Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Gene, Gene, the Farmin' Machine

Whenever I touch the lobe of my right ear, I think of Eugene Whelan.

I was talking to him just minutes before I lost it.

We were at the Ottawa Car Show, invited there by the man from Chrysler, Othmar Stein, who was hosting a VIP reception at the Westin Hotel. We drank white wine for an hour, then took a spin around the show, and were back at the bar in no time.

Gene was regaling us with stories about his adventures. I don’t remember what he was talking about, but it was sure funny.

My feet were hurting, standing in three inch heels, so I sat on the corner of a love seat, slipped and clipped my ear on the glass coffee table. A few minutes later somebody noticed blood streaming down my neck.

Seems I’d taken an entire chunk of the lobe.

I didn’t notice, mesmerized as I was by the guy who seemed like he was agriculture minister forever.

Gene, Gene, the Farmin’ Machine used to give six speeches a week at various places, didn’t matter where: a grocery store, a farmer’s field, a board room.

As the saying goes, he would go to the opening of an envelope.

For this, he made his staff suffer. They wrote these dense, dull, blorgy speeches about marketing boards, the Crow’s Nest Pass, the Europeans.

I know.

I had to read them as part of my job as a communications officer at National Liberal Caucus.

Thing is, he never gave one of them.

He always spoke off the cuff, just nattered on about ridiculous subjects, churning out the corny jokes faster than a Jewish comic in the Poconos.

He was a laugh riot, a true original.

A wizard, a true star.

I was sorry to hear of his passing, but I’m happy to know that Green Acres awaits him.

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