Â I wrote this little tale of woe about 15 years ago, however I think it deserves a second airing. Here in the US we have Memorial day, Canada calls it Victoria Day. The names and sentiments may be different, but both countries use the holiday to signal the start of the summer season. Canada gets a jump on the US, it is always the weekend before. The Memorial day weekend is designed to be an opportunity to appreciate the sacrifice made by those no longer with us, and those still working hard to defend all that we hold close. Freedom comes at a steep price. On a lighter note this is the unofficial start of the BBQ season.Â The events in the story are all true. I do hope that it brings a chuckle to you…..Â
It is the Victoria day long weekend, this traditionally marks the start of life outdoors in this neck of the woods. The first boating excursion, picnic, BBQ, or general outdoors revelry. This is also the weekend where Ontarian s endeavor to spend a good deal of time in the ‘urgent care’ or ‘burn unit’ of the local hospital, this due to the discharging of fireworks whilst under the influence.
My partner in crime, ‘Greg’ informs me that in celebration of good ole Queen Vic, we will be searing animal bits on the BBQ, and the ‘GF’ and her youngest offspring will be coming over to enjoy this glorious event.
The bright sunny day rapidly descends into what I have come to know as spring in this little bit of purgatory. The Great Lakes may look very impressive in an atlas, but when you are on a small spit of land, surrounded by the little (or big!) critters, you start to see some interesting weather patterns, all of which seem to revolve around wind, and the deposition of various types of precipitation, some is clear and wet, some white and cold. The weather God, or Goddess seems to have a particular fondness for the Windsor area. I am surprised that through the process of ‘natural selection’ everyone born here does not have webbed feet, and a six inch layer of blubber.
Darkness is rapidly approaching as I pull into the driveway (mud bog), the clouds are black and ominous, and the rain god is doing his damnedest to wreak further havoc on the already far from perfect roof of the far from perfect house that Greg calls home. There is a bright flash of lightning, the house is silhouetted for a second, I notice a feature that I had missed previously, it bears an uncanny likeness to the ‘Bates’ property! I find some high ground (we live in constant fear of discovering the vehicles up to their axles in mud). The key is to find some high ground, and turn the vehicle around to that it is pointing to the road. This increases the potential of being able to drive out the next morning. I was lucky, there was some high ground that was reasonably close to the house, so I won’t get too wet during the ingress process.
There is another sheet of lightning, this time I spot the Sears “Lawn tractor” abandoned in the marsh that we lovingly refer to as ‘the back yard’, a couple of acres, that, under ideal circumstances (i.e. someone has thrust a glowing red hot poker into your eyes, thereby permanently blinding you), could be called a lawn.
The most outstanding feature, actually features of this property, because there are two are; firstly the ‘Boat Dock’ , I have tried asking Greg about this, but neither sober nor drunk, have I been able to ascertain exactly why he built it, and more importantly, what was going through his sick and twisted mind at the time. He is a Realtor by trade, and, maybe part of the explanation lays there. Most people install swimming pools, or a trellised arbor full of roses, these add to the ambiance, and so increase the ‘net worth’ of the property, Greg has a boat dock! We are at least several miles from the lake, so the boat dock remains a bit of a mystery. Although he claims to have no religious leanings, I believe that he views himself as a modern day Noah. This is the beginnings of his ark.
The second feature of the back yard (nee marsh) is the tree stump. When he first moved into these palatial settings there was a huge Elm tree, it was some 25 feet from the house, and it was dying. Greg thought that one day soon it might fall over and demolish the house.
Hindsight, being what it is, everyone, including Greg, now realizes that the destruction of the house would have been a beneficial thing. Sure, it would have been frustrating for some of the inhabitants. The mouse would have been forced to move out of the broken ‘built in’ dishwasher, the place that he and his forefathers have called home for many generations, and the rat likely would have been equally annoyed at losing the ‘centrally heated’ and, in rat terminology, ‘well appointed’ crawl space under the house. For the few neighbors however, the losing of the local ‘Bates’ house would have likely had a very beneficial effect on the worth of their properties. This house is so bad, it does not even have an address, we are ‘RR#1, Highway 3′. Somehow mail does eventually arrive, it is my theory however that Canada Post delivers all the mail they have to real addresses, and whatever is left must be for Greg.
