Saturday, November 28, 2015

How To Gain Weight Rapidly

Let’s just get it out in the open: I hate all your pregnancy announcement posts. I hate the clichéd photos of a small pair of shoes next to a big pair of the same shoes, I hate your lame cartoon announcements telling the wonderfully generic story of “we met, we married, we have a baby on the way” and don’t even get me started on the bun in the oven posts – blergh. And while there are a lot of inane things people want to tell you about their pregnancies and being pregnant, something they never tell you is how hard it can be to actually fall pregnant in the first place. We started trying to have a baby years ago, and had no luck for a long time. So I’m not sure if these announcements irked me because I was jealous of those people who were able to fall pregnant when I was not, or if it is just that I am allergic to lame shit put together for the sole purpose of garnering facebook likes. Anyway, seeing as no one talks about how hard it can be to actually get knocked up, and therefore gives you little advice on what magical spells you can do to get pregnant, I had to make up my own magical baby spells. Please enjoy my “How to get up the duff” advice. Disclaimer: None of this actually works.

Smoothies: I tried having a green smoothie every day for breakfast. These were actual serious hard-core green smoothies. The type that people who believe kale can cure cancer would have for breakfast. They had flax seeds and spinach and cucumbers and turmeric in them. They weren’t remotely delicious and made me poo green poo, and I thought “if this won’t get me pregnant, nothing will!” Spoiler: the smoothies didn’t get me pregnant.

Vitamins: I bought myself vitamins. I bought Nick vitamins. I yelled at Nick until he took his vitamins, and then would forget to take my stupid, super expensive vitamins because they made my tummy hurt. Then one day my adverse reaction to my vitamins meant that I threw up my green smoothie in my car while I was driving over the Anzac bridge at 70km/hr. I had no time to pull over and had to vomit in a paper bag while I drove. I had to put the bag on my lap and vomit into it while trying to still look ahead. Then I had to sit with the warm, seeping bag of green smoothie vomit on my lap until I got to work.

Acupuncture: I bought a $40 groupon for two acupuncture sessions and had a random woman stick needles in me in a room she shared with a cobbler. I had spent all my money on fresh fruit and veg for my smoothies and had to scrimp somewhere. I’m not made of money you know.

Actual magic spells/talking to dead relatives: I would talk to my dead grandmother through my cat Jenny, who I believe is a conduit for said dead grandmother and ask her to ask Nanny to help me out somehow. I also googled “spells to fall pregnant” and then would immediately delete my internet history so no one would see it. Then when I was at work and someone was standing behind me when I was looking up how to spell a particular word, google suggested “spells to fall pregnant” but in that purple font like I’d looked it up before. I don’t know if she saw it, but I’m pretty sure she did. So THANKS GOOGLE, you stupid fuckhead.

As previously noted, none of these ridiculous solutions to my infertility actually worked. However, I did manage to fall pregnant by some miracle well after giving up my magical pregnancy remedies and now have a 8 month old ball of elbows living in my belly. So in the spirit of a before and after, here is my list of things that no one told me about actually being pregnant that I had to discover on my own. Thanks guys. Maybe next time you make pregnancy announcements you could include some of this stuff in them because then at least they’d be like a public service announcement.

Morning sickness: while this is definitely a thing, so are the other sicknesses no one tells you about including eating broccolini sickness, vomiting from hunger sickness, vomiting from thinking about porridge sickness and gummy bear sickness. I would have to say my least glamourous pregnancy sickness moment had to be when I ate some broccolini and roast lamb. Not only did I throw it up, I threw it up so hard that toilet water splashed all over my face and into my mouth. Then I had toilet water sickness.

Weird crushes: I know I often have weird crushes on people, compared to normal girls, but early pregnancy had me crushing on anyone from Peter Overton to Captain Planet and Stephen King.

Being suddenly special in the head: the other day when making suggestions of good places to go for breakfast I sent three messages which read something along the lines of: 
“Where should we go for breakfast? I’d suggest Zest.”
“Another good place would also be Zest.”
“But really, I’d recommend Zest”

No cravings: Here is a list of things I have been eating on the regular since well before I was pregnant: tomato paste out of the tub with a spoon, sour cream out of the tub sprinkled with salt eaten with a spoon, frozen peas, an entire jar of pickled chillies in one sitting, a one kilogram tub of sour worms. I have craved absolutely nothing new during my pregnancy, except some time with Captain Planet.

