Can you spare a square?

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

In the time it took for me to wrestle a Brazil nut out of its shell, my three-year-old daughter stealthily transported 7 rolls of toilet paper from the bathroom to the living room. 

When I pulled myself away from the nutcracker, it was too late. She had created a pathway of "wipe-away" in the living room, around the corner and down the hall. She even used tape. The amazing thing was that all of this had taken place, in a matter of mere minutes.

It was highly creative – and really, I couldn’t bring myself to scold her for such an imaginative performance. Instead, I let her continue to play – to see what else developed. After the path, the toilet paper morphed into a dog named Max. Later, it became ribbon “like the ballerinas use”. Eventually, my daughter became a orchestra conductor - throwing Charmin shreds in the air with gusto, while singing the Wonderpets theme song. 

I was reminded of when I was a kid and my parents and I flew out to Calgary to visit my mom’s brother and his wife. Being in a city was far different from my life back home in the country. For one thing, my aunt and uncle had neighbors. Who lived right next door! In one of the houses was a girl – a bit older than me. Since I don’t remember her name, I’ll just call her girl.

The thing about girl was that she knew stuff, about things. Specifically, she knew about toilet paper. Somehow, she and I ended up in someone’s downstairs powder room. And because it was a downstairs powder room, girl and I were able to play there, undetected. Probably for longer than we should have.

Girl showed me that if you took a wad of toilet paper and stuck it under the tap in the sink, amazing things happened - especially when you added Kleenex to the mix. We spent nearly an hour, turning someone’s White Cloud (or maybe it was Cottonelle – either way, it was pink and blue) into a several balls of mush that when dry became… giant, hard, purple balls. 

Wow - that sounds way more dirty than it was.

Needless to say, when the adults found us, we were in deep doodoo because apparently, toilet paper was expensive in the 70s. I'm talking diamond ring expensive. Must have been all those pink and blue dyes. Meanwhile, when I returned home from the Calgary trip, I developed a nasty case of chicken pox. 

Thanks a lot girl. 

No, really.

Food safety, circa 1974

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

So I was sorting through some boxes today and came across one of my mom's old go-to guides.

The book is called "Your Freezer and You" and it contains tips and suggestions on how to properly handle and freeze your groceries. It was written in 1974, which might explain the publisher’s cavalier approach to food safety.

I mean, just look at the cover.

Do you notice anything - oh, I don't know - unsafe?

Here's a hint, or two...

Muffins and apples are touching a piece of RAW STEAK. And, oh hey. Look at the loaf of bread situated on top of a BLOODY ROAST. And what is that round thing under the strawberries? Shrimp pie? Please let it be apple. Nevermind. Whatever it is, it's in contact with the uncooked meat too.

Of course - as Jantje pointed out - this book was printed during the days when folks didn't think twice about sticking raw ground beef in their mouths to see if more spices were needed for the burgers. Raw eggs were regularly consumed as a health drink and lettuce couldn't kill you.

Things were different in the 70s. In so many ways.

No, really.

Objects on movie screens are smaller than they appear

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

Geoff and I were in Paris. It was getting late and we were hungry so we decided to venture one street over from our hotel to the Champs-Élysées because someone told us that the Champs-Élysées is where everything happens in Paris. Also, it is the street where vacationing pedestrians provide motorists with comic relief. I've heard.

It was early November – slightly cool but mild enough for lightweight jackets. Still, we walked quickly so as not to catch a chill.

The street was busy and in spite of the late hour, there were people all over the place and every shop and restaurant was open. As we walked along the sidewalk, we came upon a particularly large crowd. Because I am paranoid cautious, my first instinct was to run as thoughts of murders, robberies and rumbles (yes, rumbles) entered my brain. 

The Champs-Élysées - but not on that night because
on that night we had no camera. Or common sense.

Geoff explained to me that because we were in a city, we might run into more people than the three or four I was used to seeing back home. Still, it was strange to see a big group of humans just standing around, doing nothing - except maybe smoking.

We were about to walk past when we noticed a large purple carpet being rolled out onto the sidewalk. And by we I mean me.

Me: Something is happening!

Geoff: No kidding.

Me: Seriously – it must be special.

Geoff: I’m hungry, let’s go.

Me: We can’t go, what if we miss it?!

Geoff: Miss what?

Me: Whatever it is that's happening.

We tried to glean some details from the chats that were taking place around us – but everyone was speaking French. So it was a futile exercise.

Time passed. We started to get cold.

I made an attempt to have a conversation with a gentleman who looked like he might be helpful. He wasn’t, but in the process of exchanging my dirty looks for his indifference, I glanced above his head and noticed a giant movie poster on the side of the building towering above us all.

It read, L'Age De Raison and it featured the faces of Renee Zellweger, Hugh Grant and Colin Firth.

I couldn’t believe it. We had stumbled onto a real live honest-to-goodness movie premiere for a Bridget Jones film.  It was then I realized we didn’t have a camera on us.

Me: I can't believe I don't have the camera.

Geoff: Let's go get it.

Me: We can't! We'll lose our spots.

Geoff: Okay, I'll go get it. 

Me: And leave me here alone! Are you nuts?!

Geoff: You won't be alone. There are over a hundred people here.

