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Its funny how things stick with you for your entire life, especially the bad things. What someone thinks is humerous can be particularily damaging for a child, I should know.

Rick was my Physical Education teacher in high school. He was one of those Alpha Males I always hated. He was loved by everyone else, so it seemed at the time.

I always hated Gym, and basically any sort of sport. Now I enjoy watching the odd hockey game, but as for actually playing the game, I will pass.

Back in high school, I was particularily awkward. Since my mom was a teacher, she home schooled me prior to me entering school. Because of this, I did not do Kindergarten or grade one. That meant I catapaulted right into the second grade, at  7 years of age.

Through all my years in school, I was 2 years younger than everyone else. When my classmates were gaining interest in girls, I was still too young to even want a girlfriend. I was shy and bashful, especially around the ladies.

Each week, we had a two hour gym class on Friday afternoon. I remember this week Rick announced we would be playing softball. The whole class was excited, and I could have vomited.

Without confidence or any kind of hand eye coordination, I was the last thing anyone wanted on their team, so I was never picked on a team, and teams ended up flipping a coin to see whose team I played on. If that wasn’t embarassing enough, wait until you hear what the teacher did.

I was happy to sit on the bleachers and watch my classmates enjoy themselves, but the gym teacher, in all his psychotic glory, forced me out on the field. When I was at bat, he got everyone to come infield. He got my friend, who was pitching, to come within two feet of me. Just when he was going to toss the ball, Rick stopped him, and asked another student to run to the gym and get something…a Volleyball!

Rick got my friend to pitch a volleyball at me rather than the softball. Everyone, including a few girls I had secret crushes on, laughed. I dropped the bat, and walked back to the  bleachers with my head down.

Thanks to that moment, I never gained much confidence. This little stunt, which Rick actually brought up at our first class reunion, ruined me in school. It was bad enough getting bullied by my classmates, but when the teacher does it, it is even worst,

It took me 30 years to regain my confidence. Now, because of people like Rick (there were others), I am finally a strong person. I have risen above the childishness of those people.

I have always advocated against bullying. This is Why

got it made

Seen an old friend today. James and I were good friends back in the early 80’s. we worked together at Canadian Tire. James got fired for sleeping on the job. Literally. He was found sleeping in the warehouse. Never kept in contact with him afterwards.

I seen James today at Subway. He and his wife were ‘all chat’. I asked how he was, if he was working, (you know, small talk), while I waited for my order. He said “never worked since Canadian Tire. Think I hurt my back working so hard there.” I am thinking ‘for crying out loud, that was 1981, this is 2020 and the only job you had was that one???’

“You are some lucky” he said. “Your own home, a nice car, nice clothes. Wish I had those things”

It is hard not to tell people how you feel sometimes. I wanted to explain to him how after leaving Canadian Tire ( I worked there for three weeks), I worked as a pulp cutter for 20 years, then went back to school several times, and did other jobs until being hired to my current job. I wanted to tell him that I worked for everything I ever had, and I still owe lots.  I wanted to tell James that if he worked, he could have all those things too, but I didn’t. I wanted to tell him that it is not all that ‘easy’, working, paying bills, paying mortgages, paying car loans; but I didn’t. Guys like James wouldn’t understand.

My dumb question of “So, what have you been doing the past 30 years” got me this answer:

“Nothing much, met my wife, had a few kids, rented an apartment. The wife works (on the side) but we are pretty much dependent on welfare.” There you have it.

He ended our conversation by telling me how he cannot wait for ten more years. I was dumb enough to ask why.

“Retirement, Man nretirement! I can’t wait to retire!” he said. “Imagine when we retire, we will be making the same money” he added. I wish he didn’t.

Retire from what? I wanted to ask. You worked for a month when you were 17 years old. You never did a tap your entire life, other than make a few babies who I am quite sure are using the system the same way you do. What he doesn’t realize is that by ‘retiring’ from social services, he will stand to lose lots. Things like his free drug card, his income (is it called income if you never worked to get it?) will be lower? Its no good to burst his bubble, let him retire. I for one do not want to wish away my years looking for an easy life.

Thats All in this rant.

Oh, he asked if me and my wife could have him and his wife up for a few drinks sometime… I wanted to say, ‘Yes, in 30 years’ but I didn’t.

kicking the habit

Susan tried everything to quit smoking. She tried hypnosis, acupuncture, medications, even tried going cold turkey. She always ended up smoking again. On one occassion, she vowed to only smoke when she drank, but then realized she was buying bottle after bottle of wine, just so she could have that cigarette. When she did manage to quit for short times, she gained a ton of weight, or got so cranky, her husband ended up buying her cigarettes.

Then one day she quit. Never smoked again, never craved, never gained any weight, never drank wine, and never got cranky.

She died.

