My Insensitivity


I can’t be the only one who suffers from this.

How many times have you been in a conversation with someone and you’re totally fixated on a huge mole, or a piece of food in their teeth or a big zit that looks like a school volcano project?

There’s no way you can concentrate on what they’re talking about.  They’re going on and on about their vacation in the Mediterranean, and all that’s running through your head is ‘That thing’s gonna blow!‘…

I’m gonna assume you’re all yelling, ‘Yes!  I do that all the time’.  At least, I hope you are – that way I won’t feel like the only oaf in the world.

It’s one thing to giggle like school children when someone has toilet paper stuck to their shoe at a swanky event, but what if it’s not toilet paper, but something a little more….permanent?

You’ll probably still stare and be transfixed, but it’s a lot different than a zit or food in their teeth when it’s something they have no control over.  You try your hardest not to look, and act all casual and cool, but deep down, it’s all you can think about.

“OMG – does that guy really have no ears?”  I need to look, but I don’t want to get caught looking.

Case in point:  I was waiting (appropriately enough) in a waiting room recently.  It was very narrow, with two rows of chairs facing each other.  Only enough room between them for one person to walk through.

I sat down across from a lady who was deeply focused on whatever was happening on her cell phone.  She was wearing sandals and had her legs crossed so that one foot jutted out into the narrow walkway.  No problem – although with me doing the same directly across from her, the magical and invisible ‘personal space’ zone was seriously violated.

That’s when I saw it.  Open-toed, strappy sandals, horrible yellow, chipped and cracked nails…and 9 toes.  9 little piggies staring at me without nail polish or any reasonable pedicurial effort. 9 of them….no big toe on one foot.

Maybe she had a terrible lawn mower accident, or lost it in a bet or something; I don’t know, but all my self-control and strength could not keep me from looking down at her foot regularly.  I tried my best to focus on the artwork behind her, but the draw was too strong. This 4 digit foot was my Kryptonite.

Trying to focus on the artwork behind her was like staring at the sun too long.  My pupils burned, my hands shook and a bead of sweat appeared on my forehead.  No painting is that interesting.

Like a reflex action, my eyes would dart down and I prayed I wouldn’t get caught staring at this small but distinctive abnormality.

Then I got to thinking;   Why would she wear an open-toed shoe and dangle it right in front of me unless she was either proud of it, was was trying to evoke some sort of reaction? Why should I be the one to be all ‘avert your eyes’ and embarrassed?  Is she deliberately taunting me?

I wished I was a little kid – they can get away with anything; “Hey lady, what happened to your toe?  Does it hurt?  Can I touch it?”.  No fear, no inhibitions, just pure innocent curiosity.

I remember knowing a guy who was born with only one arm.  It didn’t stop him from doing anything. One day though, at a local store, a little girl looked up at him and asked point blank; ‘Where is your arm?‘.  I think he told her it was at home doing the dishes.  ‘Oh‘ was all she replied and went along with what she was doing.

You and I would never get away with that!  I think I might even get blackballed for sharing this personal limitation, but it’s what we all think – right?

I’m no worse than the next guy.  I can sympathize with those who aren’t made the same way I am, or have had some tragedy befall them so that their look is altered in some way.

It doesn’t mean they are any different inside, does it?  I can embrace the person and see beyond that nasty, yellow, crooked 4-toed foot.

Okay, maybe I still have a bit of work to do…


How strong are thought bubbles?

thought bubbleHow terrifying would it be if your thoughts leaked out, and people could hear them?

Ever really listen to your inner voice?  You know, that imaginary thought bubble no one else can see? Good thing, eh?  It’s especially good that most of us have the self control to not utter these thoughts out loud – or worse, act on them.

It dawned on me today that my thoughts and outward actions are polar opposites.  No wonder my hair’s turned white!

Here’s what I mean – standing in line behind an elderly woman, fishing through her purse for change – my thoughts…

(Are you freakin’ kidding me?  You counted the same dime 3 times already!  Hurry up…not everyone is retired, you know!)

Of course, it played out pretty differently – she turns and sees the growing line of impatient customers and apologizes for being slow.  I say ‘No worries, take your time’.

You get the picture.  I’m sure hoping that my little thought bubbles are Kevlar strength, otherwise I’m pretty sure my tires would be slashed and I’d get egged all the way home.

But what if they leaked a bit?  What if every once in a while, people actually heard what you were thinking?  Yikes!!

Does anyone know for sure that our thoughts are fully protected from escape?  I mean, there isn’t any kind of written guarantee, is there?  Do they wear out over time?

