How’s she goin’? I hope you’re not offended by the presumptuous familiarity of that salutation, but down this quaint way, we tend to call all politicians by their first name, whether we like or loathe them: Danny, Joey, Clyde, Frank, Yvonne, your own St. John’s East Jack.
With that shallow stab at politeness out of the way, I’d like to formally apply, Jack, to be an NDP candidate in Newfoundland in the next federal election.
My credentials are as good as any, and (suck alert) I hope you and your dedicated, shockingly successful workers in the office of the Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition will take time from your various post election functions — putting name tags on the various MPs, giving crash courses in French — to consider my humble application.
Presently, I’m employed as the assistant to the assistant manager of a bar on the campus of Memorial University where my responsibilities are varied. I pick up abandoned marijuana roaches from ashtrays, referee fights when some mainlander uses the word “Newfie,” and pour endless bottles of golden frothy brew right to the rim of the glass, without spilling so much as a drop.
Best of all — and you could relate to this, Jack, having played the peacemaker role, I’m sure, in your caucus, often between the idealists and the pragmatists — I mediate endless debates about issues near and dear to the hearts of all half-lit imbibers.
Why, just the other night I thought she was goin’ up when a couple of feminists were arguing with a few rednecks about that public service ad that’s appeared on the CBC supper hour news program, “Here and Now” — 18,233 times, according to one estimate — that encourages men to teach their sons to respect women. One of the more enlightened participants, after 18 Dominion Ale, said he didn’t know if his kid was any more respectful towards women as a result of the ad, but, by God, he could now tie his shoelaces with his eyes closed.
I also take classes at the university. Actually, I just crash a few political science courses. And the profs don’t seem to even notice me in the back of the room as they drone on about what’s important to them, the various myths, for instance, they say have enveloped Newfoundland culture over the years, especially the one that says we were screwed by Canada in 1949, that we weren’t as impoverished as the pro-Confederation forces maintained we were.
(I think I saw a bespectacled, pint-sized ghost, wearing a huge bow tie, floating over the podium and cheering loudly as an ivory tower professor made that point: “It was the greatest gift to Newfoundlanders other than life itself,” he shouted. “And I was responsible. Me!” Now, I had smoked one of those aforementioned roaches a few minutes before class began, so that may have contributed to the apparition).
I’m also a single father of three (by separate mothers, I must admit, and I don’t even play in the NBA). For the record, I met the threesome through those enthralling and moving E Harmony television spots.
And continuing with my stream-of-consciousness platform, I have to tell you, Jack, that I ate enough seal flippers last week to keep me satisfied until next spring, and that I can’t stand PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
Declaration time: I saw a piece on a high-brow entertainment show recently that featured George Clooney’s girlfriend, an international model, sans clothes, making a pitch for PETA. She explained she had stripped for the sake of animals throughout the world (not sure whether George fell into that category); in any case, it caused me, momentarily, to waver slightly on my anti-PETA stance. As you can tell, I’d make a grand politician, fickle with flexible scruples and the ethics of an alley cat.
Once the campaign starts, I don’t plan on jetting off to Las Vegas like you-know-who (the missus who’s going to have you reaching for a drink every time she opens her mouth over the next four or five years). Having said that, I don’t want to miss a Saturday night bingo game down at the Pleasantville Legion Hall for the sake of a few foolish voters, and I have an obligatory poker game Thursday nights at the volunteer fire hall down the road. And, of course, I presume my stress-relieving per diem covers those gambling cards under the glass at the Irving gas station.
Now, just in case you think I take myself much too seriously, I confess to an occasional bout of immaturity (I still try and spell my initials in the snow when peeing during rabbit hunting trips in the winter). And I have what I like to think is a good sense of humour (speaking of which, you should have heard John Furlong, the host of the St. John’s “Morning Show,” on Mother’s Day, Jack, sharing with his on-air colleagues, and his audience, the most worthwhile advice he’d ever gotten from his Mom: “Don’t polish the stairs, kids, your dad’s been drinkin’.” Best moment on public broadcasting all week.)
Look, Jack, forget all that stuff above: the bottom line is I’m desperate. I make minimum wage, and the $l50,000-a-year Canadians are willing to pay their MPs wouldn’t go astray.
Listen, who’s to say I can’t win? Wassername came out on top without so much as uttering a bonjour in her riding. And we are talking, after all, about a country whose citizenry feels Don Cherry, the “Hockey Night in Canada” clown in those suits only a pimp could love, is one of the greatest Canadians in history.
However, if you feel I’m out of your league, there are also several beagles in the neighbourhood who’d like a shot at an NDP nomination.
Bob Wakeham has spent more than 30 years as a journalist in Newfoundland and Labrador. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.