When the natural look just isn’t cutting it anymore

Three times Pammy has asked me to go with her to get a manicure. Three times I’ve said yes. And three times I’ve found a reason not to go

Pammy has been dating my son for 5 years. She is Tiny Perfect Pammy. She does things like hair and makeup and nails. She wears jewellery and accessories and outfits that are planned. She is all the things I am not, and she continues in her mission to make me a grown up woman.

I had a manicure once, probably 25 years ago. I’m sure my mother talked me into it. I’m just as certain I smudged the polish reaching for my car keys as I left the salon. For the record, lipstick also remains a mystery to me.

One recent Thursday afternoon, I triumphantly pushed back from my computer announcing that I was, for a change, done my work. “Good. We’re going for a manicure, then,” announced Pam. Oh. Okay. Before could change my mind, she had me in the car.

Salons interest me because they are essentially sausage factories. Disappear through the front door, and you will soon see the process of beauty which is somewhat less beautiful than beauty itself. Pammy sat flipping through a handful of colour choices, asking which one I would like. We have two new kittens with colds; I’ve been wrestling pills into them twice a day.

“What matches cat scratch?” I asked

As I made my way to the magic tables where the nails would happen, a tiny lady approached me and peered into my face. “You here for eyebrows?” she asked me. When someone asks you this unprompted, the answer is apparently yes. “Yes,” I replied. Because why not get all the beauty I could while I was here?

My sister has warned me repeatedly that before you let anyone wax your eyebrows, you discuss with them what you want. She had a negative experience that haunts her to this day. I waited for my little lady to start our discussion. Instead, she shifted me onto the bed, shoved my bangs out of the way and stared critically at the untamed wilderness running roughshod over my face. Before I could say a word, she had me in a gentle headlock and was going at it. Rip. I remained quiet, far more scared of making her angry than I was of any outcome that might haunt me for years to come.

“Upper lip?” she demanded. I didn’t even argue. Ari and I grew a moustache at the same time, 7 years ago. What’s the point of perfect brows and elegant nails if you have a 13-year-old boy’s upper lip? Rip.

I emerged from the tiny room a new woman. I excitedly showed Pammy my eyebrows; my tiny wax lady was beaming, and Pammy’s technician smiled along with us. The smiles reminded me of something I didn’t figure out until later: it was the smile I used when I was potty training the kids.

My beauty tour wrapped up with nail polish. Things have changed in 25 years; they use this stuff that adheres to your nails like paint to a car. It doesn’t chip or fade. They bake it on in tiny little drier portholes in the table, and as I thrilled at each new discovery, Pammy sighed a little and gave me that potty training smile.

She was right to nudge me and make me change my mind. I’ve spent too long thinking my way is the right way, all the time.

Maybe I’ll even give the lipstick a go.

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When having half a tail means you won the fight

Spring got here overnight. It happens inside at the same time it happens outside; we have two new kittens and they discovered squirrels at the same time the squirrels discovered tossed bread that didn’t immediately disappear beneath a new wave of snow.

Ari, 20, wandered downstairs to a flurry of activity on both sides of the glass. “Close Call is back,” he remarked. I watched a squirrel flit by, half of its tail sadly missing. Though my father has been gone over 18 years, he remains here very much in spirit. He named every wild animal that crossed his path, and renamed all the domesticated ones.

With squirrels at home and chipmunks at the cottage and all of us with a bunch of cats, he had a rotating cast of creatures to christen. Unfortunately, when it came to name selection, he had as much imagination as George Foreman. My small black and white cat was Black and White Cat. A calico was Pizza Cat. A black cat was Panther. Another two were FurFur and Ringtail, because, well, you can figure it out. Every black squirrel was Blackie, every chipmunk Chippie. I’m eternally grateful my mother named me and my sisters.

He named every squirrel and chipmunk with half a tail, Close Call. To his thinking, any animal that made it out of a dire situation by only surrendering half a tail had had a close call but nevertheless done well.

