Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Pipes of the Prairies.


I had an uncle who smoked a pipe. He was the same uncle who had a stuffed crocodile in front of his fireplace. You can understand, on the Canadian Prairies ... it was kind of a big deal.


There was a rumour that someone had a stuffed cow in front of their fireplace but no-one really cared. We liked the crocodile.

And he was my uncle so I was popular by association.

He smoked a pipe. I liked the smell of it.

And then there was that one Sunday afternoon when we were supposed to be in the Library reading and leaving the grownups to do their Sunday afternoon grownup thing and I thought it would be a swell idea to see if you could actually blow bubbles out of his pipe like that Bugs Bunny cartoon we had seen 5 million times. It really was not my fault, none of the other kids argued with me or said anything like "Oh no Blissy, we should not do that." They were pretty much in their sheep costumes and ready to go. I can't help it if I was the only Shepherd in the bunch.

So my brother got the pipe and I got the dish soap and we escaped out the french doors into the garden, went around by the atrium and hid behind the caragana bushes. Since we had been forbidden to go near them after we convinced some city cousins that those little pods not only looked like peas, they WERE peas, and they should eat them, eat lots of them . . . we figured they would never think to look for us there. Most children learn their lessons after not being able to sit down for a week but what can I say, we were a little slow sometimes.

I actually thought it was funny that they thought they were chickens and were trying to peck their way through the window into the house but there just is no knowing if parents even have a sense of humour really when you think about it.  My cousins even sounded like chickens and I thought the way they had shredded their clothes to look like feathers was really imaginative and artistic.

Anyways we filled the pipe with soap and tried to blow. Nothing happened. Well no bubbles happened. A bunch of dish soap came out the other end. Then my one cousin got confused and inhaled and almost died and we frankly got bored and put the pipe back and forgot all about it. I went to write letters to the television people about truth in cartooning and the fragile minds of children and the other kids went to see if there were any cows that needed tipping.

And then my uncle went to smoke his pipe and I guess he almost died too on that first inhale. What happened next is kind of blurred in my memory but I remember hearing some swear words for the first time ever and then my uncle yelled at my aunt and accused her to trying to clean his pipe because she always said it was a "flithy habit," and there was more screaming and suddenly we had to go and no-one said anything, mainly because I was choking my brother in the back seat and threatening him with death if he told. The weeks went by and the divorce was finalized and my uncle and his crocodile and his pipe left never to be seen again.


I added a PS to my letter to the television executives. Those people ruined lives.

Bugs Bunny is a homewrecker.

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