When NOT to Get a Dog

I am always happy to help people look at the cute dog and puppy photos in adoption listings when they want to add a new or another canine to the family. The thought that another dog will be able to leave the rescue system and find a happy new home is always a positive one.

This adorable pup, Mara, is currently adoptable through ARF - Alberta Rescue Foundation

This adorable pup, Mara, is currently adoptable through ARF – Alberta Rescue Foundation

So when a coworker recently asked for assistance on this very issue, my gut reaction was enthusiasm. Sure! There are lots of great rescues in the Calgary area to look at!

But that positivity immediately waned.

Upon further consideration of the specific circumstances surrounding this adoption enthusiasm, it immediately occurred to me that helping look at dog profiles possibly wasn’t sending the right message in this case.

Now, people are going to do what they’re going to do. And maybe definitely it’s none of my business. But when I get asked for advice, I want to give good, appropriate advice. And my former stint as a dog trainer means I still get asked for advice frequently enough. So, despite my better judgment, I often give it (in my experience, few people actually act upon it, and then complain to me further later, so really this is just an exercise in self-disappointment).

So this has me thinking: adopting a dog is great, BUT it’s not always the right thing to do.

This is Emily. She is currently adoptable through AARCS. I find her canine version of RBF hilarious.

This is Emily. She is currently adoptable through AARCS. I find her canine version of RBF hilarious.

Here’s when you shouldn’t get another dog:

1. When you don’t have positive things to say about your current dog. If you frequently complain about your current dog’s habits – or lack of habits – you should probably work with the dog you have before you add another to the mix. Don’t like how your current dog doesn’t play fetch with the kids or go on walks? Those are all “problems” you fostered as an owner and can be worked on with the current dog – it doesn’t warrant replacing them.

2. When you’re getting the second dog to keep the first one company. Think the new dog will keep the old one entertained? Maybe. But the new dog will also pick up on the habits of the old dog – the ones you like, AND the ones you don’t like. The result? Two dogs to complain about. Example? Alma learned to lift her leg to pee – and marking behaviours – from Moses when we adopted her. No, not a huge deal. But still. Weird. Get your first dog where you’d like behaviour-wise before adding another canine to the mix.

3. When you’re promising extravagant changes. Don’t get out much? Don’t walk the current dog but you’ll definitely walk the new one every day? Sure, that’s possible. But, like failed January resolutions, it’s also (more) likely you’ll continue the well-ingrained habit of no dog walking at all. Get the routine changed first before you make the big commitment to another living being.

4. When not everyone is on the same page. Some want a puppy. Some want to adopt an adult. Some want a big dog. Some want a medium-sized dog. Some want a dog that’s super active. Some want one that will be calm in the house. Some don’t know what they want. You really need to figure out what works best for your family before impulsively adopting a dog that won’t fit. The whole family needs to be on the same page about everything both before the adoption and after – going to puppy classes, reinforcing training rules, reinforcing house rules, etc.

5. When the dog is for someone in particular. First, living things don’t make great gifts. Second, you think he’s going to be your child’s dog, but you’re wrong. He might be the family dog, but he’s also going to be adults’ responsibility. A young child can’t be in charge of long daily walks when the dog is bigger or stronger than them and when they’re not allowed past the end of the street unsupervised. You – the parents – will primarily be the ones walking, training, feeding, grooming, cleaning up after… all of that. Your kid might make bold promises, but, even if well-intentioned, they will likely be short lived. Trust me, I know. This is how I conned my parents into a second cat when I was 14. Maybe they should’ve taken me up on my threat to “never speak to them AGAIN!” (Aren’t teenage girls just the worst.)

6. When there’s change afoot. Stressed? Busy schedules? Changing jobs? Moving? Kids changing school schedules and extracurricular activities? Introducing a new dog to chaos isn’t exactly fair to them or you. Wait till life settles down and if you still want to adopt, do it then.

7. When your current dog isn’t well socialized. Like point 1, you need to make sure your current dog has good manners before expecting her to share her house, her toys, her space, her family with another dog. A second dog is going to be a big adjustment for your first one, and you can’t ignore how they respond to the transition.

8. When you don’t have time. A second dog isn’t 50% more work; it’s at least 100% more work. Definitely more if you’re getting a puppy. Now you have two mouths to feed. Two vet bills to pay. Two poops to scoop. Sure, you can walk them both together… most of the time. But now you have two dogs, they each deserve one-on-one time on a regular basis, even if that just means individual walks on weekends. And if you get dogs with different exercise and training needs – definitely more work.

9. When you haven’t fully thought it out. Sure, you saw a cute pup at a local adoptathon and the kids fell in love. As hard as they may try with their screening processes, rescues can’t weed out all impulse adopters. Even if the process goes for a week or more, the decision itself to adopt can still be impulsive. You need to more than sleep on it. You need to be realistic about what a second dog entails. And you need to pay more than lip service to the responsibilities.

10. When you (and your family) have some things to learn about dogs, interacting with dogs, and dog behaviour. Don’t tell me how “adorable” it was when your toddler walked up and hugged a strange dog in a pet store and expect me not to dust off the soapbox and launch into a lecture about kids and dogs and strange dogs and greeting dogs… I’m getting worked up just thinking about it.

Somtimes I feel like I could share this graphic by Dr. Sophia Yin every day and it wouldn’t be enough.

11. When you’re getting said dog from a pet store or an online marketplace like Kijiji or Craigslist. If you need an explanation here, I have nothing more to say to you.

So, in the case of my coworker, I’ve changed my tune, specifically highlighting several of the points I made above. Will she take the advice? We’ll see. It’s hard to pull people back to logical thinking when they’ve got adorable puppies in their crosshairs.

A quote I think of frequently when I resolve to be bluntly honest.

A quote I think of frequently when I resolve to be bluntly honest.

Will at Marking Your Territory made a good, relevant point on this very subject earlier this week, when he wrote “Don’t wait for the ‘right time’ to get a pet“. The point isn’t to get a dog in spite of all the problematic circumstances I’ve listed above; it’s to change your circumstances. Or, in Will’s words: “Don’t wait for the right time, make it the right time!”

This is great advice. For example, is your current dog somehow an obstacle to you wisely adding a second dog to your house? That’s completely within your power to change as you work towards training and socializing your first dog in preparation for the next one.

These things are almost always in our own hands – and it’s only fair to you, your current dog, and any potential new dog that you make the smartest decision, not the impulsive emotional one (sometimes those can be the same thing).

This post is part of the Thursday Barks & Bytes Blog Hop, hosted by 2 Brown Dawgs and Heart Like a Dog. Go pay a visit to the hosts and check out other hop participants.

Barks&Bytes

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“My dog doesn’t like to go on walks.”

“My dog doesn’t like to go on walks.”

Ever have someone say that to you?

I have. And obviously recently, or I wouldn’t be spurned to write about it.

My response is usually one of two things:

1. Changing the subject. “Right… so I spent an inordinate amount of time last night trying to ace this quiz where you name all the countries in the world in 12 minutes. I swear it’s impossible.”

Sometimes, I just... can't.

Sometimes, I just… can’t.

2. Challenge it. If I’m feeling particularly spry or comfortable or bored, I’ll be up front: “You’re going to have a tough time convincing me that’s true.”

Because when someone says to me that his/her dog “doesn’t like” walks, my bullshit detector sounds pretty loudly.

will smith bs

Barring some sort of medical condition, or mental condition that should be addressed, I don’t think saying your dog “doesn’t like” walks is entirely truthful.

Instead, I think that statement can probably be replaced with one or more of the following more accurate statements.

