Saturday, May 28, 2005

Me and Mr. Magoo

Eva's brother Jim came over today, bringing his new truck and his girlfriend of fairly long standing--Aliie, her name is; it was our first time meeting her.
We ordered pizza from Pizza Pizza for lunch. It's a toss-up between Pizza Pizza and Pizza Hut as to which is my favourite among the chains. Today's order was not up to par...not even close.
Tomatoes provoke a gastrointestinal festival with me, so I get my pizzas with very light sauce. My usual toppings are really simple: ground beef and a whole lot of cheese. Well, I think the order taker misheard my wife, because I got ground beef and a whole lot of GREASE. Not to mention the damn thing wasn't cut at all. It was a giant round slab of grease. Yecch.
This swimming pile of pizza-zit put me in a foul mood. I had to eat it with a knife and fork...trying to cut it just oozed grease everywhere, and I looked stupid in front of both family and a total stranger. Not the high point of my day.
Anyway, the talk turned to tattoos and piercings. Eva's got four tattoos now to Jim's three. And both of them have piercings. Nothing exotic (what qualifies as exotic these days, anyway? an eyeball?), just ear piercings.
Nothing here, thanks. No holes drilled in my flesh, no subcutaneous ink.
My attitude towards tattoos has really changed since I met my wife. I used to think that only a sordid sort would choose to ink himself up. I still harbour some wariness of people with dragons painted across their entire backs, but a little kitten or some Chinese characters denoting a "beautiful spirit" don't faze me at all. I understand the need for a personal statement.
But I don't have one to make--not one I feel comfortable making permanent, anyway. I've given it some thought, because Eva has said she'd like to see me get one.
Hmmm. A musical note is the first thing that springs to mind, but it's kind of blase. A few of them? The opening bar of the Hockey Night In Canada theme? Post-lockout, that doesn't appeal much. A Canadian flag? I'm a patriot, but not that patriotic. After that, I come up empty.
(Piercings are absolutely out of the question. Blinding pain aside, I just don't see the point. I wear my wedding ring proudly as a symbol of the biggest accomplishment I've made in my life thus far; no other jewellery could possibly mean anything next to that.)

I mentioned my inability to come up with a suitable tattoo that says Ken Breadner to all and sundry. And Jim had to speak up. He prefaced his remark with a "no, I won't say it"--the only effect of which, in my experience, is to attract maximum attention before it's said. When pressed, he uttered two words: Mr. Magoo.
The very room dissolved in laughter, a kind of laughter that brought back bitter, bilious memories of high school and times before. I joined in it--the hard-won ability to laugh at myself is all that separates me from a total wreck, some days--but inside, I wasn't laughing at all. That barb struck a little too close to the old scab where a million such arrows had unfailingly found their marks.
Of course, Jim didn't mean to be mean about it. And he's right, in some respects, at least: a Magoo tattoo makes sense. I am, after all, the personification of absent-mindedness. Coming from Jim, though--a man whose thoughts run always to the practical--those words stung more than they should have.
Occasionally I am reminded that all of Eva's previous boyfriends were largely interchangeable, mechanically-inclined, strong, competent...well, jerks. And very occasionally I need to be reminded that my not being a jerk does outweigh my not being mechanically inclined, strong, or particularly competent at much of anything....Eva did, after all, marry me. Whenever my self-esteem is ebbing, I thank God that Eva never happened to fall in love with a mechanically inclined, strong, competent nice guy before I showed up. I'm glad my self-esteem doesn't ebb often anymore, because when it does, I turn into...ironically enough...a jerk.
I'm better now. Really, I am. And I accept the Magoo in myself. I'd caution people that absent-mindedness does not mean an absent mind--a mistake I've seen made time and time again. Rene Descartes said it best just before he ran into a tree: "I think, therefore I am...elsewhere."

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