Seven Travel Hacks For Morons.

To be clear, I’m not suggesting you’re a moron if you recognize yourself as someone who needs to follow my guidelines.

But I am saying that we all make mistakes that make our lives more difficult than they need to be, and when we do so we’re engaging in moronic behavior. So don’t be a moron. Read carefully. In fact, here’s what I suggest; read each hack individually, click away and return for the next. If you do this several times a day for at least six months I think we’ll both see the benefit.

Let’s begin, shall we?


12-openthedoorEnter freely and of your own will…


ONE)  Edumacation is key, kids!  Don’t request a top-floor room if it’s raining felines and canines out and then act surprised when you get to the window and see… nothing but dense water vapor. Scour the web before you arrive and arm yourself with a double-barrel shotgun… of knowledge.

  •  Check your destination’s long-term weather forecasts daily.
  •  Do your homework when it comes to deals; book directly with  your hotel’s reservation line and you’ll be amazed at how much cheddar you can save. Third-party sites aren’t the online orgy for the wallet that they pretend to be.
  •  Make absolutely certain there is no – and I mean zero – construction happening at your hotel if you’re the type of person who can’t tolerate that sort of inconvenience. Make sure you’re the only one doing any hammering, you know what I’m sayin’?
  •  Make a checklist of details that are important to you and be damn sure you cover those bases when you’re at the front desk. Personally, as a bellman there’s nothing I hate more than a guest that begins complaining about the room after I’ve already unloaded my luggage cart. He who hesitates is lost – and is doomed to suffer my wrath.
  •  If you have any questions… ask a grown-up! Or in this case, ask a hotel representative, we’re here to help. After all, hat’s what they pay us minimum wage for.


TWO)  Forward-thinking is the way to go. Always.  When you pull onto a hotel’s valet deck and the doorman ushers you off to the garage – which is a good distance away from the entrance – consider the walk to the front desk with all your luggage. Always ask if you can unload (stop giggling!) before you park. Or better yet…



THREE)  Get a bellman to help you!  We’ll save your back, we’re delightful, no one knows the property better and we can score you anything you need. (I won’t score you drugs, but I could if I wanted to.)



FOUR)  If you plan on swinging from the chandeliers, engaging in animalistic cosplay or any other extremely loud form of coitus… get a corner room!  This one pretty much speaks for itself if you really think about it – but most people don’t. Most folks are so horny they simply take whatever room they’re given because they can’t wait to get to said room and rip into each other’s loins.

And to be honest, there are a lot of people who can’t wait to get up to the room before getting down.

So make sure you consider the details behind the mechanics of the coital act before all the blood rushed away from your brain-box, friends. Hotel walls are far from soundproof. No one likes to be interrupted by hotel security responding to a noise complaint as the carnal carousel they’re on is “climbing the mountain”, so to speak.




FIVE)  Be nice – to everyone!  Treat the housekeeper with respect. (AND TIP HER! SHE’S CLEANING THE SHEETS YOU’VE SPOILED WITH YOUR BODILY FLUIDS, FOR PETE’S SAKE!)  

Always be cordial – at the very least – to wait staff. Ryan Reynolds wasn’t kidding in that movie; the people who serve your food will always find a way to even the score. You just won’t be able to prove it.

Front desk staff can really mess you up if you cop an attitude. (Although they’ll understand if you’re tired or cranky from the rigors of travel.) Just don’t forget they can ‘accidentally’ book a five am wake-up call for you if they feel so inclined.

And of course, the bellmen are connected to everyone throughout the hotel, so stiffing us is the equivalent of fellating a shotgun.



SIX)  Slipping the front desk clerk a twenty isn’t as foolproof as you’ve been led to believe.  Many travel experts will recommend this tactic and consider it a “can’t miss” scenario. 

These people have never actually worked in a hotel. And if they did, it was a pretty bad one. Slip a clerk a bill under your credit card at my hotel and you’ll find yourself… right where you started. Some clerks receive kickbacks for upgrading you “on the books”, and if they don’t, they may even wind up getting admonished for not reaching a quota. Plus, modern chain hotels use more cameras than the NSA these days, so any funny business does not go unnoticed by management.

As I’ve already said, be nice and the hotel will be your oyster. The pearls will be the reasonable upgrade, the free breakfast vouchers and any of the endless perks the clerk has at their disposal. Put your jet lag, your frustration with your traveling companions and your emotional baggage aside when checking in and the results will astound you.



SEVEN)  Ditch the white trash attitude!  Yes, I’m resurrecting this term; with all the hoopla about immigrants these days we forget white people can be jerks too.

But as for this hack: This means many things. Don’t behave like a leering idiot, drooling uncontrollably at everything in a skirt and tight top, especially if you’re traveling with your family. Don’t bring enough booze to supply a frat house though the school year (you can only drink so much at once). 

When it comes to saving money by bringing food for the kids, be smart about it. Many folks bring bread (but inexplicably, nothing to put on it), Walmart candy and baked treats, and tons of junk food and sugary, sugary pop, or if you prefer, soda.



