to read my latest, please visit me at…
to read my latest, please visit me at…
By Tim Cerantola
I recently took my (twin) daughters to the dentist for their regular check-up.
After asking Doctor Bob about my girl’s soon to arrive adult teeth, he just shook his head sadly and then, with a sympathetic look said…
“Well Tim, due to some over-crowding, their teeth are coming in a little on the crooked side and, there are a few other problems.”
He went on to add that he would not rule out the need for braces for both of them. Oh boy, I thought to myself. This could get expensive – especially with identical twin sets of wandering teeth.
For those of you unfamiliar with the trials of identical twins, as you might imagine, everything always happens in twos – not to mention we usually have to buy two of everything. For us, there is no such thing as hand-me-downs.
Of course with braces, there can’t be hand-me-downs, although, I once saw a 20/20 news program where this orthodontist – in an effort to increase his profits, recycled parts of used braces into the mouths of his unsuspecting patients.
“Bob, please,” I begged, holding back my tears. “Tell me it’s possible, that if I hope and pray and believe in fairies, my daughters’ teeth will find a way to work themselves in a straight and orderly fashion.”
It was then that Bob smiled.
“Tim, it’s hard to say. I guess you can give that fairy thing a shot but, as far as I know, fairies only work with baby teeth. They don’t do orthodontic work.”
Then, Bob just stood there with a distant look in his eyes. Bob’s quite a fishing enthusiast. He was probably dreaming of all the great fishing gear he could buy with the money he’d make straightening the two sets of wayward teeth I just presented him with.
“Tim, I’ll tell you straight.” Bob continued as he handed me a tissue to dry my tears.
“The truth is, in my opinion, some extensive orthodontic work and two kids with braces are in your future.”
I like Dr. Bob. He’s a straight shooter and truly a first-rate tooth-yanker. Over the years, we’ve developed a mutual trust. I trust his dental expertise completely and he puts his fingers in my mouth. Hey, if that’s not trust?
In my fantasy world, I had always dreamed that my daughters would be as brilliant as Albert Einstein; as gentle and as giving as Mother Theresa; as beautiful as Angelina Jolie and, have lovely straight teeth - just like Beyonce. But that was my fantasy world.
Here in the real world, every day millions of parents spend thousands of their hard earned dollars realigning their children’s migratory molars into neat little rows.
“Tell me Bob, why is this happening to so many people?” I whined, er… inquired.
Bob looked thoughtful for a minute and then replied.
“Well Tim, you see in these modern evolutionary times, people generally don’t have wide enough jaws for the 32 teeth nature assigned them. Today, many of us can only handle a deck of 28. Anymore than that and we all start to look like the nutty professor.”
“Now, way back in the olden days of Neanderthal man, humans had enormous jaws and could handle all the teeth that Mother Nature could throw at them. But as we evolved, for some reason our jaws became smaller – well except for Jay Leno’s of course, and now, overcrowding of teeth is very common. In a nutshell, I guess Neanderthal women just didn’t dig the guys with the big jaws any more.”
So there it was, those damned Neanderthals! I should have become an orthodontist. If I had, right now I’d probably be out fishing with Bob as visions of crooked teeth danced in our heads – each fugitive set representing a large appliance or small automobile.
When I finally got home and told my wife, she didn’t seem surprised at the news – although I thought I heard her mutter under her breath, “I should have married Jay Leno.”
I don’t want to give my identity away so let’s just say I’m the former leader of a very powerful North American country. I’m writing you because I have a very serious legacy problem. I thought you might be able to help me out.
You see Abby, for most of my tenure as president, I was basically what they call a lame duck leader – not like a real duck that is actually lame like from having a bad leg or being shot by Dick Turdblossom (not his real name), but a lame duck like in the way they call presidents who are merely figureheads without any real power. I don’t really know why they call us that, they just do. Anyways, I am real concerned with how history will remember me.
Now early on, I used to be a pretty popular leader with huge approval ratings. Heck, everyone wanted to have a beer with me. But after a year or so, everyone just thought of me as the village idiot, and my popularity dropped faster than a mob informant in the Hudson River. Anyway, I was hoping y’all could help me out with some advice regarding my historical legacy.
I always wanted to be a leader. My daddy was a leader. I thought it would make me very happy. The leader before me, “Bill Klinton” (name changed to protect his identity) always looked so calm, cool and collected that is, until he got caught with his pants down a few years back.
Seems a lot of those intern girls really went for Billy, though if you ask me, that Veronica Brewinski girl (not her real name either) was easier than microwave popcorn. But I guess beauty is in the eye of the beer-holder, heh-heh-heh, get it?
