Saturday, October 13, 2018

One man's recipe for 'Winning at Life'


DAD AND KISENYA:  (I copied this picture from the Red
Deer Advocate website. I'd give the photographer credit but
there was none.)
Four years ago, the following paragraph appeared in the Red Deer, Alberta, newspaper, The Advocate

"He has undergone tongue reconstruction using arm and leg muscles, chemotherapy and radiation treatment. He had a second surgery to remove his tongue, and a reconstruction again using his own muscles. His lower jaw was removed. He has had to learn to walk again because a bone from his lower leg was used to reconstruct his jaw."

Whooaaaa!

Medical staff took some man's shin bone and put it where his jaw used to be. They rebuilt his tongue with muscles from who knows where.

The things doctors do. Me, I have a hard time moving words around a page...

Elsewhere in the story, and why I'm even talking about it,  is the fact that "he"; namely, Jason Kom-Tong, a 35-year-old husband to Bambi, 32, and father to Zak and Kisenya, had stage four cancer of the tongue and had only been given a few months to live. 

Cancer of the tongue. A few  months to live. For the love of God...

Although Jason had started some experimental anti-cancer therapy in Vancouver, the former oil-field business-minded Albertan was unable to work or talk; he was getting nourishment through a tube that went directly into his stomach.

Here's the thing:  I know this Jason guy.  

And his story is worth nothing short of yelling to the world about. Never mind for a moment that I say that about everybody.  This story's different. 

Here's why.

The day last year that I first met Jason, after  he told me he had to eat through a tube, I dumbly asked, "what's that like?" And  you know what he did?  He joked! "It's f'n awesome," he said. This was my kind of guy!  

Turns out the Kom-Tongs moved here from Red Deer in 2017. Bambi found a fast-track dental hygienist program here that she could complete quickly so she’d be able to support the family. Jason continued the treatments in Vancouver; and by the time we met, it seemed that the treatment was helping.

He was well beyond the few weeks he’d been given three years earlier.

Last time I heard from him was Halloween, 2017

Until this week. The following text showed up on my phone: “Hello Peter. It’s been a while.

“The reason I thought of contacting you is, I officially beat cancer and want to give back.

 “I was hoping to get some news coverage but every time I emailed CTV they don’t respond back.  Which I can see why because my email sounds like I’m a crazy person.”

Then I read the text again. “I’m giving away cases containing many silver coins.”

In their celebration of his new lease on life, Jason and his family have taken to filling little pirate chests with real silver coins and holding impromptu treasure hunts. Some in public places like a park in Niagara Falls; and some in less public places, like the dental hygiene school Bambi’s attending.
X MARKS THE SPOT: ish. This is the letter the Kom-Tongs
give to the treasure hunters

They’ve put a whole lot of work into it. (See the photo of that letter that they hand out? These people are detailed!)  The next one’s somewhere in Toronto October 17.

Then….. I thought, “Well Jason. You’re giving boxes of money away to complete strangers.  Some might say that’s a bit odd.”

If I, on the other hand, just got pulled back from the edge of hell the way Jason just was, I’d be like Scrooge on Christmas morning after the big conversion — dancing in the streets and giving stuff away too.

Turn out, Jason is more like Scrooge than I knew. He says his health scare made him reengineer his priorities. Before this, he told me, “I rarely took my family anywhere. Work and money were all the mattered. I was blinded by my career.”

But now?

“Life should be enjoyed.

“I just want to rock the dad thing and write my book and tell my story. The silver [treasures] may entice people go out with their families to view some of our beautiful nation; or maybe will sway them just a bit into helping out a student or someone in need.”

See why I like this guy?

Finally, what do you suppose a really handsome ambitious chap who has had his face and life ripped apart by tongue cancer call his life story?  “Winning at Life,” of course.

I sure hope he gets the attention he deserves.     

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

We have the tools, and we know the Benadryl

THAT SOUND YOU HEAR? It's Johnny Cash rockin'
and rolling' over in his grave.
"I love you."

