This compilation is copyrighted by Derek Robertson and is re-printed within these pages by permission of the author. For syndication inquires about Confessions of a Cidiot or to
re-print an article in part or in whole e-mail info@EhListEnt.ca. No part of this publication may be posted, re-printed, or distributed without the authors express permission. Confessions of a Cidiot, Volume 1 Copyright 2009
VOLUME ONE: With his regular humour column, Derek Robertson delved deeper into the stories that have made up his stand-up comedy as well as some misadventures and observations that were exclusive to the column inches of Confessions of a Cidiot. Now for the first time some of Derek’s personal favourite columns have been compiled into the following pages.
His trip didn't get off to a good start. Inside this Volume: Bowl-O-Drama
Unravel Over Scrabble
14 Insecurity Sticker Cover Story
What’s a Cidiot?
I was in the middle of directing my first feature film when my good friend, and former manager Dan came to visit the small town I was in shooting the film. We met up at a diner on the towns main street. It wasn't the fun kind of diner, you know the '50s themed restaurant that can serve you a quality milkshake and food dripping with Americana (sometimes mistaken for grease). This was the other style of diner, the one frequented by men
proudly donning John Deer hats who are served by bitter middleaged women with cigarettes tucked firmly behind the ear and who use the term 'hun' like a period. The trip didn't get off to a good start as one of these bitter middle-aged servers dumped a pot of coffee all over Dan's lap. “Sorry hun,” she offered. Yet this isn't a story about that, this is a story about what happened afterwards.
We were looking for something to do that night, and a small town doesn't exactly overwhelm you with options when almost everything but the strip club closes at 8pm (6 on weekdays!) We could've stayed at my place and watched an old Paul Reiser stand-up comedy VHS tape I had discovered in town earlier that week, but with the crazy girl I was living with around it'd be hard to listen to Reiser's observations on the awkwardness of running into an old friend on the street over top of said crazy girl trying to interpret her latest dream. "Like okay, I get that me being naked at a marina means that maybe like I'll be caught off guard, or somethin', but like why would you and the unicorn die in that car bomb?" So Dan and I settled on going out to the one place every small town has, well you know, other than a WalMart... we decided to go bowling. Bowling, I mean it doesn't get more simple than that. You go, rent out
some communal shoes that seem to always be a strange mix of red and black with neon green laces, then throw a ball at some pins for forty five minutes. A simple plan. Well, any other night.
â€œI get that me being naked at a marina means that maybe like I'll be caught off guard.â€?
See not long before my sister Emily had gotten married and Dan had been there. During the reception the photographer, an extremely nice man with a limited working knowledge of English had approached Dan and I and asked me if I would like a photo with 'your partner'. What did he mean? Like a business partner? Did he use the word partner instead
of friend? Or did he think we were dating? Like partner partner, like Ellen and Elton (not together, that'd be a little to hetro). And if this man who barely knew us thought this, then what did everyone else think?
We were pretty good friends, we did a lot of things together, he was even here at my sisters wedding. Normally we were both pretty secure in our sexuality, I mean hell I had had a guy send me a drink at a bar and I didn't even send it back, though this may have been less due to security in my ( C ONTINUED )
sexuality and more my Scottish penny pinching. But still, I didn't send it back!
Now there were three of us in the conversation, the cab driver joining. We talked about our girlfriends who were waiting for us at the bowling alley and then about his ex-wife. We bonded with that cabbie, and it was clear there'd be no mistaking us for a couple of guys out on the town looking for a gay old time.
This time though something about the way the photographer said it shook us. Maybe I was giving people the wrong impression, I did cry pretty hard when Tom Hanks' volleyball floated away and that Halloween costume my first year of college probably wasn't helping anything.
The parking lot seemed oddly empty, but we just attributed that to the fact that well... this was bowling.
So there we were, two guys on a Saturday night going out to a bowling alley. Maybe we were continuing to give people the wrong idea?
We were in for a surprise though as we walked through the door and found the empty, dark, bowling lanes staring back at us.
