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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

How the Hell am I still alive?

How the Hell am I still alive?

Seriously.  I look back at all the things I did as a kid (rope-tow on a BMX bike behind a high-speed moving vehicle, 30 foot death drops into huge sand pits, drinking water from the River,) and wonder how I ever grew up to be a reasonably decent looking guy (minus the beer keg gut) with all my fingers and toes.  I did some crazy shiz-nit as a boy.  More specifically, I'm surprised I didn't kill someone else around me.

Just one of my many stunts as a kid
Diving back into my brain-damaged archives (I took a few blows to the head as a kid), I thought I'd share a story from my youth that goes to prove the point that death will come for me one day seeing as I how I constantly and narrowly avoided it as a boy.  This is the second part of the letter for my Dad on his 64th birthday.

Backyard Ninja Wars

On a sunny afternoon, somewhere in the deep of a long forgotten summer a group of boys decided to pass the time by coming up with a new twist on the typical game of Cowboys and Indians.  Never content to simply run around the yard making Bang Bang noises while pointing our fingers at each other, we decided to take it to the next level.  Backyard Ninja Wars!
Grant and Graham Knight had the privilege of having a Dad who knew his way around a woodshop.  As such, they were prepared for this fight long before the rest of us.  Wooden Katana blades in hand, they rallied the troops (The Cornell Brothers-Travis, Aaron, Ryan and finally me) to take 15 minutes to prepare for battle.  This meant going home and getting our ‘weapons’ together.  Now, as mentioned, the Knight Brothers were ready to knock some skulls in.  The Cornells were also well armed having an arsenal of toys to choose from ranging from swords and shields to riot gear and sling shots.  And then there was me.
I was always more of an action-figure kind of guy myself.  He-Man, Thundercats, Star Wars.  The usual fare.  As such, access to weapons was a little scarce.  I remember clearly that you guys had a no guns policy.  In fact, at one point the policy was so strict, that I wasn’t allowed to even watch G.I. Joe on TV.  I had to sneak over to the Cornell’s house to watch it!  That plan worked really well…..until I got caught.
My Pets have Mad Skills
Back at the ‘ol Helmer Homestead’ I was desperately trying to piece something together before my time was up?  “Spatula? No.  2X4? Naaahhh. Dad?  What can I make for Ninja wars?”  I’ll give you credit.  You came up with a quick idea.  You drafted it up on a piece of paper, drew the specs right down and then sent me on my way to make it. My goal:  A Morning Star.  Death on a stick.  A solid metal spiked ball attached to a wooden handle by a foot long  metal chain.  Like I said.  Death on a stick.
Now, being a kid, I was curious and creative.  A dangerous combination in some cases…like this one.  I built that Morning Star.  Built it real good.  Using a spare piece of wood from the scary basement (the one with the furnace that would randomly go off and scare the Hell out of me when I was down there), some string, some tape (to hold it down) and a tinfoil ball with multiple nails driven through it.  Yep!  I was ready to go to war.
If it wasn’t for the fact that on my way out of the house I started that thing swinging and easily snapped it off the string; partially lodging it into the wall, I probably would’ve gotten out into the backyard and, plainly put….murdered someone.  But you were on your game that day and you stopped me cold in my tracks!  After explaining the potential repercussions of my actions, you said “Let’s see if we can make this a little safer.”
So with a pinch of ingenuity, a dash of madness and a liberal dose of “I’m not really sure what I’m doing but I’m not going to let the kid know that” you made me the eco-friendly version.  One stick?  Check.  One length of string?  Yes.  One potato and some tooth picks?  WHaaaaatttt?? “Now go play and try not to kill anyone!”
So off I marched into the heat of battle; spiked potato held high knowing that I was a Ninja Warrior.  Sure the other kids beat my ass (seriously, I got my ass handed to me) but I certainly had the most original, if not the most ridiculous weapon in the group.  All thanks to my Dad.

Paul Bunyan was a pushover

Recent, my Father celebrated his 64th birthday.  I've never been good for giving gifts; macaroni and glitter picture here, hand print ashtray there.  You get the point.  So to avoid another "Let's throw the gift in a closet and forget about it moment", I thought I'd write a letter to my Dad to share some of my favourite memories from my childhood that involved him.  Here now is the first tale:

Not Jeremy Landry but still bloody scary
'One day, while playing in our yard on Beavis Terrace, I had a run-in with the local bully; Jeremy Landry.  I‘ll always remember that kid!  Red Hair, freckles and an attitude similar to that of a Rhino with a toothache.  He was bad news!  On this particular day, the bullying was really bad.  I tried to get away, but Jeremy and his cronies followed me into our backyard.  I remember saying something to the effect of “You better leave me alone or I’ll go get my Dad and then you’ll be sorry!”
 Those buggers laughed!  Jeremy; through a mouthful of crooked teeth (man he was ugly as sin!) sneered at me and said “Oh Ya?!  Well, we’ll just climb up the tree here.  There’s no way your old man will be able to get us then!”
So I went inside….tears streaming down my chubby cheeks, my nose running.  I probably looked like a real mess.  I remember telling you what had happened and I remember you looking out the window and thinking quietly for a moment before leaving the room.   Well!  That’s when all Hell broke loose!  

The next thing I remember was you flying out the back screen door, down the porch steps and out into the yard.  The shock of seeing you come sprinting out was one thing.  Those kids weren’t totally prepared for that.  But the look of sheer terror on their face when you brought out THE AXE was an image I will gleefully cherish for the rest of my life!
WHACK! WHACK! WHACK! “Ready to come down now boys?” WHACK! WHACK! WHACK!  “How about now?!”
Gravity is a wonderful thing.  In most cases, you rarely have to do any work besides sit back and watch things come tumbling down.  Case in point; the Boys in the Tree!  I’m not sure what happened to Jeremy Landry and his gang, but I often wonder about that old tree.  Whether it still bears the wounds of a neighbourhood war from long ago. 
Thor has his hammer.  Captain America has his shield.  My Dad, had The Axe."
Tights don't work for everyone