“Don’t stand so . . . don’t stand so . . . don’t stand so close to me,” go the lyrics to the Police song of the same title. The song serenaded my brain as I read reports of Dalton McGuinty asking for a little more room from reporters during scrums. Seems I wasn’t the only one, as Canadian Press posted a video on the new five-foot rule set to the tune.
Being a little claustrophobic myself, I can understand Dalton’s desire for a little breathing room.
But if claustrophobia were his problem, I would have expected to see this story five years ago. So I began to wonder whether someone had embarrassed him with a pie in the face or had thrown shoes at him. I scanned the media to no avail, finding no slapstick moment that embarrassed him.
The five-foot rule is probably no more than a question of optics, and a desire to control his image in the media, but it’s more fun to speculate.
After all, for someone with nine siblings, I didn’t think personal space issues would come up. The McGuintys would have grown up literally on top of each other, trying to eke out a few extra inches of oxygen around them at every turn.
The very idea of it makes me light-headed.
I remember my sister taunting me by stepping over the threshold into my room and it would send me into near panic attacks (and there were only two of us). I wanted my space.
With 10 children in the McGuinty house there would have been no way to claim territory. I would hazard a guess that even at night in Dalton’s dreams his siblings would find a way to creep in and get in his face.
Imagine dinner time. His poor mother. I can barely handle a dinner party for eight, but there could well have been 11 around their table nightly — and no microwave to speed up dinner preparation.
I have a bit of knowledge of how things might have gone at their supper table, as my father has 10 siblings. He described dinners as “not all that harmonious” and his father would often pound on the table and demand that everyone eat in silence. They had a long trestle bench for “flexible seating” of the “little people” including a spattering of neighbourhood kids (like 11 wasn’t enough already).
My dad says “the fare was quite rudimentary” and he was quoted by his siblings as saying, “Mother, don’t you have any imagination?” Corned beef hash was often on the menu, and as the oldest child, he regularly made it.
Fast forward to today. My dad really likes his space, loves quiet and his time alone (and he is a gourmet cook). So perhaps Dalton has pounded his hand on the media scrum dinner table and asked for space instead of quiet.
Granted, with his calm demeanour, he would have done it in a kind, level manner.
But if Dalton’s recent space issue was in fact a rebellion against his younger years, trying to reclaim oxygen he lost growing up, you might then find it crazy that he chose to have four children of his own.
I can barely run the appropriate strategic defense against a duo of children, let alone a quartet. The lack of space, amount of toys, and cacophony I’m imagining is making me want to go stand in a big field all alone with my arms outstretched, breathing deeply.
So, I have no problem with his asking for a little “breathing space,” regardless of whether it is needed literally (wanting room from the questioners) or metaphorically (wanting room from the questions).
I surprised myself and voted for Dalton’s Liberals, twice. I trusted him and felt that he was striving to do the right thing. But since becoming a parent, knowing he was one of 10 children, and still choosing to have four of his own, I question his sanity slightly.
I do, however, admire him for living to tell the tale (OK, truth be told I really admire his wife). Clearly, scrums are something altogether different for Dalton (even if they have been likened to a pack of snot-nosed brats at times).
We’ll probably never know what caused Dalton to change the rules of the scrum. Maybe it was one reporter’s too-strong perfume or lack of antiperspirant that made him snap. Perhaps a sickly reporter’s phlegmy cough caught him full on the lips. Or maybe, as the Police song goes, he wants to avoid close proximity to a pretty, young scrum-vixen.
Really, it doesn’t matter why Dalton wants more space (because we truly do have more important things to worry about).
Let’s leave him be — and thank him for the extra day with family this week (a topic he knows quite a lot about).