I don’t recall which skincare/beauty/whale fat product it was but their television advertisement claimed that it, “Fights The Seven Signs of Ageing.” This always made me froth at the mouth. Not just because whatever happens to the human body with age is normal and should be celebrated rather than be ashamed of or because one product wildly claimed to be effective across-the-board to fight all seven signs, but also because the seven signs were made-up marketing words that either happily floated into the product or were bumped offscreen by a jar of the product powering through space. No mention of preventative medicine (maybe don’t spend decades radiation-burning your skin in ultraviolet light if you don’t want the skin to scar and wrinkle). No mention of cheaper generic products (am I the only person who reads ingredients on shampoo bottles?). The main thing that annoyed me about the ad was that the phrase stuck in my head, and re-surfaced at any remotely related opportunity. There’s a stop-sign, is that a sign of ageing? I mis-placed my keys. Is that a sign of ageing? Perhaps this was advertising success. I don’t know the product and I didn’t buy it, so maybe not.
The last four months in Canada have humbled me in that things you take for granted, like how a tap works, things that you think you learned in childhood, become new. Hopefully the measure of a person’s worth or intelligence isn’t in his or her innate ability to turn the bloody shower on, or find out how to pry the plug out of the sink, but in how they tackle the at first innocuous, but rapidly frustrating and potentially life-threatening (OK, that’s hyperbole) problem. In case I forget when we go home to Australia, there have been several, and the list continues to grow, simple things that cause a moment’s hesitation but immediate facial vasodilation and tachycardia and some grunting.
This is how a tap works, in Australia. You turn a metal handle, probably counter-clockwise when viewed from above, and water comes out. If it leaks, you go to Bunnings and buy a new washer. The mains water supply is buried under a shrub somewhere in the garden, with a few slugs and snails if it’s not summer.
This is what all the taps look like in Canadia that I’ve used so far. They probably even hum Celine Dion because she’s Canadian. From our first night in the hotel in Mississauga to the complicated contraptions in the hospital I’ve had to figure out how to spell -w-a-t-e-r-o-n-p-l-e-a-s-e in semaphore, just to have shower or wash my hands.
I hope I don’t break one because I won’t know how to fix it. Also, many taps are apparently motion detector sensitive. I can’t find where this motion detector is, maybe it’s a prank TV show because I am always apparently loitering in public bathrooms frantically waving my hands under all the taps almost in tears that none of them want to spare even a drop of water so that I can wash my hands, run outside and stop holding my breath (public mens’ toilets don’t have the freshest air).
Some of the hospital basins have foot pedals for taps, and I stand there waving my hands frantically while my patient, who just signed a consent for me to perform an ultrasound-guided biopsy, watches with increasing concern that I can’t even use a sink.
I cleaned the bathroom sink yesterday. Somehow I depressed the plug. The plug is a fancy metal disc that somehow remains dead-centre just above the plug hole. I pushed it down and the sink filled with water. It got stuck. I pushed it more, thinking that maybe it was like a cupboard door and a second push would release a spring-loaded mechanism. It didn’t budge. Perhaps it was a push-and-turn mechanism. No. A few seconds later, after several failed attempts at preventing myself from drowning in the rapidly filling sink, or floating over the edge of the balcony as the water filled the apartment and carried me off in a tidal wave, holding onto my little green sponge, I found the release, hidden behind the tap! Who thinks of these things?
I thought, “This must be one of the seven signs of ageing. I can’t even use a plug.” When I was a kid and had to share the shower recess with my cousin, Kevin, and use the 5 cm of depth as a bath we alternated who had to sacrifice a butt-cheek to use as a plug. One of us would sit on the drain-hole, forming a disc, sometimes waffle-printed, onto a butt cheek so that we’d be able to turn the shower into a 5 cm bath. I’m sure I read that Clive James did this too, in his autobiography, Unreliable Memoirs.
Anything With Buttons
The mammography workstations have a Star Trek quality button pad, with various hieroglyphics on the fat, round buttons. I found the ones with arrows that point left and right cycle through the images forwards and backwards. The rest aren’t as intuitive and are therefore utterly useless. One of the non-breast radiologists wandered through the other day and was fascinated by the keypad. He asked how it worked. I told him that I just mash it with my hand:
This is also how raiding in World of Warcraft felt like earlier in the year before I stopped playing. There used to be coordinated skill required, 40 people having to work in concert and, as I preferred to play a spell caster (usually heals on my priest, but sometimes DPS on my mage), I’d hotkey my four to eight most used spells and either 1-2-3-4 or shift-1-2-3 or 4 to cast. All you need to do now is face-roll the keyboard. The outcome is the same. Bloody overpowered warlocks.
It rained most of the morning. We slept in. We went to the gym. Daniel has cleaned out under the sink where a small community of fruit flies had formed a colony on the onions and potatoes we were attempting to liquefy for future cleaning. Every time I opened the cupboard door to get a dishwasher magic four-colour ball thing to put into the dishwasher two would escape. If you forget the dishwasher door was open, at ankle height, and try to run after them or employ the effective Jump-and-Clap technique for killing flies, you’d risk injury.
For future reference, the Seven Signs of Ageing according to
Oil of Ulan Olay, are:
- Dull skin
- Dark spots
- Uneven tone
So I would like to know how these criteria were established? Did they take 100 000 women aged under 20 and 100 000 over 80 and compare presence of lines, skin turgor, how shiny (skin isn’t a car) etc.? My maternal grandmother had the softest skin I have ever felt. She was old. Maybe she had won her battle with her ageing skin. After multiple strokes left her needing high level care it was probably irrelevant whether her skin was dull or uneven in tone. She stopped recognising my mother. We would drive out to Carlisle to visit. I would always ask Mum why another lady just sat in her chair repeating to nobody, “One, two, three, four, one, two, three, four…” didn’t know how to count as high as I could?
I’m more excited by the mathematical proofs of Olay’s subsequent advertisement: AA + BB = CC. This is going to have me thinking for months. If x tends towards zero then what happens to AA?