Mar 26, 2010

To Barf or Not To Barf

My body image has been a pretty sore spot for me for most of my life. I often heard the term ‘Built like a Brick Shithouse’ but it’s supposed to be used as a positive description of a ‘well-built’ boy – not a negative description of a ‘large-built’ girl, but there I was, apparently built like my father and his father before him, and so on. I am like the 10th generation of my family’s Brick Shithouses. How honoured do I feel to carry on these enormous genes? Well, my cup isn’t exactly overflowing.

The main problem was that I wasn’t ever going to be a ‘normal’ size, whatever that means; it is physically impossible. I know shows like SouthPark have mocked and tarnished the excuse of being ‘big boned’ but that is exactly what I am. Even when I was at a peak of fitness, at about 14 years old, with no body fat to be found, I was still a good 6-8 inches wider than all my friends. I had no bulges or ripples; I had curves in the right places, but just bigger all around. And it didn’t matter – kids of all ages would call me fat, fatso, blimp, and many more lovely insults. I tried not to let it bother me, at least not in public. I almost gave a kid a concussion by slamming his head on a desk when he called me fat – that was in grade one. In grade 7, I kicked an obnoxious kid in grade 5 in the ass so hard that I think I felt his intestines; he also was taunting me about my weight, but he learned his lesson. Both times I barely got in trouble, as both teachers told my mother that each boy had it coming, but that I ‘should be’ told that violence doesn’t solve anything. Ya, ya.

For a brief while I contemplated taking up bulimia or anorexia and I was mildly obsessed with teen fiction novels that dealt with those issues. Obviously, I ignored the seriousness of these disorders at the time. I liked how some anorexics divided their food – as my pre-existing, yet undiagnosed O.C.D. had me doing that already. At 12 years old, I realized that even if I tried to starve myself, I would always be big. It wasn’t as if I was a size zero under all my layers of skin and bones. The bones pretty much had to stay the size that they were. So really, all anorexia could do for me would be to deprive myself of the food that I loved so much. Forget that!

Then there was bulimia – I already had a tendency to binge eat, especially cereals, but was I able to bring it back up? I tried a couple times, but I guess I didn’t have very good gag reflexes (which would prove to come in handy a few years later). There was also something else I learned in my fiction books, and that was bulimia had a couple unattractive side effects (apart from the obviously fatal health issues), including hair loss and pitted teeth.

Although I had a poor body image, I was surprisingly vain. I had 4 features that I was happy with: eyes, hair, teeth and tits (yes, even at 12 – I was an early bloomer). To purposely wreck 2 of my favourite features for the sake of losing a couple pounds was utterly ridiculous. Again, I didn’t process the dangerousness of the disease; that meant nothing to me at that age, but there was no way in hell I was going to ruin my perfectly straight teeth and beautifully thick blonde hair for a few barf sessions.

My body image struggles continued well into high school and university, especially with guys. There were always insensitive assholes, including that same guy I beat up in grade one; he grew up to be one of the biggest festering cysts on the face of the planet. There did (and still do) exist some guys that were capable of finding women sexy for who they really are, and not just as a size-specific cut of meat. It was these guys that I had some pretty incredible relationships with, and frankly, the only ones worthy my time anyway.

Mar 22, 2010

Forbidden Love (Part 2)

So, I had fallen in love with the son of the people I was staying with during my school exchange. It was all hush-hush and devastatingly romantic...until his mother had found a poem I had written to him. She really gave him shit, but hadn’t confronted me about it. We knew we had to put the brakes on our relationship – or at least be much more cautious about it. Over the past few weeks, we had become rather risky and stupid with our liaisons. We really didn’t know how to act casual with each other; it wasn’t as if we fell out of love and gone our separate ways like a normal break-up. One night, Jim was working in his dark room and I knocked to come in. I went over to sit on the chair and said nothing. There were only the red lights on in the room. He looked over at me and started to cry, hard. Then he came over to me, knelt down before me and through his tears, he professed, “I’m so scared that I won’t be able to live without you. What we have is more than I ever thought was possible. You are my whole life and I want to be with you for the rest of my life.” He then rested his head in my lap and we just sat there and cried together in silence.

