"Haven't you ever peed on a fire hydrant?"
I overheard this question last week, pouring coffee for myself in a staff room in a small Ontario elementary school. I was tempted to join in, or at least hang around for the reply, but my audience was waiting in the auditorium and I had to leave. When you spend a lot of time with teachers (I was going to say strange teachers, but do not want to give the wrong impression -- teachers I do not know very well) you get to hear all kinds of things. I treasure conversation snippets like that one, or the animated debate (last year, but I still think about it) between two women on a subject I never discovered. Whatever they were, one woman was strongly in favour of pointy ones, and the other preferred them rounded. "There's more to grab onto," she said. I smiled and moved on.
Yesterday I heard part of a desert-island discussion on an unexpected subject. I like the desert-island topic. Movies, books, music -- you can bond unexpectedly with someone who shares your tastes. (A guy I had never thought much of became an instant buddy when he confessed his appreciation for The Big Lebowski .) The topic for consideration yesterday was -- get this -- creams versus deodorant. I showed up in the middle of the debate, and stared in astonishment as a table full of women got really exercised about this. "Your skin will stay soft." "But you'll smell awful." "No no, the body creams smell nice too." "But then you're using them as deodorant. What if you had to choose between a face cream and a deodorant? Then what?" They were shouting by now. "Then what, huh????"
I was -- I will confess this -- mystified. I can recall having heated discussions about the one potato chip flavour you would stock on your desert island. (Jalapeno, by the way -- speaking of heated. It used to be sour cream and bacon, but I have matured.) I have debated comic book heroines you would be stranded with (Storm? Catwoman? Betty or Veronica? So difficult to choose) and styles of blue jean (Levi 569 for me -- I like a little extra room). But I have never -- and I mean never -- considered toiletries. I'd miss a toothbrush, I guess. I'd miss soap and maybe a razor. But I'd trade in all the deodorant and cream in the world for a bag of chips. Or Julie Newmar.