Saturday, April 12, 2008


Neve Campbell and I were students together for five years at Vista Heights Public School. We were enrolled in a French Immersion program in Mississauga Ontario, a suburb of Toronto, Canada. The following is the story of my life as it relates to her.

"I just wanted to be normal. I didn't have friends. I wanted some. I wanted a locker! You know those ones you see in high-school movies? We didn't have them."

Neve Campbell, February 2006 - The Independent

Friday, April 11, 2008


Most people remember the first time they were attracted to someone of the opposite sex. For me it happened in kindergarten class.

I started school at Vista Heights Public School. The year was 1978. We had this gigantic kindergarten class. The class was divided into two groups in one room, with roughly the same number of kids in each group. The school was introducing a French Immersion program that year beginning with our class. The kids learning English were on the one side of the class, while the kids taking French Immersion were on the other side. I was in the French Immersion program.

The following year the school added grade 1 French Immersion, then the next year they added grade 2. They kept adding grade levels as our class progressed, so that we had roughly the same group of students year after year.

Each student did not have a desk of their own in kindergarten. We sat cross legged on a section of the class with carpeting when the teacher wanted to teach us things or read us stories.

In the middle of the room were two sets of desks that formed the boundary between the French side and the English side. Instead of chairs, there were bar stools at those desks we would sit on whenever we wanted to paint.

Painting meant we had to wear smocks so we wouldn’t get paint on our clothes. The smocks we had were a lot like hospital gowns made with plastic. They had sleeves in the front and tie-up strings in the back.

I remember there was this girl in my kindergarten class that was so cute. She had big cheeks that you just wanted to pinch. One day we had tied each other up in those smocks and we were painting together. She was sitting on my left. I had trouble tying things at that age and her smock kept coming undone.

As we were painting together she wanted to change colors so she needed a new paint brush. The paint brushes were in a tin can that had the lid cut off in a way that left no sharp edges. The can was sitting in the middle of the table.

Instead of reaching out, picking up the can and pulling it in close so she could pick out a brush, this little vixen had stood up out of her bar stool and was leaning over the table. She had this incredibly serious look on her face as she picked through the can of paint brushes. She was determined to find exactly the right one.

As she stood there, the ties at the back of her smock came undone, so that only the tie around the back of her neck was holding it on. I just sat on my stool watching. I was all out staring at her.

That serious look on her face really got my attention. What got my attention even more was just how straight her back was. If you had taken two ends of a ruler, put one on the small of her back, the other on the back of her shoulder, they would have lined up perfectly.

I sat there trembling, because I had this urge to reach out with my left hand and start rubbing her back. She picked through that can of paint brushes for a very long time. I kept hoping she would sit down before I acted on impulse. She just kept leaning over the table with that serious look.

When she finally did take a brush and sit down, I was relieved. She started to fumble with her smock so I got up off my stool and retied it for her. I often wondered after that what she would have done if I had started to rub her back.

After that thing with the paint brushes, all I ever wanted to do was find that girl and play house. On our side of the room there was a play area. The play area had these wooden blocks and some oversized cardboard bricks with a red interlocking brick design painted on them. The two of us would make a square outline on the floor with those blocks and those bricks and we would sit in the middle and play house.

Eventually the teacher would come and say, “Okay class, it’s time to learn the alphabet.”

I would just sit there on the floor pouting. “Alphabet? I don’t wanna learn alphabet. I want to pay house!”

I never wanted to learn anything in school. I just wanted to find that girl and play house.

Back Row from Left to Right: 1. Phil Barrett, 2. not sure, 3. Robert Dykeman, 4. Richard Caddoo, 5. myself, 6. Steven Pearson, 7. Jason Ashton, 8. Remi Kaiserman, 9. Chris Cummins, 10. Larry
Front Row from Left to Right: 1. Chris Stopa, 2. Chris Geisler, 3. Holly Presley, 4. Neve Campbell, 5. Amanda Knaggs, 6. Mary Heisler, 7. Suzy Merk, 8. Sammy Maltby, 9. Jillian Scudamore, 10. Cassandra Raponant, 11. David Miller

The Spooks and the Merk

My next door neighbor was also in my class all those years I went to Vista Heights. His name was Jason Ashton. Ashton had two younger sisters named Jodi, and Jenny. Jenny was the youngest.

Ashton and I lived side-by-side in town houses on Windwood Drive. Our bedrooms were separated by the adjoining wall. That wall was thin enough that we could hear each other knocking if we knocked loud enough. We had our own set of secret knocks. One for ‘good morning’ another for ‘goodnight’, yet another for ‘go to the window so we can talk’.

We waited at the same bus stop each morning and we would bring each other homework assignments on the days we were sick from school. I had asthma growing up so I was sick a lot and missed a lot of school. I liked playing sports, but Ashton was not very athletic so we didn’t always play together at school. Having your next door neighbor in your class did have its perks though.

One day Ashton told me about a movie he had seen. It was a James Bond film. He loved James Bond. He thought Roger Moore was the best James Bond and he wanted to play spies at recess. I would have preferred football or British Bulldog, but I agreed to play spies anyway. We needed someone to spy on, so we decided to spy on Suzy Merk. This was in grade 1.

Merk was skipping rope with some of the other girls in our class. They were on the tarmac near the western most side of the school. Ashton and I hid behind trees, bushes, and various other hiding spots. We ran around spying on Merk as she skipped rope.

In the end, we were not very good spies. The girls noticed us and Eugenie Fitzgerald walked away from the group. I saw her when she walked away, but I didn’t pay much thought as to where she was going. After all, we were spying on Merk.

A few minutes later Ashton and I were standing behind a post.

“What are you guys doing?”

We spun around just then and there was Fitzgerald standing right behind us. I froze not knowing what to say.

Ashton cracked on the spot and said, “We’re playing spies.”

“Who are you two spying on?”

“Suzy Merk”

“Why are you guys doing that?”

“I don’t know. It was M’s idea.”

I broke my silence at that point and yelled, “Ashton!”

Fitzgerald laughed and said, “I’m telling.” Then she ran back to the girls that were skipping rope.

I watched that conversation unfold in slow motion. I wanted to reach out and strangle Ashton as he kept talking. I was livid.

“What the hell did you say that for? This was your idea!”

“I’m sorry. I didn’t know what to say.”

“Well you don’t say that!”

I have no idea what Jason Ashton does for a living these days, but I sure as hell hope he isn’t working for CSIS.

When we finally did go back to class, Merk walked right up to me.

“So I hear you were spying on me.”

We were caught red handed. There was no point trying to make excuses. I felt like an idiot as it was and I did not want that girl to hate me. I figured if I was honest and apologized she would forgive me, but rather than forgive me she asked me another question.

“Whose idea was it?”

“It was Ashton’s idea.”

At that point she looked at me and said, “You’re a liar. Ashton told me it was your idea and I believe him. I’m never talking to you again.”

