Thursday, January 25, 2018

7 Reasons Why I Like Doing Dishes

VINTAGE DAD DOING DISHES: That's the original caption of this
pic that I Google-Image Swiped.
My writer colleague Debbie Fein-Goldbach just Facebooked me this following message: "I'm curious why you love doing dishes."

She asked because I'd mentioned, on Facebook, that a few years back, I had suggested to a couple of magazine editors that they buy a story from me called "Why I Like Doing Dishes." but none of them bit, probably because: a) they didn't believe me; and, b) it was a dumb idea.

So here--free from the interfering hands of professional and wise editors--I present:

"7 Reasons I Like Doing Dishes. Not as a paid job mind you but in my house. After we eat.)" 

7) When you're doing the dishes, you own the moral high ground;

6) Dish doing has definition and it's dead easy.  I like jobs that, once they're done they're done. Few feelings compare to the satisfaction that comes with stretching a damp dish towel out on the counter after you've dried and drawered that final fork. Plus we squeeze our way out of the womb knowing how to do the dishes;

5) Mind you--over every corner of life, advice givers must hover--so if and when a busybody suggests an alternative method of drying (yup, I've been given tips on this very matter) you're required to hand him or her whatever towel or brush you're holding and say, "Here. You do'em;"

4) Doing dishes gives me the right to NOT participate in an after-dinner conversation in the living room in which somebody and I could name names who knows bugger all about the craft of journalism feels free to rant on as if he were Anderson Freaking Cooper explaining how news is processed;

3) But never mind him. Doing dishes is, I'm happy to report, one of the only chores that falls into the following category: "Jobs that you can drink while doing";

2) Doing dishes also taught me one of my go-to life hacks: "If you don't like doing dishes but get asked to do so, break one or two and you'll never be asked again;"

1) If you have dishes to do, it means you got food.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Where we learn to play the new hit game: Rib-A-Sib

Two days ago.

I had just scrunched up my serviette and tossed it onto my plate after a laugh-a-minute lunch with my big sister Charlene. We were at a place called Fran's in downtown Toronto. And at the exact time the server placed the vinyl folder containing our tab on our table, Charlene's cell rang.

She looked at the phone and then at me, and smiling a smile so bright I could almost hear it, Chuck--as we sometimes call her--showed me that it was her youngest son Jesse calling. Chuck took the call. (I'd have done the same if it had been one of my  kids.)

I handed the bill folder back to the server with a couple of 20s folded into it and asked her: "Do you have any older sisters?"

"Yes, one," she said.

"Did you see what mine just did? She pretended to take a call from her son at the very same time as the bill arrived so you-know-who gets to pay it."

Server: "Sounds like something my big sister would do, too."

I'm kidding of course. It was a terrific coincidence and we all laughed and laughed and I know if it had been my phone that rang Chuck would have picked up the tab. But still.

We Carters have teasing brothers and sisters down to an art form. I think that's what they're for, now that I give it some thought. After all if you can't make fun of your siblings, who can you rib?
WANNA MAKE FLIES LAUGH? Feed spider a Timmie's double-double

Not your spouse, that's for sure.

And you'd have to be a pretty bad dad to tease your sons or daughters.

Then again, I do recall one incident, a long long time ago. I was probably eight maybe 10. And I built, out of scrap wood, one of those downhill go-carts. Only problem was, I didn't have tools, help, or brains enough to ask somebody how to do it.

The first of many  obstacles: I couldn't find four same-sized wheels so three of my wheels came off an old tricycle and the other from a grocery cart. And who knew how to build like, an axle? Or a brake?

I persevered.

When it was done, I dragged my creation down to the garage where my dad worked.  Funny that we were always made to feel welcome around our father's workplace, even though much of the time all we did was get in the way. And I wanted to show off my new hand-crafted vehicle.

I remember where Dad was standing when I pulled my go-cart up to his side and while he didn't quote unquote comment on my craftsmanship, I recall him telling a co-worker, "Don't you let me hear you say Carter boys aren't good with their hands."
LUMBERJACK SOCKS: An elegant addition

If you've ever seen one of those videos about a spider web created after the spider was fed caffeine, you'll get an idea of the end results of my go-cart building effort.

That said, I'm forever grateful that he and Mom gave me so many brothers and sisters to write about and make fun of.

Which brings me back to the point of this story, and I forget what the hell that was.

All I can think is I can't believe my dad let us hang around his workplace so much.

P.S. Remember what I said about not teasing your spouse? While I was writing this, my very own spouse Helena noticed I was wearing these beautiful new socks, which I got as a Christmas present from my sister Mary. Helena mentioned that they make an elegant addition to my already sophisticated outfit (jeans and a hoodie).

I think she was being sarcastic.

Now that's a street that only goes one way.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Another brother to the rescue story; and this one long-gone!

GHOST OF A CHANCE: Me, my brothers Ed and Pat, in a very very old photo
My oldest brother Pat died far too young, almost 30 years ago. He lived in Toronto, in the same west-end neighbourhood in which I and my new wife Helena began our marriage adventure. In fact Pat passed away around the time we bought our first house.

I'm the youngest of 10; he is the oldest. IQ-wise, Pat might have outscored the rest of us, and he was a huge reader. Had Pat lived, he would have devoured every word I've written: every paragraph, tweet or blog. After all, I'm his baby brother.

Anyway, I want to tell you how, just a few months ago, despite being dead, Pat saved my professional butt.

I was on assignment for a business magazine and had to interview the CEO of a huge and well-known Canadian company.  After to'ing and fro'ing with the CEO and her public-relations people, they agreed to give me three hours of her time.

When I told my brother Tom (the third oldest of us), he estimated her annual salary and said, "That's pretty expensive time you're getting there, Peter."

I know. I did not want to mess up.

I always want whatever story I'm working on  to be my best, and this  was no different.

Before the interview,  I submitted a list of questions and took to the meet-up not one but two audio-recording devices.

Fast forward to the event. I was in the boardroom, with the CEO and two of her aides. Before we got to the business of, well, business, I asked, "Do you have any brothers or  sisters?"

Her: "Yes, a couple of sisters."

Me: "Are they executives, too?"

Her: "No.. one is a teacher and the other"...long pause..."died two weeks ago."

And she started crying. Not sniffling like somebody reporting a lost wallet to police, but sobbing, because her much-loved sister had just died. Between sobs,  she said, "sorry, I'm so sorry," and her assistant handed over handfuls of Kleenex.

I'm not a psychopath. I felt really badly. At the same time, I knew this could go way off the rails fast, and I had a story to write. I wasn't about to say, "Enough about your sister. Let's get back to interest rates."

I was stuck.

Something occurred to me.

"Actually," I said, "I kind of know where you're coming from. My oldest brother Pat died when I was about your age."

I had  her attention.  I--maybe Pat via me--continued:  "And you know what? I'm still mad at him. I am sure he did it to get out of helping us move into our new  house."

She laughed! I laughed. I swear Pat laughed. I also swear he salvaged my interview.

If  Pat showing up just in time to save his little brother isn't proof of an afterlife, I don't know what is and furthermore, I don't care.

The older I get the more I'm sure the people who preceded me will be there when I need them.

I fully intend to do the same.