When it comes to vegetables, I am the first to admit that I am absolutely clueless.
I’d like to claim I grew up in a vegetable-free household which would explain this and several other unexplained mysteries, such as why the heck I can’t use cutlery like a normal person, but it would be a lie.
Adding to the confusion, I was a dedicated vegetarian for seven long years and I still have no idea about vegetable-related matters!
I recently found myself making a salad at someone else’s house. I was trying to be all helpful and enthusiastic, but quickly found myself having a small panic attack when faced with something I suspected was a zucchini, green skin and all, and didn’t know what the hell to do with it… peel it? Don’t peel it? Slice it? Bake it? Throw it in a cupboard and pretend it was never there…?
Turns out it was actually a cucumber and yes, you can eat the green bit!
This is just the most recent of many situations I’ve had resulting from my lifelong vegetable confusion. Others include:
I’d heard of the elusive yam but was pretty happy living in the knowledge that it had never crossed my path. It just didn’t sound like a friendly vegetable, or a tasty one for that matter, but more like some kind of angry little man in a cape wielding a Bamm-Bamm style club.
That was, of course, until I blogged several months ago about my fear of mashed potato and for some reason, these yams kept coming up in my comments.
Do you like yams?
How do yams make you feel?
Do you eat mashed yams?
Things were getting weird.
I was confused and finally accepted that it was time to consult my friend Google.
So, for anyone who is unfamiliar with the yam equation, here it is:
Yam = Sweet Potato = Awesome!
You know those cultural miscommunications you have when you are so clueless as to what is going on you just smile and nod and accept that you will never know the truth? For me, Kumara was one of these.
For quite a few years, when kiwi friends kept saying things like ‘it’s kumara, right?’, ‘does this have kumara in it?’ and ‘I’m going to get kumara on the side’, I was seriously confused. Initially I thought kumara was a bird or maybe a person, but after much smiling and nodding and a whole lot of confusion, I realised they were simply trying to say ‘sweet potato’!
Better than that girl I once heard about who told her boss at a staff event at a chalet that he ‘had such a nice long deck’.
Ah, bless those little kiwis!
However, the real beginning of my vegetable confusion can only be blamed on one vegetable…
Many years ago, while still reasonably new to the world of vegetarianism and after a chinese doctor told me I was going to die if I didn’t eat meat, I made it my mission to learn to cook vegetables. I bought myself a cookbook, aptly titled ‘Learning to Cook Vegetarian’ and dog-eared the pages of anything that looked even remotely manageable (ie. Had less than ten ingredients) for experimentation.
One of my first attempts was some kind of baked creation, which seemed pretty straightforward. I copied down my little list of ingredients… garlic… onion… potato… turnip… turnip? Turnip! What the heck was a turnip?
Keep in mind here that this was before the days of Google on your phone, or even readily available high-speed internet, so my investigation of what the heck a turnip was consisted of squinting at the photo in the recipe book and by process of elimination and some vague recollection of a turnip character in a childrens book I had read long ago, came to the conclusion that it was a root vegetable with a sprout, which may or may not also have big eyes and wear a pair of runners…
Not one to shy away from a project I have committed to, I decided not to scrap the chosen recipe and chose another, but to take my new found knowledge to the supermarket to source the aforementioned turnip and everything else that the recipe called for and, of course, me being me, I got everything else and left the turnip for last.
With pretty much no idea what I was actually looking for, I had been standing in the root vegetable area for a good twenty minutes, reading all of the price labels when I found it. The excitement was overwhelming:
Turnips – $3.50 per kg | Beetroot $4.00 per kg
I looked up to the corresponding box and to my horror, there was no separation between the two vegetables – just a whole load of round things rolling around in one big box!
Having never seen beetroot except from can, I had reached a whole new level of confusion. Refusing to accept defeat or ask for help, I took a gamble and grabbed what most closely resembled the turnip I had envisaged – I figured if they had been stored in the same box without proper labels, there can’t be much difference anyway… Right?
Needless to say, to this day, I have never cooked or bought a beetroot OR a turnip ever again.
Other awkward vegetables I have encountered include ‘Green Onions’ (which, it turns out was my Fast and Fabulous cookbook seeing how far I would go to find a vegetable that DOES NOT EXIST), ‘Chinese Leaf’ (otherwise referred to as any leafy Chinese vegetable, walking around the markets asking for Chinese Leaf is not recommended!) and ‘Pepper’ or ‘Bell Pepper’ (which, contrary to popular belief is referring to a capsicum, NOT a chilli!) amongst many, many others.
On a side note, a few weeks ago I finally worked out how to install emoji emoticons onto my iPhone. Clearly a fairly simple task once you realise it’s an app.
My newfound love of emoticons was going well, I’ve been throwing them in here and there to create confusion or make a completely unclear point. In the midst of a recent texting conversation, I needed to throw in something completely unexpected. Insert Emoticon:
Think to self: A PURPLE zucchini! Of course! No one will see it coming!
