Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Holy Week Batman!

YOURS, MINE AND HOURS AND HOURS: Good Friday meant serving serious time
at St. Clement's, up the street from our house .
All year long, in my various capacities as husband, father, editor and nice guy, I write a lot of emails.

And typically, I sign off with versions of "Have a fun Thursday" or "Enjoy your afternoon" or  maybe "Hope you have an interesting evening."

I sometimes go with "Have a good Friday," but I immediately append that with "not in the Jesus sense of Good Friday, but you know..."

And now here we are: It's almost Good Friday Eve. End of Lent. End of Holy Week. And almost every one of us--Catholics, protestants, everybody!--gets the day off. It's great!

God knows why.

Weird thing is--and I'm sure I'm not alone in this--when I was a little Catholic kid, I loathed Good Friday.

It was the most ironically named worst day of the year.

Good Friday in the Carter household was all about church and suffering.

Sure there was no school, but in the very early years of my schooling, we didn't get "Spring Break" in March, we got "Easter Week" and Good Friday was a signal that the holiday week was coming to a close.

Plus, in the house I grew up, there was nothing remotely positive about this religious holiday.

Some Good Fridays, my mom  made us head up the hill to St. Clement's church twice in a 24-hour period. And the Lenten services were long and torturous and dark with no music to break up the tedium.

All the statues in the church were covered in purple and we always felt sad if not just a bit guilty as if we were just a bit personally responsible about what happened to Jesus.
Give Up For Lent"

To make matters worse, many of us had given up candy for Lent (the 38 days preceding Good Friday) and still had to wait a full two more days for Easter chocolate!

(While I'm on that topic, I could never wrap my head around that chunk of theology. We were encouraged to make sacrifices, like giving up candy for Lent, but underlying it all was this weird  motive. Why were we giving up candy? We were doing it to get to heaven! If we were truly unselfish, wouldn't we be trying to not get to heaven? Of course as I got older I became increasingly at one with Mark Twain, who figured hell would be where the interesting fun and people related to me would be. Is there any smoking or drinking or good old fashioned goofing off or, like, flirting going on in heaven? I digress.)

(Also, my mom was actually a pushover when it came to fasting for Lent and I don't think I ever went a full 40 days without candy, but probably some Catholic kids did. And I digress again.)

Still, Good Friday, when I was a kid, was anything but good.

The stores were closed.

It almost alway rained.

But now?

Most of us get the day off, with pay.

You don't have to shop ahead of time or decorate or choose presents or clean up the house because nobody hosts, like, Good Friday parties.

In fact there's really no reason to get out of bed before noon, and even then you might as well just stay put.

Stores are closed, so you can't make your weekly $175 deposit at Home Hardware.

And did I mention we almost all of us get the day off with pay?

The more I think of it, the more I think they should change the name to Great Friday.

Good Friday is the Roman Catholic Church's no-strings-attached gift to Western Civilization

On second thought, instead of saying "Have a Good Friday," I'm going with, "You're welcome."

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Finally! "The Full Comaneci!"

CLEVELAND ROCKS: But at least one
joint was a real eye-roller.
This short blog has a surprise ending.

I already know that because I told my friend Richard the story you’re about (I hope) to read, and when I got to the end, he literally took a half a step backwards and said, “Man you gotta, like, tell the world about that.”

Here goes.

A few weeks ago, my cell rang in the middle of the afternoon and the caller i.d. showed a long number with “Hong Kong” written under it. Ignoring every instinct in my body to answer the thing, I didn't pick it up.

Same thing happened 24 hours later.

Then a third call, a day later. 

The call on day four came with a twist. Hong Kong left a message. I punched in my password. A female voice in perfect but accented English: “Hi my name is Carol I’m calling from Agoda....”

She went on with the message and wound up with, “Please note it could take up to 30 business days to transfer the amount. Thank you.”

I hung up. In disbelief.

Here’s why. 

A month earlier, my wife Helena and I were going to spend a few days in Cleveland so to find accommodation, I Googled something like “places to stay near the Rock&Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.”

It came up with an establishment that sounded economical but decent and I booked and used my credit card to pay for two nights.

We drove to Cleveland and drove around until we found the place.

Glad to be done driving, we checked in.


