CONCHA Y TORO WINEMAKER’S LOT 148 CARMENERE—Perfect for the antepenultimate Day (unless your mother is going to rip your heart out by “gifting” it to one of the kids’ teachers)

Scarybear says when we see the flash two days from now, we have to immediately fill the bathtub with water. He read that in The Road. Scary adds: Isn’t it typical of our parents that they haven’t bothered to stock up on water or provisions for the coming Apocalypse?

DSCN2776I’d been ignoring the countdown to Armageddon because it’s been feeling like Armageddon already. Plus we’ve had things to do, like planning P’s birthday party at Captain Kid’s indoor hellmouth fun centre, trying to figure out why the middle section of our Canadian Tire Christmas tree doesn’t light up, and getting ready for our holiday road trip to Vancouver Island. What with Santa breakfasts, mall shopping, and the fact that every other kid at school has decided to have a birthday party this week, things are pretty freaking busy at LBHQ. Oh yeah, and there’s this big dump of snow this morning—a phenomenon our city is totally unready for. Traffic is a disaster, there are only a handful of snowplows in the entire Lower Mainland, schools are closing (OMG! Nooo!), and if we get half a foot more of it they’ll declare it an official emergency (like, for real). Yes, we are f#cked when it snows in this part of the world, because it so rarely does. We don’t know how to drive in it, we don’t have the tires for it, braking hard on a skid seems to be a natural Vancouverite intuition, and half the drivers don’t need to be on the road—they’re trying it out for the sheer novelty of it.

Scary says we’re really screwed now because Mum won’t drive to get provisions. This is true—if there’s one person you don’t want operating a car in the snow, it’s my mother. But at least, Scary says, we’ll have snow to get water from when everything goes dark on Friday.

Scary’s obsession with water is starting to freak me out. He seems to have narrowed down his apocalyptic speculations from many (collapse of the vacuum, solar flares, asteroids, rogue black holes, gamma rays, volcanism, magnetic field reversal) to one: nuclear annihilation.mushroom cloud

I wish Scary would read books that weren’t about the end of the world. I would happily lend him a bartending guide or some Nabokov if he’d have it, but he won’t. (Maybe he will in two days, but he says it will be hard to read by candlelight, and that reading will be an absurd luxury anyway.)

Right now, Scary says, it’s important to do Meaningful Things. Society is ending, and we have to treasure those things that are Important. For example, Scary is going to binge-watch Stargate, because that was always his favorite.

“Well,” I said, “I’ve been saving a bottle of CONCHA Y TORO WINEMAKER’S LOT 148 Carmenere (2010). That would be perfect for Apocalypse Eve, wouldn’t it?”

“Wrong, weirdo,” he said. “That would be dehydrating. On December 22 we’re going to be rationing water. Don’t expect any extra because you’re hung over.”

Who made Scary the boss of the Apocalypse, I don’t know. How does he even know that wine would dehydrate us? I had no idea myself. Let’s investigate this, my fellow inebriates.

Does alcohol cause dehydration?

OMG, apparently people have known about this for years. Shakespeare mentions it in the Macduff-Porter scene about erections:

PORTER

‘Faith sir, we were carousing till the second cock. And drink, sir, is a great provoker of three things.

MACDUFF

What three things does drink especially provoke?

PORTER

Marry, sir, nose-painting, sleep, and urine. Lechery, sir, it provokes and unprovokes. It provokes the desire, but it takes away the performance.

He said "cock."

He said “cock.”

Alcohol does make you pee. But why?

The diuretic quality of alcohol is still not fully understood. According to Dr. Karl:

After all, beer is about 95 per cent water and only five per cent alcohol. And the liver converts that five per cent of alcohol into roughly the same mass of water and some carbon dioxide.

So if you drink 200 millilitres of beer, the end result is 200 millilitres of water. But you don’t urinate just 200 millilitres of urine. No! You urinate a total of about 320 millilitres of urine.

What the hell? Dr. Karl says that for every shot of alcohol, you pee an extra 120 mL. Where does it come from, my fellow inebriates?

Alcohol interferes with the body’s ability to regulate water levels.

Ordinarily your pituitary gland releases ADH (anti-diuretic hormone) to keep water in the body (based on electrolyte levels and so forth) so you don’t get dehydrated. ADH curtails peeing. But alcohol reduces your ADH production, sending you on multiple bathroom trips. Even if you try to catch up by drinking water, you don’t get to keep that water—most of it will get tinkled out, and you’ll still end up dehydrated.

