Wednesday, March 3, 2010

I am not a tough girl.

Today, on my way home from work, an enormous whale of a woman nearly knocked me into the subway tracks and destroyed my life. Well, there was no train coming, but you get the idea. I give her this look like, "Excuse my beautiful beauty!?" She looks back but just keeps on walking, like it was my fault I couldn't dodge out of her way fast enough as she bulldozed past the entire walking area. Like I'm the asshole here. Like I forced her mother to mate with an ogre.

This is so unfair! On public transport, I say please and thank you, I give up my seat to old people, and I turn down my ipod to whisper level so no one is disturbed by Lauryn Hill's beautiful rendition of Joyful, Joyful from Sister Act. 2.

And YET. Yet, all the crazy bag ladies, the Googley-eyed, and the ne'er-do-gooders of Toronto seem to gravitate towards me, and always on public transport.

Anyways, I'm embarassed to report that nothing happened past giving Turkey Sub The Look. And let's be honest, it was only to the back of her head. I wish I said something, and in my mind, she got the verbal beatdown of a lifetime, but in real life? Not so much.

I am not a tough girl.

I can attribute my lack of toughness to two historic events that shape who I am today: a complete and utter wuss. Come along and ride on a fantastic voyage... (That's me pulling you to the early 90's.)

When I was about 11, my parents went away, leaving my 15 year old sister, Olivia, in charge of me and my then 7 year old brother. Obviously, she throws a massive party in true Kid n' Play fashion. All the boys are wearing high tops and wildly coloured baggy jeans, and the girls are clad in black, have drawn on their beautiful eyebrows/lip outlines. The smell of hairspray, cigarettes, and Love's Baby Soft is rampant.

I'm allowed to hang out. I'm in Heaven. My brother, unfortunately, is told to stay in the walk in closet in my parents' room for the night. I know that nowadays, this sounds like abuse, but this was the 90's, man. Everybody was rolling down the streets smoking indo, sippin' on gin and juice. Well, not, like everybody; not, like, me. I just sat there and marvelled at my newfound grown-uppityness.

All of a sudden, Hell breaks loose. I don't know why, but for some reason, every single person has to leave the house. There's, like, a fight outside or something. Olivia and her bff, we'll call her Carrie (because that's her name), both the types to not take shit, divide and conquer, my sister emptying the main floor and her friend clearing out the basement. Where I am. I am freaking out, but obviously this has shaped out to be the best day of my life.

I'm following Carrie around because she picks up a BAT, like she's about to throw down some crazy, and I'm petrified. What happens next, when I reminisce now, must absolutely go down as The Most Embarrassing Moment of Carrie's life. She is screaming and threatening fully grown teenage boys in my basement. With a bat. I'm standing beside her in my best Tough Girl impression, and I throw in a "You got that?! Party's OVER, ok? OK?" as if I'm going to do anything about it. I'm 11, my glasses cover 90% of my face, my outfit consists of spandex bedazzlement, and everything I know about Tough Girls I learned from Brenda Walsh. I had purple and green elastics on my braces and a rainbow coloured retainer.

Everyone eventually leaves, but even in my preadolescence, I know as soon as the words leave my mouth that I am a massive Tough Girl failure, and I have to repress this memory (which I have until now).

(Cue Venga Boys)

I'm 16. I'm coming home from ELECTRIC CIRCUS. 'Nuff said? Okay, for those of you not in the know, Electric Circus was a live dance show hosted by MuchMusic from the late 80's to early 2000. A common outfit for a male "EC" dancer might be a blue top hat, no shirt (just yellow glitter), and oversized fleece pants in hot pink.

This is real picture of my friend back in the EC days, although I didn't know her then. I only post this because, for one, I can't find any of myself, and two, as someone who has an exclusively holt renfrew wardrobe now, she is completely unrecognizable. She's wearing a tablecloth here.

On this night, I opted for a more demure look: pigtails (?!), bellbottomed jeans that I made myself by cutting up two perfectly good pairs and sewing them into ONE, and a red sequinned top. Eeyeah. Moving on.

