Keep on textin’ in the free world!

April 15, 2009

My pal Tom arrived a couple of nights ago to open up their family cottage.  We immediately joined Charlie and Roz at the Neil Young concert in Kingston.  Tom is a big fan. What a great place the K-Rock Centre is!

It had been a long time since the last concert for me.  Used to be the air was thick with smoke at a rock concert, and the air bright with BIC lighter flames.  Not today.  Now the air is clear, and instead of lighters held up as beacons, there are little coloured screens glowing in just about every lap in the building. Honest, it seemed as if everybody had a cell phone or Blackberry out at some point in the concert, texting madly.  The guy sitting just in front of me ran off a two line message to someone at an amazing speed, typing accurately with his thumbs on a telephone keyboard.  Tom has his Blackberry in a cross-draw holster attached to his braces.  No kidding.  He sent a number of messages, and then dialed up his wife in Pennsylvania to share Neil’s vocal stylings with her on at least one occasion.

Neil Young did well.  It’s not hard to see why he can pack an auditorium with teens, university students, thirty-somethings and retirees.  As my son said, “He plays with the energy of a teenager when he’s on the stage.”

With a bit of time to kill before we met the kids, we had drifted down the street to the popular restaurant Chez Piggy.  At the table I noticed Tom had a deep cut on his fore-arm, barely healed.  I asked how he had hurt himself this time.  “That’s nothing.  There’s another one.”  He rolled up his sleeve, and surely enough, there was an identical cut a couple of inches further up his arm.

Turns out his new truck is a lot longer than the old SUV, and that meant he was standing under the garage door when he tried to pull-start the portable generator.  It turned over much more easily than he had expected, and he slammed his forearm into the metal frame of the overhanging door.

He quickly shut off the engine and rushed to make repairs.  Turned out the bleeding wasn’t that bad, so a bit later he resumed his work.  I interrupted, “And you did the same thing again, right?”  Tom nodded.  “Where I come from that’s the definition of insanity:  to do something that has been proven by experience to hurt you.”  After the initial reprimand, of course, I offered the usual sympathy that a veteran do-it-yourselfer can give to a fellow walking wounded.

It’s a good thing I didn’t go too hard on Tom, because whenever he sees me in the next couple of days, I’m in for quite a ribbing.  My upper lip has a vertical slash just under my nose, and it’s swollen up and blackened enough that I’m probably recognizable only by scent and hair colour.

I did a stupid thing involving standing in the bucket of the loader and tossing a logging chain over a dangling limb.  “Ahah!  You say.  And you laughed at Tom for cutting himself!”

Yeah, but I’ve never done this before.  My boneheaded tricks are unique.  I learn from my mistakes.  That’s the difference.  Anyway, from this one I gained an interesting lesson in physics:  the difference between a rope and a logging chain is not only one of weight.  Ropes don’t have heavy, hooked ends that turn a slight tug into an avalanche of metal, building up speed for a yoyo vault around the branch and a launch at the face of the victim who twitched the chain.  I couldn’t believe a chain would do that.  It flowed over that branch, pulled by gravity, and it just kept speeding up until it threw the grab hook at my face.  I couldn’t really defend myself – I was still in mid-tug on the other end.

So now I sit with a fat lip.  It wouldn’t be the first, and I hope it won’t turn out to be the most colourful. That award was no doubt captured by the work of a splinter of pine 2X4 which caught the side of my skull the time I tried to uninstall a cast iron tub without bothering to look up the crowbar.  It provided a spectacular bit of facial art which wouldn’t have been a problem except that I had to attend my retirement dinner with colleagues I hadn’t seen for seven months.

Everyone was cool about the black eye until my friend Leigh Pritchard got up to make her speech.  She started off, “I wrote this on my computer last night.  As God is my witness, I didn’t know anything about Rod’s mishap with the 2X4.”

The first line of her speech read, “For the last two decades Rod Croskery has been the face of the English Department at Carleton Place High School.”  Hoots erupted around the room.  Leigh looked a little guilty, maybe even embarrassed, but she’d landed a dandy in front of a tough audience, and I had to give her that.

Oh well, I think a few scars just show that a man has lived dangerously.  I totally reject my wife’s assertion that it’s more likely evidence he’s lived dumbly.  I’ll have to remember to ask Tom if Neil has a song about a fat lip.


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