When I was in school, my French-Canadian grandmother used to ask me about my “marks.” My birthmarks? My marks on a treasure map? My understanding of Karl Marx? No, she was referring to my grades. I always thought her use of the word “marks” was quaint; leftover slang from the 1930s, or some such thing. Of course, my grandfather never used the phrase, but I figured my grandmother must have been hanging onto the past, man. Then I came across this Canadian comic strip that placed the word “marks” in the mouth of a young boy. Hmm. Maybe it’s not an old-timey thing. Maybe it’s a Canadian thing.
Archive for the ‘For Better or For Worse’ Category
Overzealous hockey dads are something of cliché, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be rendered in potent, expressive ways. Check out panel three of this strip for a prime example of an angry, foaming-at-the-mouth parent whose sole desire in life is to see his son’s hockey team outscore its opponents. The narrowed eyes, the gaping mouth, the elongated fingers: they add up to a picture of grotesque, unadulterated rage. If my kids ever play hockey (or, more likely, soccer), they’ll be taught to respect their opponents, if not by their coaches and teammates, then at least by me.
Here I am, lying on my couch, contemplating the wonders of pain medication. Earlier today, I went to an oral surgeon and underwent a simple dental procedure: a bit of anesthetic was administered, a small incision was made, and a tiny bit of mouth gristle was removed from the spot where my wisdom tooth used to be. Turned out I didn’t even need stitches. Of course, once the anesthetic wore off, I could feel the effects of having my gum sliced open with a dental instrument; effects that, while not excruciating, were certainly unpleasant. Fortunately, I was given a prescription for pain pills. I’ve taken one and it’s worked wonders. Here’s hoping it continues working until 6:30, when I’ll be able to take a second dose.
One of my favorite things about childhood was the ample number of friends I had, both on my block and at school. There were dozens of us, and since we were all the same age it never occurred to us not to hang out together. My days were filled with softball games, birthday parties, sleepovers, informal Nintendo-based get-togethers, and other random acts of friendship. Much of this was done in the spirit of avoiding homework, but it was still a blast. Now that I’m an adult, I see my friends less and less, and I find it difficult to make new ones. I still go out on the weekends and exchange messages with people on Facebook, but work, chores, and other responsibilities eat up a lot of my time. I miss the world of free and open friendship, even if childhood was the only thing that made it possible.
Here are three fun, contradictory facts about me: 1) I’m a music lover. I listen to my iPod every morning as I run, every afternoon as I take the train home from work, and every evening as I make dinner. 2) I like silence. When I’m not listening to music or engaged in conversation, I like things to be quiet. When things aren’t quiet, I have a hard time concentrating. 3) I’d like to have kids, and am fully aware that they are not quiet. At all. Their crying and gurgling and questioning will likely make it impossible for me to read or write. I’m sure that will drive me nuts, but I’m also sure there will be times when their voices sound like music to me.
Chauvinism aside, the thing that makes this strip feel dated to me is the notion that anyone (woman or man) would be able to stay home with the kids and not earn at least some income. With the cost of housing, food, gas and all types of insurance going up, the great majority of families simply can’t afford to live on one salary. I suppose a successful dentist would be able to knock out the bills on his own, but judging by the four full-time day care facilities within walking distance of my apartment, not too many others are in a position to do the same.
I spent part of this weekend at a block party and was excited when one f the residents opened the fire hydrant and soaked half of the street with a constant cascade of cold water. Although it took me a few minutes to work up the courage to jump in, I was glad when I finally removed my shoes and socks and took the plunge. The street was filled with adults and children running through the rushing water, laughing, screaming and getting soaked to the bone. In an effort to keep the experience a positive one in my mind, I am going to do my best to ignore the punchline of this strip.