  • I don’t like walking my dog. People project a lot of things on to their dogs, and I’d say it’s pretty likely that people who think their dogs don’t like walks are just making excuses because they don’t want to walk them. I mean, dogs spend most of their days confined to a house or yard – of course most of them like to get out and explore and spend time with their family! If you don’t like walking your dog, to that I say: TFB. Who obtains custody of a dog these days without realizing they need regular exercise? Exactly – no one who intelligently pondered the decision. Walk your dog!
  • I haven’t shown my dog that walks can be fun. If you don’t like spending time with your dog, they’ll pick up on it. It’s not necessarily the walks they dislike, it’s the owner begrudgingly doing it. Make it fun – for both of you! Go interesting places, play fun games, meet up with friends, enjoy your time outside. Make the best of it, because it’s your responsibility and a key part of their overall health.
  • Walking my dog is hard. Dog walks can be a real challenge if you’re working through some reactivity or anxiety issues with your dog. That is certainly no reason to make up excuses to avoid it, though. Avoiding walks just ignores and compounds the issues, meaning the fewer walks you go on, the tougher they will be. Seek a good trainer for help with this if you need to.
  • My dog doesn’t like walking in this weather. -25°C in the winter is not a condition all dogs like, or are built to tolerate, and that’s fair. But it’s not the walk they don’t like – it’s the wind or the ice. If this is the case, make sure you keep them active in the house until it warms up. Walk time shouldn’t be foregone, but it should be replaced with something else. However, if you’re trying to claim your dog dislikes the when it’s +5°C in February… well, most any dog acclimated to Alberta’s usually unusual weather should be able to handle that. Grab them a sweater and boots if you must. Or schedule walks appropriately – for example, in the summer when Moses and Alma can get uncomfortably hot, we’ll walk late at night when it’s cooler or ensure there are swimming opportunities on our routes. The benefits of regular dog walks outweigh any initial protests you may get. If they’re physically able to do it, you should teach them they can.
  • I don’t like walking in this weather. If your dog is on the same page as you, fine and see above. If you’re like me, and have dogs that thrive in winter, you’re going to need to suck it up and buy yourself some snow pants.
  • I usually take my dog for short walks and the one time I expected him to go on an usually long walk he got tired and sore. I bet he did! Let’s say I suddenly decided to forego the elevator and take the stairs up to my office on the 25th floor. This is not something I usually do and it would certainly leave me tired and sore. Does that mean I’m not physically built to do it? No. If I did it regularly, I’d have the stamina. The situation with the dog isn’t much different; if they’re not used to exercising, then the one time you ask a lot of them is going to be too much. They won’t be conditioned for it. But that is your fault, not theirs. All dogs were bred for active reasons, whether it be giant working breeds or small rat-hunting breeds. Your dog being out of shape is a sign to you that you should fix it – but don’t suddenly amp it up. You’re going to need to slowly increase their walk distances to something every healthy dog should be able to handle (say, an hour or 5km?).
  • I’ve taught my dog I will always carry them around when they ask. Is your dog begging for attention, whining, exhibiting a learned behaviour, or are you carrying them because you actually observe that they are tired and sore?
  • I interrupt my dog to go for walks. Wake them out of a dead sleep? Take away their toy or bone? Sure, in those cases they might not seem stoked to drop what they’re doing to leash up. Observe their behaviour when out on the walk to determine if they like it – are they engaged, relaxed, interacting, wagging their tails? They may not have wanted to go for a walk in that moment, but I’m sure they enjoy it once they’re out there.
  • I don’t know my dog that well. As I mentioned before, what’s not to love about a walk if you’re a dog? It’s a chance to socialize, check out the scenery, exercise, and spend quality time with their owners. It’s possible that any perception that the dog doesn’t like walking is a gross misinterpretation of something else.
  • I don’t know (or – worse – care) how important walks are to my dog’s mental health. Yes, your dog can suffer from what is essentially cabin fever. A lack of exercise and stimulation can result in all sorts of anxious, destructive, and hyperactive behaviours. They will be as bored and frustrated as any person locked in a confined space for days on end.
  • I don’t know how important walks are to my dog’s training and social skills. Does your dog bark a lot? Chew your shoes? Dig in the yard? Race around the house like a maniac? Lunge at other people or dogs on walks? Ignore you when you want them to do something? There’s a reason one of the first questions most trainers ask their clients is “how often do you walk your dog?” Walks won’t necessarily resolve these behaviours, but they sure do shave the rough edges off undesirable behaviours and make training easier. Spending regular time with your dog improves the relationship you have with them and increases how much they pay attention to you. And getting out and experiencing the world – people, dogs, cars, bikes, wildlife, etc. – is essential to a socially well-adjusted dog.
  • I don’t know (or – worse – care) how important walks are to my dog’s physical health. If not for regular walks, how else would the average pet dog get exercise? Exactly. Regular exercise – just like with people – is essential to their overall health. Obviously regular walks will help prevent or cure obesity, but a dog can be a perfectly appropriate weight and still be out of shape if they’re not regularly exercised. Regular walks help with muscle tone, joint issues, heart disease – the same sorts of things regular activity does for me and you. Every breed has conditions they are prone to, but ensuring dogs are generally healthy with a good diet and regular exercise is your best defence to them.
  • I’m lazy. Or neglectful. Or my dog isn’t a priority I want to make time for. Yeah, I said it. It’s very easy to explain away guilt if you put the onus on the dog – “they don’t like walks anyway, so I don’t have to worry about it.” Wrong! Everyone has busy lives, but if you choose to have a dog, you’ve also chosen the affiliated responsibilities. This should surprise no one. But there are lots of options out there to help if you need it: dog walkers, doggy day cares, several short walks per day, treadmills, or having the whole family pitch in with dog responsibilities.

With all of these potentially truthful explanations (did I miss any?), I find it pretty hard to believe someone’s dog “doesn’t like” going for walks.

Feel free to prove me wrong.

Moses and Alma definitely enjoy walks

Moses and Alma definitely enjoy walks

What To Do If You’re Scared of Dogs

I don’t know about you, but it’s fairly common for me to come across someone who’s not exactly a huge fan of dogs while I’m on a walk with Moses and Alma.

Moses & Alma intimidating? Is it the drool?

Moses & Alma intimidating? Is it the drool?

The sentiment ranges from dislike to fear, and comes in variances from cautious, to anxious, to outright frantic.

I’ve actually been crossing a pedestrian bridge with Moses – a fairly wide one, and he was heeling on my right-hand side, away from on-coming traffic – when an approaching woman saw him, immediately went into hysterics, clutched the other side of the bridge, and froze. Well, was frozen except for her voice box. It was quite the scene, despite Moses not so much as looking at her, and her always being a few feet safely away from him. We just shuffled by quickly to put an end to her terror.

But even if there isn’t a dramatic freak-out, some people will cross the street, some will squeal in surprise, others will stare wide-eyed, and others will show cautious curiosity – maybe interested to see and talk about the Newfs, but not interact with them.

It’s kind of like how I am around babies.

And I get it. They’re big dogs and not everyone’s a fan. Even some small dog owners see them and think “well, that’s a little excessive.”

Okay, so maybe I don’t actually GET it. But I try to be understanding.

Alma & Moses

Alma & Moses

But the frustrating part is that most people who are afraid of dogs, upon seeing one, proceed to behave exactly in a way that would be interesting or exciting to a dog. It doesn’t help anyone; it doesn’t help them keep dogs away and it doesn’t help dogs learn to ignore some people.

So I have an easy way for people to determine what to do if they encounter a dog they don’t want to interact with: pretend you’re on public transit.

That’s all.

Pretend the dog is some scary or strange or smelly person on the bus or train. Applying transit etiquette will solve all of your problems.

Alma riding the ctrain

Alma riding the ctrain

Allow me to elaborate:

1. Avoid eye contact. This is public transit rule #1. People have books and headphones to avoid unwanted socialization, but even those without follow this rule. Transit is the social experiment of cramming as many people into one tight space as possible, yet not one person is looking at anyone else. It’s basically art. To make eye contact is to invite interaction. It’s welcoming and friendly. Therefore, you don’t do it.

