I just have one question. Why can’t you find a shirt with a dinosaur on it in the girl’s section of the clothing store? Is it because dinosaurs were all male? EUREKA! So that’s why they all died out. Because they were all penisauruses and couldn’t reproduce. Now it all makes sense.
Nothing makes sense.
This week at CBC.ca, I answer this question from a viewer: Why does the world insist I dress my baby girl like a whore?
Okay so that’s not how she worded it, but whatever. Have a look at my answer.
And then have a look at this sexy baby bikini. Because you can be too old for a two-piece, but you can never be too young.
My audience is comprised of mostly humans, and the vast majority of those are female. That’s just who my milkshake brings to the yard: women, moms, and grandmothers — with comments, questions, LOLs, OMGs and WTFs. But on occasion, I get words from dudes. I don’t mean those misogynist gentlemen who I want to fight with my pointy elbows. I do get those, but I’m talkin’ ’bout legit, logical, law-abiding, non-creepy men. Hearing from guys brings me great joy, to know they are following along, having a laugh, supporting the vaginas in their lives, and hopefully even understanding their partners a little better.
And then there’s “Dave.” A few weeks back, Dave asked me for advice on how he could gently encourage his wife to lose weight, now that their son was nearly a year old. He already knew certain tactics would be a bust: leaving a thigh-master on the doorstep, calling her and pretending to be Trevor from the gym with a free membership, giving her a gift certificate from LuluLemon, installing a chin-up bar in the bedroom doorway, giving her broccoli instead of flowers. So, what’s a Dave to do? Oh Dave. Dave, Dave, Dave, Dave. DAVE DAVE DAVE DAVE. DAVE DAVE DAVE DAVE…ETC. FOREVER TO INFINITY
See, this kind of question, for me, is a gift from the gods. He wasn’t being insensitive on purpose. His wife’s body is different now, and his brain and his penis are still trying to make sense of it all. I get it. But that does’t mean he didn’t deserve a good tongue-banging. Truth is, the answer was very simple. It’s the four-letter word that makes the world go round, and it is NOT kale.
My husband and I have been together for more than a decade, but yesterday was the first time we’ve been sick at the very same time. Stomach flu. Thanks a lot, Max. JERK.
In between the pooping and puking though, there was something kind of sweet. As anyone who has been married longer than 24 hours knows, marriage is a little bit like war sometimes. Yesterday, we were like two wounded soldiers on the battlefield, lying lifeless, looking into each other’s weary eyes, the sound of gunfire off in the distance. The in-laws had come and swept the kids away from our filthy cesspool, so there were no distractions, no chores, no responsibilities. Just the two of, united in gastrointestinal anguish.
“I’m hurting all over, are you?”
Oh my god, he asked how I was feeling. Sweet, sweet man.
“This is the worst.” “It really is.”
Holy shitballs, we agreed on something. We are the same person. We are ONE.
Feeling a little better last night, after a whole day of not eating, we both craved the same food. We sat together and ate chicken fingers with mayonnaise. And halfway through, we both agreed it was a mistake. WE ARE SO IN LOVE.
At least until tomorrow when we both go back to being healthy idiot people.
Have you heard about the new Care Bear? Her name is I Don’t Give a Fuck Bear, and moms (the ultimate caregivers) are modelling themselves after her.
Okay actually it’s just me so far, but it’s bound to catch on because WE MOMS CARE TOO MUCH, about too many things: the house, the homework, the clothes, the cooking, the activities, the appointments, the parties, the presents. Not to mention having to care about how our tits look all the livelong day.
Enough with the caring, Florence Nightingale. That shit will kill you. Nobody notices half the stuff we fuss over anyway, so why bother? It’s time to take care of you, Mommy. By just not giving a mother fuck. Allow me to illustrate.
My house is messy and not a shit do I give. Sticky floors happy kids or whatever the fuck that coaster says. Fuck coasters.
There’s a spider living inside the couch and I don’t give a fruit fly’s fart. It can spin me a custom body bag for all I care.
The carpet does not match the drapes in any imaginable scenario and here’s a quarter to call someone who cares.
Our kitchen table is a catchall and I don’t give a shit sandwich. You can wipe the jam off your face with a sock, or Batman’s cape, or the cable bill. Choice – now that’s something I care about.
There are Star Wars stickers all over the walls and care I do not. There could be worse things on the walls, like blood that connects us to a crime scene, or…oh god no…Caillou stickers.
