Once in a while, life bowls a googly, creating havoc where minutes before there was none. One can shout at the sky in a fury or simply shrug and lope along. I have learned to do the latter, though I miss the relief of bellowed righteousness if it were not so harmful to my nervous system.
All that I have described was brought about by a club member, one Clement (Tight) Purse, a man who has never been known to pick up a bill at the club or anywhere else. My problem is even though we could hardly be called friends, the vagaries of civilized society force one’s hand.
In this case it was Clem’s wife, who is on a committee (“Should the club allow cats?”) with my wife, who insisted we have dinner together at the Black Olive restaurant.
I said “I am not going” and that was that, for I had been down this road before. I have witnessed several instances of the man in question searching his suit frantically when the bill was presented, as if there were small marsupials running about under his clothing. After finding no wallet, he would shrug limply and offer to pick up the tab next time. I was not having it. My wife asked me once more with that look in her eyes, but I was firm. Kitty took my baby finger and bent it backwards until I said, “Yes, dear.” However, I was not happy about it.
When I was a boy, a dreadful chap called “Ramsey minor” redefined cheap. In fact he was as “close as wallpaper” when it came to parting with any coins. He would lurk about the Tuck Shop ready to pounce on unwary fellow students, which he did with a shrewdness and alacrity known only to bankers.
Once a week, I shot down to said shop in the basement of School House with my tiny allowance to purchase the god of candy bars, the Turkish Delight. This was a concoction that brought celestial choirs to their feet in appreciative harmony. I am not sure it is made any more, as I have not seen it for years. If that is the case, then it would explain the sad state of affairs in the world today.
That little gumboil Ramsey minor slithered up to me, saying he had not noticed before what a firm jaw line I had. Now in spite of the fact that I had my guard up against this well-known brigand, my emerging ego was stroked nicely, for I felt my chin was pointy and unattractive.
A wave of bonhomie broke over my normally unsure psyche. He then delivered his coup de grace. He said my shirt was untucked and he would gladly hold my Turkish Delight while I attended to my apparel.
Can you believe it if I tell you that when I looked up from my adjustment, he was gone? I quiver even now at the memory.
I take comfort from the thought that he must be behind bars in a far-off country for absconding with some low-level tyrant’s last licorice allsorts, and deservedly so.
Whenever I am asked, I point out it is so much easier to be generous, not to mention good for your well-being. There are things that are fundamentally healthy for the soul and generosity must, I am sure, lead the pack. Give and one feels better; just look at those happy people from the tried-and-true “Sally Anne.”
However, I do not advise handing toonies to the famous four mendicants around Douglas and Fort streets who, no matter how much one gives today, will be there tomorrow.
No, my theory is to quietly do something for a neighbour or relative who is on his uppers through bad luck or insurmountable circumstances. There are people nearby who need a break, if we will but see. Be generous and don’t forget your wallet.
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