So I get on the bus, and I see this girl who used to go to my high school, Shelley Collins (whose name has only slightly been altered for protective purposes). She was the type that got up in the middle of geography class, hyperventilating, and no one knew why. Geography is not that difficult, Shelley. It's France, it's there, it's not going anywhere. After years of unwarranted hyperventilation and cruel high school torment, Shelley transfers to another high school and no one sees her for years. Until now.

She's beautiful! Shelley is like a character right out of a straight to DVD movie produced by magnanimous forces Aaron Spelling and Jackie Collins combined. Her face is tearstain-free and she's dressed in typical, suburban fare. Not like me. I smile at her in acknowledgement (we weren't friends) and keep walking to the back of the bus. Because I'm so awesome.

About 10 minutes on this bus ride goes by before Shelley comes by and sits beside me, with a smile like she wants to be friends. Now, while she may appear to be sane at that moment, there's no fucking way I'm going to become friends with a potential hyperventilator. Sorry, reasonless hyperventilators of the world.

Anyways, as necessary niceties are exchanged, I can see that this is no ordinary social call, and Shelley's eyes have a bit of the crazy and she's talking really fast about high schools. Oh my god. She wants to fight me. Fight. Me. She thinks I was one of the people that made her crazy, but this is not me!! I took Calculus in high school; I was always friendly with both The Amazing and The Terrible!

I stop the niceties and ask if she is okay, because it is so obvious that something is not that I'm just getting creeped out. She takes a deep breath and says this: "I'm going to beat up your brother."


WHAT?? My brother at the time is 12! He listens to Savage Garden and plays Pretend Butterflies with me when we're bored (I'm sorry, Will. I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm sorrysorrysorrysorrysorry.) On a side note, I may have slightly miscalculated the activities and dates/ages. Pretend Butterflies is just a game where we tie blankets around our necks like Superman, but instead of playing a socially acceptable game like Pretend Superheroes, we opt to become butterflies. It's weird. I know this now. We may have been 4 and 8 though when we did that, which seems much more appropriate that 12 and 16, so let's go with that. (But it's not true.)

Back to Shelley. After I breathe a sigh of relief that no one can hear but my own blackened selfish heart because I realize that my face is safe for now, I work on convincing her to not beat up my preteen brother. I FAIL. I'm still not even sure why she wanted to, but by the time my stop came and I had to cut her off to go home, she was still dead set on me passing the message that she was coming for him and to watch out.

So yeah, Will, if you see Shelley Collins, watch out. She's going to beat you up. I'm sorry I forgot to tell you for almost 15 years, but she's coming for you, okay?


So now you can clearly see how these near death experiences have scarred me for life. You are probably thinking one of two things:

1. If I stopped dressing like such a dickhead, maybe these things wouldn't happen to me.

2. Why does my brother seem to have a passing role in the events in such a weird way? Being locked in a closet and threatened by a paper bag inhaler??

Well, as for my dress code, these brushes with death still happen to me when I'm wearing my normal clothes, which nowadays do not involve bedazzlement or multiple sewing-togethers.

And for the record, my brother turned out totally normal.

He's nocturnal and about to go on a tour of South East Asia with his punk band Germ Attak. One time, he got locked in the catacombs underneath Paris for 8 hours straight in the pitch dark. That's totally normal, right? Yeah, yeah, it's cool.


  1. Remember when we got picked up by that guy in Puerto and I had nervous giggles and you were convinced he was going to kidnap us? He probably was. Hey, no matter what, you have a just-as-not-tough friend in me. xoxo

  2. Obviously I remember. I tell that story to this day! I was like, "Ok, Tam, I'm going to count to three and then punch him in the head from behind and then we're going to open the doors and roll out of this jeep, okay? Stop laughing. One... Ok, you ready? Two...Okay you don't look ready, look tougher..." And then I think it turned out that he just wanted to show us off to his friends, but who knows if those "friends" weren't going to hold us hostage? No one.

  3. And also, when I do tell that story, it usually starts with "One time, while I was being kidnapped in Honduras..."

  4. I am in TEARS reading this post.