I tried calling up some girls to get them to join us.
A scruffy looking man with a ponytail stood behind the shoe rental desk, polishing the counter.
No luck, none I knew in town were free. Reluctantly Dan and I climbed into the back of a cab alone and headed towards the lanes. “So,” Dan started talking overly loud, “Suzy said she‟s meeting us there?” “Yeah,” I replied, picking up on what he was doing, “She picked up Julie and is meeting us at the alley.” We began taking turns, each
“Are you closed?” I asked, hoping maybe they were just trying to conserve power. “Yup,” he croaked. elaborating on our plans with 'the girls', creating a fictional back story normally reserved for the nerdy kid at elementary school who comes back after summer with a story of the girl he „totally‟ kissed at camp.
I looked at my watch, 7:30. “Oh, when do you guys close?” Whenever people stop showing up,” he replied.
“Well, we showed up?” He looked at us, then back down at the counter. “Sorry.” He continued scrubbing. I had underestimated the nature of a small town again, the Cidiot in me assuming a place people go for entertainment would be open past dusk on a Saturday night.
“What if we call the cab company and ask for the taxi a few blocks away? Chances are they‟ll send him, right?” suggested Dan.
driver, smiling ear to ear. We had a quiet ride home, then settled in for Paul Resier and his crazy early 90s observations.
It was genius, we‟d send the driver a few blocks away, call back and get another cab to
Oh and I believe it was decided by 'crazy girl' around the middle of Resier's act that the unicorn in the dream being blown up symbolized the death of her innocence and me being blown up, well that was because I hadn't vacuumed like I said I would.
Dan and I turned to leave but stopped dead in our tracks when we noticed the taxi was still sitting outside, the driver doing some paperwork.
UP NEXT: Derek and his soon to be exgirlfriend go to a concert where she decides to get something off her chest.
Dan opened the door, ready to head for the cab when it hit me. “Wait!” I shouted as though all life on this planet depended on him not going through that door. “We told him we were meeting two girls here. We can‟t just leave alone, we‟ll look like liars!” Dan and I stood there, looking at the cab driver filling out his paperwork. He was just sitting there, happily writing stuff down, as though he was just screwing with us, waiting to call our bluff.
And now a word from our sponsor: pick us up before the other cabbie even realizes there was no one to get. It was perfect; we were home free… until the plan didn‟t work. “We could walk back to my place?” I suggested. A snowstorm kicked in as if on cue. It was at that point that ponytail decided to lock up for the night. Looking at one another, sighing, Dan and I sheepishly climbed into the cab. “How was bowling?” asked the
X-Ray Specs! For the Perv in all of us! Only at www.theDerekRoberson.com
From the fall of 2002 to the summer of 2003 SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) hit Toronto. The disease developed first in China and was then carried over via a Toronto woman who was back in China visiting her family. The city was in a crisis and the economy was in trouble, enter the Rolling Stones.
My brother Will, our friend Dan, merchandise a difficult and my girlfriend Carrie arrived manoeuvre. at 6am. Bounding over blankets you felt Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, like something out of some A few hours later we were all and... those other two guys lame, forgotten, arcade game. let in. Going through security came up with a plan to headAtari's Blanket Dodger 3000. checks we rushed the stage, line a massive concert to help everyone laying down blankets If you made it over beach revive tourism within the city. This is where our story starts. and beach towels to mark their towels and blankets you had to face another obstacle, what we little piece of the park. Let me set the stage for you, dubbed the gauntlet. A crush of July 30th 2003. The former people in an incredibly small The ground was littered with military base, Downsview Park corridor pushing every which was played host to 500,000 au- them, with small patches of way. If you were to loose your grass between. This made dience members and fourteen footing, as I nearly did several leaving your blanket for any bands for a day long concert. times, no one would see you pricey refreshment or piece of
again until the poor volunteer who is picking up empty water bottles the next day discovers your body, all smushed to a pancake like Wile E. Coyote on an average work day.
come over, to have something to do, to see how far into the crowd I could hit it, to see what way the wind would take my mighty volley.