Such is the case with animals. People scared of Moses or Alma have the tendency to stare them down, but the dogs interpret this eye contact as an invitation to say hello. “Oh, that person is interested in me –okay!” Or worse, being animals, some dogs could interpret eye contact as a challenge – which it often is for people and in the animal kingdom. Ever read a Dealing with Bears pamphlet? Don’t stare!

2. Move away from them calmly. That person next to you on the train has terrible noise pollution coming from their headphones? Insufferable body odour? Muttering to themselves about the End of Days? Standard practice is to turn or move away. But you don’t run – no need to create a scene or attract attention. Besides, the rush hour train is too full for running. But you sure can move yourself away inconspicuously without flailing about. Besides, you don’t want to catch the crazy person’s attention and have them strike up a conversation.

The same goes for dogs you don’t want to greet, or who you have greeted, but now you want them to leave you alone. Just turn around and walk away – they can take the hint, especially if you combine it with point #1. Don’t run, though. Running might be too tempting for herding breeds and other dogs might just think you’re trying to play a game of chase.

3. Don’t reach towards or touch them or fail around in a panic. OBVIOUSLY you don’t touch strangers on public transit. And unless you’re doing some drastic reinforcement of your personal space, you’re probably keeping your hands to yourself. Doing otherwise kind of makes you the crazy person everyone avoids.

For dogs, if you fall into the cautiously-curious category, just keep your hands to yourself. Touching a dog will just illicit more attention from them. For example, you safely pet Moses’ shoulder and he’ll turn around to look at you and sniff you – as you would expect. Or if you put your hand out to pet but are painfully slow and awkward, he’ll sniff your hand. If this scares you because his nose is right above his giant mouth (with teeth AND drool in it), maybe keep your hands in your pockets.

4. Don’t hover over them. Super rude transit behaviour. The worst is when the douchebag standing next to your seat turns around so his backpack hits you in the face every time the train starts and stops. Just aim for a little bit of personal space and common courtesy, people. Geez.

Dogs, on the other hand, find posture of bent over or crouched down people inviting. Many people practice greetings with their dogs by having people kneel or squat down so they’re less intimidating. If you don’t want to encourage a greeting, do the opposite. Stay standing up and invoke the other points made here.

5. Don’t talk to them. Like eye contact, talking is rare during the morning commute. Perhaps it’s the early hours and lack of caffeine, but unless people are already acquainted, they’re not going to strike up a conversation on the train. It’s for the best. Small talk is the worst. I prefer to ignore and be ignored.

Tempted to squeal or screech when you see a terrifying dog approach? Suppress that reflex! Noisy things are interesting to dogs! Why do you think we buy them toys that squeak? You really want to imitate their toys? No, not if you want them to leave you alone. Even talking to them should be avoided if you don’t want them to approach you – especially considering you’re probably talking to them and looking at them at the same time.

Moses

Moses

Really, the whole approach – both for trains and dogs – can be summed up in two words: calmly ignore.

Sure, some dogs may be interested in every passerby, but if you do your part, the responsible owners will do theirs and keep their dogs close and those leashes to a reasonable length.

You get a near-unheard-of three (3!) posts this week because I wanted to participate in the inaugural Thursday Barks & Bytes Blog Hop, hosted by 2 Brown Dawgs and Heart Like a Dog. Go pay a visit to the hosts and check out other hop participants.

Barks&Bytes

35 Kinds of Restaurant Patrons

I was in University for 6 years, working on two degrees and doing my damnest to delay entry into the “real world”. During that time, I served people just like you food and drink. Prior to that, I even worked at McDonald’s all throughout highschool. So I’ve put in my time – nearly a decade – when it comes to food service.

And, in fact, I am a firm believer that everyone should have some food service time on their resumes. The experience provides some life lessons about humanity that you can’t really get anywhere else.

Previously, I’ve brought you other itemized (non-dog-related) musings on procreation, Facebook, renters, and weddings, so, in honour of those days that ended many years ago now, I present you with another list:

35 Kinds of Restaurant Patrons

The Unable to Find a Sitters: The generally nice couple who usually come in alone, but not tonight. They stick their kids at a nearby table, give you explicit instructions on what they are and are not allowed to eat, and proceed to ignore their offspring and any accompanying noise/mess for the duration of the meal. Usually come with empty promises about discipline and control.

The Verbal Tipper: Tells you – and maybe even your boss – how amazing the food and service was and how they had such a great time. Leaves less than 10%.

The Old-Timey Tipper: Is convinced that 5-10% is still reflective of good service, unaware that market inflation and minimum wage have not increased at the same rate over the last 40 years, or that many servers also have to tip out bartenders, hostesses, and kitchen staff.

The Unexpected Surprise: Curmudgeonly and curt, but not overly unpleasant. Somehow leaves >18% tip; the best kind of customer.

The Personal Trainers: The group of six or more – any combination of men and women – who can’t get their poop in a group long enough to make collective requests. For example: one asks for a glass of water. You canvass the group to see if anyone else needs anything. No reply. You come back moments later with the water, and just before you’re out of earshot, another request is made. These repeated trips continue throughout the duration of their meal. Your pedometer thanks you, and you are thankful for mandatory group tip amounts.

The Hot Water with Lemon: Seriously? All the effort – and dishes – for something free that requires constant topping up? And the water isn’t hot enough, requiring an apologetic trip to the Forbidden Kitchen Area to use the microwave?  Oh, and you’ll split a scone? Wonderful. This will make a huge dent in my accumulating $20,000+ student loan debt.

The Former Servers: The double-edged sword: they are sympathetic to your plight and handsomely reward good service; however they will punish poor service and poor excuses swiftly. They know just how taxing the job is, but also just how easy it is to get it right. They have been known to literally count your tables to estimate competence when quality of service appears to slip.

The 2005 movie Waiting is a crass -  yet accurate - look into the food service biz.

The 2005 movie Waiting is a crass – yet accurate – look into the food service biz.

The Girls’ Night Out: They will probably socialize for 90 minutes before even looking at the menu, but as long as you keep everyone hydrated and don’t screw anything up, it’ll pay off.

The Guys’ Night Out: Just as much maintenance as the girls’ night out, but don’t tell them that. As long as you keep smiling, it’ll pay off.

The Fake Foodie: Easy to spot by the way they drown their venison in ketchup or order their tuna steak well done. If you help them keep up the charade, it could pay off.

The Fake Wino: Sniffs the cork and refuses to order anything with a screw top. Add as much pomp to the wine-serving ritual as your stomach can stand, and ask them later how they felt about the “notes of leather” for your own entertainment.

Honesty is refreshing.

Honesty is refreshing.

The Third Degree: Eats out for the social interaction, questioning you on your day, your other job/school studies/kids/significant other/travel plans/you name it, oblivious to the fact that you probably have other tables to get to. Not necessarily a lone diner.

The Over-Sharer: The other side of the coin of the Third Degree, instead telling you about their lives in intimate detail as you smile, nod, and slowly try to back away. Also oblivious to your other tables and the fact that their confession hour is detrimental to the service you can provide other customers.

The Pop Quiz: Wants to know everything about the menu, and wants to hear it from your lips, not read it on the page. “This says gluten free – is it really? What are my choices with the burger? If I ask for medium-rare, is it really going to be medium-rare? What kind of blend is the house red? Is arugula a perennial plant? How many capers on the smoked salmon – be specific.” Probably couldn’t handle this kind of interrogation about their own job, but that doesn’t matter since you don’t know where they work.

It says "free range" right there.

It says “free range” right there.

The This Is Not a Buffet: Basically wants the kitchen to revolt violently against you: “I want the burger, but instead of fries or a salad, I want fettuccini on the side, and you should be able to do that since I see fettuccini elsewhere on the menu. And can you make the paella with quinoa instead? And substitute chicken for the chorizo? I don’t see a kids’ menu here, but we’d like chicken fingers and a grilled cheese sandwich – no crust.”

