Friday, April 13, 2012

There's no place like Home.

Raise your hand if you had any of the following growing up:

Personal trainer.
Semi-personal trainer.
Sport psychologist.
Sport physiotherapist.
Math tutor.
Chemistry tutor.
Nutrition coach.
Goaltending coach.
Tennis teacher.
Golf instructor.
Driving instructor.
Agent or "family advisor".

I don't know about you, but I had a pair of sneakers and loosey-Grey Goosey parental instructions to 'make my way home when the street lights come on'.

My family ski days meant escaping the warm, Marlboro Light confines of the station wagon, for the exhaust fumes of the ski hill parking lot – watching as my parents sped away as fast as they could. No helmet. No ski coach. Just a twenty dollar bill – Andrew Jackson – curled up in tip of my mittens.

Learning how to swim wasn't a multi-layered, badge winning affair. It involved being tossed into the deep end of the pool by my father – who, by the way – went golfing every Saturday morning, and never taught me, or my brother, how to swing a club.

What happened to those good ol' days?

This week, the Little Bastard called an emergency session with his math tutor, the evening before a test he would most likely fail anyway. This, after confessing his inability to listen to his teacher even after she'd moved him away from his friends, up to the front of the class. He suggested Ritalin. I suggested a whack on the back of the head.

Paying $30 bucks to a tutor, so he can fail a math test makes me grit my unstraightened teeth. Forking over another $10 so he can sip a venti latte whilst doing so, makes me want to shoot myself in the foot. Meeting the tutor for this emergency session also meant another hour of me waiting, while my child becomes a "well-rounded person" at my expense.

I don't remember my parents sitting around waiting for me to do anything except move out.

Besides, we had already stopped for a bite at one of those seedy strip mall restaurants – so this was looking like a $100 evening. Time hadn't been good to this establishment either, and I have never wanted to shower so immediately after dining anywhere – ever. Nevertheless, after asking for the table to be wiped, and sitting on my coat for fear of getting an STD – I choked back some haddock and a spinach salad.

The Little Bastard had a belly full of wings when I dumped him at Starbucks. And I had an hour to kill.

Pondering my options – given my location, and the impending darkness – I decided to hit Homesense – the graveyard of interior embellishments no one really needs. I only shop with purpose, and I currently have a client in need of a few rugs. You never know what you may find in the decorating dumping ground if you have time, patience, and someone else's money on your credit card.

By my calculation, I had roughly 15 minutes before the store started flicking their lights for last call. I headed toward the rugs at the back of the store, but got sidetracked – first by a display of hideous outdoor pillows – followed by a sudden, debilitating stomach cramp that may, or may not have been brought on by bad taste. The cramp passed, but returned with gusto in the fake flower aisle. A giant, rusty ceiling fan began whirling in my bowels, as I stood helpless between the plastic ferns and the door.

Did I have time to go home? I reached for my phone to check the time – my fight or flight response kicking in as I tried to ignore the tsunami pushing its way painfully through my colon. But no phone. And no luck ignoring the pan-fried haddock beating its way downstream.

At that precise moment, it dawned on me. I was about to shit my pants. In Homesense.

Biting my lower lip, my mind went toward the exit, but my gut headed to the back of the store. Surely a place flogging fluffy white towels and toilet brush holders had a washroom. If it was locked, I was screwed.

Sure enough, after dashing back and forth in full survival mode, I spotted a matching set of His and Hers washroom doors, and pushed through one of them – my ass making contact with the porcelain just in the nick of time. Fearing splashback, and sweating like I was in labour, I took off my coat and settled in, praying no one would feel the urge to share the premises, at least until tomorrow.

Or the next day.

My first thought was relief, followed by awareness: a lack of toilet paper, and nothing to read. You'd think there'd be decorating magazines in a home decor store washroom – but given what was currently happening down south in my rec room, I wasn't about to complain. Instead, I started to laugh. I laughed because at least this was a night out. I laughed, and wished I had my phone, but there likely wouldn't be reception, and the sound effects would be horrific. And, who would I call? I sat and held my head, and giggled, while nature ran its course. I looked at my feet: Converse sandals and Smartwool socks. What does that say? I examined my sad looking fingernails, and remembered this was Red Tent weekend. Maybe I should spring for a ticket – to be charitable and social – and get a manicure while I was at it. Red Tent is the annual fundraiser in support of The Marguerite Centre – a refuge for women recovering from addictions and abuse and loose bowels. (I made the last one up.) Then my feet fell asleep, and I wondered what the hell time it was, and how long had I been in here? I wasn't in any shape to be leaving just yet, but it had to be nigh on closing time.

I pictured myself locked inside Homesense, and I started to laugh again. I envisioned giving myself a much-needed sponge bath with rose scented soap from the scented soap section. I imagined drying myself off with 100% supima cotton towels, and wrapping myself in a child's twin sheet like a toga. I'd make a comfy bed out of goose down duvets and leopard skin dog beds, and I'd feather my nest with sateen percale 8000-thread count Egyptian cotton. An array of hideous throw pillows and a bedside lamp from the lighting section would make my temporary home worthy of HGTV. Finally, I'd shake up a mocktail with some stale margarita mix from the kitchen section, and drink it from a plastic patio glass. If only I could Jack Bauer my way into Best Buy and borrow a Plasma TV, I'd be all set.

Every woman deserves a safe place to call home.

But I had to pick up my boy.

Fearful of drawing further attention to myself, or the bathroom makeover I'd performed in stall number two – I somehow managed to get myself up and out of the store – gracefully – without cramping up, or breaking into another laughing fit. I zig-zagged my way out, slowly, casually – past picture frames, dog-eared cookbooks, and naked backyard statuettes – straight into the parking lot. I felt like a shoplifter who'd dropped their pilfered load.

Moments later, I pulled in to Starbucks to see the Little Bastard close his books, and fork a fistful of cash over to his tutor. He jumped in the car and asked me where I'd been – and I started to howl. I didn't even apologize for being late, as I attempted to recreate my Homesense adventure. He didn't find my story nearly as hysterical as I did – but I guess you had to be there. In fact, the Little Bastard was having such a good time watching me crack up, I decided to do it more often.

I babbled and laughed all the way home – making absolutely no sense, whatsoever.

Red Tent is the primary fundraiser event for The Marguerite Centre, and it's happening Sunday, April 15. Tickets are still available by clicking here. Please spring for one, even if you don't go, or try your luck at the Silent Auction by emailing Linda at