“Bounding over blankets I felt like something out of some lame, forgotten arcade game”
So truly there was very little incentive to leave your spot under the scorching sun. Waiting some seven hours before the first act took the stage, waiting over twelve before the big ticket acts like AC DC and The Rolling Stones performed.
Hours went by, but the ball never reached me. Several feet (or five beach towels) away from us a group of guys were forming a human pyramid.
Now maybe it was a love for Egyptology, maybe one too many viewings of Bring it On, or perhaps just shear boredom from waiting six hours in The monotony and sweating the hot summer sun... we felt like we were part of some may never know for sure, but mass sauna sit in. We had for some reason my girlfriend packed lunches that were was compelled to join in. quickly disappearing simply because it was the only thing "Be back in a second!" she one could do. squealed, the idea of doing something beyond controlOff in the distance, over on ling the rationing of the last the other side of the stage juice box bringing joy to her someone had brought a words. beach ball, throwing it into the crowd it bounced its way Before I could say anything around. she was off. Bounding over I watched it with fascination, towel and blanket alike she began climbing her way to suddenly feeling less judgmental of a cats strange love the top of the tower of human. for a ball of string.
Like an angel topping the Christmas tree. She's my angel I thought, the sunlight causing her to radiate beauty. I was simply lost in thought until... "Take it off!" shouted someone in the crowd. "Take it off!" joined another, and before long we were in full blown chant mode. A crowd of the countries most stoned, the countries most drunk, or simply the nations most sun burnt were all chanting for the girl on top of the pyramid, my girl, my… angel… to take off her top. Everyone is chanting, and she is soaking in the stardom, toying with the crowd. With me. So I do the only thing I can think of. I take off running towards the pyramid. Now I haven't put much thought into what I will do once I get there, and 'there' is fast approaching. I am only a couple of feet away, my eyes locked on my girlfriend like bull on matador. Her top is now off, and with it so am I. ( C ONTINUED )
I waited and willed the ball to
She topped off the pyramid.
My feet leave the ground as I hurl myself toward the human tower, arms spread. What happens next I like to think of as a tackle, â€œa mass of though body parts onlookers land atop of may deme - - like a scribe it as a belly game of flop. The Twister gone human horribly pyramid collapses wrongâ€? like a house of cards, a mass of body parts land atop of me looking, I can only imagine, like a game of Twister gone horribly wrong. Now somehow this made her view me as overbearing, over protective, and just plain over. As she disappeared into the gauntlet I was prepared to give chase, until I noticed that beach ball heading my way. Deciding I had waited to long not to be a part of this I braced myself, connected, and sent the ball flying into another part of the crowd. By the time I had finished and turned around my girlfriend was swallowed by the sea of people. Yes bouncing that beach ball had cost me the ability to run after her,
you know I guess we all give in to the crowd from time to time.
Call me crazy but in those thirteen years never once did I have the desire to strap two anorexic sleds to my feet and slide down a hill towards the awaiting trees.
The lesson was a mere hour long and to my frustration we never got off the bunny hill, still I knew I was ready for bigger and faster things, for in my mind, the ski trip with my school, a mere stepping stone to the Olympics!
When I was thirteen though skiing was all I could think about, for there was an upcoming school trip to the slopes, and my lack of skiing ability would not stop me.
And so my first ski trip began with promise. I went up with a pack of friends, but within seconds of arriving at the top they had already started back down.
I never took up skiing till I was thirteen.
How hard could it be right? You go down a hill from side to side, I mean it wasn‟t exactly rocket science… or talking to a girl, I figured.
“never once did I have the desire to strap two anorexic sleds to my feet and slide down a hill towards the awaiting trees.”
Just to be on the safe side though I decided I needed a lesson, and after some convincing on how important my new found career in skiing would be, my parents saw it that way too.