Seek out a grocery store, or if its the height of summer and you’re in a region with a farming belt, head out to the fruit stands and get some real food! You’ll be amazed at how physically fit your entire family feels afterwards. The healthy option may be more expensive but its worth it.

Remember what I always say: if you can’t afford to take a vacation, and do it right, don’t go!


As I often tell the wife, that’s all I have for you today… so I hope it was enough.

See you in the lobby, kids…


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A Return To Form For Throwback Thursday.

“People keep asking if I’m back, and I haven’t really had an answer. But, yeah, I thinking I’m back.” – Keanu Reeves as once-retired assassin John Wick.

There’s an old saying, “Give the people what they want.”

It worked in Salem, Massachusetts back in the day, right?


Okay, maybe not… 

My point is, there are a lot of people (okay, maybe ten) who miss my stories from the hospitality trenches, and while I have a good reason for putting those tales on the back burner, one or two brief anecdotes can’t hurt, right? So here, in honor of the social media event known as Throwback Thursday, are a couple of mini-adventures from the halls of hotel land.


As much as I pride myself on being a cool customer at work (while in my goofy bellman duds, no less) there are times my facade drops. It is during moments like these that I’m reminded of something my beautiful bride once said to me: “You may be ‘The Hook’ to everyone else… but you’ll always be a dumbass to me.”  To be fair, she knows me better than anyone else – and she’s not wrong.

So I arrived at a top-floor room during the height of the Sunday morning check-out frenzy feeling confident in my luggage slugging abilities only to be reminded of the “man” in “bellman”. The door opened to reveal two middle-aged but remarkably fit couples. They began bringing bags over to me one by one and then disappearing into the other end of the two-room suite until only a statuesque, raven-haired beauty remained.

She rolled a suitcase with a bag situated on top of it over to the door and bent riiiiight over to reveal cleavage so ample Kim Kardashian would be foaming at the mouth with envy. Now, as a forty-something male with ample access to television, films and pornography, I’ve seen my share of cleavage. To top it off, I’ve been a bellman for two decades, and let me tell you, folks, hotels are meat markets these days.

So I shouldn’t have been phased by a little (okay, a lot of) cleavage, right?


RAVEN-HAIRED BEAUTY:  I’m concerned these bags will fall over if I put them on the cart, they’re top heavy. What’s my best option to put these bags on the cart, sir?

ME:  Well, your breast option is…

Yes, I went there. Unintentionally, I swear… but I went there nonetheless.

At that point, I could’ve apologized outright and potentially opened the can of wordplay worms  wide open or I could’ve ignored the busty elephant ion the doorway and stayed the course. Discretion being the better part of valor (apparently) I stayed the course.

ME:  I mean, your best option is to let me separate the bags, miss.

To her credit, she simply utilized a wide-as-Texas grin to let me know I wasn’t fooling anyone… but she was okay with it.

Bullet… dodged. Again.


Now let’s see what happened when I met up with an African-American family from Watts. Yes, I said Watts, and yes, they were every bit as black as black can be, Lord bless ’em.

There were nine of them; two parental units and seven kids of varying ages, though not that varied. (I’m guessing most people don’t have televisions in their bedrooms in Watts.) A little guy about nine years of age emerged shirtless from the bathroom as I was shuttling bags to my cart. He was drying his Afro with a towel when he took notice of my presence.

LITTLE COOL DUDE:  Who’s the cracker? What the hell’s going on?

I couldn’t help but bust out laughing – but his momma? She was not happy, not one bit.

MOMMA:  Who do you think you are, speaking to this man like that? And cursing too?

She walked right over to him and slapped him across the face. His shock only increased, so much so that he took no heed of her words…


Out of the mouth of babes, right?


I hope you enjoyed my bellman chronicles, friends. Fair warning though; I won’t be back this way anytime soon. Unlike John Wick, I’m not really back, I’m just passing through.

See you in the lobby, kids…

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Welcome to Mr. Murdoch’s Neighborhood…

…Hope you survive the experience.

Mr. Murdoch’s Neighborhood, this week’s installment of Murdoch Mysteries is another shining example of how much this series has grown in ten seasons. Most shows would be content to sit on their laurels but Peter Mitchell and company strive for excellence every week. Not only was this week’s title a nice warm slice of nostalgia, it was clever and just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the treats the writing team had in store for us.


ONE)  Bloody hell, Murdoch! What’s going on here?  I’m going to deviate slightly here and use tweets to demonstrate my impressions of the MM action as it unfolded. To begin with, here’s how I felt about what was most likely the shortest opening in Murdoch history: Namely, the Murdochs burying what we can only assume is a body in the dead of night…

You’ll excuse my typo, won’t you?


TWO)  The closest we’re ever going to get to a MM/CSI crossover.  The forensics day camp premise was brilliant; it gave us the triple threat of Jackson, Crabtree and Higgins combined with Miss James, two new female med students and William and Julia – all for the price of one. 

