An exhaustive list of my shortcomings is beyond the scope of a single column. While generally not building a lifestyle based on the seven deadly sins, I would certainly have to admit scoring pretty high on sloth ... and several others. If it weren't for a weekly deadline, chances are pretty good I'd never get anything done.
Mañana, as both lifestyle and philosophy, has held me in a tight embrace since long before I knew there was a word in any language to describe it. I used to think my indolence was the result of an inherited procrastination gene, but now I realize even that evaluation was overly hopeful; procrastinators eventually stop procrastinating and get whatever they're avoiding done. Me ...
And I'm not what you'd call a snappy dresser, although I don't believe that is actually one of the seven sins. I mean, it not like you'd ever see Jesus on the cover of GQ. My sartorial tastes may just be a variant of sloth, I'm not sure. I enjoy clothes shopping about as much as I enjoy digging deeply lodged slivers of wood out from under a fingernail. Given a choice, I'd undoubtedly take the slivers—the pain doesn't last as long and the result is generally successful.
I once thought I'd outgrow this particular failing but there's no sign of hope and the horizon for outgrowing anything other than my less than snappy wardrobe is rapidly receding. I've now adopted a strategy of smearing grease or soil on my hands and using the excuse of either fixing the car or gardening as justification for whatever I'm wearing. It's a promising ploy—though not foolproof, and embarrassingly hard to explain in the middle of January when the garden's under a couple of metres of snow and no one in their right mind is fixing a car in a freezing garage.
All these coping mechanisms, like all justifications and rationalizations are, of course, built on lies and lying is not one of my strong suits. There was a time in my youth—approximately from the age eight through 53—when I showed promise of becoming a pretty good liar. I could spin a spontaneous tale to explain just about anything, absolve myself of any responsibility or wrongdoing, deflect criticism, garner sympathy, or keep from getting the snot beat out of me by someone I'd just insulted. After all, I'd tell myself, a good lie was just a different kind of truth. Who knew there would someday be a president of the U.S. who believed the same thing?
But to be a real player at the lying game, you need a near-perfect memory. Or a staff of enablers. Alas, whatever memory brain cells I was born with were pretty well squandered between 1968 and 1978. I don't remember exactly how. I do know by the time I moved to Canada in 1979, I'd adopted a doctrine of strict truth. Unless the truth was going to get me into more trouble or more badly beaten up than a feeble, spontaneous lie. It wasn't any easier to remember the truth but getting caught telling the truth was less embarrassing than getting caught telling a lie, assuming I hadn't apologized for telling the truth.
This propensity for telling the truth compels me to come clean about a shortcoming that is particularly noticeable this time of year and, perhaps, particularly this year. I'm not a hockey fan. Sticking with the truth theme, I know virtually nothing about hockey. Worse, I care even less.
Watching the news recently, it became clear I should have been uplifted, in a peculiarly Canadian kind of way, by the fact the Winnipeg Jets were in the semi-finals of the hockey playoffs. I believe they began some time in February. Sadly, they wound up losing to ... someone. This was, apparently, heartbreaking. Not heartbreaking like visiting Winnipeg in the summer but Nationally Heartbreaking since it's been almost forever since a Canadian team won the Stanley Cup.
My lack of interest in hockey is understandable, if unforgivable. I grew up in the desert. Places like Phoenix and Las Vegas didn't have hockey teams ... then. That's because they didn't have ice except in cocktails.
That changed when I moved to Canada searching for the kinder, gentler country the first George Bush promised. In Montreal, everything was ice. It being January, that apparently was not unusual. An early friend and acquaintance, Karl Belanger was the first Canadian who took it upon himself to save me from my hockey ignorance as well as teach me how to correctly pronounce his last name. He was understanding about how someone growing up in the desert might not have a firm grasp of the sport and he burned with the desire of a disciple to set me on the path of true belief. He failed miserably and finally gave up when I opined about how the sport would be much better if it adopted non-contact rules along the lines of pro basketball, itself still a non-contact sport during those days.
"Are you out of your mind? 'Itting is what 'ockey is all about," he said in a latent Patois brought on by hockey fever and too much beer.
I'd just watched Guy Lafleur roar down the ice and steal the puck from some guy who'd outskated all the other Canadiens and was about to go one-on-one with the goalie. After robbing his opponent of a shot, Guy skated the puck back down the ice, faking out the opposing defencemen, twisting, pirouetting and breaking free of all of them, getting close enough to have set up a deadly shot with no one between him and the goalie, raise his stick ... and then be tackled to the ice by some big goon who tripped him from behind.
"Why don't they just pull switchblades?" I exclaimed. "This is the stupidest game I've ever seen."
Karl gave up and that's still pretty much my take on hockey.
Admitting it is yet another shortcoming ... and in Canada quite possibly a deadly sin.
But I feel a renewed brotherhood with my fellow Canadians and hockey nuts. While most of them will watch the final games between Las Vegas and which ever other team is left, they'll watch through melancholy eyes, with half a heart, most likely keeping an eye on their Twitter feed or whatever else people with smartphones keep looking at. Another year, two U.S. teams duking it out, albeit with a healthy contingent of Canucks on their rosters.
They'll curse Gary Bettman, greedy owners, aggressive expansion teams and the Vegas showland spectacle that team has brought to the circus. But they'll watch.
I'll be procrastinating. The circle of life goes on.