The response: “Eggplant?”
I personally, am not a big fan of faking sick days. I live in fear that if I pretend to be sick the universe will come back to bite me and one day I will be genuinely, horribly ill and I either won’t have any sick leave left to take, or no one will believe I am actually sick.
As a result, I have a bucket load of sick leave accrued. True story. It would be more if it weren’t for that awful, seemingly never-ending bout of conjunctivitis I was cursed with back in November (how does a full grown adult even catch conjunctivitis these days, anyway?), which took over my life for a good three weeks.
But to the point – given my lack of expertise on the matter, this post is not about how to call in sick. I, clearly am not an expert on that topic as more often than not I am sent home after being identified as a potential source of contagion for some all-consuming super bug that is trying to destroy the entire human race… Nope, this post is about my experience of other people calling in sick, which, in my workplace, they have to do directly to me.
The scratchy throat
Something that continues to baffle me is that everyone who calls in sick, regardless of whether it’s for a stomach bug, headache, sprained ankle, dizziness or fatigue puts on a scratchy throat voice while telling me they’re not coming in.
Omg, I don’t care if you’re taking a mental health day to go get some fresh air by the beach, but if you’re going to lie to me, at least think through your whole act before you attempt to convince me!
When I answer the phone and you sound like Gollum from Lord of the Rings, my heart honestly skips a beat. My overactive imagination has already assumed you have been taken over by an evil spirit/woke up in a bath of ice with your kidneys missing/are on a mission through the depths of hell to save the human race, all you need to do is be creative. Ideally, the conversation would go like this:
You (Cue Gollum-esque voice): ‘I just don’t think I can makes it into work today…’
Me: ‘Oh, no! What’s happened?’
You: ‘They cursed us. Murderer they called us. They cursed us, and drove us away. And we wept, Precious, we wept to be so alone.’
You: ‘Oh! Cruel hobbit! It does not care if we be hungry. It does not care if we should die! Not like Master. Master cares. Master knows. Yes, precious… ‘
Me ‘Did you just call me a Hobbit?’
You: ‘Yes, gollum. But perhaps we sits here and chats with it a bitsy, my precious. It likes riddles?’
Me: ‘I’m confused… but you sound terrible, maybe take tomorrow off too?’
But alas, no one is even remotely creative when calling in sick and the conversation is more along the lines of:
You (Cue Gollum-esque voice): ‘I just don’t think I can makes it into work today…’
Me: ‘Oh, no, you sound terrible! What’s happened?’
You: ‘I hurt my foot.’
Me: ‘Okay… Make sure you get a medical certificate!’
The pre-planned day off
A word of advice to anyone thinking about pulling a sickie – do not tell your boss the day before that you have a tickle in your throat and think you need a day off just in case you get sick.
‘Oh, you’re sick? Is it really bad? Do you think you better go see a doctor?’
‘Yeah, pretty bad, definitely need to see a doctor…’
‘Great! Make sure you get a medical certificate while you’re there!’
‘Oh… erm… I… erm… I dunno if it’s that bad…’
‘Look, we don’t want you getting any sicker, so better safe than sorry! See you tomorrow!’
Eating bad sushi the night before your last day of work
When you’ve requested to finish your employment contract early so that you can fly to another country to start a new job and your manager has done everything in their power to negotiate this for you, but has only been able to get your last day to be one day after you requested… the bad sushi the night before line is just not going to cut it.
Just call and say:
‘You know how I said I booked my flight for Wednesday? I actually booked it for Monday night and I’m calling you from overseas. I’m sorry’
‘No, no, that echo you hear is not from this being an international call, it’s just from the evil sushi I ate last night, it’s making my voice echo…’
Guess who’s getting on a flight back to Australia to fulfill their employment contract!
Calling in Sick By Proxie
Ah, this old chestnut! When you can’t even be bothered feigning illness, just get someone else to do it for you!
And most of the time, you don’t even need to call, just text:
‘Sick as. Tell boss, pls. Lol. Thnx.
Alas, there is pretty much no chance that anyone is actually going to believe you, even if you are lying on your death bed.
Luckily, you’re most likely at the beach or somewhere equally relaxing, so you’ll be fully alert to deal with the fallout from your behavior.
Additionally, if you make a sudden recovery and retract your sick text halfway through the morning, you might convince a co-worker or two of your magical healing, but your boss will suspect you’ve lied to attend a job interview, so blocking your (currently public) Facebook page in advance is highly recommended…
And we all know how THAT story ends, don’t we?
I have some serious issues with hair. Other people’s hair, to be more specific. Have you ever had someone else’s hair just kind of make itself at home on your shoulder, desk or face? I’m not talking about the hair of a loved one on the pillow, but the hair of someone you don’t know well invading your personal space in all it’s fuzziness…
While travelling in Europe several years ago, I found myself on a boat with a tour group in Italy. All was fine and good until the girl next to me started to doze off. Her head fell forward first and stopped momentarily, before it started to swing… I saw it coming right at me, the whole head with her long ponytail swinging straight for my face. It stopped just short, resting on my shoulder and making itself at home.