I remember him explaining this to me when I was a child, and I watched him explain it to each child who came along. All accepted it with a nod as if it made perfect sense, and in a way it did. The true test, of course, is that we have continued without pause to carry on the tradition. Dad didn’t live long enough to even explain his theory to his grandson, and yet Ari knew this squirrel’s name.

Dad grew up in rural Saskatchewan, and as I imagined a literal farmyard of animal names to investigate, he patiently explained that you didn’t name something you were going to eat. He had two horses, Blackie (of course) and Betsy. Betsy was also the name of our 1966 Rambler. My father invented recycling.

I often watch Ari when he doesn’t know it. He is much like my father in ways that are both fleeting and forever, an aspect, a phrase but more often than not, it’s a trait at a cellular level. The way he approaches a knot – a real one or a metaphorical one. The way he sizes people up and the way he brooks no trespass against some inner compass I don’t always understand. He is my Dad without the anger, the rough edges finally sanded away.

Our kittens needed names, of course, and Ari was ready. I was nervous; when he was six, he’d named two of his toys Paul and Todd. Upon discovering we were finally getting a boy cat, he had four names ready to choose from: Steve, Greg, Mark and Jeff. He suggested Susan for the girl kitten. We suggested something else.

It’s this economy, this directness, which he shares with my Dad. He has pre-named his next three cats and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him recycle the names as he gets older. Why replace something that is perfectly good?

We watched the squirrels chase through the yard, indoor kittens losing their tiny minds. Close Call was fine, I was looking for a different sort of survivor. “Any squirrels this year with no tail?” I asked Ari.

“You mean Lucky?”

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We may get the government we deserve, but who really deserves this?

If you follow American politics, and you really should, you might have seen the latest from one of their elected officials, Nevada assemblywoman Michele Fiore. I don’t really have to put the “R” after her name. You’ll see why in a moment. She’s a lawmaker. She is also the CEO of a health-care company, so you would think her insight and experience would be helpful in the crafting of health-care law, right?

“If you have cancer, which I believe is a fungus, and we can put a PIC line into your body and we’re flushing, let’s say, salt water, sodium cardonate (she probably meant sodium bicarbonate, also known as baking soda) through that line, and flushing out the fungus … These are some procedures that are not FDA-approved in America that are very inexpensive, cost-effective …”

Fungus. Cancer is fungus. Well, that makes a ton of sense. I mean, fungus thrives in warm, damp environments and, you have to admit, the insides of your body are pretty warm and damp. I cannot believe nobody ever thought of this before, that researchers were so busy thinking cancer was something serious that they overlooked the basic fact that it’s merely an extension of that nasty stuff you get under your toenails, or something like a truffle that a chef will dust over your eggs and charge you a fortune for.

Maybe she’s onto something. I mean, if I take a mushroom, which is surely a fungus, and subject it to a little salt, some baking soda and swirl it about, is that a low-cost cancer procedure? No, that’s a recipe.

Here’s the scary part: people will believe her. She’s trying to find ways to let people think they can cure cancer for a buck fifty. This means the medically ignorant will try this do-it-yourself home cure and die; it means those who know it’s crazy will be forced to overcome a loved one throwing this wrench into their treatment considerations. I’ll be clear: I think people have a right to refuse treatment, but it should be illegal to offer the garbage protocols this woman is suggesting.

People in positions of authority, in elected positions, people who have platforms, have a responsibility to those they serve and those they inform. If you have an overarching belief in something that compromises how you perform those duties, get out. Why did you ever get in? How did you ever get in?

I don’t want people like this assemblywoman dictating crucial health-care bills; I don’t want people who don’t believe in evolution within spitting distance of school science curriculums; I don’t want homophobic mouthpieces telling our children it’s wrong to be gay.

I want voters to actually listen to what is being said. Show me any one of these “leaders” who rush their child into a church — or a kitchen — instead of an emergency room when that child becomes ill.

