Not every fun thing has to happen overseas. Think back to your childhood: you were perfectly content getting into all sorts of mischief at home (at least, I was). So with nothing happening at all in my life in Moscow (all the good times have come to an end, and I feel that I have worn out my welcome in Russia), I think back to my life in South Korea, and beyond then to my life in Canada.
One incident in particular stands out as the best weekend I've ever spent.
A national public holiday in Canada is Queen Victoria Day. It is officially on May 24 every year but always falls on the weekend closest to the 24th. A case of beer, with 24 bottles, in Canada is called a two-four, and Victoria Day is likewise called May Two-Four. No coincidence there.
In 2001 I was living in the industrial factory city of Hamilton, Ontario where I was attending school. I lived off-campus in a bungalow with five other guys, but three of my friends practically lived there too. My oldest and best friend (until he married and disappeared a few years ago, and cut out all his friends from his life quoting that we weren't in his "circle of trust"), Doggawar, was attending film school in Toronto, about a one-hour drive from Hamilton. He spent nearly every weekend at my place.
Doggawar was always a real brat, with an incredibly quick sense of humour and a horseshoe shoved far up his ass to boot. He was a big guy with a big beard and leather jacket. As an example of his wit, one time we were cooking steaks on the barbecue and another friend of ours walked up to the grill, found the biggest, juiciest steak there was and spat on it. "That one's mine" he pronounced, to which Doggawar, without hesitating, also spat on it. "Have it." He replied.
Another friend, who I met in Hamilton, was Nailbomb (he liked the death-metal group of the same name). Nailbomb, with is his long black hair and thin, pointed face, was a punk/death metal/fuck-the-man kinda guy (and also the best driver I've ever met) who took great delight from mischief and building things. One time Nailbomb and I went to the woods around Hamilton and, using bungee cords from his Jeep Cherokee, built an actual working trebuchet and proceeded to hurl giant boulders down an escarpment. Good times.
Then there was the fourth member of our little group: Mojo. It is difficult to describe Mojo. To this day I haven't figured out if he was truly slightly retarded or if it was an all an act. Whichever it was, Mojo operated on the premise that the least amount of brain power necessary to get through life is the best amount of brain power to use. Unlike me, the slightly preppy, athletic guy, and Doggawar, the big beard and biker-style guy, and Nailbomb, the punk rocker bad-ass guy, there was Mojo, who wore incredibly big bell bottoms and trendy snowboarder sweaters and liked to ride BMX bikes. Mojo, with his shoulder-length curly hair, once made a pair of bell bottoms out of duct tape and then wore them to the club, where he was immediately harassed by a group of black guys. When he started to try and talk in Eubonics with them, it was all over.
The May Two-Four weekend of the year 2001 was to be a special long weekend. The four of us (originally three but we agreed to let Mojo come along provided he fetched us beer, cooked us food, etc...hence the name "Mojo") planned a trip to Owen Sound, on the stunningly beautiful Bruce Peninsula between Lake Huron and Georgian Bay. Owen Sound is mine and Doggawar's hometown, and in the summer offers beaches, girls, alcohol and sunshine. Unfortunately we were the wrong group of people to partake in such pleasures. It seems as if though every time the four of us, unlikely comrades all, got together the gods that be were incredibly annoyed.
Nailbomb, the superb driver that he was, drove us the 2 hours to Owen Sound. By "good driver" I don't mean he was a law-abiding driver. Rather, he would plug into his car and then proceed to act like a fighter pilot in a dogfight, swerving at high speeds between traffic, dodging every obstacle that got in his way (he once drove home from my house completely in reverse, using back roads...it was a 20 minute drive). I never once felt in danger with Nailbomb's driving, because he was always in complete control.
We were nearing Owen Sound, blazing along country roads ringed by quiet farms, blaring hard rock and smoking cigarettes and making fun of Mojo when all of a sudden a cop shot out of nowhere and, with lights blaring, pulled us over. 100 miles back Nailbomb had passed an elderly driver...on the gravel shoulder, and some other drivers had called the police. It took nearly an hour for the cop to catch up to us. Because the officer couldn't fine Nailbomb for an incident where he didn't actually witness it, but had pulled us over nevertheless, he had to find some other reason to issue a fine. After running Nailbomb's license through the computer in his car, the officer issued a different ticket. Nailbomb was driving without glasses, and the terms of his license said that he was supposed to be wearing glasses when behind the wheel.
