I am a little late in posting my newspaper column for this week – you will find some of the column is a bit personal and local–while I usually edit that kind of thing out for my blog–I thought I would give you the full flavour this week:
My favourite quote of the week and possibly of all time comes from Jonathan Goldstein’s latest column called “You Call This a Party?” Among other things, Goldstein writes for the National Post, and his words this week hit a real chord with me: “Calling something a party doesn’t make it one….One can throw a septic cleaning party, but one would have only fools for guests.”
His statement was made in answer to an invitation from a friend of his to “a painting party” where the guests would get the lucky chore of priming and painting his house. Now his friend gets some points for cleverness, but many more for being a con à la Tom Sawyer. In fact there is a term for being conned into doing something you really did not want to do but ended up doing it anyway—it is called being “Tom Sawyered.” Tom, of course brought the whole thing to another level, in that he not only got his friends to whitewash a fence for him, he got some snacks and toys in return for “letting” them have the pleasure of doing his work.
There are other less polite terms for being “Tom Sawyered”. I am sure many of us have been on the receiving end of such a con. Goldstein was too clever to get caught up by his friend’s promise of making the job into a party—he recognized it for what it truly was and declined–at first. Then he thought about—and in an effort to score friendship points and a 4:30 a.m. ride to the airport he finally acquiesced. But, not to be totally “Tom Sawyered”, he demanded that there be expensive imported beer at the ready. And, oh yeah, he did not ask for the ride until after he had made his “friendship points”.
I suppose we all do it—gather friendship points—some to be bartered with, but many times forgotten—because dealing in friendship points is not a game one can win. In fact, I have trouble keeping up with my friends and family and all the favours they do for me. If they all tried to collect at once I would be in big trouble. Candy coating a job and turning it into a party can make the task more palatable—just ask Tom—but most of us would rather be asked honestly for help.
Happy Birthday Jim
Hey, this is my column and if I want to display outrageous and extravagant nepotism I will. Having said that, I am throwing a little party in this column for my brother Jim for his 70th birthday. His family is throwing him a real party and to that I will bring some food and drink and a gift—but this party is for any of you who know him—to call him (you could email or Facebook him but he has neither) or tell him when you see him around town—a big Happy Birthday. Do this in an exuberant fashion—shouting across the street if you have to. But keep this in mind: in my family, we only admit to being 39, so really this is the 31st anniversary of Jim’s 39th birthday. (I think this works out—my math is a little weak)
Jim is my eldest brother and having reached this milestone my family from far and wide, near and narrow are coming together to taunt him a bit, but mostly to celebrate him. As the big brother of our family (father, grandfather, and uncle too) he deserves both our reverence and ribbing, which I am sure will be plentiful when we come together on Saturday to eat, drink and be merry.
Friend (in keeping with my nepotism theme here) and local author, Brian Sweet, along with local artist, Harold Burton have produced a new children’s book called “Freddy Farmer”. The story is endearing and the paintings come to life on the page creating a book that kids will love to read, or have read to them.
The illustrations are vibrant and the story is one that shows if we all “pull” or “push” together we can get a lot done. My favourite character is the pig Sloppy though, who at the end of the book, after the labours of the day have been carried out, goes back to “play in the mud”.