The Thought of Being a Borrower
Robert Castle

I never beat my wife, a right married men still possess in some countries. Neither do I spuriously bash my kids on the sides of their heads. I go to my practice each day and look down the throats of wheezing infected children and listen to adults bellyaching about their HMOs. I pray before getting into bed each night. Furthermore, my soul's slate is buffered by regular attendance at Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation. If I have committed my share of sins, God will forgive me. Normal men are led astray, this is a fact of life, more so than women are. This is why the prison system houses more men than women. One must take everything into account, that is, the boredom of conjugal life after the second year, and the endless trouble my kids cause me.
This morning, for instance, before I could escape my house to get to the golf course, my two boys ran the lawn mower over a rock and displaced the rotary blade. Half the lawn had been cut -- the little rascals probably did it on purpose. And half a lawn cut looks worse than half a haircut. The mower would have to be taken to a repair shop, and I will be compelled to borrow a neighbor's mower to finish the lawn. If there is something I detest above all else -- I even prefer women's work to this -- it is the thought of being a borrower.
There are plenty of neighbors on the block who would be pleased to give me a lawn care machine for an afternoon, but my neighbors' goodwill will not appease me. I despise the type of individual who cannot live within his own means, who has to depend on other people. It simply is not fair to those people who do not depend on others. That's why I have little respect for foreign countries that expect my country to bail them out of trouble. If you have to borrow something, it is that very something you thought you could live without; therefore, it is preferable to live without it, rather than trying to borrow it from someone else.
Under these terms, borrowing is like stealing. I teach my kids this lesson, too bad the schools and television teach them otherwise. The world has lost the true meaning of the word sacrifice: "living without borrowing."
But there are exceptions to my principle. Say, if the lawn mower can't be fixed in a day or two. . . for there is one thing more important than not being considered a mooch by everyone, and that is having a well-groomed lawn around your house. An untidy, ragged lawn attracts dogs -- a dog owner feels less guilty about the dog doing its business on untidy lawn.
And for suffering the humiliation of having to borrow a lawn mower, I will take it out on my boys' rear ends. Indeed, I might lose control of my temper and lapse into a savage state of mind and destroy my entire family. I have a gun in my doctor's bag beneath the stethoscope. At least, this might be an impulse, but it passes before I can find the bag. Everyone is safe for now.
I do not admit to being perfect, to being a civilized individual to the core, but could God, society, or my wife hold against me one or two admitted failings?

The End of Travel, Robert Castle's comic memoir of a European journey taken when he was a young man, is available for purchase from elimae's affiliate, Triple Press.