The Doesn’t Understand There’s a Division of Labour: Holds you personally responsible for any error or imperfection with the food and tips (or doesn’t) accordingly.

The First Date: Uncomfortable with each other and also with you. Do them a favour and make yourself the common joke by waiting until they take a bite to go and ask them how the food is. Ensure you put the bill fold in the EXACT centre (to the millimeter!) between the couple at the end of the night – assumptions are no one’s friend.

The Last Date: Awkward City, Population: All Three of You. Efficiency is your friend and theirs – get them out of there ASAP.

The 2,000th Date: They’ll come at the same time, sit at the same table, order the same thing, and share a newspaper and not talk the entire time. Really, it’s adorable and we should all be so lucky. Don’t interrupt their peace by trying to chit-chat.

The Forgetful: “I thought I ordered another drink? I know I didn’t order fries instead of salad. Oh, didn’t we say separate cheques?” Arguing is futile – just get it done.

The Great Expectations: The. Worst. Ignorant to the fact that servers are people, too, that no one is a mind reader, doesn’t understand the distinction between servER and servANT, refers to your manager as a maître d’, and is an unapologetic douche about knowing you’re there to wait on him/her. Livid that a place they may choose to go doesn’t have high chairs, their favourite chardonnay, or some disgusting poutine-nacho hybrid they had at a pub once in another city. Unaware that most people in Canada don’t wait tables as a life-long career, and thus the commitment to the job can only be so great and only so much can be put up with. Can be passive-aggressive or downright rude, and has been known to throw a very public temper tantrum about something trivial like the free bar snacks. It is supremely satisfying seeing these people post-serving in a professional context, and regaling colleagues with survivor stories.

The Misery Loves Company: Not their usual demeanour, but had (or having) a rough day and lucky you get to be the person they take it out on, because no one ever taught them not to mess with people who touch their food. Irrational, emotional, and cannot be cheered up, so just keep your head down and do your job. If a regular, may fly off the handle simply because you ask them what they want with their beef dip, rather than knowing they always get seasoned fries with the beef dip, you insufferable moron. Silver lining: they may over-tip at the end as compensation for the emotional abuse.

The Zero Self-Awareness: Blows their nose, flosses their teeth, changes their socks, and clips their toenails at the table (true story). Basically a walking health code violation, unaware that this (a) isn’t a washroom, or (b) isn’t their own dining room where maybe that revolting behaviour is tolerated. Disgusting to you and the other customers, and is likely oblivious to your passive-aggressive comments.

The Not Actually an Employee: Will roam around the room at will and without boundaries, searching serving cupboards for extra sugar, napkins or cutlery, despite you having just asked if they needed anything. They’ll rearrange tables, swap out chairs, adjust the blinds, wrestle patio umbrellas, and try to manoeuvre and ignite propane heaters themselves. Thinking they’re being helpful rather than a public nuisance, they’ve even been known to bring their own dirty dishes back to the dish pit, entering a Narnia no customer should ever see.

The Tree-Hater: Uses literally dozens of napkins throughout a meal, often dismantles them to single-ply form, then crumples them up and leaves them strewn about the table/booth/floor/planter.

The Finger-Snapper: GO TO HELL.

The Thief: If you need that cutlery so bad, just take it. But you need to work on being more stealthy about it.

The Jokester: Thinks he’s hilarious, but he isn’t and anything remotely funny is easily recognizable as a Seinfeld or Louis CK bit. Work on your fake laugh, though, or they’ll explain the punchlines to you, thinking the problem is with you, not them.

The Grab-Ass: Often a Jokester who’s had too much to drink or a lonely Over-Sharer who mistakes friendly service for something more. Can be handled with as much force as necessary.

The Flirt: Ultimately harmless and they probably can’t help it; their flirtatious nature says more about them than about you, but mind some specific boundaries when they’re with their significant others – reciprocating is still fine, but keep your hands to yourself.

The Domestic: If any group or couple asks you to settle a debate between them, even if it appears lighthearted, RUN!  There is nothing to be gained by your participation.

The Unsupervised Teenagers: Nightmares despite even the best parents’ attempts to civilize. Keep service roughly proportionate to their behaviour and wait patiently for the day they’re wearing your apron.

The Indecisive: You will come by three times to ask them what they want and they will have no idea, which isn’t usually a problem until you give them too much time on the fourth go and they’re upset you’ve neglected them and their guests are upset that the whole ordeal has taken even longer.

The Shock Factor: Forgets their glass eye and their eye patch and expects you not to stare into the void. Good luck. Also comes in the form of super baggy athletic shorts, no underpants, and feet up on the table. (Also true stories.)

Friends got it exactly right in 1997 with Phoebe's boyfriend:  "Oh God! Here we go again. Why does this keep happening to me? Is it something I'm putting out there? Is this my fault? Or am I just nuts?"

Friends got it exactly right in 1997 with Phoebe’s boyfriend: “Oh God! Here we go again. Why does this keep happening to me? Is it something I’m putting out there? Is this my fault? Or am I just nuts?”

The Genuinely Nice People: Polite, adequate tippers, and a pleasure to serve, but ultimately unremarkable and forgettable.

Of course, these categories are not mutually exclusive – patrons can be multiple types at once, and I know I’ve been more than one when on the other side of the serving tray.

Can you think of any I forgot?

Nuptial Annoyances

Warning: The following blog post contains strong opinions that are jaded, cynical, and probably insulting.  Please be advised that if you have ever held a wedding, attended a wedding, or daydreamed about your future wedding, some – if not all – of the following will offend you.  If it makes you feel better, yes, I too was guilty of some of the points that follow, but if I don’t get lenience, neither do you.  Continue reading at your own peril.  Reader discretion is advised.

Introduction

Weddings are inherently cheesy events.  It’s something about bringing together distant relatives and long-forgotten friends, groups of people that only find themselves in the same room at weddings and funerals, and forcing all these folks to sit and watch while you prove how much you love your significant other.

And there’s actually an interesting paradox when it comes to weddings.  Those who embrace the cheesiness seem to wind up with the best weddings: they’re fun, relaxed and everyone has a good time, including – and most importantly – the honoured couple.  The others who take the whole thing too seriously, constantly stress about planning, and honestly believe their wedding is perfect and entirely tasteful are usually blind to the fact that the kitsch has taken over, while remaining wound too tightly to enjoy themselves on their Big Day, or allow anyone else to either.

Weddings are becoming less a ritual about life-long commitment, and more a display of wealth and extravagance, as couples become convinced they must buy dinner for anyone they’ve ever met and cover each chair in only the finest linens.  There is always a feign of resistance to the default wedding format, as the couple tries to incorporate personal touches, but in the end nearly all weddings turn out the same, and the personal touches seem to only create caricatures of the individuals themselves.

So, exhibiting my penchant for complaining by way of itemized list, please find below The Ultimate List of Wedding Grievances, written in conjunction with a Con List cohort.

Because someone needs to say it.

xkcd shows us how it all begins

The Ultimate List of Wedding Grievances

1.  Glass clinking during reception to coerce the bride and groom to suck face for the crowd.  It is disruptive and the perverted enthusiastic guests and children often get out of hand.  No one wants to see people make out with mouthfuls of prime rib.

2.  The receiving line.  While über-traditional and practically the only way you’ll get to see all of your 300 guests, the 40 second interactions are hardly meaningful.  The guests queue up for an eternity, and your crazy old aunt will always think it’s appropriate to talk to each wedding party member for a full 8 minutes, thus holding up the whole production.  Those receiving lines that include the entire massive bridal party and all parents and siblings are the worst.

3.  “The Chicken Dance,” “The Macarena,” “The Locomotion” and “The YMCA”.  Self-explanatory.

