Naps are definitely not for wimps!
Me, I’m not one of those cowardly conformists who — when they get tired in the middle of the day, as do we all — don’t have the confidence to slip away to a quiet sofa or bed or cornfield, there to boldly close their eye-liddies and do some snoozing, without shame or regret.
No, I’m a proud, hard-core, in-yo-face napper because, afterwards, I feel more energetic and creative; after 20 minutes of semi-REM sleep, my energy level rockets up and I work better, enjoying it more. The boost that some seek in a coffee-cup, I find in my pillow. The buzz that some seek in amphetamine pills, I get from the tender embrace of my teddy bear.
Because of that, I’ve been napping intensely and enthusiastically since the mid-‘90s, becoming one of the top local nappers, able to consistently saw off at least 10-12 ZZZs under the trickiest of conditions. In my lawyer days, for example, I napped many times in a conference room at our local criminal courthouse, a few meters away from violent repeat offenders on bail. I’ve napped on the deck of a tugboat sailing the St. Lawrence River. I’ve napped on a park bench in downtown Madrid, in the movie theatre in Hamilton’s Jackson Square, in New York’s Grand Central Station, in an army Porta-Pottie and during a wedding (not mine!).
The only place I don’t like napping is on airplanes. The air is dry, the engine noise distracting and the seats cramped. But the main problem with sleeping on planes is that it’s usually too bright, even if you slide the little window blind down. There are those little black eye-masks to block the light, true, but to me they feel too much like a blindfold for a firing squad. And then if you do manage to start to fall asleep on a plane, your head starts to fall to one side, which wakes you up. There are special pillows that wrap around the back and sides of your neck to stabilize it, but these feel weird too, like trying to sleep while wearing a mini-Daschund as a scarf.
Other than in planes, I’m man enough to nap almost everywhere. Someday, I’d like to test my toughness by napping while rock-climbing, playing guitar outside a beer store or cooking an omlette.
Occasionally, I’ll day-dream of being drafted as a professional athlete into the N.E.N.A. (National Extreme Napping Association).
I also get joy from the naps of others. When my sons were younger, until the age of three or so, we used to make them take naps every afternoon. My wife and I so cherished those quiet moments; our progeny unconscious and locked in a wooden cage; while looking so cute, mainly because he is at that moment unable to scream, poop, break, throw, etc. For that blessed hour or two, my wife and I had a chance to clean, fix, launder, apologize to the neighbours, etc. Sometimes, when we were lucky, the kid would nap extra-long and we’d have time to nap too.
We enjoyed the kids sleeping in the day so much that we made them nap whether they wanted to or not. “He is going to nap, damn it,” I would say, “even if we have to hire a professional hypnotist.”
I remember one desperate afternoon, with a child refusing to nap, when I raised the idea of duct-taping his eyelids shut. My wife did not like this plan. Using duct tape to fasten shut an insomniac child’s eyes, she argued, was cruel and dangerous. I wasn’t 100% convinced, but I still tossed aside the roll of duct-tape. I suggested a reasonable compromise: using some Spiderman-brand Band-Aids on his eyelids – after all, he’s a huge Spidey fan! – but my wife was all critical and nit-picky about that idea too. My wife ended up taking him to our bed to try again to nap, while I ended up on the sofa, grumpily napping alone.
Let’s discuss nap theory. There are, according to sleepologists, four distinct stages to a typical nap session by an individual.
The first issue is body placement. A successful napping strategy must determine whether napping is to begin while the subject is lying on the back, the right side, the belly or the left side. Once initial placement has been determined and carried out, adjust your body for additional comfort; sliding a hip a bit to one side, for example, or raising a hand from the side to the top of the belly.
When physical comfort has been achieved, the napper then moves on to mental adjustment, which consists of emptying your mind of aggravation. For example: that important issue at work that might turn into a disaster? Let all thoughts of it drift away. And those other stressful issues? Let them sink out of sight, out of your indifferent mind. Those bad memories from a long time ago that still haunt you? Just let them all dissolve in the random ideas and odd images of REM sleep sneaking up on you, flying you far away from this world, to someplace new, maze-like and so familiar …
The third stage of napping is dreaming. The subject of nap-dreams is a matter of personal choice. I’m fond of dreams in which I teach hermit-crabs to make stained-glass windows for my car. You can even dream about doing things you’re not allowed to do in real life. Crime, illicit sex, putting recyclable stuff into the regular garbage can – in the world of dreams, all debauchery and sin is forgiven. However, be careful. If napping in public, intense sex-dreams are not advisable, especially if you have a tendency to writhe suggestively in your sleep while groaning, “Oh, baby, smear me with butter.”
The fourth stage of proper nappery is the return to reality. After a solid snoozing session of, say, 20 to 30 minutes, you should wake up, to avoid a groggy-making nap overdose. On waking, it is advisable to stretch a bit, squinting your eyes and frowning. A quiet groan or sigh is optional. Then, while getting up, start looking forward to your next nap – which should never be too far away.
An ant and a grasshopper were in a summer meadow.
The ant was very hard working, constantly searching for seeds and dragging them back to his nest, where he put them under the care of his trusted financial advisor, a centipede.