I got this ferinstance from Nevada, because everything rotten in American politics is coming here; count on it. The idea of tolerance was supposed to be about those historically transgressed against, not those who would stand at a lectern with a straight face and say we can cure cancer with baking soda. I’m not tolerating people who couldn’t pass a basic science class because their ideology or ignorance gets in the way.

History texts are being rewritten as I write this. In Texas, Moses was now one of the Founding Fathers. Here at home, our history is having the word peacekeeper bleached out and replaced with warmonger.

When you know better, you do better, right?

Apparently not.

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That heart stopping moment when you realize you didn’t brush your teeth

I was halfway between home and my destination, already running late, when I realized I hadn’t brushed my teeth.

I don’t think this has ever happened before. Brushing my teeth is the second thing I do every day when I get up, without fail. Sometimes the first, even. But due to some excellent unplanning, Ari, his girlfriend Taryn, Pammy and I all got up and had to leave the house at the same time. This is very rare occurrence, mostly because I barely leave the house. But there it was, the shower going when I needed it, and no way was I going down to the other bathroom because it was a million degrees below zero. I waited.

I put the kettle on, reasoning that I could get in to brush my teeth before tea would be ready. Because my day needed another wrench thrown into it, I discovered I had a frozen cold water pipe in the kitchen. I pondered a good course of action, while realizing I had twenty minutes to get showered and out the door. This frozen water would have to wait.

Where was I going? I change up cars every week for work, and I frequently have some really cool, fun, expensive or interesting cars. That week I had a 2015 orange Ford Mustang GT. It’s got a whopping V8 engine in it, a 6 speed manual transmission, and is basically a testosterone rocket. I’d read that Niagara Falls was frozen over, so like any normal person, I made the connection. Must see the Falls; must take the Mustang. That frozen water couldn’t wait.

I occasionally go on Twitter and just post “tomorrow, great car, you’ll be home by dinner”. The first person who contacts me gets to go. I strongly believe in the social component of social media. I don’t post what car and I don’t post where we’re going. I make arrangements to pick them up; it’s fun. My sister Roz thinks a serial killer will get to me, but I leave all the clues on Twitter. By going to their home I have an address, and the first thing I post is a picture of us together with the car so witnesses will know what to look for, should witnesses be required.

A car fan on Twitter threw caution to the wind and I said I’d pick him up at 10:30 the next morning. This was the crowded bathroom morning. I stopped to gas up, and went in and bought a toothbrush. At his house, I met the man willing to live in the danger zone, and his lovely wife. After “hi, I’m Lorraine,” I asked if I could brush my teeth.

Displaying an excellent poker face, his wife asked if I needed a toothbrush. I held up my gas station toothbrush and said I only needed a little toothpaste. I stepped into a powder room off the foyer and brushed my teeth, careful to tidy up like I never would have at home. I have very good manners for a person who does some slightly unconventional things.

I called Roz that night and told her what had happened. “Please tell me you didn’t actually do that, ask to brush your teeth in a stranger’s home,” she said. “Why not? Would you say no if someone asked you if they could do that?” I asked her. “No, but I’d think they were a freak.”

Tom and I had a lovely day taking pictures of the frozen falls, and chatting over lunch before heading back.

I think my sister spends too much time worrying about the wrong person in that car.

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Freemasons and The Flintstones: At least one didn’t lie to me

As I tried to stuff Christmas decorations back in the little cold room in the basement, I saw a small box that was familiar. Opening it, I discovered a trove of pins and a tiny book. I recognized it all; at some point, this had been stored in the top drawer of my father’s dresser, and we weren’t allowed to touch it.

He’d been a Freemason. Growing up, I found this endlessly confusing. My dad was a bricklayer by trade, which he also called a mason. And once a year or so, he’d get dressed up and go to some mysterious meeting, where I pictured a bunch of men building brick walls. My father did not usually go to meetings, and he sure didn’t get dressed up unless someone was dead.