Though I had met Nancy for the first time just 10 minutes earlier, I went and told her I loved her.

Last night. Twenty four hours ago.

I'm fairly certain she didn't hear me. She was busy rooting in her purse for drugs. And I didn't mean to say, "I love you." I just sort of blurted it out, like a sneeze.

And when Nancy and I see each other again next Monday night, I'll be prepared, so the topic of love won't rear its ugly head.

But it's true. We will see each other again, me and Nancy. I'm really quite looking forward to it. And this blog isn't sounding at all like it's supposed to. Maybe I better, as they say, walk this back.....

First of all, I'm still married to my wife of more than 32 years, Helena. (32 years and 28 days to be precise.)

A few weeks back, she decided to enrol in a vegetarian Indian cooking class, offered by the Toronto District School Board (TDSB). She suggested I find another special-interest course at the same time, and we could go at the same time. Pretty romantic, I know.

My first choice, and I'm not making this up, was "Blues Harmonica for Beginners."

I logged on to the TDSB's website, punched in a bunch of information, and it turned out mouth-organ class was full.

Second choice: "Almost Beginners" guitar class. It ran the same time as the veggie Indian thing and and though I've been  hacking around on the guitar since I was a little boy, I can't exactly call myself a "player."

We signed up.

Next day, Helena realized that her book club meets on Mondays so she switched her veggie class to Tuesdays. I would be going to guitar lessons, alone.
SIGNATURE TUNE:  Callo couldn't have picked a better number

Last Monday was our first class.

I hauled my beloved Fender six-string (autographed in magic marker by the late Stompin' Tom Connors) down to Central Tech, found my way up to the music room, walked in and sitting there, holding acoustic guitars in various states of preparedness, were 19 or so other students, the vast majority of whom looked exactly like me

Except for two women and one teenager,  this could have been my St. Charles College Boys School grade nine reunion.

Either that or an AA meeting. I felt at ease.

The teacher, a Latino guy named Callo who is so short that I'm taller than him even when he is standing on the second tier of the music room floor, is the most enthusiastic instructor of anything I've ever had. There were going to be no hard lessons; we were going to have fun.

Callo handed out a few pieces of paper; one with some charts on it, the other with the words and chords to "Stand By Me" and for the next 90 minutes, we all sort of traded jokes, farted around and wached time fly.  I got home and Helena said "you're sure in a good mood."
 AND ONE OF THESE DAYS: These boots are
going to stomp all over tunes.

Class number-two was last night. How great was it, you ask? Get this.

I was applauded. Not for my guitar playing; for singing. The first half of the class, Callo taught us all how to do that familiar Johnny Cash strum that I've been working on since grade, oh, 7.

Some guys in the class weren't familiar with it.

Then he taught us a simplified version of the guitar solo from--I hope you're sitting down--"Fulsom Prison Freaking Blues"--a song I know every breath of. It might be the one song I've sung out loud more than any other  beyond "Happy Birthday."

And then, during the second half of the class, after we all had the intro, the chords and the solo down pat, he said we could sing along. If we like.

Well now.

Three lines in and -- I've never used this phrase because before last night, I'd never actually done it -- I was just givin' 'er. The rest of the group wasn't even trying. Why would they? They were there to learn guitar.

Me? With my six-month-old cowboy boots keeping time and 18 or 19 acoustic guitars pounding out the chords behind me, I was completely neck deep channeling Johnny Cash. Or Waylon Jennings. Or my late brother Pat who -- like me -- believed he could sing, too.

This was Pete's Blog&Grille music.

Four times we went through the song, and each time I did my very best, and after class a few of my new buddies told me how much fun it was. One said I could be on stage.

And they were laughing. At or with me didn't matter. It was..oh. Right. Nancy.

The thing was, when I arrived at class, for some weird mysterious reason, I was having an allergy attack.

My nose was running like a busted toilet. My eyes itched and I was sneezing every 12.4 seconds.

