Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at
Posted 12.15.10
Stanstead, Quebec



Oh, hi, Michael!

My daughter Katie has a friend at school who tells her that he would like to appear in one of my columns. Let's call this friend "Michael."

I'm always willing to try to satisfy reader requests, as long as they comply with legal standards, are not likely to surpass accepted social norms, and don't involve crossing state lines.

For example, if a reader requested that I include more barracuda references in my columns, I could happily comply. But first I would have to determine whether the plural of "barracuda" is "barracudas" or "barracudi." And then I would have to spend the rest of the day purging the song "Barracuda" from my head, as performed by the seminal girl-rock band Heart.

This in turn would lead me to recall Heart's absolutely worst song, "All I Want to Do Is Make Love to You," which I can't sing without changing the lyrics to "All I Want to Do Is Rub Butter on You," which brings us back to surpassing accepted social norms.

But let's get back to Michael.

Say I was to mention Michael in one of my columns. How would I do so? Would it just be a passing reference? For example, I might be writing about the way my brother-in-law's dog used to sit and stare at our hamster in its cage and drool to beat the band. Then I might write, "I haven't seen that much drool since Katie's friend Michael fell asleep on our sofa and left a drool pool on the pillow."

Not that this is true. I'm just using this as an example. As far as I know, Michael's saliva output is right on par for your average teenage male. Quite frankly, I've never discussed the drool capacity of their friends with any of my children. It's just never come up, though I suspect it may now.

Or I could be writing about the time I saved three Togolese migrant workers from a burning abattoir, using nothing but my bare hands to tear into the building, hurling beef carcasses aside amid the acrid smoke, determined to save these poor undocumented slaughterhouse employees whose only crime was their desire to make a new life in a country that reveres the overconsumption of meat. Then I could write, "I felt like I had the strength of ten men or one Katie's friend Michael."

Also not true. I've never rescued any Togolese migrant workers. They were from Cancun.

The alternative would be to base my entire column on Michael. But what to tell? Do I tell the part about Michael's parents being former government agents on the run from Lebanese origami enthusiasts whom they double-crossed in a sting that involved a Rubik's cube contest, a complicated orchestral arrangement of Heart's "Crazy on You" and yet surprisingly no barracudas/barracudi?

Should I even mention Michael's uncanny ability to untangle strings of Christmas lights, his prodigious lung capacity, or his fondness for knitting oven mitts for all his teachers? What about the birthmark? Too personal? Even given its uncanny likeness to the profile of Tommy Lasorda?

And how could I be sure, without having received a notarized waiver from Michael and his parents (if they are, in fact, his parents), that they wouldn't sue me for revealing the truth about Michael's heroic destiny, which will be revealed to mankind when the time is right? "They won't sue," you say. Yeah, sure, but we all know how former government agents on the run from Lebanese origami enthusiasts can be.

And if I meet Michael's request, aren't I setting a precedent for others? If I mention "Michael" in my column, next thing you know I'll have to mention "Kasey" or "Ceci." Of course, no one else is quite as awesome as Michael but that's not the point.

So, having weighed the pros and cons and having wasted several minutes Googling images of Heart's Ann and Nancy Wilson in their prime Spandex days, I have to say, I'm sorry, Michael. I've changed my mind: I don't do requests.

Ross Murray's collection, You're Not Going to Eat That, Are You?, is available in Quebec in area book stores and through He can be reached at