I’ve stayed in some skuzzy joints, but this place outskuzzed them all. It bordered on scary, from the lobby in. I’ll just go into detail about one single lowlight: There was a huge patch of icky wet carpet that we had to walk across to get to the bathroom. From there, it was all downhill.

One night was enough.

Next morning, I courageously told the desk clerk we were leaving and please could we have our second night’s payment refunded?  He looked at his computer and said something like, “You booked through the agency; you have to ask them.”

HARBOUR INN: Was close to but couldn't
compete with our skanky hotel
I didn’t know of any agency. He told me it was called Agoda.

More than a week later, we were back home and I Googled Agoda. It was an online booking service alright, but there was no phone number or street address.

It had a menu to register questions and concerns but in order to do so, you had to fill in things like your order confirmation number and the last four digits of the credit card you used and I had neither handy. 

There was one little space to leave comments so I just fired off the same story you just read including the detail about the smooshy rug and us bailing on the second night but not being able to contact anybody and please could I get my money back. I left my phone number.

Turns out, that’s what the mysterious phone calls were about.

My curt little memo found its way across the globe and somehow somebody somewhere in Asia read it then tried to get hold of me not once, not twice but four times, finally leaving a message telling me I would get the requested refund; an amount of money  which I had—as you might expect—long written off.  


Until proven otherwise, I’m awarding that company called Agoda what I call-- a bit in honour of the famous Romanian gymnast who won a gold in '76 but mostly because I like the way it sounds --“The Full Comaneci!:” 10 outta 10!

Agoda. You read it first here folks. Agoda
(In case you were wondering.)

And that’s what Richard thought I should tell the world about. 

You’d like Richard. 

Smart guy, he is.

And here's a weird thing I just remembered. Many years ago, he diagnosed me as a classic pronoiac.

Pronoia, in case you don’t know, is the opposite of paranoia.

Heres Wikipedia on pronoia: "Where a person suffering from paranoia feels that persons or entities are conspiring against them, a person experiencing pronoia feels that the world around them conspires to do them good.

"In 1993 the writer and Electronic Frontier Foundation co-founder John Perry Barlow defined pronoia as "the suspicion the Universe is a conspiracy on your behalf."

With stuff like Agoda happening to me on a regular basis, how can I be anything but? 

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Postcards from America: Now museum now you don't

What a great idea. Moms--like the two above--
get together to discuss their havoc-creating sons.
My wife Helena and I just returned from a seven-day driving trip around a small part of northeastern United States. I have neither the energy nor the stamps to send out a bunch of postcards, so here--in lieu--I present:

Postcard Number One: The hotel we stayed in our first night in Cleveland might be the scuzziest place I've ever slept and that's going some. It was 10 storeys, brown brick, and otherwise unremarkable. Across the dusty hall from our room, a party was in overdrive at suppertime. Our room was dark, musty, there was no chair and the window looked over an industrial parking lot. The real killer?
Back issues of Pete's Blog&Grille
Between the bed and the bathroom door was a four-foot-by-four-foot patch of carpet that was actually--I'm warning you this part's gross-- moist! Wet. If you wanted to go to the bathroom but not get your feet wet--and who knows what the rug was wet with--you had to sort of run and leap the mooshy part. We booked two nights but stayed one. If you contact me in person I'll tell you the name but it's not a place you'd recognize. Next morning we moved to the Holiday Inn Express a mile north. The upside? From that first dive, there was only one direction this trip could take.

Postcard Number Two: And when I say up, I mean...the valet at the Holiday Inn Express told me that once a week at least, his very Catholic parents and he drive out to Amish country to a tiny crossroads called Windsor where somebody built a 50-foot statue of one of the many incarnations of Jesus’ mommy; specifically, "Our Lady of Guadeloupe." Miracles happen there, he said. Out we went. And he was right about the miracles. We witnessed two: The first? We actually decided to see the place and drove for an hour to get to it, without a map or GPS. The second? The guy who built the statue sold me a DVD so I could, when I got home,  watch the annual "Giant Statue of Our Lady in the Boonies Annual Fireworks Extravaganza." The guy's name is Ed.  

