If Vin Diesel and Kathleen Turner had a baby…

My name is unusual. Not unusual like being named after fruit (I’m talking to you, Gwyneth) but unusual enough to make it stand out in a crowd.  In a room full of my age cohorts, there will be a 27% Karen, 19% Scott, and 38% Erin/Aaron mix.  My name lingers around the .07% saturation, with more than three-quarters of THAT insignificant sum replying ‘Male” or “yes please” to the check box question of sex.

Boys are so immature.

My name is not only a conundrum of assumed gender, it is also wrapped up in the bonus of tall stature, a deep voice and an aversion to traditional feminine roles.  I cannot count how many times I have been mistaken for a man.  I also cannot count how many times I have posed as a man.

I’m sensing a need for some additional information right about now…

Besides my gender neutral name, I was also blessed with a deep voice.  Imagine warm dulcet vocal honey evocative of Lauren Bacall, or James Earl Jones when I have a chest cold.  Although unable to harmonize or match any tone occurring in nature, it is often suggested to me that I must have a beautiful tenor singing voice, or that I should consider a career in radio.  I like to think that last one isn’t a “she has a face for radio” veiled insult. Haters.

So what is a girl to do about having a neutral name that swings wildly to the male side when she speaks?  She poses as a man, of course.

Now, I probably shouldn’t be telling this story, but seriously…who is going to read this other than a few friends and maybe a bot wanting to sell me advertising banners on this blog for Ensure?  My secret is possibly safe with you.

On more than one occasion I have posed as a man on the phone. Not in a dirty, predatory, prosecutable way of course.  Rather, in a prosecutable, assumed identity way.  BIG difference.  Some would insist on the word “fraudulent” here.  I prefer “dramatized”.

Tell me this though, oh ye of higher moral standards, wouldn’t you want to use it for un-indictable fun on occasion just because it had been naturally happening to you for years?  Confuse children at the park as to my gender based on my voice and unfortunate haircut?  Done it.  Be in a long term phone relationship with a co-worker who had never met me but assumed I was a man, yet I never had the nerve to come clean, instead waiting until she retired to tell this story?  Done that too.  Negotiate with the Government of Canada about repayment of my husbands student loans while posing as said husband on the phone?  Challenge accepted!  Have a birth certificate that identified you as male until you’re 4, so your dad had to make you wear a dress to go plead your case to be registered as a girl at Vital Statistics?  Surprisingly…did that too***

Sure, it sounds like fun, but there is a dark downside to this curse.  I have also been asked to meet after work to go “be men and shoot some guns sometime” by a business contact at a huntin’ and fishin’ outlet.  I’ve been asked IN PERSON once if I was a drag queen.  Yes.  IN PERSON.  In his defence, it was 1990 and we all kind of looked like that guy from Dead Or Alive.  Also I was hanging out at a gay bar at the time, but still…

The eye patch was for protection from all those extra arms of mine.

Over the years I have become more dedicated at inserting the pronoun I identify as into mistaken identity phone conversations.  Sometimes someone has to do it for me though. Shortly before I remarried, my soon-to-be husband and I were taking care of some housekeeping/life joining administrative things and having my email address added to his internet provider account.  I was on the phone with the ISP, detailing my request, when I was asked if my fiancé was there in order to confirm and accept the change made to the account.  This was what I heard when I passed him the phone;

“Yes….yes…..OK….no…he’s a she.  She’s my fiancé.”

That’s why I love him.  My husband, not the internet service provider.  He can bite me. Although again, in his defence, I should note how wonderfully accepting his tone was when he THOUGHT we were a same sex couple.  Little steps towards progress…little steps.

I keep saying I won’t purposely do it again, but just yesterday I posed as my 82 year old dad on a phone call to his cellphone provider.  The necessity of the ruse was to protect both my dad from age-ism judgement, and to protect the service tech from having an 82 year old yelling at him for using words like sim card and tower. Dad would have torn that young whipper snapper a new one for using that kind of talk around him.  The call went well, and I was addressed as Mister or Sir in a respectful, appropriate manner.  My dad didn’t bat an eye through the whole thing, because I’m his little girl.  Mostly.

*** these examples are 100% the truth.  The 100% tragic truth.

Vital Stats agreed I was a girl in 1975, while the sun didn’t give a shit and seared my retinas anyway.

The day the DEA came to the door looking for my mom.

You will know me as my mother’s daughter because I inherited her voice, her stubborn need to do things on my own, and her comically long second toe that reminds me every summer how much I hate open-toe shoe season.  There are of course some traits I did not inherit from her, like her good cheekbones and lovely singing voice.  The gene that skipped me that hurts the most however is her botany prowess.  When I’m not complaining about my toe that looks like a transplanted index finger, I’m lamenting about my garden and how it doesn’t look at all like hers.

We used to tease my mom about how she could grow anything, anywhere.  Drop a cigarette butt? DuMaurier could build a factory in our back yard.  Spill some coffee? A kind farmer and his donkey would be harvesting beans on the hillside in a month.  Eat an avocado and toss the pit into the compost?  Tom Selleck just moved us to his California farm and became our dad.  She is that good.  Amazing, actually.