When I first sat down, it was beside Nancy and she asked if I had a cold. I reassured her I didn't.

Then she said, "You won't think I'm weird if I ask you to move a bit further away will you? It's just that whenever you sneeze, well, it's sorta surprising, and I'll be uncomfortable."

I said something like, "I don't blame you; I don't want to be near me right now." I moved my butt one chair north.

Still, for the first five or so minutes of class, while all my chums were tuning their Yamahas and Martins, I was thinking I wouldn't be able to make it through the next two-hours.

I.  Detest.  Allergies.

Nancy leaned over. She said, "I think I might have a Benadryl. Would you take Benadryl?"

I turned and out it came: "I love you."

I didn't mean it. It's the drugs I love. But still. I know what a junkie feels like.

By that time, Nancy was poking around in her purse. She didn't  hear me. But she came up with a Benadryl. And then I had a Benadryl!

Just over 15 minutes later my sinuses had dried up; I could see clearly now and I wasn't wheezing or snorting. I got down to serious belting out.

Like most of my life, I have a feeling these classes are going to go by way too fast.

I'm so glad I signed up. But "Almost Beginners" guitar class is nothing to sneeze at.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Breakfast Epiphanies, or, Why bacon fat is so good for you and delicious too

HUB-A-DUB-DUB: If I ran the shop, I'd use the slogan
'God is in the detailing.'
Maybe it's because I'm the youngest of 10 and spoiled rotten, but whenever somebody asks me how I'm doin', I believe they want to know the answer, so I tell them. (Doesn't everybody?)

And you never know what's going to result.

Like what happened in the grocery store near my house, this very morning.

My daughter Ria was visiting, and she and I decided we should have some bacon and eggs. But there was a problem.

We had no eggs.

I said I'd go fetch some, but suggested to Ria that she start the bacon right away. If there's one thing I learned when I worked beside the Chatelaine magazine test kitchen all those years ago it's that no matter how much delicious food the lovely and generous food editors share with one throughout the course of one's workday,  one should never arrive home in the evening to one's wife's freshly cooked supper and announce "I'm not hungry, I'm stuffed with test-kitchen food."

Oops. Wrong lesson.

What I meant was, Chatelaine's food editor Monda Rosenberg taught me that the most common way people screw up bacon is by trying to cook it too fast. Hence me suggesting Ria begin before I go.

Out the door I strode.

All I had to do to remedy our lack of eggs problem was jump on my motorbike, whip up to the nearest grocery store where I knew they would not only have eggs, they would have a broad selection of eggs, and they were all accessible to me! They would be affordable, fresh and delicious and this was on a Sunday morning for Pete's sakes. I could have as many as I wanted!

Just a few years back, big grocery stores weren't open on Sunday.

But now?
PIZZA-FLAVOURED GOLDFISH! How'd we get by without it?

Not only are supermarkets open Sundays, so are banks and liquor stores. When I was younger, if you needed money, you had to get to a bank branch between 10:00 a.m and 3:00 p.m., which is what we called "bankers' hours." But now? There's money 24/7. I heard one guy say ATMs let us all work wankers' hours.

Thankfully, I was born into the most comfortable, richest, most convenient and colossally wealthiest time in all of history.

Not sure why I awaken every day with this "Gods Must Be Crazy" fascination for how much stuff we have. But I do.

Look at the grocery store's deodorant shelves. Or the array of tasty "goldfish". How many varieties can we handle?

But I digress.

Yet not really. For some reason, I never seem to forget how miraculously comfortable my life is.  And it's not like I did anything to deserve it. Just lucky is all. To whit, before I left the house to go to the store for eggs, I had to choose from more than six different types of footwear. That's right!

I, Peter Carter, own more than 12 shoes, ranging from Birkenstock sandals to really comfortable cowboy boots. How many does a person need?

Yesterday--I hope you're sitting down--we had my wife Helena's VW Beetle (I can hardly believe I'm writing this) detailed. Three hours it took, and they even washed and polished the freaking tires!  It has that new car smell again.