Meet ghost-hunting Marvin
Postcard Number Three: The first morning in Cleveland we headed out to the Rock&Roll Hall of Fame but stopped for coffee at a Dunkin' Donuts. Helena picked up a copy of the newspaper with the best name in the world, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and learned that that very afternoon, the Cleveland Area Paranormal Society was conducting a ghost hunt, complete with divining rods and electromagnetic field detectors, in a nearby graveyard. Admission to the tour was the same as that to the music place. $25. Rock&roll would have to wait.

Postcard Number Four: I honestly forget why we chose Baltimore as our next destination. What's in Baltimore? I mean, what else besides the National Museum of Dentistry where we learned that the average person produces six litres of saliva a day and that George Washington really didn’t have wooden teeth. Or the Baltimore Tattoo Museum where I learned that you're not allowed to take photos inside the museum proper but you can in the can? We also paid our respects at the grave of Elijah Bond, the guy who patented Ouija Boards. I really like Baltimore plus I just remembered why we went. We were going to visit a writer friend named David Kolman. And while we never actually managed to see each other--which doesn't matter between friends--I'm okay with that because David's way funnier than me and he's all I would have heard about on the drive home. 
for itself.

Postcard Number Five:  Now this next part's weird. When we were kids, we had several Ouija Boards around the house and for some eerie reason, I seem to recall that the one sibling who used them most effectively was my sister Norma. When Norma's fingers were on that little heart-shaped thing, it fairly leapt around the board.She also once lived in a haunted apartment in our hometown of  Sudbury.  

Postcard Number Six: True story. I was in high school. Norma and my other sister Bertholde shared a two-bedroom in the middle of  town and it was freakin' haunted. I'll go into more detail in another blog but the place was written up in no less than Canada's foremost women's magazine, Chatelaine, in a story by, well, okay, me. But still. Norma's and Bertholde's ghosts were also investigated by the late ghost detective and professor  Dr. Michael Persinger who didn't believe in ghosts and who died recently.

A LOO WITH A VIEW: Who had an
inkling there'd be a tattoo museum
much less one with this
 bathroom wallpaper?

Postcard Number Seven: And like I told the young man named Jonathan Lestat (honest!) who, with his colleague Marvin Kuzia was leading the ghost walk back in Cleveland, I guess ole Doc. Persinger sure knows now whether there's ghosts or not. Speaking of Docs, did you know that the famous gunslinger Doc Holiday was a dentist? His picture's on the wall in the museum in Baltimore.

Postcard Number Eight: Our last day on the road, we were headed north. We passed a sign advertising the upcoming Zippo Lighter Museum. I didn't say a word but then my wife of 30-odd years casually mentioned, "You want to stop there, don't you?" Turns out Norma's not the only psychic in my life. So stop there we did. And if you were to now say something like, "Geez Peter. Some of us have a life. How much more about this short strange trip of yours do you expect me to read?" I'm going to reply:  "Zippo!"

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Featuring Chatelaine recipes for loaves, fishes and other miracles

Some years ago, I was a Senior Editor of what was — at the time — Canada’s largest and best-known women’s magazine, Chatelaine.

During my time there, under the leadership of editor Rona Maynard, the 91-year-old Chatelaine underwent a very expensive (million bucks, I seem to recall) and radical (stories about sex toys!) makeover.  

After the redesign, not only did Chatelaine have a revitalized look and tone, so did its corporate stationery and stuff, including things like the staff’s business cards.  

At some point during the process, I learned the company would be getting rid of outdated branded materials; and what caught my attention was a bunch of Chatelaine notepads.

“Tossing them,” I thought, “would be a horrible waste.”

I salvaged two boxes. Each was about the size of a two-four.

I’m not sure how many notepads the boxes contained, but I know we shared the bounty with a few of our neighbours, who had children the same age as ours.

And I might check in with one or two of them to see if they still have any Chatelaine notepads left.  

Because we sure do. In fact we never seem to run out.

I just went to make a note to myself about getting our kitchen cupboards refinished and found myself writing it on a Chatelaine notepad. Twenty years in!  

The redesign was in 19-freaking-99.  

Our twin daughters Ev and Ria were eight; our son Michel Josef was seven and between then and now—believe it or not — notes in our house have been written.

Notes to teachers, saying why Ev, Ria or Michel had been away from school.

Notes to the same teachers explaining why Michel, Ria or Ev would be away from school at a later date.

Reminders from one of the adults in the house to the other adult in the house that a furnace repair guy would be showing up Thursday afternoon so could the other adult please work from home that day.

