Judge Not Lest Ye Also Be Judgethed (Or Something Like That)

It happens from time to time – I think to myself, “What is wrong with that person? Why did they do such and such?” It happened to me just the other day, in fact.

My husband and I were at the bank – paying some bills and getting some money because $60 seems to burn through our wallets faster than if our pants were actually on fire. As we went in, we walked past a man standing outside. He looked like he’d seen better days. He had a bottle of something in his hand that he was drinking. It could have been Pepsi in a bag, but from the particular way he tipped it up to take a swig, I didn’t think so. His clothes were rough, his face was scruffy, and he was wearing an extra-large backpack. It was pretty obvious, the guy had either just returned from a a very long trip and he was celebrating outside of Scotiabank, or he was living on the streets. Yeah, probably the latter.

Judge Not Lest Ye Also Be Judgethed (Or Something Like That) | TheFurFiles

As we entered the bank, the man followed us. Pausing for a moment, he looked at my husband – who was already busy dealing with the machine – and then he looked at me. I gave him the stare – the “don’t fuck with us” stare. I learned that from my psychopath book. You have to be confident, no matter what. Walk confident, stand confident, give off a confident air. You can’t be oblivious, or look scared. You’ll end up a victim.

And either my stare worked, or the man thought better of what he was about to do, or both, and he turned around and walked back outside. Now, he could’ve been just trying to get warm, but that’s not the impression I got. He kind of had that wild look in his eyes. It was the look of desperation and too much alcohol.

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20 Really Useful Tips For Better “MOM” Time Management

I’ve been a mother for almost twenty-five years, and during that time, I’ve raised three grown children, and contributed to the education of quite a few others who weren’t my own but who dirtied my furniture and ate my food just the same. Yes, there have been moments, weeks, years even, that were hard, VERY hard – debilitating almost. But what is it they say? What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right? Well, I don’t know about that.

motherhood

Anyway, in case you are hell bent on the idea of parenting – I mean nobody really believes it’s as hard as others who’ve gone before them may say and who may recommend a goldfish or gerbil instead – here are a few small tips (let’s call them “short cuts” or “stress alleviators”) that I’ve learned along the way. Practicing one or even of a few of them may prevent you from stabbing yourself in the eye with a fork to end the intense suffering at some point. On that day, do me two favours. One, thank me for the help. And two, admit that I was right. That alone could make it all worth it. OK, here we go…

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Nobody Wants Advice

It’s cold outside these days. Damn cold. So cold that walking to the bus or waiting for the train – without gloves or a hat – can be problematic.

But there’s my twenty-year-old son, running out the door with barely a coat on, no boots. To him, winter is only a suggestion. The minus-thirty-degree temperatures are NOT real, until he comes back and says that he nearly froze to death getting to school. “What did I tell you? You should’ve dressed warmer.” I say this hoping that next time he’ll remember. He doesn’t.

It makes me think, does giving advice even work? Most people just do what they feel like doing anyway, doesn’t matter what anyone else says. Sometimes, they get frostbite. For my son, it may take his hands turning black for him to remember to wear gloves.Nobody Wants Advice | TheFurFiles

Of course, as a parent, there are times when I’m going to put my foot down. There are times when I’m going to say my peace goddammit, when I’m going to bloody well tell those rambunctious and sometimes space cadet children to stop throwing the exercise ball around in the living room, that they are going to break something (else).

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The Great Divide Of Male/Female Movie Selection

The Great Divide Of Male/Female Movie Selection | TheFurFiles

My oldest son’s girlfriend was over last night, and they were trying to pick a movie to watch. I dare say that the conversation that took place has been repeated throughout history (in some form or another) many, many, MANY times before.

“OK, so what do you want to watch?” My son had the flicker – typical male – and was scanning the choices. “How about Wolverine? Or Star Trek? Or Superman? Or I’d even watch The Lone Ranger with Johnny Depp?”

“I refuse to watch anything that has superheroes.” My son’s girlfriend is smart and very strong-willed. She knows what she wants – no capes and/or hands with claws for fingers apparently.

“Not even Superman? I thought all women thought that guy was hot?”

