Friday, June 30, 2017

Canada Day

A few years ago, my alter ego, Nestor Kropatnik wrote a letter to the nation about his experience with Canada Day. I thought I'd dig it out for your amusement on this Canada Day. That'll be my contribution to our 150th anniversary:

Dear Canada
Dear Canada;
It’s me, Nestor! Hoys Boys, I so embarrass early first thing in morning I don’t know should I sit down, stand up, or hide face in corner. Sun is just peeking up from under sleeping blanket when I take my coffee and little bit ham sausage on balcony for think about what to do today. Well I know I not going to do things no more – I retire – but is old habit I pick up and hard to break. Even still is nice to plan for do nothing whole day. Besides, is Canada day today. Whole country having birthday party.
Now I look up from comfy balcony chair – just like pope – and look across courtyard at other buildings. Holy Moley, I bet my big boots I jump a mile high! Lots o’ people got big Canadian flag in windows and draped over balcony – just like huge big birthday card. Hoy Boys! What a good idea! How come I never think of that? I gotta admit, sometimes city slickers not so dumb after all.
All of a sudden I get great idea myself. Maybe I got no flag so I gonna make one for sure! Quiet as a little mouse I sneak in bedroom where missus still sleeping. She so cute, purr like tiny little kitten on pillow. I find brand new pair red wool gotchies and brand new white bed sheet and tippee toe out so wife not wake up. I know I got no business in sewing basket, but I look anyway for safety pins and take whole shebang to balcony. Hoy Boys – is hard job to figure out how to make maple leaf from pair o’ gotchies. Is one part short until I remember trap door. Look at that. Trap door is good for lots o’ things. By time I all finished, tongue is all twisted from concentrating, fingers full o’ holes from safety pins, but whole thing looks pretty good, I figure out. Not so bad for old pig farmer.
Holy Moley, if I not still on hands and knees, I bet you for sure I be fall down right away quick. Right behind me cute little purring kitten turn into ferocious big tiger – roar like lion – in mother tongue! Missus lets out string o’ words, some I never even know what mean. What I think I doing showing underwear to neighbors on balcony? What people going to think of bunyak pig farmer? They gonna laugh us right out of neighborhood! Hoy Boys, I so shocked I don’t know what to say for minute. I never thought o’ that.
Finally I get tongue back and I say, ”Hey listen sweetie, calm down. I make birthday card for Canada.” Hoy Boys, big mistake! She give me ‘nother blast.
Now I got to dig heels in little bit. I tell her, “Listen here sweetie, I CEO of balcony. If I wanna say ‘Happy Birthday Canada’, I gonna do it”.
Missus shoots right back. “Maybe you CEO, but don’t forget who is Chairman of Board. Now shaddap and give me gotchies”.  
Just then our Olga – she now CEO of pig farm since I retire, walks in door and wonders what is all squawking about. Missus tells her I make jackass of self and show her what I make. She says she gonna throw in Dumpster.
Daughter says, “no, no mommy, don’t throw away! Is very important to say ‘Happy Birthday Canada’. Look, I brought present”! She open big Eaton’s shopping bag and haul out huge big flag bought from store. Holy Moley I get such a big surprise! Is beautiful flag.
Missus like it too. She says, “here Mr. CEO, go hang up proper birthday card – and do it straight”.
Daughter tells mommy, “Give me daddy’s flag. I got good place for it. I hang it up in barn. Pigs will be so happy, they gonna squeal like pigs – maybe even sing ‘Oh Canada’. They see daddy’s gotchies, then they know who is Chairman of Board in barn. See, everything is hunky dory”.
Look at that! I don’t know how it happened. Missus comes and gives me little squeeze. She says I cutest little bunyak. Daughter says she gotta go show flag to pigs in barn.
Let me give you little bit friendly advice. Don’t worry, it’s free – no red tape attached. When it comes to ladies, just shaddap and do what they say. Somehow by magic, everything work out – every time.
You should drop by sometime. We could have some sausage and maybe I ask my boy who live close by if he got some extra beer. We could have nice visit. Just don’t ask for lady advice.           
Your pal,

Nestor Kropatnik PF (Retire)

