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zoeq1000


Nov 6, 2005, 9:44 AM

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Godparents in Mexico, what do you do?

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We were just asked to be godparents to a girl in Mexico with a $650 usd obligation off the bat. We know her family well and they have helped us to get accustomed to living here. I know this titile entails financial obligation not just once, but throughout the girl's life. I'm unwilling to agree to a long-term commitment. I feel if I give part of the money, I will still be obligated. How do I get out of this gracefully and remain friends?



jennifer rose

Nov 6, 2005, 10:15 AM

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Re: [zoeq1000] Godparents in Mexico, what do you do?

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Without knowing how much you're worth, how much the other family's worth, and the extent of your relationship with them, it's hard to say whether $650USD is too much or too little. But I'll take a stab, venturing that it's way out of line. That the parents approached you with a dollar figure sends warning signals out to me.

There are no hard-and-fast rules governing the godparent relationship. Godparents have been known to be there, and contribute, to only one occasion, such as a baptism, never to be heard from again. And there are those who are in for the duration of everyone's natural life. Generally, it's only a one-shot deal, and different grandparents may preside over a child's first communion. There's no obligation to step in and raise the child in the parents' stead if something adverse were to happen to the parents.

I've used "Sorry, but I'm Jewish," to beg off being a godmother, telling the parent that Church expects a godparent's religion to match the child's. But I fulfilled my godmotherly obligation to buy the child's first communion dress, taking the child out shopping with her mother to buy a suitable dress instead of simply handing over the money.

You might simply tell your friends that you're not capable or worthy of the honor of being a godparent, telling them that you'll buy the child a gift instead. If your friends take umbrage at this approach, then you might want to seriously question the quality of the friendship.


zoeq1000


Nov 6, 2005, 1:26 PM

Post #3 of 45 (11903 views)

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Re: [jennifer rose] Godparents in Mexico, what do you do?

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Thanks so much, Jennifer. This is, indeed, a sticky situation with a very nice family who befriended us when we first moved here. We've already paid $300 in school tuition and many, many gifts and dinners to exchange for their help. I really don't want to be more involved than I've already have. I expect to be hit up again for tuition or something that they really need on the spot. But parties forever, I'm not willing to do. I like the religion answer because it is so true. But they can always just say it doesn't matter to them.


esperanza

Nov 6, 2005, 1:55 PM

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Re: [zoeq1000] Godparents in Mexico, what do you do?

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If you are not Catholic, your religion may not matter to the child's parents but it matters to the Church. One of the responsibilities of the godparents at baptism is to be spiritual parents to the child if the parents die. In most places all over the world, the Church insists that both baptismal godparents be Catholic.

Having said that, if the parents are asking you to be padrinos of certain other aspects of the baptism (the baby's dress, the candle, etc) or other sacrament or event such as First Communion (the New Testament, the rosary, the child's outfit, etc) or quinceaños (15th birthday--flowers, dress, etc), then there is no requirement that you be Catholic. You and your spouse are admitted to the family circle as compadres, with all the rights, duties, and privileges thereof.

It's tough to say no to this kind of compadrazgo.

http://www.mexicocooks.typepad.com









(This post was edited by esperanza on Nov 6, 2005, 1:57 PM)


Marlene


Nov 6, 2005, 2:36 PM

Post #5 of 45 (11872 views)

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Re: [zoeq1000] Godparents in Mexico, what do you do?

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Right, this is a bit of a sticky situation. It sounds like you have paid a bit already, but then again I don't know what the agreement is you with them. May I ask how long have you known the family? To me, there shouldn't be a price on friendship so if they are working for you and doing things for you, a wage should be specifically paid. That way there is no further obligation as far as feeling you must pay tuitions and other never ending things which add up to far more over the long run. Probably now IS a very good time to nip it in the bud.

One thing I have observed here is that people, whether they know you well or not, have no problem asking for financial help. A friend who is an up and coming lawyer says he gets hit by friends, relatives and old school-mates at least once a week and is in the habit of saying his growing firm isn't doing so well, simply because he can't possibly be loaning out money, but feels bad just saying no. (He has a family of 3 little girls also.) Good luck and I hope it all works out for you.