The grasshopper, however, spent most of his time bouncing around the sunny grass-blades and happily singing. The ant noticed this and said to the grasshopper, “You’re having a good time now, but when summer’s over, you’ll be sorry!” The grasshopper just grinned and did a silly little dance and said, “I don’t care!” The ant shook his head and went back to his hard labours.
In time, as predicted by the ant, the warmth of summer faded from the land, to be replaced by a cruel coldness. Plants stopped growing leaves and seeds. The ant saw the grasshopper standing on a fallen leaf, shivering and looking at some dark clouds approaching. The ant said, “You don’t seem so jolly anymore! Should have planned ahead for this day!”
The self-satisfied ant went into his nest — only to find, with shock, it was empty of food. Everything had been stolen by the centipede financial advisor, who was long gone.
A chilly wind wailed from the North.
The ant crawled around the meadow, moaning, “No food! I’m going to die!”
And the nearby grasshopper said, smiling, “Me too — but at least I had a good time first.”
When the ant starved to death, he was still frowning.
The dead grasshopper is still smiling.
Yesterday, my middle son and his friend came back from a nearby forested ravine. They each had little aquarium nets and plastic bags full of something. On our hot, sun-soaked back porch, they showed their catch to me and the youngest son. The bags were full of crayfish! We had this old plastic insect cage — which I always called “Bug Alcatraz” — lying around the jungle-like back yard, so I dumped the sticks and junk out of it and we poured the plastic bags of creekwater into the plastic box.
There were lots of them! At least seven! They excitedly zipped around backwards, in the shallow dirty water. They looked like brown lobsters, except the size of a Bluetooth earpiece. They had antennae and wimpy-looking claws. We put in some rocks for them to hide under.
“I’m so proud of my mighty hunters,” I said.
“Yay!” said my middle guy.
I realized that there wasn’t enough water for the crayfish to swim properly, so I got some plastic water containers from the kitchen (which I’m technically not supposed to use for nature experiments, so don’t tell my wife about this) and I sent the two older boys back to the ravine, to get more creek water.
Leaving the youngest guy on the back porch to “guard” the trapped crayfish, I went inside and looked at my bookshelf. There was nothing there about what crayfish eat. There was nothing, believe it or not, about crayfish at all. Just a bunch of Hemingway and Atwood and Wilde and Dostoyevsky — all of it useless!
So I went to the internet and summoned the search genie and typed, “OH GREAT GOOGLE, WHAT DO CRAYFISH EAT?”
Google replied with a list of sponsored advertising links: “Purina Crustacean Chow — 75% off!” and “Try Our Certified Organic Craw-Daddy Feed,” etc.
After that, there were the non-commercial links, where I learned that crayfish like to eat fish.
We had some sardines in a tupperware in the fridge. I’d opened the can over a week ago and was planning to throw it out. So I forked out a chunk and put it into the crayfish cage. Only then did I realize that sardines are kind of smelly. The sardine oil spread on the surface, like a salad dressing. Oh well, the crayfish probably won’t mind. The oils might even be good for them, like the beauty oils at Shoppers Drug Mart; giving the shells of the crayfish a smooth, sexy shine.
The other two kids came back from the ravine with more creek water, which we poured in. Then we put in some rocks, for hiding under.
“I think they’ll be more comfortable in there now,” my son’s friend said. He lived in a nearby apartment building and had never done this kind of stuff before visiting us. He always went home with dirty shoes and dirty clothes and dirty hands and a dirty, smiling face. The first time his mom picked him up, she’d barely recognized the mud-caked Swamp Thing in our front hall as her son.
(My parenting philosophy: yes to filth and adventure, no to technology and coddling.)
So, we watched the crayfish for a while, then the boys wanted to play ball-hockey in front of the house. They left me alone with the crayfish and I realized that it was too hot on the porch for them, being used to a cool stream. I took the container into the back yard, between a gooseberry bush and some nodding golden flowers my wife had planted a year or two ago.
Blind to the danger, I left the crayfish there overnight.
The next day, before breakfast, I took my two youngest outside to check up on the crustacean prisoners. We were planning to release them in a different creek, one that did not have any crayfish in it yet. We planned to pioneer a brand new population!
However, all the crayfish in the box were gone. There was just some water and rocks. The piece of sardine was gone too.
“I knew the raccoons would get them,” my middle son said.
It was true. Last night, when I’d told him where I’d put the crayfish, he’d said something about raccoons eating them. I’d pooh-poohed his fears, being too lazy to go outside in the middle of the night to move a plastic box full of muddy water and crayfish from under a bush to — to where? Where would they have been safe from raccoons? Those sneaky masked criminals can break into garbage cans at will, so how could a light-weight plastic box stop them? The only 100% protection would be to bring them inside. But my wife might have criticized me for doing that. So I’d ignored my son’s prescient warning – just as the King of the ancient Trojans had ignored Cassandra’s warning that the Greeks were on their way to burn Troy to the ground – and I left the crayfish outside. Which led to this slaughter, this massacre, alas.
Neither of my sons accused me of having innocent crayfish blood on my hands. (And, in my defence, let me say that if crayfish blood was on anybody’s hands, it would be on the hands of those marauding raccoons. And who’s to say just how innocent those eaten crayfish really were?)
To make up for my negligence, I promised to take my sons back into the urban forest soon, to catch more. But first I had other things to do, including writing this.
