Candy, stand by your man, Tex (National Post, February 25, 2004)

Canadians will laugh at themselves, and then go all sensitive when others laugh at them. But truth-based mockery is a salutary ego check. Last year I applied that theory to practice in Toronto's now-annual Leacock mock debate.

Tonight I'm attending this year's debate. Will the participants get bigger laughs than my sister Anne Golden and I did when we proposed the resolution: "A Woman's Proper Place is in the Kitchen"?

I chose a wider interpretation, affirming that "Canada's Proper Place is in the International Kitchen." Here is an excerpted narrative from my argument in which archetypal homemaker "Candy" is a metaphor for Canada, whose character is -- well, womanly, eh?

"Candy Mapleleaf was a man's woman. Her first true love was Great Britain. To prove her devotion, she wore his bomber jacket through two world wars, achieving a sense of a real identity.

Britain encouraged his gal to hang out with him and his war buddy, the U.S., so Candy eagerly passed around the party sandwiches, providing the comfortable ambiance that facilitates important work between dominant men. After hostessing it became peacekeeping. Candy poured tea all over the world, and made sprightly conversation while enemies glared (or lunged) at each other over the cookies, then she mopped up whatever spilled.

Somehow England and Candy drifted apart. Candy thought she wanted more independence, and Britain seemed more interested in hooking up with the new Europe. While Candy was travelling single, though, she felt vulnerable and provincial. She was insecure. And credulous! Candy was an easy mark for sleazy lounge lizards like Cuba and China.

She needed a strong man to save her from her own naivete -- and there he was -- Tex Starsenstripes, the big palooka next door that she had ignored when she was England's arm candy. Before she knew it, they were hitched. Today they wonder: Can this marriage be saved?

It seemed a perfect match. They were both gorgeous with huge real estate assets. Tex was way richer, though, and -- where Candy was soft, sensitive, and a bit vain about her appearance, like a real woman should be -- Tex was broad-shouldered, fit and aggressive.

Tex could be scary, because he wore guns and a sheriff's badge right out in the open. Yet being with him made Candy feel safe and gave her time to experiment with the latest fashions and make-up for the A-list parties Tex got them invited to.

Tex had experienced some divisive and uncivil family scenes as an adolescent, and the scars had made him street-wise. People loved him or hated him, but there was never a shortage of Tex 'wannabees.' Oh yes, he could be crude, but that came from having to be self-reliant, from his stubborn faith in his ideals, and from having to fight for them against schoolyard bullies.

Tex was amused by how Candy would act so ladylike and almost frosty in public, but in private couldn't get her lush and fertile body close enough to his. He was charmed when she pretended she was too cultured to like his roughspun tall tales and ballads. But he admitted finding her stories boring. He said, 'Dangnab it Candy, your stories are so durn depressin'. Why is someone always fallin' through the ice in a howlin' blizzard, or gettin' beat up by life? Cain't you write somethin' with a hero, who fights the bad guys and wins and gets his dream gal and ends up happy?' Candy was hurt and retorted, 'I guess I can't expect a big dumb Hegemon like you to have the sensitivity to appreciate art, eh? I guess you'd be happier if I wrote about car chases and guns blazing and sex orgies, eh?' And Tex muttered, 'Well, it would shore hold my interest is all I'm sayin'.

On the whole, considering it wasn't a love match, they shared mutual respect, and even affection. But lately, things have changed. Candy's never there for Tex in the old way. A while ago a vicious gang attacked him in the street. He staggered home bruised and battered, and what happens? Oh sure, Candy rushed for the Polysporin and bandages, but then she says, 'That's what you get for flashing your gold Rolex in front of poor people.' Tex was stunned by her disloyalty, and things were never right between them after that.

Finally Candy got drunk at a party and openly called Tex a moron. Some say they're in separate bedrooms ...

Candy, honey, a good man is hard to find. Here's my advice: Go to the kitchen and whip up a batch of fudge brownies! Then take a bubble bath and put on something sexy, y'hear? No more of those bogus headaches! Then smile, lie back and think about that lovely new condo in Miami ..."

I'm Canadian too, remember, so no hate speech citations, please.

© National Post 2004