Apart from growing, she is also good at what she will call “propagating”.  It’s what the court system refers to as stealing, but it’s just semantics at that point.

I Acquired this tiny shovel too!

At public gardens and plant conservatories, she will remove seed heads from whatever flora is on display with such stealth that British Intelligence agencies have been scouting her.  She is  however a contradiction of character at this point. As a staunch believer in God and in doing the right thing, she also sees no issue with her acquisition of seeds.  Perhaps she is doing God’s work…who are they to judge, other than Conservation Officers and security guards.

When she is not appropriating seeds, she is also known for her basement grow-op.

Every Spring, should heat seeking law enforcement helicopters be flying by, they would be shocked at the glow her house would show on their display.  Banks of fluorescent grow lights line her basement, bursting with tray upon tray of seedlings and starter plants for her summer garden.  The police don’t know this though.  All they would see was a hot spot and a 76 year old choir member who distributes baggies of dried green herbs to all her friends.

It’s oregano, officer.  I swear.

Somebody’s dealer has the right idea…

I’m not trying to out my dear mom here as El Chappo or anything.  I’m probably just a little envious of her skills with greenery.  Maybe I should just call it even though, because in my younger days I was pretty good with a bag of oregano myself.





I was promised a monkey, so I will GET a monkey.

…Did I turn the oven off?…

I’m not sure if it’s normal to have a barter system on which your marriage is based, but it seems like this is where I have landed.  My starter marriage was based more in emasculating behaviours (his words) and too much man-jewelry (my words).  This marriage, or I should say my favourite marriage, seems to have some of its stability related to haggling.

My husband and I are authentically and unapologetically ourselves.  This is why it works so well.  We are both exactly what the brochure promised; we both have great Better Business Bureau ratings and a 4 star average on Yelp (which could have been higher  were it not for the unfortunate laundry incident of 2014. Sorry about your socks.)   Through  openly displaying our authentic selves we have discovered that perhaps neither of us understand how bartering works.  Ours are less You-Do-The-Dishes-I’ll-Mow-The-Lawn, and more You-Ate-All-The-Ice-Cream-So-I’ll-Buy-More-And-Hide-It-From-You.  Everybody wins.

In a weird turn, even for us, our barter today culminated with the statement “If you want a monkey sitting on your chest all day masturbating and eating eggs, that’s up to you”.

May I offer some context before you close the browser window?

The discussion really began when we went to bed last night and I was asking if we could get a chicken.  Or chickens.

We live in an urban neighbourhood of a city with a population large enough to support about 75 mattress stores and an IKEA, yet still small enough that all the really good restaurant franchises pass us over. Urban chickens are becoming a thing in some cities so it wasn’t a completely outrageous idea.

The night was cool and breezy outside, and through our open window we were reminded that we do indeed live in an urban area.  A herd of teens outside were being teens, oblivious to our old-person 9:30pm bedtime.  I turned to my husband and suggested we get chickens to combat the loud teens.

“Like to fight them?”

“No. Chickens so they will wake up the rude teens early in the morning. Let them know what it feels like to be disturbed from your natural schedule, and teens hate mornings.  It’s passive aggressive chicken ownership.”

“But they’ll wake us up too…right?”

“Yes.  But they also have eggs!”

“So do grocery stores, and a grocery store won’t wake me up at 5am.  If you’re getting chickens, I’m buying a delivery driver to go to the store for me.  I’ll have my eggs before you will and my driver will know to leave the eggs at the door and not wake me up.”

“What if I get a MONKEY to gather the eggs in the morning from the chickens?”

“Oh my god…this is all about a monkey again isn’t it? What did we agree on about the monkey? No monkeys.” ***

“This is a HELPER MONKEY though. It’s like you WANT me to get beat up by angry sleep deprived teens when I collect eggs!”

…sshhhh….you’ll enrage the slumbering teens…

“You know that monkeys just sit around all day and eat, destroy your curtains and masturbate, right?”

“I hate these curtains anyway.  It’ll be fine. And it’s not like you won’t get your delivery driver as well!  It might take me a while to teach the monkey how to drive, but they’re our closest genetic relatives so how hard could it be?” ***

I believe that was the moment I lost him.  He looked at me with the same look he gives to the elderly in line ahead of him who try to pay by cheque – a tolerant smile hiding a hint of homicide behind his twitching eye.

“If you want a monkey sitting on your chest all day masturbating and eating eggs, that’s up to you.”

If anyone knows where I can buy chickens and helper monkeys online, I’d appreciate the help.  I’d like to save on shipping though, so a big box chicken/monkey outlet would be best.  Thanks!

***I’ve been asking in increasingly creative ways for a pet monkey for months. I have agreed only to no monkey AT THIS TIME, not ZERO monkeys.


…See? Monkeys love chickens! And dogs! And smoking Marlborough Lights?…