After this article is published, the crayfish near my house will be the most famous crayfish on the internet! Maybe this article will help my local crayfish get their own reality TV show!
Now I can almost hear the crayfish, calling: “Come! Catch us if you can!” and “The wild world is the real world – all else is illusion!”
Soon, I’ll reply, “Okay, crayfish, we’re on our way!”
Then I’ll tell the boys to put on their rubber boots and to get their crayfish nets and then to meet me on the back porch – mighty hunters, ready for adventure …
This article started with a parable about summer I wrote recently; so let’s end it with a poem about summer I wrote a long time ago:
in a summer garden heavy with grapes
and the songs of hidden insects,
leaves are tongues,
licking the ripened day.
Lay your body down here,
rest on this warm soil
and berries will fill your heart,
as your garden fills with summer
* * *
Kid: Knock, knock.
Adult: Who’s there?
Adult: Banana who?
Kid: Knock, knock.
Adult: Who’s there?
Adult: Banana who?
Kid: Knock, knock.
Adult: Who’s there?
Adult: [deep sigh] Banana who?
Kid: Knock knock.
Adult: [long silence] Okay, this is the last time. Who’s there?
Adult: Orange who?
Kid: Orange you glad I didn’t say “banana” again?
Hearing that joke from my son (yes, I am the adult quoted above) set me on a voyage of self-discovery, radically changing my world-view.
I saw the light. A big, orange light, shining into my eyes like a tangerine sun or a clementine supernova.
My favourite colour is orange!
That epiphany struck me like a thunder-bolt, making me physically stagger and clutch my son’s Lego table for support.
My God! Orange! Could it really be true?
From my own childhood until that moment, I had always claimed that my favourite colour was green. Why? The psychological roots go back to my early life experiences. In my childhood, green and blue were seen as “boy colours” and safe to pick. (GI Joe wore lots of green, after all, as did Godzilla.)
Things have changed, but in the ‘70s and ‘80s in Hamilton, a boy who said his favourite colour was pink would be called a “wimp,” if not a “gaylord,” by his friends – who might stop being his friends after such a confession. (I don’t know why, as kids, we called gay people “gaylords” instead of just “gay.” “Gaylords” is actually a compliment, when you think about it, as if all homosexual people are classy aristocrats, wearing white gloves and monocles, sipping ice wine on a Mediterranean yacht. A few gay people actually are that classy, but most, sadly, are not.)
Anyway, when I was a boy, choosing pink as your favourite colour was social suicide. Liking purple was almost as risky. Red and orange were acceptable, but only barely so, as they were too loud and flashy. Liking loud and flashy colours meant you wanted to attract attention to yourself, which was weird. Brown and yellow were oddball picks, revealing a kid as an eccentric, while white and black aren’t real colours at all, so anyone picking white or black would fall under vague suspicion.
So, blue and green were the safe picks. I picked green and, for decades to come, I stuck loyally with green. I even ran in an election for the Green Party. (No, I did not win; no, I’m not writing this from a cushy, taxpayer-funded office in Queen’s Park.)
No longer a boy myself, these days I deal with boys as a parent, not a peer. And the world has changed – my two youngest sons both got pink anti-bullying shirts from Prince Philip school the other day and like wearing them.
Young Canadians either don’t associate pink with homosexuality or don’t care. That’s new. Back in the ‘70s and ‘80s of my youth, a lot of people – including me – were mean or ignorant towards gay people and gay symbols; I’m glad that’s changing.
I think I’ve always loved orange but was too afraid to admit it. I conformed, living as a closeted orange fan. As an adolescent, I used to stare at traffic pylons – bright neon orange cones shaped like Madonna’s ‘80s-era boobs – with a strange yearning. Whenever I’d see a Florida licence plate, with its seductive picture of two ripe, bulging, squeezable oranges, I’d stare and stare. And when I guzzled back my favourite beverage – 7-11’s Orange Crush Slushee – I’d exult like a triumphant supervillain in the intense blast of sugar, fake flavour and edible hail-stones, followed by the concussion-like brainfreeze.
As a kid, many people I considered cool wore orange uniforms: garbage collectors, the crew of the International Space Station, construction workers (who wore flamboyant orange vests when setting up pylons), prison inmates, the great Dutch soccer team, etc. I loved my pet goldfish.
And my favourite fruit has always been the common orange. There are very few things in the world – e.g. sex with someone you love, the birth of a child, getting the job of your dreams, a long-delayed bathroom visit, winning a Juno for Best Barbershop Quartet – that can compare to the joy of cutting an orange into wedges and sticking one in your mouth, daggering front teeth into soft, cold flesh and feeling the acid explosion of flavour-jolting fruit-blood … closing eyes in near-orgasm as you suck back sweet orange sap like some Vampire Diaries character on a quivering throat, ahhh.
Other favourite foods included grilled sandwiches with orange “processed cheese product” singles and orange-powder-dusted Doritos.
But I’m not a fanatic about the colour. I still think boiled carrots are yukky.
Ontario’s NDP uses orange in their branding, but I find them yukky too. When I think of the NDP, I think of Hamilton’s unpopular public school board and NDP trustees like Alex Johnstone, Judith Bishop and Jessica Brennan, who sell schools in struggling neighbourhoods (like Ainslie Wood) to fund lavish renovations at schools in their own well-off neighbourhoods. So, this election, the NDP can go eat boiled carrots.
