There was this comedian years ago, a regular on “The Tonight Show” (his name escapes me, not that that’s crucial here), whose cornball but highly entertaining schtick was that he worried himself sick about matters no one else seemed to consider all that important.
I specifically recall watching his routine one night when he mournfully described how he had lost sleep thinking about the implications of a possible marriage of a well-known actress at the time named Tuesday Weld and a television personality who went by the handle of Hal March II.
As he put it: “I’m deeply concerned that if Tuesday Weld ever met up with, fell in love with, and married Hal March II, would that mean she would spend the rest of her life being called Tuesday March II?”
Unfortunately, I think I’ve caught his worrywart affliction.
For instance, I’m up all night worrying about what happens if Cathy Bennett becomes the newest leader of that once potent organization called the Liberal Party of Newfoundland and Labrador, manages to make her way into the legislature through a byelection generated by a resignation from within her tiny caucus, and, then — here’s my chief concern — has to participate in Question Period in the House of Assembly when the subject is Muskrat Falls.
My nerves are rubbed raw as I lie in bed at 3 a.m. and think of the consequences. Just say there’s a tough question from one of the Opposition Liberal MHAs to the premier about the murkiness of Muskrat, while Bennett, an unabashed supporter of the project, sits sheepishly nearby.
I can hear it now: “Mr. Speaker, many people in the province are in a tizzy because they believe we may have sold our financial souls down the drain, that the ghost of the little guy with the bow tie and his Upper Churchill contract hover over living rooms and kitchens in homes throughout this smiling land. Can the premier, Mr. Speaker, put us at ease with some comforting words before she retires?”
The premier: “Mr. Speaker, I suggest the honourable member talk to his new leader, Ms. Bennett, since she has been in our corner from the get-go, and the support of the Liberal leader has been appreciated on this side of the House, as has one of her main supporters, Dean MacDonald, and we know she will surely reassure the honourable member and people throughout this fair land that Muskrat Falls is the best thing to hit this province since a thickly sliced piece of homemade bread, smothered in butter. So, I would suggest to the member asking the question to bring it up at his next caucus meeting.”
See? That’s the kind of stuff that gives me insomnia.
And I can’t help but be concerned, as well, about our dear Premier Kathy Dunderdale and whether she is sleep-deprived these days, and whether she has nightmares about the great Muskrat. I mean to say I’m concerned that she has nightmares in which she’s bouncing down the Churchill River inside a pink, white and green barrel towards the falls, with Cabot Martin and Richard Cashin atop the barrel, riding the contraption like Slim Pickens crazily rode the atomic bomb in the movie “Dr. Strangelove.” Martin and Cashin, the two headliners from the ’70s and ’80s, screaming like crazy loons: “Stop, girl, before it’s too late. Stoppppppppppp!”
Then Dunderdale awakes in a sweat, jumps on her treadmill, and runs for an hour, with the tune “There’s no price tags on the doors of Newfoundland” on full volume.)
Or I worry that her nightmare has her finding Russell Wangersky next to her bed, reading over and over and over again his front page column calling on her to hightail it out of Confederation Building before she’s unceremoniously hove out. And that she starts to snot and bawl, shouting at Russell: “You never liked us at all, right from the start. You’re so rude. Stop picking on us. Go write a book or something.”
And I certainly worry about poor old Tom Marshall and whether people will make fun of the cabinet minister’s stirring defence of the premier in that letter to the editor the other day. I fear there are insensitive idiots, oblivious to dear Mr. Marshall’s unbiased and non-partisan nature, who’ll suggest unfairly that asking the minister what he thinks of his boss’s work is like asking Allan Hawco to do a review of “The Republic of Doyle” for The Globe and Mail, or asking me whether it makes sense to give all hunters, including yours truly, a moose licence each and every year. (I’d view it as part of my magnanimous efforts to help rid our highways of those dastardly animals brought here from the mainland way back when, and to do my part to dramatically reduce the opportunities of the anti-moose zealots, some of whom have fallen in love with the sound of their own voices, from ever getting on an open-line show again).
Oh my, oh my.
I worry about Kevin O’Brien chairing a symposium on bullying or a conference on integrity in politics.
It just doesn’t stop.
Or that Pamela Wallin and Mike Duffy will take their heads out of the Senate trough and return to journalism. Reporters are already low enough on the totem pole of popularity without having the two disgraced senators, two losers, back in newsrooms.
Oh God, I’ll never sleep again.
And that comedian of several decades ago thought he had worries; Tuesday Weld marrying Hal March II and becoming Tuesday March II was pretty mild stuff compared to what goes on inside my worrywart skull.
I’ll never sleep again.
Bob Wakeham has spent more than 40 years as a journalist in Newfoundland and Labrador. He can be reached by email at email@example.com.