(This post was edited by Marlene on Nov 6, 2005, 2:43 PM)


zoeq1000


Nov 6, 2005, 2:58 PM

Post #6 of 45 (11859 views)

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Re: [Marlene] Godparents in Mexico, what do you do?

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I've known the family since a year ago July. We haven't had an agreement. They simply helped us because, ostensibly, they wanted to. These are good and decent people from a working class. I have a great deal of affection for them, both father and daughter. But I do feel they are lining us up to help their daughter without limit. I was very shocked that they asked for $650 US. I thought they were asking for 650 pesos but my husband chimed in and said, US dollars, right? Yes was the answer.

My neighbor says that certain economic strata do this as common procedure. His family never has done this even though they don't have much.

I would prefer to help out if the family doesn't have tuition again, say. Like I said, they helped us out a lot, helped us find a house and buy it. So I am not opposed at all to doing something for them. But I would like a choice in the matters. I'm opposed to being tricked into a situation where I am obligated for many future payments.


jennifer rose

Nov 6, 2005, 3:12 PM

Post #7 of 45 (11852 views)

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Re: [zoeq1000] Godparents in Mexico, what do you do?

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You've only known these people only a little over a year, and you're even considering forking over $650USD for the honor of being a godparent? And after you've already paid $300 USD for tuition? That's patently ridiculous. Ann Landers would tell you to have your head examined before handing over that kind of money. And I'm telling you the same.

Many people feel that it never hurts to ask. Goodman the Doberman asks repeatedly for some of my dinner in addition to his own, but that doesn't mean that I should feel compelled to share my steak with him. He's a good and honest dog for whom I have a great deal of affection, but he's still not going to get my steak. It's not going to be the end of the world for these people if you don't pony up. If it ends the friendship, then you'll know what that friendship was worth to begin with.

If you fall prey to their demand, you're setting yourself for even more demands as time goes on, and the only way you'll be able to escape is by moving to another part of the country. I am not making this up.

Simply tell these folks that you can't do it, and wish them well. You don't need to go into great detail to justify your decision.


gpk

Nov 6, 2005, 3:27 PM

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Re: [jennifer rose] Godparents in Mexico, what do you do?

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Great advice jennifer! All exactly right.

"Many people feel that it never hurts to ask." This is the rule here--I have lived in several different places and in each one I have been hit up for "help". You have to set the limits, be realistic and give only what you want.

With family it can be tougher. A Mexican friend is "told" by his family what he has to "contribute" to each sobrino's life moment. His "contribution" to his neice's upcoming quinceaños is going to be 10 cases of a specific brand of tequila. He, of course, said yes.


zoeq1000


Nov 6, 2005, 3:52 PM

Post #9 of 45 (11834 views)

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Re: [jennifer rose] Godparents in Mexico, what do you do?

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No, I wasn't considering it. I simply wanted to know how to get out of it gracefully. And besides, I've already had my head examined, at least a few times. I want to know the custom and if I can't get out gracefully, well, I'll get out nonetheless. I don't think any of us should allow someone to lay obligations at our feet. And I'm not part of their culture as they are not part of mine. I wouldn't insist someone follow my cultural ways. Likewise, they have no right to trick me into theirs. I say "trick" because THEY know what to expect from a padrino and they very well know I do not. And you are right. Mexicans do not mind asking. My neighbor asked for money and I told him I wasn't comfortable loaning anyone money. He's still our friend. Don't you think that speaks volumes?


Miguel Palomares


Nov 6, 2005, 5:38 PM

Post #10 of 45 (11813 views)

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Re: [zoeq1000] Godparents in Mexico, what do you do?

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Money is a ticklish issue in Mexico because so few have it. I have a sizable handful of poor relatives. I could be handing out cash every day. My wife knows that, except for a life-saving surgery, we are not in the bank business. At all.

I made one exception about three years ago (before I knew better, and was trying to fit in), and the recipient, a bro-in-law, turned out to be a childish, irresponsible deadbeat. End of relationship. End of bank business. Loans to friends or relatives often turn sour. That is more likely in Mexico than in the U.S.

