Back when the Hockeys used to go camping with other families whose parents liked to drink like fish us kids tried to put as much distance between us and our parents as we could. Not because our parents were drunk, everybody's parents (unless they were JWs) spent a good deal of their lives rip-snorting pasted in those days. We just found our parents to be boring as all fuck.
Sometimes, when we were not swimming, we would wander down the dusty road picking wild strawberries, picking up beer bottles and looking underneath rocks and fallen logs for cool bugs and snakes. It never occurred to us we were ever in any kind of danger in the heart of grizzly country, cougar country and black bear country. We were brought up in Canada, wildlife capital of the world, wildlife was for eating, not being scared of.
Most of the time though we climbed a ladder up the side of a Douglas fir over 300 years old. The tree had been 200 years old already when the drunk Fathers of Confederation put together the beginnings of Canada. The ladder led to a hatch in the bottom of a circular tree fort. We would climb in, close the hatch and use the sticks we brought with us as pretend guns to shoot out the tree fort's windows at the motherfucking Americans we were all sure would one day invade our defenseless country once they had invaded everybody else they could think of.
One time when we were out getting our runners dusty on the edge of the dirt road we found a pack of Sportsman cigarettes. Besides drinking like Stompin' Tom Connors everybody used to smoke like a pulp mill's chimney when I was a kid. The pack was fucking near full and worth maybe 50 cents - a small fortune.
The pack was hidden in a stinky sock until we had a chance to climb into the tree fort after the girls had done the dishes and the boys had gathered some firewood for when it got dark out. The kids who puffed on the smokes ranged in age from 6 to 11 or so. I was the oldest so I gave out smoking instructions to the youngest. "Inhale really deep and hold it as long as you can or you won't get the full effect." Next thing you know there were four little kids puking pink hot dog chunks out the tree fort windows at the motherfucking Americans below us. That must have taught them a lesson about attacking Canada. When the pukers brought their heads back inside from the windows the least dizzy of them asked me, "How come we all puked but our parents smoke hundreds of smokes and hardly ever puke?"
I told my dizzy tree fort comrades, "Beer must counteract the dizziness you get from cigarettes. Good thing I stole a few bottles and a little of dad's rye. You'll all feel better after a few swigs of beer I bet."
The beer was warm as the day. About 100 degrees. At least they had no more hot dog chunks to spew. And after they stopped puking foam out the windows only a couple of fell off the ladder onto the puke splattered ground below.
That was one cool tree fort.