Nailbomb's three comrades immediately broke into laughter. The famous, hard-edged, fuck-the-man punk-rocker Nailbomb had to wear glasses! The cop took his license and made Doggawar drive instead, and issued Nailbomb with a fine. We went on our way, and even Mojo joined in making fun of Nailbomb, who was visibly embarassed.
After another hour we finally arrived in Owen Sound and went to Doggawar's girlfriend's house (she left him soon after this weekend). Her parents had a huge, two storey home on 10 acres of forested land. The house was beautiful and the vast forest of maples and birch were in full bloom in the late May sun. While Doggawar went inside to greet his lady, Mojo, Nailbomb and I immediately popped the trunk of the car and cracked open the two-four of Molson Canadian we had brought from Hamilton. After our long drive we decided a nice beer was due us, then we would unpack our bags and settle in.
One hour later Doggawar found us deep in the woods, throwing pinecones at each other's heads, surrounded by empty beer bottles and completely drunk. "What the hell?" He cried out in deep annoyance. "You drank ALL the beer?!!?" We looked around in shock. "Noooo!" we protested. "There's lots left! We couldn't have...." But of course, the three of us had drank an entire case of beer in an hour. Doggawar was pissed. "Damnit! Come on. We're going into town. You owe me a case of beer." He turned and stormed back to the house, and we stumbled after him.
As we stumbled and laughed behind our visibly angry friend, Nailbomb pulled out a mickey of Jagermeister. "One for the road!" He decreed, and we immediately began chugging back the sickly-sweet alcohol. In the few minutes it took us to reach the car, we had polished off the Jagermeister, as well.
We all jumbled into the car and with deep annoyance Doggawar screeched out of the driveway and we headed into town. At The Beer Store (one of my favourite Ontario retain chains) Nailbomb and I bought two more cases of beer, and Doggawar ran into his brother in the parking lot. They started talking and catching up so Nailbomb and I staggered over to the nearby river, where, without warning, I threw up. It was so sudden and so violent that my vomit projected over the river bank and into the water, followed by a sudden uproar of quacking and honking. A mallard duck, covered in vomit, flew angrily into the air. Quite a shot, if I do say so myself. Nailbomb was laughing so hard he had to sit down.
We rejoined Doggawar and Mojo at the car and as Doggawar chatted with his brother I sat cross-legged on the pavement, the world spinning around and my stomach feeling like heaving again. I began muttering incomprehensibly, trying to say that I needed to sober up but instead mumbling "I need conditioning. I need conditioning." (I barely remember any of this). Nailbomb, the helpful friend that he was, took his lit cigarette and extinguished it on my forehead. "Aaaah." I sighed with relief. "That's what I call conditioning!".
A few hours later we were back at Doggawar's girlfriend's house (along the way I instructed Doggawar "don't make any turns, don't stop, just drive straight"). As Mojo, Nailbomb and I were sobering up at this point, we cracked one of the new cases of beer and immediately resolved to get Doggawar drunk. Everytime Doggawar took a drink from his beer one of us would immediately give a new toast. "To the weekend!" "To us!" "To booze!" etc etc. After three beers in ten minutes Doggawar was crying out for mercy. "For god's sake!" Within half an hour he was as drunk as us and once again we were a team. This time, with a new great idea.
Grabbing shovels and pick-axes we made our way into the forest and proceeded to build a bunker. It took us two hours and another case of beer but finally we had something reminiscent of the Mannerheim Line protecting Doggawar's girlfriend from the invading Red Army. For the roof we employed her father's chainsaw and some trees. Needless to say that, upon seeing us emerge from the woods with shovels and chainsaws, drunk and covered in dirt, she was immediately suspicious. "What the hell were you guys doing?"
"Nothing. Building a bunker."
She immediately banned us from using any wood to make a fire, a rather weak attempt to control us, the uncontrollable. So we used her father's jerry can of gasoline instead. She banned us from using the chainsaw, so we grabbed her brother's pellet guns and starting shooting each other instead. With a gas fire blazing (and we cooked bacon wrapped around sticks in it...quite delicious, if I remember) and guns shooting and bottles being emptied quickly, she had had enough. "Get the hell off my property, you..you...savages!" she cried. What a downer.
We took a taxi to Doggawar's mother's house instead.
