Thursday 3 May 2012

Without Women Of Course

When we were in Toronto last week, I had to occasion to drive past some of my old haunts. I have done this before, and I think I have written about some of them. I have been doing this long enough now that I am bound to start repeating some of the stories, but hopefully they will be told in a different way each time. If there is one that you think you have read before, can you be sure that you actually read it or might it possibly be a case of déjà vu. I am going with déjà vu.

I turned off of the 401 at Warden Avenue going south to some destination that I can’t remember now. Right on the south east corner, there is a Methodist church and a Howard Johnson’s. I can remember that particular corner for a couple of reasons. When I was in cubs, it was that area we would go to in order to practice wood craft. You see, back in the day there wasn’t a building there at all; it was just a small forest.

I was a city boy, so any place with trees thick enough that I couldn’t see buildings on the other side was a forest. Like I say, we would go there and practice scout things. I suppose that we would cut down saplings and lash them together to make a drying rack for dishcloths or articles of clothing. We would practice the various methods of starting fires and once the fire was started we would sit around it and listen to stories, cook marshmallows and poke people with the burning ends of our marshmallow sticks. It must have been a day camp, but my mind seems to be a little foggy about that aspect of it.

I remember playing tag in the forest and what must have been foraging for firewood. One thing that has stayed with me for my whole life is being deep in the woods with about seven or eight other cubs while this older scout showed us how to masturbate. I don’t think my juvenile psyche was wounded in any way; I just took it as an interesting happening and didn’t think too much about it. I am pretty sure that I didn’t tell my mom or dad about it, but I don’t remember going back to that camp in the years following. I never thought of it as dirty or wrong in any way, but now that I think back, it does seem a little weird. Why was that guy masturbating in front of a bunch of little kids in the woods? I wonder if he went on to become a scout leader. Perhaps he is the minister at the Methodist church. Whatever, it was strange.

Years later, there was a Holiday Inn built on that site. Maybe that is why we stopped going to the forest. I quit cubs when the bastard Akela (leader) wouldn’t give me my second “eye” after I had done what was required (No! Not in the woods.). It was just a pin that went on the cap, but it was obviously pretty important to me. My brother quit at the same time and for months we would leave to go to cubs every Tuesday night and spend the dues mom and dad gave us on candy. We did our best. Cubs will get that.

Time marches on a few years and the Holiday Inn advertised a “Bottomless” cup of coffee on a big banner on the side of the building. A group of us decided that it would be a pretty cheap contest to see which one of us could drink the most coffee. I think my brother won with 17 cups, but by that time the world was spinning and my eyes were taking in far too much light. The advertising was incorrect by the way. Shortly after the 17th cup we were told to leave and not come back. They had nothing to worry about there, because a couple of the guys haven’t touched coffee since and fully half would opt for warm pond scum over coffee.

If I move forwards a few more years, there was a bar in the Holiday inn and it was one of those with a “Men’s Only” section and a “Ladies and Escorts” section. We would go to the men’s section and what a pig sty! There was sawdust on the floor and just a bunch of old drunks that would hang out there, no doubt hiding from their wives. The cool thing about the place was that you would order draft by the table and it was twenty cents a glass. Yes, before you ask, you could order two tables of beer. They would pull another one of the small round tables over and cover the surface of both tables with glasses of beer. It was the kind of place that was a young mans vision of heaven.

Well, without women of course...Men Only.

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