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Rebranding Canada

There has been some talk over the past year or two about the idea of rebranding Canada. I guess if Jennifer Aniston can repeatedly and successfully change her hair style, then why can’t we – as a nation – overhaul our image a little, right?

Back in 2012, in an effort to get people thinking about Canada beyond the traditional clichés such as hockey, beavers, and maple syrup, Bruce Mau Design (BMD) – a team of graphic designers, architects, and writers with offices in Toronto and New York – created the “Know Canada” campaign. Their intention was for outsiders to simply get to know Canada better. Great idea.

I, for one, am proud to be Canadian.

We are a good country – a very beautiful land full of wide open spaces, VERY wide open spaces, sometimes SO wide open that it literally takes hours to get to good shopping. If you like camping though, you’ve come to the right place.

On the whole, we are a kind, compassionate, accepting, sexy, and yes, sometimes overly apologetic group of people. I did say sexy. Ryan Gosling. Rachel McAdams. Ryan Reynolds. Drake. Michael Buble. Shania Twain. Pamela Anderson. Don’t make me name about a hundred more individuals, most of whom will be complete strangers to you, but who are very attractive nonetheless…

Rebranding Canada | TheFurFilesWe rank among the best in the world in a few very important categories as well:

We have a very low crime rate. You have a higher chance of getting eaten by a bear than you do of getting mugged. I’m just guessing about that, but still, it’s probably true.

Per capita, there are more records broken in Canada than in any other country. In 2012, the University of Alberta organized the largest dodgeball game in history, rallying together almost five thousand people. If we know anything, it’s how to have a rocking good time. Don’t even get me started on our beer.

We have lots of immigrant millionaires. That’s a relatively strange fact to be spouting, I know, but I think it says something about our accepting attitudes. You come here from wherever, and you want to open a chain of cupcake stores? You’ll probably do very well. We’ll eat them. We don’t care who you are.

We are the most educated people in the world. We don’t factor Justin Bieber and his mansion of cocaine-users into that group. He’s very talented though. See what positive thinkers we are? We also see the good in everybody. We are like saints, or at least, the new Pope. Gay marriage? It’s just a regular thing around here.

Our humour is a little off the wall, at times. It’s called sarcasm. Deal with it.

We have the most sex, probably because it’s so cold for half the year that there’s nothing else for us to do. Seriously, that should count for the most out of anything ever.

Who doesn’t like a little loving in front of the fireplace, on a bearskin rug, a bottle of wine on the table, wearing a parka, visualizing Leo (or Kate or both) in the movie Titanic while Celine plays in the background? And how DOES one have sex while wearing a parka? Wouldn’t you like to know? We Canadians have to keep some things a secret.

Addendum: my friend Ross Murray – fellow Canadian blogger over at Drinking Tips For Teens – says that I’ve un-cooled us Canadians by admitting that we listen to Celine Dion. OK, forget her. I was laying around making love to Arcade Fire, or better yet, Drake. Is that hip/hype/hippity-hop enough for you?

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Son Sues Dad After Slipping On Black Ice

This is a made-up news story, and no, my children would never do anything like this, I hope. If they did, my husband might have to remove their procreative organs. And he IS a surgeon. Read on…Son Sues Dad After Slipping On Black Ice | TheFurFiles

Nineteen-year-old Chad Johnson of Burlington, Vermont has effectively sued his father for slipping on the black ice outside their house, garnering a payoff of just over five hundred thousand dollars.

“I was heading out to go to school,” Chad was quoted as saying. “It had snowed a little, you know, just enough that you couldn’t see the ground. I thought about shoveling it, but then I was like, nah, my dad will do it. Besides, I had to get to the gym.” Shifting his backpack, Chad then apparently popped a piece of leftover chicken into his mouth – a guy’s gotta get some protein before a workout – and the next thing he knew, he was “on his ass”.

“Why the hell does he need the five hundred thousand dollars, or even five thousand dollars?” asked his father – rather rhetorically – when questioned about the incident. “He lives at home for Christ’s sake. He doesn’t pay rent. He barely goes to school. His mother and I pay for literally everything.”