My husband hates how I overload the dishwasher, but so what if something comes out dirty? It’s clean dirt now. Go care about genocide or ISIS or something fer fook’s sake.
I don’t care that my son is wearing those pants with that shirt and dem dere socks. He looks like a homeless bayman and…hold on, my I-don’t-give-a-shit senses are tingling.
I don’t care when people think my baby girl is a boy (because she’s not dressed in pink.) I care so little, I don’t even bother to correct them. I also tell them her name is Paul.
We don’t go to all the birthday parties and the only thing I care less about is – oh wait, there’s nothing I care less about.
The dog and the kids are in our bed half the night and I don’t care because soon enough the dog will be having a dirt nap and the kids will wish we were dead. On my nightstand is a tall glass of I don’t give a fuck.
I don’t send cupcakes or goody bags to Max’s class on special occasions. Hold on let me write that down on my list of things I don’t give a fuck about.
I’m constantly sharing photos of my cute kids and I don’t give a flying fishcake if it’s making y’all gag. Go look at some ugly shit instead – maybe some warthogs or some scrotums.
Sometimes we go to bed angry. I can’t help it if you’ve been a dick-weed all day. We’re not going to be happy every single second. VOCM cares; I do not.
I really don’t give a tinker’s cuss about having it all, leaning in and all that. I’m just doing my best and if this is as good as it gets, then I guess that’s pretty fucking good.
Caring less about crap allows me to focus my Care Bear Stare on things that matter: my tires are on right, our helmets fit, there are vegetables in the fridge and books by our beds, and we talk about stuff – like how to treat people, our dreams for the future, pizza, and how you can’t say the F word till you’re a grown-up.
This is not a picture of our marriage. It’s a picture from our wedding, but not our marriage. If this was a snapshot of our marriage, there’d be a giant shark fin cutting through the water behind us. And that blue boat would be full of whores instead of oars. And written on that blue boat would be Fuckery of the Sea.
This is not a picture of our marriage either. The only thing about this photo remotely like our marriage is the rickety wooden fence that keeps the cows from falling into the ocean. I don’t actually know how that’s like our marriage. But I imagine one day, making love is going to be like shaking around a pillowcase full of old sticks.
Frankly, I’m glad our marriage doesn’t look like this. The couple in these pics are dip-shits who think marriage goes like so: meet, fall in love, get married, die in each other’s arms like the old couple in The Notebook, find each other in heaven and do it all over again with angels as bridesmaids and tin cans jangling off the back of a Care Bear Cloud Car. The people in these pictures are super cute, but mega dumb. Heaven is paved in clouds so those cans aren’t gonna make much noise. Amateurs.
We’ve learned a lot these seven years, because we’ve been through a lot these seven years. See, in between the marriage part and the death part is a whole bunch of other crap that can fuck shit up royally: sickness, betrayal, resentment, failure, sleep deprivation (babies!) bad luck, bad backs, bad vaginas (babies!), too much talking, not enough talking, and way too much staring at our goddamn phones. So don’t let my funny social media posts and the photos of my sexy as fuck husband and our two beautiful children fool you. Our marriage is a roller coaster ride that stops at random times with us hanging upside down and screaming. And if we’ve been through this much in seven years, imagine the stuff still to come. Mommy.
I have doubt about everything. EVERYTHING. But it’s alright because doubt is the most natural thing in the big fat world, because nobody knows anything for sure. Basically if you don’t have doubt, you’re an idiot. So, of course, when it comes to marriage I wonder what the future holds. What will happen when the kids are grown and we’re here staring at each other with nobody sitting between us asking for a popsicle?
Only a fool would say they know it’s forever. I have friends going through yucky divorces after seemingly perfect lives. So on this, our anniversary, I’ll just say is I HOPE it’s forever. I THINK we have what it takes. I KNOW I won’t go down without a fight.
So that’s why I chose this picture to mark the occasion today. Seven years ago, I was sitting on a chair in the middle of the room at the Legion, a cheap garter hugging my thigh inside my gown. Springsteen’s “I’m Going Down” starting playing and my new husband slid onto the dance floor in a scuba mask and snorkel. The perfect prop since we had completed a scuba diving course together, and because, well, places be wet.