Although we did make a fair effort into calming down our physical relationship, we had made strategic arrangements every couple days to steal some time to be together. Sometimes it was just long enough for an affectionate kiss, and sometimes we had time for more. I wished those moments with Jim could have lasted forever.

As I was coming home from school one afternoon, I saw him over the hill. As he walked towards me, I could see he was pale and looked like he had been crying. He grabbed both my shoulders and caught his breath long enough to look me straight on and explained in absolute panic, “Mum knows everything. She might be having you sent home!” My stomach churned over and over. I really thought I was going to be sick right there on the sidewalk. My skin felt like it was on fire and I was slightly disoriented. Jim grabbed my hand and we walked slowly back to the house together, as if we were walking towards the noose of our death sentence. I wanted to run away, but really, where were we going to run to? I was 17 and in a completely different continent than my entire family.

Jim’s father was waiting at the door. He escorted us into the living room and sat down. “We should very well have you on the next plane home! Do you have any bloody idea what you have done?” His voice escalated the more he continued, “What the hell were you thinking? Ya know, for once I wish you god damn teenagers would think with your brains instead of your bloody hormones! I won’t decide anything until Mum gets home. She is the one that figured it out. The both of you have hurt her beyond words! As for me? I’m just absolutely blown away with all this!”

The minutes up to, and including her arrival were an agonizing blur. I was kneeling beside her chair, and we were both crying. I think I said “Sorry” at least 20 times. Although the major feeling was panic and fear, I was also a bit resentful that I was put in this situation. I mean, really... Hurt you beyond words? We didn’t murder someone, we fell in love! Why was it so terrible? Unfortunately, I knew it was far too risky to ask questions. I was fucked already; I needed to keep my big mouth shut and not rock the already-sinking-ship.

“I already had had words with my son, but apparently, that wasn’t enough! Since I discovered the condoms in his rubbish, I could not deny the situation any longer. I am so disappointed in both of you!” She paused to compose herself.

I was screaming inside my head, “WHAT? the rubbish? We had given up on condoms weeks ago – it took too much time. He hadn’t disposed of evidence from 3 weeks ago? What an idiot!” I couldn’t believe how careless he had been; my mind was racing.

She then delivered her decree, “Now, I did a lot of thinking and I’ve decided I don’t want anyone to know about this entire mess. It would make our family look bad, so we are all going to pretend that it never happened and try to make the best of the next month before you move on to your next placement... Is that clear to the both of you?”

“Yes, thank you!”

Jim also had let out an injured, “Yyyyyes.”

After her decision was made known, she got up to leave. Jim’s dad had left the room and she leaned over and whispered to the 2 of us, “I knew every single time that you thought you were sneaking up to his room at night. I just couldn’t ignore it any longer.” Eick! I cringed when she said that and became VERY grateful to her that she had never chosen to bust in on us. I don’t know who would have been the most dramatized by that– myself, Jim, or her?

The remaining time I had left at their house was a depressing eternity. I never wanted to be apart from Jim, but at the same time, I couldn’t wait to leave! The entire situation was toxic. Every time either of his parents looked at me, I felt them psychically attempting to burn the word ‘whore’ into my forehead. Jim had chosen to pretend that I didn’t exist; he spent most of his time in his room. The 4 of us had become emotionless zombies when we were forced to share each others’ company, like at family meals. His brother, however, remained totally oblivious throughout the entire ordeal.

I was emotionally exhausted by the time I left. It was like living every day only 6 inches away from the one person I loved the most in the world, but there was a piece of bullet-proof glass wedged in between us. I could see him, but couldn’t touch him, and he wouldn’t let me talk to him either. I would break out into random fits of tears at any given time, at home, on the train, in the middle of class – it didn’t seem to matter; I had totally lost control of myself. I knew one thing for certain: There was no way in hell I was going to let a love like what Jim and I had just die without a fight. It wasn’t like a breakup where one person was over it and the other was in denial. We both felt the same way about each other, yet we were apart. It was an impossible situation, and it wasn’t over... not just yet.

