Misters Body, Potential and X

Posted in Uncategorized on March 27, 2012 by Olivia A. Harris

Misters Body, Potential and X.


Frilly Knickers

Posted in Uncategorized on March 24, 2012 by Olivia A. Harris

Frilly Knickers.

Car Horns & Alarms….

Posted in Uncategorized on August 20, 2011 by Olivia A. Harris

About 2 a.m. last night (or should I say this morning) I was dragged out of my sleep.   I wasn’t awoken by a nightmare or the urge to use the bathroom or even the telephone.  It was the sound of two toots of a car horn and the blast of music coming from the offending car.   Yes, I cursed at the sound.  I even felt like peeking through the blinds with one eye half open  and my hair looking like family of squirrels were redecorating and yelling through the window, “shut f*#&-up!”  But, I’m a lady and will only think and never utter such thoughts!  But, even a lady can get pissed by inconsiderate disruptions to her peace.

I don’t understand why so many people think a car horn is a form of communication.  When you drop your friend off or are picking them up, why not get out of the car?   Why not use the personal touch and speak to that person directly?  You can even use your cell phone if you must!  But, the car horn?!   I don’t think so.    Why do I need to be involved in your ‘discussion’ with your friends via car horn in the middle of the night?  Guess what people?  When you toot-toot that car horn it isn’t just your friend who hears it.   Everyone does.

Likewise with your car alarm.  I can accept a car alarm accidently going off.  But, I don’t think the accident should happen every ten minutes over a two hour period.  When that happens it defeats the whole purpose of the alarm!  As a matter of fact, if I were a car thief I think I’d scout-out a car where the alarm kept going off because after the third false alarm people stop paying attention.  And if the police are called, believe me it won’t be to ‘save’ your car.

So, people, let’s go back to basics:  car horns and alarms are designed to be used as warning systems.  They are not there as a way of telling your friends good night at 2 a.m. or to be used as an alarm clock to make sure you wake-up in time for your favourite show.   They are loud, obnoxious noise-makers designed to say “watch-out everybody” or “get your hands-off me!  You don’t own me!”    When used for any other reason, all you’re actually saying  is, “f *ck-you! ”   

Good night!


“No shirt, no shoes, no freshness of oral and overall body odour, no service.”

Posted in Uncategorized on August 9, 2011 by Olivia A. Harris

Years ago I worked in a department store to pay my way through university.   To this day, my most vivid memory remains the day I signed my contract.

What stood out in the document was the section on the dress code.   Actually it was the bold type face addressing body odour: “both men and women are required to maintain freshness of oral and overall body odour while on the floor serving customers.”   I admit I wanted to laugh when I read that section.   I always took it for granted that with the exception of those whose circumstances placed these basics beyond their control (eg: homeless and those with glandular issues), not smelling offensive was part of basic social grace and etiquette.  Well, guess what?   It isn’t!

I work with the public from Monday to Friday.   Due to the nature of my work I am privy to the extent of peoples’ financial resources.   With that said, it is too often that I come across people I can smell before they reach the threshhold of  my office door.

These people are not suffering any illness or misfortune.   They aren’t coming in from a hard day of physical labour or the gym either.   They just have not washed.  And adding insult to injury is the fact that I know they  can afford to buy soap and use water every day.  Yet, for some reason they choose not to.  

I would like to know why.  Why do these people invade my work space expecting courteous service and a handshake when they have not shown me or my colleagues the courtesy of taking care of their hostile and aggressive body odour?  On more than one occasion I have watched colleagues come close to fainting after holding their breath too long while trying not to inhale the fumes coming off the client they were serving.     Personally, I have actually vomitted after such an encounter.

I admitt that from  from time to time we all smell a little less than fresh for whatever reason.  But there is a limit of decency on this.  When smells from your body and clothing reach the point of being described as pungent and the vapours are visible, it’s time for good scrub.  It’s time for soap, water, your body — entire body —  and clothing to become acquainted on very good and prolonged terms.   No, quick  “Soap meet Body, Body meet Soap.  Now say good bye.”  I’m talking about a very long and intimate encounter …

But, until that day comes I’ll just have to keep holding my breath waiting to see signs everywhere that read:   “No shirt, no shoes, no freshness of oral and overall body odour, no service.”


Rudeness … A Major Source of Childhood Danger

Posted in Children, children and manners, communication, Etiquette, Manners, parenting on August 2, 2011 by Olivia A. Harris

“Don’t make me have to speak to you once we’ve left this house!” Those were the words my father always said to me and my brother whenever we went out as a family. My mother would stand by and punctuate my father’s declaration with ‘the look’.

It was not that my parents didn’t want to speak to us in public. Afterall, we are a family of talkers. It is rare that one of us has an opinion we don’t feel compelled to share. The message my father was trying to get across to his children was the difference between ‘required’ and ‘voluntary’ communication. There is a difference.

Voluntary communication for my parents would essentially be pleasant exchanges with their children when visiting family. Rudeness would fall into the category of required communication. You know what I mean.

Mom: “Tell your Auntie her gravy is delicious.”
Me: “I can’t! It’s cold and nasty.”
Mom: “Tell her anyway.”
Dad: (hissed between clenched teeth covered by his moustache) “Don’t make me have to come over there and talk to you!”
Me: “Auntie, that is really nice gravy!”

