The following story is part a new feature, a fictional work by our columnist Wayne Douglas Weedon, a Manitoba author who writes a combination of fictional and factual stories, essays, and novels. Wayne is a brilliant writer whose style consists of simple declarative statements that stick in your mind as he leads you through an intricate web of circumstances to reach the lesson he set out to teach.

Wayne Weedon


Pregnant and deserted by her lover, a young girl moves in with her grandfather. When the baby boy is born, the grandfather agrees to look after him so his granddaughter may go to work. Despite the age difference, the relationship between the boy and his great-grandfather was more like two siblings than that of an adult and child. As this boy grew into a young man, he loved to look back and tell stories about his great-grandfather, whom he always called “Pops”.


When I came home from Ralph’s birthday party, I told Pops how the other children were making fun of me because I had never had a hotdog in my life, and, how they really laughed when I admitted I had never had Doritos or Coca-Cola. “They made me feel like I’m being deprived!”

“I suggest, whenever people are ridiculing you, you should try to re-direct the heat. You could just tell them the truth. Ask them why you would have had Coke if your Pops never bought it and it was never in the house. This way you are diverting the heat from yourself and onto me, and because I’m an authority figure, they are not going to make fun of me.”

“Isn’t that kind of evading the issue?”

“Yes, it is, but there is no sense in trying to argue with someone who thinks they know it all. These people would never understand why I do not have Coke in the house.”

“Why don’t you?”

“It is because Coke, Doritos and hotdogs are all junk-foods which I refuse to eat. These kinds of foods will eventually kill you if you eat them on a regular basis.”

I admit, I could not understand what Pops was talking about. Could stores be selling foods which can poison you? How could the government allow it?

The next day when I came home from school, Pops had a load of junk-foods on the kitchen table. Finally, I thought, I’ll be just like the other children. I was wrong. He began explaining to me why these foods are so bad. He started off with Jello-O Instant Chocolate Pudding which I had eaten at Ralph’s party. He asked me to look at the ingredients, and he began explaining them to me.

“What we are basically doing is adding laundry detergent to milk. These phosphates cause the milk to thicken into a pudding like chemical concoction, which children would spit out if it did not have an overload of sugar, artificial flavourings, and artificial colouring. Why would anyone feed laundry detergent to their children?”

I was astonished. How could this be true? Pops then went on by telling me these same phosphate compounds are also sold in drugstores as a laxative. He then stated, “If a child who consumes a lot of Jello-O Instant Pudding ends up with diarrhoea, the parent would never consider the pudding was the problem, they would assume the child just got a ‘touch of the flu’ and the doctor would likely agree.”

Things even got worse when Pops went on about Doritos and Coca-Cola.

“Coca-Cola is so bad I believe it should be banned. It is nothing but excessive sugar which will make you fat, and phosphoric acid which will eat out your teeth and bones. That is a scientific fact.”

“Wow, you’re pretty hard on Coke.”

“I cannot emphasise how bad it is, and I shudder to think how parents are giving this to babies.”

“But everybody at my school drinks it!”

“If everybody was eating gravel off the street, would you?”

I knew better than to argue with Pops, “Well, I don’t think Doritos are that bad. I mean they have corn in them.”

“Yes, and a lot of other things too. Doritos is a chemical feast. Why don’t we review what you normally eat at home? I want you to look at how unhealthy and expensive junk food is compared to real food. Okay?”

Pops then started talking about our normal meals, which is what he calls basic food. For example, he brought up last Sunday’s dinner which consisted of a roast of pork with potatoes and vegetables. Pops pointed out that he had picked up the roast from Sobey’s when they were having a sale on pork. Pops, if he can help it, never pays regular price for anything. The roast, which had six rib bones, cost just over seventeen dollars. Pops pointed out how I had two bones to chew on and he froze the other four bones, leaving a bit of meat on them. He explained he would put these bones in the pot the next time he makes soup to give it a little extra flavour and nutrition. Pops then explained how the three of us got two suppers and two lunches from this roast. “That makes a total of twelve meals from the roast. If we add in the vegetables these meals were no more than two dollars each, which is a lot less than what these junk foods or meals at McDonald’s would cost. And people complain about the high cost of food. Let them eat the basics and they would save a whole lot of money and they would be getting much better nutrition.”

Pops was making me feel bad, just like an ungrateful and spoiled child, “I see your point Pops. Now, what do I do about the others at school who make me feel embarrassed about having a homemade sandwich with an apple and celery stick for lunch?”

“Those homemade sandwiches I gave you had real pork on homemade whole wheat and rye bread, not your chemical glue which is referred to is Wonder Bread. Come to think of it, that’s a good name for it, I wonder why anyone would want to eat it. You’ve got to learn to ignore people and just get on with life. I bet there are some of your fellow students who would love to trade places with you. Many of them realize they live in a household where nobody cares about what they eat. Children would rather have a disciplinarian for a parent than one who ignores what they are up to. I advise you to just let criticism go in one ear and out the other.”

Oh boy, Pops was on a tirade. I had never seen him like this. He went on and on about the hotdog I had at Ralph’s. “Here’s another chemical concoction with the same laundry detergent in it and served on a Wonder Bread bun. I wouldn’t feed it to my worst enemy.” Pops sure had his dander up. I guess I should consider myself lucky that I have Pops to look after me. However, I do know what it’s like to be criticized and ostracized, and it’s not pleasant. No wonder people just go along with things they don’t agree with. Sometimes it’s not pleasant to be different.

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