Mar 20, 2010

Friends with Benefits

Most people will say that the concept of `Friends with Benefits’ is nothing but a myth. This is not true; it is actually possible, however rare, like an exotic endangered animal. There are 2 main reasons why this arrangement fails time and time again. Firstly, one of the 2 people involved develops feelings for the other during their pleasure games (which is not always the girl, but usually). Secondly, one of the two lied from the beginning and secretly harboured feelings for the other (which is unfortunately most always the girl), and then the poor guy wouldn't know what hit him when she brought hell’s fury down upon him when he didn’t return the affection. He would look like a retarded deer in headlights when he rebutted, “Buuuuut, I thought it was just going to be a casual thing?”

I was able to have a successful ‘Friends with Benefits’ arrangement with a close friend of mine during the summer of our final year in high school (and it continued off and on for about 6 years). It began at a graduation party at one of the more well-off students at our school. There was an in-door pool, sauna, hot tub and a couple acres of land and forest. Most of our close friends weren’t there – it was just myself and Mark, which wasn’t unique; we were very good friends. We ended up being the only 2 in the hot tub and were exchanging harmless sexual innuendos and banter, which was entirely normal for us... until I responded to one of his insults with the very original, “Screw You!” He laughed for a second and then stopped abruptly. While still smiling, he replied, “Alright.”

“Alright what?”

“Screw me.”


“You heard me! Let’s do it.”

I scrunched up my face like I had an itchy nose, contemplating his proposition. I never thought of him like that, although I was not totally oblivious to the fact that he had a fantastically fit body. I continued to question, “What? Right now? Here?”

“Sure! Why not? We’re both single.”

“Well, since you put it that way!” And we jumped out of the hot tub. He ran to his car for a second to get a couple of condoms. It didn’t surprise me at all that he had a ready supply. There were a lot of people doing their own things at the party and no one noticed the two of us head off into the woods. We chose the least horrible spot that we could find in the dark and laid a beach towel on the ground. Only flickers from the distant bonfire were giving us any light at all.

There is one thing that I need to mention about the great Canadian is always fully stocked with mosquitoes...and they LOVE me. I was wearing a one-piece bathing suit, so in order to engage in some sexual liaisons, I had to get totally naked; Mark was at least able to keep his top on. My holiest of bits were on display for all the little blood-sucking insects to see. We managed to have a great little quickie that night. It was fun and fast, mainly because it wasn’t exactly the ideal setting for a slow, comfortable screw. There was no cuddling after what we had just done, nor was there any awkwardness. It was all good! We were both honest and straight forward and we knew exactly what we meant to each other – ONLY FRIENDS... and after that night...WITH BENEFITS! Yahoo!

I did end up paying for it the next morning, however. I had a giant bruise across almost the entire height of my back, vaguely outlining the shape of a branch (or something similar that must have been on the ground under the beach towel). It ached – but was actually the least of my woes. I had no less than 30 mosquito bites. I was used to getting them on my arms and legs, but this time they were all over my entire body! The sex was fun, but there was nothing more uncomfortable than a half dozen giant itchy mosquito bites wedged up high between my butt cheeks, that was for certain!

Mar 11, 2010

Forgetting Something?

So there I was… in a relationship with my rock star musician boyfriend. We lived the typical rock star life…gigs all over, drinks a plenty, dancing, singing, smoking, getting high and staying out until 4 in the morning every day. Ahhh, the life of a groupie!! Did I mention the sex? Ah yes, the sex was pretty rock star too; it was fantastic. So fantastic that sometimes it made me lose my mind… literally. This one particular time we were upstairs in the rock star room, shaking the walls and windows. I couldn’t help to think what his other 3 male roommates were thinking. The sex was good, like I said, so good that when it was done I realized that I had completely forgotten that I was on my period.

Hmmmm… wasn’t I wearing a tampon? Uh oh, I don’t remember taking it out. Did he take it out? Panic set in. Jesus Christ, where’s my tampon?! What do I do? What do I say? Do I ask him? I got up the nerve to do just that. So I asked him if he took out my tampon (yes, embarrassing; yes, humiliating). He answered a simple ‘no’. Holy crap… it’s still inside me! Oh God – that means it is WAY inside me. What the fuck? What do I do? Panic set in a second time and there was no way I was going to the hospital. How do you explain that? There was also no way I was going to explain to our roommates why were going to the hospital at 4am either. I was going to have to get it myself. That’s right – get it myself.