This little tale of addictions and cravings is brought to you by the folks at Friday Fictioneers. Thanks for reading. Oh, and find a better way to quit smoking than the method Susan used.

PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll


As I sit here going through the list of classic cars available on Kijiji, I want to cry. The prices for those old cars are outrageous!

I was 17 and my cousin had a garage where he repaired and painted cars. His parking lot was always full of beautiful automobiles, and I was a poor kid who wanted all of them,  but couldn’t afford even the lowest priced cars.

I remember once this guy brought up his 1970 Pontiac Firebird. The ten year old car had gone through a tough time, its paint ruined by sea gull shit. The engine was strong though, as the car spent its Sunday afternoons at the local drag strip, blowing away many of the cars it raced.

I was happy when my cousin asked me to help him work on the car. I did most of the masking tape, but also helped with sanding. The car had beautiful lines, and was easy to sand down. With all the salt used here on the island, ten years did lots of damage to the car’s body, so we used plenty of filler to make it look new again.

When the car was painted, it was beautiful. I remember when the owner came to pick it up. “Selling ‘er now!” he said. “Looking to get at least $3000!” How expensive I thought. The car is probably worth over $100,000 these days, but getting $3000 back then was as difficult for me then as getting the hundred thousand now.

Sometimes deals came by. I actually picked up a 1968 Pontiac Beaumont for $350. The car was rusted on the outside, but you should have seen the inside! The older couple who owned the car since it was new covered everything in plastic. Of course, being 17 years old and not knowing any better, I stripped away the clear plastic, revealing a pristine interior.

We fixed the car up in our spare time. The body received an odd colour my cousin made from mixing several different paint colours together. it was a shitty lime green, but I didn’t care, hell, this was my first car after all.

My cousin had several cars, all of them ‘deals’ he found around town. This was the early Eighties, and everyone wanted those new ‘K’ cars Chrysler were making. People were selling off the muscle cars in favour of ‘fuel efficient’ cars.  The nicest car he ever had was a 1974 Ford Gran Torino. The car was painted a tan gold metallic, a job my cousin did himself. He had Cragar rims and fat tires on the back, and ran via a 351 V8 he  resurrected from an old Mustang he found at the dump. Man was it cool.

He also owned a 1967 Chevy Van. The van sat on a short wheel base, and was flanked by an amazing two tone paint job he did himself. I remember one funny story involving the van. My cousin just bought four huge tires and rims from a guy and called me to help put them on the van. He was so excited to drive the van decked out with the new rubber, he forgot to tighten the lug nuts on one of the wheels.

We were heading down the steepest hill in our community when suddenly we were passed by a huge tire wrapped around a very shiny chrome rim. “What stupid idiot would roll such a nice tire down the hill, almost hitting my van?” he asked, moments before the van tilted to one side and came to a screeching halt, sparks and brake parts flying everywhere!

Of course he was the idiot.

Last time I spoke to him, he was driving a little shitbox called a Pontiac Wave. My how times change. Hope he has his lugs tightened.




Bears and Berry picking

Went berry picking the other day. It was just me and thousands of raspberry stalks, all thorny and stabby. The place was dead quiet when suddenly I heard chatter from at least a few people.

“Oh NO!” I thought, “My berry picking patch is ruined. a crowd will stomp down all the bushes, causing the ripe berries to fall to the ground.”

I headed towards the voices, only to discover they were both coming from the same person, a very old man, chattering loudly to himself. I went over to talk to him.

“Anyone else picking berries besides me and you?” I asked.

“Nope” he replied, and went on talking to himself.

“Um, Sir, who are you talking to?” I asked, almost afraid of his answer.

“Nobody” he said.

Just when I was about to high tail it out of the area, in fears the guy was insane, he went on to say:

“I ain’t talking to nobody. There’s nobody here but you and me. When I am alone, I talk loudly so if there is a bear around, he will think someone else is here and maybe chase them. I figure I have a 50% chance he will go after the other guy.”

I guess he did have some logic, albeit a bit insane.

“Gangway!’ he yelled, as he ran past me.

I began running as well. “Who we running from?” I asked.

“The bear” he said, “he is coming behind us!”

“So” I said smartassedly, “You logic didn’t work. The bear didn’t chase the other guy, he chased you!” I said.

“Nope, my logic makes perfect sense. The bear IS chasing the other guy, which happens to be you!” He said this as he ran to the left, leaving the bear hot on my heels.

I got out ok that day, but I learned a valuable lesson. Never try to figure out logic, and never interupt people who talk  to themselves.






Cajun Dogs…Get your Cajun dogs

it was around 8 or 9 years ago when I was attending a community studies program at a local college. I had just met my now wife, and we were members of a group working on a fundraising project.