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Oh God - Part Twenty-Three

Oh God – Part Twenty-Three

            Well, come to think of it, he didn’t really see what his grandmother Sara looked like either. It was strange. He didn’t know what anybody looked like. He just knew who they were. It must be another one of God’s little tricks to confuse him. There must be a relationship between body recognition and life in the real world.
            “The world you talk about is not real,” spoke God. “It is your training ground; your school. That’s where you learn everything you need to know for this world – the real world as it were. There’s an infinite variety of what you can learn there and practice during that lifetime. It’s all your choice within the parameters of that world. When you are finished and have gained all the knowledge and experience, it’s over and done and of no more use to you.
            “You come here, into purgatory and generally sleep until the day I judge your performance at ‘school’ and you are placed either here in heaven with me, or in Satan’s hell.”
            “Purgatory? I was in Purgatory? How’d I get here then?” Schwartz wanted to know.
            “It was a special case with you, Schwartz. While you practiced all the wrong things in your ‘school’, you had certain information I wanted to curb this Acronym business. So I brought you up here to stop that nonsense. It’s actually quite unusual.”
            Hmm, thought Schwartz, He’d been promoted to being God’s helper; not a bad gig for an old Jew. Maybe I was one of the ‘chosen people’ he mused.
            “Don’t flatter yourself, Schwartz.” God sounded a little annoyed. “That old myth don’t hold no water around here. What we got here AND down in hell are SPIRITS! Humans are all down on earth an’ there’s no special kind. All the talk about things like that is nothin’ more than political
rhetoric. It’s just that you’ve got a few left over memories that make you useful to me.”
            “What if in the process o’ bein’ here I lose those memories? Will I still be welcome here?”
            “Of course! You are after all, part of the family. I told you that when you first arrived. Don’t you feel that way?”
            “I do, I do,” beamed Schwartz. He was a bit confused as to how this was all going to roll out for him.  How could he possibly forget his earthly life with all its accomplishments and accumulation?  Funny though, he couldn’t remember the devastation he had wrought upon his family and business associates during the course of his life, as though it wasn’t important.

            “It’ll take a while, but you’ll get used to it.” Said God.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Oh God - Part Twenty - One

I don't know exactly what happened, but somehow my "part Twenty-one" never got published. Perhaps I was being punished, but I'll have another go at it.

Oh God – Part Twenty – One
            It was heaven indeed. And what did they need? Nothing. It made the struggles and maneuvering of the living world appear totally useless; a complete waste of time. If only Schwartz had known. He had wasted his whole earthly life scheming and cheating and out maneuvering to gain his considerable fortune, and for what? It didn’t count for anything here. Not only that, but he didn’t give a rip about it neither. Mind you, when he was down in hell, it was a different story. They was yellin’ an’ screamin’ about their own accomplishments an’ importance all the live long day. When you put it into a collective production it was a screaming mass of ‘me, me, me.’ Disgusting, thought Schwartz. How could you possibly differentiate your own ‘me’ from all the millions of voices in a circus like that?  He was tired. All he wanted now was a little peace and human dignity. And that’s what he experienced here in heaven. ‘To hell with hell’, he thought, hoping that Petronella wouldn’t notice.
            “I heard that!” she demanded from somewhere he couldn’t see.
            “I didn’t say anything out loud,” whimpered Schwartz. “Don’t tell me you can read thoughts too!”
            “Listen, snot nose, I was the mother of six,” she snorted. “I can tell what you’re thinking even before you think it.”
            Sara, who was nearby, chuckled quietly. “My boy, one of the things you’ll have to get used to here in heaven is the fact of equality. Women here are NOT subservient to men (or the other way around). We are not people here as you remember them in the physical world. We are spirits of no particular gender – or species for that matter. We are just spirits. Our purpose on earth was to enrich ourselves and improve the depth of our character for the glorification of our Lord.
            “This world is unlike anything you’ve ever seen since you were sent out into the body of Schwartz. What you learned there and what you did with that knowledge determined the depth of your spirit. That is what you’ll be judged on.
            “So you’ll have to make up your mind where you want to be, either here or in hell. If I can give you one more little suggestion, you will also be judged one day when the time comes, so it bears thinking about and coming to a decision.”
            “But, I’ve done what I’ve done on earth, How can I possibly avoid going to hell, I’m afraid I’m doomed. In the end, he won’t let me in. What can I do?”
            “Ask God – and don’t even think about negotiating,”

