Tuesday, 12 May 2015

NICE BUTT BEARD


This story will make you appreciate the clean-shaven face in such profound ways, that the mere sight of the five o’clock shadow on your partner’s mug will send you running for the hills. Before I launch in, let it be said, I’ve never been a beard person. [God, that statement needs some clarification]. I don’t like facial hair or overly hirsute individuals, and I have never been a fan of the facial fluff in any form really – except of course Magnum PI’s mustache…on Magnum, I could tolerate it. For the most part I’ve found them itchy, irritating to my skin (of course when I come into contact with said hairy person) and not that pleasing to look at. That’s me of course; I know there are many out there that are partial to a good beard. Ahem.

Of course at the moment beards are all the rage. Just take a wander into the East End of London and there are more beards on skinny trouser hipsters than there are coffee shops. I’m not kidding, it’s literally become a fashion statement up there with designer glasses, wing tips and tight short sleeve button shirts.  Which of course leads me to our little tale of horror when it comes to what is actually living in some people’s beards. Oh yeah, baby, that fluff of hair has visitors.

A handful of (brave) men in the U.S allowed their beards to be swabbed by an investigative reporter (don't you just love investigative journalism. Such an art form) from a local affiliate and had the results tested to see what was growing in their little facial forest. The microbiologist doing the test was not surprised to see a fair amount of 'normal' bacteria living in there (ew, gross); but the ultimate shock came in the form of, wait for it…. fecal matter. Yes, you read that correctly. Good ol’ fecal matter was found to be present in many of the men’s beards that were tested. OMG, vile. Apparently, it’s a type of fecal bacteria that won’t necessarily make you sick, but as he said, if it was found in the city’s water system, he would shut it down for disinfecting. And I don't know about you, but any time I even hear the word fecal, harmful or not, I don't want it anywhere near me. 

His advice for hirsute men (aside from, cut the damn thing off!), wash your hands, stop touching your face, and for god sakes, put the toilet seat down before flushing (do you know the kind of stuff that can fly right on out of there and swirl around the room from a mere flush?!) Of course stories like these merely give me more incentive to (beg) politely ask my partner never ever to grow a beard (and considering he is brown and looks like he could be from a variety of middle eastern countries, a beard on my husband would definitely mean he’s never getting into America without a full cavity search. Let’s just be honest).

So next time your partner or your Uncle Al leans in for a kiss hello with his big Grizzly Adams fluff face, maybe hand him a facial wipe first, or insist on a handshake until that fecal trap is fully showered.  

Monday, 27 April 2015

DON'T BE RASH


As we all know, the Internet has had a profound affect on our lives in more ways than one can discuss in a mere blog, some positive, some very negative. What will surprise no one, and cause many to nod their heads in agreement, is that the Internet has created a generation of sofa-surfing pseudo doctors, or self prescribers shall we say. With a tap of one's fingers, a simple set of symptoms can turn a calm individual into a raving hypochondriac convinced they have a brain tumour, rare African disease, or are in need of a triple by-pass, STAT. I’m guilty as charged of course, and often spend far too long checking symptoms wondering if I’ve caught some rare affliction (or I'm just getting old) cause, well, the internet told me so. Taking this a step further, if at all possible, it has made parents out there more, ahem, involved in their child’s health and perhaps a tad kneejerk in their reactions to some very standard run of the mill childhood conditions.

Take the good old rash. When I was little, as I was allergic to poison oak (which is not found in the UK apparently and would’ve saved me a childhood slathered with cortisone cream), I spent years on end bathed in calamine lotion looking like a pink puffed up blow fish. How I made friends is beyond me. Yes, we’d go off to the doctor when it would get really bad (as my eyes would seal shut etc.), but for the most part, rashes were par for the course. Nowadays, if you type the word child’s rash into Google, your eyes will bulge and your head may explode at all the results that come back at you. It’s damn near frightening and will have you packing a bag and moving into the A&E at your local hospital. The problem is, whereas most rashes are harmless, some obviously need tending to, and when you see the gamut of possibilities out there, it’s hard not to appropriate the worst possible scenario to your child. "Omg, it's glandular fever with a side dose of the plague, ruuuuunnnnn!!!!"

Yes, I’m going somewhere with this. So this weekend, the mighty King had a rash on his face. It was itchy and splotchy all over his cheeks and forehead, but we figured (as calm, parents do) that it was just a rash, and we’d see how it went as the weekend progressed. We  of course headed out to a children’s book fair hoping that we would not infect the entire room of children with our son’s condition. He faired pretty well for the most part, but in my mind was not his usual self for much of the day. This is of course caused my husband and I to independently - and furtively - do some Google searching on rashes coupled with the other symptoms that seemed to be cropping up (or were they?). 