The banter and hi-jinks (mostly courtesy of the incomparable Lachlan Murdoch) were as razor-sharp and entertaining as ever, but Julia’s “Uh-oh, that’s not my corpse!” moment wasn’t exactly a shocker – this is Murdoch Mysteries, after all – but it was pure genius nonetheless. And when more bodies turned up? Well, only one thing came to mind:

For the record, my wife loved this one – and considering she’s my toughest critic, I consider this a milestone.


THREE)  The turn-of-the-century welcome wagon leaves something to be to desired, to say the least.  Meeting the “Deliverance twins” was interesting, as they appeared to be the killers. But then that seemed too obvious, so you were sure they weren’t. But then the looked too darn shady to be innocent.

It was a wild ride – and the ride was only beginning.


FOUR)  Slugger hits a home run!  Nothing woos a lady like a widower pouring out his soul. I’m certain Jackson was genuine as he discussed his deceased bride (that sure came out of left field, didn’t it?) but you could practically see his new lady friend foaming at the mouth.

Good for Augustus “Gus” “Slugger” Jackson. (Man, that’s a mouthful, isn’t it? Good thing they didn’t have driver’s licenses back then.)


FIVE)  Is George’s Cherry turning sour?  Don’t get me wrong, I like Bea Santos’ Louise Cherry, but she appears to be setting poor Crabtree up for a fall. And was I the only one who wondered why Samuel Bloom wasn’t a little perturbed by the presence of Miss Cherry? After all, it wasn’t that long ago Crabtree was dating Sam’s sister, Nina.

Still, we’ll have to see if George allows his new gal pal to drive a wedge between him and his business partner. Personally, I’m tired of Crabtree’s roller coaster love life, but you can’t look away…


SIX)  Three Murdochs for the price of one!  Lachlan Murdoch tweeted this message to fans prior to broadcast:

So we really lucked out this week, gang…


SEVEN)  More Wattage.  Daniel Maslany’s Detective Watts continues to peel back the layers surrounding the ultimate fate of Toronto’s missing women. Sadly, the slow burning storyline is starting to test my patience, but only because I could watch an entire hour devoted to Maslany’s performance.



EIGHT)  Hélène Joy‘s accidental accent.  This is a deeply personal observation, but I love it when Ms. Joy’s Australian accent appears, as it did at the beginning of this ep. She rocked this installment, nonetheless; the “slip-up” just makes me love her even more.


NINE)  The behind-the-scenes mastery.  This ep was directed by the brilliant Jill Carter, the gruesome – but awesome – special effects make-up was top notch, and of course, Prop Monkey and his team were firing on all cylinders as usual. In fact, the Monkey gave us a glimpse at how Mother Nature can impact production if she feels like it:


TEN)  A brilliant wrap-up to an even more brilliant episode.  I have to admit, I was genuinely lost by the time William closed the case. Peter Mitchell and Company gave us so many twists and turns, I really didn’t know who put the nefarious family six feet under.

And then when the Murdoch’s neighbors gathered, angrily clutching farm utensils? Well, I was wincing! Poor William and Julia. To top it off, the near-catatonic mother starting growling at William!


And then… Ole Slugger got laid! (Though to be fair, we all saw that coming didn’t we? Then again, so did she.)

And then William and Julia got frisky in the tent!

Brilliant again.


All right, this ep wiped me out; I’ll see you next week when we finally get Brackenreid back. (I hope.) And apparently, the fountain of youth, courtesy of James Pendrick. (You just know this endeavor will fall apart too, right?)

See you in the lobby and on the CBC, kids…

Here’s one more behind-the-scenes pic, courtesy of Prop Monkey again.

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The Hook On… Motivation. (Or Lack Thereof.)

Let’s get this out of the way first; you know I’m going to leave this post undone, right?

I’m the first to admit that I’m not a terribly ambitious person. My lovely bride and I purchased our house more than a decade ago and she recently handed me a nostalgic item that spurred the following conversation:

THE WIFE:  Hey, Skippy! (Hey, it’s a step up from her first pet name for me, “Boy”.)  Recognize this?

ME:  Recognize what, my lovely bride?

THE WIFE:  Do not call me that.

ME:  Your tone is flat and icy. And yet, I’m still turned on…

THE WIFE:  Focus, you horny idiot.

ME:  Do I have to?

THE WIFE:  I have the lawyer on speed dial…

ME:  You win.

THE WIFE:  Was there ever any doubt?

ME:  (Taking the paper from her hand before I wind up living in an apartment complex called “Vista Heights”.)  I’d be happy to look this over, my lovely… never mind. I love you.

THE WIFE:  (After a moment. Or ten.)  Well?