And, according to Scary, it’ll be your fault if you get hammered the night before Armageddon and end up thirsty. Smart survivalists like himself will be hoarding water and looting grocery stores. (“Idiots like you, LB, will be looting liquor stores and HMV.”)

OMG, Scary is mean sometimes. I do realize there won’t be any electricity. But liquor? Liquor could have its uses.57911_469184923103527_1148624302_n

That bathtub of water is going to get pretty crappy pretty fast. At least it won’t have traces of bathroom cleanser in it, though—it doesn’t occur to Mum to scrub it very often. We just have to get the kids to stop peeing in the tub. Still, within a couple of days of the blast, that water will have all kinds of floaties in it. We’ll be wanting some beer then, I reckon.

But beer’s dehydrating, isn’t it?

Not if you’re already dehydrated. Then other bodily regulatory forces will override the dehydrating effects of ADH, to a point at least. And beer is 95 percent water, so you’ll get to keep at least some of it. “Yeah,” says Scary, “but water would be better, douchebag.”

Okay, so what about our bottle of CONCHA Y TORO Carmenere? Maybe we should drink that tonight rather than on Apocalypse Eve.

But OMG, according to my mum, it’s not our bottle. “That’s for V’s kindergarten teacher.”

Holy crap, we’re giving our wine away to teachers??

“We really like V’s teacher.”

This is the end of the world.

Concha y ToroWe’ve had this CONCHA Y TORO Carmenere before, and it is luminous. Inky and full-bodied, it wafts generously layered aromas of black cherry, espresso, leather, and floral notes. Decadently concentrated yet incredibly complex, this Carmenere is epic on the palate—supple and smooth, structured and long-finishing. This wine is a powerhouse of fruit orchestration, commanding your attention from first to final, reluctant sip (if you had an absorbent paw, you could get the last of it that way, knowing no one will be operating the Maytag after December 21). And at a $20 price tag, this CONCHA Y TORO offering is all the more magnificent.

Personally, I think V should be doing long division and reading Beowulf if we’re giving her teacher this particular bottle.

“LB, don’t be a dick,” said my mother.

“He can’t help it,” said Scary.

Moral outrage in the schoolyard—I’m sober and I know it

The song is inane, the video even more so, but all the elementary school kids are still singing it: “I’m Sexy and I Know It.”

LMFAO

Huddled in the rain today waiting for their turn at parent-teacher meetings, parents, grandparents and kids alike were bored. Entertainment was wanting. But when Miss V’s fellow kindergartner Prescott* launched into the famous LMFAO song, nearby mom Chandra wasn’t happy. “That’s not appropriate,” she said.

Prescott’s grandmother Barb, who regularly encourages Prescott to regale her with such songs, challenged Chandra. “What’s wrong with it? It’s just a song.”

But with a dozen kids bouncing off each other, asking for juice boxes, and generally interrupting, a debate never got off the ground. From the musty and crumb-stained confines of Miss V’s backpack, I listened, but whatever Chandra felt was inappropriate about a five-year-old singing “I’m Sexy and I Know It,” she didn’t explain.

Now, I was jonesing for alcohol, people. It was our first day out after a four-day plague. The whole family was fragile and my mother hadn’t had a conversation with anyone over six and/or not barfing in at least that long. Whatever jones I had for a glass of wine, she had it twice as bad for a good argument. But she emerged from her parent-teacher meeting moments too late to reignite the controversy and could only weigh in with: “So what if the song has the word ‘sexy’ in it? It’s just a word. My kids sing it all the time.”

Yes they do, although more often they sing “Party Rock Anthem,” usually at the top of their lungs in the car, making Dad play the song eight or nine times in a row. When our parents get fed up with that song, they will settle for “I’m Sexy and I Know It,” albeit as a distant second.

“This band that sings it, LMFAO,” said Chandra. “Do you know what that stands for?” She mouthed the words: “Laughing My Fucking Ass Off.” The offensive words she didn’t say aloud.

In over a year of singing and dancing to LMFAO, neither P nor V has ever asked what the letters stand for. And even if on one of their car rides they asked one day, “Daddy, is LMFAO an acronym?”…So what?

When they first started singing along to “I’m Sexy and I Know It,” the kids weren’t even correctly saying the word “sexy.” They didn’t know it, so they were approximating the sounds, ending up with nonsense syllables like “sutsy” and “supsy.” One day Mum reflexively corrected them to “sexy.” She couldn’t help it.

It’s not like the kids could have avoided hearing the song. LMFAO radio mixes are ubiquitous on radio and satellite; you hear them in restaurants and businesses, streaming out the windows of cars on the highway—and every time we hear them P and V rock out because the songs make them happy. Like every innocent kid who ever danced on American Bandstand, they like the beat.