The fact that she was wrong about that was a small consolation. My conscience still bothered me for spying on her in the first place. When she said she would never talk to me again, I figured she would be mad for a while, but I thought she would get over it eventually.

Whenever I said hi to her after that she would walk right past me. When I said bye at the end of the day, she would just walk away. If the teacher put us in a group together, she would go up to the teacher and demand to be in a different group. That girl despised me.

As days and weeks went by, I realized Merk was going to hold that grudge for a long time. She had already forgiven Ashton, whose idea it was to play spies in the first place. That bothered me. Then I figured that if she was willing to forgive Ashton, maybe she would forgive me if I sucked up to her.

At the end of the school day the teacher would ask us to put our chairs on our desks so that the custodian could sweep and mop underneath. The next morning our chairs would be on our desks and we would have to take them down again. For one week I put Merk’s chair up at the end of the day and I took it down the next morning. She wouldn’t even acknowledge my existence.

After a week of kissing her butt, I decided to give up. She was determined to hold that grudge.

To My Teddy Bear

Kids in love can be cute sometimes, but this story is just pathetic.

It happened in either grade 1 or 2. I was at home around Christmas. I had a Ferrero Rocher. These are little chocolate truffles wrapped in gold foil. They are usually sold in packages of three with a single piece of cardboard along the bottom much like the way Reece peanut butter cups are packaged.

I had eaten two of them and I decided I wanted to give the last one to Neve as a present. I pushed it to the middle of the package. Then I folded the cardboard ends up and tucked them in so that looking at it from the side it had a trapezoid shape. Then I wrapped the whole thing over with Christmas paper, which there was plenty of around the house at the time.

Along the top I wrote, “To my teddy bear Neve,” and I drew two teddy bears, one on each side. Given my level of artistic skill at that age the teddy bears looked more like aardvarks, but that didn’t mater. I was just excited about giving this present to her at school the next day.

I usually took the Mississauga transit to school. This particular morning, however, my dad decided to give me a ride. He worked as a courier and drove a silver Datsun at the time. They don’t even make Datsun anymore, they are called Nissan now.

I had the present in my hand on the ride to school. When my dad dropped me off, I grabbed my lunch box and my bag and headed to class. When I got to class and saw her I opened up my bag to get the present, but it wasn’t there. I searched that bag completely, but nothing. Then I checked my lunch box thinking maybe I put it in there, but it wasn’t. Then I checked my coat pockets, still nothing. Then I went through and checked my bag, my lunch box and my coat pockets a second time thinking maybe I was losing my mind. I could not find that present, it was gone.

I knew for a fact I had it when I was in the car, so as soon as class let out for recess I retraced my steps. I walked from class, back toward Vista Boulevard. I searched along the path on both sides. When I got to the road I looked all over including the street itself. I searched around that area, but it wasn’t anywhere to be found.

I stood there dejected. I could not believe I would go to all that trouble to wrap a present only to lose it. I was almost certain that I had that present when I got out of the car, but I thought maybe there was a chance it dropped in the car when I was getting out.

That night when I got home I searched my dad’s car. I checked the seats, beside the seats, under the seats, in the glove compartment. I tore that car up looking for that present, but it wasn’t there. Finally, I gave up.

Some time after that, maybe a few weeks, maybe a few months, I went somewhere with my dad. He got out of the car to do something, maybe to use a bank machine, who knows. I was sitting in the car by myself. I opened up the compartment between the front seats and when I looked inside, there was that present!

I pulled it out, looked at it and read the writing on the top, “To my Teddy Bear Neve.”

I was so happy it was found. I’m not sure if I told her about that present or not, but at least now I had it again. Now I could finally give it to her!

When my dad got back to the car I was really happy. I asked my dad, “Hey dad, where did you find this?”

He said, “Oh I remember that. That’s the present you gave me one day. You left it in the car. I was having such a bad day when you did that it really cheered me up. I really appreciated you doing that. Thanks son.”

The smile was now gone from my face.

“You’re welcome.”

Growing up I knew my father was both violent and unstable. One minute he could be super happy and the next he would go ape shit. Sometimes you would say something with good intentions not even realizing he would take offence and instantly he would come down on you like a ton of bricks. Other times you wouldn’t even have to say anything at all, the car in front of you would lane change with no turn signal and then all hell would break lose. This was one of those rare occasions when, even at that young age, I could foresee the sheer hell I would bring upon myself if I dared burst his bubble.

If he wanted to think that gift was for him, he could have it.

Still, it bothered my conscience knowing that he believed something that was not true. Then I read it again, “To my Teddy Bear Neve.”

I read that inscription over and over. How in the hell could he possibly think it was for him? Her name was right on it. Then I thought maybe the confusion would be cleared up if he took the time to read what it said. I handed the gift to him as he drove down the road.

“Did you read what it says?”

He took the gift and read aloud, “To my Teddy Bear. That’s really sweet son.”

Ugh! I just couldn’t let it go. I was toying with my life by pushing the subject, but it really bothered me that he thought that gift was for him.

“Is that all it says?”

“Well I couldn’t read the last part. I think maybe you spelled something wrong.”

Good Grief. My dumb ass dad thought I spelled something wrong. He didn’t realize that Neve was the name of a girl in my class. At that point he asked me, “What was that supposed to say?”

The temptation to tell him the truth was there, but I knew my father. I could envision my lifeless corpse being dragged by a rope behind a beat to shit silver Datsun at 120 km/h down the 401.

After a long pause I said, “I don’t remember.”

Then instead of putting that present back in the compartment between the front seats where it would be out of sight and out of mind, he tossed it in one of the open slots under the dashboard where it was easily visible. He never opened that gift. He never took it out of his car. That present stayed in that slot for years like some cheesy picture pinned to the refrigerator with a magnet.

Every time we went anywhere in that car, I would look at that present and cringe. That Datsun did not have air conditioning and in the summer I could imagine that chocolate melting away inside the foil wrapper and rotting. It really bothered me that my dad thought it was for him.

What a dumb ass.

House of Hammonds

One year our teacher wanted us to work on a project in groups of three. Although I may have been fun to play with on the playground, nobody wanted to group with me on this project, because I was so lazy with school work. Larry and Brian tried to get away with doing the project as a couple….umm….I mean a pair.

The teacher was adamant about having us work in groups of three so she stuck me with those two. Or she stuck those two with me, either way, we were now a threesome. It did work out well in one respect. The three of us lived close to each other so we could easily get together after school to work on that project.

One night after school the three of us were at Larry’s house. We were in his living room for the first little while. We watched the beginning of Star Wars with this crazy VCR he had. It was the first VCR I had ever seen. It had this slot that you would feed these big square plastic disks into. The machine would take a while to load the contents of the disk into memory and then you could eject the disk and watch the movie. This was before VHS and Beta.

I’ve tried to find a machine like that on the History of the VCR website, but I can’t find anything that looks like the one I remember him having. I’m curious to know what that was.

