22 July 2011 – 4:35 PM – Rhiannon having her portrait drawn by Eugène Abrams in Place Jacques-Cartier
Me: Can we get one, please? My daughter wants to give her mother a gift.
Eugène Abrams [gesturing at the model’s chair]: Of course. Please.
Me [as Rhiannon takes her seat]: Now try not to look too gormless, Rhiannon.
Rhiannon: What does “gormless” mean?
Me: Completely devoid of all intelligence.
Rhiannon: What does “devoid” mean?
Me: Being without an expected attribute.
Rhiannon: What does “attribute” mean?
Me: An inherent characteristic.
Rhiannon: What does inher…
Eugène Abrams [interjecting]: Ahem!
Me: Right! Sorry! Rhiannon, I’ll keep it simple: just try not to look like the village idiot, okay?
Rhiannon [jumping out of her seat]: Hey!!!
Me [rubbing the sunburn where I have just been smacked]: Ouch!!!
Eugène Abrams [sighing]: Am I doing her portrait or not?
Me: Sit back down Rhiannon. And try to smile – when you’re all angry-looking it changes the shape of your head.
Eugène Abrams: Sir, perhaps you should just go away for, like, 45 minutes and then come back?
Rhiannon: Thank you!
Me [walking away and turning to stick my tongue out at Rhiannon]: Fine.
Rhiannon [sticking her tongue out at me]: Pfffffppbbbbbbbtttttttttt!
Me [muttering]: Boy, her mother’s sure going to love this portrait…
23 July 2011 – 10:45 PM – Jaywalking through Old Montreal after watching the fireworks
Me [grumbling]: Well, that was a fairly tepid display by Canada, especially considering we host the damn competition…
Me: Oh God, “tepid” means –
Rhiannon: No! No! We just jaywalked again, Daddy!
Rhiannon: Why can’t we just, for once, go to the corner and wait for the light with everyone else?
Me: Do you want to be a follower or a leader?
Me: Do you think when Hannibal was crossing the Alps to sack northern Italy he cared if his elephants jaywalked? When leaders want to get from Point A to Point B, sweetheart, they just get there and damn the torpedoes!!!
Rhiannon: Um, we’re trying to get to the Metro to go home and go to bed.
Me: That’s precisely what one of Hannibal’s elephants said and guess what happened to him?
Rhiannon: What? (Not that I have the slightest clue what you’re talking about, AGAIN!)
Me: Well, you can go and ask his ice-encased fossil, yourself. You’ll find it at the summit of Mont Blanc.
Rhiannon: But it’s illegal, Daddy!
Me: Visiting dead elephants in the Alps?
Rhiannon: No!!! Jaywalking – you nimrod!!!
Me: The law is an ass, honey – especially when it interferes with the March of Greatness. And bear in mind that the rest of Hannibal’s elephants forged ahead and, as a reward for their efforts, got the soles of their feet massaged by scantily clad women in Tuscany.
Rhiannon: You are an ass, Daddy. In fact, Nana told me you’re completely “bonkers”!
Me: Sadly, greatness is often spat upon whilst amongst the living. I shall be recognized posthumously.
Rhiannon: What does “posthumously” mean?
24 July 2011 – 4:15 PM – Leaving the Biodome
Rhiannon: Why aren’t there any penguins in the North Pole?
Me: They used to live there but with the polar bears picking them off at will and all the pack ice melting – they decided to fly south for good.
Rhiannon: Penguins can’t fly.
Me: Well then, they must have hitchhiked.
Rhiannon: Penguins don’t hitchhike.
Me: Sure they do. They have concealed opposable thumbs on their flippers that were adapted over time specifically for that purpose. It also allows them to use a hammer. They are prolific carpenters by trade, you know.
Rhiannon: Oh, come on!
Me: It’s true! Go into any Réno-Dépôt and you’ll see all varieties of penguin trundling up and down the aisles.
Rhiannon: Just… just… never mind. Why is the pack ice melting, anyway?
Me: Because we humans are so arrogantly stupid – we’re killing the planet by barfing millions of tons of carbon dioxide and other shit into the atmosphere every single day. It’s getting so bad that pretty soon you’ll be able to fry an egg on Granddad’s head if you leave him out in the sun in mid-summer.
Me: Yes. I tried it last summer, at the cottage, but only got the egg to sunny side up. Too bad because I need my yolks cooked through.
Me: We’ll try again next weekend. We can invite the penguins – they also like fried eggs.
25 July 2011 – 1:30 PM – Lunch at Brit & Chips
Me [with deep admiration]: Ah, venerable fish & chips – the apex of English cuisine! You know, Rhiannon, the Battle of Agincourt could have gone in quite the other direction if Henry V’s troops hadn’t been replete with a hardy meal of fish & chips prior to going into battle. What a disaster that would’ve been! You’d be eating deep fried snails surrounded by a bit of fennel rather than that!
Rhiannon: Seriously, I have no idea what you’re talking about.
Me: I’m talking about your English roots, sweetheart. That which sets us English above, for example, the Irish. Or worse – Eastern Europeans…
Rhiannon: I’m a quarter Irish!
Me [pointing at Rhiannon]: Gaaa! Kill it! Kill it!!!
Rhiannon: AND I’m a quarter Hungarian!
Me [pointing at Rhiannon]: Gaaa! Vampire!! Stake it!!! Stake it!!!!
Rhiannon: Calm down. You’re making more of a scene than you did at Dim Sum.
Me [regaining my composure]: Fine. Let us never speak of it again. Anyway, when I was a boy in England… we –
Rhiannon: Ha! That must have been a long time ago, Daddy! Ha! Did fish even exist way back then?
Me [sourly]: Indeed they did, Rhiannon. Fortunately, back in those days there WEREN’T any cheeky monkeys.
Me: And you got your fish & chips wrapped in the tabloid papers. Newsprint was the finest ingredient. Nutritious and delicious. Too bad the Queen got grumpy about everyone eating greasy deep-fried crap off of the faces of the Royal Family and shut down the works.
Rhiannon: You really are nuts. Can I just eat this now?
Me [muttering]: I bet the Queen, herself, still gets her fish & chips served in the tabloid papers.