20 January 2012 – 10:15 PM – shortly after arrival at Union Station (Toronto)
Me [proudly]: How do you like my new haircut, Rhiannon?
Rhiannon [shrugging indifferently]: It’s your usual pot-scrubber cut.
Me [eyes widening]: Whaaat?!
Rhiannon: That’s what Nana calls it when you’re too lazy to go to a barber and just shave it all off yourself with clippers.
Me [frowning]: Yeah well, I should tell Nana that a colleague at work told me today that my haircut makes me look 10 years younger.
Rhiannon [rolling her eyes]: What’s her name?
Me [indignantly]: It was Gay John!!!
Rhiannon: Why do you have to call him ‘Gay John’?
Me: To distinguish him from ‘Irish John’.
Rhiannon: So you make the distinction based on sexual orientation and nationality?
Me [exasperated]: Duh!!!
Rhiannon: Duh yourself times Googleplex! Isn’t that discriminatory?
Me: Of course not. It would only be discriminatory if I harassed Gay John and Irish John for being gay and Irish.
Rhiannon: But you DO harass them for being gay and Irish. I’ve seen you!!!
Me [rubbing my chin pensively]: Well, I suppose that’s true but I harass everybody for being anything. So, you see, I am indiscriminate in my harassment. So there. Now, if only I had a colleague who used to be an Italian cruise ship captain. Man, THAT would be all kinds of merry…
Rhiannon: Getting back to your stupid haircut. It just makes you look balder.
Me [dismissively]: I’ll have you know, Rhiannon, that when you’re my age, a little balding doesn’t matter at all if you have a bit of swag.
Rhiannon [raising an eyebrow – evil smirk spreading across her face]: First of all, it’s a lot balding… But… did… did you just say… “swag”?
Me [defensively]: You heard me.
Rhiannon: YOU!!!??? YOU GOT SWAG!!!??? BAAAAAAA HA HA HA HA HA!!! AH AH… AHHHHH… PWAAAAAA HA HA HA HA!!! SWAG???!!! YOU???!!!
Me [coolly, watching Rhiannon rolling around on the floor]: Shut up and go to bed, Rhiannon.
Rhiannon [sauntering from the room with an exaggerated swagger]: Oh, okay! I’m doing the “Daddy Swag” – Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!!! Oh, my God!!!
Me [gazing ruefully after Rhiannon and muttering to myself]: There’s definitely something not right about that kid. Can’t think where on earth she gets it from.
21 January 2012 – 5:35 PM – flaking out in the living room
Note: Grant, Wendy and Spencer are the friends Rhiannon and I stayed with in Toronto
Rhiannon [handing me my iPhone]: Here, Daddy – your penis has been beeping and bleeping again.
Me [eyes widening]: Whaaat?!
Grant: Ha! Ha! Ha!
Me [darkly to Grant]: What have you been telling her?
Grant: Well, you play with it all the time, you couldn’t live without it and it makes a bulge in your crotch bigger than your real dick, I’m sure.
Rhiannon: He’s right, Daddy.
Me: Fuck you, Grant. You’re just a jealous bitch.
Rhiannon [resignedly]: Children in the room…
Spencer: Andrew’s right, Grant. You are a jealous bitch. Not a year ago you were swearing you’d never get the Internet at home. Look at you now! You just downloaded AutoCAD online on your fancy new laptop!!!
Me: Exactly! Even though you caved and got your new computer – it’s not enough – now you covet Spence’s Blackberry and my iPhone. Face it Grant, you basically just have penis envy. Then again, I guess that’s nothing new for you.
Wendy: Hee, hee, hee…
Spencer: Seems your wife agrees, Grant!
Grant [giving Wendy a sour look]: Big surprise. I bet Rhiannon’s on my side though…
Rhiannon: I sure am if you’re against Daddy!
Grant [cackling]: Who’s a jealous bitch now?!
Me [waving my iPhone in Grant’s face]: At least I have a penis, Grant!
Spencer [waving his Blackberry in Grant’s face]: Me too!
Wendy [waving my iPhone and Spencer’s Blackberry in Grant’s face]: I have two penises and Spence’s is only 21 years old!!!
Grant: You people disgust me.
Rhiannon: We don’t need a penis anyway, do we Grant?!
Grant: I… er…
Spencer: Hey, Grant! Can you confirm that if you get slapped hard enough across the face with a penis it leaves a print in the shape of a mushroom on your cheek?
Me: Ha! Ha! Ha! Maybe if I bitch-slap Grant with my iPhone it will leave a print in the shape of an Apple logo on his cheek!!!
Rhiannon [raising her voice]: Children in the room!!
Wendy: Ha! Ha! Ha!
Grant [putting an arm around Rhiannon]: Don’t listen to these idiots, Rhiannon. Especially your Dad. We don’t need these high-tech gadgets and devices, do we? We are of the rare and sophisticated breed that likes to interact with real-life, physical people. We are not afraid to shake a hand…
Spencer: … or a penis…
Grant [unfazed]: … ahem – like I was saying, to shake a hand or look into the eyes of the person with whom we are communicating. Build up trust and confidence through unrehearsed words that cannot be retrieved from an overloaded email or text log on a tawdry gadget. We speak words that are remembered for the way they are spoken and the gestures they are communicated with. Do you really think that if Winston Churchill had texted speeches like Fight on the Beaches to the people of England, rather than addressing them directly and passionately, the outcome of the Battle of Britain would have been the same?
Me: Yes. We English are Men of Letters and all of Sir Winston’s passion would have been read in. You asshole.
Rhiannon [looking at my iPhone lighting up]: It’s your penis ringing, Daddy. It’s Mummy calling and I’m definitely taking this in the other room.
Spencer: Hey, Andrew, don’t they have an app for motivational battle speeches?
Me: Just downloaded it, my friend.
Spencer: Awesome! I’ll email the link to Grant so he can wish and wonder.
Me: Outstanding, Spence, but you may have to send it by telegraph. Actually, to be sure he gets the message, back it up with smoke signals.
Grant: Fuck you, Andrew, you fucking fuckbrain!!!
Rhiannon [re-entering the room talking to her mother on my iPhone]: Yeah, Daddy just got called a fucking fuckbrain. Yeah, I know. I keep telling them there’s a child in the room. Yeah… but I’m used to it. Yeah, Daddy showed me my first R-rated movie yesterday. Yeah, Horrible Bosses. Yeah, it was really nasty.
Me [mortified and making a slashing gesture across my throat]: Rhiannon!!!
Rhiannon [leaving the room again]: Yeah, he’s making a slashing gesture across his throat trying to silence me. Yeah, why do you want me to tell him to expect a call from your lawyer?
Me [slumping in the couch in dismay]: I hate my penis…
Grant [clearing his throat and standing on the coffee table]: We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering. You ask, what is our policy? I will say: It is to wage war, by sea, land, and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy. You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: It is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be.
Me: Shut up, Grant.