Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at
Posted 01.17.16
Stanstead, Quebec


Out of my cold, gelled hands

It was painful hearing Barack Obama dance around the issue of gun ownership at his town hall meeting last week. The U.S. president had to come across as anti-gun but not too anti-gun. It was like watching a dad tell the kids he's super-chill but, hey, rules are cool, yo!

Among Obama's revelations was that his wife Michelle told him that if she lived in a farmhouse, say in Iowa, far from the sheriff's office, she would want a shotgun to protect her family.

First of all, I have a hard time picturing Michelle Obama living in a farmhouse anywhere. Secondly, I think the unwritten rule in Iowa is: if a criminal comes to your house, you just give him your chickens and send him on his way. Then you run him down with your tractor.

Mostly, though, as a Canadian living in a region that makes Iowa seem positively cosmopolitan, I can't think of any circumstances where I would want to own a gun, with or without a long-distance sheriff.

This unfathomability is what sets off that Canadian self-righteousness about gun control and gun violence, when really we shouldn't be smug about anything; our country was split in half this week because a single bridge was out.

Canadians don't get the U.S. fixation with firearms because guns are not part of our culture, let alone our constitution. We don't have the right to bear arms; we have the right to go curling on Friday nights.

What's needed by Canadians to fully understand this issue is empathy. We need to imagine something in our own culture that we wouldn't want taken away, something ingrained in who we are. Something like hair gel.

Now, I consider myself a responsible gel user. I keep my gel under lock and key. I've taken the gel instruction course. Consequently, I feel secure knowing that if someone breaks into my home, I can apply evenly to the perpetrator's damp hair, work through from roots to the end, and leave to dry naturally or style as desired while I wait for the police to arrive.

Not only do I have the right to gel in my own home but I feel I have the right to gel in public. You bet I support open gelling laws. You never know when you might walk by an attractive person or be ambushed by a job interview or meet the First Lady coming off the farm. Some bad guy might be using gel in a stick-up. You need to be able to whip yours out, save the day, look fabulous. As the saying goes, a gelled society is a polite society. Gel is the glue that holds us together. Without gel, we lack fullness and definition.

There will always be gel. If you ban gel, if you take it out of the heads of responsible, do-abiding citizens, only criminals will have gel, and they will be much better looking than the rest of us. Is that the world we want to live in? I shake my head "no" and not a hair moves out of place.

Yes, it's true that every year thousands of people are accidentally gelled, but this is again because of irresponsible gel owners who leave their tubes lying around. It breaks my heart, it really does, when I hear of a young child picking up gel and, without knowing a thing about all-day extra hold, even in damp conditions, that poor child tragically does not avoid eye contact.

And sure, sometimes people have too much to drink, angry words are exchanged about bangs, someone ends up Alberto-ed. But that's just a few bad hairstyles spoiling the scrunch. And remember, even without hair gel, the chances are just as likely that someone will wind up dread.

What all this suggests is we need to educate people better about hair gel, not ban it. This is where the so-called gel lobby can be so effective, teaching people the true facts about body and sheen and how gelling can save your marriage or disable a sales rep at ten paces or make you a better hockey player, or why it's important to have fifteen varieties of gel choices for every man, woman, and child.

Yes, gel use is escalating astonishingly but that's not because of gels themselves. That's because of high winds caused by climate change. You can't argue with science.

Obviously, there are differences between gels and guns, but I see now that, like gels, the battle for guns is all about control, even if it inevitably ends up down the drain.