Mirror, Mirror

877535Dear Housewives,

Picture it. Vancouver, 2015.

Kit’s company was holding one of its parties. A little get-together, spouses and boyfriends and girlfriends and dogs invited. They turn the conference room into a buffet of Doritos and sushi, and we all meander around the office with our tipples, chit-chatting about banal topics. I had been cornered near the the Cheez-It bowl. Kit’s co-worker was droning on about how people are always surprised about her age.

“Oh, people are always thinking I’m ten years younger than I am! I just happen to look younger.” She continued on talking about how young she looked. On and on.

I stood there sipping my pousse café and thought to myself, “Well, she does look good. Ten years younger? I had no idea she was in her sixties!” I was about to say how shocked I was that she was nearing retirement when she said, “No one ever guesses that I’m actually 42.”

And Portman Doe was glad she kept her mouth shut for once as she nearly spit out her pousse café.

Let that be a lesson for you, housewives. If people tell you that you look younger than you are, then it might be true. If you feel the need to endlessly brag about people telling you that you look younger than you are, then you are likely old and haggard.

 

Yours,

Portman Doe

Being camp

johnny-automatic-campingDear Housewives,

A couple of weeks ago, Kit and I took a big step in our relationship. Although, I should say it was more than just a step. It was a move to expand our horizons. To challenge ourselves. To grow as individuals and as a couple. We went camping.

There are lesbians who love to camp. You know who they are. They have memberships to mountain equipment outlets. Purple bandanas keep mullets out of their faces. These women use pink highlighters on topographical maps. They bring their lunch to work in a full-on hiking backpack, which begs the question: how heavy can their chicken salad sandwiches be?

Queers are of a different sort. Of course, some like camping and some don’t, and car-camping is far more popular amongst queers. A morning in the woods is not morning without an espresso made in the back of a Subaru hatchback. Queers write nature poetry in a Moleskine notebook. And they stay within a three-bar minimum of cellphone range. Honestly, camping is not camping without being able to Instagram your skillet-fried dinner.

But for us, queer housewives, we know that camping can involve less ladylike activities such as sports socks. It’s alienating. It’s foreign. Kit and I were scared, but we faced our fears.

And, like the conclusion of a slightly grubby fairy tale, it turns out that camping wasn’t all that bad. That night, the new moon was bright in the sky. Our mattress was perfectly comfortable. We were snuggled warmly under the blankets.  There were extra pillows. The “facilities” were very clean. The hardest thing about camping was having a continental breakfast, but all in all I think we would stay at that Holiday Inn again.

 

Yours,

Portman Doe

Murder, She Rote

1020937Dear Housewives,

Many people would argue that watching cozy murder mysteries is a mindless form of entertainment: an hour or so of clean cut whodunnit with minimal gore and a tight wrap-up. Those people have shortchanged the cozy mystery. Through extensive televisual research, I have come to realize that Jessica Fletcher, Hercule Poirot, and Rosemary & Thyme, just to name a few, have much to teach us about escaping murder. To save your life and your reputation, I have created a primer. I suggest you make a habit of heeding its precautions.

Portman Doe’s Primer for Not Being Murdered

1. When hunting, do not remove your orange safety vest even though it clashes with your heels.

2. Never wear someone else’s uniquely identifiable rain jacket on a dark night while walking down a deserted, rural road. Especially don’t wear the jacket if the owner of said jacket is hated by townsfolk.

3. You can, indeed, be murdered by drowning in a vat of pinot noir. However, in your case, accidental death is more likely.

4. Don’t spend time with people who seem like they might be able to shoot a pistol with their feet. In general, housewives, these people are circus performers so we shouldn’t be hanging around them anyway.

5. If someone owns a trained chimpanzee, then the chimp is likely trained to help commit or cover up a murder. Stay away from chimpanzees.

6. Strychnine is bitter. More bitter than radicchio. Less bitter than my mother-in-law.

7. Don’t get impregnated by the adulterous president of the country club. Next thing you won’t know, you’ll be found in a sand trap. The extreme exfoliation will wreak havoc on your skin, and you’ll look terrible in an open casket.

8. Inviting a murder-solving mystery writer/gardener/spinster/Belgian as a guest in your home is the first step to being murdered.

 

Yours,

Portman Doe

Empire of Dirt

887953Dear Housewives,

It is with a sad heart that I write you today. The long weekend has meant spending time with friends which is, of course, good, but it has also meant that Kit and I have been privy to the state of other people’s homes. My primary concern is why people aren’t regularly cleaning their toilets.