ME:  (Not-so-faking ignorance.)  This appears to be a list of some sort…

THE WIFE:  It’s the “To-Do” list we started when we bought the house. Notice anything unusual?

giphyThis is so not us…

ME:  (Fighting to stay ahead of whatever was coming.)  Unusual? No, it appears to be a standard list on thick, yellow paper…

THE WIFE:  That paper was WHITE and SOFT when we wrote the list out… THIRTEEN years ago.

ME:  So something has obviously tainted this paper. I’m thinking we have a hard water problem in the house…

THE WIFE:  Oh, there’s a problem in this house, all right…

ME:  And by the way, we didn’t write this list… you did, pretty girl.

(When engaging in a discussion-on-the-verge of-becoming-an-argument with with one’s spouse, it is best to pepper your responses with terms of endearment. They won’t help whatsoever, but the effort is valiant.)

THE WIFE:  Pretty girl? Bite me! And off course I wrote it! And I did most of the work too! I laid the floors. I put the moulding on. I painted the living room, the dining room, the bathroom…

At that point I should have said something like, “I get it, honey. I’m so sorry I haven’t pulled my weight around here. I’ll make it up to you, I swear.”

But you know I didn’t, right?


ME:  If you’ve done most of the work then why the hell did you drag out this list?

My wife began to vibrate, it was barely noticeable at first, then it really showed. After that, well, let’s just say I still have one of my testicles still hasn’t descended and leave it at that, shall we?

giphyThis is definitely me…

So what have we learned from this little tale of marital relations? (No, not those marital relations.) 

ONE)  My wife has a Kung fu grip G.I. Joe would be envious of. (But not always in a good way.)

TWO)  I have trouble finishing what I start – assuming I start it at all.

And I’m sure you can relate, correct? (To the second point, I mean, not my wife’s kung fu grip.) The truth is, we all struggle to overcome apathy. (Seriously, I started this post before I left the womb.) Actually, I have that wrong, don’t I? If we all struggled to overcome apathy we’d be a planet of Sheens. Charlie, not, Martin.

But we don’t.

Most of us just let apathy wash over us like summer rain. On the surface it seems refreshing – and then we start to sneeze. Before you know it, you’re coughing up mucus that’s thicker than Trump’s weave, your brain is on fire with fever and you’re making deals with a deity you normally don’t believe in.

But maybe that’s just me.

At any rate, I’ve finished this post now, so that’s something to be proud of, right?

See you in the lobby – and Home Depot – kids…

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5×5 With The Hook: Paula Roy.

Some of the greatest, most powerful memories of my lifetime involve food.

Some involve breaking bread with friends and family, those I’m happy to share. Others involve romantic interludes and… well, let’s just say some things are better left to the imagination and leave it at that, shall we?

My point is this: food is more than just a means to an end; namely, survival. It can be an expression of love: a mother goes above and beyond to prepare a meal for her loved ones. (In my case, it was a weekly care package delivered to my home-away-from during my college years.)  It can be a financial support system; I know whole generations of restaurateurs in Niagara Falls alone, never mind the world, to say nothing of the number of people employed in the global food industry. It is such a vital component in our collective existence that we’ve devoted entire television networks to worship it properly.

And that brings us to today’s guest, Paula Roy. Not only is she sweeter than the contents of an entire bakery (yes, I’m a silver-tongued devil), she ‘s hilarious, good-natured, generous (hence her appearance here) and a sorceress in the kitchen. I’m not kidding about the magical component; I can barely boil water, so Paula’s culinary skills leave me breathless. (Once, when were newly-married my wife asked me to ‘get the water hot’ for spaghetti as she got changed. I put Lady in Red on and danced seductively in front of the pot.)

OTTAWA, ON. DECEMBER 9, 2013 --- Paula Roy makes delicious edible gifts in her Ottawa kitchen Monday. (Julie Oliver/Ottawa Citizen) #115362. LIFE. Sonia Mendes.

In this day and age we all work harder than we should have to and our diets suffer. We rarely have time to prepare a decent meal of ourselves or our loved ones and so we rely on the sage – and delicious – advice of artists like Paula to keep us running and to stimulate our senses. To top it all off, Paula is a fellow blogger whose site is “amazeballs”! (Hey, don’t blame me, I picked the lingo up from Paula.) Check out her slice of cyberspace for yourself by clicking here.

Paula Roy is also an integral part of the Yummy Mummy Club, the coolest collection of kick-ass matriarchs ever assembled in one place. You can check out her YMC blog, Whole Foods in Half the Time, here.  Your taste buds will owe me a huge solid.


Elevating our lives through writing isn’t enough for Paula ( she’s also a busy freelance writer and serves as the food editor of popular style magazine Ottawa At Home) and so she even has her own slice of the television market: Paula Roy’s Favourite Foods has aired 9 episodes so far and three more are set to shoot in just a few weeks. The series is now archived on YouTube.

That concludes our appetizer, friends, time for the main course…

ONE)  I know you love to explore faraway lands; can you share a tale of a journey gone awry?  In a hilarious way, of course!

