Jeffrey's Ledge

Absent Minded

My triumphant return to the world of sports: Space Jam beginnings and teabagged endings.

Like any self-respecting gay man bound to a long history of stereotypes and prejudice, my anxiety levels are quite directly related to my proximity to athletics. No doubt the post-traumatic stress of your average junior high school experience, some channel this nervous energy into more productive ventures like the arts, fashion, culinary delights, or sarcasm-laced daytime talk show appearances. But in my case, well, the phenomenon was starting to result in a stature bordering on jolly–both a physical and personality trait that simply don’t work for me.

Standing in the entrance to the inner-city gym where our first dodgeball game was moments away from taking place, the threat of a husky future and the unforgiving cling of the black leotard shirt I was wearing was enough to make me shove my fears aside like a second helping of three cheese tortellini. Rather than commit myself to a clichéd homo-phobia, I chose a head-on approach to overcoming my hesitations:

If I dread being trapped in a room with a hulking opposing team who have been encouraged to whip balls at me for fifty straight minutes, then that’s exactly what I would need to face…a philosophy now on record as lasting no more than forty-five seconds before I was ready to cut my leotard off at the navel and run for the closest gay bar where I actually belong.

The next hour of my life was not okay.

As in, it kind of felt like Space Jam without the happy ending.

To be clear, we joined a beginner dodgeball league–the kind where everyone just wants to run around like you’re in second grade all over again minus the snotty noses and with a little more sexual tension. You know, good ole fashioned fun. Our opponents, however, play regularly in the advanced league but somehow have so little to feel good about in their lives that they also joined the beginners’ league just to crush unsuspecting victims in order to help them forget the fact that they haven’t accomplished anything with their lives.

Not that I’m bitter.

Not only were they infinitely better than us and out for blood, they weren’t even able to play by the rules. Meaning, that over the course of the sixteen straight games that we lost, even when we did hit someone fair and square, they wouldn’t even give us the satisfaction of a micro-victory.

Basically, it was the high school jocks all over again, now with more beer bellies and hair loss. So at least there was that.

By the end of the night, I was sore, angry, and ready to retreat to my usual Wednesday night routine of polishing off a bottle of Malbec and watching music videos on the couch. And I would have if it weren’t for what happened next.

Guys? If you’re like me and tend to stay far, far away from the world of sports, you might just be missing out on one of the most marvelous things that I’ve ever experienced: team spirit.

Sure, we may have had to limp, bruised and broken, toward each other by the end of the night, but goddamnit if we didn’t spend the entire walk out of the gym high-fiving, laughing, joking, cheering, and celebrating how we all hung in there for each other no matter what the outcome. It may have been the hundreds of times that I was pummeled by balls over the past hour, but I’m pretty sure it was the team spirit that made me tear up just a little.

By the time we got home, I would have followed my team into the depths of hell (which at this point didn’t sound so far off from a night of dodgeball). Pulling together a cricket team? Count me in! Want to start up synchronized swimming? Heck yes! Need to ride someone around in an equestrian competition? Saddle. me. the. fuck. up.

We’ve played two more games since that ill-fated first night, each one more fun than the last. Of course, we’re playing against teams with a little more class, but even if we weren’t, I can’t help but think it’d still be okay. We cheer when we make good plays, we cheer when we make bad plays, I mean, ‘cmon…we even cheer when the other team really kills it.

Just showing up for every game seems to be a victory for us, making it just that much sweeter when we actually do win. Especially when we win because I caught a ball. Even when I catch it with my face. Which happens. A lot. And yes, the irony that my greatest contribution to the team seems to be based on the principle of teabagging* has been noted.

My triumphant return to the world of sports: A post in two parts.

Once upon a time, the newf signed us up for water aerobics, resulting in an epic standoff from which it seemed there would be no victor. I said I would sooner busk the streets of suburbia doing the helicopter, he said I was being dramatic, I said there has not been a day on this earth that I haven’t maintained a cool and calm demeanor and how dare he insinuate otherwise in some form of relationship mutiny. Then other stuff happened but I never ended up in a pool so let’s assume I won.

Two years after this incident, I had grown, matured, relaxed, and other nicer ways of saying I stupidly let my guard down. So when our lesbians joined a recreational dodgeball league and needed at least two men on the team, I got caught up in the excitement. I thought back to how fun elementary school was, how awesome dodgeball gym days were, and how it’s one of those activities where it doesn’t matter how good you are. And then I said yes.

