Talkin’ ‘Bout Their Generation.

“The big VD, Em.”

“Oh my. What?”

“Victoria Day. May Two-Fer.”

“Ahh, right.”

“Canada’s unofficial summer kick-off. Except in Quebec. All celebratory fireworks, I trust?”

“I had a lovely 2 day weekend, M. And you?”

“Pretty much as you’d expect with a toddler and wee infant in the house. Like every other weekend except longer, thanks for asking. Just two days for you, though. What happened on the third?”

“God created dry land and plants which is odd when you think about it. Before the sun, moon and stars? How did He expect the plants to survive?”

“Mysterious ways, Em. Mysterious ways. And that concludes A Biblical Moment with Em and M. Now back to our regular scheduled program, Em’s Lost Long Weekend Day.”

“What? I went up to my parents’ place. Arrived late-Saturday morning. Grey and rainy for most of the day. Whatever. Kept us inside, away from the bugs.”

“Black flies? May 24th tradition.”

“Not too bad. Not too bad, really.”

“Really? I hate those little fuckers.”

“There’ve been worse years.”

“Back in ought-six.”

“Back in ought-six, yeah. Anyway, Sunday was nice. Sunny, warmish. Not overly buggy.”

“Same here. I heard. We were mostly stuck inside. Toddler had the croup.”

“Ahh. Poor thing.”

“What are ya gonna do? Little viral sponges. She’s fine now.”

“Glad to hear it.”


“Anyways, yeah. Sunday nice, pleasant. Monday, shaping up to be pretty much the same. We’re having breakfast and I’m deciding if I’m going to stay through until Tuesday morning—”

“Another full day of drinking.”

“My parents aren’t exactly boozers. Mostly, the weather was nice and I’d hopefully avoid the traffic crunch coming back into the city on Tuesday.”

“You thought that, did you. When’s the last time—”

“Doesn’t matter because I wound up heading home pretty much right after breakfast on Monday, right after our little contretemps over Stuart McLean.”

“Shhtuaaart McLeaaaan.”

“That… supposed to be some sort of impersonation?”

“Pretty good, eh?”

“If you were going for Garrison Keillor imitating Stuart McLean.”

“I’ll take it. OK. So who the hell has a contretemps over Stuart McLean?”

“We’re having breakfast. The CBC playing in the background and, of course, they have to dig into the archive and play—”

“Dave Cooks the Turkey! A holiday classic.”

“Wrong holiday, M.”

“Yeah but, still a clas—”

“I guess this one’s more Labour Day since it started on a Saturday in September—”

“Odd Jobs!”

“Are you kidding me with that?”

“Well, that one’s a classic too, Em.”

“Which, I guess, was my point, in a roundabout way. How many times do we have to hear it? Have to hear it and still find it funny. Especially if you never found it very funny in the first place. Never found St. Stuart particularly funny.”

“Oh boy. You didn’t say that out loud, did you, Em? In front of your parents!”

“My mom was fine. She’s got other things going on.”

“Yeah. She doing alright?”

“She’s fine. You know. Thanks for asking. She was letting the whole thing just wash over her, largely unnoticed, I think. Which is what I thought I was doing too! Trying to ignore it. Background noise. Tight smile on my gob. It’s only like 15, 20 minutes, right? I can do this. But dad’s at the table, laughing uproariously, like it’s the funniest thing he’s ever heard.”

“Like he hasn’t heard it dozens of times before.”

“Like he hasn’t heard it dozens of times before. Yeah. And at one point, I don’t know, the circular saw bit or—”

“Reciprocal saw.”


“I know but it’s kind of funn—”

“No. No, it isn’t. Tired tropes of men and their tools—”

“HeeHee. You said ‘tools’. HeeHee.”

“And long-suffering woman dealing with arrested adol—”

“Long suffering! Morley got a whole new kitchen renovation out of Dave’s shenanigans!”

“Without putting an outlet closer to the table for the toaster which was the reason—”

“That makes it even funnier!”

“No! It’s nothing but a ridiculously obvious punchline at the expense of logic and—”

“Man. You’re exacting, Em. No wonder your dad—”

“No wonder my dad, what?”