Our group decided to do a BBQ to raise money for victims of a recent flood. All the supplies were donated, all we needed was to provide the BBQ and fuel. I had an older BBQ and decided to loan it for the cause.

I had asked a friend of mine with a truck to deliver my BBQ to the site. Unknown to me, he failed to tether the thing in the back of his truck, and ended up losing the ‘Q on the highway. When we started the thing up, we had flames going everywhere.

Here we were with a lineup of hungry customers, and no way to control the fire other than turning off the gas. We had over 30 weiners on the grill, all blackened from the flames.

At first we figured we cut our losses and go home, but given the need for funds by community members, I came up with a plan.

“Cajun Dogs, Get you Cajun Dogs” I chanted. The crowded parking lot suddenly got even busier, as a bus load of kids from a remote community hauled into the lot. Kids got out and began running towards us.

“Wow, we never even heard of a cajun dog before” expressed one kid, as he bit into the burned weiner. The buns were even more charred. Soon, everyone on the bus and even some of the other people were lined up for our unique food.

We cleared $1500 after the sale ended. Of course my BBQ was trash, but we managed to help the community, and I ended up with a funny story to tell my friends.

Pine Beer and Bikers

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 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 him if he had cleaned the bucket, the guys began the beer making process. I later asked him about it, and he replied, “How much cleaner can you be than Pine Sol?” Hey, we were thirsty for some beer, so what is the worst than can happen? It is funny how that answer to that question always comes back to haunt you.

Anyway, we mixed all the ingredients in the bucket, which smelled like Pine Sol. The boys noticed the strong smell, but guessed that the alcohol would probably dissolve any odors anyway. When all the ingredients were mixed, we sealed the bucket, being sure to cut a small hole in the cover of the bucket, and attaching a balloon to the hole. This allows air to circulate but not leave the bucket.

The weekend of the Shallaroo was just two weeks away, giving us time to bottle the beer and allowing it to ferment just right. (The Shallaroo was a local music festival celebrated in the Codroy Valley area of the province. The festival featured many local entertainers and a few from the mainland.) On Friday evening, the guys came up to the house, and together with the big plastic bucket of beer and about 6 dozen empty beer bottles that we painstakingly washed out, we began bottling our beer. One of the boys could not resist a drink of the warm ale, and with that, he almost threw up. “Tastes like pine air fresheners, the kind I have hanging from my rear view mirror in the truck” He said.

We began to worry. Here it was, just two weeks before the festival, and our beer tastes like pine air freshener. Like the brave Newfies we were, we said the hell with it, kept bottling the stuff, and stored the bottled ale in the refrigerator. (These were the days prior to my meeting my fiance, and beer was a staple in my fridge on numerous occasions.) One of the guys said “If we are ever out of beer, we will always have this stuff to drink”

We had a few parties at the house afterwards, but we always managed to stay clear of that beer, choosing instead to drink Whiskey or rum. One of my friends, who was either braver than us, or dumber, chose to drink the Pine beer we made. In no time at all, he was caught holding his stomach, crying out that he seen a bear under my step, only to find that it was just a garbage bag. He was hallucinating seeing wild animals that turned out to be household items. We blamed the beer.

On the day before the festival, the guys came to the house with their trucks, and loaded the alcohol we bought into large coolers and of course, the pine beer; anxious to get the weekend started. When we got to the Codroy Valley festival fields, we found a great site and began unpacking our gear. When our tents were set up, we opened our coolers, and carefully avoiding the horrible pine beer, we started drinking.

Just then, a gang of bikers came up along the road to the field where the festival was being held. One of them came over, saying that he was from Michigan. He bragged about all the Canadian beer they had. One of the guys informed us that the strike was over, and liquor stores began stocking our fine ale once again. Under their arms they carried each a six pack of beer. One of the bikers asked whether they could store their beer in our coolers, because they didn’t enjoy the thought of drinking warm beer on such a hot day. We reluctantly agreed to their offer.

Well, we didn’t actually agree to their offer, instead, we had our own agenda. I had an interesting idea. How about we store their beer, but we give them our beer, the Pine beer. “How will they know the difference?”  “They probably never drank LaBatts beer anyway, maybe they will think it does taste like Pine Sol.”

As the night went on, the music played loud, and the entire field was filled with partyers, drinking and whooping it up loudly. Around 2 am, we could hear our biker friends in the site next to us, they were carrying on like they were insane. Several of them were heard in the woods vomiting loudly, but they kept drinking anyway.

The next morning, we were greeted by four very big guys, dressed completely in leather, with skulls and crossbones on the backs of their jackets. The biggest guy was as green as a cabbage, and with that, he said “We have to hand it to you Newfies. We noticed you guys drinking all night, we only drank about six beer each, and yet, you guys are perfectly healthy this morning, and we are running around like we drank poison.”