4.  The cake cutting.  In case you didn’t know, the mid-dance cake cutting is the exit cue for guests who are bored, tired, or just want to leave.  This probably sounds familiar: “I’ll wait until they cut the cake, then I’ll go.”  By the time the cake is cut, most people are too tired, drunk, or full to want another dessert.  They either want to leave or to just keep partying uninterrupted.  It really slows down the night’s momentum when you to make everyone stop and gather for the photo-op.  And if the couple smashes the cake into each other’s faces… well, it’s been done.  It’s not original, funny, or cute.  It should also be noted that most wedding cakes are not delicious: taste is inversely proportionate to aesthetics.

5.  The mother/son, father/daughter dance.  If the groom wants to dance with his mother, fine, he probably should at some point.  But do we need to pause the party so everyone can watch?  Not necessary.  Full bridal party dances fall under the same criticism, and even the all-important First Dance treads dangerously here, since all most couples do is sway back and forth.  Bor-ing.

6.  The lame wedding favours.  What am I going to do with 1 oz of maple syrup?  How long am I obligated to keep it before I can throw out the dove-shaped paperweight with your initials on it?  Seriously, your guests won’t miss these cheap trinkets if you decide to opt out.  A third of them don’t even take them home in the first place and 6 months later the rest won’t even remember what you gave them.

7.  The notion that money is an appalling, impersonal gift.  Myth!  While the Mother-of-the-Mother-of-the-Bride may be mortified at the suggestion, most contemporary young couples, especially those who have lived on their own or lived together prior to the nuptials, will be very appreciative; they already have a toaster oven.  Not only is money or a gift card acceptable, it makes gift shopping much easier.

8.  Any speech or toast longer than 5 minutes; 3 minutes is ideal.

9.  Children.  Evidently, putting a kid in a pretty dress or a mini tux is a free pass for any and all forms of misbehaviour.  And an open bar/family gathering apparently gives dutiful parents the excuse to be distracted or blatantly ignore the ruckus.   Sure, who wouldn’t want to take their shoes off and run around screaming in their dress clothes?  But if I can’t do it, neither should your child.  Unfortunately, this is generally unavoidable, as most parents will take personal offence if you attempt an “adult-only” wedding.

10.  Pets and/or children as part of the ceremony.  There’s a reason Hollywood lists these two things as the most difficult to work with (close third: Christian Bale).  Temper tantrums (or dogs running amok with wedding bands) trump “cute” every time.

11.  Every-man-for-himself reception seating.  This usually ends in groups of friends being split up, dubious seat-saving, and complaints.  Make a seating plan – place cards are cheap, and you should have a good idea of who should/can sit where.  If for some reason your new mother-in-law doesn’t arrive early enough to get her spot at the best table, you will hear about it for the rest of your life.  “John’s speech was so touching.”  “Well I don’t know dear, I was so far away I couldn’t hear him, let alone see him up there.”

12.  Brunch/lunch receptions.  I’ve never been to one, and I wouldn’t go if invited.  Okay, maybe I would, but I wouldn’t be stoked about it.  If it’s a budget thing, cut down the guest list and host a dinner like a normal person.  An evening cocktail party reception could be an acceptable middle ground if done properly.

13.  The dreaded “cash bar”.  It’s striking how those so often concerned with “tradition” and “custom” still opt for the cash bar – a major faux pas in traditional wedding etiquette.  And it automatically labels you as “cheap” (sorry), since asking people to pay for anything at your wedding is generally in bad taste.  If it’s a cost issue, consider how out of hand the size of your wedding has gotten in the first place, or make some sort of compromise such as providing wine, but not spirits, or discounted drink prices.  In three years, people won’t likely remember what wedding favours you provided, but they will remember whether or not they had to pay for their booze.  Of course, it could be worse; you could have a “dry” wedding.

14.  Ceremony/dance-only invitations: there’s a dinner, but some of you are not invited.  Ouch.  A guest considered for the dance-only invitation should not be a guest at all, plain and simple.  It’s not like the dance-only invitees will be completely unawares of the dinner that occurred just before their arrival, and receiving the second-class invite is insulting.  Expect these guests to arrive only for the open bar – if they come at all – and not to bring a gift (could you blame them?).  This is truly a do-unto-others situation.  Not to mention, if you have a group of dance-only guests, you are now obligated to provide a well-stocked midnight buffet.

15.  The plethora of wedding-related events: bridal showers, bachelorette parties, engagement parties…. And your guests are expected to bring gifts to all of them?  Prepare to lower your expectations.

16.  The Bridal Party.  Being asked to be a member of a bridal party should be a request made to close friends you’d like to share the experience with – not to recruit free manual labour.  Brides and grooms should acknowledge that it is expensive to be in a bridal party, and that few people have the balls or the foresight to say “no” when asked to be a part of one.  Keep their costs reasonable and their time commitments manageable.

17.  Facebook event invitations.  I’m all about losing useless and out-dated traditions, but really?  Too far.

18.  Outdated and over the top decorations.  Miles of tulle draped from the ceiling of a dingy community hall or a plastic gazebo does not magically transform it into the Banff Springs Hotel.  You’re not fooling anyone, so keep it simple.

19.  Throwing rice/confetti.  Someone has to pick that up!  Is it really appropriate to show how happy you are for the bride and groom by throwing food at them?  I think not.

20.  The notion that this is the most important day in everyone’s life.  It may be one of yours, but chances are your old college friend or second cousin doesn’t care nearly as much.  Please keep this is mind when you make demands of your attendees.

21.  Spelling and grammatical errors on wedding invitations.  You will be judged.

22.  Weddings during long weekends.  Perhaps a bigger deal here than in warmer climates, but Alberta/Canada sees a limited number of long weekends in a summer, and I certainly don’t want one to be monopolized up by your wedding.

23.  About the bridesmaid dresses: “Oh, that’s versatile, you can totally wear it again”.  No, you cannot.  Use of this and similar phrases should be ceased immediately.  Regardless of how it looks, it is and will always be the bridesmaid dress from so-and-so’s wedding.  Therefore you can’t knowingly wear it again to another event, especially one that people who were at the wedding will be attending.  Even if you’re at a totally unrelated work Christmas party on the other side of the globe, Facebook photo tagging will reveal you.  Besides, the majority of these dresses all have that everlasting bridesmaid-y feel to them – even the black ones.

24.  “This tastes like ‘wedding food’.”  Maybe I watch too much of TLC’s Four Weddings, but this is the most ridiculous complaint.  There’s no such thing as “wedding food”.  It’s mass-produced banquet food that shows up at every event with 75 or more guests.  With few exceptions, quality is lost to quantity.  If you prefer not to be subject to this grievance, forego the frequent menu tastings and spend your time trimming the guest list.

25.  Do not invite people you don’t expect or want to come just to be polite, and then panic when they come.  You had that coming.

26.  Also do not invite people who are not invited to the wedding to your wedding related events (e.g. shower, stagette).  If they come, it’s just to make a scene or make you feel bad, so doing so just means you’re asking for trouble.

27.  The thank-you is NOT an outdated tradition and proper thank you notes should be sent to everyone and sent promptly.  This goes for wedding and shower gifts.  Some people will have you believe you have a year to send these notes, but anything after a couple of months will have guests raising their eyebrows.  That same tradition says guests have a year after your wedding to give you a gift – would you be okay with waiting so long?  Just get these formalities over with.  The acknowledgement is always appreciated.  And as with invitations, you cannot use Facebook for this.

28.  Guests who do not dress appropriately.  I don’t care who you are or what the venue is, 99% of the time denim is not appropriate.  Just because they have collars, plaid and golf shirts are still not acceptable.

29.  Keep your registry under control.  You need a wide range of price points, and a lot of items in the reasonable $75-$125 range.  A huge registry with lots of expensive items will be interpreted as greedy or delusional.

30.  The infamous Bridezilla and her lesser-known minion, the Groomonster.  Serving as a G-rated euphemism for “crazy bitch”, perhaps the daily use of the term “Bridezilla” on TV networks such as TLC has desensitized friends of the bride to the full meaning of the term and their impending doom.  All brides have Bridezilla moments – it’s basically unavoidable.  The less you think you are being a Bridezilla, the more likely you are a behaving like a complete psycho.  But just because “everybody does it” doesn’t mean it’s acceptable.  Try to have empathy and try to remain calm if something goes wrong.  At least one thing goes wrong at every wedding – accept it and move on.  Yes, it’s “your day”, but you invited the rest of us and we have to put up with you.