I on the other hand didn‟t see the rush, I stood there at the top of that hill for some time, just taking in the scenery below, trying to figure out which parts of it would hurt less to crash into than the others. Finally I started down and the scenery grew larger and larger. It was coming closer at an alarmingly fast rate, as was one skier who had the misfortune of being in front of me. ( CONTINUED )
Our skis were about to touch and as he turned to look at me, an expression reserved for serial killers and door to door Jehovah‟s witnesses etched into his face. I knew I had to do something quick.
embarrassing than the inability to untangle myself.
As they went to action saving my life, I wondered when the best time would be to break the news of the misunderstanding.
Next thing I knew I was in a ditch, my skis and my legs in one big knot. Within seconds I noticed two people staring down at me from where I had fallen. “Are you okay?” “I can‟t get up,” I said as I tried to untangle my skis. The two began panicking and calling for help. “No, no, it‟s just my skis are all crossed and…” They weren‟t listening. Soon I had gathered my own little audience, watching me, discussing me, taking bets on my injuries. I was about to explain that it was just my skis… about to, till I noticed a small group of girls I went to school with had gathered. I decided paralyses might be less
It was a good theory till the ski patrol showed up with snowmobiles and a stretcher in toe.
Maybe I could carry on the ruse till that dog who carries alcohol around his neck showed up, I thought optimistically. They were well trained, those heroes of the hills, for I was untangled in seconds. “He‟s not really hurt,” one of the girls declared, a touch to disappointed for my liking. “He just got his skis crossed up, what a let down!” another said. They were upset that I was alright, quite upset. In fact I think it is safe to say that an audience would not be so disappointed by the lack of injury or mortal wounds for another two years, when a „magician‟ named David Blaine de-
cided to „freeze‟ himself in a block of ice. The rescuers who sprang into action weren‟t to happy to have raced up a hill just to de-pretzel me either. They didn‟t say much, just glared. Though looking back my attempts at starting a conversation might not have been the greatest. “So, do you guys not have one of those rescue dog‟s who carries to alcohol or is it like his day off or do I need to be in an avalanche or something?”
The human brain can hold five times more information than the Encyclopaedia Britannica; Yet for some reason when it comes to the game of Scrabble it appears I can‟t spell anything with more than three letters.
standard “it‟s okay I‟m not good at it either” line to get me to play. I have found that as a general rule anyone who says this to you about Scrabble probably carries an official Scrabble Dictionary in their back pocket.
Scrabble, although called a board game, is anything but a game. It is, in essence, putting your intelligence on trial; which leaves the question: Why did I ever agree to play against my girlfriend Amanda?
What follows is a brief transcript of the „game‟:
At the time we had just started dating, so as to how I agreed to reveal I have the spelling capacity of a six year old is still a mystery to me. Sure she, like anyone who enjoys the game of Scrabble, fed me the
30 Seconds Into Game – Derek’s Mind: This should be fun; Her and I have never played a board game together before. Should be a lot of laughs. Ha, if I rearrange these letters I can spell ‘tit’. Oh man that is funny.
One Minute Into Game – Derek’s Mind: Okay, she spelt ‘being’, good start. I can work with that. Alright what should I do...? Five Minutes Into Game – Derek’s Mind: What should I do?! Come on, she’s starting to look at me funny. This is not good, stumped on the first turn. Just focus, clear your mind. Don’t worry, just focus on the letters. ‘Being’, ‘being’... what can I do with the word ‘being’... well I could do ‘tit’, no I can’t do that. How would that make me look? Must think here, come on, think... ( CONTINUED )
Eight Minutes Into Game – Derek’s Mind: This is getting ridiculous. If I don’t go right now she’s going to flip out on me. Why can I not spell anything? I don’t care! I’m using 'tit' no matter how bad it makes me look. Eight Minutes and Twenty Eight Seconds Into Game – Derek’s Mind: Why did I ever use the word 'tit'? Look how she reacted! Man, I hate myself! Why didn’t I suggest a game of Life? I could be cruising around the game board in my little car, wife and kids in the back, with a nice big mansion, maybe being a rock star... ‘tennis’ she was able to spell the word ‘tennis’... maybe I should’ve been thinking of my next move. Twelve Minutes Into Game – Derek’s Mind: This is stupid, I write all the time, I’m a freaking writer for crying out loud! How can the word ‘no’ be my best option here. I’ll do it, get my turn over with, and get some really good letters for next time... (Amanda spells the word squirrel and waits for Derek to place his word) Fourteen Minutes Into Game – Derek’s Mind: The brain you are attempting to use is currently away on vacation. We apologize for any inconvenience.
