Glenn Cochrane: Where never is heard an encouraging word

Sturdy Gert McCurdy is just back from her old stomping grounds in the frozen north, and she is positively brimming with news. She was invited up to the town of Miserable Lagoon to officiate at a Polar Bear throwing contest which, as it happens, was won by a local athlete named Big Bad Eddie Warburton.

The Sturdy one fell hopelessly in love with Eddie over a bowl of frozen tundra which they shared at a banquet held in the town igloo following the contest. Eddie appeared to be likewise smitten, but to tell the truth, when Sturdy sets her cap for a fellow, he can either go along for the excitement or risk spending several months in the fracture ward at the local hospital.

The couple had a wonderful time for a few weeks until one evening Sturdy knocked him senseless following a heated dispute at Snowball Billy’s Bar and Grill, at the conclusion of which she announced the love affair was over.

The police were called  in to assess the damage which included three shattered chairs, four broken jaws caused when Sturdy missed her intended target with a roundhouse right and a plate glass window shattered by bar patrons fleeing the scene. During the investigation, one of the police asked Sturdy how she could have dumped Eddie when she seemed so much in love. She replied that she could not possibly respect a man who didn’t know a right uppercut always followed a left hook and the investigation ended on that note.

And one final comment on Sturdy before moving on to matters of lesser import. Sturdy has spoken recently of staying in town for a while because she is angling for a test driver’s job on the new Toronto streetcars before they come into service. Nothing to report yet but I will keep you informed.

I see by the papers that a new service has been developed featuring people being hired to contact other people and deliver flattering messages about their accomplishments, personality or other aspects of their personal makeup.

Now this is the sort of thing that gets alarm bells ringing in what’s left of my brain. I assume that the message will be delivered on a flatter platter and handed over with a courtly flourish to the recipient, but the aspect that puts my senses on full alert is that the compliment is paid for by the sender.

Next thing you know the habit will be picked up by the private sector, and I predict this will only have a damaging effect on what might be termed He-She relationships.

Conjure up if you will a scene where a young man arrives at his date’s door and rings the bell. She answers, takes one look at him and shrieks in an excited tone, “My, don’t you look handsome!” The young man reels with delight at the compliment and before his pleasure has subsided the young lady says, “And furthermore that will be $3 plus sales tax and GST.”

Now I am no expert on the dating scene, and offhand I can think of many embittered women who would support that claim, but I would suggest that such an opening exchange just might not be the best way to start a meaningful relationship. The whole idea of choreographed compliments runs contrary to everything we hold dear in our society.  Furthermore I would suggest that three bucks plus GST and sales tax is not cheap.

Phony flattery, customized compliments and ersatz ecstasy is not the way to conduct oneself in civilized circles. It leaves me aghast and left to wonder whatever happened to Emily Post now that we need her so. The arbiters of good taste that once influenced our rules of conduct must be spinning in their graves. Clockwise of course because that is what a polite society has decreed.


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