Being kicked in weird places: I am not a idiot and know that babies kick you on the inside when they are big enough. But no one told me that sometimes, somehow, when you are trying to wee, they will kick you in the vajayjay from the inside causing you to scream in surprise and then wee really weirdly. You don't know what it is to be pregnant until someone has kicked you in the vagina internally while you are on the toilet. Also hiccupping into your privates is a thing. No one told me that.

In conclusion, pregnancy is a super weird thing that doesn't always happen easily and then surprises you every day with unexpected shit. But it’s pretty awesome, vag hiccups and all.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

How To Punish A Child Who Squeezes Your Cat So Hard It Farts

Mamamia recently published an article entitled “Things your family does that you didn’t realise were weird” cataloguing the things that the author, Lucy Gransbury, thought were normal but upon leaving home discovered they were actually super weird. I’m calling bullshit a bit on this article because it lists things like Dad Tax and Wish Chips, which also existed in my household, and undoubtedly thousands of others. Compare this to, say, when I was little and every morning without fail my dad would tell me that while I was asleep he and my mum put me on the road, put yoghurt on my face and a truck ran over me and then I think we can discuss what constitutes weird family shit. Yogurt Truck would stress me out to no end. My parents loved my adverse reaction to their story and no explanation for the yogurt part was ever given. So, sorry Lucy, but you can take your frozen cheese and shove it, because I have a list of things that my family did that were actually weird.
  • At 5 years of age I squeezed my cat George so hard that he did a terrible fart. As punishment my parents made me ring the vet and apologise, the vet sounded confused and just told me not to do it again.
  • My dad used to take out his two false teeth and chase me around the house yelling “I am Gunkafore, you are Labrador” it used to horrify me and I still don’t know what it means.
  • On long road trips my parents would buy us cheap little items to keep us entertained. To prolong the excitement and to keep us quiet for as long as possible they would give us these items piece by piece. For example, one year on a road trip to Uluru we were bought walkmans. At 5am we were given the Walkman. At 7am we were given the batteries. At 9am we were given the tape. And at 11am we were finally given the headphones – the puzzle was complete and we were over the moon! I’m still amazed that these little bits and pieces, which did fuck all until all put together, sustained our excitement for six or seven hours. Ah, times before the internet…
  • My mum used to make crosswords for us to do at our birthday parties as they offer some “quiet time”.
  • My dad wore a night gown instead of pyjamas.
  • Until I was 20 I thought yellow was pronounced “yallow”.
  • My dad used to pretend to be the ten year old version of himself and tell us all about his life in his hometown of Guilford. This was done at night, in a high pitched voice while walking around on his knees (in his nightie).
  • My dad also used to do this character called “Marty Mosquito” (basically his hand scrunched into the shape of a “mosquito”) who would wake us up in the morning. Marty was friendly, but if his friend Boris showed up instead of Marty, you were liable to get pinched incessantly. Like, really pinched HARD.
  • My dad thought it was HILARIOUS to make incest jokes. Nothing too rough, but still pretty blue. Eg. When I was asked by a girl in the grade below me why I had been performing, alone, alongside a teacher (my dad, who taught at my school) at the end of year concert, my dad felt strongly that I should have responded “because he’s my boyfriend” and walked off. Just to freak them out.
  • I think this may be something that lots of peoples’ families did, but my family used to speak the internal monologue for our cat Jeffrey. If he was hungry or in a mood, we would voice his opinions or disdain or even just his general thoughts on the weather (he hated the wind). For a really stupid cat, I was always amazed at how articulate he was.
  • Speaking of Jeffrey, we used to have a theme song we’d sing for him when he came into the room, along the lines of “Jeffrey the cat, the wonderful, wonderful cat”. Not lyrically superior, but effective enough.
  • My brother and I used to have a song that we sang AT each other when it was the other person’s turn to wash up, a sort of musical bullying. It went “Guess who’s turn it is to wash up? You-rs. Yeah yeah. Woo.” It drove my mum insane and was eventually banned in our house under threat of being made to do the washing up when it wasn’t your turn.
Who knows what repercussions these oddities have had on my life, but I’d be intrigued to meet the Maz who had never experienced any of them. I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t be writing this blog though. Or gently feeling Nick’s eyeball through his eyelid whenever she got a chance.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Maz Tries To Escape From The Dwell Well

I’ve never even seen Frozen, but the song “Let it go” has been stuck in my head for days. In a strange way though, it’s kind of become my 2015 mantra. Every time I find myself dwelling on something, I hear that little blonde wizard in my head telling me to let it go. It’s actually been quite cathartic. I’m not sure what issues and niggling memories other people hold onto, but mine are all super trivial and incredibly old. I feel it necessary to get these down onto virtual paper in order to leave them there and move on with my life once and for all. So here it goes, my most painful memories.

