In case you haven’t figured it out by now from reading this blog, I can be an idiot. Yes, I know, hard to believe a guy with a perfect brain can be an idiot, but there you go.
But why am I making this confession now? Well, I figured I’d bashed the the Wife and the Boy enough earlier this month that I should likely pony up some of my own shortcomings. So, there’s nothing like just admitting it and getting it out there…
I have a problem with keys.
Not a big one, mind you, but a problem nonetheless. There’s three big incidents that come to mind.
The keys to my stupidity, part one
The first occurred way back in the 80s. If I had to guess, I’d plunk it down around 1984. I know I was rocking a mullet at the time (which is idiocy of a whole different nature, and one we’ll reserve for a later blog…or not).
Anyway, being reasonably young and extremely stupid, myself and three friends went out driving all around the area north of Oshawa and Whitby, seeing what dumb things we could do. I won’t get into most of them here, but I will draw your attention to one particular slice of the evening.
It was at least 4 a.m. at this point and we were getting punchy. We were on a gravel road somewhere (and, truth to tell, I couldn’t find this spot again…then or now…if you pointed a gun at me) and we stopped on a slight incline to a railway crossing. Two of the guys got out for a pee, leaving myself and one other to wander aimlessly.
I happened to wander up to the tracks. First I stood in the glare of the headlights, then I moseyed off to one side. The guys were still peeing. I swear, at that age, an average male can urinate for at least ten solid minutes if pressed.
Anyway, when I was in the dark off to the side, I had a thought (my first clue that this wasn’t the smartest thing to do, but of course I totally ignored that). Wouldn’t it be funny if…?
Oh what the hell, I thought. I’ll just do it and get a laugh.
So, I kind of trundled along the path of the train tracks into the path of the headlights, and I made a sound like a train whistle and bell. It’s not easy to reproduce through words, but it kind of went something like, “WOOWOOOOOOOOH! …dingdingdingding dingdingdingding DINGDINGDINGDING DINGDINGDINGDING DINGDINGDINGDING dingdingdingding dingdingdingding…”
You know, like the bell gets louder then softer again? Yeah, well, that was me. Two of the guys found this uproariously funny and fell about themselves. The fourth? Still peeing. Missed the whole thing. So, he zipped up and asked me to recreate it.
The problem was, the next time I did it, it sounded more like, “WOOWOOOOOOOOH! …dingdingdingding dingdingdingding DINGDINGDINGDING DINGDINGD–OOOPH!” The “oooph” part was when I tripped over a rock or something and went sprawling into the gravel. This time, all three of the guys found this uproariously funny and fell about themselves.
Eventually, around 5:30 a.m., we got back in the car and continued on our mischievous ways. It wasn’t until I got back to the Whitby Arby’s, where I worked at the time and had parked my car, that I realized I didn’t have my car keys anymore. We searched the other car, I dug through my pockets, then one of the guys looked at me and said, “Aw dude! Bet you lost them when you derailed your train!”
All three of the guys found this uproariously funny and fell about themselves. I had really begun to hate them.
But there was no denying it. That’s very likely where I lost my car keys. And the keys to the house. And the keys to the Arby’s store.
Try explaining that one to your mother when you’re calling her at 5:45 a.m. to come bring your extra set of car keys. Try explaining to your boss that you lost the store keys because your freaking train derailed.
The keys to my stupidity, part two
Flash forward more than a decade. I’m married now, I have a couple of kids. I’m older and wiser, right?
Yeah, dream on, baby.
So at this stage of the game, say, roughly around 1998 or so, my daughter, the Girl, is in Sparks, a precursor to Girl Guides and one of the events they held, which is still something I hold as a treasured moment, was a Daddy-daughter dance.
Now, to some, this might sound like cheese, but honestly, I loved it. There’s nothing in the world like swaying around a gymnasium floor, holding your daughter’s hands as she looks up at you like you’re the most important, smartest, and most handsome man in the world. At that moment, no matter who you are, you are that important, smart handsome man.
<Ahem> Excuse me, something in my eye. Dust or something…
Anyway, after the dance was over, the Wife, who was a leader for the group, had to clean up. I helped, as did a couple of the other fathers, then, as is normal with the Wife, everything was done, everyone was ready to go…and she stood talking to one of the mothers or fellow leaders or whatever. My point is, she wasn’t making any leaving noises.
