the nutcracker

We woke up at 4 a.m. Showered, got dressed, threw our suitcases into the car. Drove to North Bay. Got in a little plane. Flew to Toronto. Waited. Got on a bigger plane. Flew four hours to Calgary. Got our rental vehicle. Pointed our car west. Drove 6 hours through some of the most beautiful, scenic countryside in North America. And 15 hours after we started….the Gingras’ had landed in jasper.

I’m not going to bore you with the details of our trip. Yes, it was stunning. It was also very relaxing yet invigorating, truly a week where we could shut off work and business and breathe and be with the kids and just enjoy.

But there are things that happen to you when you travel long distances and time, things we should be warned about in the ‘Adult Handbook’, but aren’t. Let me set this up:

When in jasper in late July, especially coming from Northern Ontario, your first day is surreal. You’re pumped. The adrenaline is flowing. You forget the two hour difference that your body is supposed to remember. Also, the sun goes down much later there. It’s still light out at 10:30 at this time of year. So, by 11:30 p.m. , when your mind finally gets over the shock of travel, the utter astonishment at the mountains, the beauty of your surroundings, and the glee you feel at being on vacation, old Mother Sleep comes a-slappin’ at your face and dispatches the Sandman with not one but TWO buckets of sand to knock you out. And that’s precisely what happened.

But, inevitably, when you are 47 years old, Mother Nature also likes to call on you in the middle of the night, a little friendly visit, urging you silently, prodding your bladder, telling you to go, go little one, get up and GO! And so, I went and got up to go.

Again, having travelled for 15 hours and being in an utterly strange place, you could say I was a wee bit discombobulated. Just a tad. Well, in fact, I had no idea where I was. Thankfully the bathroom was right beside where I was sleeping, so I managed to figure that part out. I at least got there.

Now guys, listen up. If you are married or in any kind of relationship, and you also occasionally pee, I’ll let you in on a little secret: our significant other doesn’t like it when we stand to pee….especially at night. Oh, sure, we like to shoot at the bowl and all that, but at night, the old guidance system doesn’t quite work as well. We don’t have night vision. We aren’t Spiderman, our senses tingling, our super-human ability to hit the bowl dead-center even in the thick of night. So, it is often better to sit. And this occasion, being so out of sorts and confused, I had enough wit about me to at least know enough that this was one time where I should definitely sit.

I’ll pause the article here to allow you to remove the children from the room as this next part is rather….delicate. Thank you.

Carrying on, then. The Art of Sitting to Pee is not one which has been in our male D.N.A. for very long. In fact, I always use an analogy to describe how I feel when I do this. Does anyone remember the footage of the old Apollo program, or even later on of the Shuttle program, when they would dock to something in space?  There they would be, slowly coming together, attitude-jets pushing hither and yon, ever so gently ensuring that the two spacecraft couple together perfectly, to get the perfect seal, and ensure the survival of the astronauts. And they had cameras!! When I sit, I imagine I`m one of those spacecraft, and the toilet is Skylab, or the International Space Station for you young whipper-snappers out there who don`t remember that ill-fated lab that fell to earth (just Google it…it`s cool!)  You have to sit JUST SO to ensure that everything works out right.

Unfortunately, for the male of the species, we have a certain dangling appendage, one which contains the `Family Jewellery`, so to speak. As we slowly sit, and we employ the attitude jets just so, we ensure a proper seal, and thus also ensuring the propagation of our species, by synching Skylab and our butts. So, there is an element of caution when employing this technique. It is not for the faint of heart.

And so we proceed. I was very much confused, very disconcerted, and I attempted this manoeuvre, in the dark, in a strange place. And, as I began my descent, all kinds of alarm bells were warning me. Àbort! Abort! ` they sounded. I, of course, ignored them. And thus proceeded to quickly (cover the kids eyes again) sit upon the `Family Jewellery`, so to speak.

‘Houston! We’ve got a problem!!’

For the next fifteen minutes, I lay upon my bed, groaning, with cramps slowly fading, and realised that I was in Jasper.

Overall, but for that, it was a great vacation!!

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