“We learned a valuable lesson today” said one of the bikers. “Your beer tastes nothing like our beer, but it leaves a fresh taste in your mouth and it kicks like a bull”, “We plan on buying more to bring to our friends in the states” they said.

We never told them that they drank beer brewed in plastic Pine Sol buckets. They probably did drink poison.

gram’s soup

I had a dream last night that I was eating a bowl of soup at my grandmothers. Gram always made the best soup. Well actually, everything she cooked was delicious. For whatever reason, her soup was always my favourite. Maybe it was because she only used vegetables from her garden, maybe it was because the chicken or the beef came from their farm. I actually believe it was because she made it with love, her secret ingredient.

The dream was so vivid, I could almost smell the soup as I lay there in my bed. Even though my grandmother passed away in 2012, I thought for a minute I was actually in her kitchen. I miss you Gram.

Make Believe Flowers

PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

He showed up  in the evening
when his wife was fast asleep
with a bouquet of flowers
that were only make believe

He gave them to his lover
and she put them in a vase
she knew he didn’t love her
she could see it in his face

Then one day she asked him
to leave his wife for her
he laughed in her face
said it would just create a stir

She said if you cannot chose between us
then you must be on your way
she couldn’t believe he left her
and she begged for him to stay

This sad story of a love gone astray is my entry into this weeks’ Friday Fictioneers.


Getting to where we are part 1

When I was 16 I graduated from High School. I didn’t do well, but High School was such a nightmare for me, I was not going back there, in fact, I had no plans to ever go back to any school; and I did everything I could not to go back.

My first job was a student job in my community. We used chainsaws to clear land for a playground. Although the other kids were using the chainsaws, my dad made me promise I wouldn’t touch one. I thought it was because he thought I would hurt myself, but that wasn’t the reason. When I asked him why he said this, his reply was that I was too good to be a pulp cutter like him.

My dad worked at any job he could find. He didn’t have a lot of education, or confidence in himself. That being said, he was (and still is) a very hard worker. I remember Dad coming home from working in the woods all day, his clothing wet and filled with mud and balsam, and him being beat out from the hard work. God I wanted to be just like him.

After this job, and a lot of preaching, my parents talked me guilted me into returning to school, this time at a local community college to do an accounting course. Did I mention I have always sucked at math?

At 16 years of age, I was the youngest student in the Clerk Accounting class. I was young and green, especially around girls. I felt like a kid (because I was) in the class. I did horrible on the tests, mainly due to my lack of math skills, the other reason was my overall hate for school in general.

One day the teacher called me into his office. He said my writing was atrocious. Well, I was so proud. No teacher ever praised my work like that. In fact, back in high school, I was actually asked to print, as my writing was unreadable.

I had to go home and brag to my parents and friends about the wonderful compliment the teacher gave me. My buddy heard me bragging and suggested I check out the dictionary, to see what the word meant. He didn’t think it sounded like much of a compliment at all.

I shouldn’t have looked in the damn book.



of a very poor quality; extremely bad or unpleasant.

Well, maybe my writing skills had not improved. Upon realizing this, I lost all interest in my future as an accountant. Even so, I had to do a work term at a local building supply company. What a nightmare. They didn’t trust me because I looked so young. I only just turned 17, duh.

I sat in a cold office all day staring at an old ledger. I wasn’t allowed to mark in it, just stare at the numbers. I was so bored. I could not imagine doing this for a living, even if it paid well. After two weeks, I was ready to quit. I went home to talk plead to mom and dad, I had to get out of there.

My dad’s advice was to never give up. “You are working in a warm place with a roof over your head. I have never been that lucky. Stick it out, don’t give up, think of how hard I have to work.”

Once the work term was done, it was back to class. The only thing I was now interested was the bookkeeping class next door…all girls. I did so poorly in accounting, I got another call to the teacher’s office.

“Ted, you are not going to pass this program. We don’t want you to quit. Instead, we want to put you in the bookkeeping course. You can earn a certificate in bookkeeping, maybe make a few buck doing taxes or something.”

I didn’t hear anything past “we want to put you in the bookkeeping course”. The rest was just’ blah blah blah’. I was overjoyed. For once, I wanted to come to class. I was the only guy in the class, and unfortunately, the youngest person in the class. No matter, it was me and a crowd of girls.

I didn’t get the bookkeeping certificate either. I sucked in math bad enough, I couldn’t even achieve a certificate. The program ended after the grad. I may not have graduated from the program, but I did meet friends I still stay in contact with to this day.

Well, after that I knew school wasn’t for me. I applied for jobs but without an education besides a high school diploma with a 50% average, the jobs were not plentiful. Most of my friends were now heading for Toronto, where there were plenty of jobs. I had no desire to leave home, I knew where I wanted to work, if only I could convince my parents.