It’s a picture of our marriage. Of happiness, but the messy kind. The crazy kind. The kind that fights, and worries, and struggles, and stays. The kind that gets better, eventually, shaped and textured by the bumps along the way. The kind that sometimes even has you on your knees in a scuba mask, gasping for air. Not like that. Well maybe like that. Depends what you’re into.
In case you were getting your moustache bleached when the July edition of The Overcast hit shelves…
You know two of the things I love most about my husband? His jiggleberries. Just kidding. HIS PARENTS.
It’s unusual, I know. Most people hate their in-laws. Hating your in-laws is as universal as hating root canals, autocorrect, and Nickelback. I guess when you swoop into someone else’s nest and make off with one of their flock, it can ruffle a few feathers. The new bird is always strange, and the nest is always cuckoo. (Sorry, everyone hates bird analogies too.) Personally, this lucky duck wouldn’t know much about it because I hit the jackpot in the in-law department.
I have friends who detest their “outlaws.” When they tell me about the latest assault on their parenting or housekeeping methods, I say “Why, I never!” Then my sympathy switches to gratitude for my own good fortune and I shout, “Sucks to be you! My in-laws are fantastic!” Then they throw rocks at me.
I wasn’t sure how I felt about anything five years ago when Dad died. I wondered how any of it – having kids, getting published – would matter when he wasn’t here to see it. But it seems the void loss creates can be occupied by other good things if you let it. I broke the rules and filled in the dad-shaped space – with someone else’s father.
When I met Wayne Murphy more than a decade ago, one of the first things I noticed about him was his eyebrows – thick, black, severe looking, like an angry Muppet’s. But I quickly discovered those brows were actually wooly canopies shielding the world’s brightest smile from the elements. If this guy was a Muppet, he was Tickle-Me-Elmo.
When we visit, Wayne is out in the driveway before I’ve shut off the engine – to carry his baby granddaughter in from the car. He plays with Rae so much, I can scarcely get my hands on her when we’re there. His sandwich sits there, uneaten, because he’s too busy playing peekaboo. Sometimes he’s so moved by her funny faces and sweet babble, tears well up in his eyes. He says, “She’s so cute, it hurts.”
Wayne and I also share a special bond, one largely based on naughty jokes – a sentiment I’ve generously brought into the family, to my husband’s amusement and horror (mostly horror).
I feel bad sometimes because I get to enjoy him more than most of his own crowd. And when I say crowd, I mean CROWD. Wayne and Rosena have seven children and ten grandchildren. But only two and four of them, respectively, live here in the province. Work and commitments keep the others away, but their hearts are home in Mount Pearl, where they used to pile into the car to go for a drive and fight for the coveted spot in the front seat between their folks, where breathing was possible.
A couple years back, I made Wayne a Father’s Day card that read: “My dad is dead but I reckon you’re a pretty good substitute.” (My humour can be dark.) Nobody can replace my father. Jim Combden was something else and I’ll think of him every day for as long as I live. But I won’t spend so much time remembering him that I forget to see the souls still above the sod. Apparently recognition doesn’t matter much to anyone once they’re tits-up. The world is full of love that goes unspoken.
My dad would be glad. He was grateful that I was a part of the humble Murphy brood, where the kettle is always on for me, where I still speak of him often. He knew I was in good hands, with the family I had and the one I had married into. Of course, blood is thicker and all that. But I’ve told Wayne and Rosena: if things don’t work out with me and Andrew – he’s out, I’m in.
Tomorrow, I’ll be helping my father-in-law celebrate his 70th birthday. And the very next day, I’ll be celebrating my father’s memory at the 6th annual Jimmy Golf Tournament for the Gander Cancer Clinic.
If you grew up calling your vagina a vagina, your parents deserve a medal. A vadge badge of honour even.
If you grew up calling it a vulva, your parents are fucking geniuses and deserve a trophy shaped like a giant penis — NO DUMMY, A BIG FAT VULVA.
It seems the vast majority of moms and dads just can’t stomach the correct anatomical term for “down there.” So they make shit up. Like cookie, or butterfly, or magic unicorn cave. Or something completely nonsensical like “hoo-hoo.” Or something super gross like “front bum.”
When my video on the subject was posted yesterday, people commented with their own tales of twat terminology. Someone said she grew up calling it her “mussentouchit.” She must have cleaned the thing with a water gun. Another lady said her vagina was called her “under face.” I’ve been staring at my twat upside-down in the mirror ever since, trying to see a face. No go. I guess the beard is in the way or something.