31.  Gift-openings.  Yawn.  They are boring and no one cares.  If you had a registry it can easily be deduced that you received many things from it.  I don’t feel it necessary to check and make sure.

32.  Going somewhere warm and far away for your wedding because you’re too cool to do it locally like everyone else? “Oh, a wedding in Hawaii! Real original!”  – Peter (Jason Segel), Forgetting Sarah Marshall

33. Wedding photos by formula. I have this picture; you probably have (or will have) one just like it.

Tenant Roulette

My husband and I rent out our basement suite as a separate unit.  Between Kijiji and good ol’ word-of-mouth, we’ve never had much trouble keeping the place occupied.  However, sharing the slightest amount of living space with another person – even just a back yard – can be quite the gamble.  If you’re going to roll the dice, you better be ready for the possible outcomes.

The Close Friend or Relative:  The biggest of all the gambles in my opinion, and a grey area we’ve never been ballsy enough to test.  The possible benefits include a nice, responsible, respectful, promptly paying tenant.  The possible downfalls include a gradual blurring of the lines of personal space until you wake up one morning and stumble into the kitchen to find them drinking your coffee out of your favourite mug and having just finished off the milk.  They’re less of a tenant and more like a houseguest who never leaves.

The Friend-of-a-Friend / Acquaintance:  The safest of all bets, because you have some sort of mutual connection to ensure that the person is not a raving lunatic or serial killer, but you’re not at the kind of heightened social relationship that can lead to abuse of boundaries.  Safe indeed… unless combined with any of the following categories.

The Recluse:  Seems like the safest of all bets, right?  Rent to a total hermit and they’ll be quiet and keep to themselves.  A little Xbox noise pollution in the early morning is easy to cope with.  Not so fast!  You still need to ensure this person leaves the crypt often enough to take out the garbage, and perhaps purchase cleaning supplies.  Trust us.  Make sure you do regular quality assurance checks so you can just replace an old space heater rather than allowing them to forego all human interaction and improvise simply by cranking the oven and opening the door.

The Slob:  Often in combination with The Recluse, I suppose because few people are open to hosting guests in a pig sty, but there are always exceptions and you definitely cannot make assumptions based on physical appearance.  These people will cost you – literally, when it comes to cleaning up mystery carpet stains, older food than you can imagine out of the fridge and freezer, and cat litter out of the cupboards.  A Magic Eraser’s worst nightmare.

The Obsessive Compulsive:  We’ve never had one, but I can imagine it would be like renting to myself.  Rent would always be early and the place would be kept in great shape, but you best be on your toes as a landlord, because the perfectionist will notice when even the slightest obligation or quality lacks (23 hours and 27 minutes notice for the furnace guy to enter the suite?  Unacceptable.).  And I would point out all the spelling and grammatical errors in the lease document.

The Multiplier:  It starts out as renting to one guy.  Then that guy’s former-ex-but-now-current girlfriend moves in.  They get a cat.  Then a Chihuahua.  Then the girlfriend’s sister becomes a “long term guest”.  The girlfriend’s sister has a newborn.  Before you know it, our 900 square foot suite looks more like a haven for human traffickers.

The First Time Renter:  They can actually be a decent bet if you get someone excited about exercising his or her new found free will by keeping odd hours and never being home.  On the other hand, they can exercise their free will in a wide variety of noisy and disruptive ways, too.  The consistent downfall is the regular check-up calls received from the poor, worried, overbearing mother and her empty nest: “So how is my little so-and-so doing?  Does he seem to be keeping out of trouble?  Oh, he didn’t tell me he moved?!”

The Drama Queen (or those who date them):  Screaming lovers’ quarrels in the back yard at 6:00 am?  No thank you.

The Host/Hostess:  Very nice, personable people who should probably just have their own place, so they can host and entertain to their heart’s delight.  These people are often very courteous and considerate, and therefore feel guilty if their guests are even slightly disruptive.  Then they check with you and apologize profusely, transferring the guilt on to you, as the intolerable gremlin landlords.

The Animal Lover:  Don’t get me wrong, I love animals, but they need proper space, exercise, and attention.  Cats and dogs can seem to multiply almost asexually it happens so fast.  Beware before your suite turns into (and starts to smell like) the next Noah’s Ark.  Reasonable non-refundable pet deposits are learned from experience.  Our place will always be pet friendly, but “well-behaved” and “quiet” are definitely relative terms when it comes to pets.

The People Person:  Best only if you, the landlord, is also a people person, so you are content to be trapped into an endless conversation whenever crossing paths.  Taking out the garbage?  Look forward to hearing a complete and detailed account of their weekend.  A minor inconvenience, not to be confused with…

Your Future B.F.F.:  Whether they’re new in town or just plain lonely, this person is needy and suffocating and just wants to hang out, relentlessly attempting to abolish the distinction between landlord and tenant so you can play Ouija together.  “I made too much for dinner, care to join me?  I just got a new blu-ray player, we should watch SATC2.”  The answer is always “no”.

The Major Life Revelation:  Some major change in the person’s life has caused them to seek housing from you, whether it is a relationship change, leaving a long-term residence, or moving to a new city.  Whatever it is, this person will be going through a period of self-discovery, necessitating that the person who signed the lease is not the same person who will be living in the suite in six months.  Sometimes changes can be for the better, but often those people are buying property.  Instead we get to witness rebounds, party phases, and addictions to daytime TV.

The Do It Yourselfer:  They want to add a coat of paint and maybe do a couple minor upgrades that not only you will appreciate, but all future tenants will too… or so they say.  It may seem overly cautious, but close supervision of these types is recommended, because a damage deposit can’t undo everything.  And yes, duct tape will rip off the paint when used to hang mirrors. 

The Lone Wolf:  Reveling in their new found oneness and on a path to self-discovery, this person takes pride in how independent and self-sufficient they truly are.  Touting themselves as a low-maintenance, easy going renter, this person loves to problem solve and live the single life.  They are finally making it on their own – in your face their mom/ex/whomever!  Or so they think.  Their home fix-it remedies escalate minor issues to the point that you’re motivated to double check the lease for the signature of Tim Taylor (Home Improvement reference… anyone… no?).  Their dedication to self-reliance often means they choose to ignore that which they cannot repair, leaving many surprises upon move out, including burnt out lights, blown breakers, chipped paint, and appliances in need of repair or replacing.

The Unsavory Character:  Think they might be testing the waters for a new grow-op locale?  They probably are.  Evict immediately or ensure you get a cut of the profits.

The Codependent:  The.  Worst.  Often disguised as responsible, self-sufficient adults, these are folks either on their own for the first time ever or in a very long time.  They are personable and interview well and can dupe you into a quick lease signing before you know it.  And then the questions, e-mails, and concerns begin, literally from the day of move-in if not before.  “Why does my television only get thirteen channels?  If my toilet clogs, can I call you?  It’s cold.  I don’t like these light bulbs.  I broke my deadbolt.  The dryer made a funny noise.  The fridge was too warm, but I turned it down and it got colder, but you should probably take a look at it.  This space heater doesn’t work.  I saw a spider.”  It.  Never.  Stops.

… Of course, one day you could be so lucky as to find the end of the tenant rainbow:

The Constant Traveler:  Jackpot!  Responsible, organized, and never home = quiet and very little wear and tear on the property.  Just make sure they’re not handing out spare keys like candy in order to allow significant others and in-laws to “crash” when they’re not there.

Facebook Faux Pas

Inspired by www.yourstatusisannoying.com, a website that and is both lovable and objectively hilarious.