Scribbled doodles that were immediately — upon completion of the phone call to our sister that we were on while we were doodling — crumpled up and  thrown out.

Notes magnetically adhered to the fridge door. Innumerable messages of encouragement tucked into elementary school lunches. (P.S. They took. All three of ours sailed through grade eight!)
COLD HARD FACTS: Legend has it, fridges
have other functions beyond being used as
message boards.

Reminders of doctors’ appointments, including one memorable appointment when Ev and Ria were travelling to the Dominican Republic and had to visit a “tropical disease specialist” who, when the girls arrived in his office, consulted Wikipedia to see what vaccinations they needed. (Which reminds me, we took delivery of this batch of notepaper back before anybody except serious computer nerds had heard of something called Google, much less Wikipedia.)

Chatelaine notepads have served us, over the decades, miraculously.

Notes about minivan transmission repairs; notes pertaining to trips to the vet that would cost us way more money than we’d ever imagined we’d spend on a sick pet. (We once had a guinea pig diagnosed with a malignant growth and the vet suggested treatment. I was like, “It’s a guinea pig! Aren’t we SUPPOSED to do experiments on it?” I was voted down.)

Come to think of it, I’m mostly talking messages that would these days be delivered by text or Facebook—two other things that didn’t exist when we first took delivery of the notepads.  

More than one ever-so-carefully crafted note to one’s spouse explaining why one wasn’t coming home immediately after work, written in the hope that it sounded like I had official work to do, when in fact it was pretty transparent that I was going to a bar with pals.

These notepads have earned their keep. (I really should ask our neighbours if they still have any similarly storied Chatelaine notepads. We could produce a reality tv show.)

Our Chatelaine notepaper shows no signs of depleting. The pads are there whenever I need one. I think  the notepads, like the tribbles in Star Trek, are mysteriously reproducing, down in our basement. 

I'm thinking miracle. Like loaves and fishes. Maybe a shrine's in order.

After all, I’m talking notepads that have saved our marriage. 

I’m also resigned to having Chatelaine notepads around for the rest of my days. 

Indeed it has become a personal goal to hit the finish line before we run out. With luck, whoever pens my obit can do the first draft on a Chatelaine notepad.

I think I just realized another reason I like them so much.

They don’t age. The Chatelaine notepads look the very same as they did 20 years ago.  Just like me.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Finally... after all these years... 10 Uncle Commandments

my mom's brothers, Alex and Stellie
The first dirty joke I ever heard a grownup tell came courtesy of my mother’s brother, Angus Joe MacIsaac. It happened more than 50 years ago but left such an impression that even today, if you phone me, I can tell you the joke. It was about women wearing burlap undies.
I was probably six. We were in Angus Joe's living room, just me, him and his brother — my Godfather — Hugh.

Not only was it the first dirty joke I’d heard an adult tell, it was the first sign I got that there exists—in the same book of universal truths that says “No April Fools’ Jokes After Noon” — An Uncle’s Code of Conduct.
I know this because I had the best uncles possible. My father Tom’s super generous brother Ed was a constant in our life growing up in Sudbury; and my mom’s brothers Angus, Hugh, Alex and Stellie were always there for us, in body as well as in spirit.  (And spirits,  plural, if you catch my drift.) Also, we had my aunts’ husbands. I won’t list them here because it’d take up too much space. They weren’t related by blood but still — uncles we could count on.

With that, and in recognition of Monday, February 18th being the Province of Ontario’s annual “Family Day Holiday,” I have produced the following:

 The Uncle’s 10 Commandments.

1.       Thou shalt see no faults in thy nephews and/or nieces;

2.       Thou shalt brag about thy nieces and nephews whenever thou gets a chance;

3.       Thou shalt keep thy nephews’ and nieces’ secrets, if they want you to. Like if they smoketh cigarettes and desireth to not let on to their folks, you must let them. 

