26 November 2006


Last night, as I watched the Hammer scoot around in the snow like a coke fiend in Columbia, I listened to the screams of children down the road. They were the screams children only make at birthday parties, when their parents have not doped them up with prescription medication, and during snowfalls.

Lucky for people around about my age it used to snow around Dope City like it still does in St. Anthony. The neighbourhood kids would get bundled up by their mothers while their dads knocked back hot rum by a roaring fire and spend every minute they could having fun in the snow. I lived on a hill so one the neighbourhood passions was starting a snowball at the very top of the hill in someone's back yard and rolling it down the hill until it was about six feet high into the middle of the main road. The snowball was very hard to see so we would hide behind a hedge and wait for a car to drive straight into the ton of snow. After the driver, almost always a male in those days before women started pushing their weight around, opened his door, smashed his beer bottle on the icy road and inspected his car's front end for damage, usually not much, he would search the white landscape for the little bastards who fucked with him. Seeing no one, he would usually shout, "You little motherfuckers! Get out here and I'm going to kick your skinny asses straight to Hell. Little fuckers! Where the fuck are you?"

As we got older we graduated to bumper riding for our fun in the snow. The choice car for bumper riding was Hitler's Revenge, the Beatle. They had massive rear bumpers and were the best car in the snow in the days preceding front wheel drive due to their underpowered rear engine. Snoot boots were the foot wear of choice for bumper riding. They were sturdy and so smooth on the bottom you could still slide pretty good on the parts of the road that were short on snow and ice. If you had a pair of blakies nailed to the heel of your boot sparks would fly over the spots where the road was exposed. Groups of teenagers would hang around on street corners waiting for one of the little cars to roar towards them. The call would go out, "Here comes a fucking Kraut Can." The Kraut Can driver, knowing he was the best ride in town, would sometimes try and keep us off his bumper while others would stop and let as many kids as could fit behind the little car grab on and take us for a long ride through the neighbourhood.

There are a few products that make doing dangerous activities like bumper riding both more fun and more dangerous. Alcohol is one of those products. I remember latching my frozen gloves onto a bumper not as accommodating as a Volkswagen's, after sharing a few shots of hard stuff we stole from our dads and replaced with water, with my bumper riding friends. My fingers got stuck in the bumper so I could not let myself loose from the ride as the driver fishtailed around as fast as he could. Later I had to tell my mom I had lost a perfectly good pair of gloves. My mom was not happy when I told her I lost them bumper riding.

"I thought we told you to stick with riding Kraut Can bumpers." She slurped her wine in disgust as she looked at the torn knees of my jeans and the salty, sandy snoot boots I had convinced her to buy me when she wanted to buy me some sensible shoes at Pock's Shoes in Fort Royal.

My dad came into the room as my mom prepared to tell me about there not being a glove tree in the back yard. "What the fuck has Beer done now?"

"He lost a pair of gloves on the back of a Chevy he was bumper riding."

My dad looked at me as he sat down in his recliner, took a long guzzle of his rye and ginger and tilted his pride and joy into his favourite tv watching position. "Get out there and shovel the driveway in your bare hands. Maybe a little frostbite will make you think twice about how long I have to work to buy you a pair of gloves. We'll get you a new pair of gloves at the Army and Navy tomorrow. And no more bumper riding anything but German cars!"

"And stop watering down my booze!"

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