They’re not unique in their appreciation of LMFAO—but apparently they’re lucky their enthusiasm hasn’t come under the magnifying glass. In May an Aurora, Colorado first-grader got a three-day suspension from school for singing “I’m Sexy and I Know It” to a fellow student—i.e., sexually harassing her.

Is it just me or is there a bit of a disconnect here? Children aren’t sexy, nor do they—under normal circumstances (and obviously it’s important to realize when we’re outside of normal circumstances)—have exposure to adult sexual situations. They don’t really know what “sexy” means. The word is as meaningless to them (or more so) as the phrase “This is how I roll.” Where exactly does the Aurora Public School officials’ discomfort, and that of parents such as Chandra, come from?

By using the word “sexy,” are children inviting sexual predators?

Sexual predation is one of the top fears parents have for their children. They protect them, they watch them, they coach them on which adults to trust, they drill them on what to do if approached by a stranger, they scare them so they can feel less scared themselves. And they have to, because the sickos are out there. But do you think for a moment the sickos are scoping for that kid singing the LMFAO song because that will make their predation okay?

What if the kid doesn’t just sing the word “sexy” but gyrates as well?

Parents teach their kids appropriate behaviors. As V’s kindergarten teacher puts it, it’s not okay to break other people’s bubbles. We keep our hands to ourselves; we keep our private parts private; we don’t hug if it’s unwelcome. What constitutes a sexy dance when it comes to a six-year-old? I’m thinking nothing if all of the above rules are observed. Anybody who sees something different might be tapping into some personal repression. Children are not sexy. Anyone who finds children sexy did not get the idea from LMFAO.

Is it uncomfortable for us to see children describe themselves in adult terms—terms we associate with sexual behavior?

Yes! Yes, it is. It is if we assume a context that mirrors ours. If we decide V and her little friend E are shaking their booties to attract sexual partners, then yes, it’s uncomfortable. Are they? We don’t need to ask them; they’ll tell us if they are. They look ludicrous dancing; it’s hilarious to watch them; they like the beat. If they start verbalizing a wish to attract males by directing attention to their bodies, should we have a talk? You bet. But did the general (and underexamined) idea that women make themselves alluring to attract men originate with one song by one band? Come on.

Sooner or later kids will learn what “sexy” means. Could this be happening earlier and earlier?

Undoubtedly it is. But we know our kids, and at ages five and six they tend to be pretty transparent. If they’ve acquired some notion of what “sexy” is, isn’t this a teaching opportunity for us? Maybe we could tell them how silly the song is, and arguably how it makes fun of the way adults relate to each other (going into as much or as little detail as preferred)? The kids know about all sorts of other adult and therefore off-limit activities: driving, staying up late, drinking coffee or beer, going to a job, getting married. At some point teaching them about sex will be appropriate—and ideally this time will come long before they consider having sex. Until then, sex is in the future and it doesn’t make sense to pretend it doesn’t exist.

Is the word “sexy” itself simply off-color?

Is it? The word “sexy” has numerous contexts. Ever heard of a sexy news story? What about sex chromosomes? What about same-sex marriage? Do we really want to lump the word “sexy” in with “motherfucker”?

By making a big deal of lyrics that mention sex, aren’t we drawing attention to words that would otherwise go unnoticed by small kids?

Uh, yeah.

Is there some age when we should start worrying about “sexy” behavior?

This year’s Halloween costume guidelines specify that boys and girls at our elementary school must not wear “revealing or ‘sexy’ [their quotes] costumes.” There is an age at which a kid is capable of looking provocative. Not five or six, but possibly 12 (not an unheard-of age for high-fashion models). So the rules exist to protect those kids, and because you’d never want to single out those kids, the rules apply to everyone. And fortunately for any parent who has a ten-year-old who looks 15, they can cite the rules.

We’d be idiots if we didn’t think that one future day V or P (or both) will scoot off to school in some nasty outfit deliberately designed to offend adults and distract the opposite sex. They will be trying to look sexy, and it will be a parental nightmare. Their parents know this will happen because they did it themselves way back when. Before MTV, before YouTube, and before LMFAO.

How harmful can a song be?

Age-old question! Ask any old curmudgeon who ever freaked out about Elvis’s gyrations. But I’d rather ask Elmo.

When do we get to review some booze?

OMG, I hope soon. Everybody’s been so sick with the flu that liquor hasn’t made an appearance. Soon, my fellow inebriates.

*Names have been changed.