4.       Thou shalt give nephews and nieces money if they need it;

5.       Thou shalt lay a little cash on them even if they don’t need it, too, sometimes;

6.       It goeth without saying that thou shalt always pick up the tab when you go out with them;

7.       Thou shalt allow your nephews or nieces the useth of your vehicle;

8.       Thou shalt aid and abet their artistic endeavours. When I was in university and living with my aunt Leona, we were at her kitchen table one night drinking beer and I happened to be doodling on a piece of paper. She said “Peter! You’re an artist.” Nobody before or since suggested I had any flair for drawing. I’ve clung to Leona’s comment like a drowning man clings to a life raft.  And yes,  I know, Leona wasn’t technically an uncle. But turns out these commandments are gender neutral. Leona — my dad’s sister — was the Nadia Comaneci of aunting; she by whom all other aunts should be measured and deserving of not only her own blog entry but maybe a book on how to aunt. But I digress.)  

9.       Thou shalt NOT expect nephews or nieces to pay any attention to you unless they want to; they have more important things to do for Pete’s sake and are not obliged to worry about their old uncles and aunts.  

10.  But and this one's most important of them all on the off chance that your nephew and/or niece pays any attention to you whatsoever — thou shalt consider thyself the luckiest S.O.B. on the planet.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

The only sound Mom could hear was the clock ticking

These days I spend my workdays as an editor at a publication called The Lawyer's Daily. I
OLD HABITS DIE HARD: I swiped this photo from the web.
enjoy the job so much it's not fair to call it work but my point is that I am immersed in the Canadian legal system and although it's probably among the best on the planet, there's one thing wrong.

The wheels of justice turn slowly.


This very morning, while I was driving to work, I thought about some other wheels that just might make everything work a lot faster.

The wheels were on a Roll-Royce. A silver one.

A Rolls that I, in fact, stole.

True story.

A great friend of mine who shall remain nameless and I swiped silver Rolls-Royce Dinky cars from the Zellers Store on Elm Street when we were growing up in the mining community called Sudbury.

We were probably 10.

I can still remember where the store shelves that held the toy cars were; in the Zellers basement along the north wall, right near the exit that led out on to Elgin Street. That's how etched on my brain my career as a robber is.

I can't remember shoplifting much else; much else, that is, except in a lead-up to the Rolls-Royce heist--there was a job in the IGA grocery store up the street from our house...

IGA was the name of a well-known grocery chain. It stood for Independent Grocers' Association and I've since learned that some new Canadians thought the store name was pronounced "EE-GAH" which makes a lot of sense.

Anyway, the IGA stores had a customer retention plan called Gold Bond Gift Stamps; a precursor to Air Miles and Petro-Points.

The more IGA groceries you bought, the more stamps you got. You licked the back of them and put them in little books and once you collected a certain number of Gold Bond Gift Stamps, you could send away for cool stuff.

My friend who shall remain nameless and I conducted our first job at an IGA store. We each shoplifted--or as we said back then "used the five-finger discount"--a couple of "Gold Bond Gift Books."

Only later did I learn that the books themselves--empty of stamps--were free.

But never mind that, that was where we sharpened our thieving skills in preparation for the Zellers job.

I wonder if big-time criminals remember their every caper as clearly as I recall slipping those Rolls-Royces into our pockets.

I also wonder--in awe--at the economy of a town like Sudbury.

One the same block as Zellers was a Kresge's which was kittycorner to Woolworth's which in the other kittycorner direction was across from a department store called BoniMart. Further to the west was another huge store named Eaton's, which I really liked because they had in one section ride-em lawnmowers. Us little boys loved climbing on those and pretending we were driving something.

Imagine. All those competing department stores within spitting distance of one another.

There was also a motherlode of special interest joints.

Melody Music sold instruments and sheet music as did its competitor Prom!

And Wolfe's Bookstore, was in Sudbury's version of a flat-iron building.

Wolfe's was shelf upon wooden shelf of wonderful reads. I can still, if I close my eyes, remember what Wolfe's smelled like and it's one of the reasons I love books so much. I'm pretty sure it  had a spiral stairway joining the main floor to the second and Wolfe's is the standard by which I've measured all bookstores since.

We didn't have video games but we sure loved exploring downtown Sudbury.
FORGET SUPER MARIO: Running from department store to 
department store was our entertainment.

But never mind that either. I'm here to tell you about stealing Rolls-Royces.

There we were, in the Zellers basement, very certain that none of the salesfolks could see us, as we pocketed our Dinkys.

And we made a safe getaway.

I have to admit I--because I grew up in a house virtually buried in toys of one kind or another--was pretty surprised when  few days later my mom noticed I had one tiny little extra Dinky car and,  out of the blue, asked me where I got it.