Now, obviously I could write a whole post on the many reasons why this was a foolish decision on my part. But let’s just assume that five years of posts on this blog have basically covered that ground in abundance and just power through…

The first of many struggles started when it came time to pull together the outfit. Which, if I may educate you all for a moment, is apparently not called an outfit when it comes to sports. So, to prove that I can belong in the world of athletics, what is and will clearly always be ‘the outfit,’ will now be referred to as ‘the uniform.’ Just know that calling it ‘the uniform’ instantly reduces my enthusiasm by thirty-five princess-points.

(And yes – I just invented a whole new scale of measurement in order to replace the homosexual whimsy that we lost in the renaming of ‘the outfit.’ Consider the playing field evened.)

For our first game night, I was told to bring a black tee and a white tee and before you get too excited, no – it wasn’t for fashionable layering purposes. Again, athletes don’t seem to appreciate the value of casual layering in their leagues which I’m afraid is going to cost them another fifteen princess-points.

(Seriously, for people who have a proven interest in competing to win, it’s like they don’t even care about earning enough to win a free My Little Pony at the end of the season.)

As it turns out, I don’t have many sport-friendly t-shirts. I know. You’re shocked. Their easy solution of just grabbing any black or white shirt out of the closet would have been much easier had they asked for vests. Or hats. I still maintain that team hats would have looked super sharp and intimidating.

Still, I managed to find a white v-neck and an old black tee with a distinct ‘leotard-esque’ quality that would just have to do even after spilling toothpaste on the shoulder, leaving a white stain that I was not entirely comfortable with. Meanwhile, the newf thought he found the perfect solution in a white and black striped, hooded tank top that was about two sizes too small.

Oh yes. We would be dodging balls. That much we knew for sure.

It’s over?

Well, in just a couple of hours I start my long journey home. About thirty hours between three planes and three airports will have me collapsing into a bed full of puppies and happiness! I’m tired, I’m proud of myself, I’m inspired, and I’m incredibly thankful for everything the past two weeks has given me.

A huge thanks goes out to all the folks at War Child who helped make this possible and who took a chance by inviting me to play along in their challenge despite not being an obvious choice for a humanitarian campaign. James, Sarah and Danielle helped pull all the planning together, while of course Emma, Linda and Tenagne made sure I had an incredible time without death or injury, and Alyson made sure the message got out there while I was on the road. Laura and Lynn at Hill & Knowlton also deserve a big shout-out for their support during the challenge itself.

Most of all though, the biggest thanks I need to give goes to you for voting, spreading the word, donating, retweeting, commenting, or just reading over the years. Without your support and determination, I never would have ended up having this once-in-a-lifetime experience. I won’t get all shmoopy on you, but you do need to know that you deserve more credit here than I do. Like so many other times over the past four years, you guys have really changed my life yet again.

There may be another Ethiopia post or two in the cards over the next few months as I head out on the road to talk about my experience in Vancouver, Edmonton and Toronto, and there will surely be some more updates to come through the official War Child channels. But even if this is the last one you pay attention to about the Ethiopia adventure, thank you so much for being a part of it. I’m going to take a wee break just to recoup a bit, get myself adjusted to the opposite time zone, hang out with the family, and get caught up on the rest of my life (oh right – I suppose I have a job…) but I promise it won’t be long – just enough to gather my brain cells and process all the incredible things that have happened lately.

In the meantime, I wanted to give some clear links to all the action that has taken place over the past two weeks. It’s been confusing for me so I can only imagine what it would have been like to have been bombarded with so much information on your end. If you have the time or interest or just want to make sure you didn’t miss a moment, you can click any of the three banners below to get caught up.

That’s it for now. Again, thank you so much for everything and I’ll be back in a few days. I just need some serious puppy and newf time. You guys really are the best and I’ll never forget this moment in time right here.

Blogger vs. Nature: Endgame.

I like to believe that you can get a really good feel for how people see you based on the news stories that you get sent from your friends. Although I’m not really sure why I’m sticking to that theory considering that for several months, people were quite certain that my life could not go on without helping me keep up with gay porn stars who just so happened to also be bank robbers*.

Then again, I guess I did click through to read more…but mostly because I was hoping for some hilarious discovery of transferable skills between professional sexing and bank-robbing.

