Category: It’s True, I promise ya

Pine Beer and Bikers from Michigan

this story never gets old…just funnier

SightsnBytes

a few years ago, my friends and I found out what Americans were made of. This story began in my basement, and with our home made beer recipe. This was the summer that the beer companies all went on strike, therefore, no beer on the island except some Old Milwaukee crap imported from the states, not the strong, hardy beer we Newfoundlanders are used to drinking.

On this particular weekend, we decided to make our own beer. All the stores were closed, and we needed a brewing bucket. My friend Dwayne said that his mom worked at a local school, and she should have plenty of plastic 5 gallon buckets lying around. When he showed up at the house, he had a white plastic bucket under his arm. The bucket’s label read “5 Gallons of Pine Sol.”

Before we had a chance to ask Dwayne if he had cleaned the…

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Claustrophobic? Not me!

I have this fear of small, confined places. Most people simply accept this as part of a phobia that they were either born with, or developed over time. I know exactly where my fear of confined places comes from.

Back when I was a kid, we used to camp a lot. Every weekend during summer vacation, my parents would pack up mostly everything we had, our trusty canvas tent, and my little brother, and head for the hills.

One weekend we camped at a local park. The park featured a beautiful beach and very well groomed campsites. Dad set up the tent and my brother and I went on to the beach. The entire weekend was going great, and eventually, Sunday came. Sunday was the day in which we always headed home. God knows we couldn’t miss church (notice the pun).

Of course, being kids, we couldn’t just go home. We were hungry, we forgot something at the beach, we didn’t say good-bye to our friends, and naturally, I had to go to the bathroom. Poor mom and dad, possibly dizzy from all the complaints, I doubt they heard me tell them that I had to use the bathroom!

So off I went. You know parks, especially back in the 70’s in Newfoundland. Bathrooms didn’t exist in parks back then. OUTHOUSES did!  A wooden building covering a hole in the ground.

I was bursting to use the bathroom. Couldn’t hold it a second longer. I spotted the old outhouse hiding behind a spruce tree and went in. The stink hit me almost immediately. To make matters worst, the door swung shut behind me, the latch on the outside clicked down. I didn’t know the extent until I finished doing my duty.

The latch clicked down. I was locked in an outhouse. A very stinky outhouse that was built over a shithole in the ground. the only ventilation was a tiny hole above the door and the hole beneath the toilet seat. There was no flush handle, you simply crapped in the hole and ran for your life. Only I couldn’t run. I was barred in!

I had to pick the only outhouse that was hidden by a large tree. This little cabin of torture was completely hidden to anyone who either didn’t know it was there or like me, needed to crap so badly that it seemed to appear out of nowhere.

What to do, What to do! I tried running my shoulder into the door, you know, the way they do it on Cop shows on TV! My skinny shoulders were no match for the rugged old spruce boards that adorned the outhouse. Holding my breath probably didn’t help. But the stink. Crap from the hundreds  thousands (I don’t know how many people crapped there, but it was all there beneath the seat next to me).

I cried out but to no avail. In hell, nobody can hear you scream. I prayed, but again nothing! Where was my dad? Shouldn’t he be worried? I never brought a watch, so no telling how long I was in the outhouse. It felt like an eternity. I couldn’t even put toilet paper over my nose. I used most of the roll to cover the toilet seat and the rest I dropped in the hole by accident. I almost died from the smell.

What seemed like an eternity later, I could hear hollers in the distance. It was my dad, he came looking for me. There were a few other outhouses around the park, and I think he tried every one. That was, of course after he checked the entire beach and every campsite in the park. Finally, he found the one in which I was trapped.

By the time dad made it to the hell hole I was barred in, My lungs were sore from me holding my breath. When he clicked open the latch, the door opened and I fell out. I bawled my eyes out while my dad scolded me for not telling him where I was going. But I did. He just didn’t hear me with all the other crap I was going on with. Of course a kid doesn’t understand that.

On the ride home, I found it difficult to sit in the car. I held my head out the window like a retriever, opening my mouth and catching every breath of fresh air (and flies) that I could.

Ever since that day, I cannot stand it in closed spaces. They say that the only way to overcome your fears is to confront them, but there is no way that I plan to enter another outhouse and have the door closed on me! I rather die.