Have you disappeared down the parenting rabbit hole?

My parents think I don’t understand them (at least I think they think that). So today I’m making an effort to get into their brains. [Full disclosure: MY PARENTS ARE TOTALLY BORING. FEEL FREE TO SKIP TODAY’S POST.]

 ♦  ♦  ♦

After seven years of parenting, my mum and dad aren’t doing so well in the social department. While they were never so outgoing that they had to fend off friends, prior to this millennium they at least hung out with people, phoned people, and found themselves in mingling situations more than once every two years.

Simultaneous nap. As rare as a blue moon. (I think they’re faking.)

Parenthood changes the way you make friends—profoundly. No longer do you make connections casually, gradually, or naturally. The intense first year with a newborn, during which you get an immediate burst of attention and then withdraw into diapers and mush, effectively destroys whatever spontaneity you once had. At first friends call…barbecues, dinner parties, golf games, poker nights…but if the invitations don’t jive with naps, or feedings, or bedtime, you turn them down. Turn them down for long enough, and people don’t call any more. And you don’t call them, because you’re tired. You can’t hold a conversation without interruption any more. You can’t hold a coherent thought in your head. Pretty soon, nobody calls anybody, ever.

You realize you don’t know anybody. Moreover, you’re barely fit for human company. But that constant barrage of parenting advice that streams from the ether is commanding you to socialize your child.

So you find yourself at playgrounds, scoping out other families. Gone are the days when friendship sprouted organically. A newfound desperation to network finds you sizing up the kids…Are they the right age? Do they play nicely? Do they look like they have the occasional bath? Do they bite? Could they possibly be inbred?

Then, secondarily—and distantly so—do the parents look okay? Because the thing is, okay will do. If they seem nonviolent, moderately social, aren’t screeching profanities, and have kids that will play with yours, it’s now or never. You’re going to make it click. And so, like a speed-dater, you court them, aware that any second one of your respective spawns will start caterwauling and truncate any opportunity to network on their behalf.

A week later you’re sitting in a strange family’s living room wishing you’d had the foresight to medicate your allergies against their seven cats. You’re wondering why anyone needs 14 bibles and how these juxtapose with the Harlequin-romance-stuffed shelves. Casual conversation reveals your new friends don’t allow their boy-children to play with pink or purple toys for fear of homosexual contagion, further armor against which (you fear) might be offered by an improperly stored firearm somewhere in the house. Aphorisms chatter from copious wall plaques, and you glean from the family’s countless photo collages that the kids are busily engaged in cheerleading, apologetics camp, and—yes—beauty pageantry.

You realize that if and when you reciprocate with a playdate at your house—if it’s to be a repeat event (and aren’t your kids playing nicely together?)—you’ll need to hide half your books and at least one painting. You probably shouldn’t mention the alcoholic bear who lives with you and whose typing you do, nor should you heed random temptations to diss Mitt Romney or ask, “How about those freaks outside BC Women’s Hospital? Forty days, huh?” Already, in their house, the Third Rail is arcing electrically, taunting you to leap upon it…

But your kids LOVE each other.

You realize that, in your own way, you’re probably being more inwardly judgmental than your hosts ever would be toward you. You wonder…are you being a snob? Are your misgivings valid? Or should you just tamp them down for the sake of your kids, who don’t know or care about the politics or lifestyle mismatches you think are such an obstacle?

With your kid(s) at playdate age, the tail has been wagging the dog for a long time. Socially, you’ve disappeared down a rabbit hole. You probably go days on end without anyone calling you by your given name. It has not been about you for a very long time. And until grade school, when the little ones start making their own friends, awkward playdates are a fact of life.

Fact 1: The weirder the other parents are, the more your kids will attach to theirs.

Fact 2: The weirder the other parents are, the more inclined you’ll be to always be present for the playdates. Just because.

Fact 3: After years of uncomfortable playdates, you’ll have no idea how to make your own friends any more.

If you’re very lucky, by the time Kindergarten dawns, some of your playdates will have translated into genuine parental friendships. When naps and baby food are phases of the past, you might just be able to hang out with the adults while the kids play. Sure, they’ll have a fight every two minutes or so, but you’ll be able to complete a sentence here and there, and eventually get to know each other as adults, above and beyond your kids. And then you can be yourself and let it all hang out. And then you can allow the resident alcoholic bear onto the counter, where he can sample from everyone’s glass. And there won’t be a resultant awkward silence. You can explain that he’s your bear, not your kids’, and that he’s an alcoholic. And that since he’s beyond hope, everyone should just keep pouring for him.

Really.