Maybe that’s what happens when people get old and just say whatever they think.  It’s not that they don’t care any more, maybe they just wore out their thought bubbles, and now everything just kind of spills out of them like a leaky faucet.  Heck, it’s not just the thoughts that leak when you get old…okay, a little off topic there.

Maybe we need to test them once in a while – like you’d test your brakes before driving down the side of a mountain……’cause death will occur in either instance if something fails.

Okay, here goes:  ‘I’m thinking of a bacon cheeseburger.’  “Honey, are you hungry?”

“Maybe“, she’d answer. “How about a nice garden salad?”

“A salad?  Sure you don’t want anything else?”

“Can’t think of anything else I’d like”

All clear!  No thoughts leaked out…let’s try something a little more daring:

‘Those new pants make you look fat’“What are you wearing tonight?”

“Those new pants.  You like them on me, right?”

“Love ’em!”

Yup – super-strong bubbles!  No chance of leaks tonight!

Gotta love a sturdy thought bubble.  Tested and approved…now if I could just get my eyes to not sell me out.


Road rage; my old friend

There must be a special place in heaven for commuters.

Every morning – sometimes as early as 5:30 – numb, sleep-deprived working stiffs like me stagger out to our cars, cabs, buses, trains, or whatever else drags us to our places of work.

I spent a long time commuting with a co-worker.  Our drives could go for extensive stretches without a word.  Probably because I was half-asleep behind the wheel, or after enough time traveling together, we just ran out of stuff to talk about.

Like she had some sort of commuter turrets syndrome, she’d break the silence by randomly blurting out the deciphered code to a personalized license plate, or make a comment on a topic we stalled on a week ago, snapping me out of my driver coma.  It was good, because I’m pretty sure I was in a full trance most of the time behind the wheel.

There was also an entertainment factor in it for me, trying to figure out what the heck she was talking about – kind of like ‘Jeopardy’ but without that condescending Alex Trebek telling me that I’m wrong.

Regardless of our conversation, or lack thereof, it kept my mind off the stupid drivers around me.  I was so into my zen driving that I would even let in that jerk who just drove down the shoulder of the highway for the past 300 yards because his time was clearly more important than the rest of us.  Oohhhhmmmmm… be tranquil.

Now that I’m back in the workforce, I’m left to my own dark thoughts as I traverse vast expanses of gridlock every morning alone.

It’s surprising how quickly that little red devil, ‘Rage’, plops it’s smoldering butt into the passenger seat and convinces me that I’m the only one on the road who deserves a license.

“Come on! The left lane is for passing!” I’d mumble, hoping that it somehow telepathically reaches the inept driver ahead of me.

I get annoyed with all the typical stuff.  People not signalling, driving in the dark with their lights off, going too slow/fast based on what I believe is the exact right speed at that moment, cutting in – the usual driving sins.

Lately though, because of the distance I now have to travel, I’ve had a new little evil one join my invisible passengers.  He’s the gas station grump.

This nasty little dude is way less accepting and patient than normal old road rage.  He doesn’t even wait until a car is moving.

‘Gus’, as I’ve come to call him, appeared a couple of weeks ago while I was on my way home after a really long day.  The gas station was particularly busy, and with the lousy weather, most cars were in need of a top up of windshield washer fluid and maybe even a quick washing.

This made for a long wait for my turn at the pump.

You assume a level of etiquette with things like pumping gas.  For example, if a car is waiting to use the pump after you’re done, you need to expedite the refueling process as much as possible.  Don’t use those squeegees to wash the entire vehicle once you’re done filling up.  If the car is that dirty, go get in line at the car wash, for Pete’s sake!

When they invented ‘pay at the pump’, it was designed to speed up the refueling work so that drivers didn’t have to then leave their cars and wait in line inside the building to pay.  It was also designed to reduce gas and dash incidents.

I don’t know if it’s the demographics of this particular gas station neighbourhood, but it seems like every driver, instead of opting to the quick and efficient way to pay, fills up, then heads into the little building to chat with the attendant.

Gus doesn’t like this one bit!

The other night, the cars were 4 deep, waiting to be fed.  One gentleman filled his tank, then slowing started digging around the front seat of his car.  He emerged with what I assume was his wallet, then sauntered slowly towards the attendant kiosk. Picture light gray smoke coming out of my ears…

When he got inside, instead of promptly making is payment, he wandered around the little store.  He picked up some lottery tickets and a coffee, then to my amazement, grabbed the washroom key!  Gus was FUMING by this point.

Of course, while this was going on, all the other ‘old-school’ customers started to form a huge line to pay by cash, which meant that my wait was getting longer by the second.

