4 May 2012

French Lessons

Creating the impression of coasting through life, especially in the face of adversity, can take a lot of effort. I find that the best way to get through the rough times is to fake it. And by faking it, I mean Pretending To Be French.

Firstly there is the walk. Purposeful, confident, erect. On my many treks to the hospital, I move as though I’m heading briskly down the Champs Elysée rather than down University Ave.

Heading down University Ave
Then there’s the style. No matter how low I’m feeling, I steadfastly refuse to cave in two things. Running shoes, and baseball caps. Athletic shoes are fine for athletics, but they’re too bulbous for downtown France and do nothing to enhance the saucy lines of my swingy summer trench coat. Baseball caps are equally unattractive and don’t belong on woman in any continent, period. (Except for Tiger Woods ex-wife Elin who manages to look quite tragic and lovely in a semi-sporty kind of way ).

My current go-to item is the summer scarf. Apparently sun and radiation don’t mix, as my doctor told me not to expose my chest and neck. So I’ve turned to scarves. Not only are they functional to protect me from harmful solar rays, but also they look so very French. In her book ‘French Woman for all seasons’, Mireille Guiliano says that scarves are the perfect accessory. She explains, for us Anglais, the secrets of creating an identity with scarves. A classic kerchief tie or daring scarf jacket for spring. A belt scarf for summer, and a necklace scarf or shoulder wrap for the fall. 

I will blindly do everything that Marielle says. Who would doubt a woman who says that, in winter, a slice of lemon or grapefruit clarifies the face. Or encourages us to eat real butter, not some low-cal chemical substitute. Or that, 'Gluttony is a desperate attempt to satisfy our head, not our stomach.'  In fact, who would dispute any of the advice written by a woman who was the spokesperson for Champagne Veuve Clicquot. After hearing what she'd have to say, you'd be a fool not to wear a 'belt scarf' in the summer. 

So, even though I can barely drag myself to Princess Margaret first class lounge every morning, I still put on lipstick and  ‘tie my scarf with flair’. And I still walk there with purpose, then purposefully home for a glass of champagne.

2 May 2012

Hound with a Hairdo

My wig doesn’t get out much these days. And when it does, it’s often removed once I get indoors whether it’s my home, or someone else’s. As it lays there neglected, I ask those near and dear to me if they’d like to try it on for my amusement. I offered it to my nephew, and he shook his head with a hint of not-so-well-disguised disgust. Jim declined wearing a brown bob, as did my sister Sue.

So yesterday I was sitting on my bed sorting laundry when Jed came sniffing into the room. I looked at my sweet dog adoringly. He’s been my best friend during the last eight months. He doesn’t care that I’m was bald, or crabby, or tired. And he never complains when I have to cut short his walks, in favour of a nap.  And he lets me curl up in his bed, when I’m really really tired.

He came over for a little pat, and then got busy digging his snout into a pile of laundry. Buried in the pile was my $1600 wig. I don’t know how it got there, but it doesn’t surprise me much, since I’ve become quite careless. Jed pushed the wig around with his nose. 

He’s the first person being who has expressed any interest in my fake hair for a long time.  So taking advantage of his generous nature, and for my own amusement, I asked Jed if he’d like to wear my wig. And because he is by best friend,  he said yes.

30 April 2012

Iron Poor Blood

When I was very little, my sister Sue and I used to play a really fun game, called ‘Iron Poor Blood’.

It was inspired by a commercial where a husband tried to slow dance with his wife. She wasn’t up to the challenge, and would hang like a rag doll in his arms. The reason? Iron poor blood. After taking Geritol however, she appeared with a zest for life, brand new hair-do, and some excellent dance moves.

Fun and Games
Sue and I preferred the pre-Geritol version.  Sue would usually play the husband (she was taller) and would order me to hang in her arms while she dragged me around the living room. ‘Limper!’ she’d hiss at me occasionally, ‘You have to go limper’.

On the occasion when I would be the man, she would sprawl over me, her arms draped over my sparrow-like shoulders, her head lolling to one side. I’d do my best to pull her across the floor (she was heavier) while she whispered orders at me. ‘Pretend you’re dancing’, ‘Pull me towards the window’ and ‘If you drop me I’ll punch you in the head’. It was such a good time! 

Now when I’m in the Princess Margaret lounge, waiting for my sizzling, I’m reminded of that Geritol commercial.  Most people have been at their treatment for some time, and it shows. Radiation is exhausting. Some patients sit with their head in their hand, some have their eyes closed, and much to my delight – some look like they’re gong to slide off their first class faux leather club chairs. 

There was actually one sleepy man with his legs splayed out in front of him, armpits resting on the armrests, whose arse was dangerously close to slipping off the seat.  It shouldn’t have been funny, but it was. I pictured him sliding onto the floor like a flat cartoon figure. It would have taken a large person to drag him around the dance floor. I watched him for a moment, as he wiggled slightly, jerking himself awake. One eye opened. It rolled in my direction and looked at me. I looked back and gave a small smile.

He might have misconstrued this as compassion from a fellow patient. Or a moment of understanding from a man/woman with grandpas hair.  He may have thought I was smiling at him, but I was actually smiling at the voice of my sister, saying,  ‘Limper! You’ve got to go Limper! Go limper, or I'll punch you in head!'