The problem with mysteries and little girls? We had to know. My mother tried her best to explain it, but telling us a bunch of somber men would meet to talk and there were no women allowed and there was certainly no wall building and it was all very mysterious just made us more inquisitive. We took what we did know and used it to understand what we didn’t.

We decided my father was a Water Buffalo, like Fred Flintstone.

My dad didn’t find this very funny, but his choice was to reveal secret codes and handshakes or endure us asking him if he was going to his Loyal Order of Water Buffalos meeting. We asked if they wore tall furry hats with horns. He ignored us. I asked what was in the box, and one time he actually showed me: several little pins and a small book. It looked like the little book I had for being a Brownie. I asked if that was the same thing. Dad said, no, but I too had a few little pins and a tiny rule book, so I decided that all of these groups were pretty much the same thing, except being a Brownie wasn’t a secret.

It took a few more years for me to put together the connection between my Dad’s secret meetings and that other secret group, Shriners. The Shriners used to put on a circus, and we were told we were going. I didn’t want to go, but some friend of my Dad’s was a Shriner, so we had to go. I asked what a Shriner was, and got an answer very similar to what a Mason was, and the confusion simply escalated. If both of these groups were No Girls Allowed, I didn’t think that was fair and wasn’t interested.

My Dad caught me snooping once, holding one of those little pins in my hand. He barked and I dropped it, then he apologized and realized he’d have to give me more if he wanted to keep me out of his sock drawer. They do good deeds, he told me. They help people. I asked what Shriners were. He said they sort of like Masons, but they did other things, too. Like the circus? Like the circus.

We’d see Shriners in parades riding around on little motorcycles wearing small red hats. We knew one of them but we weren’t allowed to say he looked silly but I’m sure that was why my Dad never became a Shriner: he liked to help people, but he didn’t like to look silly.

In the ensuing years I learned the creators of The Flintstones were absolutely basing their Water Buffalos on Freemasons and Shriners. A wedge between a man and his daughters unravelled by a cartoon.

Thank you, Fred and Barney.

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My concentration is fine, thank….hey look, a squirrel!

I had intended to write a column about the anti-vaccinators shoving their children into a time capsule back to the 1800s, but I realized I have a word count and can’t just write “stupid” 600 times.

Instead, I will use this space to try to understand the way my brain is morphing because of technology. I do not have Attention Deficit Disorder. I never have. And yet, I can’t focus anymore. I open a multitude of windows on my computer, which I could explain away as research except, it’s not always the case. I fall down rabbit holes; one search leads to another.

I was perusing a favourite website, Atlas Obscura, and found a German structure that reminded me of Stonehenge, so of course I needed to check out Stonehenge, and wonder how old it really was and whether aliens built it and thought I better check on crop circles while I was at it, and because I was contemplating mysteries I thought I’d better see if anyone had solved the Jack the Ripper case yet, and of course they hadn’t but that reminded me the show Sherlock is quite good but I remembered I wanted to check out why Dr. Watson looked so familiar, and I was right! He was the naked guy in Love Actually!

I use my laptop to watch television and stream movies. Beside me, I have my iPad so I can look up actors and writers and trivia about what I’m watching. No more calling a sister to put me out of my misery when I can’t place a face, no more wondering if Jack Palance is dead or alive. Because there is no such thing as “we interrupt this show to bring you this important announcement” I have Twitter open to let me know if the world ends. I don’t call it “what’s on,” I call it “what else is on”.

My focus is splintered. It never used to be. I’d sit and read a hard copy of a newspaper (or three) every day, absorbing not only headlines and sections I preferred, but all of it. I’d take civil wars along with hockey scores, rapes and recipes and buses plunging off cliffs. Where I would crawl through the news absorbing every bump and motion, I now flit like a bird drawn to shiny things, or worse, things others have declared shiny.

The upside is having world news at my fingertips. The downside is having world news at my fingertips. It’s worrisome knowing how computer algorithms work, knowing that things are dangled in front of me based on how similar they are to things I’ve already read. It’s planting seeds to form my own personal groupthink; if what I believe to be right is only bolstered and never questioned, I risk burrowing deep into ideas that comfort me instead of those that challenge me.