That reminds me.  On a fairly regular basis, I get my teeth cleaned and polished. By a professional! In a comfortable office with pleasant music playing in the background. In the history of Carters starting one generation ago and going all the way back to the bogs of Ireland or wherever we came from, I am dead certain not one has had his or her teeth polished. Assuming they had teeth.

But back to the eggs.

I got to the store, parked the bike, marched to the rear of the store where I knew the eggs were, carried them up to the counter and before I put them on the food tread mill or whatever you call it, the cashier said "Hi, how are you?"

So I told her.

"Well," I said, "I'm buying eggs because my daughter's over and we're going to have eggs and bacon and she's already cooking the bacon so when I get home, the bacon will be done so I can fry the eggs right in the bacon fat. I love'em like that."

The cashier laughed and said, "I know. I like them like that, too. But it's so fattening." (I need not tell you how slender she was.)

Me: "But it's healthy."

The cashier (with that maybe-I-shouldn't-have-engaged-this-strange-guy-in-conversation look that I've seen with increasing frequency over the years): "Healthy?"

Me: "Happy people live longer so if food makes you happy, it's good for you."

She hesitated. "I think," she said smiling, "there's some truth in that."

Another thing that comes with being the youngest of 10? I believe anything anybody tells me.

I believe she's right.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

My mom's guide to making your kids behave

FOR THE LOVE OF PETE:  The guy I was named after was a
hard act to follow.
This might sound weird, but there was a time when I thought that nothing would make my late mom Huena happier than if I died a martyr.

I might have been, like, five, when I had those feelings, but for a time, I was dead certain that if some malevolent non-believer gouged my eyes out and stripped me of my skin like a banana in his failed efforts to make me renounce Catholicism, my mom's day would be made.

Better yet, maybe they would  crucify me upside down, like they did to St. Peter, who I was sort of named after.

The evil doers could stab me with a big sword, there'd be blood everywhere, and before I died, my face would suddenly lighten up with glee. My  head would  be encircled by a halo of light; and Huena would be on her knees nearby, her hands clasped together in delight, knowing that her baby--the youngest of her 10 kids--was a true Catholic hero and safe in the hands of God.

Then again I could be wrong on this. She mightn't have wanted me to die.

But one thing I do know: Growing up as one of Huena Carter's children was the finest childhood a person could have. Even if it meant getting my eyes gouged out.

Here's why.
 MOM'S THE WORD: I'm not saying that my late brother Pat did
anything wrong, but the evidence suggests otherwise.

Huena (and my father Tom, but he was mostly a wing man) had her hands full, with 10 kids, a small house, and a husband who ran his own business which meant working 25 hours a day. So you can't blame her if, in her chest of family management tricks, Huena kept many tools.

Chief among those tools, and this might surprise the so-called parenting experts of the world, was unparalleled generosity.

In Huena's eyes, none of her kids ever did anything remotely wrong. If we got in trouble, it was because of the bad company we ran into. Even with them, mom would be like "they're more to be pitied than censured."

For a religious woman, Huena really sucked at the judgmental thing.

Also.

"You'll eat what's on your plate," was something Huena said, never.

True fact. If you didn't like what Huena had on offer, she'd come up with something else. She never forced me to eat anything I didn't like.

A registered nurse, Huena also liked pain-killing medicine. If it made her kids' sadness go away, Huena was all over it. I remember her saying "if God had intended us to fly, He would have given us the brains to build airplanes." And the same applied to medicine.

Another? Her total and utter shunning of corporal punishment.
HE HAD HER AT 'HALO': Gabriel telling Mary that sleeping in
her old room at her folks' house will never be the same.

Huena knew that if  she had God on her side, there was never any reason to raise a hand to any of her kids. One big downside is, she raised a bunch of wusses, but the fact is, she had other, more effective means of keeping us in check.

Here's one. My favourite, in fact.