Regarding God-parenting: When I was asked, I just said I was not Catholic, which I am not. End of potential God-parenting, too. Felt a little bad about that because the request came from my favorite brother-in-law. Ni modo.
From Tzurumutaro, Michoacan, "The Village of the Darned."
_______________________________________

The nuts and bolts of moving to Mexico:
http://michaeldickson.blogspot.com/
The dark side of living in Mexico:
http://mexicopeeks.blogspot.com/
Scintillating life in a Mexican pueblo:
http://tzurumutaro.blogspot.com/
http://tzurumutaro2.blogspot.com/


wendy devlin

Nov 6, 2005, 6:51 PM

Post #11 of 45 (11793 views)

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Re: [Miguel Palomares] Godparents in Mexico, what do you do?

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>If you fall prey to their demand, you're setting yourself for even more demands as time goes on, and the only way you'll be able to escape is by moving to another part of the country. I am not making this up.

I'm interested in JR's statement above.
Although I have not personally experienced this, the situation could possibly be a fit...at least in the small traditional towns of my experience.
My daughter, more experienced in the intricancies of Mexican relationships, once warned me that certain Mexican friends would in time, think of themselves as 'owning' me. A relationship not easily subdued or ignored without er...consequences.

>You don't need to go into great detail to justify your decision.

KISS...keep it simple. Words simple to say, harder to achieve.


Judy in Ags


Nov 6, 2005, 6:54 PM

Post #12 of 45 (11786 views)

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Re: [zoeq1000] Godparents in Mexico, what do you do?

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We had a similar experience. The man who was very involved in our decision to move to Aguascalientes asked my husband to be the padrino to his son. The son was the first of two children in an illegitimate relationship (he already had two grown by his ex-wife) and the child was born with MANY physical problems. We really didn't know how to get out of the situation, although we wanted to desperately. We'd asked about the responsibilities of the padrino and it was obviously they were expecting the full range of services from John. Before this process went on too far, the man asked his priest to meet us and discuss the issue (we aren't Catholic). The priest took us and the man and his parents, the girl friend, his sister, etc. out to a very nice restaurant for lunch. After eating and some pleasantries in our Spanish, which was pretty simple at that time, the priest came right to the point and told us that it wouldn't be possible for John to be a padrino since we aren't Catholic. Well, we had a hard time not breathing an audible sigh of relief. Instead, John very graciously told them all that we were interested in the child and that he would be special to us always. Whew!!!


TlxcalaClaudia

Nov 7, 2005, 4:47 AM

Post #13 of 45 (11739 views)

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Re: [zoeq1000] Godparents in Mexico, what do you do?

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It sounds like it will be easy to get out of since I think I read you mentioned you aren't of the same religion. I am Catholic, attend regularly, even go to confessions and help our Pastor out with office work voluntarily. So despite my very "Catholic" lifestyle, even we couldn't qualify for Godparents because Hubby and I have not yet been married in The Church but in a civil ceremony. I was allowed to sponsor an adult coming into The Church but not a child (yet). We are getting that taken care of now but I write this to emphasize that isn't as easy as them asking you (to be made Godparents ). So you might already be off the hook. From the sounds of it, I hope so because of the price stipulation. I never heard of Godparents paying more than the gown and festival afterwards though this may be cultural...but it is NOT Catholic.

Good luck!

Claudine


zoeq1000


Nov 7, 2005, 6:32 AM

Post #14 of 45 (11717 views)

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Re: [TlxcalaClaudia] Godparents in Mexico, what do you do?

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This girl is near 15 so it isn't a question of being Catholic for the baptism. They will have padrinos for other things, the cake etc. They wanted us to rent the property where they will hold the party.

I've read all your comments and I'm very thankful I have Mexconnect to ask. I've decided that $650 US is way too much to ask and that this family is trying to get the most out of their "rich" friends. And that it isn't a kind offer they have made to make us padrinos. It is a calculated one. Now I do really like this family very much. So if they are my friends afterwards, well, they truly are friends. And I do know that most Mexicans struggle for money so will do whatever they must to get it. So why not ask the whole enchilada?

That said, they are still my friends and they've put it in my hands to define the boundaries of our friendship. So be it.