We eventually turned the movie off and went upstairs to his bedroom to work on our project. Brain and Larry wanted this to be their show. Those two didn’t want me grouping with them and they basically told me to sit there and not get in the way. They promised me some easy bit part, which was okay with me.

Their grand plan for this project was to reenact a scene from the John Travolta musical Greece.


Larry and Brian both sat cross legged facing each other. Larry had his back to the bedpost at the foot of his bed and he was facing the door of his room. Brian was facing toward Larry’s bed. I was lying on the floor off to the side, facing more in Larry’s direction. These two were reading from this Greece lyrics book. They were looking into each other’s eyes and singing to each other. I’m biting my lip as these two are having a moment.

That’s when Larry’s sister Karen walked into the room. Karen was Larry's younger sister and she went to Vista Heights with us. When Karen walked in, she started to be a pest the way all little sisters can be when they want attention.

“What are you guys doing? Can I play? Can I watch? I want to watch. Can I?”

Larry and Brian just ignored the poor girl, which I thought was rude. Karen was always nice to me. She said hi. I said hi back. We talked for a bit. I sure wasn’t into those two guys and their John Travolta love affair.

It wasn’t long though before Karen wanted to get her big brother’s attention again. She began to pester and when she wasn’t getting his attention she began flashing us. At first she just lifted her top, which is nothing for a girl her age. When that didn’t work she started to show off her bottom. She had my attention. Larry and Brain still wouldn’t even look.

Next she started flashing the other side. I’m all out gawking. Those two just kept singing to each other and reading from this lyrics book. Finally Karen stripped completely naked, got up on Larry’s bed and started jumping up and down like it was a trampoline.

I can understand Larry not being interested. This was his sister after all. To a point I could understand Brian not watching, because he was trying to be polite. But these two were so lost in each other’s eyes they seemed oblivious to what she was doing. I had to pinch myself to keep it together.

Then Larry said he needed to get another book and he would be right back. He stood up, walked out of his room and went downstairs.

Finally! With brother gone I thought Brian and I could be guys for a minute. Karen is still jumping up and down on Larry’s bed stark naked, but Brian wouldn’t take his eyes off that John Travolta book!

That’s when I reached out with my hand and started to knock on Brian’s head like it was a door.

“Are you home?”

He pushed my hand away and said, “Stop that! Yes, I can see!”

“But you’re not looking”

That’s when Brian gave me a tongue lashing. He said something about how I was only encouraging her by watching.

“Oh, I see. So what you’re saying is that if I keep watching her, she’ll keep doing this. But, if I close my eyes for a second, or look away, she’ll get dressed and leave.”


“I see.”

[Long Pause]

“So just to clarify, what you’re saying is that I should not be giving her my full undivided attention. Is that right?”

That’s when Brian said, “M. You’re such an ass!”

That may have been true of me at times, but I had never seen a stripper before. Considering I was only 6 or 7, I was rather entertained.

Then Larry came back into his room.

I could understand Larry pretending that his sister wasn’t naked and jumping on his bed when he was sitting down, because he had his back to his bed and couldn’t really see. You would think the sound of bed springs breaking right beside his ear may have tipped him off that something going on. His sister’s clothes lay on the floor beside him.

But now Larry was walking back into his room. He could not avoid seeing her. She was right in front of him. I thought he would say something to her, but he didn’t. He walked over to his spot. He turned around. He sat down cross legged facing Brain and opened this new book like nothing was happening.

Then Brian made some comment to Larry about how I was gawking at his sister.

Larry turned to me and made some comment about how I was only encouraging her by watching. So I said to Larry, “If your sister is doing this and it bothers you, why don’t you ask her to stop?”

That’s when Larry told me it didn’t bother him. Then he began to lecture me. He explained that in their household it was a perfectly natural thing for their family members, mother, father, sister and brother to walk around the house naked in full view of each other when it pleased them to do so. He was very serious about that. He then explained that I was not behaving properly by looking.

I thought I was in the twilight zone!

I grew up in a very strict, very Conservative, very prudish household. My view of the world was about as narrow as a strip of dental floss. The concept of alternative lifestyles was foreign to me. For me to be holed up in a bedroom with two gay guys, a nymphomaniac sister bouncing on a bed, in the household of a clothing optional family, was too much. Then to be told that I am the one that’s misbehaving by simply being there and bearing witness to this?

I was like a fish out of water. My poor brain was fried.

It was not as though I could talk about stuff like this with my parents either. I had no relationship with them growing up. If I had mentioned this to my parents my mom would have called in an exorcist and my dad would have tried to beat the memory from my mind. The only people I could count on for guidance was my friends from school.

The next day I took the early bus to school. I was there long before anyone else arrived. Right after I got there, Sammy Maltby showed up. When I saw him I asked why I didn’t see him on the bus. He and I usually took the same bus to school. He mentioned that sometimes his mother would give him a ride to school on the way to work, if he was up early enough.

For Maltby to have arrived early to school that day was perfect! Of all the people I would have wanted to talk to about this, it was him, because if it had to do with sex, or girls, or sex with girls, you had his attention. Any other subject and you would have to worry about him zoning out.

Maltby had this eccentricity where, if you were talking to him about a subject that was boring, he would zone out. One minute you would be talking to him. Then his eyes would drift off to the right side of your head. He would stare off into the distance. His head would cock ever so slightly. His mouth would be slightly agape, and he would be gone into his happy place.

Nothing would bring him back either.

When he zoned out you could run around him in circles, do jumping jacks, snap your fingers inches from his face, but you would get no response. You just had to wait. Two or three minutes later he would shake his head with a blink and look at you. Then he would say, “Did I do it again?”

It was funny when he did that.

As I told him the story of the night before he laughed hysterically. He didn’t zone out this time. He laughed from beginning to end. When I was done explaining I asked him, “Am I the crazy one?”

He couldn’t even answer he was laughing so hard. I had a feeling he was imagining himself in the same situation, his brain frying the same way.

Oh, how I wish Maltby was there instead of Brian that night. I wouldn’t have had to listen to Larry lecture me, because he would have been bound, gagged and locked in a closet. We could have watched Karen put on a show in peace and quiet. I bet we would have had popcorn too.

A little while later Robert Dykeman showed up at school and we filled him in on what happened. He got a good laugh as well. I’m not sure who else heard that story, but eventually we went to class.

About an hour or two into class, the teacher was up at the blackboard teaching a lesson. She was writing on the chalkboard when out of nowhere a burst of laughter came from the back of the room. It was Maltby. He was sitting at the back of the room by himself laughing. He had zoned out and he was thinking about something funny.

He laughed so hard he fell onto the floor on the left side of his chair. There were a few giggles as the kids in the class looked to the back of the room. Our classmates looked on wondering what had gotten into him. Dykeman and I shot each other a look. We knew what he was laughing at.