But wait now–how ‘big stars’ can they be if they still need to rob banks for cash? Maybe they were just extras like the pervy bartender who looks on the whole time while polishing a glass as a visual inuendo, or the jogger-in-the-park who lingers just a scootch too long when he stumbles upon–you know what? Nevermind. This isn’t important. What I actually meant to talk about today is how I woke up this morning to about six people sending me the following headline:

“Juneau woman saves dog from bear with well-aimed punch.”

For all the non-clickers out there, the important parts of the story are that this Alaskan woman–which I now picture in my head to be a three-part blend of Amazonian warriors, Vikings, and Sarah Palin–stepped into her backyard to see her dachshund flopping around in a bear’s mouth like a salmon. Her words. Not mine. I have no grasp on what nature looks like.

So, she ran right up to the bear, punched him in the face, snatched up her dog, and went back into the house where I assume she treated the dog’s injuries Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman-style before baking muffins in the shape of bear paws for the neighbourhood kids in order to teach them a lesson about respecting nature. No bigs.

And while the responses from my friends ranged from a simple, saw this and thought of you, to please don’t ever do this, I think we all know what this actually means: someday, somewhere, somehow, I’m going to die in a fight against nature’s wildest predators in attempts to defend my dachshunds.

Well, that or the newf will after I passive-aggressively point out that he should be a man which coincidentally is also how I get him to mow the lawn, cut up a bowl of fresh fruit for me every morning, and return the late movie rentals. I assure you, fighting impossible battles against Mother Earth’s creations to defend my honour isn’t that far of a stretch. Or have we already forgotten this?

I’d say I’ve come full circle but I’d still be locked out at the finish line.

You know how sometimes the universe just gives you signs?

Sometimes they mean it’s time to start something new. Sometimes they mean it’s time to take a minute to think about where you are now compared to where you were. Sometimes they mean it’s time to put your money where your mouth is and prove your worth. Sometimes they mean get your ass back to bed, clearly you are entirely unprepared for the world as it is today.

And sometimes they mean all of these things at once while also very clearly suggesting that while you can grow and live and succeed and evolve all you like, you’re still going to lock your damn self out of your house more times than any grown man should.

It happened again. Like Lucy pulling the proverbial football out from underneath a much gayer Charlie Brown, I walk-of-shamed my way into the back yard, once again knowing full well that it would be another few hours and embarrassing scenarios before I would taste the sweet protection of shelter. Just like the last four times this has happened:

1) The well-documented and oft-discussed time that locking myself out of the house resulted in a underwearless introduction to the neighbours, a barefooted cab ride to the newf’s school, and a shameful ten minute wait in the secretary’s office in my PJs during which I contemplated the many ways through which this would surely land me on the sexual predator list.

2) The much more depressing circumstance when I left to shovel the driveway, actively telling myself as I put my hand on the door handle – “Now don’t you fucking dare close this door.” – immediately before closing it and committing myself to a morning of mistaken identities, fake accents, and a 24-hour relationship with my $100 Christmas bonus that would inevitably became a locksmith’s $100 three-minute visit.

The next two times happened so soon after the others that they became less funny and more legitimately concerning. Thus? They went happily undocumented so that I could spend the blog-writing time getting lectured about needing more keys, hiding keys, giving people keys, and all these wonderful kinds of solutions that really show just how ready you all are to underestimate my ability to get myself in complicated, odd-defying situations.

I mean, c’mon. I’m not an idiot. Despite the picture that basically every word in this post contributes to, I know that you need a key to get into a house. Despite all the stories to the contrary, I know that you’re not supposed to close a locked door behind you if you have any intention of getting back in. The bottom line here is that this isn’t about me being unprepared to deal with these situations. Oh no. Not having keys hidden in the yard or stashed with trusted friends? That would be far too easy. What these stories are truly about is my ability to soar right past all the precautionary measures I put in place to keep myself out of trouble.

This may, in fact, be my one greatest talent.

The two keys usually stashed in the back yard (two because in the untold stories of #3 and #4, I proved that one simply isn’t enough…I need a flex key for when I forget to put the original back) were with the two groups of people who stayed in our house and watched the dogs while we were away. A third key was with my father who was out on his motorcycle instead of stationed an appropriate ten minutes from my house at all times which I thought we all agreed was the only way to avoid these problems. A fourth key was with our lesbians who were not at work (again, that would be too simple), but were actually stuck at a Bingo event with a grandmother. A fifth key was on the ring of my car keys as the service department held it hostage for the afternoon. And the sixth key? Well, that one was in the house.