Chad claims his slightly bruised rear-end will prevent him from almost (but not quite) getting to class. “I’m going to feel bad,” Chad said. “It’s like I should be going to school, and even though I usually skip, I can’t go for sure now.” We hear you, Chad. It sucks when you are barely trying to make something of yourself, and you simply can’t.

Also, Chad says that his injuries prevent him from playing video games effectively because he marginally jarred his thumb in the fall. “What do you want me to do, read a book?” he said near the end of his one minute interview.

Even though Chad didn’t die as a result of the incident, Burlington police services now fear for his life, reporting that Chad’s father is being rather hostile about all of this. “I don’t know what’s wrong with that boy. He should’ve been the one out there shovelling and putting salt on the driveway in the first place. I work hard to pay for every goddamn thing he owns and does. The least he could do is help out more around the house. I woke up at five o’clock that morning – as usual – to get to my job at the airport. It must’ve snowed (covering up the icy spot) sometime after that. Chad doesn’t even get up until noon, like WTF? I swear to God, I’m going to kill that little bastard if he shows his face around here…”

Chad’s mother, on the other hand, seems to understand Chad’s plight, saying, “Don’t listen to my husband. Chad is a good, good boy. And the money’s fair. It WAS sort of our fault. We should’ve been more careful. The justice system just wants the best for all of those involved. Anyway, now I won’t have to go behind my husband’s back to give Chad money, not for a few months at least.” Mrs. Johnson has asked the public NOT to disclose that last statement to her husband, for obvious reasons. He does sound rather violent.

Chad’s father has since been seen shaking his fist wildly out the front door of their house and shouting, “Fuck that shit. In my eyes, you are dead to me now, Chad!” And then apparently, he mumbled to the letter carrier, “Seriously, five hundred thousand dollars? In what fucking universe?”

Lucky for Chad, he is now in Miami, “blowing up bitches” – which is Chad’s way of saying “having sex with them” – since his windfall came in. Friends say he’s not likely to return home anytime soon.

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Twas The Night Before The Night Before The Night Before Christmas

This is the non-rhyming, progressively dissimilar, adult child version of the classic Christmas poem.

Twas The Night Before The Night Before The Night Before Christmas | TheFurFiles

As the title implies…
‘Twas the night before the night before the night before Christmas,
(Meaning it was Sunday night, like last night – Christmas is on Wednesday, you figure it out).
When all through the house, not a creature was stirring
Except for the odd pair of cats tear-assing down the hall
Which is typically what they do when everything is quiet.

The stockings were somewhere laying around,
And nobody really cared about Santa
Because they’d learned long ago that he doesn’t exist.
My husband was nestled all snug in his bed,
Visions of cars and computer gadgetry and what unnecessary item he was going to buy at Future Shop’s boxing day sale
Dancing around in his brain.

The kids were out celebrating the holidays
As young adults are sometimes want to do,
And I was expecting a few extra party-goers to end up on my couch downstairs.
It’s fine with me as long as no one barfs multiple times on the Berber.
As if I need that.
The cats do it enough already.

So I was at home, but I couldn’t sleep.
I blame that on peri-menopause, and the fact that I’m a worrier.
God knows what kind of trouble three young people can get into downtown.
One “Hey, watch where you’re going,”
Can turn into a stabbing (or worse, a shootout) these days.
And yeah, I know I exaggerate, but you can’t tell me it’s never happened.

Anyway, as I said, the house was relatively quiet,
When all of a sudden – from somewhere outside, perhaps near the garage – I heard a loud clatter.
Was it one of my kids home earlier than two? Not bloody likely.
Or was it a burglar entering my house at his leisure because
One of my kids has given our garage code to the wrong friend,
And now Johnny the deviant is coming for a visit?

Tightening my housecoat because – according to my husband – nobody wants to see my ugly old gramma nightie,
I went and peaked out the front window.
I knew in a moment that it was just the neighbour hauling in something from his car.
No excitement there, though I did hear him shout
(And remember, it was like midnight),
“Jesus Vera, why is it always me doing all the goddamn work?”
To which Vera answered, “Stuff a sock in it, Hank.”