I almost forgot another great thing about my new favourite colour – free range eggs have firm orange yolks and taste much better than those watery, jaundiced-yolked eggs from Fortinos, No Frills, Mac’s Milk, etc. And I’m still inspired by Ukraine’s Orange Revolution a few years ago, now threatened by Russia’s “little green men.” And, of course, you remember ‘90’s soul musician Oran “Juice” Jones, singer of the smash hit “Walking In The Rain”? (Neither did I, until researching this article on Wikipedia.) And when your lawn gets too full of weeds, just spray it with Agent Orange!
But I haven’t given up on green completely. I still like green. Green and I hope that we can stay friends. I’ll always have a special place in my heart for green. I just published a book called Hidden Harvest about cannabis (which is green) and have signed a contract to publish another, Weed World, which I hope’ll bring in some money (which is nicknamed “green,” even in Canada where cash comes in different colours – blue [$5], purple [$10], green [$20], red [$50], brown [$100], pink [$1,000.]
But no orange cash. So I want the Bank of Canada to immediately start printing polymer $1,000,000 bills in bright tangerine; with the traditional portrait of the Queen on one side and, on the other, a tasteful picture of a traffic pylon.
Recently, at breakfast, a violent knock at my front door startled me into spilling a spoon of Cheerios. Visitors usually ring the doorbell. This sounded more like a SWAT team. I put on a bathrobe and, opening the door, saw a UPS truck driving away. At my feet was a cardboard box the size of an ‘90s computer. On the label on the box, I saw “ECW,” the name of my publisher.
I took the heavy box inside and, like a child on Christmas morning or a Senator getting reimbursed for travel expenses, joyfully opened it to expose the glossy, shiny, gleaming covers of 20 “author’s copies” of my new non-fiction book, Hidden Harvest: The Rise and Fall of North America’s Biggest Cannabis Grow-Op.
First emotion: pure joy. My baby has been born!
Second emotion: a bit of anxiety, when I realize that my solitary scribblings (so long confined to my nest-like basement office) are now hatching out and fluttering free into the world, out of my control. How will people I’ve known react? I imagine one of my old schoolteachers reading it, making corrections and comments with a red pen. I imagine delicate souls offended by the occasional profanity. I imagine anti-marijuana activists protesting outside of my home office and chanting, “Hey, hey / Ho, ho / Burn this book / And Just Say No!”
Despite such literary stagefright, I’m glad my book is out (almost) and I urge everyone who likes this blog or is interested in true crime to click on the cover pic below, to go to the book’s page at Amazon.com. (Or, even better, go to your local physical bookstore.)
click on cover image or here
I got a letter from my ECW publicist, Jenna, asking me to find ways to directly market the book. I’m not really that good at this part. Other than this blog, I do zero social media. The people I hang out with are generally not very literary and I don’t often talk about my own writing. Selling my own art is tough for me. Some other authors are such good sellers that they can walk into a book club meeting with 10 books and sell them all — even if the book club only has three members. Or they can sit behind a rickety little table just outside a bookstore with their obscure book nobody has every heard of and, just through the force of magnetic personality, get readers to stop and buy. Me, I feel awkward selling my own stuff like that. I don’t like to toot my own horn and those situations feel unnatural. However, I’ve thought of a way to directly sell my new book that is more in my comfort zone. It’s like the old phony reviewer trick on Amazon, but off-line and slightly less unethical.
When the book gets distributed, I’m going to hang around in bookstores, in the aisle where my book is shelved. (My picture isn’t on it.) I’ll make sure that the cover of my book is on the eye-level row, more visible than the cover of any other author’s book. I’ll hold a copy of my book in my hands, open to a random page.
When someone walks into the aisle, I’ll start grinning, while quietly muttering, as if to myself, “Why, this is brilliant … How inspiring … Ah, such classic wit and wisdom.”
When the person gets closer to me, I’ll look up with a friendly smile and say, “You know, I’d heard that Mark Coakley was a great writer — but I never suspected he was this great. This book changed my life!”
Then I’ll start pretending to read my own book again. If the person seems to be planning to pass by without picking up a copy from the shelf, I’ll giggle loudly.
“It’s so true it’s hilarious,” I’ll gasp.
If even that doesn’t work, and the potential reader still walks past me, I’ll shout after them my desperation line: “Hidden Harvest is full of SEX! I’m shocked by all this SLEAZY FILTH but can’t stop reading! Oh, I’m so HOT and BOTHERED!”
Yes, that’s would technically be a lie (just like 90-something percent of the book reviews on Amazon are lies, written by friends of the author). In truth, my new book isn’t sexy at all, unless you get excited by explicit descriptions of pollen drifting in the wind from a male flower to a female flower: plant porn, anyone?
But it’s a good book anyway — so buy it or look it up at your local library. If those options don’t work for you, then go ahead and download an illegal copy from one of those bit-torrent sites. I really don’t care about the occasional copyright violation; I’d rather people read me for free than not read me at all.
I love sending my words into the eyes and minds of other people; I love it even more than I love opening up a new book with my name on front and sticking my nose down to sniff in the sweet, unforgettable smell of my words in fresh ink … spilled for you, dear reader.
