fi like rebellion by an arachnid army are unfounded.
My fear of spiders remains, however, as strong as it ever has — perhaps even more.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

I prefer to be at the top of the food chain

“When you enter the ocean, you enter the food chain.”
Those words of wisdom came from a buddy who has made several trips to the sunny climes of Mexico and the warm, shark-infested Pacific waters that lap at the sandy beaches.
I thought about it for a second and realized how right he was. Personally, I prefer to be near the top of the food chain rather than another morsel in an ocean smorgasbord.
When you are splashing around in the ocean, you are little more than a fishing lure with life insurance.
The top of the oceanic food chain is the shark, more specifically the great white shark, because the great white is the biggest and baddest the ocean has to offer.
If it weren't, it would be called the pretty good white shark, or the slightly-above-average white shark.
I splashed in the Pacific Ocean when I was a kid and not once did I think of the food chain scenario. But now that I am older, wiser and more of a fraidy cat, I realize just how true my buddy's words were.
I read a story a while back about a swimming competition in Australia that involved some 700 people. It also included a couple of non-competitors in the form of sharks.
One was a hammerhead shark and the story did not say what the other kind was, but I am sure it was not the kind of fish you would want to meet in a dark alley.
One of the competitors had a rather nonchalant view of the whole shark situation.
“I was swimming along and a couple of guys put up the shark signal, I figure they had 700 of us to choose from and they couldn't decide by the looks of things.”
My reaction would be slightly different and would likely involve some type of high-pitched squeal followed by a panic attack.
I wonder if urine would act as an effective shark repellent because there would be plenty of that floating around my general location.
If someone had seen a shark in the vicinity, I would not go in the water even if I was on fire. The last thing I would want to do is provide the shark with not only an easy meal, but a barbecued easy meal at that.
A good friend moved to Australia where he was a high-level competitive surfer. He would talk about what he said were “big sharks” with little more concern than someone saying they saw a guppy at a dentist's office.
I asked what he did when he saw a shark. “Oh, you just try to avoid them and get out of the water.”
Well, no duh. I could have figured that out all on my own. I don't know if it is possible to run on top of water, but I am pretty sure I would come close as I hauled out of the Big Blue.
He made a good point that it is kind of like hiking in the woods of B.C. where there are bears and the occasional cougar, both of which can detract from an otherwise good time.
So instead of bears, he had to watch for sharks. I am not sure how you would do that seeing as how sharks attack from below while a bear has to come crashing through the woods.
When a bear attacks you can play dead until it goes away, with a shark no playing is involved.
I would rather attempt to outwit a bear than out swim a shark, but I've always wondered if urine would act as a bear repellent because....

Copyright 2017 Darren Handschuh

Friday, June 30, 2017

Here come the Lobster People

One of the things I always find amusing about summer is the Lobster People.
No, these are not people with weird deformities that causes them to resemble a delicious and expensive sea crustacean.
These are the people who are vacationing in our sunny climes and are as red as a stop sign from too much outdoor merriment.
It helps make tourists easy to spot as they look like tomatoes with legs.
Locals have either already gained a bit of a tan, or they know enough to lather themselves in SPF 4,000 before going out.
But many of our tourists come from a flat part of the country (I'm not mentioning any specific areas here) where summer is typically a couple weeks in late July so getting out and enjoying that great big ball in the sky is too much to resist.
So they doff their work boots, jeans and hardhat in exchange for a bathing suit and a floatie, and splash around local lakes as the sun slowly and subtly cooks them.
It is not until the next day they realize the folly of their actions. Then they grab all the after burn ointment they can find and cover every bit of bright-red skin they can reach.
I don't even want to think about what happens to nudists.
They are exposing parts of their bodies to the sun that typically don't interact with that big ball of brightness.
I have never been to a nude beach, and the world is a better place because of it.
I could see myself ditching my swim suit to splash around eu natural, only to cause the other beach goers instant blindness and nausea so bad not even a six-pack of Pepto would be able to help.
It would cause a mass exodus from the beach as if a land shark was gobbling up people like a fat guy at a Vegas buffet.
In other words, me running around the beach naked would be a bad thing.
I would also like to take a moment to apologize for any mental images I may have generated with the previous paragraphs.
Don't worry, with the proper amount of therapy and deep hypnosis the image will fade.
Having spent my entire life living in the region, I have made a peace agreement with the sun: I will not run around with hardly any clothes on (again, you are welcome) and Mrs. Sun has agreed not to roast me like a pig at a luau.
Besides, even when I was young and in good shape and could run around without a shirt, I didn't because I don't tan so much as turn into a walking, talking mass of human bacon.
I have two colours: pasty white and lobster red. There is not much middle ground.
And, it would seem many of our foreign guests have the same problem.
They are ghostly white when they show up, and devil red when they leave.
But I suspect it may be a little harder to distinguish tourist from locals this year. We had a spring so wet even Noah was complaining about the rain, and that meant the local sun lovers had minimal exposure to the big bright ball in the sky.
And that means they will be pastier than usual when the big bright thing in the sky finally gets to shine – literally.
But at least the locals – well, many of them anyway – know when to get out of the sun.

