Saturday, September 25, 2021

Where we know from passwords

Eddie and me on the steps of bus #55
Halfway up one of the big trees in the backyard of the house we Carter kids grew up in, there was an assembly of boards and planks and sticks nailed into the upper part of the trunk where the bigger branches spread out from. (It's called the tree's crotch, btw.)

I and my brother Eddie and a few friends called this assortment of nailed together pieces of  wood a treehouse, which is like saying a pile of soggy old newspapers and ripped magazines is  a "body of research." But never mind that.

You had to climb a ladder to get to our quote unquote treehouse, and sometimes, to ensure that nobody who wasn't welcome got in, we would invent a secret password. Clever huh?

This next part's beside the point, but who knew back then that inventing passwords would become such a critical life skill? Ditto typing! I am a pretty fair typist, but it's because I took high school typing to get into journalism. Here's something even better: Once in j-school, I earned a real university credit in "shorthand." While other first-year students were studying molecular behaviour and, like advanced calculus, I was learning shorthand. 

Meanwhile, back at the treehouse...

Can you think of a more effective way to keep your treehouse safe from invading strangers than a password? 

Let's say a guy--let's put him in his 40s--climbs the ladder to where Eddie et al are. Just for fun let's say the stranger's wearing a white short-sleeved polyester shirt, clip-on neck tie and the sort of  trousers that reached down to just above white socks--my friend Roman Stankiewiecz used to call them "water in the basement pants." He pokes his head up out of the tree's crotch and asks to join us seven-year-old boys in our treehouse. 

OUR TREEHOUSE: (Computer simulation by the author)

We would say, "Do you know the password?"

Him: "No." 

Us: "Sorry, you can't come in" 

Him: "Dang!" and down the ladder he'd head.

I guess on the off chance Mr. Water-in-the-basement-pants somehow knew the password, we would have had to have let him in. But it never happened.

Something really weird unrelated thing just occurred to me. 

At various stages of my little boyhood, in addition to being a (lousy) treehouse builder, I was: 

  • a cub scout; 
  • an early morning newspaper delivery boy (which saw me visit all manner of strangers' doors);
  • an altar boy;
  • a 12-year-old pageboy in Toronto which meant regular commuting alone on Greyhound buses between Sudbury and Hogtown, which is what a lot of people call Toronto;
  • At one point, I spent a year at an all-boys school.

And nothing bad ever happened. 

I wonder if it's because I was really good at passwords.

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