Although I’ve been a cynical journalist most of my life, once upon a time I was quite naive. In fact still am in many ways.
However, I come by it honestly. I still remember my dad reporting to my mom once he had a baron of beef at a restaurant on his latest venture away from her cooking. “Oh, how was it,” she inquired. “Actually the bread was kind of dry and the soup was pretty tasteless,” he complained. Oh, if only he had put the two together.
Not only did I believe everything I heard when I was a child, there was stuff I believed that no one told me and I didn’t talk about – nevertheless, I figured it out and believed it to be true.
Like that Vernon’s radio station CJIB actually had the singers themselves at the local studio singing for our enjoyment. I think I thought this because DJ Frank Martina would say “and here’s Carly Simon singing You’re So Vain” and if it wasn’t really her, he would have said “here’s a recording of Carly Simon……” After all, Frank wouldn’t lie to me, would he?
It gets worse. I thought all this happened at the little white shack with the transmission tower next to Swan Lake, even though I probably understood at one level that didn’t make sense, not to mention Carly Simon would never play such a small venue.
I didn’t have a clear concept of heaven and hell either, even though I went to Sunday school fairly regularly. But somehow I got it in my head that God was keeping track of my bad behaviour, which at that age mainly meant cursing, and I didn’t want to stand there at the pearly gates trying to defend why I used certain words 23,475.2 times in my life. Being a Canucks/Lions fan probably wasn’t a good enough excuse. I still try not to curse much, likely due to past beliefs, but most of us should worry now that God can just check Facebook, on top of his regular system, to find out if we’ve been good or not.
When we watched a “documentary” called ‘Chariots of the Gods’ at Silver Star Elementary, I had to worry about a different kind of otherworldly experience. After all, if aliens had come to Earth and helped civilize the place (pyramids etc.) in the past, what’s stopping extraterrestrials from doing it again? Another thing to worry about, and my relatively low swear count wasn’t likely to score any points with a Martian.
Add that to an apparent looming ice age and fossil fuel shortage and there were plenty of reasons to think we might not make it to the ’80s.
In fact a lot of hippy types, well we all had long hair back then, were declaring the end of the world with regularity.
I remember one time a guy told my buddy and I that the world was going to end that very Friday night that we were planning a sleepover at my buddy’s place. Seeing how he was in Grade 7 and we were only in Grade 6 we believed him. At least I did and after wondering for several hours what the end would actually look like, I finally fell asleep in my buddy Dave’s basement. I tell you I was never so glad to wake up as I was that next morning. I couldn’t believe that guy was wrong, he seemed so sure.
Meanwhile back at Silver Star, I still remember the time when we wrote stories that were then displayed all around the room for all to see. My story involved a woman who was rushed to the hospital so she could have an operation to have a baby. Of course the teacher kindly had circled the word ‘operation’ in red and added the phrase “uh, oh” for all to see. Luckily, I think, none of my classmates bothered to read my biological masterpiece.
And speaking of biology, I once uttered the name of a female body part (also involved with birth) in a derogatory manner, except with a hard ‘g’ in the middle of the word instead of what I would soon learn should be a soft ‘g,’ and was quickly notified that it also wasn’t really an appropriate word for cursing at any time for anybody. They did this while laughing and mocking me mercilessly. So much for trying to look tough.
Now that I’m older and wiser (ahem) and have had two kids without any operations, I’m not as naive as I once was. Well except when it comes to social media, but my kids sometimes help me with that.
Glenn Mitchell is the former editor of The Morning Star. He continues to write a weekly column for the newspaper.