Huena had a rule: "You can't hit anyone smaller than yourself."  (As the youngest, this definitely worked in my favour.)

And I just remembered this. For some reason, we Carters all knew that no matter how mad you got, if you ever ever struck your mom or dad, when you died your hand would stick out of your grave so passers by would know that "here lies a parent hitter."

Another?

Statues. Everywhere.

My mom's house made the Vatican look like an empty warehouse.

My mom had statues where other moms didn't know they had places. In closets. On stairway landings three quarters of the way between the second storey and the first.

In every room; on every wall, and in almost every corner, she had Jesus' on the cross and Jesus as a little kid.

Some statues were of saints--one of my favourites was St. Christopher, who is usually cast holding another statue--presumably the Christ child--on his shoulders, fording a river. I defy you to find where in scripture it says this happened but so what? Chris was the patron saint of travellers.

Among the army of statues were a few of her favourites: the martyrs.

And here's something most people don't have to think about.

Say you get married. And you bring your new wife home. And you and she get to "sleep" in your old room. And it's still decorated with pictures of Jesus surrounded by little children and The Virgin Mary being told by the Angel Gabriel that she's going to be giving birth to God's son and maybe, just in case you didn't get the message the first time, a martyr or two.  Let me put the newly wed husband's reaction thusly: He's very happy knowing he and his new wife have their own apartment to go back to.

I just remembered another of Huena's management tools.
THE CHRIS CROSS:  Nobody has
ever asked 'when did this happen?'

Training.

Say one of us Carter kids got in a big argument in the kitchen and,then, frustrated because we didn't get our way, we'd storm upstairs to the second floor, stomping our feet as hard as possible.

We'd hear from downstairs, mom saying,"Don't look down!"

Again, without a syllable of explanation from Huena, we all knew that meant, "look down and you'll see that your feet are transforming into cloven hooves because that's the first step on the road to turning into a devil." (I still won't glance at my feet on a stairwell.)

Then again, maybe I can't speak for all my siblings. Maybe it's just me.

Here's why I think that.

My dad Tom was raised on a farm in a tiny place called Corkery not far from Canada's national capital city of Ottawa, and his conversation was spiced with a broad collection of old Irish-isms (material for another blog). And though he seldom swore, he was very expressive.

Case in point: when some guy did something particularly idiotic, Tom said, "he's a dumb cluck."

Yesterday, something occured to me. I consulted one of my brothers, the older and smart Alex, and the following text exchange ensued:

Me: "Do you think that when dad called me a dumb cluck, he meant you're a dumb 'rhymes with cluck'?

Alex: "Yeah, so does everyone else."

Now that I think about it, Alex would make a far better martyr than me.




Saturday, July 21, 2018

5 Great Moments From A 5-Great-Lakes Odyssey

My daughter Ev and I arrived home tired and happy yesterday after a five-day bike trip during which we visited much of the state of Michigan and saw all five Great Lakes: Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie and Superior. I'd love to write a long story about why this was the best vacation a father could have, but that would only make people jealous. Heck, sometimes the stuff I get to do makes me jealous.

So instead, here're five highlights. (I may have to blog more on this adventure later.)

Highlight One. It was Ev who suggested we pull over to get a look at the giant Jesus at the Dinosaur Gardens Prehistoric Zoo, just outside Ossineke, Michigan. A little plaque near His Left Foot tells us that the founders of the park were devout Christians who saw no contradiction between dinosaurs and their view of creation. They just reckoned the "seven days" of creation that the bible goes on about is taken way too literally. My mom would have loved this place.

Highlight Two. The 1988 diesel-powered Bluebird bus sat alone and a bit sad in a field just east of Bay City, Michigan. Ev stopped and said, "Dad I know you love buses. We better go see it." Of course I'm glad we did and we learned it could be ours for a measly U.S.$3,200. My father--who with his brother Ed owned a fleet of buses when I was young--would have liked this bus as much as my mom would have liked the statue.