In a proper household, like yours or mine, the home is clean at all times. A regular schedule of cleaning ensures that even the smallest chore is completed in a timely manner. For example, daily tasks include washing dishes, straightening the living room, and wiping down the bathroom vanity. Weekly or twice weekly activities include dusting the leaves on houseplants, polishing bannisters, and scrubbing the bathtub. Keep in mind that tasks such as cleaning chandeliers and polishing silver should never be delegated to a maid. A schedule such as this helps to easily maintain a home for whenever company arrives.

In homes not compliant with a decent standard of care, I have heard that it is common practice to vacuum only just prior to the arrival of visitors. A flurry of domestic activity will quickly sweep up any clutter and deposit it in a closet or room closed off to company. These homes usually don’t bother with dusting, and I have heard they don’t even have furniture polish handy. Housewives, let’s not think about what the inside of their ovens look like.

I had remained blissfully unaware that in a home with a substandard level of domestic care that toilets would not be cleaned regularly. In fact, this past weekend, I thought I may have traveled from Vancouver through a wormhole, arriving in the washroom of a truck stop in rural Alberta. I have seen such places on television. While being unable to use the bathroom was sad enough, the fact Kit and I will no longer be able to socialize with these domestic heathens (née friends) is more the pity. For them. Not for us.

 

Yours,

Portman Doe

 

 

 

 

 

 

The cheese stands alone

Dear Housewives,

Do you often find yourself needing more cheese? Are you dreaming about unlikely sausage fillings? Do you think to yourself, “I wish I could whip up a batch of éclairs.” If so, you might be a queer housewife!

In my own quest to become the modern day, queer June Cleaver, last fall I took a cheese-making workshop. It was everything I expected it to be. The instructor regaled us with an account of his life living in an outbuilding on a goat farm and his travels around the province, teaching cheese-making and sharing niblets of his kefir culture. He offered us the inside track to buy a share in a cow. We made paneer and started a Camembert. I smelled mildly of baby vomit when I left thanks to the rennet, but it was an authentic experience, and I am the queerer for it.

This spring I enrolled in a pastry course at a small, local bakery. Who wouldn’t want to make croissants and get to know other hipster housewives in the neighbourhood? However, Portman might have missed the boat shoes on that one. Two women in the class have been married for longer than I’ve been alive. They are not hipsters, though it’s possible that one or both have had hip replacements. The other two ladies in the class are also my senior. What’s more, it’s impossible to tell if the instructor is a hipster as health regulations forbid beard-flowers in the kitchen.

I am the only one who dresses ironically.

Despite the ongoing lack of skinny jeans, the real trouble in class began last Wednesday night as we rolled out our puff pastry. During our introductions weeks prior, I hadn’t mentioned that I don’t have a husband. I thought it would be weird to say, “Hi, I’m Portman. I don’t have much pastry experience. Also, I’m queer!” My lack of outing myself came to the fore last Wednesday as a few of the ladies the began to complain about their husbands. Their complaints escalated. From their accounts, they are married to lazy jerks who expect their wives to be their slaves. What to do? Should I nod in agreement? Should I fake a complaint about my own partner? As we all know, housewives, queer relationships are inherently superior to heterosexual ones, but I felt that bringing this up to women wielding rolling pins was a bad idea. I didn’t chime in.

It wasn’t until I got home that I realized that one of the other women in the class had also remained silent during the husband-bashing. I had assumed that she was concentrating on her rolling or perhaps she didn’t have complaints against her husband. Maybe she was single. Maybe her husband died in the Great War. It was only after I got home that I realized the most likely possibility.

As she stood there each week with her shorn hair, boxy t-shirt, and ill-fitting, always brightly coloured pants, I had naturally assumed that she was originally from Winnipeg or Regina or something else awful. But what queer hasn’t played the game “Lesbian or From the Prairies?” (Also know in the U.S. as “Lesbian or from Michigan?”) After all, there have been scientific studies showing the correlation.

lesbians_women_from_saskatchewan

Venn diagram demonstrating crossover between lesbian population and women from Saskatchewan. (Labeled Fig. 26 in original study by Lindsey, Wagner, and Walenta 1967)

 

Next week, I am going to have to look for more lesbian clues. I don’t have many classes left to figure this out and then I’m off to my sausage class. Luckily, I’ve heard that it’s easier to read people who like to stuff their own sausage.

 

Yours,

Portman Doe

 

We are all Magi

Dear Housewives,

Easter is almost here. I can tell because Pinterest keeps suggesting pages about crafting the perfect Easter display. Just using things around the house, you can make your own burlap and marshmallow peep wreath. Don’t let your kids use a ready-made basket for the Easter egg hunt. Take a cereal box and papier-mâché it to look like a bunny, finishing it off with paint and braided twine handles. Looking for an organic method to dye your eggs? Red cabbage and urine to the rescue!