I think that after reading all your comments that there is no way of getting out of this gracefully. So I wrote the family that in my culture we don't ask others for money, that I raised my daughter without help from anyone. I said that rich people don't start B&Bs when they retire. I would love to be generous, but I have too many other financial obligations. And since godparenting is evidently another financial obligation, I declined their kind offer to be godparents. And I hope we will be friends always.

These are the last people here I want to offend, but I see no other way. Thanks for all your stories on this. I haven't heard from anyone who lost friends in this situation. Anyone?


MariaLund

Nov 7, 2005, 7:02 AM

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Re: [zoeq1000] Godparents in Mexico, what do you do?

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Loosing friends due to not forking over "enough" financial help - enough in their opinion? Oh, yes, been there, though not in Mexico. Asking richer (or only more diligent with their finances) relatives and friends is typical for many countries where there is poverty and no social security of any kind. When I emigrated from Poland to Sweden my "friends" (usually those who weren't close friends when I lived in Poland, but who suddenly became very friendly when I emigrated) descended on me the first summer I had a house, eager to work in Sweden during their summer vacations. They assumed (without asking) that they will be allowed to live in my house, eat my food, borrow my car etc. etc. for three months without contributing any of their Swedish earnings, which they earmarked for a car purchase or something of the kind.

They brought some gifts, like crystal and silver, true, but it would not cover the cost of meals for one week, let alone for three months. Some of them ( a thrifty couple) went so far as to ask for take out lunches, because "eating out was so outreagously expensive in Sweden" lol. Oh, the hutzpah of some...). I put up with five of them one summer (yes, Jennifer, I know, I should have my head examined) and - when they were planning a visit next summer - told them firmly not to count on my continued hospitability, because they abused it. They were very insulted and I never had to deal with any of those "friends" again ... save for their vicious gossip among my other friends - a good deed towards the wrong people seldom goes unpunished.

Relatives are another matter, but, they, too, can be overly demanding. I finally dealt with all these demands by establishing a family fund (to which I contribute regularly on a monthly basis: more when I worked, less when I retired) with my aunt, who is a very sensible and just woman and never asked for anything herself, to distribute - as loans and gifts - among all the relatives as their needs might be, and as she thought fit. Since that time nobody ever asked for any more money or complained about the way aunt Maryla distributed the fund money. May be this method could be used for "godparenting" in Mexico as well.
Vivere non est necesse, navigare necesse est!

(This post was edited by MariaLund on Nov 7, 2005, 7:06 AM)


jerezano

Nov 7, 2005, 7:55 AM

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Re: [wendy devlin] Godparents in Mexico, what do you do?

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Hello all,

Wendy Devlin is absolutely right, that if you fall prey to constants requests for loans or gifts you will eventually have to leave the country.

60 years ago when I was a young man working in Hawiaii, an older friend retired. The couple had always wanted to live in Mexico so they retired to Mazatlán. A year later they moved to California. When I asked why they left Mexico after having desired to live there for so long, they explained that they had encountered a 14 year old orphan girl on the beach, had befriended her, had invited her to live with them. Rosy. But soon they discovered she had an orphan brother. Not so rosy. With the two in the house they then discovered other long-lost relatives, etc.

When the situation got intolerable--they had a high level of tolerance--they finally packed up and moved to California.

Nuff. said.

Adiso. jerezano.


Biggles

Nov 7, 2005, 9:54 AM

Post #17 of 45 (11662 views)

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Re: [zoeq1000] Godparents in Mexico, what do you do?

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Please tell us how this ends up. It's really interesting and will help for that day when it may happen to us.

Cheri


TlxcalaClaudia

Nov 7, 2005, 11:35 AM

Post #18 of 45 (11630 views)

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Re: [zoeq1000] Godparents in Mexico, what do you do?

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Hi Zoe-
Ah, this is for a quinceceñeria then? I was confusing this with the Godparenting at baptism. Well it is still a bit steep but the family obviously asked you because you are close. Telling them of your finances should not put them off. Some people do decline this. Asking for padrinos of dresses, of music or drinks is not that uncommon for something like this. In your case, the padrino of the hall. It is a big event and when you witness it, you will be amazed (I was when I saw one for the first time). Perhaps since you are looked upon as family that is probably what prompted them to ask you. We ourselves are giving $1000 USD for one next year, but it is something we have been looking forward to for the last few years. I even offered to buy the dress, but someone else got it taken care of. I didn't think it was commom to ask for money though (and in our case, we offered). Anyway, good luck. Oh and by the way, if it is for a quinceceñeria...then chances are not that they expect you to pay anything more after this. Now if they stipulated already that they do hold this expectation...run!