The teacher at the blackboard stopped writing as she waited for him to stop. He couldn’t stop. He was in his happy place. He just rolled around on the ground laughing. At one point the teacher looked at her watch, wondering when it would end. He was still rolling around laughing. There were big smiles all around. Then Maltby, still laughing, started to feel around for his chair. He couldn’t even see he was laughing so hard. He finally felt his chair and started to pull himself up on it. Then he grabbed a hold of his desk.

As he was pulling himself up, the teacher asked, “Y a-t-il quelque chose de drôle, monsieur Maltby?”

Just then he took a firm grip of his desk. With all his strength he pulled himself up so that all you could see from the front of the room was his head come up over his desk like some kind of hilarious giggling whack-a-mole. Still laughing with tears in his eyes he nodded his head and said, “Oui, Madame.” Then he fell backwards on the floor again.

At this point the class erupted into laughter. The teacher realized she lost control and went to sit at her desk. That was so funny. He laughed so hard that day he pulled a muscle in his stomach that was sore for a long time after. If ever there was an inside joke, to be on the inside of, that was the one.

I still laugh when I think of that.

The Birthday Party

The only time I remember going to a girl’s birthday party as a kid, was when I was a student at Vista Heights. I can’t remember what year it was, but I’ll never forget the party itself. It was an unforgettable experience to say the least.

One of the girls in my class gave me an invitation card. She was someone in my class I liked a lot and I wanted to go. I remember asking her what she wanted for a birthday present and she told me, “any kind of jewelry.” I got a good laugh at that. I didn’t think I could pull that off, but I promised I would do my best.

I remember my parents giving me a ride to her house. I was sitting in the middle seat in the back of the car. I have no idea where that girl lived, but it seemed like we drove forever to get to her house. It was nowhere near Vista Heights. Nor was it in Meadowvale.

On the ride there I was holding her present in my lap. I didn’t have a VISA card back then so I was at my parent’s mercy for a present. They had gone out and bought her gift and wrapped it before I could even see it. I remember the gift was square, like the shape of a book, but it was bendable.

I knew this girl well enough to know that you could have given her one pink sock in a brown paper bag and she would have hugged you and said she loved it, but I had a crush on her and I wanted her to get something nice. I agonized over what that present was the whole way to her house. I kept holding it up to the light, hoping to figure it out.

I asked my parents to tell me what that present was, but they wouldn’t say. They just told me, “You’ll see when she opens it.”

“Well by then it’s kind of too late isn’t it?”

They didn’t respond and I was getting worried.

“Can we stop by the jewelry store on the way? I know what she wants for her birthday. She told me.”

I’m not sure why my parents laughed at that. I wasn’t kidding.

On the birthday invitation it said that we were encouraged to bring Halloween costumes if we had them. I remember thinking that was very odd. I didn’t even have a Halloween costume, because Halloween was still a month away. I decided to improvise and I brought a cowboy hat and a scary mask that I had left over from my Halloween costume the year before.

When I knocked on the door I was wearing the mask and the cowboy hat. Someone let me in and I could see that most of the people from the party were already there. And much to my surprise….none of them were wearing Halloween costumes!

I remember slowly taking off this mask and this cowboy hat, putting them together, tossing them to my left as I walked in the door, and trying my very best to pretend that embarrassing moment never happened. All I could think at that point was how lucky it was that I wasn’t wearing a full body costume that I had to take off. That would have been completely humiliating.

When the birthday girl saw me, she came and greeted me at the door.

“Come, I want you to meet somebody.”

She took me into her kitchen and a man was standing at the counter cutting something with a knife. He had his back turned to us. She tugged on his pant leg and said, “Daddy, daddy.” As he turned around she said, “Look daddy. It’s my boyfriend M.”

I was maybe 6 or 7? I was thunderstruck!

Don’t get me wrong, I liked this girl a lot. But, I had a brother who was ten and a half years older than me. He was already dating and he told me many horror stories about the fathers of his girlfriends. I imagined them all to be ill tempered nut cases, like my own father. Those stories were very fresh in my mind when the birthday girl introduced me like that. Panic set in.

I remember she had a big smile on her face when she said that. Her dad seemed to be projecting a pleasant appearance for the benefit of his daughter, but I got the feeling he was not altogether pleased to hear that.

“Oh, this is the boy you’ve been telling me about,” he said with a giant knife in his hand.

Telling me about? What? Considering all I ever did in school was get into trouble, I couldn’t imagine what she could have told him that was good. I was scared out of my wits. At that point he leaned over and shook my hand. He was talking all nice, but the look in that man’s eyes and the firmness of his handshake had me convinced I was going to die that day!

From that point on I have only patchy memories of things that happened during the party. I remember the birthday girl opening her presents, but I can’t remember what my present to her was. I remember us lying down on our stomachs together in her living room, she was lying on my right side and we were coloring together in a coloring book. I also remember some guy at the party brought my mask and cowboy hat downstairs and suggested I put it on and hide in the closet to try and scare her. It didn’t scare her at all and she just pulled me out of the closet and asked me not to go in there anymore.

One thing I remember more vividly than anything else was this one birthday game we played. Her dad had taken this sheet of clear plastic and laid it out on the floor in their basement. On that sheet of plastic he had made something of a hopscotch course with chicken’s eggs. On one step there would be an egg on the left, then the next step there would be one the right. Then the egg would be on the left for the next two steps, then on the right for the next two, and it was all mixed up as you went along this course.

The point of this game was that you would get a minute or two to memorize the placement of the eggs, and then they would lead you away to a room, blindfold you, bring you back, and make you walk this course in your socks.

Yeah, this is a fantastic game to play with kids at a birthday party.

I remember standing there staring at this sheet of plastic with all those eggs. On the one hand I was trying to memorize the placement, but on the other hand I was thinking, “Surely to God they’re not really going to make us go through with this.”

Her dad was standing beside me while we stood there memorizing the pattern of eggs. I asked him, “Sir, aren’t you worried you may get egg yolk on your carpet?”

Underneath that sheet of clear plastic, he had wall-to-wall carpeting.

He told me, “Don’t worry son, you won’t get egg yolk on my carpet.”

“Are you sure? These eggs are awfully close to the edge of the plastic. I’m thinking you may get egg yolk on your carpet.”

Again he told me, “Don’t worry son, you won’t get egg yolk on my carpet.”

At this point I was getting kind of testy and I said, “How can you not? If someone steps on an egg, the yolk is going to squirt out and it’s definitely going to get on your carpet.”

He said, “Son. If you get egg yolk on my carpet I can always get a steam cleaner and wash it out. But don’t worry. You won’t get egg yolk on my carpet.”

I couldn’t help but wonder why he kept saying I wouldn’t get egg yolk on his carpet. Did he have faith in my ability to remember the placement of the eggs? Was he planning to blindfold me, kill me, and bury me in the backyard, because his daughter introduced me as her boyfriend? Why did he keep saying that?