The next morning he woke up and the rash had spread to his legs, his face looked puffy and he was coughing, and looking pretty worse for wear. So, what did we do? What do any Internet savvy parents do in this day and age? Well, we rushed off to the hospital of course at 6am on a Sunday. Okay, so we had taken a few steps away from ‘calm mode.’ Of course by the time we got to the hospital – which for the first time in our lives was empty – the King was starting to regain some of his usual pep. By the time the doctor arrived and the King was on the bed waiting to be seen, he was dancing, making jokes and using the bed as a trampoline. The doctor looked at us like we were NHS bleeding, hypochondriac lunatics. We of course smiled sheepishly and explained the rash had spread (and well, on the internet rashes are baaaaad) and that Scarlet Fever was spreading across the King’s school (whenever a medical professional is looking at you like you’re nuts, just throw a disease out at them to show them that you’re in the know). Of course the King had no fever and by this point was singing to the doctor at the top of his lungs and trying to take his clothes off to show him the rest of the rash. Or let's be honest, the King just likes to take his clothes off.

Needless to say, we didn’t stay long and were sent home having been told that the King, wait for it…had a rash. And we should give him an antihistamine and see how we went. Gosh, thanks for that. Of course my literal, need answers at all times brain was not satisfied with that as I wanted to know where the heck this rash came from? And more importantly, what type of rash can I really worry about and hightail it to the hospital for on a Sunday morning? (The only answer to that is high fever and the meningitis glass test, apparently).  In the King's case, the root of the problem was not of a concern to the doctor at 6am on this past Sunday morning, as he seemed more concerned with trying not to laugh at us as my husband and I were trying to downshift from panic mode. 

As we left the hospital – both of us psychosomatically itching ourselves of course - in mild embarrassment, my husband mentioned that he could only remember going to the A&E twice as a child (contrary to the multiple times we have taken the King.  In our defence  many were legitimate visits). Okay, okay…so maybe we’re a generation of paranoid hypochondriacs, and maybe a rash is just a rash, but one thing is for sure…if I am going to get some rare tropical disease, thanks to the Internet, I’ll see it coming a mile away.

Monday, 13 April 2015

DAIRY FREE ZONE


We had lunch with a friend this weekend that has a severe food allergy. Not the “I’m allergic to gluten cause I fear carbs and can’t fit into my skirt, but then I inhale a loaf of bread hiding in the closet” type of allergy; but the kind where you actually carry an epi pen to save your freaking life. Hay fever is the extent of my allergies, so I’ve never had to deal with life and death situations when it comes to food (although once a month if I don’t get chocolate, someone will die).

Of course, as I do, I asked him a million questions about what it was like being allergic to dairy of all kinds (I’m sure he never tires of answering if he misses ice cream; we dairy folk are such sadists) and he agreeably took it in stride. By the time I hit the questions about colds and if he produces less snot than the rest of us and if someone kisses him with butter on their lips, would it send him into anaphylactic shock (yes, he had this happen, but the reaction was mild; of course, I had already written a film scene in my head and was giddy with the filmic possibilities), my husband gave me the look of  'OK, you're getting boring now.'

At the time we were eating at a Lebanese restaurant and when it came to ordering he casually looked at the waitress and told her he had an allergy to dairy. (If it were me, I’d carry printed memos in black bold print and a bullhorn, but that's me). On first blush, I swear I detected an eye roll on her part, which from where I sat was a tad worrisome. She then uttered back in a thick accent, ‘oh you mean gluten.’ Um, NO, I mean DAIRY and we’re talking about this man’s life here, so you better down an espresso, get a pen, and snap to attention. 

This was when I thought to myself that dealing with the general fray when you have a life-threatening allergy must be a tedious reminder that you cannot trust anyone, especially the general public that can barely find Afghanistan on a map, let alone spell it – (that’s goat country, lots of dairy there I’m thinkin)… Yes, I’m jaded as h*ll, but I’ve had tellers at the bank that can’t even add, but that certainly doesn’t put my life on the line. 

After we set her straight on the differences between gluten and dairy she started to take him seriously as to what could NOT be in his food. Of course, I kept uttering from my side of the table, ‘he’s serious, he could DIE’ just so she fully understood the repercussions (the kicker, he didn’t even have his epi pen on him, so I sat at the table debating how fast I could run to his flat in sandals if he fell over into his ‘dairy’ free meal).  To her credit, she then committed fully to the cause and even brought him special bread with his hummus that the cook made with oil instead of butter. Tip for you, lady.

I credit this friend of ours for being so calm about his allergy, then again, he’s lived with it his whole life, he’s probably very used to what he can and can’t do and the idiots he encounters in restaurants that think double cream is a vegetable. If it were me, I’d probably never leave the house to eat, would have forced my mom to home school me and would bring my own food to dinner parties (those pesky trust issues again). But again, I tend to go a bit overboard at times in the precaution department.

And of course what did we do after lunch just to emphasize what good friends we were? We dragged him to ice cream of course and ate it in front of him. Such sadists we are.