Once that charming encounter was over,
I went back to the kitchen and sat down at my computer again.
Might as well creep some people on Facebook for a while, I figured.
It was too late to read a book.
My brain was beyond functioning at the “I have to put out effort and try to comprehend things” level,
I just needed to vegetate and let the world come at me in as an annoying and unimportant way as possible.
Facebook obliged.

Two seconds later, the cats were at it again, running around and accidentally knocking over a lamp,
Waking up my husband in the process who hollered from the distant cave of our bedroom,
“I have to fucking work tomorrow.”
Yes, sometimes cats DO sound like reindeer taking off.
If my husband could put them on top of the porch and tell them to “dash away”, he probably would.
“Quiet up there!” I yelled back. Nobody likes a complainer.

As expected, the kids arrived home around 2:30 a.m.
Surprisingly, everyone was in good spirits.
Nobody was completely obliterated – and by that I mean really super-duper drunk.
My car was in tact,
Which is important, because I have to go to the grocery store one more time before the “big day”,
To stock up on milk, and eggs, and all the other stuff that people inhale within seconds around here.
That’s how it is at our house, especially before Christmas.

Now get me some Mistletoe and a Scandinavian hunk in a pair of red and green boxers.
I could use a jump start.
Also, I made up that part about my neighbours.
They would never talk to each other that way.
That’s mainly our family.
Their names aren’t Hank and Vera either.

The end.

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This Is How Smart Cats Really Are

This Is How Smart Cats Really Are | TheFurFilesSome of you may already have thought of this, but I hadn’t, until yesterday when my husband pointed it out.

Cleo – our youngest furry baby – likes to play fetch. Lionel does as well, but not nearly as much.

Now Cleo, she’ll bring her pink mouse to you, and wait for you to throw it. When you do, she’ll run to get it, and then bring it right back – the first one or two times. After that, when you throw it, she’ll run down the hall, stop when she gets there, look at it, turn around, walk back half way, look at you – and if you don’t respond by getting up to get it yourself – she’ll just leave. The game is done.

Now, all this time, I’ve been thinking, “She must not be very smart. She can’t seem to bring it back every time. Maybe she just gets distracted. Or bored.”

Until yesterday, that is, when my husband made very this astute observation. Keep in mind that he’s not even the cat lover out of the two of us. “It’s almost like she’s trying to teach US how to fetch,” he said. “If she were teaching her babies, that’s probably what she’d do. She’d go after it, get it the first time – showing them how – and then on subsequent attempts, she’d leave it, thereby giving them a chance to try.”

“That makes total sense,” I said. I was amazed. It did seem quite plausible.

I knew cats (and animals were smart) but for some reason, I didn’t give her enough credit. Now if I could only figure out why Jackson – one of our older cats – chews at the baseboards. Maybe he’s missing something in his diet. Or maybe he’s trying to clean his teeth. Or maybe it’s a nervous habit – he IS that kind of cat. (Our housekeeper’s cat is on some sort of anti-anxiety drug, like cat Xanax. Maybe he needs something like that.) Or maybe it’s because he’s certifiably C-R-A-Z-Y, as my husband says. And I say to my husband – “You are the reason Jackson is the way he is. You give him a complex. He can sense that you don’t like him.”

“Well, he keeps chewing on my baseboards.” Fair enough.

He also tries to hump Cleo. She really doesn’t like it, and routinely swats him in the face. He hovers over me when I sleep as well, and sits and stares at the wall sometimes.

So there you have it, I have one Jeffrey Dahmer-esque cat (because he IS pretty cute), and three normal ones. I’m actually glad that paws can’t hold giant kitchen knives, or I think we might all be in trouble.

Note: from some of the articles that I’ve read, cats are listed only behind dolphins and chimps in terms of intelligence. Yes, cats ARE smarter than dogs. The cerebral cortex of a cat is greater and more complex in comparison, and it contains almost twice as many neurons. Why don’t cats come when they are called then? They haven’t been domesticated as long as dogs, and/or they are way too smart to be enslaved by us humans. I tend to think the latter.

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The Downside Of Being A Celebrity

My oldest son and I were standing in line at the grocery store the other night waiting to buy a few things. It was busy, and some guy two customers ahead of us was taking forever, paying with what seemed like nickels. Trying to pass the time, Zach picked up a People magazine. “Look what they do to celebrities.” He showed me a picture of Britney Spears – at least I think it was her. Whoever it was, she looked like she’d seen better days.