Ask a Cidiot Q: Dear Derek, I‟ve started seeing this girl and she‟s really great and I think there‟s real chemistry! I‟m in college and she‟s a local, which is cool and all, but recently I‟ve started to get suspicious she might still be in high school. How can I figure it out? - Joe Notmadeup from Richmond, Virginia
A: Ah Joe if it isn‟t the age old question man has been asking since the dawn of time, is she or isn‟t she legal. Well here are 10 simple questions to ask yourself...
Insecurity Sticker By Derek Robertson
The classic teen movie moment is that of a guy and a girl making out, clothing begins to come off and then suddenly the intimate mood is killed as the guy begins battling the bra clasp (index fabric, thumb against eye of clasp, than brace and push, no, no brace, brace and push, brace… forget it). This common theme in movies and TV shows tells us one thing: Clearly Hollywood writers have trouble manoeuvring their way around a bra. It‟s an awkward moment played up for laughs, and it nearly always kills the mood.
Myself, well I managed to pull all this off before underwear even made an appearance. Flashback several years ago to a wide-eyed college freshman version of myself wining and dining a girl I had met on campus. Though there was
“E.T. scared me as a kid and it’s been downhill since then.”
no wine, or dining really, as a college student it was more „sit in a dorm room and try to avoid spending any money‟ but that‟s not as commonly used a phrase as wine and dine. My suave (for a wide-eyed college freshman) plan was
to have the girl over to watch a horror movie, one that would help bring us closer together. Now I suppose for the sake of full disclosure I‟m forced to admit I don‟t like horror movies, I mean I wouldn‟t go so far as to say
I‟m a wimp but... let‟s just say E.T. scared me as a kid and it‟s been downhill since then. To correct the fact that none of my light-hearted comedy collection would cause a girl to cling to me out of fear, though to be fair the collective works of Tim Allen do have some frightful stabs at humour, I went over to a friend‟s place, an avid horror fan that could steer me in the right direction. I was promptly handed a copy of the film Se7en which he had just bought, so new it hadn‟t even been removed from its packaging.
the romantic chemistry bubbling in every word, every action. The room had that perfect mood lighting and it was quickly becoming clear it would be a night to remember. “Why don‟t we watch this now?” she asked as she picked up Se7en, a coy smile accenting the question. Over eager I practically tore it from her hands without a word. Fumbling I took a few passes before I caught the corner of the shrink wrap. “Ah, there we go,” I said beaming confidently as I unwrapped the movie that would have her cowering into me within minutes.
The original plan was to prescreen the film by myself, in “You know I‟ve always broad daylight, preferably wanted to see this, I hear it‟s with heavy use of the fast intense.” Her words, causing forward butthat confident ton… Alright, “as she watched beam to only fine! Maybe a me work away at brighten. little bit of a I tried opening the wimp. Happy? the sticker with case, it wouldn‟t This plan was the vigour of an budge. Examining ruined by that old woman after it I realized I forgot crazy „going to the security sticker classes‟ investing her across the top. notion they try pension in scratch “Security sticker,” I to force on you explained, trying to while attending -off tickets.” pull off the cheesy higher educafake laugh to tion, and so that evening she cover one‟s mistake. She arrived before I even had laughed back, humouring time to crack the shrink me. wrap. The evening began perfectly,
I tried sliding my nail under
the sticker but the industrial grade glue would have none of that. I stood there in front of this girl, as she watched me work away at the sticker with the vigour of an old woman after investing her pension in scratch-off tickets. “Need… help?” she asked after several minutes of awkward silence. “No, no I think I am getting it.” “There‟s usually like a little thing on it that says „pull‟” she offered in what I imagine was meant to be helpful, but by the time the sound reached my ear I was convinced she was mocking my ability to remove a simple sticker. She was right though, there was a pull tab. And so, as instructed, I pulled. And it was working! The sticker began to stubbornly peel away from the case and as I prepared to look skyward and thank God I suddenly noticed I was pulling an increasingly smaller strip of sticker, till suddenly the sliver of security device had separated itself from the rest of the sticker.