You see? These are not just ordinary situations, foolish coincidences or failed life lessons. THESE ARE THE FORCES OF ALL THAT IS WRONG WITH THE WORLD FOCUSING ALL THEIR ATTENTION ON ME ON A NEAR-QUARTERLY BASIS.

Luckily, aside from my occasional drift into a Hunger Games-like state where I sat perched underneath our deck, poised to attack while the rainclouds passed by and desperately trying to come up with solutions that didn’t involve seeking refuge in the spider house, this time was largely uneventful and could be spent reflecting on the many failures in my life which led to this moment for the fifth time.

Full disclosure: Spider uprisings are my excuse for everything.

Ever since we moved into the house, we’ve had a charming yet completely unnecessary mini-home in the backyard that the previous owners built for their kids. From what we can tell, they built the big shed and used leftover supplies to, you know, just toss together an architecturally sound playhouse for their children in what I can only assume would be the same amount of time it takes us to assemble Ikea pressboard bookshelves. Because people like THAT exist.

And guys? I know parents build shit for their kids. My dad built a tree house for us when we were growing up (or at least I assume he did and it wasn’t just leftover from a group of traveling gypsies who set up camp in our backyard…although that would explain a lot of what I’m about to tell you in the next paragraph). But this dad? Yeah, he wasn’t fucking around. It has walls, a roof, a floor, a door, built-in bench seating, and windows for chrissake.


Okay fine. I have windows. I’m just upset about the injustice…

But let’s get some real perspective here. When we were growing up, we had a slightly stable platform of wood, loosely attached to three crooked trees about five feet off the ground. The floor didn’t always connect with the tree trunks so you could essentially stare your inevitable death-by-sinkhole in the face as a constant reminder that this was not a place of childhood funsies. “Go play in the tree house” basically just meant that we had irritated our parents to the point of them seeing a tragic tree house ‘accident’ as a legitimate (and defensible in a court of law) means of relief.

There were walls-ish but they were rough and hurt to touch during those moments your hands darted out for leverage as you attempt to avoid certain death. The windows? They were just holes in the wall. This tree house could have given rise to a whole new HGTV series of Extreme Home Makovers for things parents DIYed for their kids, combining home repair insight with parental counseling on why it’s wrong to encourage your kids to dangle in a shanty in the sky built entirely of splinters and tetanus.

(Loooooooove you, Mom and Dad. Thanks for building us a tree house!)

So to review, the kids who used to live in our house could host freaking dinner parties and greet people at the door to accept their little gift bottles of Snapple before inviting them into the motherfucking foyer for seared duck while all we could do was seriously injure ourselves or develop rashes from weird bright orange ooze that started to show up on the tree branch you had to hold onto as the ‘safety railing.’

Anyhow. Their little palace has been used only once since they left and that was just when a kid herded poor Calvin into it and shut the door in order to grab him and carry him around like a very unwilling, toothy and gnashy baby. So, weren’t we all excited (especially Calvin) when the newf’s massage therapist said he’d take the whole thing off the property for his daughters! He had promised to build them something similar, didn’t actually think they’d remember, and now intends to pass this ‘gently used’ play house off as new construction.

Hey – I don’t care about his ethics so much as I just want the thing off our property. Go with it. Also, why have kids if not to score bonus points through false promises that they’ll eventually forget to hold you to? It’s a victimless crime!

We were talking about it again during my massage the other day and it all just seems so easy that you just know he’s going to have to be put through hell on earth before that thing is actually being enjoyed by his kids at his place. For starters, it’s huge and built like a real house – none of that plastic snap-together stuff. Moving that thing is going to be about as easy as using a double wide as an RV on a road trip to New Mexico. Also of note, when I say ‘gently used’, what I really mean is that the house is the headquarters for the arachnid uprising that will soon end humanity as soon as they finish amassing their army. The charming little ring-a-ling door bell I mentioned? Yeah. That rings when it’s time for the spiders to feed on the blood of the innocent.

But I completely went with it and said he’d tooootally be able to get it onto the back of a pick-up with the help of a few friends because when you’re lying on a table in your skivvies with someone who could incapacitate you in two touches, you should really just go with the flow. Plus what kind of desperate gay housewife would I be if I turned down the opportunity to watch the burly acts of straight men as they take place in my back yard?