One of the most memorable trips of my lifetime will likely be the incredible month-long journey I enjoyed through India and Nepal with my mother, who was a spunky and adventurous 76-year-old at the time. There were a number of hair-raising moments throughout the trip but the biggest glitch we encountered was arriving at our overbooked hotel in the city of Jodhpur, where, to our utter astonishment, we were told we’d be sleeping in a tent on the front lawn.

Fearing more than a little for our safety, we were serenaded to sleep by blaring truck horns, loud music and barking dogs, then awoken just a few hours later at dawn by the muezzin’s call to workshop, accompanied by a chorus of crowing roosters. We still laugh about it all the time.

(I’m not so sure I’d be laughing; my therapist would though.)


TWO)  An unforgettable meal can unify people. (It works wonders with families. When we put the drama aside, that is.)  If you could bring world leaders together and serve them a single dish, what would it be?

If I could bring world leaders together, I wouldn’t serve them a dish – I’d have them collaborate to prepare one to enjoy together. I find that working alongside others in the kitchen is a great way to get to know people; it often provokes positive conversations, which is what I think the world needs right about now. And what would I have them prepare? Something that takes patience and lots of cooperation, like handmade pasta. Everybody loves noodles, right?

(Absolutely! I told you Paula was awesome.)



THREE)  What do you think of the New Age of television cooking programming, specifically cooking competitions? Do you enjoy shows like Chopped Canada or Cutthroat Kitchen?

I have to confess that I don’t watch a lot of cooking shows as I’ve usually had more than enough screen time by the end of the day. Plus, the menfolk in my house monopolize the TV and they prefer sports.

Having said that, I have watched Cutthroat Kitchen occasionally and found it to be amusing, albeit in a completely unrealistic way. I mean, cooking’s not really a game show. While I think it is great that cooking shows are getting people talking about food more, I worry that because so many of shows don’t actually impart practical tips for home cooks, they really aren’t that useful.

I’d like to find time to watch the documentary-style show Chef’s Table, but truthfully, I’d still prefer to cook than watch TV. It’s fine to be entertained, but I’d rather sit down to a plate of delicious food than stare at it on a screen.

(I can’t argue with that logic.)




FOUR)  People – especially moms – are often too busy working to cook actual meals these days; is there a single “meal cheat” everyone should follow?

My biggest tip isn’t revolutionary but it works.

Carve out a little weekend time to do a ton of meal prep and fill your freezer. But instead of batch cooking entire recipes (which can get tiresome from an eating perspective), I recommend cooking up versatile, flexible ingredients and freezing them. Roast some chicken breasts then shred the meat; you can later transform it into stews, enchiladas, and more. Brown some ground turkey or beef with onions and garlic to use in tacos, pasta sauce or casseroles. Sauté up a whole bunch of colourful peppers to add to soups, sauces and fajitas. Make big batches of mashed potatoes, rice, quinoa and cooked pasta and portion into freezer bags.

This way, you’ll have all the makings for a lot of different quick meals on hand whenever you need them.

(See?  She isn’t just a pretty face, she just made sure you don’t starve to death!)


FIVE)  If you could share a meal with anyone, living, dead, fictional or real, who would you pick?

For me, there would be nothing finer than sitting down to a meal with Julia Child. When I started filming my own cooking show, Paula Roy’s Favourite Foods, last year, a friend remarked that I was on my way to becoming the next Julia Child. I don’t know about that, but I adored Julia’s show and have read so much about her, so I think that dinner with her would be very thought-provoking and entertaining. Plus, she’d probably bring excellent wine.

img9-c901399c26a430139f4ab09883263842“Read The Hook’s blog daily or perish before the might of my undead chicken army!”


(Paula’s either going to love or hate me after reading that last caption, but it was totally worth it.)

And that’s all I have for you today. I don’t know about you, but I’m starving! My eternal gratitude to Paula Roy for being here today and of course, to all of you. Now I’m off to mess up one of Paula’s delicious recipes.

See you in the lobby, kids…

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An Open Letter To Sally Catto And The CBC: “Life Advice From A Loser: Winning Isn’t Everything” Pitch.

For those of you who are really lost right now:  Sally Catto is the General Manager of Programming for Canada’s national television network, CBC.  All good?  Then we’ll begin.


Hey, Sally!

My name is Robert “The Hook” Hookey. You may know me from the failed pitches, Nerd City, The Murdoch After Show, and of course, The Bellman Chronicles. Not one to give up easily, or until I’ve at least achieved total and utter humiliation (just ask the wife) I’ve decided to try a different tactic: A public pitch.

Yes, I’ve decided to fail with the full spotlight of the world on me. (Well, to be accurate, it’s actually three thousand or so followers, but who’s counting?) So this is a pitch for a show based on my whole life, from my childhood, through my teenage years to my workplace role as a Niagara Falls bellman, not one moment of which has ever resembled what people refer to as “ordinary”.

