Over the last several years, it has become a bit of a Christmas eve tradition for my wife and I to watch Billy Bob Thorton’s ‘Bad Santa’. It’s a hilariously irreverent Christmas comedy and a welcome relief to the usual seasonal saccharine. For some reason, I thought it might be time to include our thirteen-year old son in on this ritual. My reasoning was that he has started to watch some edgier comedies (including “Dirty Grandpa’ which he saw with a mate) and that despite all the swearing and sexual references, ‘Bad Santa’ does end up with the typical Hollywood feel good ending. So the three of us sat down this Christmas eve and watched BBT drink, puke, steal and fornicate while dressed as Santa. I’m not great at remembering specific details of movies so was not only surprised by the frequency of the bad language but the depravity of BBT’s Santa. My wife made it as far as the anal sex scene with a plus size woman in a department store change room before deciding she’d rather go to bed than watch such a scene with her son. I was forced to soldier on, enjoying it but perhaps slightly less so because of the presence of a child who only a few years earlier still believed in the magic of Santa. So after this once Bad Santa gets gunned down just as he’s starting to come good, I asked my son what he thought of the movie. “Good. It was cute.” Not the reaction I expecting.
I have agreed to let my son join me and Nitro the Two-Toned Cavoodle on our nightly walk along Bondi Beach. But there is a condition. He has to make an effort to engage in two way conversations. I’m not interested in hearing all about his latest Play Station fake football triumphs. I want him to talk about things that I have some interest in. And to his credit, as we walk along the beach, he does pretty well, only sneaking in some fake football talk a couple of times. It’s as we’re walking up the ramp to leave the beach that he proclaims: “If I could have two superpowers, I’d want to be able to change into anything at all and then clone myself. I’d change into a rat, sneak into a room, then clone myself into lots of rats and freak people out.” “So you’d basically use your superpowers to prank people?” “Yep.” “Fair enough.” “What about you – what two superpowers would you have and how would you combine them?” I have to give this some thought – these are superpowers we’re talking about after all. “Ok – I’d like to read people’s minds. And… invisibility. That’d be handy. Those would be a great combination for a spy.” “Or a pervert.” I laugh. Funny kid.
I am walking alongside a busy North Sydney road. The footpath is equally hectic. So as I approach a pole surrounded by people, I step onto the road – intending to quickly step back off again. Doesn’t happen. I am knocked hard from behind and slam face first into the street. First thought – I’ve just been hit by a bus. Second thought – you really never do know when you’re going to be hit by a bus. This has been a saying of mine for some time. Now it’s a reality. I am dazed but slowly turn over. The frantic driver jumps out of his bus, proclaiming: “You walked right out in front of me!” But I’m more concerned with the fact that there now seems to be a hole in the knee of my favourite jeans. Bummer. There is also a bit of blood around the knee but it’s not too bad. I slowly look up at the driver and answer: “I know. Not your fault.” I am lucky he was pulling into a bus stop and was barely traveling by the time he hit me. A few people who witnessed the scene from the footpath come over to see if I’m alright and help me up. I feel a little sore and very embarrassed. I just want to get the hell out there. “Are you sure you’re ok? Maybe you should go to a hospital just to be sure.” Nope – not going to happen. “No –really – I’m fine.” I look towards the driver. “Sorry mate.” Then I’m gone, being extra cautious as I cross the road. I arrive at my friend’s house – the latest place I’ve been couch surfing during my post Euro excursion gypsy phase. That evening I am actually vacating and finally moving into a place of my own. But before then, I promised to do some cleaning. So in an empty house, still in a state of shock, I clean. I clean like a man possessed. My pent up adrenaline has found an outlet – scrubbing, washing and vacuuming. In no time, the place looks immaculate. My mate arrives just as I’m hauling my bags into the hall. “Hey – place looks great!” “Thanks.” “What else did you get up to today?” “Not much. Oh – that’s right – ripped a hole in my jeans.”
It is the wrong side of minus thirty-five degrees. Nobody knows how cold it is with the wind chill factor. In Winnipeg Manitoba, you don’t want to know how much colder the perpetual winter wind is making things. It’s information that would befuddle your mind, making you wonder why anybody would live in such a place. It’s certainly not weather for trekking through the snow from house to house to deliver fliers for the local supermarket. So I do the sensible thing. I throw my heavy bundle of fliers in the rubbish bin and head home. After all – that’s where they will end up anyway – so I’m actually performing a public service. Less junk mail for the good citizens of Crescent Wood. It is about a week later when I get a phone call from my Scout Master. Did I throw out my fliers that I was delivering to raise money for our Scout troop to go to the National Summer Jamboree? Uh – no – of course not. Interesting. A large bundle of fliers was found in a bin on the street where I was meant to be delivering them. Oh. Oh yeah. Actually, I just remembered – I think I did throw out what was left of my bundle. It was such a cold day and who reads those fliers anyway. Not the point. We’ll deal with this at the next meeting. So at the meeting I endure the Scout version of a teen trial. I tell my side of the story. The Scout master and my fellow Scouts then confer. I’m brought back in and told that it’s been decided that, for this very unScout-like behaviour, I am to miss the upcoming Manitoba Jamboree that spring. On the upside, I am still permitted to attend the National Jamboree in Prince Edward Island that summer. I am both relieved and ashamed. Over the next few months, the allure of being a Scout fades. By the time my troop heads off to the Manitoba Jamboree, I am no longer part of that fraternity. Yet that following winter I am again trekking through the snow from door to door in minus thirty-five degree weather. Now, instead of paper fliers, I have an even heavier basket of frozen chickens and sausages. I am selling them for my new boarding school – aka ‘Canadian Concentration Camp’. But this time, should I decide to ditch my goods in a bin, the punishment will come via a wooden paddle making painful contact with my backside. Ouch. I keep on trekking.