Now the described scenario falls somewhere between the two noted forms of communication. Had I been foolish enough to stand my ground, my behaviour would have been judged as rude and I condemned to swift discipline. Luckily I remembered the usual warning received before we left our house. Had I forgotten this my father would have been ‘required’ to talk to me. In fact, it would have been the sort of discussion where my input would not have been best kept to myself.

I must admitt that as I child I hated all of this. As a teenager it made me laugh. Now as an adult I appreciate the value in it all.

I now understand my parents weren’t trying to hurt me (well, not for the most part). They were trying to cultivate in me a sense of appropriate behaviour . For instance, sometimes you compliment a host on their meal, not because you like it, but as a sign of appreciation for the effort they made on your behalf. More importantly, my parents wanted me to grow up to be a decent and respectful person. They wanted me to understand that when you leave your home and enter that of another, to make sure the only memory you leave behind is a pleasant one of your visit. And nothing else.

Recently I have noticed many parents are not sharing these lessons with their children. As a result their childrern are often difficult to be around. I’ve noticed that these parents will let their little darlings act out with excuses, offense after offense, until suddenly they snap. Then it isn’t pretty. It all ends with cursing and tears by both parents and child.

Each time I’ve witnessed one of these melt-downs, I always think, if only they had used my father’s technique they could have taught their children early on that rudeness is a major source of childhood danger.

– Mantha Baby

Dear cancer … I hate you.

Posted in Uncategorized on April 9, 2011 by Olivia A. Harris

Dear Cancer,

I am writing this open letter to you to let you know I hate you.   Admittedly those are harsh words to express to anyone.  However, they are true.

Cancer, you are the proverbial unwanted guest.  You enter into the lives of people uninvited.  When they politely ask you to leave, you refuse.  When they aggressively attempt to evict you through radiation and chemotherapy, not only do you refuse, but become nasty.  You behave as though you are entitle to live in and abuse the body of your unwanted host.  You spread your belongings  throughout that person’s body without regard for the damage you do.

By the way, Cancer, do you have any concept of how much hurt and destruction you cause?  I have watched you shrivel my mother’s once health body.  I have watched you crush her and my father’s dreams of retiring together this year and enjoying more travel in the Caribbean.  You have even managed to undermine the confidence of the surgeons who worked on my mother in an effort to evict you from her body.

Cancer, you are truly a nasty, evil and most unwanted of guests.   I can honestly say, I hate you.

– Mantha

Lessons in History for Gadhafi and Other Dictators…

Posted in apartheid, Gadhafi, mandela, Politics on March 25, 2011 by Olivia A. Harris

I recently noticed that every decade a significant political event occurs that I previously thought would never happen in my lifetime.  Perhaps, the event might happen in my children’s or grandchildren’s time (assuming I ever have a child), but certainly not mine.  I am sure that I am not alone in this observation.

The first of such events was the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989.  I remember watching the news on television with my mother and not knowing how to process what I was seeing: there were people actually standing on the Wall waving the German Flag.  Their bodies were not slumped over the Wall injured or lifeless from bullet wounds as would have been expected since the rise of that seemingly impervious structure in August 1961.  Many Germans had died trying to cross from East to West.  Now people were freely jumping from one side to the other, almost taunting the border guards who watched them. 

My mother was shocked by this event in Germany.  She had grown up in England, just outside of London.  She remembers being taught history of England’s experiences in both World Wars by men and women who either they or their parents had lived through them.  Their closeness to this history, by experience and geography made them natural experts on the subject of the War and particularly the division of Germany.  So when it came to the durability of the Berlin Wall, my mother had no reason to believe that she would ever live to see its collapse.  Neither did I.    

A year later, Nelson Mandela would be released from his life sentence at South Africa’s infamous Robben Island prison on February 11, 1990.  When he entered that prison 27 years earlier as a man in his mid-40s I’m sure he had no reason to believe he would ever be freed.   But, he was.  And his world was a very different place to what it was when he was taken to prison.

South Africa had officially abandoned its regime of Apartheid (I emphasis ‘officially’ because you cannot legislate what is held in the hearts and minds of men); Mandela was now an international symbol of peace (he’d previously been branded a terrorist by the Apartheid regime) and he was also grandfather.  I am sure that then Prime Minister P.W. Botha was more surprised than anyone that his mark in South Africa’s history will be as the man who released Nelson Mandela.  Like many, Botha probably expected Robben Island was meant to be Mandela’s living tomb.  But, like the Biblical story of Lazarus, Nelson Mandela did walk out of his tomb.

Later on it did strike me that I wasn’t supposed to see Mandela’s release. I also remember thinking I wasn’t supposed to see the fall of the Berlin Wall either.  As a teenager at the time, these two events made me start to question all the things I believed to be true.  What else was possible that I had previously dismissed as impossible?

A few years later I got the answer to my question during a history lecture while attending the University of Toronto.  It was end of term and we had completed our final section on the French Revolution.  The professor (I can’t remember his name) quietly made this statement: “Until men come to terms with the French Revolution, revolt of the masses will continue to happen.”  His lesson was simple: every oppressed group will eventually reach its breaking point.  Once at this point the group will feel that there is absolutely everything to lose if they fail to overthrow their oppressor.   If you have been robbed of your freedom, dignity, history and things as basic as food and housing, what else can be taken from you?    

Oppression can not last indefinitely.    I pray that Moammar Gadhafi and others like him come to terms with this lesson.

– Mantha