The line between “social networking” and actual, real-life “socializing” is constantly getting blurrier.  And it seems that users are finding more and more reasons to put even more information on Facebook.  Sure, Facebook is handy when your mom asks what old so-and-so from high school is up to and you want to find out without having to make personal contact.  It’s also great for sharing vacation photos.  However, there are many things I believe Facebook should never be used for.  And so follows my angry list.

1.  Airing your dirty laundry.  Facebook is not a dispute resolution forum.  Starting or trying to resolve arguments via status updates and/or comments thereto may be mildly entertaining for us bystanders, but think: you’re putting that stuff online for all to see.  All 400 of your Facebook “friends”, that is.  Yes, it’s funny for us (to a certain extent), but rather than cathartic for you, it’s just embarrassing and likely regretful.

2.  Offering condolences.  This is the worst.  If someone died or lost someone, or got fired or dumped, condolences should be offered in person or over the telephone, NOT by wall post or status update.  You don’t need to invite everyone on Facebook into someone else’s personal suffering.  Worst case scenario – you absolutely cannot call or visit – send a private e-mail or message.  And if you’re not close enough to give them a direct message, then you’re not close enough to be obligated to comment on the situation at all; it’s none of your business, so leave it alone altogether.

3.  Quoting lyrics incessantly.  Annoying.  Extremely annoying.  This behaviour will fast-track you to deletion.

4.  The same goes for constant “inspirational” quotes and strange rhetorical questions.  If I was in the market for inspiration, Facebook would not be on my list of places to look.

5.  TMI: too much information.  This can be any number of things: health issues, relationship woes, conflicts at work and school, anything at all about your sex life or lack thereof.  If it’s something you should probably keep private or only within your inner circle, it should stay far away from Facebook.

6. Discussing bowel movements.  Of anyone.  This falls under the realm of too much information, but occurs frequently enough to deserve special mention.  Potty training your child?  Congratulations.  I have zero interest in learning about it, and these types of statuses and any accompanying photos will get your profile hidden at best, but more likely removed completely.  There are, what, almost 7 billion people on earth?  Most of them figure out the toilet eventually.  A miracle is it not.

7.  Your daily minutia.  I really don’t care what you’re wearing or what you ate for dinner the last 20 days in a row.  If you feel you must absolutely must share this meaningless information via the internet get a Twitter account.

8.  Flirting.  Gross.  Sure, she does look hot in that photo from Cancun (that is probably two years old), but at least drool via text message.

9.  Discussing your diet/work-out regime.  I’m lazy, I know.  I don’t need you to make me feel guilty about it.  You’re just bragging, anyway.  Which brings me to…

10.  Unnecessary and transparent bragging.  Yes, Facebook allows you to show off and edit your information in order to portray your own notion of the “ideal you” (that does not exist in reality, FYI).  We all know this, so showing off is not required and/or should be done with tact and subtlety. 

11.  Baiting your friends.  Here I’m referring to the ambiguous status updates that don’t say anything in particular but hint to deep emotional turmoil, begging for follow-up comments like “are you okay?” and “what happened?”  I make it a point to never indulge these attention seekers.

12.   Be a Debbie Downer.  Hate your job?  Your parents?  Your ex?  Generally depressed?  Vent elsewhere.  Write a haiku.  Go for a walk.  See a counsellor.  Do something, anything, other than sharing these woes through Facebook, because Facebook is not going to help or change anything.  Also, it’s not wise to put any feelings you may regret later (or that may find their way back to the subject person) on the internet, because once it’s out there, it’s out there.

13.  The infamous “is” update.  “Bob is.”  That’s it.  The end.  How very Descartes of you.  Clearly you’ve run out of ideas.  If you don’t have anything worthwhile to say, don’t say anything at all.

14.  Exhibit why you failed high school English.  I appreciate proper spelling and grammar in Facebook content, what can I say?  So until Facebook implements a spell-check feature, do us all a favour and go easy on the capital letters and exclamation points.  Learning the difference between “there”, “their”, and “they’re” will truly make you a better person.

15.  Coordinate important events.  Wedding invitations via Facebook?  Really?  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: tack-y.

16.  Posting anything racist, sexist, or generally offensive.  This should be self-explanatory, but sadly is not.

17.   Updates that read something like “If you can read this, you made the cut”.  I’m happy you discovered the friend-removal function and have now realized you don’t need to be “friends” with everyone you’ve ever had a conversation with, but is this supposed to make me feel special?

18.  Your legal problems.  Lost custody of your kid?  Spent the night in the slammer?  As much as we all love to revel in the misfortune of others, sharing this information with the masses is just another instance of the poor judgment that probably got you into those situations in the first place.

19. TV spoilers.  In the age of the PVR, it is completely inappropriate and totally inconsiderate to announce the results of finales, evictions and plot twists in your status update.  Any wrath incurred as a result is warranted.  You’ve been warned.  The same applies to any movie that hasn’t been out on DVD for more than a month.

20.  Statuses that request you to copy and paste them as your own status.  You know, so a wish comes true or something.  They are the chain letters of Facebook.

Please feel free to comment with your own grievances or post how awesome this is as your status update.

A special prize will be given to anyone who can devise a status update that violates all 20.

The “Pro” List

In the spirit of fairness, we also did our best to make a “pro” list. If you missed the previous Con List, click here.

The Official Pro List of Procreating

  1. You get to play with/own all those awesome childhood toys, such as Lego, Etch-A-Sketch, and Mr. Potato Head.
  2. You have someone to take care of you (for free, or at their cost) when you’re old and decrepit (if society still does that kind of thing).
  3. You learn to eat healthier (read the hidden con: no cookies before dinner applies to everyone).
  4. Maternity leave = paid leave from work!
  5. From a parent: “You truly experience unconditional love”.
  6. “Expectant Mothers” parking.
  7. You get presents when they are born.
  8. If you feel it absolutely necessary to have them, you can pawn them off on the grandparents for a while when you’re sick of them. (*Disclaimer* When the “good” grandparents live 5,000kms away, pawning them off is not always an option.)
  9. Giant boobs, if you’re into that sort of thing
  10. A good scapegoat for bailing on events you have no interest in attending or want to leave early (“we have to relieve the babysitter…”).
  11. Getting knocked up is trendy these days.
  12. Valid excuse for packing on that extra 50 lbs.
  13. Babies look cute in baby clothes and holiday-themed costumes.
  14. You get to play on the playground equipment and go to fun kids events without triggering a call to the police.
  15. Cute foreign babies.
  16. Your mother/mother-in-law will finally stop nagging you about grandkids.
  17. Less hassle with airport security when pregnant or with small children (until someone straps a bomb to a small child).
  18. Tax breaks.
  19. You can teach your child to say “God bless us everyone” and put on an annual production of A Christmas Carol.
  20. Kids sometimes say hilarious things.
  21. Disguising child labour as “chores”; kids can eventually take over some of the housework.
  22. Holidays become full-blown holidays again: Easter egg hunts, Valentine’s Day cards, hand turkeys at Thanksgiving, etc.
  23. MILF status.
  24. You can literally eat whatever you want (as long as it’s not pregnancy-prohibited) whenever you want to for 9 months and no one can say crap about it.
  25. Making your kid learn a valuable skill (e.g., a second language, a musical instrument, a particular sport or activity) you never had the chance to, on the premise of enriching their lives and opening doors for them, while essentially re-living your youth vicariously through them.
  26. There will be no more talk of your “biological clock” and its ticking.
  27. Even if just for a short while, your kids will look up to you.
  28. You get to tell them outright lies and it’s socially acceptable (e.g., Santa Claus).
  29. People (might) give you their seat on the train.
  30. You could have the next Neil deGrasse Tyson, Margaret Atwood, or Elon Musk.
  31. Disney movies.
  32. From a parent: You get to embarrass them in front of their friends just like your parents used to do to you. = Hours of fun.
  33. Pregnant women can get away with a lot – sweat pants in public, rude comments, bailing on events last minute – simply because they’re pregnant.
  34. Children’s books.
  35. “Family vacations” / road trips
  36. You will fulfill the curiosity about how your offspring will turn out.
  37. You get to teach them stuff, share your knowledge, and witness several “light bulb moments” (from a parent).
  38. You can now legitimately criticise other parents and their unruly children.
  39. You might eventually become a grandparent.
  40. “Kids keep you young.”
  41. “Children cure boredom.”

