Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Heroin addicts can be the kindest people

We damned near lost the Bubbinator today.

No! She's not a heroin addict! Let me explain...

So Junior's been staying at his Bubby's place in town while he works 60 hours a week at the local Wendy's trying to sock away enough money to pay for that fancy degree at U of T. Damned straight; in four or five years he's gonna be at least a shift manager at Wendy's.

So we had him out at Falling Downs for a couple days of R&R, and we brought him back to Bubby's today.

I sit out in the drive with the motor running and the air on because the hounds are in the back. Folks have been getting downright cranky about people who leave pets unattended in vehicles during this heat wave, as well they should. Leave the hounds unattended for thirty seconds, even with the motor running and the air on, and some do-gooder will see it as a licence to smash your windows and call the cops.

That's where you learn those "outstanding warrants" that you always thought were bullshit turned out not to be.

Then you'll be sure to show up in the local papers as the thoughtless a-hole who left his pets to roast to death while you're shopping at Costco or whatever.

That's why I make a point of suffering with the pets in that air-conditioned vehicle with the motor on and the air-conditioner running.

Anyway, I'm sitting there, and Junior and the Farm Manager duck into Bubby's house, and moments later I can't help but notice windows popping open upstairs, downstairs... everywhere there's a window that opens.

Turns out Bubby had left her gas stove not quite on and not quite off. The house filled up with natural gas. Had Bubby so much as flicked a Bic to fire up her bong the entire neighbourhood would have been blown to kingdom come.

We dodged a bullet there, we did, and no, Bubby doesn't actually own a bong, but the experience got us reminiscing about close shaves and near misses. Just a few weeks ago I'd pointed out to the FM the first place in Guelph where I'd had my own apartment. That was a big old red brick place on Paisley Street that some entrepreneurial keener had sub-divided into a dozen or so "studio apartments."

Much like today, if your renting in one of those places in downtown Guelph, you're either a student at the U of Guelph, or down on your luck, or both. I was actually neither. I was just an 18 year old apprentice welder who was seriously pissed because my dear daddy had unilaterally decided to dump my Crown Royal stash down the drain. With no consultation whatsoever!

I know!

Talk about an egregious infringement of my teenage autonomy!

So I figured I'd teach him a lesson and show how adult I really was. Got my own studio apartment in that flop-house on Paisley Street.

Had lots of adventures at that address. Truth be told, that particular place I'm pretty sure didn't hold any actual students. No, it was more an older crowd of hard core alcoholics with a few younger heroin addicts mixed in. And me.

Late one evening, having wobbled home after a night on the town, I thought I smelled smoke as I made my way to my second floor studio. Plunked down in front of the TV, and was just sorta nodding off... when I distinctly felt the smoke was becoming more pronounced.

I open the door, and holy shit, there's smoke everywhere! I run up and down the hall pounding on doors and yelling get out get out get out!!!

Noticed the studio door next to mine didn't open. Nobody came out. But that's where the smoke was curling out from under the door. Throw myself at the door a couple of times and find myself in a completely smoke-filled kitchenette. On the stove there's a hard-boiled egg so hard-boiled it's on fire. My heroin addict neighbour had boiled up an egg and passed out.

To this day she thinks I saved her life, and I probably did, but no big deal; I saved mine too.

Fast forward a few years, and I'm living on what is today a rather posh street a few blocks north of Paisley, just off Exhibition Park, with the missus of the time and my dear daughter. There's a gal with one arm renting the little house next door. I'm from the mind-your-own-business school of neighbourly relations, so aside from the occasional how-ya-doin' I didn't have much to do with her.

Then one day I read in the local paper that my neighbour had been caught up in a heroin trafficking bust! No shit! Who knew?

She made bail after a couple of days and we went back to our usual neighbourly relations. How ya doin' and all that. A month later I'm having a Daddy moment with my dear daughter, the first of the five Juniors. Take her to a fun fair type of thing at the Speedvale Plaza where they've got carnival rides set up for the weekend. She's about three years old and decides she wants to take a whirl on the Tilt & Whirl.

Well, that's too scary for me, but I decide to trust my three-year-old's judgement and put her on there by herself. First spin around, she's all smiling and happy... all good!

Couple of whirls later she ain't smiling anymore... and thirty seconds after that she's screaming in terror!

I'm screaming in terror too!

I'm waving my arms and shrieking STOP STOP STOP as loud as I can.

Nothing. The Tilt & Whirl tilts more and whirls faster... I think I'm gonna die of shame for not saving my dear daughter... and then a one-armed woman jumps over the barricade around the ride and grabs the ride guy by the shoulder. I couldn't hear what she said, but the Tilt & Whirl came to a stop.

That was my heroin addict neighbour.

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