Your Reading List

Current finances offer cold comfort

The Jacksons from the February 7, 2019 issue of the Manitoba Co-operator

cartoon image of a family seated at a table

Rose Jackson slammed the door behind her, stomped her feet on the welcome mat, then sank down onto the bench beside the door to pull her boots off and toss them onto the rubber mat on the floor of the closet.

“This is ridiculous!” she called out. “Why are we not in Puerto Vallarta like normal people?” She hung up her coat and walked into the kitchen where Andrew sat at the table studying a bank statement.

“Calling Grant and Karen normal people is a bit of a stretch,” he said. “And in answer to your question, may I present The Bank Statement?”

Rose poured herself a cup of coffee from the pot on the burner. “No, you may not,” she said. “I am in no mood for a rational response just now. I need to warm up first.”

“Pretty cold out there?” said Andrew.

“Cold enough to freeze the ‘you-know-whats’ off a brass monkey,” said Rose.

“Balls?” said Andrew.

“Don’t be crude,” said Rose.

“It’s not crude,” said Andrew. “Do you not know where that saying comes from?”

Rose looked puzzled. “That saying comes from somewhere?” she said. “I thought it was just a way to describe how cold it is without swearing.”

“Oh no,” said Andrew. “The saying comes from the old days when cannon balls on ships were stored in piles on brass trays which for some reason were called monkeys. When the temperature got really cold the brass would contract more than the cannonballs would and then the balls would spill off the tray and go rolling around the deck. Hence the term ‘cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey.’”

“Huh,” said Rose. “Who would have guessed? I have to admit, now that I know what it means, it still sounds exactly as rude as it did before.”

“I know,” said Andrew. “It really does. Weird.”

Rose shivered and took a sip of her coffee. “I don’t like being cold,” she said. “I know I’ve said this to you many times before, and yet, here we are.”

“Don’t blame me for the poor judgment of our ancestors,” said Andrew. “They could have just as easily settled in Brazil or Arizona but no, they chose Canada. And just to add insult to injury, they chose Manitoba. Not my fault. And I’m doing everything I can,” he added. “Yesterday I let the truck run for a full half-hour so it would be nice and warm before we went out and also to contribute as much as possible to global warming.”

“Don’t get me wrong,” said Rose, “I appreciate that. But still. We could be in Puerto Vallarta.”

“Yes,” said Andrew. “That has its appeal. But on the other hand, if we were, then we would be expected to hang out with Grant and Karen. So that’s a drawback.”

“Grant and Karen are our best friends,” said Rose. “Hanging out with them would not be a drawback. I know you’re just trying to make me feel better but it’s not working.”

Andrew heaved a sigh. “I know,” he acknowledged. “I’m doing a very bad job of being a husband at the moment. But in my defence, it’s not much worse than usual.”

“That’s a rock-solid defence,” said Rose, “although not necessarily one you should be using. A better defence would be, ‘oh look honey, I just went online and bought us tickets to Mexico.’ I would buy that defence.”

“I’m sure you would dear,” said Andrew. “But first I would have to buy tickets to Mexico and we both decided together, back in August when it was 32 above outside, that we couldn’t afford tickets to Mexico this winter because we would rather help Jennifer out with her tuition costs which in retrospect was a horrible mistake.”

“We should never make decisions when it’s 32 above,” said Rose.

“Obviously,” said Andrew. “The heat just scrambles our brains.”

“Here’s what we should do,” said Rose. “Right now we should put on our boots and go sit on the porch in just our pants and shirts for about 10 minutes and then we should decide whether we’re going to go to Puerto Vallarta next year or not.”

“That’s a great idea,” said Andrew. “The cold will sharpen our minds and help us focus.”

“Exactly,” said Rose. “We won’t mix up our priorities to where our children are suddenly more important than lying on a beach in the middle of January. Shall we go out and sit?”

“We could,” said Andrew, “but there’s a drawback.”

“What,” said Rose.

Andrew hesitated. “I’m not sure how to put this,” he said. “It’s cold out. I’m not a brass monkey but… ”

“Say no more,” said Rose. She raised her mug. “Next year in Puerto Vallarta.”

“Amen,” said Andrew.

About the author

Rollin Penner's recent articles



Stories from our other publications