Just like every summer, I was abandoned by my family last weekend.
My wife, She Who Must Not Be Named, and my daughter, She Who Does Not Want Me To Enter Her Room Ever For Any Reason, put on their tie-dye T-shirts and Birkenstock sandals and bravely ventured out into nature to dodge raindrops and lightning bolts and get their mellow groove on at the Winnipeg Folk Festival.
I would have joined them but -- brace yourself for a shock -- once again they held the Folk Fest in an outdoor environment, which is perfectly fine if you are a mosquito or a duck or a bear but doesn't make a lick of sense if you are a human being of my gender and have a perfectly good den with a large-screen TV on which you can enjoy non-stop sports highlights, as well as easy access to a fully stocked refrigerator.
The end result was that while my family was getting in touch with their inner hippie, I personally was left -- and if you are a middle-aged guy with your own spouse and children, prepare to be jealous -- home alone!
I decided to use this alone time to get to know myself via the technique of lying on the couch to see whether I'd enjoy watching golf, two Canadian Football League games and the World Cup final while simultaneously eating H§agen-Dazs chocolate peanut butter ice cream directly from the container. It turns out I did.
I thought I would be able to avoid contact with the outside world, but it turns out I was an idiot, because my wife felt compelled to provide a play-by-play of the Folk Fest by sending urgent text messages via her cellphone.
"Bweep! Bweep!" my cell chirped as each new text arrived via cyberspace.
My wife (texting): "It's raining, so your daughter and I are hiding in a tent."
My texted reply: "That's why they should hold the folk festival indoors."
My wife (15 minutes later): "We are trapped in the children's tent and they are singing Row Row Row Your Boat for the 100th time, so we need to escape."
My reply: "I am trying to watch the football game."
My wife (30 minutes later): "The rain has stopped and we have changed into dry clothes."
Me: "You are a real grown-up now."
My wife (20 minutes later): "Yikes! Listening to some guy play Bohemian Rhapsody... on a (bad word) UKULELE!!!"
Me: "Just to be clear, that is not my fault, dear."
My wife: "OMG! They are giving the ukulele guy a standing ovation???!!!"
Me: "Would you like to know the score in the football game?"
My wife: "Oh (another bad word) he's doing an encore! He's playing Hallelujah on the ukulele!"
Me: "Wow! And you get to hear that live."
Which is when -- RING! RING! -- the back-and-forth texting was interrupted by several urgent calls on our house phone.
Caller No. 1 (overexcited voice): "Hello, this is TAMMY and I'd like to send you on a CRUISE and... "
Me (physically expressing dismay): "CLICK!"
Caller No. 2 (concerned voice): "Hello, there is nothing currently wrong with your credit cards BUT ..."
Things quieted down briefly, until our beloved neighbour, Yvonne, called with a fresh homeowner's emergency.
Yvonne: "Hello, Doug, is your very handy wife home?"
Me: "No, she's at the folk festival. I'm (sigh) home alone."
Yvonne: "Oh, well, do you know where your snake is?"
Me (confused): "We don't have a snake, Yvonne. We have dogs. You know that."
Yvonne (confused): "No, silly, I meant your plumber's snake. I need to unplug my bathtub."
Me: "Um, OK, I was just watching football, but I'd much rather get off the couch and go root around the basement."
Yvonne: "You are a real hero, Doug!"
At this point, I did what any real man would do -- I texted my wife and asked where she keeps the flexible steel coil she uses to unclog disgruntled drains.
Shortly after, I dragged it over to Yvonne's house and watched her do battle with her clog, after which I sauntered home and hopped back on the couch to catch the final minutes of what I assume was an exciting game.
Which is when my wife sent a final tragic message. "Can't text anymore," it sniffed. "My phone is almost out of juice."
I allowed myself the smallest of smiles, but tried to be gracious. "That's a real shame," I texted back.
And I might even have meant it. Because no man is a (bad word) island.