My First Rejection

When I was eight my parents enrolled me in netball, because I was an Australian girl who was eight. And that’s what eight-year-old Australian girls do. They go to a really cold dewy field early in the morning in winter, in skirts, and throw balls at each other, then buy killer pythons. But before I had even made it to the dewy field I went to my first ever netball training. I knew no one, but as a precocious and tiny human I had no fear. Until we were paired up to do drills, that is. As the coach designated each of us a partner and the group started to dwindle I felt, for the first time, that fear of possibly being the odd one out. Sure enough, I was the last to be picked and was paired up with a girl named Rebecca (name not changed for shaming reasons.)

“Marion,” Netball Coach had said “you’ll be practicing chest passes with Rebecca”

Rebecca’s response to having me as a partner came so quickly and emphatically it made my head spin.

“Oh, poo!”

What. A. Bitch. What a little 8 year old bitch. How could the sight of tiny little 8-year-old, scruffily charming me, conjure up thoughts of defecation? What was so good about her anyway? She was freckly, plain and wore glasses. I was scabbed from adventure and endowed with knowledge of monotremes. She eventually went cross-eyed. And you better believe I don’t feel even the tiniest bit sorry for her. Because while all that happened to her in the subsequent years was the onset of severely impaired vision, I’ve had to harbour the sting of that cruelly delivered “poo” ever since.

My First Public Shaming

When I was 13 my dad bought me a bike. Being my dad he didn’t buy it in the way that dads usually buy bikes. I assume generally, that this would involve a trip to the bike shop, followed by the brand new bicycle being secreted away in a cupboard or shed until birthday morn when said shiny bike is wheeled out with a curly ribbon tied to it. My dad is not an ordinary dad, so he didn’t buy me a bike in an ordinary way. Dad chose me the best bike Kmart had on their racks (despite my protestations that I really did not want a bike), paid a deposit and then made me go into Kmart for MONTHS to pay it off in installments – literally $8 and $14 installments. I hated the bike before I even got it, so you can imagine how depressing it was to have this as my sole birthday present for my 13th birthday. But, lucky me, my dad had made sure I had one surprise waiting for me. He’d secretly bought me a helmet. A bananas in pajamas helmet. For my 13th birthday.

And of course, no bike-receiving birthday is complete without a bike ride to top it off, so my dad made me ride with him into Hornsby to test out my new wheels. I donned my B in Ps helmet and hit the road. I was actually starting to like it as we cruised along, the wind in my handlebars, until we hit George Street, one of the main roads that lead into Hornsby proper. And by “we hit George Street”; I mean I hit the gutter and face-planted onto the footpath in front of about a million motorists stopped at the lights. In my children’s character helmet. On my birthday.

The First Time Photoshop Made Me Feel Bad About Myself – And Not In The Way You’d Expect

I went to a Photoshop course for work to upskill my skills and have some time out of the office to dick around. It was a pretty basic course full of mums who, well into day two, were asking, “Wait, what’s the shortcut for copy again?” It was great, until the instructor got around to teaching us airbrushing. In order to demonstrate what sort of things need airbrushing in an image, instead of having an un-retouched image prepared in advance like a good, professional non-psychopathic instructor would, he singled me out and proceeded to let the class know all the things he would airbrush ON ME. Including, but not limited to:
  • My flyways
  • The little wrinkles around my eyes (or “crow’s feet” as he called them)
  • A few small pimples on my face
  • This weird hard little lump I have in my hairline
  • Some dark bags under my eyes
  • My skin tone

It was really a fabulous moment in my life, and I left there able to mask an image, with a thorough knowledge of copy and paste short cuts and some severely damaged self-esteem. 