What follows is a single episode of my existence, as told by yours truly to the audience though a fictional book my character is writing. I realize this flies in the face of the usual CBC pitch process, Sally, but at this point I have nothing to lose anyway. Besides, it took CBC eight months to reject my last pitch, so you can see why I’d favor the direct approach, right?

And so here we go, Sally and loyal readers, enjoy my latest offering: Life Advice From A Loser: Winning Isn’t Everything.


You may be wondering, among other things:

  • “Is a guy named after a pirate qualified to write a guidebook on how to fail?”
  • “Why would anyone want with a guidebook dedicated to not succeeding? Is there actually a market for that sort of thing?
  • Isn’t screwing up pretty damn easy anyway?””

Well, in the interest of full disclosure allow me to clear a few things up. First off, my parents actually named me Robert, but since my last name is Hookey, my coworkers at the hotel where I serve the traveling public as a bellman began calling me The Hook. And yes, I’ve heard all the usual jokes about my spotty elementary school attendance record and my curved penis, thank you very much, but feel free to cut loose if you feel so inclined, I’ll wait.

All done? Good. Then we’ll continue.

So we’ve established that I’m not actually a seafaring rogue but you still don’t know why I’m the right guy to write a tome dedicated to improving the human condition, do you? Let’s start off with a little tale I like to call:

“Fifty Shades of Hook.”

Where do I come up with this stuff? It’s a dark gift. Anywhoo, this little vignette takes place in a period of human history known as the Eighties. Back then, high school kids would gather at the home of whichever set of vacationing parental units were foolish enough to leave their progeny home unattended. Such events were tame affairs compared to the current model; there were no orgies, no mass suicides, no kitchen tables stacked to the ceiling with mountains of prescription pills and most of all, no one was pouring alcohol into their eye sockets in order to get drunk immediately. (Yes, kids actually do that today. According to Dr. Phil.)

High school parties in the Eighties sound boring as hell, don’t they? Especially when you factor in the location of this particular shindig: Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. The Canuck version of Niagara doesn’t quite have the Jersey flavor of its Yankee counterpart, but it takes the same sort of beating when it comes to public perception. But that’s enough of the travel talk; let’s return to the seemingly-boring high school party in question, shall we?

This particular party, however, was anything but uneventful. Craig Hoover (I could tell you I’ve changed the names in order to protect the guilty but the truth is, I don’t want to get the crap kicked out of me) decided to add some extra zest to the chips ‘n dip and extremely cheap booze (to this day I’m amazed they didn’t all go blind) he had laid out by raiding his old man’s porn stash. I don’t know what Craig was thinking; maybe he thought watching porn while surrounded by a group of their classmates in Craig’s parents tacky basement rec room (decorated in early “What the fuck?”) would make the girls instantly transform into high school sluts? The only thing I know for certain is that Craig should never have popped that unlabelled VHS tape (get thee to Google, kids) into the machine without screening it first.

Now, to be fair, adult films in the Eighties weren’t exactly the polished, well-written features they are today… but this flick was ridiculous. There were no credits, no soundtrack and no flimsy introduction. There was simply a “title card” scribbled in magic marker on the back of what was obviously a pizza box – and then the action began. “Naughty Heidi Meets Doctor Feelgood” was the title and the action – which had to have been recorded with a home camcorder – began with an all-too-close-up shot of Heidi’s nether regions as her MD “took her temperature “. With his “internal thermometer”.

The only sound was Heidi’s ridiculously-high-pitched moaning merged with Dr. Feelgood’s ragged breathing. That went on for a few excruciating minutes and then the camera pulled back to reveal the actors in all their glory. By this time the guys were giggling like drunken, horny hyenas and the girls were incredibly uncomfortable. No one spoke which meant everyone could clearly hear me as I began to embarrass myself for the first time that night.

“Wait a minute… this is obviously a homemade tape… who pulled the camera back?”

Of course, that was of little interest to my compatriots – especially when I decided to ignore the fifty sets of eyes that were focused on me by noticing yet another glaring detail of this particular skin flick.

“Hey, Craig? Isn’t that your mom?”

All eyes turned back to the Sears brand wooden console television. The camera had pulled back enough to reveal Heidi in what remained of her “costume” and Doctor Feelgood in his stethoscope – and nothing else.

“And that’s your dad!”

Craig’s girlfriend, Valerie, had made that particular deduction, which I’m sure was a high point in their brief but certainly-memorable courtship. The next few minutes were a bit of blur but not because I had been drinking. Rather, young Mister Hoover moved at a pace that would’ve made Barry Allen proud.

(Yes, I’m a nerd. You’re shocked, aren’t you?)

giphyWhat do you think so far, Sally?

