Monthly Archives: October 2014

Don’t ‘Shut The Front Door’

I’m going to swear a bit more than normal here. Maybe my mom and her friends shouldn’t read this one. I’ve had a couple of sappy blogs in a row now, and if you’ve followed my patterns, you know it is to be followed with something completely ignorant. I wouldn’t be me otherwise.

The topic of course is swearing. There are people who glorify swearing. I don’t think that’s me, although it’s not too far off the mark. There are people who don’t condone swearing. That’s me a very small percentage of the time. You can’t swear elegantly if you can’t pick your spots. I will say this though. I don’t condone substitute swearing. What’s that you ask? It’s when somebody says Fuzz, Frig, Fudge, when they really mean FUCK! (The exclamation mark was meant for the word, not for the whole sentence in case you’re one of those readers who reads aloud to themselves. Meant to be read in normal voice until the word Fuck, and then you take it up 2 notches). The latest and greatest of substitutions that absolutely drive me crazy is ‘Shut the Front Door!’ This (I’m assuming) is a fun, and supposedly appropriate way of saying ‘Shut the Fuck Up! (Except really only useful with the incredulous voice of disbelief, like you told me you won the lottery and I said a high-pitched, almost question like ‘Shut the Fuck Up!!!! Not useful in the Shut the Fuck Up scenario where I actually want you to Shut the Fuck Up). This is a great way to be funny on TV as far as I can tell, but if you’re not on TV, I have no patience for your ‘Shut the Front Door!’

Why do I like swearing? Isn’t it for people who can’t express themselves with a proper vocabulary? In some cases yes. I would say it adds emphasis that cannot be otherwise added. Well placed and well spaced enough, it can be the perfect addition to a passionate discussion. It’s a feel good thing too right? When you’re frustrated, who doesn’t like a good hard fuck?? (Get your head out of the gutter, I didn’t mean it like that…..but I didn’t delete it either). I just love pulling out my potty mouth to describe unsavoury situations. If done right, it makes things funnier. If done wrong, well at least I got to let out some frustration while my audience judges my choices.

Who could possibly argue that a good ‘Fuck You’ is the perfect thing to say to the victim of your road rage. ‘You’re a bad driver’ just doesn’t cut it. ‘You fucking suck!!!’ hits the nail right on the head. We’re just mammals. Fuck is just a word. Why deny yourselves? It feels fucking spectacular sometimes to just let loose.

I know there’s a time and a place, and I’m not claiming to be the foremost expert on that. My son just turned 2. As much as I badly want him to learn the English language properly, it’s only a matter of time before he picks up something terrible from the old man. I try not to swear around him, but it’s just natural self-expression, and it gets the best of me at times. I feel comfortable around him. I let my guard down sometimes.

What I really wanted to say here is not to use substitutions. It’s far more offensive to me than actual swearing. It just means that in your heart, you wanted to let something out, and you didn’t trust me as your listener. It’s a dishonest form of communication. If your soul had a ‘shut the fuck up’ in it, and all that came out was a ‘shut the front door’, then you didn’t let me in. I don’t respect it. I want the truth from you. I want you to let the crazy out, and not be self-conscious about what people think about it. Those aggressive little stress relievers will lengthen your life too. I’m sure of it.

I know a lot of people find swearing gratuitous. If you think you can offload your aggression without doing it, then you’re a better communicator than me. I would suggest that most people can’t, and the silly little substitutions are just a way of telling me that you wanted to do it, but were too worried about what people would think of you. I hope one day you can break free from your shackles and join the rest of us in saying ‘FUCK THIS SHIT, I WANNA BE FUCKING FREE!!!’ Save your uptightness for something more important.

He Didn’t Know

My father died this day 2 years ago. When he woke up in the morning that day, he didn’t know it would be his last day. When the alarm clock went off, he didn’t know it would be the last time he’d listen to CFRB talk radio. When he had his last breakfast, and his last cup of morning tea, he had no idea they would be his last. When he did his morning routine, and picked out a suit for the day, and consulted his wife on which tie to wear, he didn’t know that was the last suit he’d wear. When his wife read him my blog, and he laughed his ass off (thank goodness it was one of my better ones), he didn’t know that would be the last one he’d ever read. When he kissed his wife good-bye and told her what time he would be home for dinner, he didn’t know he wouldn’t be home for dinner, or that he wouldn’t see her again. When he drove his car to the train station and found the most ridiculous parking spot outside of a Tim Horton’s, that was nowhere near the station parking lot, he didn’t know that less than 12 hours later a priest would be driving me around for over an hour trying to find that car (unsuccessfully).

As his excitement mounted for the birth of my son, his first grandchild, due to arrive the following day, he didn’t know he would never get to meet him in person. He really didn’t know that a year later, his daughter would provide a second grandchild. When he saw us for the last time for a family dinner a few days prior, he didn’t know it would be the last one. When he went golfing for the last time, he didn’t know that it would be. The last ballgame he watched, the last restaurant he ate at, the last time he went to church, the last time he drove up to his hometown. He did all of those things, and entered all of those places with the same smile and enthusiasm that he’d always had. He didn’t know.


Here are a few other things he didn’t know. He never knew loneliness or abandonment. He was well-loved, and a very popular guy. He never experienced the kind of disease and illness that take many lives in such a slow, painful and unforgiving way. He died fairly quickly, without a lot of advance notice. In a lot of ways it was a blessing. He died handsome in a suit, and a lot of people aren’t fortunate enough to go out like that. While trying to cope with this I’ve always reminded myself that I don’t think I would have liked to see him deteriorate. To have some extra time with him, would it have been worth it? Probably. I really wish he got to see his grandchildren, but not if it meant that he would be too sick to enjoy them. Not my call though.

