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And this is why we don’t let The Mom watch too much CNN if at all possible. It gets her needlessly worked up. She loves a good bit of drama. The summer months are particularly hard for her since most of the American government goes on holiday. Sometimes it gets so bad that she resorts to watching the Canadian news.

And recently, there’s been enough home-grown drama I’m beginning to think she’s developing something in a new-found respect for our home and native land.

It’s almost as thought she’s proud. Like Canada’s finally got round to growing up and becoming A Real Country. She really loved her years in California. She was closer to the action then. Political scandal, protests, being tear-gassed. I’ve never met anyone who gets a forlorn look on their face when reminiscing about being tear-gassed or someone who is so proud to have had the foresight to prepare adequately for such eventualities.

Living in the States, I think, meant that she was part of something bigger, part of The World. Whereas she’s always seen Canada as this hokey little backwater, provincial country where nothing ever happens. But that’s what’s always made the place great as far as I’m concerned. Nothing much ever really happens.

Over here, in England, something is always happening, or about to happen. The weather will take a turn to the extreme, we’ll get enough rain to flood the whole place, or it’ll be so hot everything will melt and stop working. Or one of the idiot politicians will disgrace himself on a new level. And all the papers will write about it, frothing at the mouth. Or someone will try to blow somebody up.

When I tell The Mom about all the crazy things that happen over here, I swear she’s a bit jealous. Not a lot to report on my end, she’ll say, and then move quickly to Other News (which always means what’s going on in America).

But the past few weeks have given her ample stories to tell. Never mind that I read the Canadian papers and have an idea of what’s transpired, it doesn’t count until she tells me. It’s better than personal gossip for her, these news items.

She has a deep need to not only follow the news, but editorialize as well. If she can’t have her opinion on what’s gone on, then it’s no fun for her.

This latest thing, with the pressure-cooker plot, has really driven her wild. She’s collecting every last tiny fact, as though she were somehow involved in finding the idiots who started to do something stupid. And she’ll pass them off like she’s telling state secrets.

“Did you hear the latest?” she’ll say, looking so smug you’d be forgiven for mistaking her for someone actively involved in the investigation. “He was going to use a pressure cooker.”

She’ll lean back from the computer then, with her hands in the air, as though to say some strange combination of, can you believe it, and how impressed are you with my fact-finding abilities here.

The important thing to do in these situations is egg her on. It’s what she wants. She wants to get worked up about it.

It’s best to reply with something like, “He what? What kind of an idiot uses a pressure cooker?”

“I know, right?” she’ll screech.

“What brand?”

She’ll lean in close, as though telling you a secret nobody else has yet deduced. “Well, they had a clip on Katie Couric this morning, and I didn’t get a really good look at it. So I went on their website and they had the footage posted. You know what?”

“What?” It’s vital that one appear to be on the edge of one’s seat at this moment.

“It’s the exact same one I have!”

“No!” you must scream. “How can this be?”

Which will set her off on some kind of rant about how nothing is sacred anymore. Now, I don’t know about you, but I feel safe in saying that I don’t believe pressure cookers were ever what one might call sacred, but I can see where The Mom’s going.

After watching CNN and Katie Couric (CNN is for night-time viewing, but she starts the day with Katie) all by herself for a week, she needs to burn off the adrenaline she’s built up. Watching the news really gets her going, and if she doesn’t get a good rant in once a week, there’s no dealing with her. She’ll start yammering away about politics to anyone. And though her neighbourhood is mostly formed by academics and fairly left-wing people, when she tries to strike up a conversation in the check-out line of the supermarket with the hungover nineteen-year-old bagging groceries, it’s not good.