I know I started this post preaching about letting shit go, but having written all these memories down it’s just served to reinvigorate my fury at all these people and events. So let’s just revise 2015’s new anthem to CeeLo Green’s Fuck You and call it even.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Shame-ish and Maz's Modus Operandi

I had my two year workiversary recently. I didn’t realise it was such a big deal until THREE people liked it on Linkedin. I may not know much about social media, but I know that if you get Linkedin likes from people in your professional network, that’s pretty fancy and you are for sure a big wig now. Once I got over the thrill of new Linkedin notifications, I began thinking about the last two years and what they had given me; patience, knowledge of, and a cause to use, the word “garnered”, impeccable email etiquette, and of course getting to hear the question “what famous people have you met?” one thousand times.
This is by far the most common question I get asked about working in television. And the answer to it is that if you don’t work in production or publicity, you’re really not going to meet any famous people. While television marketing sounds like it’s all cocktail parties and schmoozing with celebs it very rarely involves hanging out with anyone vaguely famous. Although, that being said, my first week in television definitely didn’t prepare me for this reality.
Sitting at my desk, brand new and with no idea what I was doing, I was still at that moment in a new job where you reeeeeeeeeeally take your time doing things and stare intently at your screen to appear super focussed and busy when, in fact, you have no idea what you’re doing yet. I was doing this dance of incompetence when Hamish and Andy walked into my office and right past my desk. Andy looked me straight in the eye and, as my first instinct is always to act like a huge weirdy, I threw my head back in an upwards, gangsta-reminiscent nod and addressed him,
Cool points + one million. 

"Uh, hi" he responded, and walked straight past. I had just enough time to text Nick and tell him that I’d had my first celebrity sighting, when the dynamic duo emerged from their very brief meeting and left the office. 

“Interesting, ” I thought “Andy was not as dreamy as he seems on the tele.” I turned to the person next to me and articulated this thought loudly,
“Andy really isn't that good looking in life. He’s punching way above his weight with Megan Gale. I would definitely NOT sleep with him, ew!"
Then we went back to work. A minute or so later, thirsty, I got up from my chair and walked the three meters to the tiny kitchenette that was just outside the doorway through which Hamish and Andy had just left. And of course, Hamish and Andy were standing in the kitchenette having a hushed conversation. I looked startled, turned red, pivoted on the spot and returned to my desk. They were, without a doubt, within hearing distance of what I had just said. Mortified, I sat at my desk with my head down, unable to muster the energy to lift my eyes and continue to pretend to work. Eventually nature called again and I had to venture out of the office to the bathroom, passing the kitchen on my way. I glanced in and they were gone. Relieved, I continued to the toilet and shut the door behind me. The prolonged shame session at my desk had left me in relatively desperate need of a pee, and this bathroom was one of those echoey kinds that lets everyone outside hear any little noise you make, but I figured I may explode if I did anything other than open the floodgates, so I just let go and let God. It was at this point, of loud volume and no stemming the flow, that I heard people congregating outside the door in the hallway. Knowing full well that they were all hearing me pee louder than I had ever peed before I tried to quiet it down, but to no avail, I had waited far too long and just had to let things noisily run their course.
I washed my hands and left the bathroom. And, of course, upon opening the door, came face to face with Hamish and Andy again. I had to push through them to walk back up the hallway and return to my desk, where I could spend the rest of the afternoon pondering the fact that in the space of half an hour Andy Lee had heard me claim cockily that I'd never sleep with him and then had listened to the loudest wee I'd ever done.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Deunited And It Feels So Good

I got unfriended recently. I was facebook unfriended, instagram unfriended, unfriended by friends of the original unfriender. I’m sure I would have been untumbled, detweeted, pinned-off and exmyspaced if I had any of those things. I was seriously, hardcore unfriended. I bet she even removed me from her phone. Or at the very least changed my name in her contacts to DO NOT ANSWER THIS CALL like she was in the film Confessions of a Shopaholic and was trying to avoid her creditors.

“But what would warrant such callous removal from all social media channels?” I hear you gasping in horror.  I know, I was shocked too. I mean, the first rule of not liking someone is that you keep as many windows into their life open as you possibly can. How else can you judge everything they do from a distance and truly know that you’re better than them?