I was unconvinced. We stayed put. Minutes passed. Nothing happened. It got colder. Some people left. Others arrived – some even walked on the purple carpet, but they were nobodies. We knew this because no one in the crowd bothered to take photographs.

At some stage in the evening, I freaked out at Geoff and said, "I have to get out of here. I think I'm having a breakdown. Get me out of here!!!" But by that point, he was so committed to the process that he wouldn’t leave. He also might have said something like, "You pulled me into this Hell, so now you're sticking it out with me."

So we waited a while longer.

Suddenly, a man with perfect hair wandered down the purple carpet. He moved slowly. He even paused - a few times - but no one seemed to care… so he continued on. Minutes later, the same man appeared again, only this time his presence was announced over an invisible speaker system in the street.

“Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Colin Firth!”

The poor bugger hadn’t been recognized the first go around. I'll bet he thinks we're all suckers now after having won that Oscar for The King's Speech.  

Shortly after his arrival, Renee Zellweger and Hugh Grant appeared. They looked around at the group and stuck close to one another. Hugh shook hands with a couple of aggressive spectators, Renee smiled shyly, and within seconds, they both vanished into the warmth of the theater.

And that was it. 

This is the photo I would have taken that night.
If I had a camera with me.
And if I followed them into the theatre.
Which I didn't. That wasn't me.

Three effing hours of waiting in the cold, for a teeny glimpse of two of the tiniest people we had ever seen. Honestly. From the side, Renee completely disappeared. She and Hugh were like little figurines you could hold in the palm of your hand. They were smaller than small things. Like chihuahuas. And rabbits.

I'm not kidding. They are this small.

At least Colin Firth cast a shadow. Which probably had something to do with that Academy Award win. I'm just guessing here.

No, really.

Lose 10 pounds in 10 minutes. And find them somewhere else.

This is kind of like a sequel to my previous post about boobs. That is, if my posts were movies and I was an actor – or a producer or a screenwriter. Which I’m not. But I do have boobs. This is relevant. 

I’m the first to admit that my body is not what it used to be, y’know, before the giant baby. That and the getting older. And possibly the consumption of massive amounts of chocolate. Whichever. Either way, I’m 20 pounds heavier today than I was in college. This is not entirely a bad thing considering that back then, I was once mistaken for a feather that had fallen off of a 3rd year jewelry student’s boa. Drinking coffee nonstop and eating nothing but dry popcorn will do that to a girl. My friend Sharon agrees. She too followed the supermodel waif diet back in the day. Caffeine and air with a side of nicotine. What were we thinking? Not much, because as it turns out, the brain requires fat in order to function properly. This might explain several of my choices during the 90s.

Still - like so many others - my goal weight is always exactly 10 pounds less than my actual weight. So you can imagine my excitement when, while at Macy's not so long ago, I saw this giant claim calling out to me like gluten-free buckwheat pancakes. With honey.

Look 10 pounds lighter in 10 seconds? Are you freaking kidding me? I was SO in.

Instead of having to spend months with my Everyday Workout VHS tape in the hopes of tightening up a stomach that was once stretched out like a Macy's Thanksgiving day parade balloonicle, all I had to do was slip on a piece of shapewear, while standing in a Macy's store.

Shapewear. What a lovely word. It rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it? Nevermind that today’s body slimming garments are what grand ‘ol dames back in the day referred to as girdles or corsets or compression restraints. Shapewear sounds so much less painful. Sexy almost.

I decided on two items. An Extra Firm High Waisted Control Brief and an Extra Firm Support Camisole. Nothing says comfort like “extra firm”. Am I right?

I read the fine print and selected my size based on the chart on the packaging. How deflating. Then, I procured a fitting room, giddy with the possibility of being able to wear one of those crepe paper shirts without having to grab and pull the fabric in an outward motion -- a feeble, far-from-delicate attempt to conceal my gut every time I sit down to enjoy a warm cup of hot chocolate. With whipped cream.

Here’s the thing. Shapewear is hard. And by hard, I mean it’s difficult and stiff. I started with the briefs. I pulled, yanked, grunted and groaned my way into a pair. By the time they were on, I realized that the manufacturers claim of looking lighter in just 10 seconds was off – by about 290 seconds. While I did look 10 pounds lighter (from my crotch to my ribs) that extra bit of stomach had to go somewhere. Mostly up, where it settled nicely, just beneath my boobs. I was a dead ringer for a sci-fi movie siren with three sets of breasts. Four boobs in front, two in the back. Not really the look I was going for.

I decided that in order to pull off the illusion of a 10 pound drop, I probably needed to combine shapewear items. Understand, most of the blood flow to my brain had been cut off by the knickers.

The camisole was even trickier to get on than the briefs. But I persisted, in part due to the reduced brain activity. By the time I was through, my arms were bruised and I looked like a contortionist from that weird S&M circus that used to travel to big cities. An injured gymnast with a substantial amount of back fat – again, far from the appearance I was trying to achieve.

Much better on the hanger.

Half an hour later, I was back in my street clothes, breathless from the exhaustion. Still, a extraordinary event did occur on that fateful day in the Macy's department store.

It was a miracle I got the shapewear off.

No, really.