Thursday, December 23, 2010

Another Christmas





CanadaHelps.org. Because somebody might need you.

All the best to everyone.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Running the numbers

I have a new job. I'm not at a financial institution for the first time in over six years and the shift from an itemized, highly-controlled environment to a small office is pleasant, if a bit jarring. I'm responsible for the intranet of a Canadian health care company, it's a good gig with good people, feeling much more satisfying than one of those 'lateral moves' one sometimes makes after their previous employer has 'gone in a different direction' or whatever other comment you're imagining between the quote signs. I can't complain and my commute has been shortened significantly. Another buzz phrase - the 'quality of life' factors with this job remain high.

I'm getting off the train on a Friday morning behind a bunch of early-teen girls. One trips and neatly face-plants onto the platform. She makes a really interesting noise and the situation isn't as neat as the initial trip. Two women and another guy and I (all of us clearly over 30) help her to get up, she's not crying but she's finding it hard to stand and there's a of blood on her face/clothes/the floor. It looks like she's broken her nose (as if Dr. Mike could automatically tell what that looks like) and it's a quiet, if unpleasant scene.

Her friends are responding much louder to the situation than the girl. We group together for no more than two or three minutes; one woman is helping the girl to stand while another one is trying to get answers from the girl's friends (such as 'Are her parents home? Is there somebody we can call?') and I’m beside her holding her backpack with my left hand and looking through my coat for a handkerchief or something to help slow the blood. The train driver must have called somebody because two TTC attendants show up very quickly. One of them hands tissues to the girl while the other one looks at me and the backback that’s clearly not mine (there are dangly sparkly things hanging from the zippers) and says, “You, you’re her father?”

I didn’t say anything but the look on my face must have said it all. The guy looked apologetic for a second then turned to the girl. Somebody said something about an ambulance being en route, they'd stay with the girl and we could be on our way. I gave the backpack to one of her friends, and she said thanks in a tiny, slow voice and I came to work, wondering if I really look like the potential father of a 13 year old girl.

Must be that damn grey at my temples.

Oh, and my age. That's a big factor.

The math makes perfect sense, of course. I know a lot of people my age with kids in their early or mid teens; I'm just so attuned to being the father of a five-year old that nothing else computes. And let's not disregard the whole 'denial' factor.

But it wasn't an unreasonable question on the part of the TTC guy. I might have gotten huffy about it and said "And a grown man isn't welcome to have pink spangly things on his Roots backpack?" but it wouldn't have helped anything.

The point remains; do I look that...old? And all apologies to various friends with kids in their early teens. You're not old. It's my dim awareness of chronology on the gurney here. I handed scalpels to Travis, a year or so younger than I, married with a new infant, and Burton who's married and has a new puppy, let them cut me open and do a post-mortem on my twitching at this little incident.

Travis: Well, its not like its unrealistic, I know people my age that are sending their kids off to freakin' university. Think about it: if you had gotten married and proceeded to breed right after you finished your undergrad degree...say at the ripe old age of 24 then you would have a 19 year university freshman on your hands right now, you'd be planning extended vacations with your wife, or you'd likely be divorced and hooked up with a 26 year-old grad student. Or maybe that's my alternate life. Anyway. To your point that you were surprised and a little offended that the subway man thought you were bloody nose's dad...well, dude, in most cultures around the world and throughout history, we'd all probably be grandfathers by now. Chew on that cud fer a while.

Burton: I prefer to think it was the deep reservoirs of compassion and empathy in your eyes that led someone to mistake you for the girl's father. Yes. That must have been it.

Me:
You're kind. I actually had a nightmare that the kid would be dazed from the impact and remember Natalie Portman's line in Leon and mutter "He's not my father, he's my lover" or something along those lines. And that would have ruined my day.


(This is one of the most insane fears I've ever experienced. The odds of the kid ever having seen Leon was unlikely enough, let alone having it come to mind with blood rushing out of her nose. But I hate awkward situations, and I really didn't want to be explaining "No! Officer! It's from a movie! Have you seen it? If you haven't, I can get you a copy of the director's cut...and incidentally he's not her lover he's a hitman who...this isn't making it sound any better, is it? Maybe you should start with La Femme Nikita and...well, will I need a laywer? And of course this isn't my backpack!")


Travis: Speaking of aging without dignity... according to the Life section of this morning's Globe, I have a BMI (Body Mass Index as if you didn't already know what it meant) of 25. So that officially make me obese. I find this perplexing because I walk for nearly two hours and do fifty push-ups every day and I eat a pretty healthy Mediterranean diet. My chest is bigger then my 35 inch waist, which is a full five inches below what is considered obese according to the waist line standard. So how the eff can this be?! Granted, I haven't weighed myself in nigh on a decade... but I assume that I am still roughly 200 lbs. So this morning I started taking just one sugar instead of two in my coffee. So it begins...

(Aging without dignity has been a through-line in a lot of conversations I've had of late)

Me: According to this handy dandy calculator, I'm .1 into the overweight spectrum. 25.1% here based on 170lbs and 5'9. And I chase a 5yr old around. And sip miso soup 4 days a week for lunch (now, I had a bacon cheeseburger and fries with gravy yesterday, granted, but we're not talking about me right now we're talking about the mighty B to M to the I). Damn high-fallutin' rendition of the Special K pinch. I'll start taking Matthew to the playground more often.

Burton: Hey, get me - at 23.9%, I'm still within the parameters of "normal weight"!
That's oddly encouraging, given my diet of blueberry fritters and Chinese takeout. I've lost about 10 pounds since the puppy showed up, mostly from lack of sleep and chasing the little bastard around the house. And did you know that Bluetooth extenders make great dog toys? WELL THEY SHOULDN'T.

Travis: Doesn't seem fair. Aren't you people genetically predisposed to layer up
in order to be able to ward off those long, cold Siberian winters? Besides which, muscle weighs more than fat. Yeah... Thaaaat's the ticket.

Me: Mediterranean diet. Fish. All the heavy bones. You do eat the bones, don't you?

Travis: Oh wait...it's that nightly half tub of Haagen Dazs after Jonie goes to sleep. Dammit!

Me: Just re-purpose it. Did you know that all Haagen Dazs products work outstandingly well as a soothing body balm?

Everybody mutters their own variation of 'Golden boys and girls, all must, as chimney sweepers, come to dust' when the spirit moves them. Sometimes it involves BMIs.


Dec 2010

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