This particular friend was one of those flaky friends. Never able to come to anything, always crying poor, too busy, too tired, too far, not enough advance noticed, scared of sushi, cats etc. But strangely enough, she was constantly posting photos online of her ‘making it rain’ with her other friends; buying herself treats, hanging out nearby, spending up big and posting her haul on instagram moments after she’d told me payday wasn’t for another two days and she couldn’t afford dinner – basically countering all her excuses in a public forum where I could screengrab her lies.  Now, I fully acknowledge that I’m not everyone’s cup of tea. I understand that people may get to know me that little bit better and realize that they don’t actually like me that much after all. But when I tried to tell her it was ok if she was a little over my constant Mazness she’d only come back with renewed fervor that we must set a date to have dinner, to see each other, to have a girlz night. And then would, of course, bail on these plans.

[Insert confrontation, presentation of evidence of aforementioned poor friend behavior and a few uncomfortable questions here]

After said confrontation, I received what can only be described as a Dear John letter stating she would no longer be my friend and that “i [sic] can honestly say with 100% conviction that I tried [to be my friend]”. Obviously not a major loss as she wasn’t a particularly good friend, but the thing that has stuck with me is that she chose to end our friendship with an untruth. Upon much reflection, a look in the dictionary and after consulting my own personal annals of friendship I’ve decided that she had not, in fact, “tried”. I did find numerous definitions of this little three letter word and unfortunately, she satisfied none of them. I was however, delighted to discover a myriad of examples of other friends and I trying hard in our respective friendships.

Try /trʌɪ/
Verb. make an attempt or effort to do something, exert oneself.

Example: One sunny Saturday my buddy Nicole and I thought we would be adventurous and go kayaking. This particular day we decided to head up and around a little island, near where we had procured our kayaks in Brooklyn. Paddling with the tide around the little land mass was a thoroughly enjoyable experience. We stopped to pee swim amongst a grove of mangroves, basked in the sun and sparkly water, swished past bridges and boats and rounded a corner – only to find that the island was not actually an island at all, but was connected to the mainland by a very thin strip of land covered in railway tracks. While we could see our start point, tantalizingly close, it was physically impossible for us to kayak to it. The thing is, I love the outdoors, I love the water and I love some exercise. But I get tired super quick and don’t want it to go on forever. The notion of kayaking back kilometres around the island, working against the tide, did not appeal. I don’t know who saw the “simple solution” first, Nicole or myself, but minutes later we were dragging our kayaks (full of water and weighing probably about 60kg each) past a large family of bemused Chinese tourists, across a road, onto the station platform, up a massive flight of stairs, over a bridge, down a massive flight of stairs, onto an abandoned and dilapidated wharf, casting them into the water six feet below and then sliding down a bank covered in rusted metal and broken bottles to leap across slimy and rubbish strewn water back into our vessels. While we achieved our original goal of circumnavigating the island, the incredibly lazy slob within me is still haunted by the question of whether or not it would have been less effort just to kayak back.

Try /trʌɪ/
Verb. subject someone to trial

Example: When I was in year six we went on an overnight excursion to… the snow? Bathurst? I don’t know, some place. Anyway, like any excursion we were buddied up on the bus with our best friends. Lucy, always ahead of her time, had bought a Dolly magazine to keep us occupied on the hours long journey. Amid the usual features on How To Kiss With Tongue (practice in the mirror first!), How To Tell If A Boy Likes You (his feet point in your direction when he talks to you – this sage piece of advice kept my self esteem pretty high for a large chunk of teenage life - turns out it’s actually a lie) and late nineties fashion tips, were some free postcards. I am still unsure as to who you would send these postcards to as they featured hunky guys, muscles shining and bulges, uh, bulging in their tightie whities. Lucy and I gazed at them prepubescent and horrified, only to have our terrifying, red-headed, banshee of a teacher come across us at this exact moment and snatch the cards out of our hands. We were reprimanded and told that, upon returning to school, we would most likely be suspended for having pornography. Nothing ever came of it, but I spent two sleepless nights at the Goldpanner Inn wondering what I would say to my parents.

Try /trʌɪ/
Verb. an effort to accomplish something; an attempt.