Yes, this list is significantly shorter.  Feel free to comment with your own additions, or to tell me about how offended you are by this assessment of child-bearing and rearing.

The “Con” List

A long-standing joke amongst like minded 20-something childless (child-free) friends, turned into an official document.

Read with a sense of humour and remember offence is taken, not given.

The Official Con List of Procreating

  1. Say “good-bye” to a solid 8 hours of sleep for the next ~decade.
  2. The “doctor-recommended” list of things you can’t eat/drink while pregnant/breast-feeding keeps growing: tea, coffee, pop, anything caffeine, sushi, fish in general, soft cheeses, deli meat, pate, any raw meat, hot dogs, artificial sweeteners, pineapple, papaya, sesame seeds, canned foods.…
  3. No booze while pregnant/breast-feeding (yes, this is deserving of its own point separate from the above).
  4. Finding, retaining, and paying a reliable baby-sitter.
  5. Sticky hands, sticky kitchen counters, sticky floors, ruined sofas.
  6. Total home destruction.
  7. Children in public – enough said.
  8. Baby showers.
  9. When pregnant, complete strangers often feel they have license to strike up a conversation and touch your stomach.
  10. One word:  stretchmarks.
  11. Quoting a friend who was 9 months preggo at the time (Facebook status):  “…no one told me that when the hips start to split it feels like I’ve been kicked in the box by a steel-toed boot.”
  12. Diapers. Shit. Urine. Vomit. Baby rash cream.
  13. Having to lose the baby weight afterwards.
  14. Baby clothes; they outgrow them in 3 hours.
  15. Potty training. Until they “get it” be prepared to change bed sheets on a daily basis.
  16. Giving birth to the placenta.
  17. Good-bye, sex life.
  18. Shopping for, paying for, and hauling around car seats, strollers and cribs.
  19. Complete and utter devastation to the vagina and surrounding areas.
  20. The sick thing that happens to a pregnant lady’s belly button where it looks like the foetus is trying to escape.
  21. Those TACKY pregnancy pictures (if people tell you yours aren’t tacky or awkward, they’re lying).
  22. You get shafted at your birthday and Christmas since people will start getting you pregnancy- or baby-related gifts.
  23. You absolutely cannot bring your offspring to social events.
  24. MILF status.
  25. Out of control mood swings and food cravings.
  26. Quote from a mother: “If you have to make a pros & cons list, you shouldn’t have a kid. It’s not like buying a car.”
  27. You can’t scuba dive while pregnant.
  28. Kids are expensive in general.  Feeding, clothing, schooling, extra-curricular activities, etc. for 18+ years.
  29. That’s the end of adult-only interactions until you find that coveted baby-sitter.
  30. Crying, whining, fussing children.  Temper-tantrums in general.
  31. You could have the next Hitler, bin Laden, Britney Spears, etc.
  32. Minivans.
  33. Breast-feeding. Ouch.
  34. Breast-feeding in public. Controversial.
  35. Children’s music.
  36. “Family vacations” / road trips
  37. Those awkward, obnoxious, rebellious teen years (approximately 9-21).
  38. Worrying about your kid getting knocked up, addicted to meth, getting in a car accident, and their general well-being and safety at all times.
  39. Worrying about just screwing up your kid in general.
  40. You might eventually become a grandparent.
  41. Crazy hockey moms are now your peers.
  42. Good-bye, spare time.
  43. Mandatory bed-rest during 3rd trimester is apparently pretty common.
  44. Diminished chance of exciting, long-term, or international travel.
  45. Morning sickness.
  46. Cankles.
  47. No pedicures, manicures, hair colouring, etc, during pregnancy because of “chemicals and fumes”.
  48. Frequent constipation/gas
  49. People are going to want to watch/videotape the whole birthing procedure (at best, you’re going to have to repeatedly explain that there is a waiting room for a reason).
  50. Teletoon
  51. After becoming a parent, addressing your own needs/wants first suddenly becomes horrible and selfish.
  52. “What are you going to name your baby?”
  53. Attending school theatrical/musical productions.
  54. “Mom jeans”.
  55. Parent/teacher interviews.
  56. Kids will put ANYthing up their noses – or any orifice, for that matter.  And you have to get it out.
  57. As explained by a parent: “You will no longer get the same enjoyment out of Quentin Tarantino films and their senseless violence”.
  58. Play-dates & sleepovers, where you just obtain more kids and you can’t even punish them.
  59. Spanking is frowned upon.  Oh, no, wait, now it’s okay.  Oh, nope, spoke too soon, spanking is awful and will cause permanent mental damage.  Oh, nope, it’s actually a useful parenting tool….
  60. You are 100% responsible for another human life.
  61. Career could be put on hold or set back.
  62. “Baby-proofing” your house.
  63. Kids tend to repeat what they overhear at the most inopportune time: “Daddy says Auntie is a slut.”
  64. They learn to divide and conquer: “But Dad said I could…”
  65. Grandparents / extended family will always complain about not seeing them often enough.
  66. Kids + cell phones/technology = nightmare
  67. Allergies: say goodbye to Mr. Fluffy (ed note: hopefully not! There are options!)
  68. Constant, unsolicited advice from “more experienced” mothers.
  69. Strangers will come in to touch and adore your baby without asking.
  70. Quadruplets can happen.  Naturally.
  71. The word “womb” and other pregnancy-related jargon.
  72. “Baby on Board” window stickers.
  73. While pregnant, you have to start measuring all time in weeks.  Once the kid comes, all time is in months.
  74. Your kid could be stupid or a bully and you won’t even know because “love is blind”.
  75. Toy, furniture and food recalls – total paranoia (“that wasn’t made in China, was it?”).
  76. Ultrasounds – uncomfortable and the technician can be a jerk.  And now they have the extra-creepy 3D photos.
  77. “Are you getting him/her baptized?”
  78. The awkward newborn tour around the office.
  79. There are about a million different possible “birthing experiences”, about which even perfect strangers will be highly opinionated.
  80. Global over-population is a real epidemic.
  81. Even seemingly normal people will often involuntarily revert to baby talk simply in the presence of an infant.
  82. There’s rarely a “right age” or a “right time” to have a kid.
  83. Labour in general.  Ouch.  And apparently they only reserve c-sections for special circumstances.
  84. AwkwardFamilyPhotos.com – that could be you!
  85. Even if your child is a perfect little angel (good luck), chances are he or she will have a “best friend” who is a total pain in the ass, and a bad influence on your kid, but you can’t really forbid your child to see his/her best friend, can you?
  86. You will get to fight internal battles between your inner child and your inner parent on an ongoing basis, usually in public, and often while your child is waging the same battle externally. (“Why can’t he have that?” “Do you want to give in just because he asks?” “Is it wrong to give him what he wants?” “When does it end, and how do you define the end point?” “Isn’t it good for them to have a little fun, get something ‘just because’?” etc.)
  87. It’s hard to feel like you’re doing the right thing.
  88. Your kids will eat your food. Off your plate. And then put some of it half-chewed back onto your plate. Get used to it.
  89. Homework. At least 12 years of it.  I hope you remember long division.
  90. Nature or nurture?  It doesn’t matter – they’re both your fault.
  91. Post-pardem depression.
  92. You get to experience hubris in a new way. “Whoa, we made another whole creature, and we didn’t even ASK if they wanted to be made!” Who do we think we are, anyway?

Feel free to comment with your own additions!

We also tried our best with a Pro List. It’s admittedly shorter. Click here to see it.