And that’s what it comes down to now.  Seconds.  We used to talk about the ‘New York Minute’, which I’ve been told, is the time after the light turns green, before the car behind you honks his horn at you because you haven’t gone yet.

Now, it’s like milliseconds before we loose our cool.  We’ve become conditioned to instant response to things.  Computers that lag more than an brief moment are called ‘slow’.  Lunches are piping hot in a minute from the microwave.

Maybe that’s why we’ve become so impatient on the roads.  There’s some sort of inverse effect on us.  The quicker things get, the less patience we have.

People run red lights like it’s expected, especially when they’re making a left turn.  I guess they figure that they’ve been there long enough, so to heck with everyone else, they’re going!

I think I’m worried about Gus.  You expect to react to bad driving at times, especially when someone causes you to take drastic actions on the road to avoid an accident.  Maybe we all have a bit of that angry rage inside us from time to time, but this new passenger who shows up even when I’m not moving is a problem.

Maybe if I fill the passenger seat with real, live people who have a calming effect on me, there won’t be room for Gus or road rage any more.  At the very least, these nasty little guys might not be heard over the conversations about personalized license plates or half-finished discussions from a week ago.

Then, I might turn back into the ‘zen’ driver who is happy to let the other guy in ahead of me….as long as he’s using his signal indicator.


Toronto Fashion Week – a guide for middle-aged men

When people stop me on the street and ask for autographs or pictures, the ladies will often ask me when I’m going to write about Men’s fashion, given my impeccable, age-appropriate style and looks.  It seems that their fellas are having some difficulty transitioning into middle-aged fashion-wear.

Although I do my best to steer clear from offering advice most of the time, I too have noticed the struggle many men have when it comes to their wardrobes.  So, in order to encourage and support my fellow mature male counterparts, I will walk you through some helpful hints, ideas, and logic that should make dressing yourself appropriately simple, easy, and comfortable.

Gentlemen – let me be clear about this.  Middle-aged fashion is ALL about comfort.  If it doesn’t feel comfortable, toss it.  You’ve complied with tight, itchy, bunchy and downright annoying clothes all your life – it’s time to liberate your body.  You deserve nothing less.

Lets begin by reviewing some of the common issues men often face when it comes to choosing and wearing clothing.


If you’re like me, you either play golf, talk about golf or watch golf on T.V.  What do you notice most about golf attire?  Colour!  Multi-coloured pants that do not match the shirt.  White shoes no matter what the rest of the outfit looks like.  There’s a good reason for this.  You see, in nature, it is the male of the species, not the female, that has all the style and colour and pizzazz. This is natures way of creating a visual distraction that temporarily blinds or confuses other males, allowing one to ‘swoop in’ and take its rightful mate.

In golf, although there aren’t a lot of ‘mates’ out there with the guys, the basic principal is the same – you want to create a distraction with your wardrobe so that the other players can’t focus on their game.

I get a chuckle when I’m leaving the house to go golfing and my wife questions my wardrobe choices.  She’s so cute!  She doesn’t understand that the colour choice of the golf outfit is almost as important as the club choice.  In fact, if you golf like I do, its a more important choice.

When it comes to colour, gentlemen, you need to dock the dockers, burn the beige, grind up the gray, and put on the loudest, mismatched outfit you can get your hands on.  Nothing will tell the world you’re over 50 and ready to take it on, more than a bold colour pallet on your back.


The debate over belt height is a contentious one, to be sure.  Because of a wardrobe malfunction on a ‘gang-banger’ in East L.A. back in the ’80’s’, kids all over the world, in an attempt to stay young, have abandoned their belts.  This has allowed their pants to continually droop down to the point where they not only look like they’ve messed themselves, they can barely walk at all.  Ironically, that’s exactly the same look you’d find in a senior’s home.

Most pants these days don’t allow for much freedom when it comes to where the waist sits on your body.  Many men with ample, trophy-sized mid sections, tend to hunker their pants below the waist, since getting them any higher would mean buying their clothes from a tent maker rather than a good men’s store.

Others are unnaturally slim, probably from a vegan lifestyle.  These people only wear clothing that has drawstrings or are made of spandex, and they ride bicycles.  Fashion is irrelevant to them.

There are some men, due to no fault of their own, perhaps due to a terrible illness or a meat allergy, have grotesquely small waists, and tend to wear their pants as high up as possible.  I assume that this is to hide an embarrassingly small mid-section.  I don’t blame them for doing this, but it isn’t a good look.

Either way, there is only one solution for all of these body types – do not tuck in your shirt.  Tucked in shirts are for uptight corporate types and people under 40.  What do you need to prove, anyway? Let it hang, gentlemen.  This negates any further conversation of where on your waist you should wear your pants – it doesn’t matter, as  long as it’s covered up.


