My new book “Midlife Solo” is now available.

Beth Kaplan logo


Here’s a story of what it is to be a true gentleman and friend: Tonight, W*son and I were invited to dine at an upscale Italian restaurant as the guests of Ben, a dear friend who’s a wealthy engineer and developer in his eighties, leaving T.O. for his Miami home in a few days. The two of us arrived in our snazziest gear and waited. Twenty minutes later we were still waiting, while waiters hovered, and at the half hour mark, I called. Ben was devastated – he had completely forgotten. He’d had a very busy afternoon and was exhausted, very sorry but he would not be coming out.

So there we were, two indigent writers all dressed up in an expensive, dare I say overpriced, restaurant. I suggested that we have a nibble of something and go back to my house where I’d make an omelette. No, he was having none of it; Mr. Choy said, we’re here, we’ll stay and have a wonderful dinner. So we did – lobster tagliatelle to begin, then shrimp stuffed with crab and osso bucco – exorbitant for the likes of us. Utterly delightful on a freezing, dark night of wind and rain – a glowing Italian restaurant, plates of rich food, and the finest company.
My friend told me about his singlehanded campaign in the early sixties to change racist American immigration policy. When his first short story, written in his teens, was not only published but chosen for “Best American Short Stories” of that year (!!!), he was invited to go to New York, and applied for a visa. He was turned down, because there was a quota of people “from the Asia-Pacific Triangle” who were permitted in, and the quota for that year was full. “But I’m a Canadian,” he said, confident this would solve the problem. “I was born in Canada.” No, he found out, he was not Canadian to them; he was Asian and inadmissable.
So he hitchhiked from Vancouver to Ottawa with a large sign about this injustice, his cause adopted by Quakers who put him up along the way; he was eventually interviewed extensively on news networks and by Pierre Burton. He was about to go on a hunger strike – to insist that Lester B. Pearson stand up for the rights of a Canadian citizen in the House of Commons – when the PM eventually did. Eventually, the Asia-Pacific Triangle quote was rescinded. And W*son moved into the Quaker House in Toronto and began a new life.
The bill arrived; Mr. Choy pulled out a frayed wallet and slapped down his Visa. What could have been a disappointing evening turned into a feast of friendship and stories about a crazy and wonderful life.
What made our pleasure poignant was that the restaurant, Biagio, is directly opposite Occupy Toronto, the tent city of protestors living in the park beside St. James Cathedral. As we dined, we looked out on a ragged assembly of tents and tarps, huddled together on this freezing wet night. Mr. Choy and I are also the 99%. But tonight, by accident and design, we ate like the 1%, and we enjoyed every bite.



2 Responses to “royalty”

  1. Is it necessary to divide humanity into only two groups: 99% and 1%? Surely there is an infinite number of percentages and as you point out, it is possible to be more than one at a time.

    I perceive that one of the things Wayson and his peers fought for (and Rick Mercer eloquently articulated the other night) was that a person should be considered not part of one group or another, but as an individual with infinite possibilities.

  2. beth says:

    You're right, Chris – I'm sure those proportions are off in any case. They're making a point about an increasingly destructive and unfair imbalance in our society, and so far, doing so without violence. Whether it changes anything remains to be seen. I missed Rick's rant – will check it out. But yes, it's easier to lump people into categories than to deal with them as individuals, in all their flawed glory.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

Some Blogs I Follow

Chris Walks
This blog evolves. It once was about travels. Now it’s a reason to be at the keyboard that I value.


Theresa Kishkan
Theresa Kishkan is a writer living on the Sechelt Peninsula on the west coast of Canada.


I walk on. With my feet, and in my mind as well.


Carrie Snyder
Wherever you’ve come from, wherever you’re going, consider this space a place for reflection and pause.


Juliet in Paris, Spain and Beyond
Juliet is a Canadian who’s lived for decades in Paris and writes about her travels and the many things that interest her.