*Hidden Harvest‘s Back-Cover Blurb: A thoroughly researched and authoritative page-turner about this unprecedented operation — and bust Mark Coakley lifts the veil on the riveting story of a group of criminals — Ontario police would call them “a gang with no name” — whose most famous exploit was turning an abandoned Molson beer factory north of Toronto into a giant indoor jungle of cannabis. The operation produced tens of millions of dollars in profits and involved gun smuggling, slavery, violence, pornography, and running cocaine and other illegal chemicals. When the grow-op was raided by police in 2003, the massive scale of the operation drew international media attention. The true masterminds behind the operation were not arrested until 2011, and it was only then that the real story behind North America’s biggest grow-op came to light.
Bored the other night, sitting in our TV room, I started doodling on a piece of paper. I drew a cartoon of a guy yelling at a snow-flake (yes, I’m sick of winter) and then, without really thinking about it, started writing some semi-random words:
Soon after that, I went to bed. The next morning, a Saturday, I got up before my wife and went to the living-room and lay on the sofa, staring glumly at the white, frozen wasteland outside the window. Our sons were already awake and were in the TV room. It sounded like they were playing with Lego. After a while, I heard our eight-year-old son’s voice. He was singing the words I’d written the night before and left on the coffee table! With his high voice, and a melody sort of like Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, it sounded really cute.
I went to the other room and asked him, “Do you like the rap song I wrote?”
“Yeah!” he said, very enthusiastically. “But what are ‘tricky-trackies’?”
“In the hip-hop scene,” I said, “that’s what we call track pants.” I gestured at the grey cotton-polyester pair I was wearing, adding, “Like Kanye West and Drake, I buy my tricky-trackies at WalMart. And do you know what flippy-floppies are?”
“A kind of bug?”
“Nice guess, but no. It’s how rappers refer to Crocs.”
I pointed at the pair of neon orange plastic sandals I was wearing over my white gym-socks.
“Cool,” he said.
“Have you ever heard of Tupac Shakur?” I asked.
“He was one of the best rappers of all time. Back in the day, when Tupac was killed in Las Vegas, he was wearing a pair of old-school flippy-floppies — just like these, except black. We were good friends, before I got married and quit hip-hop. Tupac gave me these Crocs.”
My son looked at my footwear, looking very impressed.
Okay, okay — I confess, the garish plastic sandals actually came from PayLess Shoe Store (half-price!) and I never hung with ‘Pac. I sense readers shaking heads in disapproval. So, some of you think that lying to children for fun is wrong? Well, I see it differently. Having kids is a lot of effort and hassle. One of my well-deserved perks is the opportunity — no, the duty — to fill their naive, innocent minds with amusing falsehoods. Someday they’ll learn that rappers don’t really dress like me, just like someday they’ll learn that the animals we see on the side of the road are dead, not just napping.
Later that morning, when making breakfast, I got an idea for some more rap-lyrics. I called my three pajama-clad boys to the kitchen and, stomping one foot for a beat and pretending that a spatula was a microphone, I boomed:
Our younger two laughed, the six-year-old saying, “That’s so silly, Dada!”
I said, “Call me Swagga M.C.!”
Our thirteen-year-old, however, seemed embarrassed by my elbow-jerking, ankle-twitching dance moves. As he left to go back to slaughtering friends and strangers on the Minecraft computer game, he said, “I think you need to go to sense of rhythm school, if there is such a thing.”
Unfortunately, my wife didn’t sleep as long as she’d hoped and woke up in a slightly grouchy mood. (Apparently, our house has thin walls and my voice gets loud sometimes.) I grabbed the spatula and did my entire rap for her a couple times, throwing in a few fist-pumps and crotch-clutches, but it didn’t go over too well. “That’s not really my kind of music, dear,” she said, and wasn’t enthusiastic about going to the local bar on karaoke nite, where I wanted to rap my verses over the beat of an old song by A Flock of Seagulls.
She said, “If you have to do this Swagga M.C. thing at a karaoke place, can’t we go to one in another town, where nobody knows us?”
“Hmph,” I hmphed.
Despite the doubters, I know I’m still the greatest rapper alive. When the music industry finally realizes that, I’ll get record contracts and Grammy awards and Caribbean party-yachts and film offers from Hollywood and, most importantly, my wife will no longer be embarrassed to go with me to karaoke nite. Until then, I’ll see you in the hip-hop underground.
The vast majority of my household — my sons and I — find farts funny.
The minority position — that farts are, in fact, not funny — is represented by my wife.
To change her animosity towards fart humour, I told her a story I’d heard from my childhood friend, Walter, who liked to unobtrusively approach a group of people — kids or adults — when he felt the gut-gas building up inside. Standing at the edge of the group, Walter would silently release his vile vapours. When the payload was delivered, Walter would discreetly step away before the smell spread. Walter said he liked to watch from the other side of the room as his victims blamed each other.
“That’s supposed to be funny?” my wife said. “That’s just rude.”
Then I told my wife about one of my own formative experiences. As a young elementary-school lad, naive and innocent, I once got onto a city bus and was walking to my friends when an older boy said to me, “Hey. Pull my finger.” Seeing no reason to refuse such a harmless request, I complied, grasping the youth’s proffered index finger and tugging gently. As I did so, I was astonished to hear the lad’s lower torso erupt in sound. I wondered, Did I cause that? Is there a medical connection between the index finger and the butt? When the guy and his friends started laughing, I realized it had been a practical joke. He’d been holding a fart in, I deduced, to be released when a victim pulled the trigger-finger! Fiendishly clever!
