Just dim the lights on your way out, dude.
Working like a Trojan — I wonder, does that mean one of the soldiers from ancient Troy? The celebrated horse? Or the prophylactic? I can never decide — pulling together the latest collection of my writing, and even though it’s really a simple task of deciding on my best, funniest material, do not for one moment think that I will settle for anything being easy in my life. I demand a challenge. Things must be hard to achieve.
I could make blinking aerobic.
I cannot leave anything alone: not a box of Kraft Dinner, which I revise with lightly blanched vegetables, white truffle oil and Halal wieners; not my completed blog posts, which I polish like they were grandma’s sterling silver turkey baster, the one she kept in the bedside table; not even my epic response to some troll’s inflammatory comment on Twitter, which anyway just hits his steel bot-head and slides off, like gobs of brain matter after a trepanning.
I revisit. I revanche. I fiddle, I tinker. I throw in a schooner race, the complete bloodline of Adam and Eve, and Julia Child’s recipe for baking croissants at home, and then I think: How can I make this more, you know, jokey?
In fact, like an elderly Harry Potter with dementia who got lost on the way home, I live not under but on the staircase, ready to be possessed by its spirit and overthink the snide remark that’s forming, right now, in your minds. I’m still processing slights I received from colleagues in Grade Six that didn’t quite register at the time; people who insulted me so long ago, they’re actually dead.
Suddenly, while singing a hymn at their memorial service, it hits me between the eyes. I think:
“(Oh, God, our help in ages past…) Hey, wait a minute. What did Danny Milligan say about my hot pants? (…Our Hope for years to come…) You know something…. I think he was being … (… Our shelter from the stormy blast…)…sarcastic…! (… and our Eternal …)… WHAT THE — !!?”
Then I return home, ugly-cry into a litre of No-Name Frozen Dessert Substitute until it melts, and drink it through a straw.
John Tory, the quite-recently former “If you have to have one, it might as well be him” Mayor of Toronto, who filled the rancid, crack smoke-reeking shoes of Rob Ford (late brother to Doug, current Premier of Ontario, because we couldn’t manage to take out both of them at once, the technology just wasn’t there), like yours truly, has been particularly busy.
Not just busy being the single most boring, least visionary leader in Toronto, possibly Ontario, possibly the world if he’d listened to his trainer, and not just busy being an old-style conservative.
You know, the kind of conservative where you didn’t have to go, “Shall I vote for the people defending human rights and at least pretending that they’re trying to make my life better? Or for the people who limit human rights to white, straight males because it’s just too goldarn expensive to give all those wokesters rights, and you gotta balance the budget, except when you don’t have to! What good are rights without a balanced budget? Exactly! Or something!”
John Tory comes from the ancient line of conservatives who thought human rights were probably a good thing, but could you please pull your socks up? Then, in the manner of my Great Aunt Lula pressing a toonie into my grown-up hands and croaking, “Don’t let your mother know!” they’d sign you up for the dole.
He worked as an intern to Margaret Birch, Ontario’s first female member of Cabinet, who crafted the “Birch Proposals,” a work of malign genius designed to make day-care less user-friendly, more understaffed, and more dangerous for kids. This is the Conservative way of proving how much they want to “Save (money on programs that help) the Children.”
Tory spent a fairly uneventful political career, at one time leading the Progressive Conservatives, a party name whose built-in oxymoron never hit me until fairly recently. The PC’s and the Liberals were so similar in policy, one might have imagined they were simply cooked up so we could change our vote every other year and not actually go crazy from ennui. Tory was deemed worthy of the party leadership because he was the most adept at winning easy, traditionally conservative seats by parachuting in last-minute after the incumbent resigned, thus profiting from voters’ total confusion.
He has always had deep ties to the business sector, but never sleazier than was obviously unavoidable. Ted Rogers, the media mogul, was a family friend, and, when politics became a tiresome hobby, Tory was able to change to a more relaxing hobby of being a radio talk-show host, courtesy of family friend. (Only a Canadian would aspire to be a star on radio, which we think of as “television for the blind.”) He was also on the Board of Metro, a giant supermarket chain, where he —
Hello? Hellllo? Oh, do try to stay awake, I promise you it gets a little more interesting. At least, for John Tory.
Elected three times to the post of mayor, Tory was very popular, as he didn’t rock the boat by, for example, getting anything of note accomplished. He was like a Swanson TV Dinner compared to real dinner: satisfying the basic need without going whole hog in a way that Canadians find tastelessly Over The Top.
Jeezus. Curb your enthusiasm, Cherry Ames, Girl Mountie! We’re not revolutionaries at heart, remember? We’re loyalists.
One incident haunts me, though. Here it is, as described in Wikipedia, “The Encyclopedia You Write Yerself! ® ”:
[As a young aspiring politician] Tory later served as tour director and campaign chairman to then Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, and managed the 1993 federal election campaign of Mulroney’s successor, Kim Campbell.
> In his role as the Progressive Conservative campaign co-manager that year, he authorized two infamous campaign ads that ridiculed Liberal candidate Jean Chretien’s face, which is partially paralyzed due to a childhood disease. The ads were greeted with much outcry among the Canadian public. <
They were withdrawn ten days after their first airings, and the Progressive Conservatives would proceed to be decimated in the federal election.