I just didn’t want to go through with this. As if I wasn’t self conscious enough being at the birthday party of a girl I liked. Now I was imagining myself stepping in egg yolk. Then I would have to go to the bathroom to take my dripping socks off to wash my feet. Then I would spend the rest of the day walking around her house barefoot. It was a humiliating thought. And that was assuming those were fresh eggs on the ground and not eggs that had been sitting in a cupboard for a few months!

Finally they led us away to this other room. (More like a holding cell) They brought kids out one by one like little lambs to the slaughter. Each time they would bring someone out, the rest of us would put our ears to the door to listen in. We could hear the crunching of egg shells. We could hear kids whimpering. We could hear other kids laughing from the sidelines. It was like standing outside of a torture chamber, you can hear the screams of the person being tortured on the inside, while you wait patiently for your turn to be tortured next. It was a train wreck.

Then they finally bring me out blindfolded. Lucky me, I was one of the last to go, so now all the kids from the party are on the sidelines getting ready to laugh. I remember holding a lady’s arm. You can’t see anything, so you need to hold onto something for balance and direction as you walk along this course.

What you don’t realize though as you walk along this sheet of plastic, is that after they take everyone into the other room, they removed all the chicken’s eggs and replaced them with these little piles of dry granola. So when you step on it, it sounds like the crunching of egg shells, but in reality you can just brush the crumbs off your socks and there’s no harm done. The other thing they had done was, starting at about the forth or fifth step, they had reversed the placement in two or three places. So if you went according to memory, you were guaranteed to step in it, with both feet, at least once.

As I go along, everything is fine for the first few steps. After all, Sir said I wouldn’t get egg yolk on his carpet. I gain a little confidence and start stepping with a little more authority, and then crunch!

I stop, and think, “Hey that’s not supposed to be there!” Then I take another step and crunch! “Hey that’s not supposed to be there either!”

At that point I freeze and think, “Oh, I know what they’ve done. They’ve just reversed the placement for the rest of the course.” So then I step on the spot I think the egg is and crunch! Now I’m thinking, “What did they do? Have they placed eggs on both sides for the rest of the course?”

Meanwhile this lady whose arm I’m holding on to is whispering in my ear, “Oh you’re doing fine, just keep going.”

I start whimpering, “Oh, okay.”

Crunch, crunch…

At this point I’m in full blown panic mode, so I drop this lady’s arm. I run to the end, whip off my blindfold and look at my socks……then I look back at the course. All the kids are laughing. That’s when you realize you’ve been had.

Like I said….It was an unforgettable party.

She Loathes Me, She Loathes Me Not

The grudge Suzy Merk held against me for spying on her lasted all through grade 1. Every day she pretended I did not exist.

When we came back to school in grade 2 the same class was together again. I figured Merk had a whole summer to get over it, so when we arrived back in school I walked up to her and said hello. She completely ignored me. I tried talking to her. She simply walked away.

I was in disbelief.

She really was determined never to talk to me again. It bothered me. I thought Suzy was a nice girl. She had good reason to be mad at me for spying. I did feel bad for what I had done, but I wanted it to end.

I didn’t just want her to forgive me. I wanted to earn her forgiveness. That first month back, I did the same thing as the year before. I put her chair up so the custodian could sweep and mop. I brought her chair back down again the next morning. After a week of doing that she still acted like I didn’t exist. I gave up again.

When the same class reunited at the beginning of grade 3, she walked right past me. Trying to say hi to her seemed pointless, so I didn’t bother. I did, however, take part in the ritual with the chair again that year. At the end of school I put up her chair and the next morning I brought it back down.

One day when I put her chair up after school, she turned to me and said, “Thank you.”

I was flabbergasted.

“Oh my God, you said thank you. You talked to me. Hey guys did you hear that? She said thank you! To me! I think we’re making progress here!”

My classmates had been watching our feud from the sidelines for years and when that happened they started laughing.

Then Merk called me a jerk and went home.

I put her chair up two more times after that, but when she ignored me both times, I gave up again.

The Pyramid Game

My favorite subject in school was math. Most of that subject was memorization, and the ability to remember things was my gift.

Our grade 3 teacher had decided to play a game to help us learn the times tables. She drew a pyramid on the blackboard and sectioned it off so that at the top of the pyramid was one slot. The next tier down would have two slots. The next tier would have four and so on. All the slots were filled in with the initials of each student.

Then the teacher would start at the bottom of the pyramid. She would offer each student the chance to challenge someone else from a higher tier. Those two students would square off and do a best of nine lightning round with flashcards. The teacher would hold up a card, say 9 x 3, and then she would lay it on the desk in front of the student who would be the first to answer ‘vingt-sept’. Naturally, each student would pick on the person they thought they had the best chance of beating.

It worked out that we had two students in our class with the same initials, but the teacher never felt the need to differentiate between the two. Poor Sammy Maltby, who could only count with his fingers, was always sucking wind on the bottom row. Suzy Merk was always on the second tier right below the top slot. Right above her in that top slot was her nemesis. Me.

It didn’t matter how much school I missed for health reasons. It didn’t matter how many times I was told to stand in the hall or go to the principle’s office. It didn’t matter that I never did homework, or assignments. My ability to recall things from memory was my gift. Back then I could spit out an answer as quickly as the teacher could flash the card. Merk never had a chance. I would humiliate her in that game every time and she hated it.

Since nobody could knock me out of that top slot, the teacher finally decided to reset the board. The class sat quietly as she erased all the slots and wrote all the initials back on in a different order. She wrote my initials on last. When she placed me on the bottom row, the class cheered.

As I worked my way back up to the top that week, an opportunity came for me to challenge my good friend Maltby. It was not a fair contest. He could not count unless he used his fingers. The teacher could put up an easy card like 6 x 2 and he would have to count un, deux, trois all the way to douze with his fingers. It was hopeless.

When we squared off, the first card the teacher pulled from the box was 9 x 12. A groan went through the class. The teacher had never thrown up a card with a number in the double digits before. Maltby went to work counting with his fingers. The teacher could see the answer on the back of the card and when she heard the class grown she looked at the front. She thought for a second and then decided that one was too hard, but in the few seconds it took her to hesitate before putting the card back in the box, I spit out the answer.

“Cent huit”

Another groan went through the class when I got it. Even the teacher seemed surprised. Maltby was still counting it out on his fingers. He zoned out.

The teacher threw up the next card and then the next. I kept rattling off answers. On my left Maltby was audible.

“Quarante-deux, quarante-trois, quarante-quatre…”

On my right I’m watching the cards come up, on my left I’m watching Maltby work on 9 x 12. His fingers were flying. He was in his happy place.

“Soixante-sept, soixante- huit, soixante-neuf…”

When the round ended, there were nine cards lying on the desk in front of me. The teacher gathered them up. There was no need to tally them. Maltby was still going on the first card. You could see he was getting excited.