I laughed all the way to the bus seats where my friends were sitting. I told them of the classic gag and they all cracked up. But my wife’s reaction was, “That’s childish, not funny.”
Getting desperate, I enlisted the help of my sons. We realized that my wife needed a form of intervention, to help her appreciate fart humour. So, one breakfast, I served everybody a breakfast of scrambled eggs, with British-style baked beans on the side. At a pre-arranged signal from me, the boys and I all turned to my wife and sang, as loudly and as harmoniously as we could, “Beans, beans / The musical fruit / The more you eat / The more you toot!”
She smiled and praised our singing voices, suggesting we audition for Canadian Idol, but didn’t even giggle.
I’d failed again. My wife laughs about lots of things — but not, alas, about flatulence. That comedy gap seemed unbridgeable. Perhaps farting — like barfing, sexual disfunction and bizarre ways of death — is something that most males find funny and many females don’t. I was about to give up, accepting that my wife would never achieve flatular amusement, until I remembered something I’d seen many years ago, when visiting Norway.
“The Norwegian word for ‘quick’ is ‘fart,’” I explained. “So I go into this bookstore and I see the cover of a Wild-West paperback novel. There’s a picture of a guy crouching behind a covered wagon, a six-gun shooter in each hand, with bullets flying all around. He’s in a gunfight against several bad guys. Over the head of the crouching cowboy is, in big red letters, the Norwegian title of the book — FART, COWBOY, FART!”
“Is that true? The title was Fart, Cowboy, Fart?”
“Yup. It’s like someone is yelling advice to the hero: ‘Hey, cowboy! Don’t bother shooting at the bad guys! Just fart at them!’”
She laughed. Not a big belly guffaw or anything, but a definite physical reaction to flatulence-themed humour. A wonderful moment. I reached out and clasped her hands and said, adoringly, “Darling, that’s the first time you’ve ever laughed at one of my fart stories.”
“That’s the only funny one.”
I whispered, “Do you want to hear one that’s even funnier?”
So I farted as loud as I could.
In India, when someone sneezes, people say, “Krishna!”
In Arabic lands, it’s “Yarahmakullah!”
In Spanish-speaking countries, “Salud!”
Many in North America say “Bless you!”
I wonder, do North American Satanists say to sneezers, “Curse you!”?
Should atheists say, “Nothing for you!”?
A common response to sneezing is the German word “Gesundheit!” — which roughly translates to, “Don’t spray any more snot on me!”
Nobody likes getting struck by the liquid debris (up to 40,000 separate droplets) from someone else’s facial explosion. Traditionally, people tried to prevent that by sneezing into their hands. However, that can spread germs through hand-contact, so doctors today advise people to sneeze into their inner elbow. It’s unlikely that germs there will spread, unless you are dating or married to an elbow fetishist. (Nothing wrong with that!) In such a case, to avoid spreading illness, you should sneeze into the back of your knee.
There are many myths about sneezing. One is that it is impossible to sneeze with your eyes open. That’s false. The sneeze reflex does involve the eyelid muscles, but this can be counteracted by placing a toothpick between your eyelids, propping them open. Then, you can sneeze without blinking — to win a staring contest, perhaps, or if you are so into a book that you don’t want to stop reading even for a millisecond.
It is a myth that sneezing means that someone somewhere is thinking about you or talking about you. That is a paranoid old folk-legend. People are thinking about you and talking about you, all the time, but the sinister, secret conspiracy to destroy your life does not reveal itself when you sneeze. Sneezing also has little to do with the vampires who walk in daylight and plan to sacrifice you to break an ancient curse. So, relax.
It is a myth that sneezing in a dream causes one to sneeze while sleeping. It is impossible to sneeze while sleeping. If, for some reason, you decided that it was important for you to sneeze in the middle of the night, you’d have to set your alarm clock; when it beeps, you would have to hit the snooze button, then sneeze, then sleep until the alarm clock goes off again and you hit snooze, sneeze, etc.
The ancient Greeks thought that sneezes were communications from the Gods. In 401 BC, a general of Athens, Xenophon, made a speech of war against the invading Spartans; as soon as Xenophon stopped talking, a nearby soldier of Athens sneezed. A wise soothsayer announced that the soldier’s well-timed sneeze proved that the Gods were on the side of Athens and victory was assured. Xenophon led his inspired troops into battle. Within minutes, the Athenian army was destroyed, including Xenophon. Only the soothsayer survived — he’d been secretly working for the Spartans, who made him Mayor of Athens.
In the Middle Ages in Europe, it was thought that sneezing was highly dangerous. Not due to the spread of disease, but due to the belief that you could sneeze out so much air that you suffocated. Some people also worried that the soul briefly left the body during a sneeze, at which time it was vulnerable to being snatched by Satan, the anti-Christ, Beelzebub, Demons, Ryan Seacrest or other evil spirits.
Disloyal doctors to the medieval English king Charles II allegedly gave him sneeze-inducing chemicals (cowslip flowers and ammonia), apparently causing Charles II to sneeze to death.