There I was... naked... legs spread open on the bed and taking deep breaths. Rockstar was smoking while contemplating what to do about my situation. Ok, I have now built up the confidence to go in. Here we go... up goes the fingers and I can’t feel it! Panic was rising; I’m envisioning all those commercials you see about toxic shock syndrome. Where was the damn tampon?? Ok, I’d have to go in further. Up goes the hand... still nothing... up goes the WHOLE hand (I now understood some of those lesbian jokes). How far can it go? What is back there? Would I have to go up my elbow?? Just then, when it couldn’t have gotten any worse, I felt it. Yes, there it was, but wait… could it be... what the fuck? It was SIDEWAYS, HORIZONTIAL! I thought: Could that even be possible? I guess so, considering babies can live in that area.

So now what? So I began wiggling my fingers around to find an end. I felt like I was fishing inside myself. Finally, I find an end and begin to tug. Here it comes, almost there, push, push, breath, almost there, and we have it… I managed to give birth to a tampon, yeah…a tampon. Thank god! Then I looked up... oh ya, Rockstar was still there; he watched the whole thing. Oh well, at least no hospital and no toxic shock syndrome for me – just a whole lot of humiliation.

So remember ladies! No matter how good the sex is, keep your wits about you and take out your damn tampon!!

Mar 9, 2010

Factory Drama

I had a job working at a factory ever summer from when I was 17 to 21. It was horribly tedious but it was definitely not without drama. There was only a handful of students among the full time ladies (We called them ‘lifers’) so we became pretty close and attempted to have some fun to help the nights go by faster. It was a pretty sexist place to work as well... the ladies did one job exclusively and the men did another – primarily worked on the machines. There was one man that worked there that had sadly fallen down the ugly tree of life and hit every branch on the way down. If I was to use a Simpsons’ reference, he would have been a close match to the hillbilly Cletus Del Roy. His name was Pete Martin; he was in his late 30s and had crooked teeth, an enormous over-bite, greasy thinning hair, and to top it off, an ill-fitted glass eye! If he was an introverted S.O.B., we would have left him in peace, but the punch line was that he walked around the place like he an obnoxious super stud, talking shit all the time.

It was bizarre and we couldn’t resist messing with his head. We were a group of teenage girls; of course we made fun of him on a regular basis. We nicknamed him Fartin’ Martin. I wasn’t the leader of this pack of teenie bopper bitches by any means, but I did join in on the jokes. It was only my second summer there, and there was definitely a pecking order depending on how long you had been there, so I was at the lower end of the totem pole.

About 1 month into the summer, I was on a packing line with 3 other students and 2 lifers. They often spoke in Portuguese, so the 4 of us mostly ignored them, but then all of a sudden, the smaller of the two (who strongly resembled a rat) started getting very emotional about some ‘home-wrecking slut’ that was causing all these problems in her marriage. We couldn’t help but overhear her animated conversation and the other woman was edging her on, telling her she should kick her ass. The 4 of us started to laugh at this suggestion, as she couldn’t have been taller than 4’10” and we looked over at them. The rat lady looked over and pointed right at me –

“That’s right bitch, I’m talking about YOU! See my name tag? It says Angie Martin! Pete is my husband and you better step off or I will kick your ass!”

I stood there stunned. Was I on a hidden camera show or something? IS THIS A JOKE? She was like a Chihuahua threatening to fight a Mastiff. I was never good at handling confrontation, so although my neck and ears were burning with stress and embarrassment, I did little to defend myself. I timidly replied, “I’m sorry. I have no idea what you’re talking about. You must have me confused with someone else. I’m only 18 and I am not interested in your husband!” That was the bloody under-statement of the year – the thought of Fartin’ Martin in a sexual way made me throw up in my mouth a little. Not only was he probably the most freakishly unattractive man I had ever met, he was irritating and... Oh yeah... at close to twice my age... a geezer! Gross!

