Friday 26 October 2012

French on Bullying

French and I wandered into the staff room earlier this week.  He'd been booked to work as a substitute at the school where I work.  We took a seat for a bit and listened to a rather intense discussion on bullying.  Most of the teachers were calling for committees to be formed, or to revamp the anti-bullying club, or to teach more core-values.  One teacher even suggested monitoring the student's online activity.

The debate raged back and forth.  It is such a complex issue.  Someone asked French what he thought. He said: "I'd better not say, I want you all to hire me again."  He said this in a joking tone, so he should be okay.

French had an interesting method in dealing with bullies back in high-school.  It wouldn't work anymore, due to the anonymity of the Internet and the advent of zero-tolerance fighting policies.  When someone bullied his good friend and neighbour, Bruce Fish, his first step was to beat the bully up a little.  French called this step "the humbling".  Usually this just involved his uncanny wrestling ability.  French would find the bully and cinch him up in a painful grapple and then "talk sense to him".  There were times when he'd resort to fists too, but that was rare.

Then  he'd move on to the second step: "breaking heads to breaking bread".  French would bring the bully over to Bruce Fish and force them to make-up, and shake hands.  French would hold the bully to a promise to stop bullying anyone.  He'd even check in often with Bruce Fish, any other victims, and the bullies.  Some of the worst bullies become our good friends: Mean Dean and Fat Dog to name two.

This method cleaned up bullying in our high-school, but it wouldn't translate well into a policy.

Tuesday 23 October 2012

The Big 4-O

My wife threw a nice little party on Saturday to celebrate my impending 40th birthday.  We enjoyed four kinds of pizza and lots of Beau's Beer.  I really didn't want to do anything. I didn't want any recognition of this so called "big-day".  Somehow I thought if I ignore this birthday it will somehow not happen, but it happened: I'm 40.  Getting older beats the alternative...right?

It was a good time.  After a few beers I even started to at least tolerate all the ribbing.  I was hit hard by all the cliches: the big 4-O, over the hill, middle-age man, mid life crisis, and on and on.  I survived the event, and now can recharge nice and quite, and just contemplate being forty.

Of all the jokes leveled at me one stands out.  French said that I was 4 and O; 4 wins - 0 loses.  I'll take that.

Thursday 18 October 2012

Bruce Fish - Hero

Bruce Fish was out on his rural garbage run and got the chance to play the hero.  A farmhouse on his route was on fire, so he stopped his truck to watch the action.  He noticed that one of the firetrucks maneuvered to get a better angle and better access to an above ground pool.  The back bumper of the truck clipped a big fuel tank (used to fuel up all the farm equipment...tractors et al).

The tank started to leak gas.  Bruce Fish pulled off one of his big rubber boots and stuck it under the leak.  He ran to his truck and got a roll of duct tape.  When he got back his boot was entirely filled with gasoline.  Bruce Fish plugged up the leak, at least temporarily.

After the fire was out the fire fighters noticed Bruce Fish standing by the tank with only one boot on.  He explained what had happened and showed them the boot full of gas.  They were all pretty pleased that he had stopped the leak.  The tank and the leaking fuel was all too close to the flames.

Later that week they had a little ceremony at the township fire-hall.  They gave him a plaque that recognized him as a county hero.  They also presented him with another boot as a photo-op.  I commented that is was a nice gesture.

Bruce Fish replied: "Sure it was a great gesture, but I still need a new pair of boots before my next garbage run".

I was confused.

He started to laugh and held up the pair of boots: "The sunsabitches gave me a right boot!  Now I got two.  I lost a left one at the fire."

Thursday 11 October 2012


I was hanging out with French tonight, and yes we were having a beer.  He seemed distracted.  I asked him what was up, but kept saying "no" to every question I asked him.

Women? Money? Job Situation? His Parents?...  Just "no".

I shut my mouth (a huge accomplishment for me).  We were just silent, sipping beers and looking at the trees.

Finally he spoke up: "beers".  He continued: "I owe a lot a people a beer, or beers".  French felt that he really needed to get on it and pay his beer debts.  I guess he had promised beers to various people, or felt he had to repay them in some way.

French pulled out a moleskin pad, and started to make a list.  He went on for a while just listing names.

He looked up from his work and said: "Do I owe you a beer?"

"No man we're good."

Wednesday 3 October 2012

Old Time Hip

French and I used to buy every Tragically Hip album the day it came out.  We'd then head over to his shed and give it a listen.  Once we went to a mall hours before it opened and stood in line for hours with many other fellow fans.  We wanted to be the first to own the new album.

Back in the shed we'd go through every song.  We'd read the lyrics that were all folded up tight from being in the cassette or CD case.  I'd make comments, but he'd always shush me.  It was like he was absorbing every nuance of sound.  After a few listens we'd discuss the songs, and the album as a whole.  Within a few days he'd have learned how to play them all on his guitar; Sweaty would wander out and sit in on the drums.  I'd do my best to strum and sing along.

Those are the only songs, those ones I learned back then, that I can still play straight from memory.

The Hip dropped a new album yesterday.  I listened to it alone in my car on that long commute to work.