( C ONTINUED )
“You‟ve got to be kidding me!” I exclaimed, causing her to raise her head from the magazine she had found on my bedside table.
grabbed a pen and began sliding it across the groove of the case, it did nothing, but I now had a nice tracing of the case hidden by sticker.
She slid her finger under the sticker, no success. She tried again, and again. Finally it began to peel; she was doing it, but then.
“Huh?” she asked, or something like it. I was to distracted by the fact she was flipping through my copy of that months Canadian Geographic… I could‟ve sworn I had hid those.
I looked for anything that might work… anything. But for some reason my room seemed to have been sanitized for someone on suicide watch. Desperate I grabbed a penny; I don‟t think I need to tell you how successful this was.
“Wait! No, no stop!” I shouted.
Every perfectly planned moment of the night was quickly crumbling around me. I began frantically scratching on the worlds stickiest of stickers, frustration rising.
“No, you‟re ripping the case. You‟re wrecking the case!”
She crossed over to me.
“Hey, look, no…” I began, trying to figure out what way to peddle. “I appreciate what you were doing, but you were clearly ripping the actual case. That sort of just, you know, well you were wrecking the DVD.”
“Did you look for that pull tab?” she asked. “Yes!” I practically screamed, catching myself I took a breath. “I tried the pull tab, the tab didn‟t work. I pulled it. The sticker is still here.” She went back to examining the evidence of how big a geek she had agreed to go on a date with. I needed to open this and open it fast. I needed something to quickly slice the thing open. I bolted to the kitchen to find a knife. They were all encrusted with left over food and mold. I took a moment to stand there and curse my roommates. I ran back into the room and began searching for my scissors, no luck. I
“Let me try,” my pride said to refuse. My desperation said let her. Desperation won.
“What?!” she stopped dead in her tracks. “You are ripping the DVD sleeve!” “No I‟m not Derek, it‟s just the sticker.”
“You know what, forget it!” she said, tossing the DVD onto my bed. “Maybe I should just go.”
It would be weeks before I ended up seeing Se7en, for the time being I popped Zoolander into the DVD player and curled up in bed alone.
Somehow I had gone my whole life without ever visiting a chain of Swedish Furniture Outlets, at the time this didn't seem like much of an achievement. I've never been to Polish Car Dealership or a New Zealand Waffle Maker, though I bet the Polish would make some pretty reliable cars. This all changed as my sister Emily wanted to take my brother Will, my girlfriend Amanda and a friend of my girlfriends to get stuff for their new places as they prepared to start a new year of university. Being the dutiful brother and boyfriend that I am I agreed to tag along as soon as I wrapped at the TV show I was working on. My instructions were to take the Swedish Furniture Outlet's courtesy shuttle to get there, but when I arrived at the pick up point the shuttle was no where to be seen and I was hardly in the mood to wait around for it. Being born and raised in a big city where I could walk to everything I made a mistake I've made far to often
all across the continent, I believed I could walk it. The thing about the Swedish Furniture Outlet is that the largeness of its building, topped only by the largeness of it's especially flat and barren parking lots, forces it to the outskirts of the city, with all of the other big box stores, a sort of freak show at the edge of the fair. "Not for the faint of heart but to your right you'll see a
store the length of two football fields that sells nothing but bean bags!" Everyone gasps as they take in the freak of shopping nature, "how can such a thing exist?" one would ask in amazement before adding, "man I hope they take debit, I could use bean bags in every room of my house!" ( C ONTINUED )
And so there I was, on the edge of Sanity and Suburbia, convinced that I could navigate the streets towards the store in the distance. Why I thought I could do this I'll never know, in my experience suburban streets dip and loop, seeming to want to avoid straight lines at all costs. Quite often by the time you reach the end of one long and pointless curve you'll realize the street has no exit. These needlessly long journeys down arching streets are made worse by the monotony of seeing identical home after identical home, your sanity kept only by the fact that some cookie cutter homes have basketball nets on the side of their driveway, some do not. My walk became longer and longer and just as tiredness was letting me have it for choosing to walk I found I had looped right back to where I began, the courtesy shuttle waiting for me like some cruel joke.