She never asked about any of the other stuff I played with.

I told her my friend (who shall remain nameless) gave it to me. She let on she believed me.

Then I told my buddy how I almost got busted.

He said the same thing happened to him.  His mom--who also happened to be a Maritimer who'd seen a thing or two--enquired where his Rolls came from and he said he got it from me.

I'm sure she was like,  "as if." But that was the end of the discussion.

Fast forward to now.

The Canadian legal system could save a whack of money and time if we just put moms on the judges' bench.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

A Hill of a Place to Grow Up In

UPHILL FROM HERE:  If we didn't have hills we
wouldn't have known where anything ended.
Sudbury, the mining community I grew up in, is very hilly. When we were kids, almost all our friends lived in houses on hills of one steepness or another. We Carters walked up a hill to school and church and down the hill to where my dad's bus garage was.

Our street, Eyre, was a north-south incline and because of that, I still sense that if a place is south of me it's down a hill and whatever's north is up. East and west are flat. I used to think that's why ocean-going ships travel those directions mostly.

In Sudbury, there are quite a few places in town where parts of streets are literally staircases.  My sister Bertholde lives on such a street.

I like to think those hills prepared us for whatever ups and downs life tossed our way. Guys like me know when climbing is required but we're also just as happy to throttle back and let--when it's possible--gravity do the work. 

STOPPED TO STAIR: Yes, I actually drove to
 the Douglas Street stairs to shoot this picture.
The Sudbury landscape is full of hundreds of sizeable rock outcroppings--small mountains, in our kid eyes--and these were our playgrounds and hideouts. 

We called them "the rocks." 

Closest to us were the "Little Rocks," a rockpile about half the size of a city block beside my friend Roman Stankiewiecz's house. North across the street from them--the "Big Rocks", virtual Himalayas where we could go and hide and play army 

and practise mountain climbing. 
GEM AMONG THE STONES: Google-searching
this beaut was no walk in the rocks, I'll have you know.

A few blocks to the southwest? The Princess Anne Rocks, named thusly because they were adjacent to the Princess Anne protestant school. They were big enough to toboggan on. The Princess Anne Rocks were also the gateway to  the scary and dangerous "Pit"--a private industrial property belonging to INCO, the mining company most of the town's dads worked at.

The Pit was mostly sand and rock and  home to a few small reservoirs which we weren't supposed to hang around because legend had it there'd been some drownings, which of course made the Pit all the more alluring. 

Which reminds me. It was in the Princess Anne Rocks where I first saw porn. 

I was probably seven.

A classmate named Joe and I were farting around in the Princess Anne Rocks when we found one of those old "natural living" magazines and Joe, who was a few months older than me, said I was too young to look at the pictures. He even had the arrogance to suggest I didn't know what girls' parts were called. 

However. When Joe said I didn't even know the names of things, I outwitted him. The first thing he challenged me on was--get this--plural. "You don't even know what ____s are," he said. Clearly, there must have been two of them. So I knew what to point to.

The next girl part he mentioned? Singular. This was easy.
THE STEPS I TAKE:  I, too, am just as amazed as you that I went to the trouble of taking this
photo just for this blog.

"Wow Carter!" Joe said, "You know!"

But back to the rocks.

These hilly streets and rocky playgrounds made us all very surefooted. 

Here's proof.

We now live in a three-storey house in west Toronto. 

I sleep on the uppermost floor, which is connected to the second storey by a precipitous but still legal stairwell. We've lived in this house some 17 years. I've successfully navigated those stairs perhaps a twice a day, which adds up to something like 6,000 ascents and 6,000 descents. And I've done so:

* late at night;
* so early in the morning it could count as night;
* three-quarters asleep;
* bare-footed;
* sock-footed:
* hungry;
* on the verge of barfing;
* after awakening from a bad dream;
* trying to single-handedly carry an unwieldy mattress; 
* carrying a child;
* in a silly mood;
* listening to an iPod;
* halfways through a crossword puzzle with a pen sticking out of my mouth;
* mad at something;
* laughing at a joke that I was the only person who thought it was funny;
* drunk.

And I still haven't brained myself.

If I hadn't grown up on a hill in Sudbury, I'd be dead.