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Boring old fart cheap at half the vice

Bob Morrissey

God, I’m boring! Well-meaning friends would tell me that all the time, and I’d think they were saying it just to be kind.

I mean, they could have said much worse. For instance, I’m cheap. You know the expression “he has the first penny he ever made?” Well, I have the first penny, period.

When I lose an argument, I often get violent and pull out a weapon. I enjoy back-stabbing people and telling secrets out of school. I’ve always considered hypocrisy a virtue.

I’ve never sent a gift to anyone. Not even a thank-you note. I won’t shake hands with anyone or praise anyone for a job well done. When people ask me to drive them somewhere, I always tell them: “Only if you pay for the gas and then take me to Tim Hortons.”

I even faked being sick for my best friend’s Bar mitzvah, wedding and funeral. He only complained twice.

My kids didn’t dare hand me their report cards because they knew I wanted them out working. My favourite expression is: “Do it yourself.”

I can proudly say I’ve missed all of my kids’ birthdays. I refused to rush my wife to the hospital when she was in labour. I didn’t even know she was pregnant.

And those poppies we buy to honour our brave fallen soldiers? I’ve used the same one for 20 years; ever since it was passed down to me from my father. That’s what I call a deal.

Speaking of deals, I’ve never paid full price for anything. Say I’m buying a T-shirt. I immediately call the salesperson over and shout, “How can this be $7? It doesn’t even have a collar. I’ll give you $5; that’s it.”

When I’m buying a pair is shoes, I’ll ask the salesman: “How much are these without laces?” Or I’ll hold the shoe up and say, “I want these without a heel — and I want canvas, not leather.”

No wonder salesmen cringe when they see me coming. Even car salesmen who need only one more sale to reach their quotas and keep their jobs. Even salesmen who are sending money overseas to feed their families; families devastated by tsunamis, earthquakes, hurricanes, and lousy soccer teams.

But it’s when I’m buying a house that I really shine — and it’s not even intentional. It’s just me being me.

I remember a couple of years ago I was looking to move — and it had nothing to do with the petition signed by family and neighbours. I was just tired of scraping egg off my front door and windows.

Anyhow, the real estate agent thinks she’s found something I might like — even if it doesn’t have a moat. So she dials me up. She phoned yesterday when I was out loitering, and seems to have forgotten the disgusting message I have on my phone.

Just to be sure, if she says she wants to see me, I tell her to come alone. No cops.

Oh, I admit I haven’t made her job easy. Is it my fault I insist on living near a Chinese-Polish restaurant, one that serves duck, porridge and Campbell’s chicken noodle soup? It can’t be takeout. I want it on a dead-end street, bordering a mall, a highway, another suburb and a massage parlour.

Gotta admit, I’m lucky. She says she’s found just the thing. It’s taken her four days, but so what! I wasn’t in a hurry. There was nothing threatening in that petition. That smudge mark was only ketchup, nothing more sinister.

“You’ll love it,” she says. I’m tempted to yell “pish!” but that would make it twice in one week. So, I just say “tell me about it.”

This woman sounds so upbeat that it’s making me uncomfortable. Next, she’ll be fishing for compliments. Time to dampen her enthusiasm. I know, I’ll fake illness; that’s always a downer.

“Um, did I tell you I have pneumonia,” I say, almost matter-of-factly.

“Oh, no, poor you,” she says. “Look, if you need any help, I’ll take you to emergency. I can arrange for someone to look in on you. I’ll even tidy up your place.”

All this sympathy is making me sick — the very thing I’m trying to convince her of. She’s inadvertently playing into my hands. I don’t want to, but let’s see if I can ease her fears.

“Don’t worry,” I say. “It’s only the walking kind.”

“What is?”

“My pneumonia,” I say. “You know, walking pneumonia!” Sheesh! I want to add “stupid“ but it might sound effeminate.

I hear a sigh and suddenly her enthusiasm returns. We’re back on track.

“You’re going to love this place,” she continues. “It’s got everything you want. Not a tree in sight. The airport’s so close you can hear everything. Street hasn’t been cleaned in years. Come to think of it, all those McDonald’s wrappings are making me hungry. Love the dust; every day you’ll feel like you have asthma. Oh, and there’s a cute little pond in your backyard. But not sure it’s safe, looking at those little chickies. By the way, do you know the lifespan of a chicks? These look awful young.”

God, I hate when people digress.

Thankfully, she gets back on track.

“And oh my God, that Chinese resturant is great. I heartily recommend the porridge — but skip the Polish beer.”

I hear her burp. Cheeky thing. Time to hang up.

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