How NOT to Hide from Your Mom in the Morning

Hi all, sorry I haven’t written in the last 2 weeks or so, but I’ve been insanely busy with YYC Burger Week!  It’s a new food event that the fabulous Sabahat Naureen thought up, and enlisted myself and her fiancé Chris, that involved 16 top grade restaurants, all locally owned and operated and dedicated to local food sourcing.  Those 16 had offered a $15 burger platter, of which $1 went to an assigned charity.  We’re still tallying up the money, but it looks like over 5000 burgers were sold, and probably over $6000 was raised for 8 great charities, and we had gotten a TON of press.  The restaurants all reported a boost in business, the charities had gotten more exposure, and the 3 of us had a chance to give back to the Calgary community.  All in all, being our first year, it was a great success!  I’ll write a blog post soon enough about the whole event, so others can see what we did to make their own event.

But in the meantime, back to the blog.  There’s more news about my “kids“, and the reunion is 1 month, 1 week away.  That’ll be the next entry of the “New Frontiers“, and then a new piece on “What To Do When Trust is Gone” based on my adventures in the spy biz.    But before I get back to those tales, here’s a fond embarrassing memory for younger days….

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I was in my 20s, and living at home at the time.  I was dating a gal I met at McGill U, Fahima E., and it was looking pretty serious.  It had been a few years since the wedding from hell and I was comfortable to be dating seriously again.

She had started to spend her nights at my house, and would sleep in the guest room in the basement.  I would usually sleep in my room, but … every so often, we would sneak to each other’s room to sleep together.  And yes, I mean sleep, as we simply liked each other’s company a lot and if you’re making any other assumptions, that’s entirely up to you. 🙂

Of course though, mom and dad, as modern western minded as they are, there were still a few conventions they would follow, or at least liked to have the illusion of following.  One of those is that if there ain’t a ring on each other’s finger, you don’t stay together in the same bedroom.   Yes, it’s a bit prudish in the modern world, but you do have to admit it’s kinda cute as well.

Well, one late night after classes, we both came up fairly late to a dark home.  Everyone was asleep, and Fahima and I went off to bed.  I quietly closed my own bedroom door, making it look like I was asleep in my room, and she and I went to the guest room (as it was a double bed).  We promptly passed out and that was that…. until the morning.

Now I’m normally a bit of a light sleeper in the AM, while Fahima was not.  The vent system in my old Montreal home only made that trait of mine worse, as I usually can hear conversations in other rooms pretty well.  This was no different, as I was slumbering, I suddenly heard my parents up and about and talking about going to some event later in the day.

My first thought… dammit, they’re up and there’s no way for me to get to my room without being seen.  Usually, this wouldn’t be a problem as they would rarely wake me up, and would go about on their business in the morning and leave the house.  But when I heard the words, “event”, my mind instantly calculated 2+2 together and came up with “freakin’ hell”.  You see, my mom has so many dresses and coats and what not, that she often stored a lot of her favorite dresses in either of the two guest room closets or a 3rd closet in the basement.  So what could I do then?  I knew that escape was impossible, as I had only seconds to act. So with escape not an option, my tiny reptile mind went into survival “hide” mode.  I leaped right into one closet, and took my chances.  There was a 33 1/3 % I would be discovered, and started looking to the gods above for salvation (ok, I wasn’t an atheist back then admittedly).

Then, as mom entered the basement and approached the guest room door, I heard her tell my father, “I need my red dress with the flower design.”  Well, I quickly looked around and voila… there it was next to me.  I started to mentally curse the gods for their sense of humour, and heard the door of the guest room door open.

Mom was a little surprised to open the door and found Fahima unconscious in bed, but then said “Oh, excuse me,” and not missing a beat, walked straight to the closet where I was hiding in.  Giving in to the inevitable, I took the dress off the rack, and when the closet doors slid open, there I was, only in my briefs, and quietly presented her with her dress.

Now the look and surprise on her face was priceless admittedly.  She was startled, but I think she had a sense of humour about the event.  She looked at me exactly the same way a mom would look disapprovingly at bad behaviour, while I was beet red, embarrassed, and looked like I had just been caught with my hand in the cookie jar all the while standing in a closet with Fruit of the Loom briefs.  Mom then took the dress, had that odd smirk, and closed the closet door on me.  She walked out, and I just stood there in the cold, dark closet stunned.

It was a lot like this...

It was a lot like this…

Now I don’t know what she may have told my dad at the time, or if she said nothing, but we never spoke of it since.  I had to admire her sense of restraint and discretion.  It was another of those Terryism moments that I’m so prone to in my soap opera life, and as I look back, it was one of those funny memories that I’ll always love about her.  Thanks mom for the giggles.

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How to Be an Overly Sentimental Idiot in a Typhoon

A few days ago, Wendy from Yelp had started a contest for tickets to a party.  It was a Truth or Dare Challenge, to tell the story of the craziest, bravest thing you’ve ever done for true love or willing to do for it.  I’ve done quite a bit for each person who I’ve ever given my heart, but I can really only think of one time that I put my life in outright danger, and here’s that tale.

Hong Kong.

