Things I wish I’d never done

At the time – that is, when I was fourteen years of age – football was considered leagues apart from those who played cricket instead.  Given the medical diagnosis decades later that minor head concussions can be a perilous thing, I put football at the top of my list of things I wish I’d never done. I’d like to say football had something to do with my current spinal discomfort but that would be pushing it.  You see, I played defensive end which meant I was as far removed as possible from the scrimmage and the centre of battering generally. Those deep field runs in pursuit of an atmospheric lob were far less punishing than banging headfirst into one another.

The only means by which I recovered some legitimacy was by involvement in the highland cadet corps though clearly the engagement was more ceremonial than anything else.

The activity did however provoke a matter of minor misfortune. Every springtime the Highland Cadet Ball was held in the Great Hall. Following the ball on one particular occasion we had engaged a chauffeur to take us to the King Edward Hotel in downtown Toronto for a so-called “Breakfast” party. Not surprisingly there was seldom anything approaching breakfast served.  What happened I do not recall. When we returned to school the Headmaster had posted a bulletin that boys were barred from the hotel.

More recently, that is about forty years ago, I had an accident on my bicycle while cycling on a gravel country road and attempting to ride hands-free with both feet on the front handle bars. I was at the time cycling with a client and his young son whom I mistakenly sought to impress with my skill.  I ended having to go to the Emergency outlet of the hospital where I received a shot against any infection I may have absorbed along with bits of gravel embedded in my hands. The further dismay was that I was scheduled that evening to attend a black tie dinner and dance.  I went to the dance; but both my hands were bandaged.

If you think the cycling accident was foolish, nothing approaches the backlash I endured when I was pressing Dr. Atkins’ diet to the limit.  In addition to the usual ingredients of meat and cheese I developed a burgeoning appreciation for bacon fat.  I believe I ended drinking most of what remained in the pan after cooking a pound of the stuff.  I reacted to the contaminants in the bacon fat. My fingers became swollen.  When I visited the Emergency department of the hospital on this occasion I was led to believe that the swelling would subside in due course.  In the meantime however my signet ring was becoming uncommonly tight.  The nurse attempted to cut off the ring but realized the shank was too thick.  A gentleman from the engineering department subsequently arrived with a pair of those enormous clippers which he stealthily applied to the problem.  There were some nervous moments before the task was accomplished.  The finger recovered; the ring did not.

Post Scriptum
October 5, 2022

Hey Bill!

Sorry about the hiatus. Loved your email exchanges about Shouldice. Dad would have loved them. A story that may irritate you but I trust the Bill I know will still love my dad and take the story in stride!

He kept a 20 pound bag of potatoes in his office cupboard and when potential patients flatly refused even to try to lose the weight that would seriously complicate his surgical techniques, he would haul the bag out and tell them to carry it around with them all day every day until the date of the operation. Of course they would baulk and tell him that was ridiculous. His reply? “Yes. Just as ridiculous as you expecting me to go through all those fat layers and do a good job.” He probably wasn’t that blunt being the gentleman he was but that was the message. Some patients left never to return but a large majority did as he asked, lost the weight and thanked him afterwards.

Now – to your newsletter. I was your date to that formal and King Eddie Breakfast party! We went to 2 formals that weekend and put my corsage in the fridge at Colborne so it would last for both. You decided on white roses and small pine boughs believing the pine would outlast regular greenery. I got you a white rose buttonniere. You were right about the pine!

The party at the King Eddie was a nightmare. People drunk, some passed out or in the can throwing up. Others in full party mode and loud, loud music. Why do I recall bathtub gin????? Can’t remember if we crashed there or came home but, knowing you and me back then, I would suspect the latter, even if it was 7 am so we could sleep in real beds!

Enlarged the SAC pictures as best I could and saw you, Nick, David Grant, Robert Jones, Alex Dougall, Colin Drurie and a few others whom I recognized but couldn’t name. Fun!!!

Meeting Colin and his wife for lunch this coming Saturday along with Nick. They are in town for a memorial service for a relative of his wife, Marylyn. Nick’s wife. Wendy, can’t come because she will be having an MRI for her sciatica. Second time with this ailment for her and really debilitating. Hope they come up with some form of relief therapy.

Love your emails to me. Thanks!

Love to you and Denis!