Tuesday, November 27, 2007


The universally accepted truth: men and women do not understand each other. We're wired differently. Countless hours and years and lifetimes have been spent trying to figure each other out, to no avail.
Being married, I can discipher a great deal of "male code", but I am in no position to give insight into the mind of someone else's husband. I've got my own live-in male brain to figure out, so ladies, you're on your own. Good luck.
I can, however, throw the guys a bone.
The following is a rough translation of Female English. These translations are approximate, and will vary in detail and intensity from woman to woman.

She says: Nothing is wrong, I'm fine.
She means: There's plenty wrong, I'm anything but fine, and you have about thirty seconds to figure out why and fix it, unless you want my mood to worsen exponentially.

She says: Do you want to watch a movie?
She means: Do you want to watch a movie with characters, a plot, and minimal explosions/gunfighting/female nudity?

She says: Do we have a step ladder?
She means: I'm going to paint the living room tomorrow while you're at work, and even if you don't like the color, it will be too much work for you to change it.

She says: You're blue sweater? It's hanging in your closet, for once.
She means: I found it under the bed, and if you don't start picking up your clothes, I'm going to throw them all away.

She says: Did anyone call while I was out yesterday?
She means: I know Susan called while I was out yesterday, so if you can't take and deliver messages, let the machine pick up.

She says: I don't care, go out tonight if you want to.
She means: I'm not telling you to go out, I'm giving you the opportunity to prefer to stay home with me. I obviously don't want you to go out, and I will make you miserable for days if you do. Choose carefully.

She says: Does this outfit look ok?
She means: I wouldn't be out here modeling for you if I didn't think it looked good, so please tell me it's incredible, or I'll probably tear my closet apart in a rage and end up staying home and pouting all night.

She says: Kate's husband bought her the most beautiful flowers, you should see them, they're blue roses.
She means: I want you to buy me flowers, please. (The "please" part is variable, depending on mood and length of time that has elapsed since she last received a bouquet of flowers)

She says: How was supper?
She means: It took me two hours to cook that, amidst screaming children and chaos, so you'd better say it was delicious or tomorrow we'll be having Kraft Dinner.

She says: Who was that scantily-scad, buxom knock-out you were hugging?
She means: That better have been your long-lost cousin.

She says: I'm going to get my hair done tomorrow.
She means: We'll be $120 poorer tomorrow, and you probably won't even be able to tell what I got done to my hair.

She says: Work was a nightmare today.
She means: I can't wait to tell you the story about the photocopier mishap, how I spilled my coffee, and how Marcy complained about her cramps all day. It's your job to pretend all of this is interesting, the way I do when you talk about power tools being on sale at Canadian Tire.

She says: My friend from high school got engaged.
She means: On July 14th of next year, you'll find yourself wearing uncomfortable clothes and smiling at a room full of people you don't know.

She says: We need to talk.
She means: You need to listen.

Now, in my defense, I do not base these simulated conversations on life experience (well, the majority of them, anyway). My husband doesn't have it nearly that bad, but these examples, however accurate, are an unpleasant reality for many husbands and boyfriends. Take heart, gentlemen; we love you, and we'll go as easy on you as we can. We know you don't understand us but, luckily for you, that doesn't stop us from trying to show you how.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

"Those Flower Pins"

I got my Remembrance Day poppy a few days ago. There was an older man, dressed in a Legion uniform, giving them out at the grocery store, and he smiled at me when I put a few dollars in his container.

When I was young, Remembrance Day was the day for which we had a big assembly in school. The day our teacher would hand out poppies after lunch. The day men in uniforms would come to our school, show us all their medals, and give a sad speech. The day one student got picked to go lay a wreath at the front of the gymnasium. Once the assembly was over, we went home, had a day off school, and then it was back to business as usual.

Even as I got older, war was just something I studied in Terry Clements' history class. My grandfather was enlisted in World War 2, though, being in communications in Halifax, he was never deployed overseas, so I didn't hear any horror stories. A friend of mine served in Rwanda, but he came home years ago, and without a visible scratch. Like so many others, because my life was never really impacted by war, I viewed war as something that happened long before my time.

As I was putting on my poppy, a little girl behind me asked her mother what "those flower pins" were for, and the lady replied, "to remember the all men and women who died in the war a long time ago." Unfortunately, she's only somewhat correct about the "long time ago" part.

Today we live in a different world. War is no longer something that took place 75 years ago, that we study in history class. It's happening right now.
You don't have to be in support of any current war to be in support of the people who are fighting in it. I'll leave my opinions of George W. Bush and the wars in the Middle East for another day, but I can tell you with certainty that, in no way does my opposition of the "War on Terror" compromise my high regard for the courageous people who risk their lives over there. I think it's a shame that men and women, young and old, have put their faith and trust in leaders who, with ulterior motives, lie their country into war and conflict. But history will show, those leaders will be looked down upon, and not those who followed them.

All over Nova Scotia, on November 11th (and every other day), people will be remembering their recently lost loved ones, and praying for their family members who are fighting abroad as we speak. Maybe also for their great-great-grandfather, who was lost in World War 1, or their mother's uncle who died in World War 2, or their neighbor's late husband who died in Vietnam, but also, and perhaps more immediately, for those soldiers at war right now. The 35-year-old fathers from Greenwood who have left a wife and two small children behind. The 43-year-old brothers from River Bourgeois who have been in Afghanistan for five years. The 29-year-old daughters from Sydney who have spent most of their adult lives in the Middle East. The husbands, sons, fathers, brothers, wives, mothers, daughters, sisters, and friends of people all over our region. War is more than ancient history, it's reality.

This is to take nothing away from the Veterans of WW1 and WW2. These brave men and women did the same kind of fighting that we see on the news every night, and should always be revered and honored, regardless of how long ago it was. When I see a smiling Veteran, handing out poppies at the grocery store, I often think he must be shaking his head at our obliviousness. Everything he went through, the sacrifices he made, the victory he helped win - and some little punk casually leaves a quarter in his jar, grabs a poppy, and walks away. I think we should all make it a point to acknowledge those Legionnaires, out of respect. Say hello. Smile. Talk to them. It doesn't hurt, I promise. Were it not for them, we might not be out buying groceries, we might be chowing down on rations of Hiltler Sticks and Nazi Nuggets.

Remembrance Day is more than just a holiday, a long weekend, a day off work. It's a time for us to contemplate how lucky we are, to honour those who weren't so lucky, and to acknowledge those who have to pray for luck and survival every day. It's so easy for us to forget, but on November 11th, it's our job to Remember.