In modern times, sneezes are not considered dangerous, but many people still take steps to prevent them — e.g. by reducing indoor dust and pet fur, by replacing furnace filters, by sleeping a lot, by saying, “No,” when a waiter offers “fresh-ground black pepper?” etc.
My wife and I disagree strongly on the issue of sneezing. I do not sneeze very often and, when one does occur, I generally enjoy the experience. I sometimes call sneezes “nosegasms,” because of the pleasure and release they provide. I wouldn’t go so far as to snort black pepper to induce a sneezing binge, but I’m definitely a pro-sneeze voter and citizen. I say, “Sneeze, please!”
My wife, however, is annoyed by her unusual sneezing pattern. Instead of doing one or two big sneezes, like me and 99% of the population, she’ll make a fast series of small, staccato blasts, up to 10 or 15 in a row. She sounds like a cute machinegun. She doesn’t like this. She finds it embarrassing, because after her first sneeze, someone will start to say “Bless you!” or “Gesundheit!” but they’ll be interrupted by sneeze #2. After sneeze #2, they may think it’s all over and try saying something again, only to be interrupted by #3. She doesn’t like it when people count her sneezes out loud, or place bets on how many she’ll be able to pull off, or shout, “Are you okay?” She tries to believe me when I say that her sneezing style is one of many things I love about her.
When people I love sneeze, I often say, “I love you.”
Try it — you might make someone very happy.
It’s a lot better than, “Gross! Get a Kleenex!”
The first inhabitants of what we now call “Canada” were Natives, who experienced passionate heart-dramas and eroticism here for many thousands of years. Few solid facts are known about pre-European North American lust, but most leading anthropologists accept that it is was often so intense, yet tender. Many academics, but not all, think that it sometimes lasted “all night long.”
However, in 1348 AD, iron-bearing Vikings from the Norse colony of Greenland beached their longships in what is now Canada’s province of Newfoundland. The sweaty, dirty-clothed Vikings went inland for fresh water. Bathing naked in a cool forest lake, soaping their muscular bodies vigorously, sometimes splashing water at each other in jest, the Vikings were approached from the forest by a bold group of seduction-eyed, black-haired Native maidens. The passion between them was instant and intoxicating and the maidens, on the beach, were about to disrobe and join the pale immigrants — until the multicultural orgy was forbidden by fathers of the Native maidens, who’d arrived moments before things got really steamy and wanted to talk about trade. The disappointed Vikings strode naked from the water and towelled off and established a semi-permanent colony of rock-walled buildings. The Native maidens, trying desperately to forget their Viking soul-mates, went ahead and married some Native guys; but all the maidens could think of were the brooding faces and buff bods of Eric, Leif, Torgill, Halvdan, Olaf and the other Scandinavian hunks. Both sides tried to resist their torrid urges, but the erotic tension could not be restrained … and would drag them all to a stereotype-shattering confrontation near a rack of drying cod fish. Broken-hearted, the Vikings left, never to return … never to forget …
Later, the great French explorer, Samuel de Champlain, discovered masturbation. During his time in Canada — while founding the cities of Quebec and Montreal, voyaging up the St. Lawrence to Lake Ontario and Georgian Bay, establishing the trans-Atlantic fur-trade — de Champlain just couldn’t keep his hand off himself. He kept a tattered selfie-painting of a Parisian dancer in his sleeping bag, for visual stimulation. Also, some Cialis(TM). None of the other explorers wanted to share a tent with him, understandably.
During the War of 1814, when the United States tried to conquer Canada, plans of an upcoming US invasion of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada were overheard by a patriotic local chocolatier, Laura Secord. Her specialty was molding life-sized chocolate recreations of human “schlongs,” each unique to the customer who’d ordered it. Laura was molding one for Mr. Robertson, a local hemp farmer, when she overheard whispers about the plan. Hiding Mr. Robertson’s chocolate penis under her petticoats, Laura walked through dark, pathless forests to warn the Canadian army, a journey of almost 750 hectometers. (Canada’s adoption of the metric system had been a major cause of the war.) On hearing her news and eyeing her heaving bosom, General Brock said, “I have never met a woman like you before! What about the danger you faced?”
Laura Secord gasped, “Danger is my middle name!”
The next morning, General Brock — his chin and cheeks still smeared with chocolate — defeated the US army. When the War of 1814 ended, both sides claimed victory. And both sides looked hot while doing so.
John A. MacDonald — the first vampire Prime Minister of Canada (1863 − 1891) — is a figure of controversy among contemporary historians. Some accept the traditional view that MacDonald was our greatest undead PM, pointing out his achievements: negotiating Canada’s first constitution, building the Trans-Canada railway, suppressing a werewolf rebellion in Manitoba, adding the offence of “possession of wooden stakes” to the Criminal Code, etc. However, a new generation of historians is working to revise that traditional interpretation, describing MacDonald’s many failures: the financial scandal that almost forced him from office, his inability to negotiate a free trade treaty with the US, his insistence on spending daylight hours in a spider-haunted basement crypt and, of course, his heavy drinking. MacDonald’s frequent messy binges from a crystal goblet of human blood (which journalists, at first, mistook for red wine) hurt his reputation. He skipped almost all Cabinet meetings and Parliamentary debates; he did not attend a single day-time meeting in his entire time in office, and a supernatural rule prevented him from entering the House of Commons until the Governor General explicitly invited him inside. Instead of performing the duties of his high office, MacDonald would wake at dusk, put on a black velvet cape and pointy-collared white shirt, then flit alone to an Ottawa tavern, where he’d ask a waitress to sit on his lap; helpless to resist his sinister magnetism, she’d giggle as Sir John nibbled at her sweet, tender neck, turning her into a vampire too. MacDonald did that almost every night, despite complaints of tavern management, until Ottawa ran out of human bar-wenches; that’s when Sir John A MacDonald left Ottawa, moving to a retirement community in Florida and writing his political memoirs, titled, Blood! Blood! More Blood!