Highlight Three. Day two or three--I forget--we were looking for lunch and Ev noticed this homey place: The Big Ugly Fish Tavern. Upon entry, we were immediately told : a) There's no food  and, b) it's the best dive bar in Saginaw. "Google it!" the guy at the bar said. We did.  It is. Just like I said about my mom and the Jesus statue, every Carter I've ever met would have liked The Big Ugly Fish. In fact a few of the folks we saw in there looked like cousins.

Highlight Four. Jack the Dog we met at the Lakeshore Motel just north of Port Huron. The Lakeshore's owner Val  told me she recently adopted Jack after her sister's ex (who had been serving in Belgium) got re-assigned so had to find a new home for the pup. Jack comes from a long line of award-winning Belgian Border Collies, and Val said, "I can just imagine how proud his mom and dad are, knowing that their well-bred son has moved to America and is living up in Northern Michigan in a no-tell motel."

Highlight Five. See that map? It's a close approximation of our route. (I produced it myself, using my computer software skills.) See how the road goes a bit screwy in some places? That's because for pretty much the whole trip, Ev and I kept changing our destinations and our plans. My favourite switcheroo came on day four, after we made it to the very top of the state, headed for the Canadian border, which meant we'd loop  across the north side of Lake Huron, past Elliot Lake, Manitoulin, Sudbury and all those parts of the world we're so familiar with. Minutes before we arrived at the border, Ev and I made a U-ee and headed south instead, to explore a few more places we'd never been before.

Highlight Five, eh.  Michigan is a helmet-optional state. Because we're conscientious and mature, 99.9% of the time Ev and I kept our helmets in place and securely fastened. But when I decided I'd like this blog to contain at least one photo of us actually riding, turns out  my camera was trained on Ev only during that teensy weensy remaining 0.1%. What can I say?  All's well that ends.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Howzzis for a baby-boomer pick-up line? "What's your top-10 palliative-care discs?"

Early last week, my wife Helena and I went to see a friend, Dave, in the hospital. (Dave's not his real name, but what I'm about to tell you really happened.)
PALLIATIVE-CARE JOKES, REALLY? Yup. Really.

I was standing beside Dave's bed; Helena was sitting at its foot. She commented on how high-tech the bed was; with all sorts of switches, guages and little lights.

I looked down at Dave and said, "All these years Dave I figured you'd be going out in an electric chair, not an electric bed."

Dave sort of whisper-laughed and said. "Electric chair. That's funny."

And I was, like "yessssss!"

People who know me well might tell you I spend a lot of time trying to make people laugh. Never mind whether I'm successful or not.

Some might say the constant joking thing is as an attention-getting device. Which makes sense. After all, I was raised the youngest of 10 brothers and sisters. We're all pretty good at playing the what-I-have-to-say-is-way-more-entertaining-than-what-you-have-to-say game.  (I just remembered something. My friend Nigel Simms once observed that we Carters all employ the string-of-hyphenated-words-linked-together-as-an-adjective trick. An observant man, that Simms.)

Where was I?

Right. At Dave's bedside. What was particularly happy-making about that particular little electric-chair joke (Nigel was sure right, re: hyphens) was this. Dave is in palliative care.

You read that correctly.

He is not coming home. It's sad that he's so sick, and we'll miss having him around. However, soon his suffering will be over and I'm really glad we went to say bye.

But what I'm getting at is this.

I'm really happy with my electric-chair joke.

Here's why:

If you can make somebody laugh when they're in palliative, your work here is done.

Like it or not--all of us are going to have to get comfy with "palliative care" real soon. (I even wrote a song about it. Thank me for NOT posting it on YouTube.) Palliative care is going to be part of your life, sooner or later.

And about a week before our visit with Dave, I was driving in a car with a lawyer, writer, beer connoisseur and blogger named Edward Noble and he asked me what my 10 desert-island discs are. What records would I choose if they were to be the only ones I'd ever get to listen to?  ("Desert Island discs" is a great conversation starter, btw.)