Anyway, I’ve been out of work for 5 years and I’ve got nothing going on. Ol’ Bill has been out of office for 13 years and he still gets no end of invites to big time universities, fancy dinners and TV interviews.
Now it’s true, my leadership did have a few problems. The people saw me as a witless moron just because I couldn’t pronounciate some words so good. So what, if my vocabulary is as bad as, uh, whatever?
And so what if I got my country mixed up in a couple of really dumb wars – and then declared victory – and then screwed up a hurricane disaster relief thing – and messed up my country’s finances, turning the wealthiest nation on the planet into a economic basket case.
OK, so I made a couple of mistakes.
If only I got an easy ride like another former leader of my nation, “Donald Deagan” (not his real name). Now “Donald” had quite a few laughs, he met the Pope, attacked Grenada, sang some old Irish tunes with a few heads of state and got a ton of free airplane rides. That ol’ geezer was a real character and the people really loved him. Heck, history already remembers him as one of the greats.
But hey, being president in good times isn’t exactly rocket surgery. When my turn came to lead, I had it tough. Really, if it wasn’t one thing, it was two things. I got confused.
People started getting critical of me, going on about how dumb I was and making fun of the way I pronounciated ‘new-cue-lar.’ So I screwed up a few times. Maybe I should never have run for president in the first place. True, I was totally unprepared – except for having a whole lot of alcohol in me.
Now, there’s this new fella, Barney O’Bama (name changed to protect his identity) – just elected for his second term. Everyone’s always going on about how good lookin’ he is, how nice he is and how he’s a hundred times smarter than me! OK, maybe he’s fifty times smarter than me, but not a hundred.
Needless to say, lately, with that O’Bama fella getting all the attention, when I go out in public, I feel about as useful as a one-legged man in an arse-kicking contest.
So Abby, if you can, help me. I want to get me some of those real good write-ups in the history books. I won’t make a move till I hear from you.
Signed, Historically challenged.
Dear Historically Challenged,
Like most people, I too find you astonishingly stupid. The best advice I have for you is, for the rest of your life, remember; you have two eyes and one mouth. Keep two of them open and the other shut – and I’m not talking about winking.
I recently found an Internet sex survey conducted by a condom manufacturer that shall remain nameless. The survey suggested that the world’s greatest lovers in order of nationality were the French, the Italians and the Americans.
The survey results were based on frequency, quality, safety and, obviously, damned lies. I was disappointed to see that Canadians didn’t do very well at all, finishing a very disappointing twelfth out of fifteen industrialized nations.
I have three questions to ask.
I guess if you look at the facts, geographically speaking, Canada has only 34 million people in the second largest country in the world – giving us the distinction of least love making per square mile, but I don’t think that’s what we’re talking about here.
France and Italy combined fit into Canada ten times over and, have four times our population, so granted, that is a lot of baby making but, were they really enjoy themselves that much? And, more importantly, were they marking their scorecards honestly?
Canadians, the survey suggested, are uptight about, uh, well, …you know, “it.”
What a load of baloney that is! I like to do “it” as much as the next Italian or Frenchman. But if I want to keep the details of my personal matters of a horizontal nature (although not always) to myself, that’s my business, dammit!
OK, the one thing Canadians scored (no pun intended) well at was in the considerate department. Globally, Canadians have that clean-cut image. So we were awarded big points for being considerate. Doesn’t exactly suggest that we’re setting our bedrooms on fire with passion does it?
So, what does “considerate” mean in this context?
Considerate, from where I stand, is always putting the toilet seat down or never flushing while your mate is in the shower. But according to this dumb survey, considerate where Canadians are concerned is, if when making love during the hockey playoffs, Canadians always make sure both participants can see the TV just in case someone scores, in the game, on the goalie.
That’s just great. Thanks to this stupid survey, the world is now under the impression that Canadians are a nation of lovers who always say please before love making, and thank you have a nice day afterwards.
So, who decided the rankings? Who picked the best lovers?
Well, the survey was conducted entirely in the U.S. and France by a French condom manufacturer. So, no big surprise there. The French placed first. France is where the condom manufacturer is based. France is their largest market for sales. They wouldn’t want their largest market going limp if they heard they came up short in the sack er… survey would they?
As for the manufacturer, I have never heard of them. They obviously need a better promotional campaign than these insulting surveys.
If they really want to get international exposure, all they have to do is build a condom shaped blimp, write their name on the side and then try and land it in the Superdome. True, that may be kind of kinky. But, at least it would get them some great advertising without insulting half the planets’ libido. But I digress.