So sit back, relax and watch the tourists turn red. It's always good for a laugh.

Copyright 2017, Darren Handschuh

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Man's disgusting best friend

Where would the world be without dogs?
They are man’s best friend, loyal companion and are great at cleaning up food dropped on the floor.
I never truly appreciated that last quality until I had my first kid.
Junior spent more time throwing food on the floor than he did throwing it in his mouth, much to the delight of our two mutts.
The dogs were a little put out when we first brought this squawky little human home, but once he was old enough to eat from a high chair, all was forgiven.
The hounds clued in real fast that the squawky little human was a good source of treats.
Problem was, once Junior got old enough to interact with the dogs, he discovered that if he dropped something they would pounce on it and soon it became a game.
He would be flinging grub around the kitchen like the lid had come off a blender and the dogs were lovin’ every minute of it.
Dogs are also good at barking their heads off when a hoard of bad guys are at the gate and about to invade your home, or if someone walks by, or they hear something, or they think they hear something.
They're a food-disposal system and alarm system all rolled into one. Who could ask for anything more?
Actually I could ask for a few less things, such as a dog’s ability and willingness to eat really disgusting things.
A friend was thoroughly repulsed when he noticed his then three-month-old hound chowing down on a nice, big pile of deer droppings.
He literally had to pull the beast away from the stack of mouth-watering morsels and the closer he got to the hungry hound, the faster the pooch would eat.
I readily admit, I have never sampled deer droppings, or any kind of droppings for that matter, so I cannot definitively say they taste terrible, but I have also never smashed my kneecap with a hammer and I am pretty sure that would hurt.
For some reason, their dog finds stuff like that very appealing. He is now much older and still scrums down on doo-doo every chance he gets.
I present you with reason No. 2 why I never let a dog lick me — ever.
Why is that reason No. 2, because reason No. 1 is equally as bad, but more common among our furry, four-legged friends.
Reason No. 1 is universal among canines. While not all dogs eat poop, every dog I have ever had has eaten their own vomit.
Why? I don’t know. If a cat hacks something up, they look around like someone better clean that up."
If a dog yacks something up, they look around like, “Hey, hey, where did that tasty morsel come from? Don’t mind if I do.”
And then they do.
Don’t blame me if you find the subject gross. I don’t make them dine-on-dog upchuck, I am just saying they do it.
Dead things are also a popular entrĂ©e for hounds — the deader the better.
My dog brought in half a dead mouse that the cat killed and left outside in the middle of January. Murphy the Wonder Dog thought the mouse-sicle was the greatest find ever.
He came bounding into the house with his prize clamped firmly in his jaw and I had to chase him down to see what it was. I finally got hold of him and he clamped down even harder.
It took a minute to figure out what it was, but as I looked closer I noticed his treasure was staring at me with a buggy mouse eye.
I added that to the ever-growing list of why I don’t let dogs lick me — as if poop and puke were not reason enough.
Man’s best friend — absolutely — a very disgusting best friend, but a best friend nonetheless.

Copyright 2017 Darren Handschuh