My sister made me do it

A comedian I enjoy tells a story about a group of seniors from the U.S. Midwest on a bus tour of Vancouver Island. With some extra time on their hands, they stopped at the Nanaimo Visitor’s Bureau seeking ideas for what they could do while in the area for a few hours.

The young woman at the info booth suggested bungee jumping. She had to explain this activity to the perplexed folks. After listening to the description, one of the seniors said, “So, if I understand you correctly, we tie a rope around our ankles, hurl ourselves off a bridge, drop 140 feet and hang there til someone reels us up?” To which the young gal assured them they get their money’s worth, because they swing back and forth like an inverted pendulum for quite awhile before being hauled back in. bungee jump 3

The comedian milks for laughs the outrageous image of a busload of 70+ year olds suspended upside down while their dentures and hearing aids float away in the Nanaimo River. If common sense hadn’t prevailed before they’d made the plunge, it would have rushed to their heads while dangling by their ankles.

I’ve never bungee jumped (no dentures, but I don’t want my boobs to slap me in the face) but I have participated in “adventures” where I’ve ignored my better judgment. Two that come to mind involve my resistance-is-futile Borg sister. What we do for love and to be a good sport…

Step on it!

Alison loves intricate dance moves and aerobics, so step classes have figured hugely in her exercise regime. So much so that that she got her fitness instructor certification so she could offer her own classes.

I, on the other hand, got sorely shortchanged on the rhythmic DNA, which showed up early at high school sock hops and hasn’t improved one beat since then. Alison repeatedly asked me to attend one of her classes, which I successfully resisted for years (made easier by virtue of her living in Montreal, and me in Vancouver), but I eventually relented. Not because there was anything she could say or do to convince me I’d enjoy it, but I wanted be a good sister – even if meant taking one for the klutzes.

Alison shows Craig some dance moves.

Alison shows Craig some dance moves.

At the gym, I claimed the spot in the far back corner – the favourite hidey-hole for the aerobically-challenged wearing oversized paint-splattered t-shirts. Boom-box cranked, Alison had everyone stomping up, down and around keeping time to a driving, pulsating tempo. I was consistently two to three moves behind everyone else. Every time she looked my way, I was inelegantly ricocheting in the opposite direction, trying to look cool while keeping up with the enthusiastic bouncing around me. When I felt completely defeated, I’d just stand still, a motionless meercat amongst the lunging leotards.

Alison tried – unsuccessfully – to hide her amusement at my clumsy pep-on-a-step. I did have a moment of sweet revenge part way through the torture, however, when she glanced over at me and I threw her rhythm off for a few beats. She made a graceful recovery.


I laid to rest once and for all, however, her naïve certainty that I was only kidding when I said I’m no Stepford Wife.

Licking batteries

Raw oysters have attained the status of frippery, devotees channeling ecstasy as glistening globs slither mostly un-masticated down their throats. Certain restaurants have built their business on the backs of these butt-ugly bivalves. I don’t get it.  “Glossy” is an adjective to describe healthy hair or magazine covers – not food.

Alison loves oysters, and in seafood restaurants, she will engage the server in animated banter regarding the freshness and origins of these bottom feeders. My conversations with the waiter about wine options are similarly spirited, with the important differences being that what arrives at our table is delicious, easy to swallow, and the lingering finishing notes don’t remind me of the ocean floor.

Image 1Somewhere I read that eating raw oysters is “a uniquely invigorating experience; a bit like battery-licking for grown-ups. . . we can taste the elements they contain like zinc, calcium, copper, iodine.” The reviewer sums up this power multi-vitamin as “the essence of sea in edible form.” There is nothing in that rapturous review that comes close to charging up my appetite.

Alison urged me to give oysters a try, and like the step class, I eventually relented. In the spirit of curiosity, I surrendered my gastric juices and gag reflex to her, and suggested she choose the amuse bouche for me.

More lively discussion in secret oyster code with the server ensued. Ten minutes later, a plate of six glistening AA globs on creamy shells was placed in front of each of us with grand flourish. As I looked at the revolting edibles, the question that popped to mind was: who was the first person brave enough to pop something into their mouth that looks like a horse’s booger?

Alison enthusiastically fell upon her plate, and I watched as she first squeezed lemon, then deftly manipulated the oyster from its shell. Lifting it to her lips, she tipped it and took a sip of the liquor before sliding the brackish glob into her mouth. There was a blissful pause as she savoured before swallowing. Then the satisfied sigh.

My Spirit of Curiosity was rapidly vapourizing. My inner child wanted to furtively slide the plate of vile bivalves into my open purse and announce, “All done! Yum-yum. Full now!”  But, following Alison’s lead, I popped an oyster in my mouth — and didn’t retch. I swallowed two of them, and slid the remainder over to the Borg.

I can now say I’ve licked batteries. And that the negative overpowered the positive.




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