Claudine


julian3345

Nov 7, 2005, 9:35 PM

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Re: [jennifer rose] Godparents in Mexico, what do you do?

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Yes! very good advice. I was asked to be a madrina of something or other costing $200 for an overly elaborate wedding, but the novio had not introduced me to his bride nor had they even sent me an invitation, so I refused. I explained why, they got the message and we've remained friends. I did send an appropriate gift.

Like other posters, I am asked for money or the loan of various things and my strategy is to refuse money requests... occasionally offering work to the would be borrower, if appropriate, and I don't lend any of my tools or implements...they are just too difficult to replace or repair.

I prefer to come up with my own gifts...was very pleased to be able to provide swimming lessons for a 12 year old friend to celebrate her graduation from Primaria. She did very well, totally overcame her fear of deep water and now she has a life skill that her parents couldn't have provided. My Mexican friends consider me buena gente and have come to enjoy the fact that my generosity and interest in their lives is considerate, proactive and "outside the envelope."

Recently, I was very pleased that my 15 year old neighbor chose to have a small party at home for family and school friends and get the keys to a nice white VW for her quinceañera celebration. Joan


Marlene


Nov 8, 2005, 10:07 AM

Post #20 of 45 (11501 views)

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Re: [julian3345] Godparents in Mexico, what do you do?

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Quote
Recently, I was very pleased that my 15 year old neighbor chose to have a small party at home for family and school friends and get the keys to a nice white VW for her quinceañera celebration

You gave her a car for her 15th? Wow!


julian3345

Nov 8, 2005, 10:13 AM

Post #21 of 45 (11502 views)

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Re: [Marlene] Godparents in Mexico, what do you do?

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No No No! Sorry to have confused you...I enjoyed the party, but her family gave her the car! Joan


macmember

Nov 8, 2005, 9:17 PM

Post #22 of 45 (11430 views)

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Re: [Miguel Palomares] Godparents in Mexico, what do you do?

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And the plot thickens..........our on going saga of Emily and Sergio who only moved to Mexico (in with his parents) a few weeks ago have already been made Padrinos!!! In her story she mentions that they had to purchase the baby's outfit of clothes, blanket, candle, shell for holy water and a necklace with the Virgin Mary on it.

While reading the blog, I was wondering if anyone told them of any further obligations?? For those who are not following the blog, it is interesting. I believe there is a lottery passing around for how long it will take her to head back to Michigan.

I only wish them the best, she does have the best intentions.


Ed and Fran

Nov 9, 2005, 3:55 AM

Post #23 of 45 (11411 views)

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Re: [macmember] Godparents in Mexico, what do you do?

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While reading the blog, I was wondering if anyone told them of any further obligations??


Sergio is from there. Don't you suppose he understands very well how the system works?


Regards

Ed


Miguel Palomares


Nov 9, 2005, 5:50 AM

Post #24 of 45 (11395 views)

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Re: [macmember] Godparents in Mexico, what do you do?

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Looking at the pictures on that blog of the big, big family, one wonders if it was a coincidence that the couple chosen to be godparents included the only "rich" Gringa in sight. Color me cynical.
From Tzurumutaro, Michoacan, "The Village of the Darned."
_______________________________________

The nuts and bolts of moving to Mexico:
http://michaeldickson.blogspot.com/
The dark side of living in Mexico:
http://mexicopeeks.blogspot.com/
Scintillating life in a Mexican pueblo:
http://tzurumutaro.blogspot.com/
http://tzurumutaro2.blogspot.com/


Ed and Fran

Nov 9, 2005, 5:57 AM

Post #25 of 45 (11391 views)

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Re: [Miguel Palomares] Godparents in Mexico, what do you do?

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Color me cynical.

I did, long ago.

Me, I figure they've got as good a chance to make it as any other couple these days, north or south of the border.


Regards

Ed
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