Running through the buttercups

Back before all the houses

and all the new people

there was a large open field

where we used to run

and play

She would arrive barefoot

my shoes would soon go

and we would run through the buttercups

once I got stung

by a bumblebee

it’s nothing, you see

she said

for what I thought was pain

was nothing compared to what she had seen

and felt

in her short life

she was five

and I was six

and we ran though the buttercups

until our feet were yellow

my mom would laugh

and help me clean my feet

she would be punished

as if it were a crime

I wouldn’t see her for days

but when she came back

we would run through the buttercups

 

back again

While wasting time on Facebook the other day, I seen this post that claimed to predict the career a particular person was meant to do, just by answering a few easy questions. I was bored. Hell, I doubted the claim that much that I actually took the damn test. Turns out I was meant to be a writer. Go figure! No Really, that’s what the test determined. Go ahead, take it for yourself. Answer the questions as truthfully as you can, even if you may end up sounding like a true nerd. the link is http://bitecharge.com/play/career/h6

I did a similar test once, as part of some cockamamie employment program our provincial government invented in order to get people off Unemployment Insurance (UIC). The test determined that I would be best fitted to work as a crop duster. I took the damn test three times and each time I got the same answer. Trouble is, I have a fear of both heights and crop dusters.

When I  asked others in the room  what their career was, they all told me the same thing…Crop Dusters. Quite the program our government wasted our tax dollars on. By the way, we don’t have any crop dusters on the entire island.

Talking about careers, mine changed once again. When I look at all the things  I have worked at in my half a century here on earth, it is kind of scary. I started out working in a freezer truck at the age of sixteen. I would dress for the  frigid temperatures, entering the freezer at six in the morning, adorned in my one piece snowmobile suit, and at six in the evening,  my freezing fingers would crank the door handle to leave, letting out a gust of icy cold air into the hot July weather. Talk about looking nerdy….a one piece snowmobile suit while everyone else wore tank tops and shorts (well at least all the hot girls wore that.)

My next position was that of a logger. There were some hot July days where I actually wished to be back in the freezer truck, processing salt fish and other cold things. That one lasted for some twenty years. Eat your heart out Paul Bunyan!

When my back could no longer take the abuse that carrying heavy logs on my skinny shoulders any longer, I quit and went back to school. I did an information Technology program. My mind hurt even more than my back at this time, but as I struggled to keep up with the spring chickens who knew more about technology in their nineteen years on the planet than I managed to muster up, I accomplished my goal.

Seeing that I chose to remain on the island, where there was no work yet for IT (people here had no concept of what IT was in 1998), I took a job at a Radio Shack store, where I used my IT skills to sell and service computer for shitty dollars.

Things got better when I actually quit that position and returned to school once again. I was able to hit a great job afterward where I got to work with terrific people such as KJ. As good jobs go, I was fortunate to be able to help so many with this job. I hated to leave, but seeing how the city was such an expensive place to live, and my missus was able to obtain work back home on the coast, we packed our bags and headed home.

Home to the west coast where work was not plenty full and I was forced to take a job at a gas station. At first I hated it, but it grew on  me. I was able to put a little bit of myself into  the position, such as playing practical jokes on staff members had generally having a laugh working with the public. In the end, I was quite happy with this job.

Until yesterday. That was the day that I got the call. A chance to return to a position that I truly loved, and one that utilized some of the knowledge I had gained through the IT training.  That’s right, I get to work with KJ again. Well not directly, actually from  a campus across the island from her, but generally the same job that she is doing. I will be good to get reacquainted with her again.

You should never give up if you are not happy with your life. To those who truly believe in themselves, good things happen. Now if I can only get used to the 45 minute commute to and from work….sure beats crop dusting

Report Card Day!

Today is report card day for my son. He isn’t worried though, he has no reason to worry. Not because he did particularly well this year, not because his teacher knows that he is a good student and he worked hard to get the marks he needed; but because no matter how badly a kid does in school (at least in grades kindergarten to grade seven), a child cannot fail. Hell, they don’t even fail kids for cheating these days.