I bet if they had conducted a survey on truthfulness when answering sex surveys, you would find the Canadians at the top of the list. The French would probably be dead last as the only things they’re really good at is cooking, making wine and going on endlessly about how wonderful they all are in the sack.
As for the Americans, well, some of my favourite aunts and uncles are Americans. I’d be too embarrassed to ask them what they did to earn a third place ranking.
Now the one group that the survey overlooked were people from the Toronto area. Considered by many, (mostly other people from Toronto) as the greatest lovers on the planet. So, why are Torontonians such great lovers?
Is it the raw power of nature at our doorstep?
Is it all the fantastic natural beauty that surrounds the city?
Personally, I think it’s the CN Tower and Skydome being located right next to each other. Think about it, an oval shaped dome with a retractable roof right next to a giant phallus – look at that every day on your way to work and you cant wait to get home and get busy.
Anyways, as far as I’m concerned, it’s none of any condom manufacturer’s damned business how incredibly fantastic Canadians are as lovers. We just don’t want to attract too much attention to ourselves. Besides, we don’t have to talk about it, because in typical Canadian fashion, we just deliver the goods …big time!
(The art of Zen Budgeting)
In view of the ongoing economic uncertainty we presently find all around us, it is only natural to feel anxious about your finances and making ends meet. But do not worry. I think I can help. I am the cheapest man in the universe.
You see, for decades my parsimonious ways have achieved legendary status; among my friends as I am often referred to as ‘el cheapo, man of thrift’ – though I prefer the title “Dalai Lama of Frugality” for I am the founder of a penny-pinching philosophy known as “budgetarianism.”
So, read on young grasshopper so that I might enlighten you and help you achieve proper balance. Perhaps one day, you too will become a budgetarian master.
I will now impart the secrets to financial happiness.
Similar to the Eastern traditions of Buddhism, budgetarian enlightenment also contains four noble truths:
1. Suffering is inevitable.
2. Kraft Macaroni and Cheese Dinner eases suffering.
3. Further suffering ensues as a result of too much Kraft Macaroni and Cheese
4. Even if you’re having roast beef, your kids will prefer to eat macaroni and cheese anyways.
The budgetarian lifestyle is very similar to a vegetarians although, vegetarians intentionally omit meat from their diets whereas budgetarians often omit meat as a means to economic stability. But either way you look at it, both vegetarians and budgetarians can be considered “barn-yard friendly.”
Indeed, the budgetarian diet, though similar to that of his cousin the vegetarian, does however, occasionally include meat; but that’s only because the most cunning and clever of budgetarians have created a vast array of ambiguous pseudo-meat mutations such as spam, baloney, tofurkey, veggie dogs (not-dogs) and veggie burgers (shamburgers) all designed for those with limited grocery dollars.
Other mock-meat substitutes such as meatloaf, are an example of frugality at its finest. Containing only trace amounts of ‘moo’ and vast quantities of oatmeal, breadcrumbs, tomatoes, zucchini, carrots, celery – even lint from your clothes dryer. Needless to say, this tasty low-cost “loaf” will easily qualify as an edible non-toxic by most federal food agencies though I recommend dousing these “edible substances” with copious amounts of ketchup or hot sauce as it may be necessary to avoid any taste seepage.
*Note: budgetarian meatloaf is very high in polyester, a very important budgetarian fiber.
Do budgetarians ever have fun you ask?
Well, budgetarians have loads of fun.
For entertainment, budgetarians borrow DVD’s from their local libraries. Granted, most titles available may not be among the most contemporary favourites, but older classics such as “Surf Nazi’s Must Die” or Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “Hercules in New York” are readily available. Your local library also offers a vast selection of educational documentaries such as National Geographic’s “Wonderful World of Lichen.”
(spoiler alert) Lichens are symbiotic associations of a fungus (the mycobiont) with a photosynthetic partner (the photobiont also known as the phycobiont) that can produce food for the lichen from sunlight.
Outdoor budgetarian activities may include tree watching. Tree watching is very similar to bird watching only the expense of binoculars is eliminated because most trees will allow you to get up quite close.
But remember, the best things in life are free, like air!
That’s right air (now fortified with greenhouse gas). It’s free. It’s fun. It comes in assorted smokey flavours. Air. Yum. Breathe in as much as you like. Go outside and make a lung-sucking pig of yourself.
The grocery coupon plays a very important role in the life of a budgetarian. Besides doubling as reading material and therefore entertainment, the grocery coupon also holds monetary value. A stack of coupons can also make your wallet appear quite thick and impressive.
