Thursday, August 1, 2013


You've met my brother "the Kid" here before; serial survivor of everything from spectacular car crashes to exploding house-trailers.

This is not about him, it's about the brother we call "the Tree
Guy." He's called that because he turned a youthful bent for long solitary walks in the woods into a career as an expert arborist.

Not that the Kid has gone quietly into the night. In fact, when I last saw him a couple months ago he was sporting some facial abrasions that shouted out "barroom brawl."

You're getting a little old for that kind of shit, aren't you?

Turns out it wasn't that at all; it was a bicycle accident. Ya, the kid gets pretty much everywhere he needs to go by bicycle. Never owned a driver's licence in his life.

Why not?

"Well, I only drive when I'm pissed, so I don't really see the point in having a licence..."

Have to admit he's onto something there.

Anyway, the Kid and the Tree Guy and me grew up in what was a fairly devout Christian home. Church every Sunday and usually some other church activity at least once during the week.

This brought with it a lot of typical Christian baggage, which I'd have to admit for the most part was little more than practical rules for living. No stealing or swearing or talking back to one's elders and so on.

Around the time I got to high school I was becoming aware of the fact that I was way smarter than my parents. I was pretty much smarter than anybody on the planet. I was especially way, way smarter than my Sunday School teacher.

That was a kindly black dude who really should have given me a kick in the pants, but he was way too nice of a human being to do that. Every Sunday morning I'd torture him with the kind of juvenile critique of Christianity that Bill Maher still indulges today.

Virgin birth? Ya right! (smirk smirk)

Walked on water? Was He wearing skates? (smirk smirk)

Turned the water into wine?... now we're talking! (triple smirk)

Via a confluence of circumstances I was able to leverage my boredom with Sunday School and my urgent need for more time to do homework for high school into a church exemption! I lobbied my parents hard on this and eventually they relented. I would be permitted to stay home on Sunday morning to do homework.

I can fess to this now, because my parents are long past wanting to give me a hiding, but I totally pulled the wool over their eyes on this one. I'm pleased to say that I sailed through high school a solid "C" student without ever doing as much as a minute of homework!

And while for the most part I hated it, it was not without its moments. I remember that in 9th grade we had an all-boy class in French with a generally unflappable Mrs. Woodhouse. By generally unflappable I mean by November we'd figured out that there'd be a couple of days every month when it didn't take much to set her off.

French at the time was a "mandatory" class for the program I was in. You didn't have to pass it; you just had to take it and you automatically got the credit!

Talk about an incentive for unbridled assholery!

There was another kid in the class who shared my interest in biology, and between us we were soon able to predict Mrs. Woodhouse's PMS days. Those would be the days when we'd go all out to send her over the edge. There was rarely a month for the rest of the school year when we didn't have the poor woman fleeing the room in tears at least once.

One of my favorite stunts was dismantling desks and sending the parts out the third floor window. It wasn't as funny as when I sent Evan Jones out the window back in grade eight, but it was still pretty cool.

We had a real law-and-order type bossing over us in 8th grade. One day she had to leave the room for a minute. Evan was leaning out the window and I just meant to give him a scare, but... whoopsie! There goes Evan!

Luckily that was on the first floor. But there was a honkin' big mud puddle right there where Evan landed. Mrs. McColl comes back to the room and Evan's sitting studiously at his desk like nothing happened, except there's muddy footprints leading to his desk and there's water dripping off him!

But I digress... this was about Sunday School, not high school.

So the folks decided that they'd give me Sunday morning to do my homework. They had two cars at the time; a 1964 Rambler Classic and a 1967 Chevy Bel Air wagon. Obviously they only needed one of them to drive to church.

I'd wait till they were out the drive and then I'd be out the drive in whatever car they left behind!

The next concession towards Maryhill way had just recently been paved, and I'd head over there to find out just how fast these cars could go.

The six-cylinder three on the tree Rambler was pretty much topped out at 90 mph. But that Bel Air! Let me tell you; I lived for the Sunday's the family took the Rambler to church.

I could get 110 mph out that 283 powerglide combo!

This went on for quite some time. Then one day, when I was having some sort of dispute with the brother who would become the "Tree Guy," he lets it slip that his buddy who lives on the next concession has been in awe of whoever is driving those cars past his house really fast every Sunday morning...


If that wasn't enough, he also let me know that his favorite Playboy model in the magazines under my mattress was Miss February.

Needless to say that was the end of my bullying that sibling.

In fact, he pretty much earned himself a carte blanche. All the shit I found out about that goody two shoes, such as he was anything but, just stayed between him and me. That time he had to pull his motorcycle over seven times on the way home from the bar? To barf?

Mum's the word.

The time his green running shoes left a 50 foot green streak along the side of the Water Street bridge as he was giving the cops the slip on his 750 Honda?

Mum's the word.

That's how the bond between brothers works, and between him and me it's worked remarkably well ever since.

As for the Kid, he's riding his bicycle somewhere in Cambridge a couple months ago when everything goes black.

When he wakes up he's lying in the road between two semi trailers. There's half a dozen cop cars, two ambulances, and a firetruck on the scene.

It takes him a minute to realize that for once, yes, it really is all about him!

He would be rather thoroughly "concussed" as they say, not to mention he's losing a lot of blood from his face. They lead him into an ambulance.

He asks about the bike. Oh we can't take your bicycle in the ambulance.

He exits the ambulance, picks up his bike, and walks it five miles to the hospital.

I get along pretty good with him too.

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