I recently avoided falling victim to the “pink tax.” Never heard of it? It’s when an item for a woman is more expensive than the same item for a man. The culprit? Payless Shoes. Like many creatives, I daylight in the service industry. One must? Non-slip shoes. Spills, dirt, snow, crackers a parent brought for their two-year-old which their two-year-old felt belonged on the floor (sometimes they actually improve the look of the otherwise tacky flooring, but I disgress). Mostly it’s the dish pit: often a nightmarish lake similar to the bog of eternal stench from Labyrinth except without the comical fart sounds and pirate fox riding a dog.

I had overextended the 4-6 month shelf-life of my then current shoes because I just didn’t want to invest money into something that wasn’t writing. Sadly, the feeling of dish pit scrap stew seeping into a hole then soaking my sock was enough to send me running to the store.

So there I was, staring at the wall of options for ladies. There were sneakers of many kinds, oxfords, converse, boots, heels, and flats. No shortage of options BUT upon looking at the prices, I found myself frustrated. They had gone up! And having worked in this industry for a long time, I know that there have been NO advancements in the world of non-slips that could warrant such a price hike. So WTF?

To the men’s section I went. And I wish I could say my jaw dropped, but what actually happened was an audible, “of course.” The same exact style was $10 cheaper in the men’s section. I grabbed my size (8 in men’s) and ran back downstairs to confirm with the women’s shoe that they were in fact the same. And yes. There was a slight difference in the width of the toe area, but otherwise the same. So why the price difference? Especially when typically women’s shoes of the same style require less material as women’s feet run smaller?

I really don’t know. But what I do know is that it shouldn’t be called “pink tax.” Pink tax is too polite for this form of prejudice. Can we please stop shrouding sexism and gender inequality in cute pastel colours? It should be called “no dick tax.” As in if you don’t have a dick, so you have to pay a tax. It gets right to meat of the issue by saying women are without and that’s why we pay more.

I bought the men’s shoes. And boy oh boy, did they ever get rave reviews:

“Those shoes are the ugliest shoes I’ve ever seen.”
– Single White Male Coworker

“You know Becca, I can get behind your gender-bending style, the suits, the hats, suspenders, I’m into it. It’s sexy. But those shoes do not make me want to fuck you.”
– Different Single White Male Coworker

Instead of crying myself to sleep after failing at my only objective in life, I came up with an idea for a new tax. I propose a “no vagina tax” wherein every time a man thinks he has the right to comment on a woman’s body or how a woman chooses to dress her body, he has to pay a fine. As in you don’t have a vagina and because of that you say and do wildly inappropriate things, so you have to pay a tax. And we can then use that money to support victims of sexual assault. Now there’s a tax I think we can all get behind! #novaginatax

Netflix dropped a bomb on me this week: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. It’s a movie about a junior in High School whose secret love letters somehow get mailed to the five loves of her life. Teen melodrama ensues. And it’s fuckin’ magic.

This is the kind of movie that I would normally put on to lull me into a deep sleep. The mindless fluff that promises sweet dreams. Or so I thought.

Instead, I found myself giddy with all the feels. I was utterly invested in the leading lady’s journey. I was kicking my feet with excitement when she and her co-star finally express their feelings for each other. It didn’t hurt that John Corbett, or rather Aidan from Sex & the City was also in the film. Remember that episode when Carrie finds out he’s using Rogaine and he’s all “I don’t want to talk about!” Well, it worked. The man still has a damn good head of hair.

I used to think maybe I’d grow out of my appreciation of a teen rom-com, but now I know it’s here to stay. And I’m okay with it. Riverdale, Love Simon, The Duff – I eat it up. And I’m no stranger to rewatching the faves from my teen years either – Clueless, Mean Girls, 10 Things I Hate About You, 10 Things I Hate About You again because it’s so beyond brilliant. Unlike Zac Efron, I have no desire to be seventeen again, but fuck if I don’t love watching stories about that time in my life.

Maybe it’s time I write one myself…

Standard party conversation, or perhaps late night talks under the stars, or stoned moments of clarity: if you could download any skill like they do in the Matrix, what would it be?

Some people need time to think. They either haven’t thought of their answer before or perhaps they’re searching for the answer that will make them seem the most… intellectual? Or the most virtuous? Or just the most. These people eventually come up with answers like “infinite patience” or “the answer to ending world hunger.” Which makes them sound much more like a contestant in a Beauty Pageant than having their desired effect.

Other people have quick answers. And I would be of the that category: Guitar.