This is a real struggle for most men.  Bottom line is, wear a shirt at all times.  There are hairy, lumpy bits that the rest of the world doesn’t want to see (I’m really hoping the guy at the end of my street reads this before he works in his yard again).

Okay, so now you have to decide what kind of shirt to wear, depending on the event.  Here are some basic ground rules:

  • If you’re wearing a t-shirt you got in a case of beer, or at a concert or NASCAR event, you should only wear it to flea markets, rib eating contests, doing chores around the house, or to your mother-in-law’s home.
  • Golf shirts are the ultimate fashion ‘must-have’ for men – casual as a t-shirt, classy enough for the office.  Because of the collar, it can be worn with shorts, jeans, or even dress pants.  It’s our version of the little black dress.
  • Long-sleeve button up shirts are for serious business only, or funerals and weddings.  They don’t go with shorts, unless you’re at a really hot wedding…

Again, be sure it fits comfortably, and isn’t too short – nothing is worse than a good old beer t-shirt that doesn’t cover the beer holder gut you worked so hard on. This will also take care of the whole pant height thing too.


I know – sandals and socks, right?  Well, it’s more complicated than that.  As a rule, if you’re wearing sandals, it’s because you’re wearing shorts, or God forbid, a Speedo, which means it’s too warm to wear socks. However, due to horrible foot fungus disfigurements or toe-nail removals, there are times when socks are not only a good idea, but a necessity in order to keep the general public from loosing their lunch as you stroll around town.

For all other purposes, slip-on shoes are the way to go.  You’ve bowed to the lace gods for far too long.  Stand up straight and slide those dogs into something that doesn’t ask anything in return.  Velcro straps are also a stylish and practical option as well, but they require bending over.  No one wants to see that.

I’ve heard that some people claim the shoes should match the belt, but I think that’s a sexual reference that I don’t understand.  Do what feels right.  If you only have a black belt, any kind of footwear is fine – please refer back to my comments on pants and shirts.


It used to be simple – boxers or briefs.  For the sake of any squeamish readers or the very young, I won’t post an image on undergarments. Today, there are any number of hybrid underwear styles, shapes, materials, and colours.  This is typical fashion industry propaganda, foisted upon an unsuspecting public who are just trying to keep the ‘boys’ from going where they shouldn’t go.  Let me make it simple:

  1. In warm weather, briefs will keep things from sticking to other things, if you know what I mean
  2. In cold weather, boxers are a comfortable, breathable vacation to your buddies, who have been crammed together all summer

If you’re wondering about thongs, you’re on the wrong blog page.

With these basic principals cleared up, there is always one question that remains for the fashion-challenged mature man;  How do I know I’m dressed appropriately?

Interestingly, the rule of thumb for men is diametrically opposed to the strategy of the fairer sex.  If a lady enters a party in a beautiful dress, the most embarrassing thing that could happen, other than toilet paper stuck to her shoe, is seeing another lady in exactly the same dress.  Horrors!

For men, if you enter a party and some other man,or even better, a group of men, are dressed in exactly the same outfit, it’s a very good thing.  This confirms that you dressed correctly. Since there’s safety in numbers, you now have a brotherhood of like-minded peers in which to discuss the game, the toilet paper on that woman’s shoe, or what to do with those little shrimp tails from the buffet.

There’s also another important rule of thumb to follow when it comes to dressing for the occasion.  I call it the rule of ‘wife’.  When you’re waiting at the front door for 20 minutes with the keys and a bottle of wine in your hand, you don’t want her to come down and tell you to go and change.  This will make you the reason you’re late.

When you’re dressed and ready to go, you should give your better half a ‘once-over’ twirl on your wardrobe selection.  This accomplishes two things:

1 – it tells her that you are ready to leave, and the clock is officially ticking.

2 – it gives her a chance to review your outfit.  If she says anything along the lines of “Are you wearing that?”, you better drop the keys and dig through the closet for a new outfit.

If she asks you to do some random job around the house, like water the tropical fish, she’s stalling for time.  This is okay, because it’ll keep you busy, and it tells you that your clothing choice will not embarrass her.

I think you’ll find this blog a handy and insightful guide when it comes to the problematic world of dressing oneself.  You might want to print this off and attach it to your dresser, so you can reference it when you’re standing there in your bedroom in your underwear and socks, scratching your head about what to put on.

Oh, one last thing. If your better half scoffs at this guide, be patient.  It’s only because she has spent decades being brain-washed by the fashion establishment, with those glossy magazines and impossible to walk in clothes.  Eventually, she’ll be dressing exactly the same way as you.