Pride and prejudice

Ed Smith
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I guess I should have knocked on wood. Other Half does it all the time, usually using my head as the object knocked on. She claims it wards off the jinx that invariably follows a statement such as, "The Maple Leafs haven't lost two games in a row this season," uttered at the beginning of a game by the intrepid announcers on one of the TV channels that carries the Leaf games.

Guess what? Do I have to tell you? Right, two in a row!

Or my father's oft-said phrase, "Don't worry, my son. I've never come to this spot yet and not gotten my quota in trout." Again, guess what? Another first in his life.

One should always be careful how one states either his feelings or the facts as he sees them. Either way, the statement can rise up to bite him.

So it is that in a column a couple of weeks ago, I stated rather blandly that I rarely received nasty emails. I didn't go on to say that I could count on one hand the number of such that I have received in the last 10 years. The exception is when I took exception to one of the animal rights organization's views of our seal hunt.

The reaction included physical threats and the kind of language one doesn't hear that often in church sermons. When your life is threatened in several different languages, one becomes a little more aware of the numerous idiots who are out there. I've been really proud of that column ever since.

The uncomplimentary (to put it mildly) letter I'm going to tell you about is nothing as ugly as that, I assure you. Perhaps the fact that I take umbrage and some mild offence to the letter is because I've been spoiled by you dear readers who only write when you have something nice to say.

With that in mind, let me sidetrack for a moment and thank the many of you who wrote about the story of Lily, my friend the elderly lady in the seniors home in Charlottetown, P.E.I. Your response was quite overwhelming, and I'll get around to replying to all of you in due course. Lily would have loved your comments.

Back to the present and less pleasant.

The writer of this email said, in part, that she had never in her life been so upset by anything written in the Downhomer (I suppose it would be petty of me to point out that Downhome hasn't been Downhomer in a long time - so I won't.).

She went on to say that she was "hurt and upset" that I had chosen to put down not one but two places in Nova Scotia by comparing them unfavorably with two places in Newfoundland. She carried on to suggest - hell, she didn't suggest; she out and out said it - that I was a "small-minded Newfie."

And then she hit me with the unkindest cut of all: even her husband, a Newfoundlander, thought it was "a rude thing to print." Gee whiz, when your own turns on you ...

Now, I have to tell you the truth, people. I went over that column a dozen times in my mind, trying to find where I had said something as terrible as this person seems to think I said. Couldn't find anything.. As regular readers of this page know, I think Nova Scotia is an absolutely beautiful province and is one of my favourite places on Earth.

As a student in Dalhousie University, I lived for two years in Halifax and spent many hours on those lovely rocks in Peggy's Cove. As students in Mount Allison University in Sackville, N.B., Other Half and I made friends with many students and their families in Nova Scotia and still visit them.

So, what were the two terrible things I said? Hold on to your seat belts - these are direct quotes from my offensive column.

1. "My passengers started getting interested when we began the descent from the top of the hill that leads down to (Wild Cove). That mountain must have a name, but I have no idea what it is. My sister volunteered the opinion that it was better than Kelly's Mountain there by Seal Island in Cape Breton. We all agreed."

2. "Perhaps you've been to Peggy's Cove just outside Halifax. It's renowned all over Canada for its beauty, and rightly so. But I have to tell you, and I don't mean to put anyone down, that Wild Cove is exceedingly more beautiful and appealing."

I can understand a patriotic Nova Scotian sitting up straight and declaring that wherever that stupid mountain is, or that little community, they are not better than Kelly's Mountain or Peggy's Cove, by gosh and by darn! Fair enough. These were light comments made in the lightness of the moment.

Whether they're accurate or not is totally irrelevant. Beauty here is like beauty everywhere - in the eye of the beholder. Anyone who takes the words in that column as a putdown of anywhere else has too much time on their hands.

In the second quote, the reader obviously missed the phrases "and rightly so" and "I don't mean to put anyone down." Seriously, if you're going to get really upset about something, to the point of being insulting and offensive, for God's sake choose something worth getting upset about.

And, by the way, when you slap someone with being "a small-minded Newfie," you are being grossly offensive to all half-million of us, and not just a cove or a mountain.

Normally, I simply ignore such foolishness because it is so rare. But this week, because I'm out of town for the next few days, I had to get my column done early. Since I had nothing in mind to write about, this email was a gift from heaven.

On the other hand ...

Ed Smith is an author who lives in Springdale. His email address is

Organizations: Maple Leafs, Dalhousie University, Mount Allison University

Geographic location: Nova Scotia, Halifax, Charlottetown Newfoundland Sackville Seal Island Cape Breton Canada Springdale

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