Anyway, Greg decided that the tree should go. So armed with a very large chainsaw, and a significant amount of libations supplied by the ‘John Labatts’ brewing company, sets about sparing this 200 year old Alzheimer’s patient any further suffering. How he actually performed the feat, we may never really discover, it is however part of Windsor folk law. What is left is a fine monument to the pioneering spirit of the drunken lumberjack armed with the biggest chainsaw known to man!
The stump stands 12 feet high, and is almost 5 feet in diameter; it looks like a huge wooden penis. Yes, a wonderful monument to drunken ingenuity.
I make a dash through the teeming rain toward the back door, (no point in going to the front door, it has no lock on it, and is secured by 6 inch nails), as I dash toward the open door, I notice steam rising from the BBQ. Apparently the inclement weather is not going to prevent Greg from enjoying Queen Vic’s birthday. I burst into the room, into what we euphemistically call the ‘conservatory’. Greg has moved the patio furniture in, and is sat wearing a rain jacket, and holding onto an umbrella, while he tends the grill, and watches a golf match on one of the many TV’s that he possesses (we even have a TV in the bathroom!).
The TV that he is watching has plastic bags ‘duct taped’ to the top of it, the ‘conservatory’ is the second leakiest room in the house. I walk toward the beer fridge, “the soldiers are not as icy as they could be, I was worried that we might get electrocuted, so I unplugged it”. Sure enough, the rain god has selected the 30 year old fridge for special treatment. There is a steady flow of water cascading onto the top of it.
I disappear into the house (primarily to make sure that no major leaks are about to destroy any of the computers). The ‘GF’ is in the kitchen, armed to the teeth with chemicals, (most likely contravening the SALT treaty). She is trying to get the ‘bachelor’ off the tile floor. I say hi, and offer a compliment about her ‘yellow Gucci rubber gloves’. She remarks something about men and their close evolutionary bond to swine. I assume it is a term of endearment, and for good measure leave a couple of muddy footprints on the ‘walk of fame’. Having checked the computors, put plastic bags over them, and dressed appropriately (Rain Gear), I head back out to see what is going on.
“Those fâ€™ing birds have to go!”, Greg informs me. “I didn’t mind them living in the eaves (editors note… by eaves, he is in fact referring to the entire second story of the house, the rear of which has not been habitable in 10 years, it is derelict!), the little b@stards have taken to crapping on the BBQ, they have to go”. He goes on to explain that the following day he has to play in a golf tournament, and my mission, should I choose to accept it, is to sit outside, enjoying ‘frosty pops’ and shoot the little buggers with his pellet gun.
The gods are with me, Greg gets up early and heads out, presumably to aid in the destruction of some poor grounds keepers well manicured lawn. All thoughts of guns, birds and BBQ’s and BB guns are long forgotten.
Greg gets back at about 5pm, he has the rosy glow, denoting a successful day of golfing, though I suspect he ‘double bogeyed’ the 19th. “the bastards”, he exclaims, “they have crapped on the BBQ again!”. He asks me why I had not spent the day pumping lead pellets into them, I explain that in his rush to depart, he had forgotten to give me the gun. Pausing briefly at the beer fridge to obtain fortifications, he heads off into the bowels of the house, presumably to find his version of ‘bird be gone’. Sure enough, a few minutes later he returns with a rather evil looking pellet gun, resplendent with shoulder stock, this is not the recreational, lets shoot pellets at a picture of the ‘TV weather man’ type gun, this is more something out of a junior Rambo movie.
He gives me the 90 second tour of how to operate it, push this, twist that, pump here, etc., I thought it was more akin to the last minute directions from the producer of a porno flick. With that he heads back in to find ammo. “Damn it, I know I have some”, he explains minutes later.
At that moment, one of the ‘Guests’ drops a surprise on the BBQ, Greg is enraged! And stalks off into the house, I have a feeling of deja vu, I have seen this type of behaviour before. And I am not disappointed. He returns 2 mins later with his 12 gauge, and a box of shells. He unleashes a volley at the tree stump. Satisfied that the weapon is working correctly, he loads another 5 rounds into the gun, and fires at the house! I seriously expected the back of the house to fall down, but apart from a couple of missing panels in the door (on the second floor, that has no accompanying staircase!) and some new small holes from the ‘scatter’ the house is still intact. The birds however survived, I can attest to that fact, there were new droppings on the BBQ this morning!