“Soixante-dix-neuf, quatre-vingts, quatre-vingt-un…”

The teacher was being very quiet as not to disturb him. I turned around to look at my classmates behind me. Everyone in the room was all smiles trying to contain themselves. A few giggles went out from people that couldn’t hold it in. Maltby was really getting excited.

“Quatre-vingt-quinze, quatre-vingt-seize, quatre-vingt-dix-sept…”

His eyes were as wide as saucers as he counted the last few numbers. He looked like he was on the verge of an orgasm. He whispered the last few numbers as if he wanted to keep them a secret, so as not to give the final answer away. When he finally reached his climax he jumped out of his chair and hollered, “Cent huit!”

The class erupted into laughter.

At that point his smile disappeared and he got all serious.

“Quoi? C’est cent huit. N’est-ce pas?”

Then he turned to the teacher. “Madame?”

Someone from the class told him, “Yes Sammy, the answer was 108. A year ago.”

Getting to First Base

One day at lunch we were sitting around and talking about having a kissing contest. That sounded interesting, so I asked what we should make for the rules. Someone explained the rules to me. Then I asked how we should decide who kisses who. Then someone explained that it was already decided who was kissing who.

As I sat there listening, I came to the realization that we were not in a planning phase. Everything about this contest had already been decided. The rules were already in place and who would be kissing who was established.

“When did all this get planned?”

“Just now in class”

I sat there at lunch retracing my steps. I was not standing in the hall or visiting the principle that morning. I was in class the whole time. Now I was bothered. Usually when things went down in that class I was at the forefront of planning it or at very least I was in the loop. For the first time I felt like I was on the outside looking in.

Then to my amazement I heard Larry bemoaning the fact that he had to kiss Neve, as though someone had forced him with a double dare to do it! I would have gladly jumped in to bail him out except that Neve was whining that she wanted to kiss Maltby. WTF!

My heart was pounding in my chest. Where the hell was I when this was being planned?

I knew why Larry didn’t want to kiss her. The look on Brian’s face said it all. Brian was trying to be brave, but behind that poker face he was just as jealous as I was.

This was when I realized for the first time that while Neve and I were very good friends, that is all we were. She had a thing for Maltby. I was also good friends with Maltby and I knew where his heart lay. It was not with her. There were hurt feelings all around.

If I had any balls at that point I would have set Neve straight and told her exactly how I felt, but listening to her moan about how she wanted to kiss Maltby was like a slap in the face.

Then someone suggested I should trade sandwiches with Larry. I had peanut butter and Jam for lunch every day. I really wouldn’t eat anything else. I can’t remember if Maltby suggested it, because he wanted to win, or if Brian did to ease his pain. It could have been Larry himself not wanting to kiss Neve that made the suggestion, but whoever it was I did it gladly. I figured maybe I could stop this from happening or at least make it end quickly.

Larry passed me his sandwich and I took a bite. It was two kinds of deli meat, with mustard on white bread. If his goal in trading sandwiches with me was to gross out Neve, he really should have eaten his own sandwich. It was so disgusting I ended up throwing it out. Fortunately, I had no appetite anyway.

Out on the playground the teams squared off. I don’t remember much about the contest itself. I remember where on the school grounds we had it. I remember where I was standing in relation to everyone else. I did not take part. Merk was there and she also did not take part. I remember walking up to her before the contest. I planned to say something to her, but I don’t remember if I did. She would not have answered me anyway.

The contest itself was over pretty quick.

It did bother me that Neve kissed Larry that day. If there was one thing I could take solace in, it was the fact that Neve kissed a guy from our class that was


That kissing contest was not Maltby’s only invention to help break the ice between the guys and girls in that class. His most brilliant scheme involved a game he devised over at the baseball diamond.

The rules were simple. The girls would run around the diamond. They would have to stay on the area that marked the infield. They could not go out of bounds. Then we would chase them around the diamond, catch them and drag them back to the benches in the dugout kicking and screaming, where we would steal kisses from them and do other things…….


It was brilliant.

But of course Maltby was not a complete womanizer. He was a humanist and an equal opportunity molester as well. We would give the girls a chance to chase us around the diamond and then we would let them have their way with us when we got caught.

That was even more fun, because we could easily keep our distance on the girls. What a crazy coincidence too. Every time one of the pretty girls in our class got close we would fake an ankle sprain and limp over to the dugout pretending to be in pain. The exception to the rule of course was Jason Ashton. He was not athletic at all. Doctors had inserted tubes in his ears to treat repeated ear infections that affected his balance and coordination. That poor kid got ravaged by every duck in our class.

The only girl in our class that could catch us unassisted was Eugenie Fitzgerald. She was tall and had long legs. She could run almost as fast as any guy. She was also as cute as a Royal Doulton china doll, with a sexy mouth and pouting lips. We didn't have to fake any ankle sprains with her.

I only remember bumping into Maltby a few times after I stopped going to Vista Heights. One time I ran into him was when I was in my teens. It was at the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto of all places. We got to talking about the good old days when we used to chase the girls around the baseball diamond. That brought back a lot of happy memories for him.

“I remember that! Remember that time when…..” and he went on to tell me a story that was so X rated I recoiled in horror.

“No, I certainly do not remember that.”

“No, weren’t you there?”

He had forgotten that I stopped going to that school at the end of grade 4. When I reminded him of that, he said, “Oh N! You missed the good stuff.”

Apparently I did. By the sounds of it, there wasn’t a virgin left in that French Immersion class by the end of grade 6. The parents of those grade school kids would have screamed bloody murder if they knew what was going on at that baseball diamond.

Robert Dykeman

One of my two closest guy friends at Vista Heights was Robert Dykeman. It was a kid’s thing to do that whenever we played hockey, we would pretend we were some player from the NHL. The player he always chose to be was Mike Bossy of the New York Islanders. He preferred Mike Bossy, over Gretzky, because the great one was a wuss.

He also had a big brother that went to that school. His brother would have been in grade 6 when we were in grade 1 or 2. One time we were playing British Bulldog and he ran past me not thinking I would even try for him. I kicked his leg out as he went by. He stumbled about 10 feet before landing on his chest. When I tagged him he got up laughing all the way. He was a good sport about it and shook my hand. What an ego boost. His brother was a very big boy.

For lunch sometimes Dykeman and I would go to the hill. There was a hill in a field just outside of the school grounds on the side of the school where the water tower used to be. That field has since been developed with houses and it appears from the satellite image that the water tower is now gone.

Sometimes we would go to his house for lunch or meet up there before school in the morning. He was one of the first to have an Atari 2600. That was an uber rig back in the day and we would play Asteroids or Missile Command.

One tradition we had in the first month or two of school was to have chestnut fights. There were a few trees in the town of Streetsville that would drop chestnuts. Everyone would get a dozen or so, and bore holes in the middle. We would run a shoe lace through the hole and take turns whacking each other’s chestnuts until they broke off the string. One year it seemed like there were no nuts dropping from any of the trees in town so we couldn’t play. Then one day for show and tell, Dykeman brought a rope a mile long with chestnuts stretching one end to the other. That’s when we figured out where all the chestnuts went that year.