What if he knew all of these things? When he was going to die approximately. When he would experience all of these ‘lasts’. Would it have been better? Would he have enjoyed those moments any more? Or would they have just been filled with incredible sadness and grief. Who knows? I just instinctively feel like somehow I was lucky to have as much time with him as I did, but without having to watch it all fall apart slowly. I kind of like that the last time I saw him didn’t feel like the last time.

Dear Ndugu

You either get the reference or you don’t. There was a movie called ‘About Schmidt’ that starred Jack Nicholson, in which he played a retired/widowed man who goes on a journey to visit his daughter, and attend her wedding. As per usual, Jack plays this character brilliantly. Without getting into the nuts and bolts of the plot and spoiling it for whoever hasn’t seen it, Schmidt has an orphan in Africa that he sends money to. He occasionally sends a letter to this orphan chronicling his life over the last few weeks, how it’s falling apart, and other 1st world problems. It always starts in that classic Jack voice saying ‘Dear Ndugu’ which gets a laugh every time. It’s mostly the editing, and how they drop it in that makes it funny, so if you don’t get it, don’t worry, you had to be there.

Is this a movie review? No. Just a lead in. Something that’s been on my mind lately is that I happen to support a child in Africa as well. (We’ll use the name Ndugu to protect the innocent.) I never talked about it much. If I were to bring it up, it would seem like I was fishing for compliments. I feel a little strange about it to be honest. The main reason I did it is because when I worked downtown, I walked past people who worked for this organization pretty much every day. It seemed like a good campaign, and I respected the people out there every day trying to get people to sign up, but at the end of the day, I just wanted a coffee, not another commitment. I walked past them for a year. I never stopped to talk. I just kept it moving and avoided eye contact. They were always smiling and upbeat. They took rejection very well. One day I succumbed to their charms. I stopped and listened. They started telling me about all the horrible shit happening in certain parts of the world. This is information that I typically avoid, because it makes me feel shitty, and there’s not much I can do to change it. This guy asked how much my coffee cost me. Then he did the whole, ‘for less than a cup of coffee a day……’ routine. I knew what it was. It was my turn to pay the tax. I don’t think I had done enough for others up to this point. I’d always wanted to, but there was always a reason (good or bad) why I didn’t. Here I was. In a fortunate enough position that I could probably afford it. What was I buying when I pulled out my Visa? I was buying a feeling. A feeling that I had done something good. It wasn’t as much about medication or clean water (although I hoped my cup of coffee a day would buy lots of that for somebody), but like a lot of people whether they like to admit it or not, I was paying money to lessen the guilt that I feel for being fortunate in life.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago. My wife comes into the room with an envelope from the organization that handles this arrangement. She asks if I’m ever going to open any of these envelopes. I usually don’t. I give the money so I don’t have to think about it. I don’t want to know about some other part of the world that needs help, or read the heartbreaking statistics of the area in South Sudan where the child I support is, or that they really encourage us to write letters to the children we support, and how much that means to them. Am I not stressed out enough by my own life?

She opens the envelope. Sigh!

Did you know? Girls in the South Sudan are twice as likely to die in pregnancy or childbirth as they are to finish primary school? 45% of people do not have clean drinking water? Many children die of preventable diseases like diarrhea!! Awful.

The envelope also contains a postcard. Another reminder that I should just be a man and write a letter. It’s not that I couldn’t, or don’t have the time, but it signifies a further emotional committment that I don’t know if I want to make. My wife reminds me that I “write a blog for god’s sake, so it’s not like you don’t know how to write!” How hard can it be? My dad used to write me postcards all the time. Everywhere he went, he’d buy a postcard and write to me. Probably just so I could see a picture of where he was at. They were short and sweet. He did this, he saw that, doing this tomorrow, see you soon, Love Dad. I could do that! What would I say though? That a kid suffering through poverty would want to hear? Should I talk about how excited I got when I found this awesome Belgian beer at the Liquor store that I’ve been searching for ages for? Should I talk about the awesome meals I’ve had recently? How living in an air-conditioned building, and driving a car are awesome? They don’t want to hear that!!!

How about how just about every moment in my life that I complain about, would potentially be one of the most amazing moments in their life?

Then like a ton of bricks, it hit me. It brought me perspective that I hope I am able to carry with me every day for the rest of my life. It’s helped me at home, at work, and everywhere in between. I realized that my life IS amazing. I remind myself of this when I start complaining about dumb things. Am I starving? Do I have clean water? Yes? Then perhaps this lineup I’m standing in isn’t so bad, right?? I’ve been preaching this to anyone that will (or has to) listen. What did you complain about today? Something inconvenienced you? Would Ndugu think it was inconvenient? No?? Then you probably shouldn’t either. Strangely, this is making me a happier person. I do feel guilty that I now constantly have to reference Ndugu to remind me how none of my problems are really all that problematic at the end of the day. Not compared to what Ndugu goes through. Every moment of my life that I’m fortunate to have is an absolute blessing.

Ndugu has provided perspective for me. I will thank Ndugu with a postcard that reads like this……..

Dear Ndugu,

Greetings from Canada! I hope this letter finds you well. I want you to know that your life, both triumphs and struggles, are an inspiration to us here. We are wishing you the best, and cheering you on in all of your pursuits. You will be in our thoughts and prayers always.
Be good 🙂

Your Canadian Family!!