I got bored. Not a good thing to let happen to me. I looked around. I was in a large gymnasium. I had nothing to occupy me except…my keys.
I pulled out my massive sprawl of keys, and I tossed them up a couple of feet. Caught them. Tossed them higher. Caught them. Higher still. Caught them.
This went on for many minutes. Eventually, I was tossing them with the intent to just get them to scrape the ceiling. Just a little scrape. It’s actually quite challenging and more than a little fun, let me tell you.
The other thing it does is draw the Wife’s attention. She got annoyed. I kept doing it, figuring, the more I annoy her, the sooner she’s going to wrap up her damn conversation and we can get the hell outta Dodge.
Then she says, “Tobin! Stop it! You’re going to get the keys caught in the rafters!”
I looked up at these support rafters, evenly spaced about five feet apart a good thirty feet above me. “Holy crap,” I say. “How in the hell do you figure I’m gonna do that? There’s no way that’s g–”
The keys got caught in the damn rafter.
Have you ever seen that scene in the movie Porky’s? The “Why do they call her Lassie?” scene? The one where some guy is getting it on with a very young, pre-Sex in the City Kim Cattrall in an area just off the gym, and there’s a teacher in the gym laughing so hard that he ends up hiding behind one of the mats hung off the wall?
When I hooked my keys over that rafter, one of the other fathers recreated the laughing coach to a T.
Took us a good twenty minutes and a very long pole to get it down. At least I wasn’t bored anymore. Kinda upped the ante on the whole “the Wife is annoyed” part though.
The keys to my stupidity, part three
And then, not long after that, it’s winter. I had bought a second hand snowblower off a guy the summer before, had test fired the thing a couple of times, but never got to really take it out for a test drive. So when we finally got a big dump of snow, I was so ready.
I got all geared up Nanook of the North style, grabbed the keys, backed the cars out of the driveway, got the snowblower out of the shed, lined it up, and cranked on the pull cord.
Sputter and die.
No biggie, thing’s been sitting for months. It’d almost be a miracle if it fired up on the first try, wouldn’t it? Crank again. Sputter and die.
Okay, I’ll save you the agony. Twenty minutes later, I’ve stripped the Nanook coat off, the gloves are off, I’m sweating like a pig, and my driveway still has as much snow on it as it did twenty minutes earlier.
By this point, my two neighbours across the road are three-quarters done shoveling theirs. I could only imagine their secret, insidious snickers of derision. I pressed on.
Twenty minutes after that, I gave up. Screw the snowblower! Shoveling is respectful, manly work! Snowblowers? Bah!
So, I got the shovel and cleared my entire driveway. Probably took me twenty minutes. Casting an evil glance toward the red mechanical beast, I then looked back on my handiwork with pride. That driveway was clean!
I walked back down to the first car, opened the door, fished for my keys.
Check the ignition.
Check the other car’s ignition. Same deal. Check my coat pockets, pants pockets, even the ring inside the door.
Then I think back to all the full-body swaying I was doing as I cranked on that damned snowblower. Then I pictured the keys flying from a pocket.
And into the two feet of snow.
That I then shoveled more snow on top of.
My neighbours, having just finished their own driveways and now chatting across the street, stared in disbelief as they watched me come out from my shed with a garden rake and start raking the snow back onto my freshly shovelled driveway, each pull punctuated with some seriously manic swearing.
Eventually, the entire top end of my driveway was filled yet again with pre-shovelled snow.
The keys were nowhere to be found.
So, maybe I lost them at some point when I was shovelling?
Yes, in the end, I raked all of the snow that I’d shovelled off the driveway back on the driveway. There was a three-foot wide path to either side of the driveway that had been cleared of snow.
Still no keys.
That’s when I gave up, took the Wife’s keys, hopped in the car, drove down to Stan’s Rentals and faced the guy behind the desk as I sheepishly asked to rent a metal detector.
The damn thing about it? I was the third guy that day that had rented it, and when I got it back to him twenty minutes and ten or so dollars later, he’d had two more calls.
So yeah, I’m an idiot when it comes to keys.
But there’s at least four other guys out there that seem to be just as friggin’ stupid.