It got worse every night and not only did she take every opportunity to harass me, she also got some of the other Portuguese ladies to follow suit. It was hell! Luckily, there was a bit of a divide and the Croatian ladies sided with me and would try and comfort me by telling me to ignore that 'Portuguese trash' and that she and her husband were both freaks. Well thanks for that, but it didn’t stop either of them from driving me crazy. One night, Pete actually approached me and yelled so the entire factory could hear, “Stay away from me! I’m married! Give it up!”

What the fuck was going on? I was like an unwilling pawn in their marital issues, but it was spiralling out of control and I still had no idea why they singled me out from the other girls. We all taunted him – and we made it abundantly clear that we were always using extreme sarcasm when we called him ‘sexy’. I dreaded going to work every night, and finally, I had to tell my mother what was going on (she knew the owner of the factory). It was either that or quit and I needed that job.

It escalated one step even further after I reported the harassment and the Union had to get involved... it was an utter nightmare... and STILL that didn’t put a stop to the constant under-handed comments. Jesus Christ! Was this drama worth $12/hour for 8 weeks a year? I was beginning to think not even fucking remotely close!

Finally, after she passed me one night, and cleared her throat with a “Slut” comment, I had had enough. I followed her in to the ladies’ change room; I was shaking with adrenaline. I went right up to her, towering over her and yelled, “Leave me the fuck alone! Your husband is absolutely disgusting! If you want to try and kick my ass for no God damn reason then let’s take it outside right now and settle this, you fucking crazy little bitch!”

She picked her jaw up off the floor and stormed away. I was still shaking and I could hear my heart pounding in my ears. There were a couple ladies in the change room that had frozen in place, expressing approving smirks, but at the same time pretending they weren’t there. I thought that I would definitely have to quit now, but I just couldn’t stand her picking on me anymore, night after night... for a completely fictitious reason as well.

The oddest thing happened though – she never bothered me again! No snide remarks, no threats, not even a single dirty look– not even from her minions. After I stood up to her, she made it so I didn’t exist to her. That was fine with me! I guess emotional terrorism was all fun and games to her until her victim fought back... and happened to be twice her size.

Mar 5, 2010

Welcome to Crazytown

In my second year of University, I had started fresh with new housemates. I had made friends with the one girl and her boyfriend during the previous year. I had never met the 4th person before, but was told that she is really cool, and just has a couple issues. OK, no worries, we all have issues, right? WRONG. Talk about skimming over the details and false fucking “housemate-vertising”. She was a complete mental case, as in certifiably committable! The first thing she said to me was, and I quote:

“Hi. I’m Kayla. I’m on some pretty heavy bi-polar medication that has given me a nasty case of insomnia; I hope I don’t keep you up. Oh, and Wednesday mornings are when I go to my shrink, so I’m usually in a foul mood for the rest of the day. If I were you, I’d stay out of my way on Wednesdays.”

What...the...fuck...? I guess that was my official welcome speech to Crazytown! There were so many weird run-ins with this girl that they all melted into a single puddle of insanity. Surprisingly, the whole “we try to keep chemicals and sharp objects hidden from her” thing, I actually got used to, as warped as that might sound. It was her insomnia that sent me over the edge. The entire night (usually from 11pm to 5am) her television reverberated off the wall that we shared – Wo wuh wa wa wuh wa wuh wa... Sometimes I could kind of make out what she was watching, like the distinctive base-plucks of the Law & Order music, but on the most part, it was that horribly muffled conversational crap. Ear-plugs were useless; it vibrated through the floor as well. It was like my personalized version of Chinese water-drip torture.

After 3 months, I couldn’t take it anymore. I started arguing with the other 2 people in the house as well, but only because I was so damn exhausted. It was affecting my friendships, my school, and my health. I wasn’t going to last the year. We decided it would be best that I switch houses when the semester was up. I knew 2 of the girls that I was going to be living with next, and was looking forward to the change... and the sleep! We were also getting a 4th new person placed with us that none of us knew. During move-in day, she was already seated on the couch when I arrived... in a full cadet’s uniform and spit-shining her boots. I tried to make conversation, “Oh wow, so you’re in Cadets? Do you have training today?”

“Nope, I just loooove wearing it. It’s a constant reminder of the awesome feeling ya like get; like when yer sifting in a 4 foot deep swamp with your arms high in the air, tryin’ to keep yer gun dry!”