  • The assembled teenage horde all moved in for a closer look at the screen- especially the females.
  • Craig pushed his way past the crowd, among howls of, “Craig, you’re mom’s a porn star!” and “Hey, where’s your mom now, Hoover? Get her over here so we can ‘examine’ her!”
  • His parent’s VCR sputtered and clanked as Craig ripped the tape out as fast as he could.
  • A carving of an Eskimo hunter harpooning a whale became an instrument of destruction as Craig smashed “Naughty Heidi Meets Doctor Feelgood” to bits as we all watched in a mixture of titillation and empathy. To be honest, since we were all so young, it was mostly titillation.
  • Waves of humiliation sent Craig off to his room, Valerie in tow.

There were two accounts of what happened next. Craig claimed to have “porked Val’s brains out for at least thirty minutes.” While Valerie claimed that Craig used his public shaming as an excuse to slowly position himself on top of her as she comforted him. Unfortunately for Craig, the attempted humping ended with a whimper rather than an bang. According to Valerie, her boyfriend dry-humped her for two minutes before moaning in a fashion similar to Doctor Feelgood and Heidi. He then spent the next twenty minutes apologizing and telling her, “I couldn’t hold back because I love you so much, baby. Our burning love overwhelms me sometimes.”

At this point you’re probably thinking that Craig Hoover is the loser in this tale rather than yours truly.

But you would be wrong.

Not that Master Hoover didn’t earn his failure wings (he dry-humped himself into the Loser Hall of Fame that night) but I gave him a run for his money, courtesy of a young lady name Lisa Tibado. She had short brown hair (picture a Beatles cut with way more body), ocean blue eyes, sexy chipmunk cheeks, a thin frame of girl flesh on an average sized skeleton and a backside worth dying for. (Yes, I do paint with words, thank you very much.)

I had lusted after Lisa for a year but never had the courage to approach her and start a conversation, much less ask her out. As a wise man once sang, “I was a high school loser, never made it with a lady.” I was a thin, tall, awkward teen with no real hairstyle or style. Yep, I was an ultra-cool chick magnet.

Lucky for me, her discomfort at watching porn while amongst her classmates made Lisa guzzle Craig’s cheap booze like it was cherry Kool-Aid. This, of course, led to a lapse in judgement that in turn led to a trip to the garage with a sweaty, bespectacled beanpole who worshiped the ground she walked on.

Yes, Craig Hoover’s parents homemade sex tape and cheap alcohol helped me hit the jackpot that night. Sort of. As far as the venue was concerned, all the rooms were spoken for and you know what they say about beggars and choice. But it wasn’t so bad; a pillow and comforter stolen acquired from Craig’s sister’s room made the floor more comfortable and the moonlight streaming in via the filthy windows filtered nicely through the cobwebs. A flickering porch light even provided a rave feel long before raves were a thing.

After a make-out session that left my lips and nostrils burning from a contact high (told you the booze was cheap) Lisa decided to let me take things to the next level. It was a good thing too; I was far too shy to take the lead. If it was up to me, we both would’ve eventually passed out after being exposed to Lisa’s breath in such a poorly-ventilated space.

And so we engaged in a bout of dry-humping that I am proud to say lasted far longer than Craig and Valerie’s. However when it came time to remove Miss Tibado’s over-the-shoulder-boulder-holder I was so out of my depth I wanted to scream. And cry. If only Google was a thing back then…

(In the interest of historical accuracy, they were more like pebbles. But who cares? They were breasts!)

At any rate, I was afraid to ask Lisa for help, lest she come to her senses. So after a few excruciating minutes of fumbling with snaps designed by a master jailer, I decided to MacGyver the damn bra. Fortunately for me, we were laying on the floor of a garage right in front of a giant tool box.

Can you see where this is going?

Between my own way-out-of-control teenage hormones, Lisa’s incessant – and awesome – moaning, the lack of fresh air in the Hoover garage and my desire to finally see a pair of actual boobs, I lost all sense of reason. My sweaty teenage fingers fumbled around in the metallic drawers as Lisa hands fumbled all over my backside. (Cheap alcohol may make a teenage cutie extremely horny but it sure doesn’t improve her sexual performance, folks.) Her diminished performance gave me the time I needed to locate the right tool for this specific job. A couple of snips later, that pesky undergarment was out of the way and the evening’s revelries could really begin. Or at least, I thought they were about to begin…

As it turns out, my companion was sober enough to hear a pair of wire cutters as they sliced through her bra. And as it also turns out, the bra in question was a ridiculously-expensive birthday gift from her grandmother. And finally, it turns out that young Lisa Tibado was less than impressed when she grabbed her intimate apparel back from me and examined it carefully. 

In later years I would grow to rather enjoy it when a woman cursed during sex but at this moment the words spewing forth from Lisa’s mouth were anything but titillating. To be fair, though, I was far too busy staring at my first pair of breasts that weren’t in a magazine to pay close attention to Miss Tibado’s rantings. One minute I was mesmerized by the bounty of her teenage bosom and the next thing I know, all three of them are walking out the door. One minute I was a few snips away from garage-groping bliss and who knows what else – I certainly didn’t – and the next thing I know, I was all alone in a garage with my… pride in my hands.