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Oh God - Part Twenty Two

Oh God – Part Twenty-two
            “You know,” said God almost reflectively in a conversation that just seemed to come up, “most people that end up goin’ to hell are those who can’t let go of their past. Some mourn over losin’ their possessions, some the loss of power and authority, and still others who can’t get over the guilt of whatever they’ve done wrong in their earthly life. They haven’t learned to forgive themselves. They just haven’t learned to let go of their earthly existence.”
            “That’s the trouble,” lamented Schwartz, “I can’t get over my earthly life. There are so many accomplishments I’ve made and at the same time so many people I’ve cheated and – oh my – so many things I have to account for – “ He sounded totally pathetic.
            “You sound totally pathetic,” commented God. “As long as you hold on to these things, you’ll never get to heaven.”
            “So nothing I accomplished or accumulated on earth has any meaning here?”
            “Diddley squat” replied God.
            “So what was I so busy doin’ there then?”
            “Basically, you were wastin’ everybody’s time – includin’ your own.”
            “Well then. What was the point of my bein there?”
            “It was to test the resolve of your spirit. You see, everybody has two spirits – a good one and an evil one. You seem to have been governed by the latter for most of your life. Yet you never really abandoned the good one. Look at what you did for Tony Bennet. It came quite naturally to you. You possess many talents that can be helpful here in heaven, but you can’t do anything for anybody as long as you hold on to memories of your earthly life. They just get in the way.”
            “But I worked my whole life to accumulate those things. I can’t just let all that go!”
            “Think of it this way,” said God, “it’s like going to school and learning algebra and geometry and quantum physics, and then when you graduate, you get a job as a shoe-shine boy. You never needed any o’ that mathematical crap in the first place. That’s how it is with earthly life.”

            “Mmm,” mused Schwartz. It somehow didn’t seem right to him, but who was he to argue with God?

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Oh God - Part Twenty

Oh God – Part Twenty
            “Hello my little Sunshine. How nice it is to see you again.” Schwartz’ neck hair suddenly stood up on end. Grandma Sara Lieberman gently sat down beside him and patted his head affectionately. “You’ve been dead a longtime. What took you so long to get here?”
            Stammering for words, Schwartz was going to say ‘lifestyle’ but somehow it didn’t seem appropriate. He was after all, no longer alive.  In the end, he simply said, “lost my way a little”, which in many ways was closer to the truth.
            “No matter,” Sara chimed in happily, “you’re here now. This is such a happy place. Come and meet the others!”
            Instantly he was surrounded by a whole host of Schwartzes and Liebermans all vying for his attention. They greeted him with such affection he had trouble remembering the extent to which he had cheated them in his other life and how much he had embezzled from them for his own gain. Yet there was no acknowledgement of his misdeeds. Schwartz couldn’t understand that. It was as though they didn’t remember.
            He spoke softly to Sara, “I can’t believe you’d take me up this way, after all I did to your savings and investments,” he said. Now his guilt was pressing down on him.
            “Look around you,” answered Sara sweetly. “We have our whole family here now that you’ve arrived. We have a never ending feast at this endless table, and we have friends we haven’t seen in a long time. You know how I loved to have guests over for dinner and the happy discussions we used to have. This now is just as good, if not better. There is nothing here but happiness and love of one another. What more can one want?”
            Schwartz suddenly realized it was true. Indeed, there was everything here one could want and he was slipping into that mode of grateful acceptance, except for the nagging feeling that his family was holding back a grudge against him. He tried to get it out of Sara, hinting at his misdeeds and transgressions in the real world.
            Guessing what was on her grandson’s mind Sara said, “When Jesus taught us to pray, he said; ‘forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us’. We have done that, and it feels so good.”
            “But grandma,” blurted Schwartz. “We’re Jewish – not Christian!”
            Sara laughed out loud, “So was Jesus – same as you and me, silly. Ask him if you don’t believe me. He’s right over there.”
            “I don’t get it,” exclaimed Schwartz. “Then what’s with this Christianity business anyways?”
            “Exactly – it’s a business. Well really it’s a government, just like Judaism. Actually Paul started that government about thirty years after Jesus was crucified. Well it was a catchy name after all the turmoil that had gone on, so he went around preachin’ the gospel. It caught on big time. They made rules to live by, rituals they had to do and credos to follow, all of which were ignored by the people and in particular the hierarchy, just like the Jews. But don’t kid yourself, Jesus had nothin’ to do with it an’ neither did God.”
            “HOLY – “He was goin’ to say Holy Crap but caught himself in time before that woman in the kitchen chimed in on him again.

            “This is a place of forgiveness and tolerance” Sara continued, “It’s a beautiful place where everything is provided for. No one here can want or want for anything. It’s – well, it’s heaven.