Example: Once, as a surly teenager, I skipped class with my friend to go and hang out in Hornsby. Now, I’m not saying we smoked some weed, but I’m not saying we didn’t smoke weed either. After coming out the other end of a particularly long bout of laughter over Video Ezy’s latest promotional campaign (they were giving away Video Ezy temporary tattoos when you rented Indiana Jones, so basically your incentive to borrow a really old video was to have “Video Ezy” temporarily branded on your arm. Read: I’m a bigger idiot than anyone you’ve ever met) I realized that the next class on my timetable, which I had fully intended upon skipping, was the class that MY DAD TAUGHT. AND IT BEGAN IN TWO MINUTES. Horrified, we legged it back to school and the biology lab, traveling faster than any stoned teenager has ever moved in the history of time. You’ll be glad to know we made it.

So I guess what I’m trying to say, in a roundabout way, is that while I definitely acknowledged earlier that not everyone has to like me, it sucks for you if you don’t want to try to be my friend. Because being my friend is sick dogs, especially if you love boats, porn and temporary tattoos.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf? Oh Wait, I Am.

Unfortunately, we now live in a world where people want to constantly tell you how perfect they are. From instagrammed pictures of dream jobs to smug assertions of infallible relationships on facebook, it seems all people want to convey about themselves is how invincible and unafraid of life they are. It’s a shame really, when everyone is so brave and eternally successful you’re never going to hear amazing stories of phenomenal swears said in front of children or messy break ups which end with a former lover begging to be taken back on a crowded train. Well, you’ll be glad to know that I am not one of these people. I fail at heaps of stuff and am scared of a whole bunch of shit and love to tell everyone all about it. So in my attempt to buck the trend of being brave and perfect please read on for my catalogue of cowardice.

Ghosts and monsters. This is just as ridiculous as it sounds, but I am more scared of ghosts and monsters than I am of rapists. Recently I couldn’t sleep and snuck downstairs to watch Candyman. Usually after watching horror movies I do my best to avoid looking out windows for fear of seeing someone looking back in at me/the reflection of something behind me/my reflection having morphed into that of a gruesome dead version of me. The thing is though, usually when you do look out the window there is nothing there and you are reassured that monsters aren’t real and you’re just being silly. On this particular night however, I walked over to the floor to ceiling sliding glass doors to reassure myself there were no monsters hanging around outside and a fucking BAT flew at the window. My knees gave out and I went flailing to the ground. That’s a fun characteristic I have, my knees give way when I’m frightened. I would literally be dead if I lived in the wild.

Greetings. Here’s one for you. Before every social event that will include people I do not know (and some I do) I stress to no end about how to greet them. The way I see it there are four options:
i) Shake their hand
ii) Kiss them on the cheek
iii) Hug them
iv) Wave from a distance
More often than not these four alternatives morph into one socially awkward hug/high five/half mouth kiss. I’ve made peace with the fact that this is one situation I’m never going to figure out, but am bolstered by something I saw last year. On set of a promo shoot for The Voice I watched as made his way through the crowd taking selfies and fist bumping his adoring fans, when one woman gleefully stretched out her arm and shook his fist. I knew then that I am not alone in the world.

Bird of Paradise flowers. I’m telling you this from a place of vulnerability, so DO NOT USE THIS AGAINST ME. I am terrified of Bird of Paradise flowers, they freak me out more than you would believe and I have been known to cry in their presence. It may seem hilarious to be scared of a flower, but the definition of a phobia is an “irrational fear” and this is mine, so if you’re judging me right now, you’re being a dick. And if you approach me with one I will think very poorly of you.

Getting people’s names wrong. Maybe this is due to the fact that people constantly get my name wrong. When I was eight years old and started learning clarinet (the king of the instruments) my next-door neighbor was my clarinet teacher. For whatever reason, she thought my name was Miriam instead of Marion. She was my teacher for four years and I never had the courage to correct her. Consequently, I don’t have any qualifications in clarinet, but Miriam Reed has a fourth grade AMEB certification. It makes sense in light of this that I don’t want to inflict the same name shame on another person, so I FREAK out about getting people’s names right. Sometimes if I have a meeting with someone at work (despite having met them two or three times) I’m so scared that I will get their name wrong I will literally google them as they’re walking towards me, frantically trying to find a linkedin or facebook profile that will confirm how I should address them. Sometimes, even despite my extensive research I'll still be so concerned I’m about to get it wrong that I bail last minute and end up calling them by a strange muffled whooshing sound.

So there you have it, now you know how to terrify me to my very core. You just have to be a monster who greets me with the wrong name and then offers me a bunch of flowers. I'm shuddering at the thought.