Order a pair of boots on line, and prepare to be offered more boots every time you log on. It’s intensified as websites seek to nail down advertising dollars and target clicks as precisely as a sniper looking through his crosshairs. The internet is the Sirens luring our attention spans onto the rocks.

Some say our attentions spans have been shortened; others say every generation says that about the next. I don’t know how they measure such things, but I’ll tell you this for free: the only way I can focus is to shut down the seemingly innumerable alleyways to information that carpet bomb me as I work.

Multitasking, you say? That’s just doing a lot of things badly at the same time.

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Message received, perfectly loud and unfortunately clear.

I sat in my sister Roz’s kitchen, scrolling through my phone to show her the running stand-up routine that is formed by my son Ari’s texts. Since he got his full licence, the theme is very much all about asking for the car, keeping the car longer, staying over and bringing the car home in the morning, and reassuring me he has gassed up on Highway 6 where gas is free, as everyone knows. I should change my ringtone to Baby, You Can Drive My Car.

Initially, I was not a fan of the texting nonsense. I have terrible eyesight and I jab away at the letters producing an unintelligible jumble. The kids have been known to compare my texts I mutter that if they would just answer their phones, we could converse the old fashioned way. Nobody in this house will answer a phone. Nobody will even pick up a voice mail. They won’t even answer if I holler, resulting in conversation being held by text room to room. It is sad, but at least I have evidence that later bolsters my arguments.

My mom has been gone for 15 years now. It never fails to stun me how the years accumulate and yet she is still here. We’ve often commented that she would have absolutely been on board with having a computer and email and tech. She would have embraced texting, because what is better than continually dropping messages on those you love most?

“Remember when I had one of those first answering machines, the Panasonic one?” Roz asked me. It was probably 35 years ago now, and I remembered what a big deal it was to finally be able to leave a message for someone. Back when people actually played their messages, and worried that the tape would get full if they were away for a week. I recall a small device you could use to get your messages remotely, and I recall it never working.

“Mom loved that you had that thing,” I told her. My father was not keen on them. If you played back a message after my father had called, it sounded like this: “Iris? Is Rainey not home? Where is she?” This would be said not to the phone, but to my mother in another room. “Just leave her a message.” “Rainey, is this you?” There would be a pause, and you’d hear my mother approaching the phone. “Rainey, it’s Mom, call your Dad when you get in.” Looking back, I wish I’d saved some of those messages.

“I don’t think Mom quite grasped the best way to use the answering machine,” said Roz.

“Why? She actually left messages.”

“Oh, she left messages. She was great at leaving messages,” she laughed. “Remember when Grandpa in England was sick?” I nodded, though it was a bit foggy. I only met the man once, and he was more of an idea than a person.

“I got in from work and there was a message from Mom. You know what she said? She said ‘Rozzy, I don’t want you to worry, but they’ve just had to amputate your grandfather’s penis’. Do you know what it’s like to hear that coming out of your answering machine?” I admitted I did not, but realized I would now be haunted by this.

“I called her and yelled that all she had to say was could I call her. That’s all. She didn’t need to say things like that on a machine. She just said she was sorry, but thought I would want to know.”

Something tells me she didn’t keep that message.

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Ask a toddler how safe a handgun is

I head home late on Tuesday nights from Toronto, and listen to quiet radio. I’ve found one with John Tesh (stop judging) pretending to be hosting a multitude of stations, including this Canadian one. That man must spend half his life in a studio recording individual call letters over and over so each station can pretend they have the actual John Tesh sitting in their studios.

He has a team of writers who pour over studies and articles gleaning small fascinating insights for him to present in his honey-dipped metronome of a voice. They are squarely aimed at the demographic I occupy; most of the pieces are things like we each tell 37 lies each day, ways to improve your marriage, and reasons red wine is good for you. Canada and the U.S. are so similar, it all works.

