Saturday, May 5, 2012


The first tough guy I ever met was Rodney Wedge.  When I was six years old Rodney Wedge wrestled me to the ground, straddled me face up, and spit in my face.  Nobody I knew liked Rodney.

Over the years, of course, I met more tough guys, and looking back, three especially come to mind: Reg, Larry, and Johnny.  All three of these guys were hockey players with the Vanguard Eagles of the NHL (Notekeu Hockey League) and unlike Rodney, everybody I knew loved them.

Reg was a debonair Adonis.  Being Superman tough, Reg was always clean cut and extremely charismatic.  He didn’t drink, didn’t smoke, and didn’t swear, but he did run two miles to the bridge south of town and back each and every day until he finally landed a right wing spot with the Swift Current Broncos of the Western Hockey League -- the same league that Don Cherry has referred to as the toughest in junior hockey! (Reg returned to the Vanguard Eagles when his junior hockey career came to a close.)  

If Reg was Superman tough, then Larry was Batman tough. Larry liked to party and, strangely, liked to fight. No one who knew Larry would dare take him on in a punch-out. As a pugilist, Larry had class, as he had established a bright-line between who he would and would not fight. He never once fought any of his friends, nor anyone from our town, for that matter.  Larry’s prey was mainly strangers who drove into our town, to party hard and flirt with our girls. In the rink, Larry was the Vanguard Eagles’ Paladin, controlling the game with his phenomenal goal scoring ability. Larry never had to run to the bridge and back to create a spot for himself in junior hockey, for in any game at any rink, all scouts recognized him as an uber-player.  At fifteen years of age, Larry was assigned third line left winger for the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League.  (When Larry finished his junior hockey, he returned to the NHL (Notekeu Hockey League) and coached the Simmie Senators.

Johnny, unlike Reg and Larry, was Joker tough.  Jocund when sober, and not to besmirch the straw- thatched Johnny too much, after a few beers he would transmogrify into a narcissistic braggadocio. Drinking with Johnny was always risking an ambuscade of fisticuffs. You just never knew when he’d turn on you.  Johnny’s hockey zenith both began and ended on left defense with the Vanguard Eagles.

One of my first tough guy moments came while drinking with Johnny.  One time in my emerging adulthood, the two of us, Johnny and self, were drinking beer in Johnny’s truck.  Getting drunker, Johnny got nasty, so much so that he called on me to take it (the fight) outside, and I complied.  We stood facing each other with our fists up.  Johnny took the first punch, a swing and a miss.  I ducked and returned with my fist to his jaw.  Thrice more he tried, resulting in three jabs to his jaw.  To my surprise, when Johnny tuckered he extended his arm for a handshake.  We shook hands and climbed back into his Fargo for some more beers.  Sad for me to say there were no witnesses to my victory, but so what. I am the hero in my story because I have the power and bravado to write whatever I want.

Since then I’ve made feeble and narcissistic attempts to continue my imaginal tough guy status -- in the cool style of Steve McQueen no less.  I’ve been a student of Karate and Mu-ay Thai.  I’m a long-distant runner and I love lifting weights (Olympic style) on a regular basis.  Alas, I've not fought since my salad days at university, during which I even spent a night in jail because of a barfly night of fighting.  Fact is, now I never fight, and never would unless it was truly a matter of life or death.  And even if that were the scenario, I'm pretty sure that I could outrun any bully about to clobber me.

The idea of might-is -right has been prevalent since our societal ways of hunting and gathering.  There is a rather boorish phase in our archetypal development when each of us believes in the power of might-is-right. Some of us move through this phase; some of us do not.  Assigning this imaginary power into a proper perspective demands a certain maturity.  Clinging to might-is-right is immature and idiotic.

Even so, might-is-right continues to be a significant bully-pulpit of our times. The benighted notion of might-is-right is in practice everywhere on the planet, the Far East, the Middle East, and yes, the West. I've witnessed bully behaviors in workplaces, at recreational facilities, and in peoples' homes. Fortunately, among the enlightened, powers opposite the might-is-right attitude are enacted. The majority of people, being gregarious and community minded, really do want to get along with one another. Most of us employ the power of retreat, the power of speech, the power of turning the other cheek; though expressing such positive powers can be oftentimes very, very tough.

While busking today I had the opportunity to meet two real tough guys, August and Hank, both of whom being octogenarians, and both marching in my Chaucerian Parade at Value Village.

August (Call me Gus) was out and about celebrating his 88th birthday today.  He was shopping at Value Village and stopped to chat. I play guitar, he said, but I've never played a twelve-string.  Is it hard to play?
In a rare moment of generosity, I handed Gus the reins. Fifteen minutes later when his friends arrived to take him for a beer, I finally got my guitar back!  Happy birthday, Gus!

Eighty year old Hank was delivering potatoes. Hank said that he and his friends, one of them a busker, gather at his house once a week, to jam and drink whiskey. Today he was delivering potatoes to over a dozen restaurants and this was his last stop. Hank handed me his Hank Potatoes business card.

Being a blogger, I am obviously of the putative belief that the pen is mightier than the sword.
Hey, Rodney Wedge, I am no longer the victim and I just want you to know that ...

Ya, I write dirty, whaddya gonna do about it!


  1. Not for once can I imagine you being placed in a situation that was beyond your control. Maybe Rodney thought he had the best of you but all he did was use animal logic to intimidate...a big scruffy dog with a spiky collar has the same effect on me. The sooner we get over the need to applaud physical violence in our so called 'cultured society' the better. Here I will step over the line, if people stop liking sports that promote, or worse glorify violence, we may stand a chance of wiping out the might-is-right folks. Maybe we need to hug them more often. Can't hurt I say. Nice ride around the lake and you were right, there were plenty of little yellow puffballs swimming like crazy. Cheers Sir Neil.