She was only 20 fucking years old; does she think she fought in Vietnam or something? It was at that very moment that I knew I was housemate cursed; and that was only the mid-way point. I still had 2 more years after that which totalled no less than a sex phone operator, an O.C.D. cleaner, an anorexic, 2 drug dealers, a nymphomaniac, a Black supremacist, a completely neurotic male and a “cutter” (as in a girl who cut herself to feel pain)! I decided to live by myself after that.

On a side note, Kayla actually did attempt suicide a few months later. She survived, but was in a coma for a few weeks. I know it seems selfish, but I felt SO fortunate it wasn’t me that found her. I didn’t need any more issues, thanks, I was all stocked up.

Mar 3, 2010

Dying for Love

Usually these stories are first-hand accounts, but this is a story about my best friend, Beth. She cannot tell it herself because she died a long time ago, when she was 16. We had been friends since kindergarten and I knew her as well as she knew herself, so I am pretty qualified in assuming what was going though her head that night, and the moments leading up to the accident.

6 months before that night, she fell head-over-heels for a guy at our school that was 2 years older than us. She really was infatuated by this guy. I would say that we hung out with a bunch of pretty well mannered girls – we didn’t get into trouble or do anything extra rebellious. This guy threw a wrench into our group. He was the typical clich├ęd bad boy and I really saw through him, but not Beth. She didn’t really have any experience with guys, usually too shy to initiate anything, so when this guy took interest in her, she melted at his every word. After a few months, she had fallen deeper and deeper – it was affecting our friendship a little bit, and definitely affecting her school work. She was a straight ‘A’ student, but had started failing a couple tests. The more she loved him, the less he loved her back. I told her on numerous occasions to not be so needy, but she got angry with me and told me to mind my own damn business.

By the time this ill-fated night approached, he was really over her and she was panicked about it, like their relationship was hanging off a cliff and she was desperately digging her nails into the ground to try and save it. It was apparent to a few of us that he was just using her for an easy date on the weekends. He didn’t really want anything to do with her during the week or at school anymore.

This Saturday night, he asked her to go along with him to a party and she jumped at the invitation. I had a part-time job and was working that night, so I didn’t go with them. They had stopped at one of his friends’ house first and he had had a few drinks. They were there longer than originally planned – this quick stop lasted a couple of hours. Beth’s mom had called her at about 10.30pm to see where she was. This wasn’t out of the ordinary – like I mentioned earlier, she was a good girl, had a great relationship with her mom, and always kept her mom informed as to where she was and what she was doing.

“Has he been drinking?”

“No mom! Don’t be silly. Trust me.”

“It’s not you I don’t trust, honey... it’s him I don’t trust. I can be there in 10 minutes to pick you up. You just say the word.”

“Mom! I’ll be fine. Love you! Bye.”

Her mother told me some time later about this conversation, so I can re-tell it with accuracy. I knew her so well and without a doubt this is what was going through Beth’s mind: If I tell him that my mom is coming to pick me up, he will think I’m a loser! If I don’t go with him to the party, he’ll probably hook up with some other chick, and I can’t let that happen. No way! Besides, it’s only 5 minutes up the road, we’ll be fine. It’s not like he’s stumbling; he’s only had a couple beers. Worst case scenario is that I get mom to pick me up from the party in a little while. No big deal.

What happened next? They got into his car and proceeded to the party. The stretch between the 2 houses was a favourite amongst speeders to begin with. It was a 60km zone and by the time he got to the inclining curve near the opposite end, he was up to about 120km, because that was the speed they estimated he was going when he lost control and slammed into a concrete pole. Beth was killed instantly and he walked away with only minor injuries.

He was released on probation after only serving 3 years in jail... but I lost my best friend, and her mother lost her daughter forever. If only she wasn’t so desperate to hold on to this loser, but I could sit here and write about “what if” scenarios all day. She was a smart young woman that let her insecurities over one guy cloud her judgement for a moment, and she paid for it with her life.

There is a permanent memorial wrapped around that pole and although I greatly try to avoid that stretch of road, whenever I do drive past, I always tell her that I have missed her every day since.