But this post isn’t about the heights of domestic glory brought to you in the name of the Lord’s Resurrection. It’s about a different time of year, the time of year when we give gifts because of the Baby Jesus.

After some time to reflect upon this past Yuletide season, I have come up with a few rules for seasonal gift-giving. I call these:

Portman Doe’s Seasonal Gift-Giving Rules, Vol. 1

1. If you are having a “White Elephant” party, you should specify what that means.

For some, it merely refers to the method of gift exchange. In this case, everyone brings a nice, neutral gift (a bottle of wine, a fancy kitchen gadget, etc.). People receive a random wrapped gift from the pile of gifts, and they can choose to trade with someone who has already opened a random gift. For others, the “White Elephant” party denotes the theme of the gifts as well as the method of exchange. These folks will bring a gag gift to be exchanged in the same manner as above.

When the head of the company doesn’t clarify that he meant the former and not the latter for the year-end office party, it can lead to some very uncomfortable moments for many employees and their spouses. That said, perhaps one day I will need that earwax candle kit.

 

2. Don’t give homemade gifts.

There are exceptions to this rule. Do I want that gorgeous hand-knitted toque? Sure do! Homemade brownies? Puh-lease put them in my mouth now. You’re a professional ceramicist? Why yes, I would love that vase that you specially created to complement my Hollywood Regency decor.

The key here is being able to evaluate whether what you have to offer is up to par with the craftiness, artistic ability and taste-level of the recipient. The issue comes when people live under the false assumption that they are talented and have good taste. As you know, housewives, we just have to put up with these people. You can lead a horse to Château Latour, but you can’t make him or her understand that upper-middle class values are superior.

3. Good housewives always have an extra Christmas gift on hand.

This past holiday season a friend dropped by two weeks prior to Christmas. She popped in spur of the moment and with her came a two exquisitely wrapped gifts for me and Kit that she had acquired on her travels. Well, Kit had done me proud and purchased an extra bottle of absinthe for moments like this. It was already wrapped and under the tree. Nothing says queer Christmas like a green fairy!

(*Helpful hint: Attach gift tags to the underside of your gift-boxes. It can create a more polished gift landscape, and, for emergency gifts with no tags, your recipient has no idea that other gifts have names on them.)

 

4. Don’t go to a gift exchange party if you don’t give a gift in exchange.

Housewives have a word for people like this: jerks.

 

Yours,

Portman Doe

 

Rhetorical Analysis

Dear Housewives,

It’s a new year, and Kit and I are surrounded by babies. Everyone we know has apparently forgotten how contraception works and has birthed an army of infants. An army. They are practically militarized I tell you. Armed with fully loaded diapers.

Now, now. We don’t hate babies. Certainly not. There are some adorable and delightful kids out there. However, certain parents like to post mommy/baby selfies several times a day, and, when one’s infant is particularly ugly, it’s a bit hard to take.

The hardest part for me is not responding to the mother’s persistent questions posted alongside the photos:

“Isn’t he just the cutest?”

No, he is not. I almost threw up my hipster donut at the sight of his face. That donut cost me $4.00, and now it just burns. Thanks, ugly baby.

“Don’t you think he’s beautiful? SO BEAUTIFUL.”

Are we looking at the same baby? I’m pretty sure the sight of your child gave me GERD.

“Don’t you think his face is just perfection?”

Maybe so, but only if he’s the spawn of an alien. We’re talking classic 1950’s alien depiction here.

“Sleeping. Doesn’t he have the face of an angel?”

Where are you even getting this stuff? Have you lost your mind? From that angle, he has the face of a bloated, drunken gnome.

Kit says that I’m not allowed to answer any of the mother’s questions. I have to keep it to myself, but, housewives, why is this mother asking if she doesn’t want someone to respond honestly?

The truth burns inside me just like the acid reflux.

Yours,

Portman Doe

 

 

 

Don we now our gay apparel

Dear Housewives,

The holiday season is no longer upon us. Thank goodness. If you’re anything like me, and you probably are, exhaustion has set in. You can only muster the energy to watch entire seasons of Miranda and Project Runway: All Stars. You’re probably asking yourself, “How did this happen?” or “Why am I now wearing leggings as pants?” Let me explain.

During the holiday season, a fashionable housewife has to come up with sensational dishes for the home and for friends’ potluck get togethers. Tourtières. Decadent cheese logs. Tartlets. Enough cranberries to ward off a year’s worth of UTIs. Preparing all these dishes and finding the perfect serving vessel is very tasking. There are standards to uphold, friends to out-do, enemies to make. However, due to the Advent of Social Media, it’s the wardrobe selection that really does a housewife in.

