Sunday, June 19, 2016

It Could Be Bigger Than "Old Yeller."


There were abandoned farms and businesses all over the prairies.  City kids had playgrounds and community centres and sports complexes … we had old barns and abandoned buildings.

The first thing you did when you found an old building, was move in and stake your claim on the new club house.  Someone should do some serious investigative study on the correlation between farms kids and their old abandoned buildings and bike gangs and their club houses.  A lot of the same dynamics were definitely at play.  The places were dark, there were tables and chairs made out of old boxes and equipment, there were club insignia on the wall and the members sat around and drank.  In our case it was pretty much Fanta pop when we could get it, the occasional coke, and a lot of Kool-aide.  Someone was the leader and the rest of us were followers.  We weren't happy about it, but we were there none the less.  It beat talking to the cows.

Also we did not have hookers even though Donna Peterson did grow up to be a hooker.  In Grade 4 she had not yet chosen a career path and still hoped to one day grow up and work the french fry station at the famous Peter's Drive-In.  Even if she had identified herself as a hooker at that age, trust me, none of the boys would have known what to do with her anyway.


If we had motorcycles, we would have used them.  Instead, we had bikes, garden tractors and of course … always cows.  We hid them in the grass so no-one would know we were there.  Well, to be fair, we hid the bikes and the garden tractors .. the cows never stayed put.  People could see the cows but no-one cared about them.  They were blending cows ... they just acted normal and blended into the scenery.  

We were always vigilant about making sure everything about the club-house was secret.  God forbid someone should find out about us sitting around in the dirty, dark, old abandoned building and show up and try and . . . sit … with us … in the dark dirtiness.  We had secret words, secret codes, secret hand-shakes and membership was very exclusive ... once we found anyone who even cared enough to want to be part of the group.

We imagined we looked awesome … like Bliss in these pictures.  We hung around and tried to look tough.  I was big into trying to look beautiful.  I admit the old abandon houses were a bad influence.  I tried a lot of things in them . . . like make-up.  I was out of control.  But let's be honest, there was only so much that lee jeans, a hoodie, and a ski jacket could convey.  Still there were lots of hook ups in those early gang beginnings.  It was like everyone instinctively knew that the farm gene pool was shallow and the swimmers few and far between and we all felt an urgency to start early and hope for the best. The boys thought they were tough but the biggest fights were actually between the girls … over the boys.  Our biological clocks were set off at about age 5 and we were prepared to take the competition out if we had to.  It was survival of the fittest.  We all wanted a kick ass farm when we were through school.  

I guess I was kind of a pimp.  I tried to sell off my brother.  I showed pictures of the farm and the awesome couches and the new colour TV.  I wanted cash, or at least a bus ticket.  I even tried some of the make-up on him.  I beat up a girl to try and make her take him.  

Sometimes, when we drive by the country and I see old abandoned buildings, I get kind of nostalgic and wonder about those olden days when we were pretending to be gangs and acting like we were special.  I wrote most of the kids I used to hang out with letters after I left and told them they weren't . . . special, that is.  I felt it was important to put aside childhood things as per my Sunday School lessons and dive straight into the realism of adulthood.

I told the cops where all the bodies were buried and mentioned that Donna was a hooker.


I was never quite sure why I was never invited back to any of the school reunions.  For all I know, some of them are probably still meeting in the old abandoned garage.  It was the best clubhouse and was close to the school.  We used to hid out there instead of going to class and I am pretty sure some of the kids are still there.  I don't think they know that class is over, in fact school is over, and everyone else has gone home.  That's what happens when you miss math class long enough that you never learn how to tell time.  Maybe it is enough to live in the dirty dark and have secret hand shakes.  Maybe they are happier there than the rest of us.

Wow, did you have any idea how sad this post was going to end up being?  I am crying right now ... for the sort of sad beauty of it all .... a lost generation ... in the old abandoned buildings on the prairies ... living in the dark.

Where the hell is Disney when you need them?

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