* * *
I know that you read this hoping for silly jokes and maybe another fried egg recipe, not to be exposed to lustful fantasies and the objectification of women. There are a billion websites out there full of smut, porn, erotica and “adult material”; I know that’s not why you choose to visit Funny Sweet Chocolate.
So, you may ask, why am I writing about female butts?
One reason is because Nina Mishkin (http://ninamishkin.com/) dared me to. She read my post on breasts and challenged me to write one about butts. I’m no chicken!
The other reason is the fact that my post last month about breasts is, by far, my most popular one. It gets more hits than all my other posts put together. On my stats page, I see that many people are being directed to my blog from search engines after entering word combinations like “naked boobs girl” or “three hot breasts.” I suspect that some of these flesh-seekers, when they arrive at Funny Sweet Chocolate, are a bit disappointed. Some probably complain, “Just one pic of Christina Hendrix and she’s not even naked.” I feel bad for the disappointment. If large numbers of people are visiting this blog for smut, I think it’s only polite to have some available.
Thus: this discourse on sexy female butts. I recognize, in theory, that some women find some men’s butts to be sexy, but I will not be talking about that. The only time it is socially acceptable for a straight man to discuss male butts is at the gym — “When you did that last power-squat, man, did you really feel it in your butt?” — and the only straight men allowed by society to touch another man’s butt are proctologists and football players after a touchdown or sack.
Most boys, on hitting puberty, develop a hypnotic fascination with the rear ends of their female classmates. Butts are safer to stare at than breasts, because the owner of the butt is looking the other way and, even if she suddenly turns around, there’s plenty of time to look away. When I was in grades seven and eight, the most popular pants worn by my female classmates were blue-jeans by Roadrunner and Jordache; decades later, I can remember how Roadrunner pants had a three-lined chevron stitched in yellow thread across both of the pockets, while Jordache pockets had all sorts of different decorations; a few girls — the ones who tried to convey a “bad girl” image — sometimes wore tight pants that had no pockets at all on the rear, which seemed to me at the time a bit shocking and risque.
At the mall or the roller-skating rink — places full of girls who were not the same girls you saw every day at school; girls who went to other schools or maybe didn’t go to school at all — my friends and I would often stop talking, mid conversation about a cartoon or a superhero or a toy, while we’d openly and almost unblinkingly stare at some passing girl’s hip region, our heads moving in synch like the crowd at a very slow tennis game. Later, conversation would often turn to porn magazines and whether anybody had some or knew how to get some. Back then, I found porn — the ability to stare at a naked woman’s butt as long as I wanted — both exciting and gross. It often showed too much, I felt, but couldn’t look away.
Today, what I find too much is the ridiculous fashion trend of women getting injections of silicone or other chemicals into their gluteus maximus muscles, to increase the size of their caboose. According to the media, butt-augmentation plastic surgery is getting very popular and many women are choosing to lay on their bellies on an operating table — drugged unconscious while a masked person with a knife approaches — in order to look like Kim Kardashian, Nikki Minaj, Jennifer Lopez, etc.
It’s bizarre that so many women are willing to spend and risk so much for a bigger butt, while other women are constantly asking their boyfriend or husband before going out, “Does this dress make my butt look too big?” As a man who likes both naturally big butts and naturally small ones, I never know what to say. Once, in a long-ago relationship, I answered, “Yes, dear, it certainly does.” The reaction was not good.
Why do men like to look at women’s butts so much? Well, a biologist would say that the females of all other primate species — orangutans, chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas, etc. — have butts that communicate sexual information, sometimes by the butt actually turning colour to a bright red, sometimes more subtly. According to science, male humans are primates who also look at female butts for sexual information. Sadly, women’s butts do not glow red like Rudolf’s nose when they are in the mood; oh, how much simpler that would make things!
Subconsciously, men look at women’s bodies — not exclusively the butt, but mainly — to answer primal questions. Is this person a girl or a woman? Is she strong? Is she well-fed? Is she healthy? Is she graceful? The answers to those questions can lead to so much. Inspired by desire, a man may face his fear of rejection and try to start a conversation, which can lead to flirting, to dating, to marriage, to kids, to the kids moving out, to retirement, to illnesses, to grief and, finally, to a gravestone with two names, “together forever”… all sparked by a boy or man’s glance at a girl or woman’s butt.
Anyway, some of the horny guys brought to this page by search engines may be a bit disappointed by my blog so far. You were expecting a bit more hot, sexy butt action?
Well, boys, I’m not going to disappoint you. And I know a lot of you are into looking at sportscars too … so …
Feast your eyes on this (beep! beep!):