a frivolous five minutes over frites with ‘v’ — age 79

I’ve lived in the same neighbourhood as ‘V’ since nineteen ninety something. We watch each other’s pets during holidays and visit each other’s backyards or living rooms once or twice a year. Neither of us are the sort that like to spend time chatting across fences, yet I can drop in on her and ask if her dog would like to join me on a walk and she can call and tell me to meet her in the driveway because she’s got something she wants me to see. At xmas she builds a magnificent winter wonderland (complete with moving parts and lights) in her sunroom with figurines she’s been collecting for decades. At Easter and Halloween our mailbox always contains something sweet.  She’s the kind of person who celebrates her dog’s birthday, has parties where people are sent on treasure hunts, has a ten foot wooden sunflower in her garden, and the only person I know who offers jelly beans with her hors d’oeuvre.

She does not like drippy teapots, has a perpetual smile and should probably be in the Guinness Book of Records for most hugs given in one lifetime.

We’ve had only a handful of lunches together but each time there’s some small adventure attached. On this occasion it was to look for certain landmarks in a town north of us. We found two out of four.

How long could you go without talking?  Depends if I’m awake or asleep.

Do you prefer silence or noise?  A little of both.

How many pairs of shoes do you own?  30+ (of which I wear 5)

If you won the lottery?  I’d share it with people who have been special in my life.

One law you’d make?  It would be illegal to be disrespectful of people and property.

Unusual talent?  Innate perception of who people are (rather than who they pretend to be).

What do you like to cook?  I prefer eating.

Have you or would you ever bungee jump?  No.

What’s the most dare-devilish thing you’ve done?  Learning to dive at the Lion’s Club pool.

Do you like surprise parties, practical jokes?  Yes to parties. No to practical jokes.

Favourite time of day?  Afternoon tea, when the day’s work is done.

What tree would you be?  Weeping willow. Not a happy tree, but not sad either. An ‘understanding’ tree.

Best present ever received?  A hug.

What do you like on your toast?  Butter and homemade strawberry jam.

The last thing you drew a picture of?  A happy face.

Last thing written in ink?  A cheque.

Favourite childhood meal?  My mum’s stew. The smell of it when you came home…

What [past] was your favourite?  Eight.

Would you go back to that if you could?  No. Wouldn’t want to be eight in this era.

Best invention?  Automatic washing machine. When I got my first one I didn’t think it could possibly work. Spent a whole cycle watching it, just waiting for it to break down.

Describe your childhood bedroom.  On the top floor of a 1 1/2 story house with a  slanted ceiling. Yellow chintz curtains and bedspread and matching skirt on a glass-topped dressing table and a storage cupboard where I liked to play.

Afraid of spiders?  Not any more.

Phobias?  Isolation.

Most hated teacher and why.  The one that used to get on my case about biting my nails or talking in class; she made me sit in the hall as punishment. When I think back on it now, she was the one that did me the biggest favour.

Favourite children’s story?  Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. I liked all those individual characteristics… happy, dopey, bashful… they represent all kinds of real people.

Ideal picnic ingredients?  My mum’s sandwiches (especially the crustless version she served her bridge group). And lemonade.

Is Barbie a negative role model?  Yes.

Best thing about Canada?  Being a Canadian.

Best thing about people in general?  When they are themselves.

What flavour would you be?  Lemon.

What colour?  Yellow.

What would you come back as?  A well-loved dog.

Favourite saying:  “Don’t forget to look at the other side of the coin.”
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—the frivolous five is a series of non-essential questions and answers

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