Father’s Day is pretty much as you’d expect for someone whose father is dead. It’s like Valentine’s Day when you’re single, times a hundred-thousand-million. Because at least you can find new love; you only get one dad. Unless your dads are gay so you have two. You get my point.
Up until the dark day, on every Father’s Day for as long as I can remember, I gift-wrapped yet another jumbo pack of golf balls, a silly poem, and a pack of gum.
No more. Callaway and Top-Flite sales have plummeted since Jim Combden retired his clubs.
“Take a look at me now. There’s just an empty space. Nothing left here to remind me…,” except all the happy people celebrating their dads who are so awesome and wonderful and, oh yeah, alive!
Now Father’s Day is just a shot in the guts, reminding me (as if I don’t already know and think about it daily) that mine is gone. I once again blame Hallmark for inventing a holiday to sell corny, overpriced greeting cards without considering how much it costs to send a card to heaven. One stamp costs 60 cents and your goddamn soul.
Ironically, when I was a kid, Dad used to feign death for entertainment purposes. It was one of his go-to pranks that never got old. I’d come home from school to find him lying there on the floor, his hands perfectly crossed on his chest, his trademark smirk on his face. It’s still funny, in spite of today’s reality.
Speaking of Hallmark, and speaking of pranks, I wish I’d get a card in the mail with a great big “GOTCHA!” on the inside. These past couple of years, maybe Dad has just been punking us, hiding in the bushes on the 11th hole of the Gander Golf Course. Negator. Dad never could hold back a punchline.
Father’s Day: blah.
But then I saw the rabbits.
I was on my way to the Relay for Life, where I would be doing laps around the gym for 12 hours to help fight cancer in honour of dear old Dad. Just after I had taken the ramp to get off the TCH, two brown bunnies darted across the street right in front of my car. One on the heels of the other, they scurried into the thick greenery and were gone.
They say your sense of smell is the sense most linked to memory. I close my eyes and I can still smell the Tinkerbell make-up in my jewelry box with the creepy twirling ballerina, and my scrumptious Strawberry Shortcake figurines, and the scratch ‘n sniff stickers in my sticker book (mmm, grape). But most of all, I can still smell the rabbits.
Clinging to the back of our old black and green Jag Arctic Cat, I watched Dad lumber through the waist-deep snow to check his snares for rabbits. The unlucky furballs were soon dangling from the beams of his shed, frozen in their last earthly stance, paws pointing in all directions. The next day, they’d still be hanging there, stripped of their fur down to the purple, sinewy muscle. The shed smelled perpetually of rabbits. Even in the summer, it hung in the air. Was it the stench of death, or fur, or raw meat? I’m not sure. To me, it’s the smell of a happy childhood.
But these rabbits on the highway were free and fast and full of life. And instead of one lonely rabbit, there were two. I instantly thought of Dad. Was he speaking to me on this day before Father’s Day, as I was about to go kick some carcinogenic ass? On the way home the next morning, when St. John’s was barely awake, I again saw a sign: a dove! Okay, that’s a lie. It was a white plastic bag flapping around in the wind. But it had a life about it. An American Beauty, if you will. You know the scene.
Oh come on. Who am I kidding? Dad is not speaking to me from the great beyond. He’s not sending me messages from a Voodoo Lounge in the clouds with Hemingway throwing back shots at the bar and Shakespeare practicing his bank shot in the far corner. He’s not showing me the beauty in the world. I’m finding it myself because he taught me how. I see things more clearly than ever through the eyes that he gave me.
Guess we should teach our children well. Not by instruction, but by example. Actions speak louder than words, and lessons last much longer than the human body.
And our kids are not the only ones picking up what we’re laying down. I can only imagine how many students Dad inspired during his 30 years of teaching English literature. Knowing Dad was extremely sick, one of his students sent him a thank-you note to express how much he had inspired her. Her note arrived ten minutes too late. Ten minutes. But I got to read it, so it was not entirely in vain. And Dad knew she had become an English teacher herself, so he probably suspected he played some small part.
