Saturday, February 16, 2008

Dazed And Confused On Appleby Line

My folks preferred to have their kids drink where they knew they couldn’t get arrested.

Back in the good old C.A.N.A.D.A., where I was raised, I used to throw bonfire parties out in our ‘backyard’ (our house backed onto 88 acres of harvested corn field) which consisted of about 100 or so rowdy teenagers, good music, crappy wine, great beer, DuMaurier Special Mild smokes, other combustibles and about one cord of wood.

The planning was the thing, though.

Invitations were always word of mouth, and consisted of me telling a few people who would tell as many people as they could, which would result in quite the cross section of, shall we say, personalities. Back in rural Canada (Dave, stop it!), everyone was always looking for a good reason to party, so I always felt confident that there would be plenty of people.
On Saturday (always Saturday), I would start preparing for the onslaught. Sometimes, usually actually, I would have one or more friends come over early and help. We all agreed that drinking, for us festival organizers , would commence immediately following lunch. At about 1pm, we would start dragging the extension cords from the garage to the ‘pit’ area, where the stereo would be set up. That’s right, I’m not talkin’ ‘bout no ghetto blaster here. I would drag my Techniques dual cassette player and amplifier (with 20 band equalizer, of course) and secure it about 10-20 feet away from the ‘pit’. Then out came the speakers: 3 feet tall, 250 Watts per side, dual polypropylene woofers and cone tweeters all in their faux oak, reinforced casings. These bad boys were massive and they were LOUD! Punk and electronic music sounded particularly good.

Two weeks prior to the event I would compile my mix-tapes. They were all numbered and sorted according to the time and the mood, naturally. More mellow stuff for the first hour, slowly progressing in energy level as the night went on, then back to ‘chill mode’ for the later part of the evening.

This never worked. Partly because I was too drunk, too involved with a girl, or because I delegated the duties to someone else less musically inclined. By the second hour nobody cared much anyway.

It was fun to watch people arrive. They would always trickle in slowly at first, then quicker by the minute after that, the stream of headlights looking a little like that scene from Field Of Dreams. Out popped punkers, jocks, so-called nerds, college buddies, some relatives (cousins), cheerleader-types, batcavers, skids (long hairs), you name it, all carrying their chosen bag ‘o’ beverage for the evening.

Mass consumption of alcohol (and perhaps other forms of intoxicants!) ensued, which led to lots of dancing, talking, laughing (giggling, for those partaking of the ‘other’ intoxicants), hooking up and various other hilarious moments.
My good friend Dave recounts one particularly silly moment:

“There was a fellow there who was showing off some of his wide array of martial arts moves near the bonfire. (I have no idea what his name was... I've since dubbed him "Skarate").
The Specials came on the stereo, and this gentleman kicks it up a notch, and proceeds to demonstrate some sort of run/jump/kick move THROUGH the (quite large) flames of the bonfire. The smoky silhouette lands in the lap of my friend Pam. The putrid smell of burnt hair was overwhelming.
He pops up out of Pam's lap, brushes himself off and casually states "I love the Ska", and walks away.”

Another friend and his ‘lady’ thought it would be a good idea to streak through the house, unbeknownst to me at the time. They ran all over the raised ranch and eventually ended up in my folks bedroom, which they apparently thought was empty. That is, until my Dad turned on the side table lamp wondering what the hell all that screaming and giggling was about.

They thought they were being robbed. By streakers, apparently.

Good sports, my Mum and Dad.

I believe there were a couple of good 'dust-ups' every once in a great while, but they never got too out of control.

The house rule was that if anyone was too drunk to drive they could stay, either in the basement or they could pitch a tent somewhere in the back yard, which some actually did. In the morning Mum would make a hearty breakfast, tell us to “try not to let your friends streak in the house next time, boys”, ask us if everyone had a good time and then tell us to go clean up her backyard.

Clean up was never fun, but it was lucrative. Bottles were freakin’ everywhere, some broken, most not, and I usually netted enough to buy my next case of beer and a pack of smokes. It would usually take me upwards to two hours to clean everything up to my parents satisfaction.

In hindsight, especially in this litigious society we now live in, I think my folks were VERY lucky that nothing really serious ever happened at these things. But nothing ever did.

There are a ton of other stories out there about these bonfires, most of which I cannot recall due to my well documented case of Molson Lager Amnesia, so if any of you Canucks out there remember others, please tell~

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