The lesson I l earned that night was a simple one. Actually, I didn’t learn anything that night; I snuck out of the party as fast as possible, went home and, well… let’s just say I pulled a magazine out from the bottom of a comic box (the last place my Mom would look) and finished what Lisa started and leave it at that, shall we? Trust me, if I hadn’t, I most likely would have died from internal distress.

Looking back though, I realize that the lesson was one I never would have been able to fathom anyway. What teenage boy is going to walk away (albeit doubled-over) from an interrupted dry-humping session with the girl of his dreams with a life lesson? As a man (in theory only) I now see that Fate was trying to tell me something and now I’m going to share it with you in the form of our first-ever lesson, which from this moment forth, shall be referred to as a Takeaway.

TAKEAWAY #1:  Women don’t like it when you use wire cutters to remove their bra. Don’t do it. Unless, of course, you have the funds to replace the undergarment readily available or you have a substitute handy. In that case, you’ll most likely still feel the young lady’s wrath, but at least you’ll have made an effort.

And so it begins…


There’s much more where this came from, friends. My life has been a series of “I-can’t-believe-this-guy-actually-went-through-all-this-without-becoming-a-permanent-resident-of-a-provincially-funded-institution!” fails, but that’s actually good news for you. Now you can learn from my many, many, many, many mistakes without having to experience the actual horror that accompanied them. In the end you’ll be a more beautiful human being and your soul will be resplendent with sparkly joy. So join me as we travel though my life and search for wisdom among the wreckage of my memories.

And that’s it, Sally! (And everyone else.) My content may be bold, to say the least, but in the age of CBC content like Workin’ Moms and Schitt’s Creek, this pitch is par for the exceptionally-hilarious course.

giphyAdmit it, I’ve won you over right, Sally?

I shall leave you with one final thought: Every single CBC viewer was a teenager once (or is, or will be) and everyone has been on vacation at least once. My life as a loser, while seemingly-unbelievable on the surface, is one all Canadians can collectively laugh at.

See you in the lobby and on the CBC, Sally….

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A Workplace Conversation With The Hook.

To clarify, this is not a “The Hook Vs. An Unsuspecting Traveler” post.

However, even though it may not be as long as you like, I hope you’ll find this satisfying nonetheless. And yes, for your information, I have spoken those words many, many times at home. (You know you were thinking it.)

ME:  (While preparing a lovely workplace breakfast of toast and a large carton of delicious Canadian chocolate milk in the hotel cafeteria, a sprawling space filled with tables and chairs from Tim Hortons. Seriously, that’s where we snagged ’em.)  What’s up, Phil?

PHIL:  (In case you weren’t certain. By the way, Phil is a young, Italian, self-proclaimed “stud”.)  Hey, Hook, have you seen the new housekeeper?

8642bc142b5fd8344e026384c24b2085Just picture this guy – in pretty much every way.

ME:  You’ll have to be more specific. We literally have hundreds of housekeepers… and we go through them like tissues.

(Cleaning up after travelers is not exactly the sort of profession one can adopt lightly. It takes a special breed of human being to change sheets soaked in bodily fluid every day for years without throwing in the towel. Literally.)

PHIL:  (With great enthusiasm expressed in a booming tone.) You know the one! On twenty-three! She’s got long, jet black hair, a tight butt, a wide smile and HUGE – 

ME:  Jugs of cleaning fluid?

1hc4hcfA representation of the object of Phil’s lust affection…

(In these situations, when the staff cafeteria is filled with dozens of female housekeepers, it is important to defuse any possible gender battles that may erupt. Nothing ruins my breakfast faster than having to pull five housekeepers off Phil before they remove his genitals with toilet brushes.)

PHIL:  What? (Pondering.) Oh yeah!

ME:  I’ve seen her. So what?

I knew what. I was just being polite.

PHIL:  Think I have a shot at railing her?

Yes, you guessed correctly; Phil is a romantic at heart. Who loves trains, apparently.

ME:  Do you want the truth or would you like to live in blissful ignorance for a few weeks?

PHIL:  What?

ME:  Ignorance it is.

PHIL:  No, give it to me straight, Hook!

Interesting choice of words.

ME:  Well, the two of you do have at least one thing in common…

PHIL:  We’re both awesome!

ME:  No, that’s definitely not it…

PHIL:  You’re killin’ me, Hook!  Wait, I know! We both love to par-tay!

ME:  Perhaps, but that’s not it.

PHIL:  (Starting to truly hit a mental wall. And certainly not for the first time.)  We’re both horny as hell?

ME:  Again, that may be likely, but it’s not what I’m referring to.

PHIL:  Then what the hell do we have in common?

ME:  You both love vagina.

Phil’s reaction can be summed up thusly…


PHIL:  You’re not serious, Hook?

ME:  I take lesbianism very seriously, Phil.

PHIL:  (After a ridiculously-long pause.)  We could probably make it work…

Told you he was a romantic at heart.

See you in the lobby, kids…

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