The Re-education of Mr. Mc

It’s a bit embarassing that it took a, albeit cute, Chinese girl to teach me that O. Henry is one of North America’s literary greats, and not, as I had thought, just a chocolate bar.

Mandy said she has read something like 100 novels of classic Western literature. Am I really this uneducated? I’ve not read anything close to that number. I mean I guess I suffer somewhat from having libraries full of other options, but I do feel a little uncultured. And so it is that I’m setting a new goal for myself. For every new-pop novel I read, I must read one book pre-1970 (I know, 35 years isn’t technically ‘classic’ defining, but well…).

This week is college entrance exam week and about 9 million students are sweating their fake Nikes off in anticipation of being one of the 4.7 million that get to go to university. As any parent, teacher or survivor of the exams is happy to explain to the kids… it’s the single most important test a student will ever take. Now, I don’t know about all that – but it does decide whether the kid has the chance of getting a reasonable paying job or earns a rewarding, if not skill-transferable, carreer in sweeping highways.

I can’t imagine having so much pressure put on me to succeed, as had there been, I surely would be broom-in-hand right now. The whole thing does make you realize how much of a safety net there is in Canada for fuck-ups. Whereas the Chinese government evokes a sense of “tough love” on the academic adolescence (‘Get it right or you’re screwed’), in Canada it’s more that hippy parent that all the neighbourhood kids loved and all our parents hated. You know the one, lil’ Willow would stay out all night and come home pregnant and sporting a meth habit, and her parents would just go… “Ok dear, I see how you’re expressing yourself. I wish you would choose a different medium but I view you as a singularly responsible individual and will support you in any path you see fit to travel along. Want some nan bread?”

Anyway, I’ve been trying to get off this damn computer and into the bottle of wine I bought a week ago for about 2 hours now… I even bought French bread and cheese to go with it…

For those interested in the works of O. Henry, you can read a bunch of them at

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