“I don’t know. Sounds like he thought you were being something of a killjoy. A holiday weekend killjoy…”

“You’re just trying not to laugh!” dad accuses me. “This is funny stuff, Emily Jean. A classi—”

“Emily Jean is it?”

“You knew that.”

“Don’t think I did, no.”

“All I said in response was, ‘Funny, sure, dad. About eleven listens ago.’ That’s it. All I said. Initially.”


“Yes. Initially. Dad just wouldn’t let it go.”

“He walked right through the door you left open for him.”

“Are you blaming me for the Stuart McLean contretemps, M?”

“Blaming’s too strong a word here, Emily Jean. I’m just saying you might’ve stepped into the den and deliberately poked the bear a little. I mean, you don’t go into a man’s home and start bad-mouthing Stuart McLean and not expect at least some indignant pushback. Emily. Jean.”

“Now, that impersonation. Uncanny. Well done.”

“Besides, the Stuart McLean brand was too bland and wasabi-less mayo innocuous to provoke anything close to a contretemps. Although, you didn’t say that to your dad, though, did you? A man clearly still in the throes of McLeanamania?”

“Not in so many words, no. No, I did not.”

“But… You did say…?”

“Dad was relentless, OK? He even went and got another episode for us to listen to to prove his point.”

“Which was?”

“That Stuart McLean was funny and I was just being petulant to not admit it.”

“No. I meant, which episode was it? Dave Cooks the Turkey? The Turlington’s Dog? Dave—”

“I don’t know, M! Something about a record store and lost phone and some Czech—”

“Pull Knock! Know it well. Now, tell me something else. How did you listen to it? Your dad didn’t stream it, did he.”

“No. CD.”

“I knew it!”

“Well done, Watson. Old man uses antiquated technology.”

“I’m assuming you didn’t find it any funnier than—”

“I barely listened to it. Finished my breakfast and started packing up for home.”

“That’s it? That’s the contretemps? That’s not a contretemps, Em. Not even in polite society. If you want a contre—”

“While I was collecting my belongings, I may have told my father that he was being a typical, overbearing Boomer who thinks popular culture ended when the Beatles broke up. That Stuart McLean presented an imaginary view of Canada that only existed in the minds of those raised on Pearsonian pablum. Ah, gosh. We’re all just simple small towners at heart. We might not be perfect, but we try dern hard to be. Only in the mind of a privileged Boomer could a man own a house and raise two kids while running a 2nd-hand record store while his wife worked, where? In the theatre?! And they could just afford a kitchen reno after he started knocking holes in the wall thinking it’d be easy to move an electrical outlet!? Who lives like that? And where exactly did they live anyway? Tell me that, M. Was that supposed to be a ‘Toronto’? Or some idealized neighbourhood in some ferociously whitebread little sitcom hamlet?”

“Now, that’s what I call a contretemps! How’d dad react?”

“Name one person funnier than Stuart McLean.”

“He did not.”

“Did too.”

“And you said?”

“I’d said my peace. I said, dad, I love you but that doesn’t mean we have to like all the same things, find the same people funny, the same music good. In fact, it’d be a little weird if we did, wouldn’t it? Nothing much would ever change. And do you know what he said?”


“Would that be so bad?”

“What? Like, Would it be so bad if things didn’t change?”

“I guess.”

“He’s never got over the obsolescence of the CD, has he.”

“And Gordon Lightfoot dying. He might’ve been feeling a little nostalgic and fragile.”

“And his ungrateful daughter shows up to give the knife another little twist.”

“This period of Boomers’ passing is going to be traumatic for us all, I’m afraid.”

“Well, they were going to be forever young.”

“When I was leaving, dad gave me a grudging hug and went off to sulk somewhere. Mom walked me out to the car and just before I drove away she asked if I still liked Steely Dan though.”

“You do have an odd soft spot for them that I can’t understa—”

“That’s because you have a tin ear, M.”

“Hey! I am not your father.”

“Anyway, I told mom I’m not a monster here. I still like Steely Dan. She seemed relieved. Then she said, in all earnestness, I think, Good. Because we’re all just reeling in the years, sweetheart.”

“She did not.”

“Did so.”

“That’s adorable. Almost made the contretemps worth it. I’d give your weekend a good 2.5 days. Just one bad breakfast.”

“But they do say it’s the most important meal of the day.”


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