April 21, 2001

Scary Things

Friday afternoon:

Sometimes entries just fall into one's lap.

The phone rang a few minutes ago. It was my older son, Mark, calling from work.

"I don't know if I told you this before, but Michael wants to join the army."
(Michael is a long-time friend and neighbour, about a year younger than Mark, who's almost twenty.)

You know those commercials for deodorant, where the anxiety-o-meter goes up or down depending on the circumstances? Mine hit the red area with that one.

Me: No you didn't tell me.

(Refusing to even entertain the possibility of what might be coming next!)

Mark: He asked to use me as a reference. Should I accept?

Me: Do his parents know about this?
(Michael has been known to do things like drop out of school and not tell his parents for months - even while living in their home.)

Mark: Yeah.

Me: (meter down slightly) It's ok, all they'll probably want is for you to say you've known him for so many years and he is who he says he is and he's not a criminal. He isn't a criminal, is he?

Mark: (probably rolling eyes) No Ma.

Me: Like your other friend the drug dealer?
(Another boy who used to hang out with Mark and Michael is rumoured to have sold drugs in his high school.)

Mark: (for sure rolling eyes) Michael isn't a drug dealer.

(Meter down slightly again)

Mark: Do you think it's a good idea, his joining the army?

Me: Welllll maybe.

Now that's a tough one.

As someone who came of age in the '60's, even in Canada, just the mention of the word "army" causes immediate brain spasms.

I know armies are necessary. I know they provide good training and life skills and discipline.

For someone like Michael, who graduated high school and then drifted in and out of college and several jobs over the past two years, the army might be just the thing. Assuming of course there's no war or other unpleasantness, and we can never assume that.

It's just that it's the first time this has come up in relation to my childrens' contemporaries.

Mark might get it into his head that it would do him some good too - and objectively I'd have to admit that it might. But my son in the army?

I hope not.

Saturday afternoon:

It was time for the biweekly trip to the pet shop to buy crickets for the lizard.

Of course you can't just walk in and order crickets - you have to pet the cats, commune with the birds, and tolerate the reptiles.

I was accomplishing that part of the mission while Rob was obtaining the insect yummies; he came over and informed me that one of the employees was walking around with a giant tarantula on his back.

Although my first instinct was to get out of there NOW, I decided to go take a look.

The employee in question was a young man who didn't seem to mind people staring at him. Or at least, staring at his left arm, which was where the tarantula was by the time I got there. The thing was BIG. And fuzzy. If it wasn't moving (slowly, thank goodness!) I might have mistaken it for a tarantula beanie baby. It was mostly brown with patches of black and yellow.

I watched it for a few minutes. Rob watched me watching it.

Me: It has more than eight legs.

Rob: Mom... the two small ones in front? Those are antennas.

Me: Oh.
(Even the antennae were hairy!)

Me: I wasn't sure which end was the front, now I know.

I've come a long way with respect to my fear of spiders.

Linque Du Jour:   XCel Energy Birdcams!

There's a plethora of nesting bird cams online, and a mini-plethora of falcon sites in particular; but this is my favourite. This will be my third year watching Mae (the mother of all peregrines?) tend her nest; according to the website, it's Mae's twelfth! Marie was webcammed last year too, but Sophia is new.

There's really nothing cuter than those fuzzy little chicks who sit around like white dust mops after they hatch.

Montreal has had a pair of peregrines nesting downtown for years now; there's an informative website but when I last checked the camera wasn't working.

And if it's night time in North America, you can check out the birds in Prague!

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