Friday, 20 March 2015

PARTY IN MY PANTS


A Lithuanian designer named Robert Kalinkin is trying to bring a new type of denim jeans to market with the help of good ol’ Kickstarter (a forum I know that has good intentions, but wow, really, we’re opening up the floodgates to the fray to fund any old idea that pops into one’s head? That can’t be a good idea) – because that’s what we need on this planet, more denim. What sets these jeans apart, or shall I call them their proper given name, ‘play pants,’ (his coining of phrase, NOT mine) is that their pockets have dual functionality. One: to serve as a pocket to hold your things (or your husband’s. seriously, get a man bag already) and two: to grant yourself easy access to your private parts.

Yes, you read that right. Apparently this (ahem) designer, saw a gap in the market and jumped right into the crevice (I couldn’t resist) with these very, necessary trousers (yes that is sarcasm). According to the designer, these jeans are not only made of the finest denim and meant to be literally indestructible (which begs the question, when man is extinct, is the earth going to be littered with pairs of play pants?) but these play pants have a plethora of uses, according to the designer. Say um, you have an itch, and voila, in your pocket you go (and see a doctor while you’re at it); a lonely night at the movies? Yeeehah, it’s now a party in your pants (um, again, you  may want to see a doctor); a…and I quote cause this one is just too good, ‘boring corporate meeting.’ Cause yeah, nothing gets me more jazzed up then a boring meeting at the office. Look out boss man, my hand is taking a groin dive! And his final cherry on the Sunday (yes, I suppose that could be a double entendre), play pants just may be the answer to a boring love life; what's more exciting than a zippy little pair of jeans to spice up things in the boudoir.

Dear god, is this what fashion (and the human mind) has come to? What is even better claims the designer is that these pockets can be unzipped with one hand; because who doesn’t want easy access on that long road trip without having to take both hands off the steering wheel. "I'm sorry I was swerving officer, but these new jeans of mine, well, they just beckon naughty behaviour."  Listen, I don’t have a problem with people thinking outside of the box, and I’m sure my husband would beg me to get a pair when they hit the market just to prove we’re young, wild and well, not boring (we’re not honey, don’t worry). But to be frank, despite their apparent functionality, the play pants are just…well, ugly.

Now, a pair of jeans that makes my ass three sizes smaller, sit up to attention and tells passer by's to bugger off when they're gawking and my new and improved backside, now you’re talking. Get on that, will you design industry.


Tuesday, 10 March 2015

GREEN WITH ENVY


There is a moment before the King falls asleep that I experience true envy. After books, etc, it usually takes him about three minutes to settle in, get comfortable, utter something about what he wants to do the next day or who is taking him to school and then I hear his breathing change, and his quiet little snore kick in. It is at this moment I think to myself, my god I wish I were four. Obviously, aside from what snack food to have, or what activity is on deck, one’s four year old brain is not that complicated (then again, it is at times erratic as hell, but that’s another story) or full of what weights the average adult brain down. It’s not like the King is thinking about house prices or looming taxes. Hence, I would fully hope he would fall asleep in four minutes flat. But there is such a pure surreal quality to it, especially to an insomniac, that I literally lie next to him, praying that some of it rubs off on me.

By nature, I’m not an envious person. Maybe the odd flicker here or there when I see a tall person (yes, I will fully admit I have tall envy) or the eternal possibilities possessed by the youth (that is often wasted, damn them!) but overall, I don’t spend too much time looking over on someone else’s side of the fence wishing I had what they did. But when it comes to watching someone who possesses so much unbridled energy as a four year old does, it’s hard not to want to bottle some of it. The other day, the King ran down to the public pool (he’s now decided he wants to run everywhere while his father times him), swam for 40 minutes, then road his bike two miles to the west end, then walked part of the way home, then ran off to the park with his friend later that afternoon. At that point, I was in need of a pillow, but with a few dips here or there (usually solved by copious amounts of food), the King was ready to kick ass and take names by dinnertime. How this is possible is beyond me. I often just follow him around asking him, 'aren't you tired yet?' I'm sure he thinks I'm a total drag trying to rain on his energy parade.

The other thing that is hard not to envy (aside from their skin of course, god I wish I had that much collagen) is their view of the world. There is humour in pretty much anything; half the time I’m trying to figure out what is so funny (esp about poo-poo. Really? why?!) Simplistic pleasures are plentiful and tantamount (I mean, give a child chocolate and it’s as if you have bought them a new car). They do not get hung up on colour, race (funny enough, the King truly believes he and his father are three shades darker than they are, no clue why he thinks this as we have never uttered a word about it, but it could be due to my deep seated love of Idris Elba) religion or politics. Can you imagine if they did? 'Well, I think David Cameron is just a poo-poo head.' Profound words, King. Their emotions are pure and unrestrained, and in their mind, the world is not only black and white/bad or good (the King is obsessed with telling me how bad the food is in jail), but it’s pretty much their world. In their minds anyway. 

So you see, a confident little person that spends their time laughing, loving and talking about jail and poo-poo, with cheeks full of collagen, that falls asleep in three seconds flat. 

What’s not to envy, really?