“When you are a famous singer, the same thing is going to happen to you.” I use the term “when” because you have to believe in order to make something happen. “Are you gonna be able to handle it?”

“I guess I’ll have to.” At this point, there is nothing that could dissuade him from pursuing a career in music. And like his bull-headed father, if he sets his mind to something, there’s usually no stopping him.

“You’d better get ready then,” I said, “because once you are a rock star, your life will be different. For one thing, I’ll be living in YOUR house instead of you living in mine. FYI, your dad and I like oceanfront. For another, people won’t ever leave you alone. You will be under the microscope. Paparazzi will follow you everywhere. Screaming fans will mob you when you go to Target. You’d better be prepared for the worst. And that People magazine, chances are, YOU will end up on the cover at some point, and it may or may not be to your benefit.”

I decided to show him what could happen. Yeah, I made this up…rockstar

“Oh my God,” he laughed when he saw this. “Where did you get that picture?”

“Don’t worry about where I got it. Just know that if I can get it, anyone can. Also, you can snicker about it all you want, but when you are calling me in the middle of the night to say that you are out of Xanax, and that you can’t handle all the stress of life anymore, don’t say that I didn’t warn you.”

“You worry too much, Mom.” He walked away, a bag of Maltesers in his hand. That’s his favourite candy.

“I wouldn’t eat those if I were you,” I called after him sarcastically.

As for his “I’m a worrier” accusation, he’s got me there. I’m a mother. What does he expect?

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How To Know If He/She Is The One (Or Not)

This post is dedicated to all males in the world whose names start with the letter C, and all females in the world whose names start with the letter A, and everybody else as well.
theone
My kids have reached the age (18, 20, and 22) where they are starting to become involved in intimate relationships.

As we are the type of family that discusses everything ad nauseum, it just makes sense that we’ve talked about things like love, how we’d define it, lust, how to handle yourself in the “protection” department so you don’t get AIDS or spawn random unwanted children, what we think makes a good relationship, what kind of person to look for when picking a mate, why it’s prudent NOT to have sex with someone whose IQ is on par with Mike “Sugar Bear” Thompson of Honey Boo Boo fame, etc. etc.

It was no surprise then when someone recently asked: “How do you know if you’ve met ‘the one’?”

My answer: “Well, I guess you first have to assume that ‘the one’ actually exists. I don’t, and I’ll tell you why.” (Don’t worry, it’s not as depressing as it sounds.)

Given the vast number of human beings on the planet, I don’t believe in soul mates – or “one” soul mate anyway. Logistically, it just doesn’t make sense. Do I think that certain connections are stronger than others? Of course. I know for myself, I can count on one hand the number of “holy crap, that person makes me tingle all over” experiences I’ve had. I mean, there’s only so much time in the day to meet people, speed date, and hang out in a sexy outfit at the local home improvement store. You have to live. Somebody has to make dinner.

Still, how DO you know if you’ve met that someone special? Special enough to commit to long term or even marry?

Well, I think there are certain characteristics that one should look for in any partner – husband, wife, lover, friend, business associate, whatever. (I ask the following of my husband all the time just to make sure that I haven’t married a douche.)

Does he/she make you feel good more often than he/she makes you feel bad? In the beginning, most couples are on cloud nine. If you are fighting every day about every single thing, and just being together is giving you an ulcer – and you’ve only been dating a few months – then it might be time to rethink the situation. After you’ve been together for a while, you may not want to get naked (with chocolate sauce) every single time you are alone together, but you should at least still like each another. The friendship factor is very important. With my husband, the ratio of love to “can someone do something about this jackass” is definitely in favour of the first part. I don’t like it when he sings though. Yeah, yeah, yeah, he says he was on Romper Room as a kid. Big deal. One stupid stint on television howling like an injured hyena does not a virtuoso make.

