(Tribune June 2006)
Do you remember that TV ad?
It was a car ad pushing some hot foreign luxury car to baby boomers. In the ad, some fiftyish guy is tooling around back roads while the soundtrack gives the viewer the boomer’s thoughts. This guy was going to keep his youth by owning the hot car and he was not going to end up like the old men who spend their evenings sitting in a lawn chair on an asphalt driveway.
The TV baby boomer was in denial.
The Horse and I often spend summer evenings sitting in lawn chairs on his driveway. On occasion, I will enjoy a cigar. We have conversations, watch the traffic and wave at the people. It is an appropriate thing for old guys to do. The TV guy does not know what pleasure he is missing.
The Horse and I go back a long way. We first met at age three when he moved in next door, threw a stone at me and sent me home crying. We’ve been buddies ever since, first day of school at Fonthill Public, boy scouts at 2nd Fonthill, alter boys at Holy Trinity and owners of hot cars in our late teens. We were in each other’s wedding parties but after that we traveled in different circles. We are now back living within a stone’s throw from each other.
(I should give you some background on the nickname. Doug became Dougie, became Buggy, became Horse Buggy, became Horse. This entire metamorphosis was completed during one grade school recess but the result has lasted a lifetime.)
The traffic passing the driveway is pleasant and predictable. There are people with dogs and plastic bags. One lady regularly comes by at a brisk pace with a little dog on an extendible leash. As she approaches the corner where we are sitting she will release the tension on the leash and the dog will make straight for The Horse. The Horse provides a pat on the dog’s head and two quick scratches behind his ears. The dog cuts across the corner, retakes his position in front of his owner who, without breaking pace, gives us a wave and a smile as she continues her evening walk.
Cars go by and drivers honk greetings. We often recognize the motorists but many times look at each other and shrug. Who the heck was that? Guess it’s the thought that counts.
Cool evenings do bring out unique ideas about how to warm up the place. Sitting downwind from a propane barbecue would be a bit tacky, so we have decided that we should acquire a steel drum, fill it with scrap lumber and toss in a match. We know this unlawful act is going to bring out the police and the fire department so we have planned our next step. We will get a couple of picket signs and declare that we are on strike. It is general knowledge that no respectable picket line in Welland is complete without a bonfire in a steel drum. After we explain our position, the police and firemen will probably shake our hands and honk a salute of support as they drive off.
We discuss politics. I tell The Horse that he is in a perfect position to run for city council. It would give him something to do when it is too cold to sit outside. There does not have to be any campaign efforts or costs. Just put up a sign at the end of the driveway. "The Horse is running in Ward 1". If he is successful he could follow Ellis Morningstar’s lead. Legend tells us that Ellis used to hold court with his constituents at his kitchen table on Saturday mornings. The Horse could tell them to bring a lawn chair and pick a spot close to the warmth of the steel drum. The concerns of all constituents would be heard but they would have to wait their turn.
I look at it this way. In the morning we enjoyed our hot cars. By noon we discovered girls and acquired wives. We spent the heat of the day earning a living and raising families, savoring the good times and surviving the bad. After supper we retired.
It is now early evening. The sun is still above the tree line but no amount of complaining by the TV boomer will stop its inevitable journey.
We are old men. It is time to sit in lawn chairs on an asphalt driveway.
All things considered, It has been a fine day.