by Peter Johnson
This could be called, ‘The Joys of Aging’. As the grandchild of a grandparent who had tuberculosis, I was watched closely and tested often during my early years of schooling. Having a father who had his first heart attack at the age of 49, I followed in his footsteps and copied his medical history—almost to the day. My infarction was a bit more spectacular, in front of 2 classes at the rink while skating as part of the school’s Winter Carnival Week. And now, my grammatically-inclined doctor wants to have my colons checked out to see if they are aligned properly. I have diligently avoided this procedure. The first such invasion took place well over 25 years ago. My doctor…the one I trusted to be looking after my well-being, insisted that it was a ‘right of passage’. After he explained what was involved, I told him, ‘That orifice should come with a sign: ‘One Way–Do Not Enter’. He thought I was being facetious. I thought he was playing deaf. In the end–another back-sided pun, he got his way and I was booked for the procedure.
On that delightful day, with my posterior tightly clenched, I made my way to the day surgery area, only to be greeted by a familiar sight…my neighbour who would be my nurse that day. ‘Oh lovely’, I thought. ‘We’ll have no secrets now!’ She was very kind, and oh-so professional but I am sure that to this day, she smiles when she remembers how my visage paled when she greeted and prepped me.
Her smiling face was there to greet me as I was slapped awake; they felt I had taken up enough of their time and space. See that punctuation that I just used there? That’s a semi- colon. If they find one inside as they go spelunking, that apparently will not do. You can only have colons- –no semi-colons—in your colon. Why? Perhaps the ‘semis’ stop things up—and they will have no truck with that.
As fate would have it, I was driven home by another wonderful neighbour, the husband of the nurse. Being a considerate fella, he took me home via the most ancient, pre-eighteenth century road in the entire Municipality. This road has never seen surfacing of any kind. It is in the same pre-confederation condition as it was when the McGoverns came here- -shortly after Charles II was de-coronated. This road is much worse than the worst of the roads in town. Indeed, it is stretching the term to label it a ‘road’. It is dirt and stones and stones and rocks—and lots more dirt. Rain transforms it into mud. In the winter, it is surfaced with compacted snow with the frictional coefficient of a hockey rink. The dust from it in the dry summer months makes it almost impossible to see as you try to make your way safely to town. The ditches are so deep that the remains of delivery trucks and Canada Post vehicles litter their depths. Children are warned to ‘stay out of the ditches’ because neither mountaineers nor spelunkers can easily retrieve them. Such is the road upon which Mr. Married-to-the-Nurse took me home. He had to… we both live on this piece of aboriginal tract that has never heard of John Loudon McAdam. And he is? The inventor of pavement, or Macadam.
Born in Ayr, in 1756, presumably, before the century was out, he was already paving roads in the highlands of Scotland. And here, in this blessed Scots-infested region, 266 years later, we are still less ‘civilized’ than those lucky/ hearty highland Scots. According to the Municipality’s Roads and Thoroughfares Department, it will likely be another 266 years before we meet their criteria to qualify for a surfaced road.
And thus we come to the end of my humiliating tale. I am wading through the lengthy 6 page document on how to prepare for my next anal invasion. I will once again be the butt of jokes. Lord, I hope I have all my colons and semi-colons lined up in their appropriate places.
My ‘modern thoroughfare’ remains neither ‘thorough’ nor ‘fare/fair’. And Mr. Married-to-the Nurse? He will be replaced by my eldest daughter who has an all-wheel drive vehicle. It should be able to safely navigate my road… unless, of course, the road is blocked by mountaineers and spelunkers with their rescue equipment, searching for lost children in the depths of the dastardly, deep, devilish ditches.