Panicked, I started yelling and shaking the girl awake while desperately trying not to dry retch. Once she was back in an upright position, I spent the rest of the boat trip watching her out of the corner of my eye, ready to fight her and her space-invading ponytail off if necessary.
It was on that fateful day that I came to realise my extreme hatred for involuntary contact with other people’s hair and I have tried to avoid any altercations ever since.
Being someone with very long hair and a tendency to malt like a Pomeranian on steroids, I have learnt to adapt to my own hair attaching itself to my clothing, skin and household items. It’s safe hair, I know where it came from and I know that it’s clean.
Wet hair, even if it’s my own, makes me dry retch like there’s no tomorrow, but this is fairly easily avoided through a combination of strategic household cleaning and carefully executed exiting of swimming pools/baths/showers.
In recent months, however, I have started to notice a growing trend, which is making me increasingly nervous. It’s something I can’t control, but something that for some unknown reason is taking over the world…
Horse or human, fake hair not only has the power to drop without warning, it can also instil fear from any distance and it must be stopped!
In general, I am against pretty much anything fake; fake boobs, fake labels, fake nails and fake chicken to name just a few (and yes, fake chicken exists – trust me!), but I accept that other people enjoy these things, so I generally don’t judge. When I started to realise that fake hair was causing me some serious distress, I thought I was alone… until the other day.
I was walking from one side of the city to the other in a hurry, so wasn’t paying much attention to anything and had stopped to wait to cross the road. I looked directly ahead of me, where a well- groomed girl was standing. She was power-suited up, and in normal circumstances I would have been envying her shoes (generally power-suited people have shoes that I cannot afford), however the second I saw her hair, all I could think and see was ‘FAKE HAIR! FAKE HAIR! EXPENSIVE BUT FAKE HAIR!’
I was overwhelmed and started to feel unreasonably angry and slightly ill, so I took an emergency right and added an extra block to my walk to get away from her. That night, I started talking through the bad experiences I have had with fake hair.
Surprisingly, I realised that I am not alone in my hatred and the anti-fake hair movement started gaining momentum.
A buddy of mine, who shall remain unnamed, quite eloquently summarised them as ‘borderline shazza (girl bogan)’ and encouraged me to ‘let others know about this common fail’. While another emailed me this little chestnut:
On the fake hair note, I was at the hairdressers last week and was telling my hairdresser that I wanted to grow my hair long and was complaining about having thin, boring hair. She was all like “you should totally get extensions” and I was like, “Ahh no. Blond extensions always look tacky and would make me look like one of Hugh Hefner’s girlfriends.” She then pointed to the tackiest looking fake haired, fake nailed, fake tanned girl in the room and was like “I did her extensions – they look so real. Not tacky at all right?” I immediately broke out in a chorus of “oooh, ahhh, so lovely!”
I would like to add in here that I am not talking about wigs. Wigs serve a purpose, whether it is because of hair loss or for a dress up party. I would even go so far as to say that I don’t have any major issue with someone giving hair extensions a crack every once in a while.
However, there is a line, which is getting crossed, and we need to take a stand against it.
So, I am offering a community service to anyone who needs it.
– Do you know someone with bad hair extensions and you don’t know how to approach it?
– Have you encountered someone with bad extensions, openly criticising someone else’s bad extensions?
– Do you find yourself asking – if the hair is fake, does it matter if it’s horse or human?
– Are you genuinely concerned that this person is unaware that society is judging them for whatever they have hanging off their head?
If so, please email firstname.lastname@example.org, providing the contact details of the person you would like this message passed on to, along with a reason why and your own contact details. I will happily send the following email on your behalf*:
Someone who cares a lot about you has requested that this email be sent to you anonymously. Maybe they’ve been meaning to raise the issue with you for some time or maybe they just don’t have the heart to tell you to your face.
You’re a great friend and you mean a lot to the people around you, but there’s something you need to know…
Your hair extensions aren’t working for you. Your friend believes they (please select) [look fake/look cheap/don’t match your hair colour/just don’t do your pretty face justice/look damn horrendous] and would like to suggest you remove them.
Unfortunately we cannot pass on the details of the person who nominated you to receive this email, but if you would like a response passed onto them, please feel free to send it through.
The We Need to Talk About Your Hair Team
Additionally, to lead the movement, I am introducing a ‘No Fake Hair’ zoning on my house. Visitors please note – When you enter, please leave both your shoes and your fake hair at the door.
*I won’t ACTUALLY send anything to your friend… Geez, I’m not a total bitch! However, I will enjoy you sharing your fake hair stories with me and may add them anonymously to this post.