More importantly, does he/she make you a better person? Does he/she make you want to DO better and BE better? If you find that being with your partner is spiraling you into a pit of uselessness and despair – and you can’t even bother cutting your toenails because you are so down and out – you need to put an end to things. My husband is pretty good at inspiring me most of the time, except when he keeps buying random laundry baskets – then he makes me want to commit bloody murder. I get it, he wants our house to be organized. What he fails to realize is that the kids will continue to throw their dirty clothes on the floor no matter how many woven, plastic, oval containers he lines up outside their bedroom doors.

Could you live without him/her? I think this is pretty straightforward. If you could go away for ten years and not bat an eyelash, or if you could discard him/her as easily as you would a worn-out toothbrush, then break it off. Find someone you actually WANT to be with. With regard to my husband, of course I couldn’t live without him. Who would pay for all of my shoes and my cat accessories? Kidding, kidding – it’s called sarcasm people.

Is he/she there for you whenever you need him/her? This is important – VERY important. What is a life together if you don’t actually do it as a team? My husband is pretty good. He was there when the kids were born anyway. There was that one time I asked him to buy me a 70% cocoa-filled chocolate bar at the grocery store, and he outright refused saying that I was an “addict”. He’s lucky I didn’t put an absurd amount of crushed red pepper flakes in his chili. I went and got the chocolate myself.

Is he/she honest? Do you trust him/her? Being able to tell each other stuff is really key to any good relationship. You definitely want to have an open line of communication to prevent any sort of misunderstanding or jealousy from building. Having said that, with my husband, I don’t expect him to tell me every single little detail that pops into his head, because I’d probably want to rip his throat out if he did. “Look at those jugs”, for example, I don’t need to hear. For the big things however – like if he has a wife and three other children somewhere in Florida – I expect the truth.

Is he/she kind to animals, old people, and the disadvantaged? Find this out early, because this is how he/she will treat you once the “fireworks” have died down. You could hear “screw you, I’m going out with my friends” when you are sick on the couch with the flu. Again, my husband is fairly competent in this regard, except for the fact that he doesn’t really “get along” with our one cat – they sort of snarl whenever they pass each other in the hall. Bums and anyone looking for a handout seem inexplicably drawn to him though. He says he has to stop making eye contact. Or just have a wallet full of loonies and toonies on hand. Whatever gets you through the door to Shoppers Drug Mart, I always say. You may have to buy your wife a 70% cocoa-filled chocolate bar, or some tampons. You never know.

How does he/she perform when untangling Christmas lights or when you go out to dinner at a really busy restaurant and the waitress screws up your order? This is another key element to find out early on in the relationship. Anyone who can’t untangle Christmas lights without throwing a hammer through the front window, will be on track for murder by the time they have children. Luckily, my husband passed this test. Yes, the kids can make steam come out of his ears, but I think that’s fairly normal, especially after they’ve dented the fridge for the tenth time by closing it with a karate chop. Who wouldn’t get upset? Whirlpool appliances don’t come cheap.

To conclude, there are certain prudent things to look for in any partner, and other things you can’t control. One thing is for certain, you can’t go into a relationship and expect it to remain static.

I’ve been married a long time because I met someone I loved, and I wanted to be with him. But I also understood that things would not always be perfect. I understood that he would sometimes say things and act in ways I didn’t like. Well, it took a few years for me to figure that out, but eventually, I did – thank goodness. I think this realization is what has kept us together. That, and the fact that we respect each other as individuals, AND that he is always in charge of haggling when it comes to buying a new car. We’d be piss poor if it were up to me.

One last thing to consider: the more demands you make on another person, the more likely they are to run in the opposite direction. That’s just the hard truth. I don’t mean to belabor this point, but one time I asked my husband to buy me a 70% cocoa-filled chocolate bar, and he wouldn’t. Instead, he went and roamed around the hardware store for two hours. He came home with a clamp-light lantern and a high-speed aluminum car jack – like what the hell is a person supposed to do with garbage like that?

Still – even with the prospect of finding a significant other – I think it’s smart for every person to count on making their own happiness. Yes, I want to be with my husband, but I can’t base my prosperity and satisfaction on it. What if it doesn’t work out?  People change. What if he decides that he’s in love with his car, and he wants to start having sex with it? Some people are just that crazy, you know what I’m sayin’? One bump to the head at the wrong angle at the age of five, and anyone could turn into a lunatic.

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