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Dispatches From Down East: My Life as Anne of Green Gables

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Many Islanders look on Lucy Maud Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables with a bit of revulsion. Anne is tiresome and often uninteresting for those who must continuously identify with her not only as a Canadian icon, but as an ambassador for P.E.I.

The tourist phenomenon surrounding Anne Shirley is particularly irksome in light of the many ill- inspired and useless tourist items which have been created, such as the various Anne of Green Gables dolls (I currently have four which I cannot even give away at my yard sales). My absolute favorite "must-have" is the Anne of Green Gables Hat with braids: two orange yarn braids attached to a straw hat, which can incidentally be purchased in tourist traps stretching from one tip of the Island to the other.

But this is not "our" Anne, this Anne of the Roadside Gift Shops. And I, for one, still like Anne. My middle name is Anne, so I am partly her namesake. But the similarities run much deeper than this. Quite honestly, I am much like her in other, more complex ways. Take dexterity and co-ordination, for instance: like Anne, I am an accident waiting to happen. And like dear "Carrots", I am also a magnet for any kind of weird and crazy happenstance.

This story is proof.

Recently, we were driving to the in-laws' house, and as it was a beautiful day, I had my arm out the window. For about two seconds, mind you. All of a sudden, something wet fell from the sky, something not considered rain. I looked at my Husband and I said, "I think a bird just pee'd on my arm."

He just kept driving, as things like this are not really surprising for him anymore. So when we get to our destination, I am doing my level best to limit the use of that one arm with the contamination. As I gingerly open the van door with the other awkward arm, my daughter starts crying and complaining of being too tired to walk; something about being sick. All I know is I tried to pick her up with that useless arm, and she had the nerve to ask me if I was using my "pee arm" to carry her.

Exactly what I was thinking: beggars can't be choosers.

But I've got to say, who else but dear old Anne would have as many run-ins with birds and other creatures as I have had within the course of a month?

On the other hand, I can't count the number of times I have bumped into people at my school with full glasses of water. Thank goodness I don't drink coffee at work, that's all I have to say. A week ago, I was coming down an empty hallway. Everyone was in class as the lunch bell had already rung. I left the class in the capable hands of my educational assistant only to escape the zoo for a minute to fetch myself a drink of water. As I never remember my water bottle, I am forever carting around breakable dinner glasses, so I was barreling down the hallway with my glass of water, thinking to myself, "What would be the odds?"

I guess I should play the lottery more often because appears the odds are usually in my favor. Just as I passed by the gym doors, I happened to see what looked like a human figure on the opposite side of that door. But whatever it was looked like a blur, and I was going a wee bit too fast. So just before I finally cleared the path of that door, she burst through it like a streak of lightning. There was enough time for me to scream and the water to travel in a slow arc up over my head.

And that is the second time I have run into that particular teacher.

I have also reached a high point in my life where I must by necessity tell my legs to lift as I am going up the stairs. It is a concerted effort on the part of my brain and my extended limbs. Sometimes I think they are duking it out over who gets to choose their own way. Sometimes it's neither. That's the point when I land on my face in the middle of a stairway, and the brain checks out of the game entirely. Recently, I tripped going up the staircase at the end of the day, and happened to do so in front of some junior high wrestling team members that were visiting our school. I almost did a face plant on the top stair. Thank goodness the boys were just visiting for the day. I'd like to think they will never remember the woman with the long curly hair that nearly killed herself in front of them.

I have so many,many other stories that span the course of my life that I look back on and cringe with horror. "Did I really do that?" I ask myself, disbelievingly.

Sadly, yes I did do that. And then some.

I remember years ago visiting my grandparents in New Brunswick. The day I remember with horror, I was outside playing in their yard which happened to be located at the top of a hill. I was minding my own business when I heard someone was calling me. Or so I thought. I thought this same someone was waving for me to come join him down at the bottom of my grandparent's yard. I don't know why I thought that...maybe it was the fact that there was only myself and the one other person (whom I did not know) on the top of that hill. What would be the odds it was the other person being called? But, I digress. So, I rigorously waved, and the person at the bottom called out for me to join them. As I am also going deaf, I started running towards the person, calling out, "What? What?" all the way.

Turns out they were calling to the other person on the hill. I, feeling like a complete idiot, tried to save face by continuing to run past that person, all the while yelling and carrying on like there was another person calling to me from some further distance. Not sure if anyone was really ever convinced by that stunning attempt to garner an Oscar nomination.

I know I'll never forget it. I'm sure Anne could relate.

I am glad I can laugh about my Anne-likeness. There are worse protagonists to model one's life after. And it sure does make for a jolly good story for everyone to chuckle over. If I wasn't so accident-prone and clumsy, like our Anne with an "e", what a boring existence it would be.

Gee, I'm glad I'm no one else but me!