Those 2 words bring forth a ton of memories of all sorts.  Incredible food and experiences.  Expensive cost of living.  Shopping beyond belief. An island oasis filled with energy that can only be matched by Tokyo or New York.

I remember all that… but more importantly, I remember the incredible heat and tropical weather.

As a kid and a teen, I had visited HK a few times over the years, but until that particular summer, I had never actually lived and worked there.  Through family connections and so on, I had gotten the opportunity to work there as an intern for BBDO HK, a dream position for a mediaphile like myself.  BBDO, the legendary ad firm that came up with Delta’s “We Love to Fly and It Shows”.  This was legendary, as this was THE firm that managed the world-wide Apple Computers account, VISA, Pizza Hut and Pepsi advertising.  I got my chance to see how advertising is created from within the halls of creativity and imagination.

But that’s just trivia really.  While there were a lot of things to remember, what I remember most was the Category 5 Super Typhoon that hit Hong Kong dead on.

typhoon in hk

I had been in Typhoons before, with my friends in Taiwan.  I recall all of us in my bedroom, hanging out while waiting out the incredible winds buffeting against the concrete walls of the Chien T’an complex.  I remember walking out the next day, only to find the huge parade square completely submerged and seeing everything that wasn’t bolted or nailed down laying all over the complex.  Needless to say, it’s a bit of a scary event…. for most.

As you’ve read from The Days, I had acquired a love for lightning and thunder, and deep respect for the power of an angry storm.  I cherished it in fact, with the glee of a child that would be easily dazzled by a shiny new toy.

My friends, well, probably thought I was a bit insane, as I would every so often leave the safety of my room to look out onto the majesty of it all.  2 years later, there I was alone in Hong Kong, watching the city locking down for the most powerful storm ever to hit that island in a decade.

I had been in HK already for a good month, and I missed my then-gal (yes, HER) in Montreal.  Long distance rates back then were insanely expensive at $1-2 a minute, and mail service was terrible.  In previous years, very often I would find my postcards and letters reach her weeks after I had already returned, so writing to her seemed pointless.  And, well, since I was a Canadian with little Cantonese language skills and without any real connections except for the monthly meeting of gamers at the Mariner’s Club, I just felt terribly alone and lost.  I had always defined my identity as a knight in training to my friends and family, but in these lands, I couldn’t be that for anyone.  Then came the typhoon.

I made a quick call (all of a buck or two) and left a message with HER mom to tell her to check the HK weather reports.  And then I looked around the place where I was staying (the cousin of a family friend), grabbed a bed sheet, a disposable Kodak camera, a bunch of balloons and rushed up the fire escape stairs to the roof.

I remember hearing the wind pound against the roof door, straining to knock that door down.  I heard the hard rain hitting the ground outside like cannon fire, and the sound of patio furnishings crash against exhaust pipes and air vents.  I grabbed the bed sheet, tied it securely against my waist and then to the staircase railing.  And with a shove, I forced my way through.

The rain had hit me like a shower of gravel, hard, wet and heavy.  The wind pushed me against the door almost immediately, but I braced myself and went on.  And there I stood, waiting for that moment… one I knew that would come soon.

The storm was dead on Hong Kong by then.  The lightning turned day into night, and the thunder came forth like a thousand lions virtually at the same time.  It was terrifying.  It was incredibly stupid.  And it was glorious.  For a few brief seconds, I no longer was 5000 miles away under an asian sky, but felt a little bit closer to home as it should be.  I braced myself again against the door and sat onto the ground, all the while probably in danger of being blown off the roof or be impaled by debris.  And what I did then?  Made some balloons.

The sentimental side of me had been taken over by the ubergeek me.  Now that I was at the heart of the storm, I wondered how cool would it be to photograph some balloons flying out to sea.  Well, I wondered, though it really wasn’t the smartest thing to do.  I released the first balloon with one hand and ready to snap the shot with another.  Well…. the winds were hitting at roughly 190km at the time.  I didn’t even get a chance to aim, as the wind took the balloon and ran with it with an unearthly acceleration.  I had barely let it go, and poof… off with the winds and deep into the night and out to sea.   I tried again, and again, annnnd again…  Yep, not exactly a triumph for Terry the scientist indeed.  Finally, 10 balloons down and maybe 12 useless camera shots of the dark, I decided to take a shot just prior to letting the balloon ago and see what would happen.  Jackpot.

There weren’t many shots left on the camera, and the storm made the night seem like the whole of HK was wrapped in a black velvet cloak, but I struggled in the hope of a few pics of something.  Anything.  And with the second to last shot, I managed to get a shot of a brightly lit sky of lightning.

That was that.  I struggled to get back inside and close the door, and soaking wet as I was, I returned back to the safety of the apartment 10 stories below.

When I came back home, I had taken the now developed photos, put them in a cheap frame from Eatons, and dropped by a familiar house where someone was waiting for me.  She knew from my message that I was going to do something stupid, dangerous and utterly gallant to feel close again.

She had kept those pictures throughout the years.  Sure they’re in a different frame, and has probably been scanned and so on, but they still exist.  I know they do… because T&G has them now.  They never knew exactly why they were so important to her, but now they will soon when they get to read this.

2 months and counting until the reunion.