From a safe distance of course. No matter what the newf says, I’m 20% sure I didn’t make up the whole spider infestation thing two years ago as an excuse to not have to do yard work…

I’m not really sure what happened here. Maybe the wine?

Okay. Fair warning: I’m doing that mature, grown-up thing where you get drunk by yourself and eat your own weight in gourmet sushi in a hotel room. Wait – that’s not a mature, grown-up thing to do? Well it should be because it’s fucking fantastic and what else is a guy to do just a few days before entering the far less attractive second half of his twenties? Just let me eat my goddamn drunk sushi and pretend it’s A Thing, okay?

Yep. I’m turning 26 on Saturday. That in itself isn’t really a big deal. Once you’re through that whole phase where birthdays mean stuff (I can drive now! I can drink now! I can vote now! Sleeping with teenagers is a felony now!), they kinda just become a day where people have to be nice to you. Now don’t get me wrong, that’s totally cool by me, but this year the birthday is being trumped by a few other much more important celebrations. For example, it also means that the newf and I have been together for five years which, given the fact that both of our lives have done complete 180s from where we started, makes me really proud. It’s not easy to grow without growing apart, you know?

My birthday is also a sign that my five-year blogging anniversary is just around the corner.

Five years. I’ve been reading some of you for FIVE YEARS. On the other hand, that means that some of you have been reading me for five years. I just…I mean…what?! Some of you have been more constant in my life than my jobs and homes. It’s true! Me spending five years with this blog is one thing; spending five years with some of you is a whole other deal that, quite frankly, is blowing me away right now. It doesn’t make any sense! It goes against everything they say about our generation: that we have short attention spans, that we’re becoming more self-centered, that we are forgetting how to be social…but yet here we all are.

Suck it, sociologists. When’s the last time a ‘stranger’ sent you an email for no other reason than to brighten your day? Keep pretending you’ll be Indiana Jones someday…

Yes, this is probably all thanks to that college poured glass of wine I had but I’m just all shmoopy and thankful for all of you. Not just the ones that have been here since the beginning, but every one of you who took the time to reach out, every one of you who inspired me in your own way, and every one of you who have supported whatever it is that I’m doing here. With all that said, my commitment is to try to be even more supportive of all of you.

No–I can’t say I’m going to read every one of your blogs and every one of your posts, but I can be more vocal about how freaking rockstar I think you all are. And there’s no better time than the present to put my money where my mouth is.

Product placement: unsexytime lotion, work pants, and doing drag.

Yep – this is a blog post about getting stuff for free. Being a Canadian blogger with a demographic-defying audience of the best readers on this side of the internet, I can be a bit confusing for advertisers and PR folks. Most know they want to send me stuff, but they’re really not sure what to send, why they’d send it, or what I’d end up saying about it. Well, social media professionals, I’m not sure if you recall my personal blog policy on accepting free products from advertisers so please allow me to refresh your memory.

PR/Ad Person: “Hey Ben! Love the blog. Wondering if you’d be interested in–”

Ben: “YES! Do you need my top on or off?”

PR/Ad Person: “Uhh…did you just say…uh…wait what?”

Ben: “Fiiiine. I’ll lose the pants too but this had better be good.”

Sometimes the things I get are pretty awesome and are still being used to this very day (my Flip Mino, the family pack of Snuggies, dog toys), and sometimes the things are downright pathetic. For example, I once got a lovely email from a company looking to have me test out some sexy toys. Right…my mom reads this blog so while I’ll often write about doing terrible, horrible, awesome things to Bradley Cooper, Jake Gyllenhaal, Chris Evans, Ryan Reynolds, and sometimes all at once, for all intents and purposes I do not, have never, and will not engage in any sort of sexual activity ever. Nonetheless, let’s not forget that my free stuff ethical code would suggest I say, “haaaaaaaay!” take the sex goods and run. And that’s kinda what I did.

So a few weeks later this massive box shows up and I’m all, “SEX TOY PARTY! WHO WANTS FREE SEX TOYS!” until I opened it and realized there was one very small box the size of an Advil container inside with a ton of packing paper. Cue the sads. Then I realized it was what’s called numbing cream. Yep, this sex toy company sent me the one sexual aid designed to REDUCE sensation and pleasure. Gee thanks. I’ll store that at the bottom of the ocean with the tongue guard that keeps me from tasting food and the alcohol inhibitor that keeps me from getting drunk.