One year Dykeman got it in his head that he wanted to assert his position as class tough guy so he picked a wrestling match with me, then Remi Kaiserman, and then Gerard Real. There was really no need to do that, the issue was not in dispute. Dykeman was the class tough guy hands down. Doing that to Gerard Real was not nice either. Gerard was big, but he was too nice to ever fight anyone.

It's Pronounced Neve

"The first time I ever screamed at someone was in a scene, and I'd never screamed at someone in my life." - Neve Campbell

Neve and I were good friends in school. She was the type that was always concerned for others and wanted to be on good terms with everyone. We never fought. We never argued.

The closest we ever came to arguing was the year we learned each other’s middle names. She made the point that her middle name was easy to remember on account of the movie Rocky which had been out for a few years. In it, Sylvester Stallone calls out to his wife, “Adrian? Adrian?” It made remembering her middle name really easy.

After that we took to scolding each other for everything. She would shoot me a dirty look and I would scowl at her and say,

“Neve Adrianne Campbell, don’t you look at me like that!”

She would return fire, “MSN, don’t you talk to me that way!”

It would go back and forth, but it was all in good fun.

There was only ever one time when she lashed out at me. I believe it was in grade 4. One day she arrived in class and I greeted her.

“Good Morning, Nevie.”

She walked right past me to her desk, turned her back to me, crouched down and started looking through her bag.

There was a long silence. I was pretty sure I spoke loud enough for her to hear me, but on the off chance I didn’t, I repeated myself.

“Good Morning, Nevie.”

She just kept looking through her bag and ignoring me.

The last time I talked to her before that was after class the day before. I said goodbye to her when her dad picked her up. She was in a good mood then. Nothing could have happened in the meantime that would give her reason to be upset with me. If something was wrong, it would be nice to know, so I could make amends.

Finally I asked her, “Are you ignoring me?”

At that point she stopped looking through her bag. She stood up. She spun around and she screamed at me, “My name’s Neve! It’s pronounced Neve! It’s not Nevie! It’s not Nevster! It’s Neve. I hate it when people call me Nevie!”

Then she stormed out of the room.

I just stood there stunned and feeling like crap. My classmates were looking at me and we were all wondering the same thing. “What the hell was that all about?”

For her to do that was peculiar for two reasons.

First, she had never yelled at anyone before. This girl was so sweet and shy. She worried constantly about how people viewed her. For her to throw a tirade like that was completely out of character for her.

Secondly, we had been calling her Nevie since kindergarten. It wasn’t just a few students either. It was everyone, teachers and students alike. Since when was her name pronounced Neve? That’s when someone suggested that maybe she got married the night before and had her given name changed. We all laughed about that.

When she returned to class, it was everything I could do to apologize. She was too important of a friend to let her be upset with me. After apologizing, I asked, “If your name was pronounced Neve, why didn’t you say anything all these years? We’ve been calling you that since kindergarten.”

Then she replied, “Well you all know Sammy hates being called Samuel, but you call him that anyway. I figured if I said something sooner, everyone would just keep calling me Nevie to bug me.”

She did have a point there.

Sammy Maltby’s legal name on his birth certificate and on all the school records was Samuel. When his mother signed him up for school she made the point of telling our teachers that he would start crying if anyone called him that, so she asked our teachers to call him either Sammy or Sam instead. When Sam introduced himself to us in kindergarten, he introduced himself as Sammy.

A year or two later we were in class and we had a substitute teacher. She was doing roll call and when she got to Sammy’s name she called out Samuel. Nobody answered.



When nobody answered, the kids in our class were all looking at each other and wondering who Samuel was. There was nobody in our class by that name. There was a Sammy, but….

That’s when we looked back at Sammy. His eyes were big and wide. His face was beet red, but he refused to answer. He figured if he didn’t reply he could still keep this a secret from us.

After roll call we started talking among ourselves.

“The teacher never called Maltby did she?”


“Who is Samuel?”

“No idea.”

Just then, Maltby got up out of his chair and went to talk to the teacher. Then he went back to his seat. We knew something was going on.

When the teacher left the classroom for something, a few of us went up to her desk to look at that attendance sheet. There it was. Samuel Maltby. We held up the attendance sheet and looked at him. He just sat there looking back at us.

“Oh guys! I didn’t want anyone to know that. Please don’t call me that.”

He was so embarrassed.

What made matters worse, was that Sammy Maltby was the class prankster. If anyone from that class were to bring a whoopee cushion to school or pull your chair away as you sat down, it was him. He terrorized us with his pranks. Now we had found his akiles heel and nothing bothered him more than being called Samuel.

While it is true that we called him Samuel at every opportunity in the days that followed, eventually the thrill of calling him that wore off and we went back to calling him Maltby, since we always referred to each other by our last names in that class. We did, however, keep it like a trump card in our back pockets in case his pranks started up. It was something we would use to keep him in his place.

Not only that, but Maltby was completely affable. We could bug him and he could take it. Not only could he take it, but he dished it out very well too. Nobody was ever cruel to him, nor did he go overboard with his pranks. It was all in good fun.

Neve, on the other hand, was fragile. She never insulted anyone, not even in fun and she never played pranks. She was always serious about everything. It was like walking on granola when you talked to her, because you knew it would take very little to hurt her.

I told Neve, “Yeah, but that’s Sammy. We like bugging him. We would never have called you that if we had known.”

Her reply, “Well you know now, so let’s see if that theory holds true.”

From that point on it became a point of honor that her name was pronounced Neve. Whenever anyone called her Nevie the class would go silent. The people standing closest to that person would start to tip toe away quietly as not to be standing to close when the lightning came from the sky and struck them down.

Whenever we had a substitute, someone would make a point of telling the teacher how to pronounce her name before roll call.

“See this girl? Yeah, her name is pronounced Neve, you have to say it Neve or she’ll ki…she’s gonna ki…...”

“You’ll die.”

“And then you’ll be dead.”

Ironically, the one person in the class who had the most trouble getting her name straight after that was our class scatterbrain, Maltby.

One day he went up to her and said, “Hey Nevie? I mean Neve. I mean……wait. Which one is it?”

Neve just stared at him and said, “Careful Sammy. We all know what you don’t like being called.”

Then Sammy replied, “Oh, I know……but I can’t remember…….oh!”

Then he ran away.

S & M

One of my two closest guy friends in grade school was Sammy Maltby. He was a happy-go-lucky prankster. You could tease him until the cows came home and he would never get mad. Everything bounced off of him.

He lived at home with his mother and step father. One year his step dad had bought him a single drum with the promise that if he practiced and got good, he would get a full drum set. Considering his fondness for young girls, drummer in a rock band would have been a perfect career choice for him. He was the horniest little grade school student I ever knew.

