Never test another man by your own weakness.
– Joseph Conrad, Lord Jim
My friend Ashok called me out of the blue. He was Christmas shopping and verging on panic.
It’s well known that wives test their husbands. They play with them much like a cat with a mouse. Ashok was caught in the most unwinnable of tests – the infamous, “let’s not get each other anything this year.”
“What should I do? Does she really mean it?” the poor man pleaded.
Take this statement from your partner literally and December 25th is sure to turn into the longest, frostiest day of the year. The confused husband will spend hours following his wife around the house hopelessly presenting logical arguments. These are pointless, however, for in such tests, the wife his risen to a realm above the limitations of logic.
“But you clearly said…” he foolishly contends.
Ashok is also shopping for his children. His boy, Anil, is in his first year of university and desperately wants the latest smartphone so that he can stare at it while visiting with friends and family.
His daughter (and apple of his eye), Jasmine, wants a laptop. Ashok has brought home piles of holiday flyers and leaflets highlighting in yellow and blue an assortment of PC’s – powerful laptops at discount prices. Jasmine, however, prefers the pricier Apple models.
To anyone having observed Ashok’s consistent level of authority and control over his daughter – it’s a safe bet she’s getting a MacBook.
Born in India and raised in Canada, Ashok is as affable as they come. He is governed by his strength of character and generous (albeit low-brow) sense of humour. Ashok is Hindu.
His better half, Mary, was born in Iran and raised in Canada. She is a mindful conversationalist, doting mother, and career woman all rolled into one. In her most challenging endeavour, she also keeps Ashok on the straight and narrow. Mary is Muslim.
(Did I mention that Anil and Jasmine’s favourite holiday is Christmas?)
Together since high school, Ashok and Mary represent an inspiring and loving couple. While there are places in the world where tensions exist between Hindus and Muslims, their home is a model of tolerance and harmony. (The exception being when Ashok, while watching the Leafs game, smears chicken wing sauce on Mary’s white sofa.)
Coming back to my call with our panicked Christmas shopper, I encourage Ashok to think this through and successfully talk him off the ledge.
“Don’t fall for it, buddy!” I challenge him. “I know of what I speak, Sue has put me through this trial many times and I’ve finally caught on. Baubles are better, big baubles are best,” I reassure him.
I then wish him luck and hang up – when a different thought about testing occurs to me.
Conservative leadership candidate Kellie Leitch has another kind of test in mind. She wants to screen visitors, refugees, and immigrants for anti-Canadian values. She says that thousands of Canadians have told her that we need to stand up for the values that make Canada great. Maybe Kellie is right. Maybe she’s wrong. But if she is looking for people to prepare that test, I hope she reaches out to Ashok and Mary.
Ted Markle, a media industry veteran of more than 30 years, is a keen observer of the humorous side of the human situation. He appears in this space every Monday. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. – Twitter : @tedmarkle