The newf loves when we get sent free stuff although I don’t believe he really understands how it all works. For example, when Mark’s sent both of us DH3 jeans, he yelled at me every day for a month insisting that I absolutely must write a series of posts about how the jeans make me feel and the individual features of each pocket. Meanwhile, I thought a better use of a post would be to tell everyone about the hot model shots they sent me to showcase how the jeans can be worn, or how my very first job at the age of sixteen was working at Mark’s. Picture a young me, folding size 56 waisted work pants and trying to tell construction workers which boots they need. I was living the dream…

But then after months of quietly satisfied wear (obviously I couldn’t be all excited about the jeans after telling their lovely PR rep that clearly there’s no way I’d ever be the right fit for something from Mark’s), the perfect opportunity came up to finally give these jeans their chance to shine. These poor manly-man jeans had been put through wine and cheese nights, trips to go pick up $7 lattés, and many a walk with small, delicate dogs, more than earning just one use that didn’t completely bastardize their purpose in life: these jeans and I would go butch it up in some heavy duty trucks.

I’m obnoxious. And drunk. But what else is new?

Alright. I’ve had half a bottle of wine and I’m about to write the shit out of this comeback blog post. As in, once I’m through, this post is going to need a cigarette and a phone call to its ex to rub in just how much it won the break-up. And then I’m just going to be all, “yeah whatever, love. Go make me a sandwich and let yourself out.” Because really, I’ve gone a month not just without posting anything…but without even looking at this blog. No seriously. I replaced all blogging time with videos of Santana on Glee and dreaming about how happy we could be together. It’s been an awesome month.

Let’s review: 1) I don’t live the crazy, stressful, manic depressive, bipolar life of an advertising agency professional anymore. Now any psychological problems (I like to call them psychological opportunities) I possess are all me, baby. 2) I work out of my home office now which is an interesting throwback to when I started this blog while unemployed except I have enough money to bring more booze into the mix. 3) I’m actually, for the first time in years and years, genuinely and thoroughly, in every possible wayily–dare I say it out loud?–HAPPY.

Not that the past ohhhhh FIVE YEARS have been terrible or anything, but I feel like now…RIGHT NOW things are coming together the way I always wanted them to, the way people told me they probably never would, and the way that makes me feel like all the clusterfuckery has been absolutely, positively worth it.

The crippling mental and physical shape I was in at the end of the summer, the book deal I ended up defaulting on against all rational reasons encouraging me to just go with something that didn’t feel right, the money and time I invested into blogging even when I had no reason to believe it would ever pay off, the people I’ve burned in the process who I probably should have just burned a whole lot sooner…I mean, even if this is as good as it all gets for me, I’m so totally satisfied.

Guys? I’m getting PAID to write about places where I like to eat and drink! And when they’re not paying me to do that, they’re paying me to go EAT AND DRINK WITH PEOPLE. This shit is bananas, b-a-n-a-n-a-s. I’ve gone from being criticized and feeling like I’m failing all day, every day, to starting and ending every day with real conversations with people who are so! very! excited! to! talk! about! their! favourite! everythings!

Plus every now and then, and ohmigodthisissuchapainintheass, they insist I go to places like San Francisco and Portland to eat and drink THERE except with more Nicole, Jamie and Doniree. Sometimes folks are all, “but the travel must be hard, right, being away from home and all?” but I’m too busy LOVING EVERYTHING SINCE THE DAWN OF TIME TO NOTICE.

I know, I know…I should bring my level of excitement out of the ‘obnoxious range’ but I really can’t so you’re just going to have to deal with it for now, especially since I haven’t even finished. When I’m not busy with Yelp, I’m running a business with the two people who have pushed me to the greatest heights I’ve managed to achieve in the past three years of my life. That’s right.

When they say you can’t pick all the good stuff and throw away the bad? THEY’RE LYING BECAUSE YOU TOTALLY, TOTALLY CAN AND THAT SCARES THE HELL OUT OF THEM. If you can shake the fear, you’ll realize there’s a whole other life out there for you…s’all I’m sayin’.

So there. You’re caught up, I’m back to blogging, and it’s going to be one hell of a year for all of us.

Feast on Scraps

People who complain about 30-hour legs of travel clearly aren’t followers of the Church of Lohan. A couple glasses of red wine and a Gravol or two and you can’t practically check me down below with the tranquilized dogs and snowboards. Thanks Lindsay, you really are a leader of the next generation.

First impressions.

Emma: “I get cankles when I fly.”

