GORDON SANITAIRE by Gordon Urquhart (XXX)

Educating The Little Man

Titus sometimes calls me Gordon. Mostly, as you might expect, he calls me Pa. I’m his grandfather, so I suppose it was going to be grandpa or pop or poppy or something like that. Poppy always sounded a bit like a character out of a story set in the Appalachians during the Great Depression, where all the cast wear overalls, and the menfolk drive beaten up pickup trucks (as the Americans call utes), which you need to hand crank to start, and in fact the extended family only share the one car as nobody owns anything, as they’re so incredibly poor and need to grow their own food to live, and they play their Hillbilly music and sing their Hillbilly songs together, because playing and singing are free. A touching story where the message is about being yourself and overcoming adversity and not judging a book by its cover, and something too about the power of love. A story like that isn’t our story though. I’m not a Poppy. Pa seems to do the job just fine and I’m happy with it.

When Titus and I are spending time together we often get quite deep into conversation. He’s a thinker, clearly gifted, and he gets a lot out of our time together. Although he’s not yet four he’s learning and I’m showing him things which he’ll need later. When we talk in this way he often calls me Gordon. I encourage it. We’re like colleagues.

I took him with me into work the other day and he sat in on a board meeting at Scag Brae International, a wine and spirits importing company I work with. The little chap kept quiet and listened while the business of the day was discussed. They sat him in a little armchair in the corner. As the meeting was breaking up the little man said: “Gordon, oughtn’t you read the minutes of the last meeting before this meeting ends?” He was right.

The minutes were read, and approved, as they should have been at the beginning, and only then was the meeting adjourned. This pleased little Titus. He smiled his satisfied smile as we rode together in the taxi to Bruno’s Table. It was Titus’ first time at Bruno’s and he asked me many questions about the menu. I showed him how to question the waiter and how to order from the wine list. Then he asked me about the conduct of the meeting at Scag Brae and outlined a penetrating, and somewhat daring, strategy for breaking into the Vietnamese market. Vietnam has over 85 million people, he reminded me. I was impressed.

We shucked oysters together and he tasted my Chablis and I showed him how to send back a lamb dish that was insufficiently pink. “I requested rare,” he said to the waiter in a confident voice, “and this is clearly medium rare. Please tell chef I should like my lunch cooked properly this time.” I was proud of the boy.

Nancy says I won’t be allowed to take Titus out with me on my own for a few years now. She says he was sharp-tongued and acerbic after we returned. She says there’s no hurry for him to become like that full time. She says she’s his grandma and she knows best. Perhaps she does.

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Published in: on September 3, 2012 at 8:36 pm  Leave a Comment  

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