It was a good move, because after a day of recovery (and a lot of his father's pot, bless his soul), we set out into the woods around Doggawar's house with pellet guns and beer and whiskey, and proceeded to have a little, painful war. It was Nailbomb and I versus Doggawar and Mojo. We stalked each other through the woods for some time until we came across Doggawar laying in some bushes with his air rifle pointing down the path we were about to stumble across. Nailbomb and I sat down behind a small ridge and strategized. Because I had a quick-repeater Daisy bb gun, I would run out, blazing away and draw Doggawar's fire while Nailbomb, with his single-shot powerful crack-open gun, would draw a bead and shoot the foe.
I ran out, firing from the hip and dodging between trees. Doggawar opened up on me, splinters of tree bark blasting away around me from his barely-missed shots. Nailbomb, unseen, standing and taking careful aim with his rifle, let off a shot with a terrific CRACK and Doggawar screamed in pain. Nailbomb got him right in the ass. I dove down behind a log and lay there panting for breath for a few moments, before the three of us set out to hunt down Mojo.
We found him submerged in a crevace, only his head and rifle showing. He actually took us by surprise and laid down a barrage of bb fire that kept us pinned. Unfortunately he had nothing protecting his flank so I made my way around to his left. We had a rule "No shooting each other in the head" and Mojo thought he was being clever by only exposing his head. But all is fair in love and war right? Especially when you're drunk. I took aim and nailed him the skull, blasting his baseball cap completely off. Game over.
That night Doggawar's neighbour, a girl a few years younger than us, had a party. There were a hundred people there, listening to pop music and drinking Mike's Hard Lemonade, laughing and dancing and being, well, normal. Nailbomb pulled his car into Doggawar's backyard and started blaring Sepultura. We built a fire out of wooden skids soaked in gasoline. The four of us began hooting and hollering in drunken extacy. Soon, some of the people from the other party started drifting across the lawn to our inferno. They were eating grilled vegetables, so we offered charred meat on a stick. They were drinking vodka coolers, so broke out rounds of tequila from the bottle. They were playing cards, so we offered them pellet guns. Needless to say that soon her ENTIRE PARTY had relocated to Doggawar's yard. There were nearly a hundred people running around the fire, shooting guns, eating meat, yelling and acting like barbarians. Doggawar's neighbour, poor girl, sat in her yard with one or two friends and stared in anger at our Roman conflagration.
The firing from the pellet guns became so intense over the course of the night that as people crossed the yards (No Man's Land, they soon called it), they would yell "Don't shoot! It's me, Dave...we met ten minutes ago. Remember? Hey! Wait! Ow!" Of course, Dave would then take his turn shooting other silhouettes in the firelight as they ran the gauntlet. At one point a little brunette girl with a tight shirt (I remember that much) started up a chainsaw and cut some wood for the fire, before another girl shot her in the ass. I myself was hit at least twenty times. Nobody was safe from the flying barrage of pellets and bbs, whether running for their lives across the yard or sitting around the fire roasting bacon on a stick.
The next morning I woke up under Doggawar's back patio with a brown-haird girl draped over me. I had no idea where I was for a few minutes, but twenty or thirty painful welts all over my body (including one pellet imbedded in my back that had to be dug out by tweezers) quickly reminded me. I had no idea who the girl was but one of her hands was down my pants on my backside. I pushed her off me and she groaned in her sleep and curled up in a ball on the mud, and I scrambled out from under the patio. The yard looked like the battlefield of Gettysburg.
People lay in all manner of positions, while a cloud of white smoke hissed into the sky from the firepit. Rifles and shoes and bottles littered the grass all the way into the tree line that surrounded the yard. A few brave souls stumbled about in hung-over pain, looking for personal effects. I couldn't see Doggawar or Nailbomb, but I found Mojo draped over the side of the roof of Doggawar's bungalow. "Hey!" I shouted. "Wake up, Mojo!" He raised his head in pain. "Huh?"
"Go find the others." I ordered. He scrambled down, monkey-like, from the roof and began poking bodies with his toes. I was determined to get out of there. The long weekend was coming to a close and Doggawar's parents were due back any moment that day.
After a few hours of clearing up (actually, Mojo did almost all the cleaning while the three of us sat in the kitchen and nursed our hangovers and dug pellets out of each other's skin) we packed up the car and headed, much more slowly and listening, I believe, to Rod Steward on low volume, to Hamilton and back to regular college life.