“But Rebecca, guitar is something you could pick up and learn at any time.” And to that I would say, you are right. But then I would present to you my 15 year-old acoustic guitar that I have had re-strung 3 times by three different men, all of whom I had a crush on. I would follow it up by saying when I was 16 I took a few lessons, and then again when I was 25. And every year it appears on my list of new years resolutions and vision boards acting as a regular reminder that I have been failing at this goal for fifteen years.

Like I said, you’re right, I could learn guitar. But then I’d have to learn guitar. And I don’t want to learn guitar. I want to be able to play guitar. I want to go over to a girl’s apartment for the first time, see a guitar that happens to belong to her roommate, pick it up and play a few chords. She’d melt. I’d shrug and put the guitar down. Fire would ensue. And I don’t mean to say I’d like to be able to play guitar so I can get some, although yes. What I mean is that I want to be able to play guitar for the social benefits. Music is universal. Tell me you’ve never been envious of the person with the guitar around the campfire? If you haven’t then it’s because you were THAT person. Heeding requests and controlling the vibe of the evening, all eyes on you waiting to fulfill their individual musical desires. I wonder how that feels? Is it a partnership? Are you every bit as focused on the people listening as they are on you?

To the people concerned about what their answer says about their character, I feel you. Not being consumed by what others think of me is a day to day struggle. Let it be known that I don’t judge you. So when you say, “I’d want to download the ability to perform any surgery so that I could heal the world” the most you’ll get from me is a knowing smile.

Then I’d follow that up with, “I’ve been thinking about learning the guitar, any chance you know how to play?”

On my list of attractive traits in a partner, I have always been adamant that humour is the most important. Yes, that’s what everyone says because no one wants to label themselves vain and say looks take priority. But for me, it’s the honest truth. I need to laugh more than I need most things, like sleep, chocolate, heck even sex. In terms of comedy, the bar isn’t that high. Some of the deepest laughs I have ever experienced were over farts. Even now, I find the word fart hard to say without laughing. So finding a person that can make me laugh above everything else should be easy. Here’s the problem: often times it’s hard for me to differentiate between comedic genius and socially awkward.

When I see a guy whose comedic timing is slightly off, or who tells a joke that no one laughs at, or who uses obscure references that I need to Google to understand, I instantly go weak in the knees. “But Becca, in terms of comedy, these are all bad qualities!” I hear you. And objectively, I completely agree. But hear me out. It doesn’t compute in my brain that someone could have made it this far in life with such a terrible sense of humour. Thus I make the only conclusion that seems rational: this extreme awkward comedy MUST be “a bit.”

The person in front of me is now the funniest person I have ever met. I watch as they fail time and time again to make others laugh while I do my best to contain my hyena-like cackles. “They’re doing the I’m-not-funny bit again.” Priceless.

I begin to wonder what living with such a character would be like. The promise of non-stop laughs gives me the courage to ask this individual for their number. This is usually where things take a turn for the worse. What is supposed to be an adorably funny and stimulating back and forth banter is instead more like pulling teeth. I find myself re-reading messages searching for wit. I wonder how someone can be so funny in person and so flat via text. I consult my friends for advice and they tell me the person sounds like the type to live with their parents by choice. Could that be apart of the bit? Maybe they’re method like Sacha Baron Cohen? What if this is all a movie and I’m the leading lady?

I’ve got good news and bad news. The good news is I am the leading lady of my life. The bad news? There are no cameras, this isn’t a movie, and more importantly: it isn’t a bit. This person is just awkward. And that’s totally okay. They’re good people. They’re just not what I thought. Not the fantasy my brain allowed me to think they were. Our text message communication ceases.

Later, I’ll run into one of their buddies at my best friend’s party and learn that said individual stopped messaging ME because MY sense of humour didn’t jive with theirs. Pardon me? I’m the one who isn’t funny? OH! It was a never a bit, their comedy was just so advanced that it went over my head! Hearts form in my eyes as I pray for the opportunity to run into them again and rekindle our romance. My best friend slaps me. Right. I was doing it again, wasn’t I? I’ll just be over here, forever searching for my Rowan Atkinson in a world full of Mr. Beans.

People have long lists of things they don’t approve of being done in public and many of them centre around indecent exposure. You shouldn’t pee in public. Though people do. Don’t whip out your dick in public. Though they do. Sure going topless for females is legal in Canada but still don’t do it. And we generally don’t. (Which makes me sad but let’s save that for another day). No shoes, no shirt, no service. You must stay covered up at all times.

