A PAGE FROM WILLY BRANT’S DIARY
So the sermon at church this morning was all about equality, we are all equal in God’s eyes, and need to treat each other so. I thought about my Norwegian relative who vehemently hates Frenchmen. And about how the town kids looked upon us country kids as vastly inferior. Made me a bit uncomfortable, too, thinking about my own bit of discrimination. No, not immigrants – I saw enough in my Navy days to know that there are good-spirited people and bad-spirited people in all races and religions. And not Indians – I grew up with my Indian neighbours, went to school with them, played hockey and fastball with them, and I know they are people pretty much like me. Oh, sure, I remember back in the 60’s my dad ranting that the new Indian Act would make it hard for the ordinary Indian guy to live a productive, self-respecting useful life; that it would put pressure toward turning worker bees into drones, but they are still the same people.
No my prejudice is that I instinctively dislike and distrust people with small eyes, set close together. I am not altogether wrong, my youngest sister’s first husband turned out to be exactly the scum my instincts said he would, but I know it is not right either, we should not judge people on appearance.
Anyway the pastor buttonholed me on the way out, wanted to talk about my attendance, which is pretty bad, I only go once in a while out of respect for my late wife. So to change the subject, I mentioned the sermon and my weakness. “Well”, he said, “of course it is wrong to judge people by their appearance or any other difference, but don’t beat yourself up too much, most of us do it. And there are a lot of people who share your prejudice against small eyes, set close together; I call it ‘Piggyphobia’”.
Then he went on “My own weakness is I find it difficult to trust people whose habit is to stare too intently into my eyes when we are talking, it makes me feel he is trying to sell me a used car with bananas in the transmission, I call that weakness ‘Weaselphobia’. We are in the end all sinners, and we have to do the best we can to fight it.”
Stopped at Joe’s on the way home, and he promptly slapped two cold ones on the table. By way of making conversation, I told him about the pastor’s saying I have ‘Piggyphobia’. He thought it was hilarious; maybe he already had a couple, sitting alone on a Sunday morning, anyway he wouldn’t stop laughing until I snapped “It’s not funny!”
He looked at me sharply, then said “Willy you worry too much about stuff you can’t change. Save your worry for stuff you can do something about, like f’rinstance your antique wardrobe, or your all-over-the-road driving style, it’s sort of like sailing a sailboat on a stormy day, and the centerline is just a navigating aid.”
What! Is that an attack? OK, maybe my jacket cuffs are getting a bit frayed, and my tie is left over from the 60’s, but I hear narrow ties are coming back in. And maybe I do wander a bit on our country roads, between checking out the fields and the crops and the bush and the wildlife, and arguing with the nitwit commentator on CBC radio. But, still, I saw red, and shot back “Maybe you should worry more about your alcohol consumption, and the effort you put into avoiding dealing with women!”
Joe got that thundercloud look, and I realized I had crossed a line there, maybe even behaved like a scolded kid, so I chug-a-lugged and got out of there.
What a tough day. Now I will have to make up somehow, I would miss Joe, he is dumb on some things, but so smart on other things. Maybe I will drop over in a week or so with a peace offering, maybe one of my specialty rhubarb custard pies he likes so much, we can avoid mentioning our little spat, and life can go on. Piggyphobia, indeed.