Ben: “Don’t worry. I’m only going downhill from here.”

Now I want a Romantic Blaxploitation Comedy.

Movies redubbed to be less offensive are hilarious. I didn’t notice at first but after a half hour or so, I found it really strange that Drew Barrymore would use the words ‘punk’ and ‘fool’ considering she is neither Mr. T nor a big-busted vigilante named Sugarpie in a Blaxploitation movie. Hats off to you, conservative plane ride to Ethiopia.

Second impressions.

Emma: “I get drunk off like one drink.”

Ben: “Ohhhhh we’re going to have some fun.”

Hotel party foul.

If you can hear me rustle papers or yawn in the next room over, people in 206, it’s safe to say that no matter how quiet you try to be, I’m going to hear intimate details of your sexual experience at four in the morning, especially if your girl learned how to be sexy from porn. Sexy in this case just meaning a screamer. And if you really insist on going for it anyway? Maybe stop after the first time, or at the very least lay off whatever was making the wrapper and pumping noises. There are some things you just can’t unheard.

Manners, people. Manners.

Guy on Street: “Sister! Sister! Phone card! One birr!”

Emma: “No thank you.”

Guy on Street: “Yes thank you!”

Emma: “No see – that’s not exactly how that works.”

But what will you eat?!

Want to know how many times I was told that I was basically going to shit my pants and eat ground goat meat before I got here? Enough to start believing it. Totally false. Ethiopian cuisine and I are good friends. They basically just serve twenty different kinds of ‘stew’s made with lentils, potatoes, chickpeas, spinach, and other delicious stuff that you maul with pancakes and shovel into your face. Carby meals that leave you looking like you just performed open-heart surgery while competing in a BBQ wing-eating contest? Ben says yes please.

She scares them and they love it.

Linda: “How much to get to the restaurant?”

Cab Driver: “I take you for 80 birr.”

Linda: “Oh you’re cute. It’s five minutes from here.”

Cab Driver: “But petrol is getting higher every day.”

Linda: “Which is why I’ll be nice and give you 60.”

Cab Driver: “But we spend so much time sitting here and waiting and we can’t wait and it costs money and Petrol and Petrol is high and we have to wait and that costs money and waiting and time and that’s why it’s 80.”

Linda: “I have no idea what that just meant. So 60 then?”

Cab Driver: “Ha. Okay let’s go.”

Suddenly very nervous.

All the churches in Lalibela have different religious symbolism. One had a two-foot-wide ramp in between two twenty-foot caverns that represents the ascension into heaven. If you make it all the way up, you’re in. If you fall? Well, aside from being dead, you’re also going to hell. Emma, the fragile, wounded gazelle of our group, asked: “Well what if you’re just clumsy but a good person?” and our guide, while laughing, said: “Nope. Definitely going to hell.”

As the bags are hurled onto the roof of our mountain shuttle…

Emma: “Oh no! My crystals!”

Driver: *horrified look*

Emma: “Just kidding.”

And they told ME that ‘just gay enough’ is not quite so in Ethiopia.

Ethiopian shows of affection are so lovely. Men and women, women and women, and men and men all walk down the street holding hands, playing with each other’s fingers, holding their arms around each other, and generally just being really, really touchy. You basically spend most of your time watching people who are more attractive than you touching other people who are more attractive than you and dreading having to go home and see North Americans make out in between bites of Big Macs.

Wait. Are you even a cab?

Guy with Car: “Yes, I work as taxi but use my own car.”

Linda: “But how do we know that you won’t drive us off somewhere and kill us?”

Guy with Car: “I won’t. I promise. I like you.”

Linda: “Hmmm” *gets in the car* “Oh look! A picture of Jesus! This guy’s totally fine.”

Emma: “Ooh! And finally a car with seatbelts!”

Ben: “But seriously, please don’t kill us.”

I would have dated any one of them. Even the women. ESPECIALLY the women.

No seriously, Ethiopian dancers at dinner. You already have the genetics and we already get that you’re sexy. Unless your dance is Fat Girl At Prom Side-Clap or the White Guy Pretending He Can Do The Robot, you’re really just being cruel. Cool it with the shimmies, but shakes, and pelvic thrusts. It’s obnoxious, unnecessary and confusing.

Hotel Party Foul x2.

Front Desk Receptionist: “Welcome back, sir.”

Ben: “Thank you! It feels like home now.”

Front Desk Receptionist: “Here’s your key. Room 206.”