That’s why it took me a moment to realize what I was listening to the other night. Tesh was talking about women’s gun clubs and gun sales, a burgeoning industry in the U.S. I’m still not sure if he was spieling paid content, that wonderful co-opting of editorial by advertising, so it appeared that John Tesh himself wanted me to go buy a handgun. The fact I’m not sure is dangerous in and of itself.

He listed off the stats indicating the rapid growth of women desperate to be not just competent with a gun, but deadly. Babes With Bullets, A Girl and a Gun, A Well Armed Woman and on and on. Women thinking they will be involved in mortal combat when they go to Piggly Wiggly. Woman certain they will have the upper hand during those notorious home invasions, except “per capita risk of death during a home invasion is 0.0000002,” as a study using FBI stats notes.

Tesh told me women are now buying lots of gun, because one isn’t enough, just like shoes! They like coloured guns; they like guns with Hello Kitty grips; they have lingerie with holsters built in. They attend clubs that test whether shooting through your purse actually works (not so well) because that’s how someone on TV stopped a bad guy.

What they didn’t mention? The Idaho mother shot and killed two months ago by her two-year-old who reached into her purse in a Wal-Mart and got her legal, concealed-carry handgun. I see kids reaching into their Mom’s purse all the time for a cell phone; this is that easy. Two weeks ago, a 9-month-old baby in Missouri was shot and killed in his crib by his 5-year-brother. I wonder if the gun had Hello Kitty grips.

The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) reports that on average, 62 children are accidentally killed each year (2007-2011) in the U.S. A further study, Innocents Lost, says between December 2013 and December 2014, accidental child deaths averaged two a week. Over one hundred children dead, overwhelmingly due to weapons not safely stored and easily accessible.

I grew up around rifles. My father was a prairie farm boy, and once a year he’d go hunting with some friends. Sometimes he’d bring home a pheasant; mostly it was an excuse to spend a weekend with much male bonding and very little hygiene. Rifles are for hunting; handguns are for hunting people.

A Washington, D.C. study revealed nearly 6 times more women were shot by husbands, boyfriends, and ex-partners than murdered by male strangers. Handguns are an overrated, mythical defence to crime. And the dangerous devotion to them that grips our neighbours to the south is something I’m happy to not share, even if John Tesh chides me with those dulcet tones.

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In some ways, I’d be useful if you got stuck in an elevator

“Because that’s what happens when you elect politicians with no vision who are only interested in saving their jobs,“ I yelled at the television.

“You’re doing it again,” said Pammy, quietly. “The people in the TV can’t hear you.” She’s been dating my son for five years now, and I sometimes forget she’s not my own kid. She does her best to let me know I’m doing things that could possibly be related to the fact I have cats, go to bed at 7pm to watch Netflix and buy something I call fridge wine. I yell at the news, because sometimes it needs to be yelled at.

Like most families, within these walls we have our own strange dynamic that we all understand and usually forgive. When I make a reference to Paul Bunyan and Pammy asks if he was that serial killer, Christopher tells her, no, that was Ted Bundy. We know what she means because we are family.

Everybody has a role; Ari and Christer are the two who can fix the computers and solve the wifi issues, Pam is our best face to send out to deal with people in the outside world and I confine myself to learning as many obscure and useless things as possible.

At the beginning of term when we moved Ari into residence, his new roommate came down to help us unload the car. He was a quiet lad, no doubt still adjusting to the new environment. The moving in was going smoothly until the third trip up in the elevator. The lights blinked once, and then the elevator shuddered to a halt.

“That will be the pee corner,” I announced, pointing to a corner of the metal box we were trapped in. The roommate just stared at me; Ari winced.

“What? I read somewhere if you’re trapped in an elevator, that’s what you’re supposed to do. If everyone has a different idea about something like that, things can get pretty ugly, pretty fast. I’ve heard.”