Got it? A lapse of good taste. An egregious failure of judgement. Something tacky in the woodshed. An ever-so-slight taint of ableism, entitlement, frat-boy immaturity. Hold that thought.
OK, are you ready? After the Toronto Star broke the news and he could no longer hide, John Tory, Mayor of Toronto, confessed on Wednesday, February 15th that he’d had an extra-marital affair with a staff member, during the pandemic, and that very day tendered his resignation.
(That’s one unintentional effect of the pandemic I failed to take advantage of: its apparent full-bore incitement to rampant, no-holds-barred sex, on account of it being a harbinger of the End Times and everything. I should have clued in when I was forced to step over those piles of writhing, naked bodies outside Canadian Tire.)
The Star also revealed that the woman had travelled on several publicly-funded trips with him.
An affair? Oh, of course he did! I forgot: he’s a white, straight male in power. DOH! When I remember that, I’m tempted to say, “An extra-marital affair? You mean, just the one? What noble containment and sacrifice!”
I’m shocked at John Tory, but even more disturbed at the public responses to the affair, and not because people are angry. They’re sympathetic, believe it or not:
Stay, John Tory! It was just a little affair, didn’t hurt anyone, didn’t break any laws, it was consenting, it’s nobody’s business, it’s a personal matter.
Didn’t break any laws? Oh, well done, little soldier! Sheesh. Is that, as Peggy Lee once rasped out from the depths of her oxygen tent, all there is?
The standard to be met is not just right actions, but right appearances. The situation to be avoided is not just actual conflict of interest, but even the perception of it.
Toronto City Council’s code of conduct calls on members to “perform their duties and arrange their private affairs in a manner that promotes public confidence and bears close public scrutiny.”
Professor Marsha Barber of Toronto’s Metropolitan University, a media ethics expert, had this to say about the Star’s investigation:
“The big question is, was the Star’s reporting in the public interest? Yes it was and it certainly met journalistic standards… If you’re having an affair with a staffer who reports directly to you, the public needs to know about that. If there’s a power imbalance the public needs to know.
“The reason is, when you are elected to public office, you are acting on behalf of your constituents. So, if there is anything questionable, it’s in the public interest to know.”
[Toronto Star, Friday, February 17, 2023, “Star coverage of Mayor John Tory met journalistic standards.” https://bityl.co/HIR7 ]
John Tory’s fling with a subordinate would be eyebrow-raising in a private company. It’s absolutely taboo for someone in a public role: the mayor of Canada’s biggest city, a man who presides over a huge treasure chest of public money, and whose decisions will affect not just us but future generations.
It’s NOT a personal matter. It IS a matter of public interest. It is an egregiously unethical failure of judgement. It casts doubt over all of his decisions and actions, it puts the governance of Toronto into disrepute and it fails the low standard we expect of our leaders, that low standard being:
#63b: Don’t fuck the staff.
On a normal day, after a good night’s sleep and a sustaining breakfast that includes whole grains and a couple of servings of organic fruit so you should stay regular, it definitely would fall within most ladies’ or gentlemen’s capabilities to not fuck the staff.
Raise your hand if you’ve been a boss and not fucked the staff. There, you see?
Like, it’s not an insurmountable barrier to entry for “Mayor.” I think I can I know I can… It is not a high standard. Just avoid fucking the staff. All right, cupcake? You’re gonna be fine.
But not John Tory. We weren’t worth it. Ah, well, you know what they say: You can take the white, straight male out of City Hall. But you can’t take his dick out of his subordinate’s vagina, not for all the respect in a month of Sundays.
You know what enrages me? That John Tory, in some recess of his “mom’s out dad’s out let’s be rude” adolescent mind was thinking: “I can get away with this.”
I can get away with this is not an existential position that fills me with warm, fuzzy feelings of trust and security.
At his final press conference, Tory said “it broke his heart” to resign.
Really? You betrayed our trust, not to mention the trust of your wife and family, threw all the plans into disarray and forced us to have another election so you could give your penis some attention and work out your male menopause issues, and we’re supposed to feel sorry for YOU?
Got a note from the cockroaches, who I call “William” collectively, because, honestly, they all look pretty much alike. I know that’s cockroachist of me.
The note read:
“wiokp[wr[i;klwjerir[0i\????” I’edpgipwejkdfi welkjrio2–09148–1!!!!
which translates as,
“Hey, big smelly God-roach. You think you haaaaaave problems?? We’ve haaaad to move three times in the past 24 hours and we’re constantly on red alert on account of yer ongoing chemical waaaaarfare. Totally against Geneva Convention.
Who’s Geneva Convention? One of yer offspring? Anyway.
Well, guess what, roach-God? Yer chemicals just make us more horrrrrrny, so we have far-out sex and reproduce twice as fast! Last night, Drudella and I had a three-way with a centipede! YOWZA! Whatsamatter? You don’t believe in interspecies relaaaaaations? BIGOT!
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a new routine to practice with Fifi for “Cirque du Soleil, Édition roach.” They’ve asked her to do her bit with the frilly umbrella and I’m going to swallow a paper clip almost all the way down. If you think that sounds easy, it’s probably cause of yer friend Brad! So long SUCKER!”
Cockroach is a very inflected language. Or do I mean “infested,” I get them mixed up.