Tell Me a Story: Poor Brent


In this series, I highlight stories that have inspired, delighted, or intrigued me. I hope they can do the same for you. 


Corner Gas is Canada's top-rated comedy. Set in the Saskatchewan town of Dog River, it explores small town life. Brent Leroy is the owner/operator of the only gas station in the town, which, along with the adjoining cafe The Ruby, is the nerve center of the town’s social life. 

One of my favorite episodes of the show is the sixth episode in the second season, “Poor Brent.” The main plot of the episode follows Hank’s quest to help Brent, who he believes is poor — but really Brent is just trying to hide his new TV from Hank.

My attention, though, was captured by the subplot starring Brent’s parents. Oscar and Emma Leroy have been married for decades. They seem to always be bickering, and this story starts as a typical spat — Oscar is annoyed that Emma never closes the sugar container. “No more free ride!” he exclaims. From there, a marital battle ensues.

Oscar and Emma’s story is a reminder that each happily ever after is the beginning of a much longer love story. 

Watch it. 

Here's the IMDb page. 

Currently it's on Amazon Prime. There are uploads to YouTube but I can't vouch for their quality or legality. 


Title: Poor Brent

Format: TV Episode

Series: Corner Gas

Season 2, Episode 6

Good comedy comes from the exaggeration of life. Comic characters believe that trivial problems are matters of life and death. 

Sure, it's funny. It's also how we live our lives. Day to day, the big, dramatic points of our lives fade into memory and everyday concerns take on outsized importance. 

So when Oscar decides that closing the sugar dish is giving Emma a free ride, that's us. 

What's your sugar dish? Think of a fight you've had with a loved one over something that is meaningless in the scheme of your life — especially when compared to your actual feelings for that person. 

Is it doing the dishes? Doing dishes is the household chore that is the most likely to cause conflict and negatively impact relationship satisfaction, as Caroline Kitchener reports in Tof he Atlantic (“Doing Dishes is the Worst”), according to a recent study by the Council of Contemporary Families. On the surface, it’s a normal household task, but it carries baggage with it, including shadows of traditional gender roles and the ick factor of dealing with kitchen messes. That makes it a prime candidate for growing in our minds into something that it’s not.

Sometimes trivial fights are excuses, a way to address underlying patterns and tensions that are too big to face head on. But sometimes, they just come from a lack of perspective. It’s not always easy to keep that perspective in mind, but stepping back and reevaluating the importance of the things that we think are life-changing can keep us from becoming comic characters — or worse, starring in our own tragedies.

At the end, Oscar confronts Emma one final time. She forgot to close the sugar dish, and look what got in there! Emma gets ready for a fight but glances into the jar that Oscar wields and her heart melts: he’s hidden an amethyst bracelet in the jar. 

With that bracelet, Oscar apologizes in the best way that he can — by making himself ridiculous and showing her his appreciation for the relationship that they share.

In a sense, the bracelet was always there in the jar: every time Oscar closed the jar that Emma left open, he was affirming his love for her and his commitment to their marriage. She did the same every time she cooked a meal. When he fixed her car, there was love there too. And on the other side, each contributed to the marriage by embracing vulnerability, by giving up independence and allowing the other to become an integral part of his/her self.

Happily ever after is just a beginning. Love is a choice, every day. It’s the gradual stitching together of two lives through words and actions. It’s not give and take, it’s giving for the sake of love and receiving with an open heart.

That’s why I love stories like this one. They remind us that it’s not all sunshine and roses once we find love, but rather that in the course of a lifetime, we can grow together through love and find meaning in sharing that journey with another.