“my fellow travelers and I prepared to do battle against the insurgents in bedding and linens.”
It's tough to say anything bad about the courtesy shuttle, for had I not gotten aboard I may still be wandering the streets right
now, but all the same the small bus had wooden 'seats' running down both sides of it, forcing passengers to sit face to face with their fellow travelers, our knees practically touching. It felt more like we were being shipped off to some sort of war, my fellow travelers and I prepared to do battle against the insurgents in bedding and linen. When we arrived at the parking lot for the Swedish Furniture Outlet I fought the urge to storm the beaches and instead met up with my party. As everyone began loading up on things for their dorm rooms I wandered along amazed. The store was carefully crafted so that one had to wander down a path through each department, never missing one. Windows and clocks were non existent, unless they were for sale in the windows and clocks section. The store was beautifully crafted to ensure you'd see every object that was for sale without ever having a concept of how long you had been in there or that there was a world beyond this twisty path of 'Swedish' goods. I was finding myself thoroughly impressed and appalled all at the same time by these
manipulative tactics. Then there was the Swedish. Every product had it's own Swedish name. If you wanted to buy a rectangle bowl you were buying the Rektangle. As far as shopping experiences go with the girlfriend this one was looking up, at least I could learn the Swedish word for over priced - poorly constructed lamp (that's över kosta torftiganlägga lampa). If I could learn the Spanish name for mini skirt my easily distracted mind may be more tolerable on some of her other shopping ventures. But then, as any outing with me seems to do, things took a turn for the worst. I had the sudden and unrelenting need to go to the washroom. This was no big deal at first, I split off from everyone else and began to follow the signs to the restroom. At first I expected it to be just around the corner, when this was not so I figured it would just be another turn or two on the Swedish twisty path, but it was not. As I found myself wandering from rugs to bathroom accessories (cruel irony) it occurred to me I was trapped in the nine circles of Swedish hell.
As I darted through the first circle I couldn't help but think how tempting several show toilets looked, but I had to stay strong, surely another bend or two in the path would lead me to salvation. I arrived in lighting, our second circle of Swedish hell, where one is convinced by the charming name and reasonable price to buy a paper bag over a light bulb and set it up within their home proudly, for reasons their friends will never understand. Another sign with an arrow towards the washroom lay ahead, and either hope or wishful thinking filled me. I bounded around the next corner and straight into the circle known as Prints and Frames, where one could buy I concede some beautiful paintings, but with so many of the same print for sale you just know someone would come over to your house and go "oh, Swedish Furniture Outlet, I saw that on sale a few weekends ago". I continued my journey deeper and deeper into Swedish hell, finding myself bombarded by Swedish words like Vildbar or Smyekn as I searched desperately for the 'toalette' as Swedish hell
may call it. As I passed through the end of Home Decoration I seemed to be getting close, the maze of paths and shelves of things were coming to an end, the building was changing around me, surely this must be where the washroom would be found. It wasn't. In fact I was in Self Serve Furniture, a warehouse where customers could grab pieces of furniture off racks upon racks. I contemplated how one would self serve themselves some furniture on the top shelf, wondering if letting Joe Suburban use a forklift would end well. My concern for the safety of the people trapped shuffling around this circle of Swedish hell passed quickly as my own needs took center stage again. I ran through the checkout, passed the Swedish Food Market, finally arriving to where the signs had began leading me to several hours or days ago. There were two individual washrooms, individual... individual. For a store of such massive size there were two washrooms that could be used for a maximum of
two people at a time. Nearby there was a sign cheerfully telling me if these were in use I could find additional washrooms at the front of the store. I pulled out my cell phone, prepared to call my brother and tell him to avoid Bathroom Accessories for the next little while, as something bad was about to go down. My cell phone had no service, I was cut off from the rest of my party, lost and still desperately searching for my salvation. Lost, I began my journey all over again. If you ever find yourself traveling through the nine circles of Swedish hell my one piece of advice for you is this, check out the Cooking and Eating circle, they've got some fantastic deals on b채gare's!
