Sunday, January 11, 2015

The wife-tossing contest

He really means this stuff. He thinks it really happens. That's what drives me crazy. Today my husband starts to tell me about this "custom" they have once a year on Skytrain: that everyone (in unison, presumably) drops their pants. I didn't believe it and cross-examined him.

"No, it's true. It's once a year. Everyone does this at the same time."


"It's a custom, kind of a celebration."

"But why do they do it on Skytrain? Is it some sort of protest?"

"No. Just something they do."

"Who's they?"

"Everybody. You know, that group."

"What group?"

"The group that does it."

But wait, there's more. Another day, he says all women on Skytrain are allowed to take their tops off. "Then they walk down the street," he said. I wanted to say: They. Do. Not. Walk. Down. The. Street. With. Their. Tops. Off. But it was no use. He is firmly convinced that it happens. 

This man has a Master's degree in biochemistry. He is not a doofus, supposedly. His last delusion was the "Wife-Tossing Contest" which he described in detail to me and two of my astonished grandchildren. Yes, he believes there is a wife-tossing competition somewhere in Scandinavia (he didn't specify where), a festival with costumes, ethnic foods, wine, etc. I asked him "wouldn't they be badly injured?" He said, "oh, no, they lay a whole lot of mats down first." He MEANS this, he thinks it really happens, and now they pull their pants down on Skytrain.

It's some testicular thing, maybe. The women parading around topless, certainly. But wife-tossing.  I just had a Finnish Facebook friend tell me, a bit piqued, that they have a wife-CARRYING contest there, and sure, I've seen footage of it. It's hilarious. The wife doesn't have to do much except hold on. And somewhere along the line, though I can't find any YouTube videos to support it, I've heard of dwarf-tossing. I wonder if he just conflated the two. 

On our first date or so, one billion years ago B. C., he decided to amaze and impress me with a whole lot of True Facts. Bill then was like someone who walked off the set of Revenge of the Nerds, or maybe a very retro version of The Big Bang Theory. He wore plaid shirts rolled up to the elbow (and the lower part of the sleeve was several shades darker, for some reason), white undershirts that showed at the neck, a plastic pocket protector, and glasses held together at the bridge with electrical tape. He showed me his slide-rule tie clip once, and when the romance had progressed a little further, his "Peter Meter", a device for measuring the penis that is handed out on your first day of engineering school.

Some of our first hot and heavy dates were in the lab, in which I got to see him cooking up "bugs": microorganisms which were designed to eat oil spills. Later I typed part of his Master's thesis on an old Olivetti manual typewriter. 

I think it was in the London Cafe, sitting there eating our cheeseburgers and chips, that he looked at me and said, "Did you know that you have over 200 bones in your foot?"

"No, I didn't know that."

"You mean you haven't heard of it before?"

"No, I didn't know that because it's NOT TRUE."

We had no internet then, so sat arguing about it for half an hour or so, then had sundaes. Eventually I came up with the correct information in a medical book. Bill was nonplussed. No, I mean it. I mean he was the correct meaning of nonplussed, which is "surprised and confused".

"You're saying there aren't 200 bones in your foot?" He still looked doubtful. I didn't have a Master's degree, so how would I know?

"Maybe in your foot."

"No, I mean are there 200 bones in everyone's feet."


Another date, another amazing bit of information: "Did you know that in some parts of the world, a hedgehog can grow to be 200 pounds?"

By this time I was getting a little used to it, but we still had a vigorous argument about tribal myths and glandular beavers. No one won, but I still didn't believe in the 200-pound hedgehogs. Many, many years later I heard about the South American capybara, a rodent not unlike a giant guinea pig that can easily top 200 pounds. Another conflation? Who knows.

Part of me is nonplussed, and the rest of me surprised and delighted that such a smart person could say such dumb things.  They're endlessly entertaining, of that I have no doubt. I should have written all of them down, I'd be making money at this gambit by now. The only one that sticks in my mind now is his version of the animated show Beavis and Butthead (and he wasn't being funny, he really thought it was called this): "Buttwist and Weasel."

When his errors are pointed out, it doesn't bother him. At all. He has this giggle. The more hotly I contest his blatantly untrue fact, the more he giggles.  He doesn't care that he was wrong, maybe because secretly, against logic, against reason, against all that is holy and visible in the universe, he KNOWS he is right.

Post-blog blag: I've been corrected about 150 times, so I guess I have to admit defeat. This appeared in the redoubtable, always-influential, ever-readable newspaper 24 Hours:

Scores of SkyTrain riders were travelling by the seat of their underpants on a chilly Sunday afternoon for the fourth-annual No Pants SkyTrain Ride.

Starting at 1 p.m., riders doffed their pants in an effort to spread a little stripped-down mirth to beat the winter blahs.

According to social media sites spreading the word, riders were encouraged to board their train cars and then strip out of their pants as soon as the doors closed.

Tips for explaining the unusual behaviour included telling fellow passengers they simply forgot their pants, and insisting it’s a coincidence others made the same mistake and boarded the train minus the lower half of their wardrobe.

For those feeling a little shy about the stunt, it was suggested modesty could be upheld by wearing two pairs of underwear.

On the Vancouver No Pants Skytrain Ride Facebook page, 199 had confirmed their intention to take part.“This is the best way to start off a new year. Count me in, and count my pants out,” posted
one confirmed participant.

“I am so getting granny panties for this,” posted another. “This is priceless — how can I not do it?”

The No Pants Subway Ride is an annual event organized by New York City prank group Improv Everywhere, whose motto is “We cause scenes.”The initial ride took place in the Big Apple in 2002 when seven brave riders unzipped. According to the group’s website, the pant-less ride has today spread to 60 regional rides in more than 25 countries.

OK, but I still don't get it. My mind just keeps going to a certain scenario. Young men - OK, sometimes old men get boners all the time, and we KNOW they do. They can generally hide them (or they think they can) if they have pants on. But with mere gaunch (gitch, gatch, gotchies), they won't be able to hide a thing. I'd have to look at a whole lot of stiffies, whether I wanted to or not, and to be honest with you, I don't.

Is this concern far-fetched? Think about it. You think you won't see stiffies on men who are staring at a few hundred women in their underwear?

  Visit Margaret's Amazon Author Page!

Best film trailer of all time