Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Ah, St. Patty’s Day, when everyone pretends to be Irish, in that they drink food-coloured beer and insensitively adopt every Irish stereotype within reach. It’s a bold and brash slap on the post-Ides cheek of March, and our first holiday since the wee hours of January 1 that is widely known as a hub of drink and merriment. Which makes it particularly tricky to deal with in a self-imposed quarantine. But that’s for today-me to fret over; let’s see how yesterday-me fared.

Everything You Do Is Right Day

Sunday we were told everything we think is wrong – Monday was meant to balance the scales of karmic justice. Let’s look at the decisions we made on Monday. I went to work, but Jodie drove me. This kept me off the buses and away from the coughing masses, at least until I arrived at work. I then decided to watch the new Curb Your Enthusiasm at lunch (always a good call), while Jodie decided to nap (always a great call). I then decided to head home early to take care of her, because I’m a top-notch nurse and everything I did was destined to be right. Right?

Just as I critiqued Everything You Think Is Wrong Day, I have similar disdain for this one. Should we be encouraging people to act without thinking things through? The brand of hubris this day embraces should be reserved solely for those who can take it as a joke. That said, I see no errors in my yesterday behaviours, so we’ll call it a wash.

National Artichoke Hearts Day

This seemed like a wasted opportunity to me: why celebrate the hearts and not the entire ‘choke? As a child one of my favourite foods – in part because it was one of the weirdest – was artichokes. You peel off each section one by one, dip it in butter and scrape the tiny bit of edible stuff with your incisors. Repeat over and over until you reach the sacred core, then dig down to the heart and enjoy. It’s a food that eats like a reverse craft project.

Because my earliest grown-up, moved-out meals were mostly ramen noodles and ketchup packets, and then because Jodie has never shown an interest in artichokes before, I haven’t downed one of these things in probably 30 years. Yesterday changed that. I simply called my mom to ask how she made them, then followed her instructions. They went really well with our chicken main course.

The artichoke is part of the thistle family, which makes me wonder how anyone found out they were edible to begin with. That said, the concentration of antioxidants in artichokes are about the best you’ll find in a vegetable. Artichokes have been part of the human diet for more than 1,200 years, and they still grow wild in North Africa. There are numerous ways to prepare a ‘choke, including the Jewish style, which involves deep frying them. We kept it simple. As our one food celebration for the day, it was a definite win.

National Panda Day

What can we learn about pandas? We know they’re cute, they eat bamboo, they’re not big on getting’ jiggy with one another, and when they fall and roll down a hill it’s damn irresistible.

The first thing we learned is that there are 1,864 giant pandas on the planet, based on a 2014 check. That’s disconcerting, knowing that there are fewer of these glorious creatures in the world than there were students at my high school. That said, because their numbers have increased by 17% in a decade, they are no longer classified as endangered. That’s a huge deal. They aren’t free from worry yet though – because they’ve been driven from their habitat in the lowland areas they are still a conservation-reliant vulnerable species, which means human-folk must continue to intervene in order to keep those numbers up.

In China, the most common name for the panda is dàxióngmāo – meaning “giant bear cat”. In Taiwan they call them dàmāoxióng – which means “giant cat bear.” So now we have that information. There was a strange incident at the Tainan zoo in Taiwan, in which a sun bear was painted black and white and exhibited as a giant panda. This was exposed not long after when the spots on the fur started to change. You’ve got to touch up those roots.

Pandas have the second-longest tail among bears, and they tend to live 20 years in the wild, 30 if they’re in captivity. They have round faces due to their powerful jaw muscles, and big ol’ bodies because they have a low metabolic rate – both are due to their mostly-bamboo diet. They don’t usually attack humans, but when they do it’s mostly out of irritation and not aggression. So don’t be an annoying prick if a panda is about. China used to give pandas to zoos as gifts, but since 1984 they have only loaned them for ten years at a time, and then only in exchange for $1,000,000 per year. I guess that means they’re renting the pandas.

As noble and majestic as these creatures are, we need to keep our eyes on them. The world is losing some of its most awesome species, and once the giant pandas are gone, why would any of us want to stick around?

Lips Appreciation Day

Yes, this special day has its own website. The goal here is to take care of your lips, balm ‘em up, slap a new colour on them, and appreciate their multiple uses. We whistled a couple of tunes, and I’m quite certain we made liberal use of the bilabial consonants (b, p, and the farting noise). We even kissed a few times, in between Jodie’s coughs.

The website offers some great lip facts. The most interesting is that women who have a prominent fleshy bump around the centre of their upper lip are more likely to have great orgasms. This was apparently proven by science, which is another reminder of just how much fun a career in science can be. Lips also do not have sweat glands or oil glands, and along with the nips they have the highest density of nerve endings on the body. I’m not sure that’s accurate – there are likely a few zones a little further south with more nerve endings, but what do I know? I’m not a doctor, I’m a celebrator. The pay is suckier, but I have more fun.

If you spot freckles on your lips, get that checked right away. You also lose a lot of moisture through the lips, so you should be licking them regularly. Or get someone else to lick them for you – that’ll be more fun. That’s about all the information the Lips Appreciation Day site has to offer. I say, dive into this holiday full-throttle. If you have a brass instrument handy, blast some tunes. If you’ve got a baby lying around, zerbit that kid’s tummy like it ain’t no thang. If neither of those apply, crack open a beer, wrap your lips around the bottle, and drink. That’s how we celebrate, dammit.

National Act Happy Day

And when all else fails, twist those lips into a grin and fake some glee. In 2004, Dr. Dale Anderson declared that the third Monday in March should be known as National Act Happy Day. He suggests looking in the mirror and laughing uproariously for 15 seconds. I would opt for actually finding something funny to laugh at, but then I guess you wouldn’t be acting, would you?

We did our part to appear happy to the world yesterday. I took Liberty to her training class and did my best to keep a smile on my face, despite the fact I wanted to stay home and hide from the world. I was gracious and friendly with my coworkers. I did my part.

This is, without question, the strangest state of the world I’ve seen – even stranger than those first few days after 9/11. People are in a perpetual state of fear, trepidation or denial, and the news – along with social media – is thoroughly inundated with grave warnings and reminders that a few squirts of soap may be all that saves us from a premature demise. Acting happy won’t make any of this go away, but if you can channel that pseudo-joy into finding genuine reasons to tweak your mouth-corners in an upward fashion, you’ll be doing wonders for your mental health.

I don’t recommend laughing in a mirror. I recommend reaching into the grimy depths of your Instagram, Twitter or Facebook feeds and finding any and every excuse to crack a joke, or to lift the collective spirit. Post something fresh that has nothing to do with viral infections, and elicits a chuckle from a few of your followers. One cannot dictate to oneself that they can be happy, but sometimes faking it just a little can go a long way.

No Selfies Day

We took no selfies yesterday, thus honouring our commitment to this sacred celebration. There’s really nothing more to say about it.

Today features only a pair of celebrations (unless I find more), and they’re pretty easy.

  • St. Patrick’s Day. There will be no public mayhem, but we’ll celebrate in our own way.
  • National Corned Beef & Cabbage Day. I guess that solves the mystery of what’s for dinner.

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