But I'm never going to be on a desert island.

I will, however, wind up in Dave's slippers.

I will want to be cheered up.

So here, in no discernible order, are Pete'sBlog&Grille's Top-10 Palliative-Care picks.

Things that will make me laugh, when the going gets as tough as going gets.

10) First, lots of visits with family. These are key and when I assume Dave's position, please expect Google Map instructions to my bedside, from wherever you are. All Carters and MacIsaacs (my mom's maiden name) and McIntosh's are infected with that last-laugh gene. My cousin Don MacIsaac (the Don MacIsaac in Vancouver; not the D.M. in Germany) said "we could be on the phone with a cousin talkin' about how we're so depressed we've a loaded gun to our heads but by the end of the phonecall we'll be laughin' and talkin' about gettin' a drink together."

9) "Blazing Saddles."

8) Visits from almost any friends who know the best conversations are punctuated with laughter. Take Rodney Frost, in Orillia, for instance. He once pointed out that laughter accompanies discovery; Every conversation with Rodney is a voyage of discovery and when he and I talk on the phone, we don't say goodbye; we always end phonecalls the same way--in fits of laughter that make conversation simply impossible. I'm lucky enough to have several friends like Rodney. Nigel from back there in paragraph five is one.

7) "Young Frankenstein."

6) Speaking of horror movies, if you're scared of palliative care visits, get over it. Once you go to one palliative care ward, you'll be overcome by the sense of calm that pervades the place. I mean it. I've been to, I think, five, and they're all happy-making in a very strange way. If you know of somebody in palliative care, quitcherbellyachin and go see them. You think it's hard on you? Think about what it's like for them!

5) A few episodes of "One Foot In The Grave." The Eric Idle theme song alone's worth the price of admission.

4) Screw this list. It's beautiful out. Life is far too short for me to stay inside writing about palliative care.

Besides. You know what I'm talking about.

Laughter may not be the best medicine, but why shouldn't it be the last?


Sunday, June 24, 2018

Q&A with a retired stand-up comic

MEET OUR INSTRUCTOR:
"Teachin' Chong"
On Tuesday, June 19, 2018, I spent about 10 minutes on stage in the John Candy Theatre, doing a stand-up comedy sketch. It was the culmination of a six-week course at the 2nd City Comedy School, led by our teacher--a woman named Precious Chong, herself a stand-up and also the proud daughter of Tommy Chong--of Cheech&Chong fame.

What follows is a brief interview with myself about my short but exciting stand-up career. 

Q: What was the high point of your life in showbiz?
A: After I left the stage Tuesday, I nipped out to the lounge to grab a beer and I wanted to be in the audience for the rest of the show so I slipped into the theatre and much to my surprise and delight a tall slender woman with long black hair--I'd never laid eyes on her before--came over, threw her arms around me gave me a kiss on the cheek and said "I loved your material. You were great!"

Q: That really happen?
A: Sure did.

Q: Who do you think she was?
A: No idea. I'd heard comics have groupies, called--and I'm not making this up--"chuckle bunnies," but then I Googled that and it turns out chuckle bunnies are something else altogether. So she could have been, like, an undercover recruiter for the 2nd City Comedy school because I'm sure they wouldn't object if I signed up for another $300-and-change comedy course.

Q: So will you?
A: No. Mind you, if I did it wouldn't be the first "I'll-never-do-that-again" promise I broke within hours of making it.

Q: Any regrets?
A: I should have rehearsed.

Q: Du-uh. Anything else?
A: I forgot to use a scatological joke that I wrote involving self-defecating humour.

Q: Good. Anything else?
A: I felt a bit bad for stealing the "cowards run in our family" joke from my brother Alex but I'm over it.  Besides, what are brothers and sisters for?

Q: Any chance you went to all this expense and trouble just to post that "teachin' Chong" pun?
A: I'd put money on it.

Q: Do you ever get tired of talking about yourself?
A: You wish.