The Western Star - 2020-03-25


From A to Z


Heather Huybregts Heather Huybregts is a mother, physiotherapist, blogger (, YouTuber and puffin whisperer from Corner Brook. Her column appears biweekly.

OK, so we’re going through a thing (global pandemic) right now. If you feel like panicking, I’m here to tell you two very important things: Panicking is futile. Yes, we need to acknowledge that this is, indeed, a serious issue. But rather than panic-sweat through your latest work attire (which looks strikingly like pajamas), take a deep breath, wash your hands and embrace the solitude. Perhaps you’ll walk more. Perhaps you’ll learn to cook. Or perhaps, despite everything (fear, paranoia, functional alcoholism), you’ll relax and play endless rounds of ... “Alphabetical self-reflection for your self-isolating pleasure: the fun game.” Experts have described this phenomenon (that I just made up) as “better than sex,” “an awakening” and “I’m definitely not doing that; let’s go buy more toilet paper, instead, for this toilet-paper fortress I’m building in my mom’s basement because what other possible need would I have for all this toilet paper?” [Note: Don’t be that last guy.] What is this game, you ask? It’s a gift, really. An invitation for peaceful introspection and nostalgia. And something to think about besides youknow-what (rhymes with schmarona schmirus). For each letter of the alphabet, think of something (an object, person, place, event, etc.) that has had a significant impact on you. Let me show you how it’s done. A: Amr. The name of my cute, Egyptian boyfriend when I was 19. He had a twin brother whose girlfriend, “R,” looked like a flawless, Egyptian goddess (as opposed to a hairy, awkward Newfoundlander whose overbite was adorably returning on account of her lost retainer). “R” was the one who taught me to “for the love of all that is sacred, wax your arms!” I had never considered that an option. I just assumed she was born to look like the lovechild of Jennifer Lopez and Idris Elba and I was born to look like a young Burt Reynolds wearing too much blush to compensate for his hairy arms and “dental crowding.” Anyway, it was a game-changer. Not that there’s anything wrong with a hairy woman (you grow, girl), but it wasn’t for me. But that reminds me ... B. Body hair. It’s not like I have a deep, nagging incessant need to discuss my body hair with the world, it’s just that yes, that’s exactly what I have. I need young girls and women to know that you are not alone with those bold unibrows, furry gams and confident sideburns. The world is ready for you now! Not so much when I was a child. I think the first time I realized I had a moustache was the first time a kid yelled, “You have a moustache” at me. My resultant moustachio paranoia forced my poor mother to take 10-year-old me for electrolysis. Now, this was before the golden days of painless laser hair removal we find ourselves currently in. This was a time when the only way to not look like Pedro from Napoleon Dynamite was to have 200 needles stabbed into your upper lip, one at a time, each delivering the most delightful zap of searing electricity. I’ll never forget that first weekend ... I was in co-ed soccer. As I strolled up to the field, two of the boys stopped me and said, “what happened to you?” They were blatantly staring at my inflamed upper lip, with its 200 micro-scabs. “I, um ... I fell”, I stammered. “You fell?” they retorted, genuinely confused. “Like ... just on your moustache?” C. Cats. It’s not that I dislike them, it’s just that they really, as a team, dislike me. I was four years old when a cat named Shakespeare bit my pinkie finger. And there was that stint with my roommate’s cat leaving me ominous puke-mound paths and pawing under my door in the wee hours of the morning. Then there was Mika. I was babysitting when this huge beast of a cat went wild. He stood on his hind legs and wailed these possessed, guttural sounds while doing some sort of demonic cat tai chi poses. His wild eyes were staring into my soul the whole time. Shaking with terror, I crouched on the back of the couch with my eyes closed. And wondered how I was going to explain to my friends that I had no choice but to kill their cat. They thought they were leaving their sleeping baby in the care of a mature-ish, adult woman so that they could get a much-deserved break from the grind and go on an overdue date. But instead, I’m gonna be the gal who throws their cat off their fourth floor balcony. I didn’t want to, it’s just that he was really big (picture a black bobcat with Satan’s eyes) and, clearly, in amazing shape. He’d kick my butt. There would be a struggle, of course. I would need many stitches. I would need to protect my neck, keep my head down. I would have to embrace the attack and move it toward the balcony and then just flail and send him flying. What choice did I have? I didn’t to fight him. But fight I would. And it would mean certain death for one of us ... As I pondered those last moments of life as I knew it, my husband returned with the takeout. He managed to lure Mika to the bedroom with catnip, then shut the door. I didn’t have to murder a cat. But I was shaken. I barely tasted the burger (... and fries ... and onion rings ... and frosty) I emotionally slammed into my face immediately thereafter. D to Z. You get the point. So, as we ride out this storm, separated but united, I recommend you lock your door, remove your mask, wash your hands, pour yourself a generous glass of your finest “whatever alcohol is left” and take a cozy, alphabetical ride down memory lane. And if that doesn’t work, why not try your hand in the inevitable “Christmas 2020 baby boom. *wink wink*


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