Facebook and Instagram and Twitter and Vine and goodness knows what else mean that every time one attends a holiday extravaganza that one’s pictures end up online and tagged. Kit and I attended many events where there wouldn’t be that much overlap in party attendees. Even so, without care, our Facebook timelines could have demonstrated a lack of attention to presentation had we not created a wardrobe spreadsheet. By outlining our clothing selection, we ensured our ensembles coordinated without matching each other, and we maintained a lack of wardrobe repetition. A simple Excel spreadsheet really works wonders.

I also learned this holiday season not to give this advice while at a party.

Yours,

Portman Doe

Astronautical Delights

Dear Housewives,

Kit and I are hooked on the TV series Extant. Privatization of space exploration. Aliens or viruses or something. Androids. Its star-filled cast includes Halle Berry, Hiroyuki Sanada, Goran Visnijc, Camryn Manheim and Pierce Gagnon, the little boy who blew my mind in Looper.

But Extant is ridiculous, and here’s why:

(SPOILERS, housewives. Spoilers. But not for the most recent episodes.)

Let’s start by putting yourself in Halle the astronaut’s position:

You’re up there in outer space, and you have some crazy ass hallucinations. You see your dead husband and start interacting with him. After hallucinating, you wake up in another part of the space station and know what you do? You watch the first fifteen seconds of the security footage where you’re losing your mind and then delete it without watching it in full.

No, housewives, you wouldn’t do that because, housewives, you’re not stupid. But, apparently, Halle the astronaut is.

So then Halle Berry returns to Earth and has some post-space testing done. Turns out she got pregnant in space. (Yeah, watching the security footage to see if an alien raped you might come in handy now, Halle.) Rather than telling the truth about the psychotic episode or alien contact, Halle doesn’t want her doctor friend Camryn to say anything. An alien baby is in your womb, and your first thought is, “Gee, I better wait and see what I think about all this”? Surely, this pregnancy can’t end well. Surely, Alien is a classic film on this future Earth. What are you thinking, Astronaut Halle?

But come on. We get a woman of colour as the lead (Awesome). She plays an astronaut (Awesome). Maybe we can just forget about what seems to be one of the major themes of the show: Women are so desperate to have babies that they will birth aliens in order to be a mom.

I feel that it’s significant that I can’t recall any of the characters’ names and only call them by the actors’ names. Well, except Goran Visnicj. He’s ER man. And Michael O’Neill. I call him Ron Butterfield. Ron Butterfield 4EVER.

Yours,
Portman Doe

Portman Doe and the Case of the Shit-tastic Zucchini Bread

Dear Housewives,

I recently repainted my kitchen and doing so required that I clean every inch of my domestic haven. There behind the microwave, I found the recipe for my grandmother’s zucchini bread. The best thing about my grandmother’s recipe is that it’s pretty much identical to almost all other recipes for zucchini bread on the Internet. However, hers has the benefit of more pineapple, more zucchini and whole wheat flour, and all that extra fibre means that you’ll be shittin’ pretty with every slice. Also, this bread is super delicious.

Here’s the recipe:

3 large eggs
1 1/2 to 2 cups granulated sugar (I tend to like less sugar)
1 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
2-3 cups grated zucchini (You do not need to press out the moisture)
14 oz (398 ml) can of pineapple, tidbit or chunk
Cointreau (to taste)
lime juice (to taste)

3 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease a 9″ by 12″ pan. (You may use bread tins or other size pans, but, obviously, take that into consideration as cooking time will vary. I ended up using some random Pyrex casserole dish.)

Beat eggs and then mix in sugar and vanilla. Gently stir in the grated zucchini. Drain can of pineapple, reserving juice for later. Gently stir in pineapple chunks or tidbits.

In separate large bowl, mix the dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients and stir until all is combined. Pour into greased pan and cook for approximately 40 minutes.

While the bread is baking, pour 1 oz of the reserved pineapple juice into ice-filled cocktail shaker. Add 1 oz Cointreau and .5 oz lime juice. Shake well. Pour into lowball glass. Consume. Repeat until the bread is finished baking, you run out of liquor, or you can’t locate your oven.

Test bread for doneness with a toothpick. Let cool in pan for ten minutes. Then remove from pan and cool on wire rack. I never actually let mine cool completely since warm zucchini bread is delicious!

photo

After cooling completely, the bread can be wrapped in aluminum foil and kept frozen for a couple of weeks. This bread freezes beautifully. I thaw my loaf in the fridge.

I hope you enjoy this hearty and delicious treat! Be sure to have extra toilet paper on the ready.

Sincerely,
Portman Doe