When I was a kid, you dreaded Report Card Day. I capitalized the words because of the importance of the day. If you did well enough, the teachers considered you smart, and told you so. You passed and went on to the next grade. If you didn’t do well, the teachers actually called you dumb, and held you back. If you tried your best and still failed, and they knew you were trying (or you failed so many times that you were a teenager in grade three) they put you in a ‘special Education class’ that we called ‘special Ed’. We had several special ed classes in our school. The kids wore headphones and listened to ‘special teachers’ on a cassette recorder. We called those kids ‘headphones’. I had a few cousins who were called headphones, and they spent all day learning how to weave baskets and do string art. If you never seen string art, it consisted of a piece of wood covered by a black cloth. Nails were tacked in over a stencil and students wrapped different colors of string until they created a picture. My cousin was the best string art headphone in school. After school he went on to use way too much weed and now he sits home staring out the window and the walls, and cherishing his many works of string art. I think he still uses his headphones too.

I remember kindergarten. The teachers were concerned that since my mother was a teacher prior to bringing me into the world (back then you didn’t need a college degree to teach. All you needed was grade eleven, which almost nobody had, and you could teach. The money was terrible, probably a few dollars each day, especially if you were female.). Anyway, mom taught me math skills and how to read and spell. Don’t get me started on spelling. Kids these days don’t have to spell. Kids these days don’t know how to spell, because some genius teacher said that spelling wasn’t important….

Sorry, got off track there…

Anyway, mom taught me more in my pre-school years than the teachers did in grade kindergarten. I was doing so good in kindergarten that the school figured that I was ‘bored’ with the curriculum and decided not only to pass me onto grade one, but to move me from kindergarten to grade three. No stress there Teddy Boy, I would be spending my next school year in a different school with kids two years older than me. The school didn’t realize the damage that can cause for a child..

That year, as I arrived at the school, the smallest and youngest kid in the playground, bullies had a field day with me. I was bloodied and beat up before school even started that day, and because I was billed ‘the smart kid from the first grade’, the teachers expected more from me, even though I was still technically a grade one student. I did poorly and my marks proved it. Still the school would not fail me and move me back so that I could be with kids my own age and not be expected to do better than everyone else. In essence, this little ‘gift’  caused me to be an underachiever until I graduated high school. Thanks a lot!

Report cards from then on were a terror. I knew that I didn’t do that well, and with a fifty average, I was moved on from year to year, always lacking the confidence to do well. I got to the point that I actually tried to fail. Of course that didn’t work. When I was sixteen in grade eleven while everyone else was eighteen or even older, I was immature and confused, and very bashful around girls. I struggled socially and my confidence was zero.  It would take twenty years for me to regain my confidence. Not bad for a kid who skipped two grades, huh? Damn report card day!

…on hiatus

Hi Guys! Haven’t been here in quite a while, mostly due to the the wedding plans and of course work. Got several stories started, but haven’t the time to finish them. Hopefully after the wedding I will find the time to sit and at least finish what I have started. I will continue to read the fine works of the talented individuals I have listed in my blogroll.

It’s not good-bye, it is see you later…

The proposal

As some of you may know, Snb’s single life will be coming to an end very soon. On July , 2014, I will be tying the knot with a very beautiful woman who I love very much.

I am lucky for a number of reasons, the best being the fact that she is doing most of the wedding planning on her own. My role is (my words, not hers) simply showing up on time. I can live with that. We already have our ceremony music chosen, the church and bar booked, and our bridal parties asked and accepted.  Being a wedding DJ, I am simply putting a playlist together and letting the music play. Think after over 25 years of entertaining couples on their special night, I can manage to play my own wedding without too much grief.

Tonight she asked me to write a short paragraph describing my ‘Unique’ method of proposing. I remember it quite well.

While driving home from a nearby city where we were shopping, I noticed that my lady was enjoying her favorite candy. Those little ‘love hearts’ with the romantic writing on the side. I also noticed that she had just ate two particular candy with the words ‘will you’ and ‘marry me’ written on them.  I kept that thought at the back of my mind.

A few years later, on December 21, 2007 to be exact, I finally  got up the nerve to ask her to marry me.  I went out and bought these little love hearts candy. I had to buy over ten packs to find the words I needed. In one box I put all the extra candy, and in the other box, I put just two candy.  ‘Will you’ and ‘marry me’.  another box contained the engagement ring.

My lady had planned on spending Christmas with her family in a nearby town, so I had to think fast.  I mentioned that I had a surprise for her. I brought out all three boxes.

She opened the first box and commented on how she loved these little candies. Then she opened the second box (at first I thought that she was going to eat the candy and ruin my plan); but then she stopped and read the writing on the candy. She never said anything, but went to the next box, which contained her ring. She was speechless!