Speaking of thick and impressive, sex is a fine budgetarian activity – as long as you’re only practicing. Ah yes, while all the rich couples are out impressing each other and lusting after each others possessions, budgetarians are forced to remain at home and lust after each other. This is good for the marriage. And remember, divorce is very expensive. Divorce is not good for anyone, especially budgetarians.
Finally, you may ask, Tim, budgetarian Guru of the 37th degree, penurious keeper of the old underwear of 1987 (archeologists consider them valuable historic relics), what is the secret of true financial happiness?
Well, if you have any budgetarian friends, especially friends whose name is ‘Jones’ – you must invite them over for the evening. For if their name is Jones, and they are true budgetarians, it will be so much easier to keep-up-with-the-Jones’.
As for any approaching financial doomsday, ha, ha, ha! Let us laugh in the face of the inevitable economic reckoning knowing that with superior planning and some helpful tips from a qualified budgetarian master such as myself, you too can live a full and relatively money-free life.
Lately, the most difficult thing for my family to swallow seems to be my cooking. It has not always been this way. My wife and daughters used to be good hearty eaters – but times have changed.
For instance, my daughter Elaine now thinks she’s a vegetarian and as a result, has become a very picky eater. Emma, her sister and identical twin, just thinks that everything I cook “sucks.” As for my wife Marie, she’s become a health nut of the natural foods and holistic medicine variety.
If it were up to her, she’d have us eating hay three times a day.
So now, every day as I sit in front of my computer, my biggest problem is not thinking up what to write for my next column, rather, it’s thinking up what to cook for my next meal. I struggle daily for a meal plan that will be successfully received by one and all.
For now, my daughter the vegetarian will still eat some things that contain meat. She will still eat hamburgers and hot dogs – although lately she has been pressuring me into substituting them with their veggie versions.
Ever since Elaine bought herself this little stuffed toy cow, she’s been sympathetic towards all barnyard types – especially the ones that moo. So now, each night before we eat supper, she routinely asks me who died for her dinner tonight.
True. One night last week, with “Ivory” (her toy cow) on her lap, before even tasting my soup, she looked up from her bowl and asked, “Daddy, were any cows killed for this dinner?”
“Nope. Just vegetables and a really stupid chicken – who, I have on good authority, was practically on her death bed anyway. Nothing to feel guilty about here. It’s completely moo-less.”
“OK, I’ll eat, but I’m starting to feel sorry for the vegetables.”
Emma, on the other hand, would lead the cows to the sausage factory herself if she could eat pepperoni pizza seven days a week. She starts almost every meal with… “Yuk, this sucks. When are we going to have pizza?”
“Don’t say yuk.” I once scolded her. “Where are your manners? When I work all afternoon to prepare a nice meal for you, what should you say?”
“Cut my meat” she quipped.
Suffice it to say that Daddy is no longer safe around her increasingly sharp wit (and cows are not safe around her appetite).
Which reminds me of something I once heard about disciplining children. Never raise hands to your kids – it leaves your groin unprotected.
Sometimes, I long for the olden days of bachelorhood when all my cooking needs were met by a few local restaurants and vending machines. Then, I would only ever successfully cook breakfast – I had this great recipe for toast. (My secret ingredient was butter).
The truth is, back then, many people considered it a threat when I offered to cook for them. But all that has changed now. When you’re married with kids, either you learn how to cook or you face McDinner every night.
When I first began experimenting with food (no one could justify calling it cooking), my wife would try to encourage me by pretending to enjoy the meals I prepared for her.
She would even mutter the odd charitable “mmm… mmm… delicious” remark before questioning whether the charred substance I served her was brownies or meatloaf.
It has taken a few years, but I have finally developed some real talent in the kitchen. I’m starting to live up to a long standing family tradition of great cooks as both my grandmothers, my mother, my sister and all of my aunt Mary’s (I have three) are tremendously good cooks.
Ironically, I finally get to a point where I can cook up a chicken marsala that’s so good it could make a grown man cry “mommy” – and they tie my chubby little gourmet hands behind my back as they now want me to stop using the ingredients that taste best, such as real butter, real cream, white sugar and now, real cows.
It’s all for my own good health, Marie explains. She wants me to live a good long fulfilling life – although, apparently light on the fulfilling.
Marie has made it quite clear she doesn’t want to be married to Tim, the incredible expanding fat boy. My daughter Elaine has made it quite clear she wants to save the cows. And my daughter Emma, has made it quite clear that she’ll gladly sneak out with me for pepperoni pizza, any day, any time.