Sunday, December 28, 2014

Adult Fun

“Dad, is it any fun being an adult?”

That was the philosophical bombshell my 11-year-old son dropped on me the other day. I think I was in the middle of struggling with some boring but necessary task and told him I had to take a rain check on playing his new zombie chainsaw video game.

I am a big believer in fun, but notwithstanding what you see in beer commercials, being an adult often gets in the way.

There’s keeping track of paying not-so-fun bills, making sure there’s gas in the car and the dirty furnace filter gets changed when the thermostat starts beeping at you.

It’s a special adult joy this time of year to gather together all your stubs and receipts to so you can pay your taxes. I know there are people depending on me to pay them. If I don’t pay my taxes there’s some senator who will have to go without their housing allowance or will have to travel coach.

A child doesn’t know the fun of running down the street in your pajamas on hearing the garbage truck at the end of your driveway at 7:30 in the morning when for the past six months they’ve come regularly at 4:30 in the afternoon and you haven’t put your trash out.

Adults have to do the responsible things like schedule doctor and dentist appointments or find someone to unclog a toilet on a Sunday evening.

They have to pay attention to boring things like life insurance, college funds and putting on an itchy suit to go to the occasional funeral of elderly aunts.

Inside the house everyone’s favourite groceries have to be continually restocked, floors cleaned and laundry done. Not many people would consider any of these things fun.

And then there are the responsibilities of parenthood, with everything from wresting with long division and provincial capitals to mysterious stomach aches and bazooka barfing on the best rug in the house.

Speaking of dentists and doctors, there’s no adult joy like holding your child’s hand while they’re getting a needle or the dentist is at work with a drill on their first cavity. Plus you have to do it with a calm look on your face even though you’re feeling the pain at least as much as them.

It won’t come as a surprise to anyone with kids, but they do tend to put a crimp in your social life. If you want to go out you are at the mercy of your babysitter’s schedule. You could have playoff tickets, but you’re not going anywhere unless some 16-year -old chooses to accept your 10 bucks an hour instead of going out with her friends.

Forget spontaneous road trips, cheap last minute vacations or staying out until four because the Rolling Stones unexpectedly showed up to jam in a local bar.

Adults have to get up the next morning for work or get the kids to school with a nutritious lunch and their homework done.

And while it’s theoretically possible as an adult to eat candy and ice cream at every meal, stay up late and drive a car with big red flames on the sides, not many of us actually do it.

After listening to my catalog of responsibilities my son came to the inevitable conclusion: “So you’re saying that kids wreck adults having fun.”

I looked at him.

“No. You are the most fun thing in my life and I’m awfully lucky to have you. Now let’s play that video game. Those zombies aren't going to kill themselves."

© Stephen Lautens - 2013

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Farewell to Eddie Greenspan

I see Eddie Greenspan, one of Canada’s most well-known criminal lawyers, died on Wednesday. He was an excellent and joyous criminal lawyer, devoted to the abolition of capital punishment and putting the criminal justice system to the strictest of proofs.

I met him on one or two occasions (fortunately never in his professional capacity), but what I really remember about him is how he solved one of the great legal cases of our time that involved my parents.

Back in the 1980s my parents spent every New Years Eve with a motley crew of politicians, pollsters and advertising people. It was generally held at the home of the late, great Senator Keith Davey, who was my father’s long-time best friend. Regulars also included Martin Goldfarb, the pioneer political pollster, Terry O’Malley, head of Vickers & Benson advertising, and various other people who played in the public arena. The evenings had very little drinking involved (my father never touched the stuff) but a lot of party games, culminating in the “Canada Cup”.

The Canada Cup was the world’s ugliest trophy. Bought at Honest Ed’s as a deformed plaster lawn ornament, spray painted gold and with a little Canadian flag stuck on it, the Canada Cup was awarded to the person who made the most accurate predictions about the top events of the future year. Predictions were collected from everyone on New Year’s Eve on a variety of topics and sealed in envelopes to be opened a year later. My father was up against some of the most sophisticated public opinion pollsters and politicians in Canada, and year after year the hideous Canada Cup graced our dining room as dad beat them all in predicting the top events of the upcoming year.

One year, the winner of the Canada Cup was in dispute over the subjective interpretation of an answer. Not being able to decide a clear winner, Keith Davey said the only solution was to refer it to the legal system. He asked his pal Eddie Greenspan to hear the case.

Apparently Eddie showed up at a mock solemn gathering of the disputed parties, wearing his full court robes, and listened to each finalist argue their case as to why their answer was the correct one and why they deserved the much coveted Canada Cup. After hearing their arguments, Eddie delivered his judgment and one party went home with the world’s ugliest trophy and bragging rights for the ensuing year. There was no appeal to the Supreme Court.

Others will remember Eddie as a great criminal lawyer. I’ll always remember him as the Solomon who settled the great Canada Cup dispute (without charging a fee).