Eric Colbourne

Through Rose-tinted Glasses



"You never know who's who in government these days or what they're up to," I said to spouse as we followed the evening news on the people's channel. "Like demons, they shape-shift all the time. Double Dipper Byrne is now minister of turnips and spawny capelin, Al 'the Pirate' Hawkins is now minister of unemployment. Codfish Crocker gave up his job to Double Dipper Byrne and then took Al 'the Pirate's' job, and Al 'the Pirate' took Double Dipper Byrne's job. And poor old Cathy Bennett, we don't know what happened to her."

"Yes, I see," said spouse by way of asking me to pipe down and pay attention to the news. Unlike myself, she doesn't like to rage at mindless drivel on TV.

"Cursing inanimate objects relieves stress," I mutter.

Spouse, by the way, has taken a part-time job at the neighborhood convenience store. When the minimum wage skyrocketed by fifteen cents to $11.15 an hour recently, she jumped at the opportunity. The owner of the store advised her that as she demonstrates initiative and hard work, he may bump her up to be the manager of marijuana sales in the spring, but wages will be the same until Dear leader sees fit to jack up the minimum wage by another fifteen cents.

With her advanced age and arthritis, part-time is all she can manage. But it helps to make ends meet especially when she comes home bearing grocery bags filled with stale bread and withered fruit.

I couldn't help observing that right after the fifteen-cent increase, Dear Leader, Duh-wite, awarded himself a $400,000 forgivable loan courtesy of the Newfoundland taxpayers.

"He's helping the poor people, in Deer Lake," said spouse.

An announcement by Al 'the Pirate' Hawkins, Minister of Unemployment, draws me back to the evening news. He announces a strategy to lure back home the sons and daughters of Newfoundland who have moved to other parts of Canada and the USA to avoid starvation. Al 'the Pirate' drones on about facilitating, aligning, demographic challenges, and growing the economy--I suspect with all the big words he's been talking to Dr Dale, Minister of Illiteracy. He talks about glad tidings of great joy in the future of our fair land but with his hang-dog look, you just know his heart's not in it.

"We'll offer them an incentive," he says. "It's called coming home."

He mumbles something about welcoming back everyone who is under 44 years of age.

"What about us," screams Spouse.

"There is no point in shouting at the TV," I advise her gently.

Al 'the Pirate' finishes up by giving us a website. We can go online and fill in a survey about coming home.

Spouse suggests we should fire up the dilapidated 2007 Toshiba laptop, pretend we're living in Scarborough, and complete the questionnaire.

I point out that we are right here in St. John's and it wouldn't be proper for us to pretend we are young Newfoundlanders living on the mainland making big money.

"We'll do it anyway," said spouse.

I was surprised by her devil-may-care attitude.

"It would be disloyal to Dear Leader," I said, 'not to mention being fractious, deceitful, and traitorous to our homeland."

To make a long story short, we went on-line and started to fill in the survey. Spouse pretended she was in her late 20s, and I was just 30. We told them we were in the money, both making well over $400,000 a year, as pharmaceutical executives. Life was good in Scarborough, but we'd throw it all in and come back in a flash to live in Paradise or Pigeon Inlet on welfare. 'We yearn to return,' I wrote at the end.

Spouse observed, with a twinkle in her eye, that I still looked as good as I did in olden days.

"This is getting out of hand," I said. "I've got a headache."

In my wild dream that night, I was living 10 years in the future. The entire expanse of our frozen land had become a tropical paradise, the clear green waters of Conception Bay reflected the cloudless azure skies of Avalon, frolicking children crowded pristine beaches free of plastic shopping bags and dead salmon, rooftop solar panels provided free power to dazzling white adobe homes. My dream world came complete with banana trees, contented moose, and a choice of free Raspberry screech or Mango OG marijuana.

In my serene Land of Nod, spouse and I spent our nocturnal hours wandering the strand, she in her Hawaiian grass skirt and me in my Samoan warrior loincloth, dancing and playing our ukuleles, greeting the untold thousands of friendly island neighbours who had returned to our pine-clad hills from the badlands to the west. We thanked God for this paradise and for Dear Leader, Duh-wite, who created it.

No more, the spindrifts whirling or tempests roaring. No more, the wild waves lashing our strand. No more, the silvern voice of bullying Big Eddie challenging members of the opposition to come outside Confederation Building and fight like men.

Perhaps, after all, my dream was exactly what Sir Cavendish Boyle envisioned when he wrote the Ode to Newfoundland in 1902 as he governed forlornly from frigid Government House in St. John's, pining for his former home in Barbados.

When I awoke in the early morning, the sound of freezing rain and sleet clicking against my bedroom window dispelled any notion that my dream was reality. Spouse snored peacefully beside me. I wondered if she shared my dream.

Lately, she has taken to wearing rose-tinted goggles when she retires after her relaxing nightcap of Fifty Shades of Bay. I find the goggles unsettling, but she explains that it helps her focus her dreams of sunbathing with the mermen on Middle Cove Beach.

When I tell her about my tropical island dream, she accuses me of having subliminal thoughts of going on vacation without her.

Downstairs, I power up the dilapidated Toshiba laptop. There is a Facebook message from Al 'the Pirate' Hawkins, Minister of Unemployment, asking if we'd volunteer to be the model son and daughter of Newfoundland for his big poster campaign. 


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