On top of that are the distasteful conversations. Don’t swear, there are children around. Stop talking about your penis in this coffee shop. Your bartender is not a therapist, your problems are boring and tragic. Mom, stop singing in the checkout line, it’s embarrassing. That one might just be for me. But the list of taboo topics in public goes on and on. Which raises the question, why oh WHY do aestheticians think it’s okay to give me dating advice while they pluck stubborn hairs from my labia?

It’s as if you clear the threshold of whatever hair removal room you choose and suddenly social norms no longer exist. You’re allowed to be naked. In fact they prefer it, because that blue paper thong they give you to calm your bashful nerves really just slows them down. Now you’re naked on the table with all your bits exposed save for the small section you’re able to keep covered with the supplied hand table. They throw on their protection goggles if it’s laser or gloves if it’s waxing and get to work. The lavender room atomizer and sounds from the ocean do little to relax you, so you close your eyes and try not to focus on the heat of the laser and murder-rationalizing pain of the wax strip.

“You’re very beautiful, do you have a boyfriend?” Your eyes shoot open and you wonder if she is referring to your face or your pussy. “Thank you, and no.” She launches into a speech about how unfortunate this is and then starts describing all the avenues to getting a boyfriend that are really quite easy if you just try. “My boyfriend first messaged me on Facebook saying I was the most beautiful woman he ever saw, it was so sweet. We started talking and then eventually met up and now we’ve been together for three months. Do you ever reply to guys when they message you on Facebook?” Hell no. “Um… no?” Apparently I’ve been living my life all wrong.

“For your full body laser service today, we’re doing arms, legs, armpits, and Brazilian, correct?” Except read that as if the woman speaking has a thick Russian accent. “Yes, and areolas.” She looks back shocked and appalled. “No, no, no, no, no. Breastfeeding.” Shit, as if getting my nipples lasered wasn’t discouraging enough. I already get it from my parents, my friends, and society, but now YOU want me to have a baby too? “It’s okay, I don’t want to have kids, also I’m pretty sure it doesn’t harm my milk ducts should I change my mind.” She winces. “Seriously, it’s fine.” Begrudgingly she wipes aloe on my nipples and mumbles something in Russian that I can only assume is a prayer begging for forgiveness for her part in my shameful choice.

It makes me wonder if the topic hadn’t come up organically or I had asked her, “do you want to breastfeed some day?” how SHE would react? Or to the other woman, “you’re very beautiful,” I’d say as I pull my butt cheeks apart so she can remove the hair from around my anus. What reaction would that get? I imagine it would sound much more like an inappropriate flirting technique than pleasant conversation. Basically, if you’re naked on a table, at a time when you’re the most vulnerable, it’s open season on life advice. But don’t you dare ask the aesthetician anything about her life because she is wearing clothes and it’s hella inappropriate to be that intrusive when the person isn’t naked too!

Whitney Cummings has revolutionized the way I pee. In her new book I’m Fine… and Other Lies she explains why women take frequent trips to the bathroom: they never fully empty their bladder. Everyone is familiar with the Squatty Potty and the adorable Unicorn that made rainbow shits look appetizing. What this fun commercial didn’t explain was the squatting position that the apparatus placed you in was also beneficial for female bladder evacuation.

Cut to me in a public bathroom stall pressing my hands against the stall walls to anchor myself as I lean back and lift my feet off the ground. It’s good for the core. What it’s not so good for is making sure pee stays in the pee receptacle. But alas, as someone who has been known to hover to avoid butt to seat contact, I am no stranger to pee on the toilet seat. The small mess is a welcome possibility if it means fewer trips to the water closet.

The part that I do have qualms with is why, OH WHY is a bathroom revolution not in full swing? Gluten becomes an issue and suddenly every restaurant jumps at the opportunity to add gluten-free options to the menu. People express a frustration that their phone battery dies too quick and suddenly free charging stations pop up in malls and bars. Not to mention a simple walk to the bank became so inconvenient, that banks were forced to introduce cheque deposits by way of photographs.

While celiac disease is a real thing and affects many, the gluten-free lifestyle has become a bit of a fad. As for the other two examples, it’s a sign of the times that people have become both obsessed with technology and just plain lazy. If the world can come together and make adjustments for things that can really be boiled down to an inconvenience, why can’t we come together and make changes that would drastically improve the standard of living and thus health? I’m not asking to cure world hunger, though if that is what you’re offering then I gladly accept. What I am asking for is a small step, metaphorically and literally. Can we please make footstools in bathrooms readily available? Colons will be happy and bladders will be weightless.

And this way, when your girl makes one too many trips to the bathroom during dinner, you’ll know for sure that she doesn’t have a weak bladder but that she’s calling her friends for advice on how to leave this crappy date.