Wait, wait, wait … What’s A Cidiot? Is it a typo of Idiot? Well see I dated this girl Amanda who hailed from Minnesota. She was in Toronto for university but there was a town back in the Land of Ten Thousand Lakes (Minnesota actually has 11,842 lakes but rounded down for tax purposes) that my girlfriend called home. It was a town on the banks of the mighty Mississippi with friendly locals and… sorry, I better stop before Mark Twain’s estate is asking for royalties. It’s a beautiful town surrounded by beautiful lakes and forests that draw those stuck in cities to drive for hours to spend their long weekends there. Flooding their streets, beaches, and inevitably the towns emergency room (couple cases of beer and a motorized boat, how can it go wrong?) The locals aren’t a big fan of these visitors. In fact I learnt my girlfriend’s family even had a name for them: cidiots. Cidiot - A city dweller in the country, a fish out of water, or as my girlfriend’s family would more colourfully put it: a person who left what little brains they had back in the city. I laughed at this phrase when I was down in Minnesota a couple of years ago, as I listened to her family explain it to me. I laughed until I realized... I was a cidiot. I am not quite one with the country. I once got a fish hook stuck in… fine, I’ll say it, my butt. I got a fish hook stuck in my butt. Look I was born and raised in Toronto, one of the biggest cities in North America, and to make matters worse I grew up in a sheltered little neighbourhood that was a cross between that old MTV reality show Laguna Beach and a John Hughes movie. The more I thought about it, the more I realized maybe there was something about being classified as a ‘cidiot.’ I get into more awkward situations, put my foot in my mouth more often, and make more wrong calls than some of my more world-weary friends. Maybe it was because I was in a sheltered neighbourhood growing up? But is that so bad? Sure I don’t know how to tie the perfect knot or how to tell the difference between poison ivy and poison oak, but so what? I know how to Wikipedia it. At least I understand the difference between a Grande and a Venti… that’s a valuable life skill too… isn’t it? I realized that day that I am a Cidiot, and that’s what this column is about: the choices that may not be right, my naivety at their outcomes, and my exploits as I discover the world beyond my sheltered upbringing. I hope you keep reading them for as long as they keep happening, it’s kind of the only way I can grin and bare my way through some of the more awkward ones.
Want to read more Confessions of a Cidiot or interested in seeing Derek’s Stand-up Comedy:
www.theDerekRobertson.com About the Author At the age of 16 Derek Robertson dated a girl who broke up with him because, she informed him, God told her to. The next day Derek took to the stage for his first stand-up performance with a handful of hastily written cue cards and a microphone for a therapy session with a laugh track, as he would put it later. Derek’s friend Dan was so impressed by the performance that he offered to manage Derek’s career, but only if he promised never to read from cue cards on a stage again. Ever since then Derek has entertained audiences with his frustrated observations and stories of bad choices and bad luck and yes, he’s never used a cue card since. In addition to stand-up and writing a humour column Derek Robertson is a screenwriter & film director.