We are mere mortals. But the light we emit is absorbed by others and continues to shine long after our candle has burnt out. Wow, that’s some cheesy metaphornication there, Elton John. Let’s try it again with less fromage. My dad saw deep meaning in ordinary things. He talked about it. He wrote about it. Some called him a weirdo, some called him a poet. He put it all out there, fearlessly. And I saw it. Every day. So even though he’s gone, I see the beauty. There is still goodness. There is still humour. There is still life (not a bunch of fruit in a bowl — you know what I mean, saucy face.) Because of what I learned from him, largely by simple observation, I am well-equipped to find reasons to be happy in this fucked-up, fatherless world.
This story appears in my book, MotherFumbler, in the chapter “Oh Shit We’re All Going to Die.”
In case you missed it in the June edition of The Overcast…
Sugar doesn’t just look like crack. It is crack. Or, at least, it’s highly addictive and totally killing us, which is close enough. In fact, we might be better off putting crack on our corn flakes where we can see it, because almost everything we eat is laced with perfectly legal but totally deadly processed sugar.
The biggest junkies of all? Oh, nobody special, just OUR PRECIOUS OFFSPRING. They open their beaks and we throw in the gummy worms. Because every child needs a little love, tenderness, and diabetes.
The scariest part: sugar isn’t just in candy. It’s added to EV-REE-THING: bread, pasta, cereal, sauces, bagels, crackers, even peanut butter. Kids avoid vegetables like the plague and beg for sugar-jacked snacks, like junkies seeking their next hit. They’re not hungry, they’re hooked. And they’ve tricked us into being their dealers, doling out way more than the recommended 4-6 teaspoons of sugar a day.
Our kids naturally crave it, and the world freely caters to (and cashes in on) that craving. Look at yogurt. Max would rather eat turds than plain yogurt, because he has tasted the bliss that is vanilla yogurt, which is basically yogurt chock-full with sugar with a pretty flower on the label. Plain yogurt tastes like socks to him now. And so they stack the shelves with the flavoured stuff, because that’s what our sugar savages want, and that’s what their stupid parents buy.
It’s not hard to see how we got here. More and more packaged foods giving busy families convenient meal solutions – and enough sugar and salt to pickle our pets. Cereal ads during Saturday morning cartoons selling “whole grain oats” but failing to mention that everything else in the box will bury you. (It’s no coincidence Lucky Charms has the word “harm” in it.) The ongoing cupcake craze. The heaps of treats at Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter, Halloween, and everybody’s damn birthday party every damn weekend. WTF GUYS. No wonder our poor kids have severe cases of gotta-get-me-glucose. We’ve been injecting it directly into their veins since they got here.
We’ve created monsters, and frankly we’re too weak to reverse the curse. After a long day, the last thing we want is to argue over some peas. We just want our kids to be happy, and you know what makes them happy? Fucking ice cream. We’re also too exhausted to decipher those nutrition labels. A few quick tips: Most cereals and yogurts should be in the candy aisle. Ketchup is a bottle of sugar, salt and red dye (nice try with the tomato pic, guys.) Juice is basically the bile of Satan. (Even Canada’s Food Guide will soon give juice the axe.) If sugar is in the first four ingredients, keep moving. And just because it’s in the tot food section does not mean it’s good for you.
Many experts agree this generation will not outlive their parents. Dudes, that’s our children’s lives they’re talking about. In case you didn’t quite get that: SUGAR IS KILLING OUR KIDS. So why aren’t we outraged? Why are we patiently waiting for Health Canada to enforce stronger regulations? Why are we still talking about the vaccine/autism bullshit when there’s a REAL crisis happening? My god, if people can get a Playboy bunny to create global panic on the theory that vaccines cause autism, surely we can get someone to start a war against sugar, a crisis that actually exists, based on actual science. Of course, the sugar industry would have us believe the science is flawed, which was also the tobacco industry’s response to lung cancer.
We must tell manufacturers to shag off with the sugar, especially in our kids’ snacks. And make the sugar content clearer and more visible. Frig off with the grams; tell us how many teaspoons of sugar are in there – a measurement we can visualize (FYI, 4 grams = 1 tsp). Tell us how much of that is natural sugar and how much is added, and what percentage of the recommended daily intake it constitutes. And enough with the fancy chemistry too – glucose fructose fucktose – it’s all sugar and you know it.
But c’mon, big brands care about their bottom lines more than our kids. Not even that cuddly old guy from the Quaker Oats ads will save us. We have to make sure our kids’ futures don’t go facedown in the Fruit Loops, even if nobody answers our calls for help. The same way we’d make damn sure our kids got off the crack if we were talking about that instead.