I think it was a year or two later that she finally said yes. I think I caught her off guard with the candy!

She still loves these little candies, and you know what? So do I!

Leather anyone?

So I made up my mind this morning that I needed a new jacket. Leather if possible. First I shopped at all the stores in the area (not many carry leather) and found nothing. Then I went online. Still not the one I was looking for. Maybe I am either too fussy or too cheap…

When I was a kid, my uncle dropped over with a gift. He had been working away and made enough money to buy me a gift. Wow, I was excited.

“Real leather” he said. “From Texas!”

Well everyone knows that if its made in Texas, it must be real leather. It fit perfect. And cool! Little leather strings hanging from each sleeve just like Davy Crockett. I don’t know if Davy Crockett actually wore a jacket with strings hanging from the sleeves, but my dad agreed that he did, so that was good enough for me.

The first day I wore it to school, I was so proud. I didn’t walk that day, I strutted in like I was a millionaire. That didn’t last long. The bullies had a field day ripping  the strings from the sleeves. By the end of the day,  I was completely ‘de-stringed’ and no longer did I feel like Davy Crockett.

Still, I wore that coat with pride. I wore it outside playing, riding my bike, even to church. Most of all, I wore it whenever we went to the beach. I know what you are saying, ‘who wears a jacket to the beach?’

I would proudly use my real leather jacket as a seat, allowing myself and hopefully some hot chick (I was twelve at the time) to sit next to me instead of her getting all sandy and dirty. It almost worked.

Betty Jean was a cute blonde who all the kids wanted to sit next to. She was an ‘older’ gal of fourteen, so naturally all us younger kids had our fantasies of her. ‘Hey Betty, how’s that sand treating you?’ I asked.

She came over and just before she sat down, she peered at my fine leather garment and asked “Hey Teddy, isn’t that a bubble in the leather? I didn’t know leather bubbled in the heat.”…

and then she laughed. She might has well burst both bubbles, the one in my fine leather jacket and the one with my fantasy of her sitting next to me. She grabbed the bubble, and pulled it until it peeled from the lining of the jacket.

“Hahahaa that ain’t leather, its plastic!” she said. My heart was broken. I grabbed the thing and ran home. I had to ask my uncle why my coat was peeling.

Uncle being the con man that he was, simply explained that in summer, Texas cows actually shed their skin, and that by fall the jacket would be perfect again. What was he taking me for? I knew that even if the cows shed in the summer, my jacket wouldn’t be fixed. That was the last Texas leather jacket I ever owned. As for Betty, I think she ran off with my uncle.

So you are a writer, are you?

Someone bought me a book once. I think it was my fifth grade teacher. She said “read it, you will enjoy it, I promise you.”

I did what she told me and she was right. I loved the book. I carried it with me where ever I went, even to the point that I donned the nickname ‘book worm’. I didn’t care, loved the book. From that particular book, I went on to read the rest of the very interesting books by the author, and was probably his biggest fan in all the Roman Catholic school system all through the 1970’s.

It was that one particular book, and perhaps the author himself, that enticed me to keep writing, and maybe even the reason why I write today.

I was asked once if I was a writer. When I agreed, I was asked if I had anything published. My reply was that a writer writes. Publishing is something else entirely. I was also asked why I write. My answer was that I wanted to become the next Farley Mowat. He laughed. Farley wrote that wonderful first novel that was given to me by the strict but very compassionate teacher in the fifth grade. The book was entitled ‘The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be’.

Farley passed away today. He was a Canadian writer who wrote books that appealed to almost everyone in many walks of life.  His books were enjoyed world wide and some, such as ‘Never Cry Wolf’ was even adapted into a movie.

If you find the time, look for any Mowat book you can find, and like my teacher said, you will enjoy the book.

 

Kids say the darnedest things sometimes

While at the florist, ordering flowers for our summer wedding, my kid wanders through the store, looking around. He comes running to me, very excited. “Dad! I found the perfect father’s day gift for you. I am going to break my piggy bank and buy it for you!”

He takes me by the hand and leads me to the cemetery section and points out a funeral wreath shaped like a heart, surrounded by blue flowers with the words…To Dad.

I am like….how about you wait a few years for that one…like fifty or more years.

When I explained that the wreath was for a funeral, he goes…”But it is so pretty, you sure you don’t want it?”

The store employees almost fell off their stools laughing.