the town is on the shore of lake ontario. it's quaint, picturesque, has various heritage designations, and was settled by catholics, protestants and empire loyalists. later, a reservation was set up nearby and some natives were forced to resettle there.
the last scandal they were involved with featured their church, the minister was trying to fire the organist for being an atheist.
this scandal is town wide.
"the beach is filled from the pier to the breakers with tourists from toronto!" she says it in her most scandalous voice. i immediately pick up from her inflection that she is using "toronto" as a substitution for whatever horrible racial epithet the locals are using. actually, the locals often use "toronto" directly as the horrible slur. it covers everyone who doesn't live in town, even the white ones.
they tell me how it's blown up in the local paper, how everyone is talking about it, at bridge, on the golf course, at the market.
"there are muslims on the beach." she says, "whole extended families, whole reunions, whole raucous parties of them. Ihave never seen so many people out having a nice time on the beach before. and the locals HATE THEM!!"
"they are so ignorant!" chuckles my dad.
"the letters in the paper talk all about how they bring their own food, and how bad it smells!" she goes on, "how they are not supporting the local economy, how they never buy anything!"
"they can't be expected to eat anything from the canteen, it's all filthy, overpriced and laced with pork." adds my pa. "i certainly bring my own food to the beach." he find the tourists sensible, reasonable humans, quite unlike his neighbours.
even the people who want to appear goodly and unracist come across as ignorant, the chief of police said they should welcome them because those people don't drink so they never cause any trouble.
"well, that's shocking, but not out of the ordinary for cobourg. so what are you going to do? open a halal kebab stand and be the only ones willing to serve the people from toronto?" i ask.
"oh, it gets worse." says my ma.
"and they all tell US all about it!!" breaks in my pa, "WE PASS FOR WHITE!" he whoops with laughter. "i'm passing for WHITE IN COBOURG!!"
i imagine the ridiculousness of that. after a summer playing golf every day, working on his yard and his acreage of swamp and forest. my father will be burnished to a dark complexion, like old leather, ruddy. black hair and sharply carved features. how anyone could mistake him for white is beyond me. his youth was very difficult, his family lost their land, they were judged because they were natives. he struggled with prejudice all his life.
"they are all so stupid and ignorant they think WE'RE WHITE!!" he laughs and laughs. "they think we'd agree with them!"
"i'll Fix Their Wagons," my mother has a unique capacity for mangling homilies with proverbs and making them seem really, really, threatening. "don't you worry."
the truly shocking part is the public swimming pool. my mother tells me she noticed a brand new sign up the last time she was there. "no one will be allowed to swim without a bathing suit"
my mother, always looking for some scandal said she asked about it. she imagined an outbreak of teen aged Lolitas having wardrobe malfunctions and swimming bare-breasted. or mothers who let their children go in naked when they were clearly much too old for that.
"but it's not to prevent nudity." she said, "it is really devious, i never would have imagined it if i didn't hear it from the people at the pool. it's to keep the muslim women from using the pool. they can't be out in public with bare arms and legs! they need to wear shirts and pants in the pool. they put up the sign to keep them from swimming! you aren't allowed to swim wearing clothing."
i was speechless. that was really devious.
"i haven't decided where to strike first." says my mother, clearly enjoying it. "i'm going to Change Their Numbers, pretty darn quick, too." she was menacing.
"not that there is much point, they are too stupid and ignorant. we won't be able to change much, they are all too set in their ways." my father is worn down from years of it.
i said i would come visit soon, and help them in whatever action they thought best. my pa told me when his next appointments in the city were, to have his upgrades inspected, we made plans to visit then.
it is so close to the city, and yet so very, very different from here.
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