The elevator wheezed a little and started up again, making my decision a moot point. The roommate briskly exited when we arrived on their floor, and Ari sighed.

“Why do you have to say things like that?” he asked me.

“I thought it was a good bit of knowledge to have. It would have been useful if we’d really been stuck.”

“So would hitting the emergency button and getting out before anyone had to pee in a corner.”

Ari ultimately left school later that week due to a program switch, and if anything, his roommate worked even faster helping him move out.

I’ve reached the point where my brain is like a saturated sponge, unable to absorb anything else. I’ve told the kids that to learn something new, something old must be cast out. I tell them this is why I can’t be bothered to learn how to work all the junk at the back of my computer; I haven’t found anything I’m willing to let go of to make the necessary room in my head. I realize that doesn’t explain why I elect to keep something about trapped-in-an-elevator etiquette, and I wonder what I surrendered for that little nugget.

To keep on top of things, I email myself reminders, especially late at night. I’ll simply drop in a word or two that will be sure to trigger the brilliant thought I can’t be bothered to get up to write down. Without fail, each morning I will open several emails to myself containing a single word, or a badly garbled phrase.

And without fail, I will never know what I’m talking about.

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I wrote this column while wearing pants. Honest

I refuse to have a camera set up on my computer. Friends say hey, let’s Skype and I say hey, let’s not. Having to care what I look like while I’m sitting here defeats the entire purpose of working at home and being able to look like I’ve just been dragged backwards through a hedge. I do not consider sloth to be much of a deadly sin. Then again, I think moderate amounts of wrath, greed, pride, lust, envy and gluttony can also keep things interesting.

My kids, of course, have cameras operating on their computers. I, of course, forget this every time I walk into a room. Ari, 20, chats with his girlfriend Taryn and I’m so used to seeing her face on his monitor I yell hi as I walk by and forget I am not wearing pants until I hear the giggling. I wear long shirts that cover my arse, but I admit, it’s not my best look.

There are two articles of clothing women will ditch the second they can; pants are the second one.

Christer’s girlfriend Pammy, 23, chats to a friend of hers who, upon hearing my voice in the room, asks if Mama Lorraine is wearing pants. There are several things I think it might be really nice to be noted for. This is not one of them.

If there is a downside to working from home, this is it. You forget to do things like eat, or get dressed. If you work in an office and the UPS guy shows up, you don’t have to do a mad scramble for your pants. You don’t have that same UPS guy do a double take because you’ve smooshed your hair up on your head like Pebbles Flintstone and forgotten all about it. You don’t consider mascara a scary commitment and you’d probably notice that you were making dinner in your pajamas – which you’d had on all day.

Ari has taken to wearing a hat all the time because he’s too lazy to get a haircut. He usually keeps his hair cut in a way best described as “a Marine visiting his grandma”. He thinks he just can get through the winter unnoticed, though I’m sure come spring he’ll haul off the cap to reveal a Samson-like mane. When I see him on his computer wearing a knit hat, I bark that his friends will all think we live in the Arctic. Outdoors. He ignores me.

The other day Ari came out of the bathroom laughing. He’d had a shower, and had slicked his hair back. His very long hair.

“Look how ridiculous this looks,” he said.

“You look like Fonzie or something,” I replied.

“Who?”

“Never mind.”

Another week went by, and still no haircut. I passed by the rec room and stopped. Ari was at his computer with a pair of underwear on his head. I went up to him – I was wearing pants this time – and asked him why he had underwear on his head.

“Because I couldn’t find my hat.”

“You have underwear on your head,” I said, again.

“They’re Christmas underwear. They’re new.” This did not make them any more hat-like or any less underwear-like.

“Taryn can see you with underwear on your head.”

“Well, I don’t want anyone to see how dumb my hair looks.” I tried desperately to follow this line of reasoning, but no GPS in the world would be able to help.

I’ve decided my no-camera thing is smart. My feminine side is more mistake than mystique, but on the internet, nobody knows if you’re wearing pants.

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