His favorite joke back in the day was one that his uncle had told him. It would begin with Maltby taking your hand and squeezing it until you cried out in pain. Then he would ask, “Do you feel the pain?” Next he would tell you to put your hand on the window and then he would ask again, “Do you feel the pane?”

When he first told me that joke I didn’t get it. He had to explain to me that a piece of glass is also called a windowpane. By the time he finished explaining it really wasn’t funny. He still laughed though. He loved that joke.

It’s not surprising that his favorite joke back then involved an element of pain either. His initials were after all S and M. It was a fact he took great pleasure in emphasizing by making a cracking of the whip sound. Whaaaapshhhhh.

One sad memory I have of him came one time after school. All the kids from our class that lived in Meadowvale were taking the transit bus home. Maltby’s bus stop was at the corner of Windwood Drive and Glen Erin Drive. That intersection had only stop signs back then for the east and westbound traffic on Windwood. It was an omission that led to a lot of car accidents and eventually those stop signs were replaced with a full set of traffic lights.

Everyone opened the windows on the bus and called out to him as the bus started to drive away.

“Goodbye Samuel! See you tomorrow Samuel!”

He got a big smile on his face and held his fist up in the air. Then he started to chase after the bus. He was running full tilt, but he got tunnel vision and didn’t see that the stop sign was right in front of him. He turned his head at the very last second before running into it face first. Then he dropped to the ground like a Raggedy Ann doll. Luckily an adult also got off at that stop and was able to help him.

It was the last time I ever remember calling him Samuel.

In Trouble Again

I remember the first time I ever got Neve into trouble at school. I'm not sure what I did. Our afternoon recess got cancelled and we both got detention. Our teacher also made us write 50 lines of whatever it was.

I know Madame Mocrie was our teacher at the time, because Madame Fisher would never have given Neve a detention. She could have set off a bomb at school and Madame Fisher would have yelled at me, “M, detention!” Giving me a detention was fair game, but giving Neve a detention was against the rules. For this we nick named our teacher Macreep.

The teacher left the room and we sat alone writing lines. We had finished about five to ten of them. Then Neve turned to me and said, “Hey M, I have an idea of how we can write these faster.”

I was all for anything that made punishment go by faster.


“Well instead of writing full sentences across the page we can just write the same word down the page.”

I was impressed when she said that. I could not believe that for all the times I got detention and for all the times I had to write lines, it never occurred to me to do them that way.

“That’s brilliant, Neve! This is going to make my life so much easier. I’m so glad I got you into trouble so that you could be here in detention with me.”

She beamed when I said that.

From that point on, we finished our lines by writing the same words in columns down the page. The problem with that of course, is that our handwriting was already bad enough at that age. When we wrote words in columns down the page they started to bend and shape. There would be big gaps between some words on some lines. The last few words of some sentences would have to be crammed in at the end. It was awkward, but we finished our lines before the end of recess.

When the teacher came back to the room, we went up to her desk and turned them in. She looked at them. Then she looked at us.

“Did you two write these out properly, or did you write the words in columns down the page?”

We both just stood there staring at the teacher. Neither one of us would answer.

After a long pause the teacher held the pages up in front of our faces so that we could look at them. It was so painfully obvious what we had done. The first five to ten lines were perfect. The rest of the page was a catastrophe. Neither one of us wanted to answer her, so we just stood there.

After another long pause the teacher took our pages and ripped them up right in front of us. Then she took some more foolscap off her desk.

She past us the paper and said, “Now then. You two are going to rewrite them. You are going to write them out properly this time. And instead of writing them 50 times, you’re going to write them 100 times.”

Then the teacher looked at the clock and said, “And recess is almost finished so there’s no time left to work on them. You two will have to take them home and do them as a homework assignment. Now take your seats.”

When we went to our desks, I sat in my chair. I folded my hands as if to pray. Then I looked heaven bound and said, “Dear God. I’m such a good little boy. I’m so well behaved. This girl is such a bad influence on me. Why do I hang around with her? Amen.”

The problem with me doing that of course is that Neve Campbell often failed to see the humor in things. She thought I was being serious when I did that. Not long after that she came up to me practically in tears. She kept apologizing.

“M, I’m so sorry.”

“Sorry for what?”

“I got our punishment doubled and I feel terrible and I’m so sorry I suggested that.”

She was literally begging me to forgive her. I could not believe she was serious, but she obviously was.

“Neve! We would not have even had to do lines in the first place if it had not been for me getting you into trouble. If anyone should be apologizing here it’s me.”

“I know, but I should never have suggested we do that and now I’ve just made matters worse and I feel just terrible. I’m so sorry.”

It was classic of Neve. She was always so concerned for others. She always wanted to be on good terms with people. She just melted your heart.

When I went home that night I stashed my foolscap in a good hiding place. Another thing I was always getting in trouble for was not doing homework. I could not take the chance of getting caught doing lines at home. Fire and brimstone would have rained down on me if my dad heard that I got in trouble at school.

The next morning I wrote some lines before heading to school. There was never anyone at home when I woke up in the morning. I wrote more lines at the bus stop. I wrote a few more as I bounced along on the transit bus on the way to school. By the time I got to school I had most of them done.

When I got to class Neve came and asked, “Did you finish your lines?”

“No not yet, but I’m almost done. How about you?”

“Yes, I finished them.”

Of course she did. She was a good little girl.

That’s when our conversation turned weird.

She asked me, “So, what did your dad say?”

I looked at her confused.

“What did my dad say? What did he say about what?”

“About the trouble we got into.”

“Well I didn’t tell him! I can’t tell my dad anything. He’d take out his belt and start thrashing me.”

Then she said, “Oh” and looked at me completely surprised.

I looked at her and I was completely surprised that she would even ask such a thing. Then I got curious.

“Did you tell your dad?”


At that point I was completely floored. I don’t remember what it is we did. I’m sure it wasn’t that bad, but it was definitely bad enough that it terrified me to hear that her dad knew about it.

“I can’t believe you would tell him. Why would you do that?”

“I tell my dad everything.”

I was blown away. It was one thing to get into trouble at school, but I was very concerned that I was getting her into trouble at home too. I also had another reason to worry. I was scared Mr. Campbell was going to tell his daughter that I was a bad influence on her and that he didn’t want her hanging around with me anymore.

“What did he say when you told him?”

“He said it was a bad thing to do and that we shouldn’t do again.”

“That’s it?”


I was in complete disbelief hearing that. The Campbell household sounded like an oasis of sanity. Obviously our fathers were not reading from the same child rearing textbooks. I envied the relationship she had with her dad. It was one of the many times in my life when I can remember thinking, “I’m not getting the same upbringing as everyone else.”

I pondered that for a while, but I had to ask what was really on my mind. “Did your father tell you we couldn’t hang out anymore?”

She laughed when I said that. “NO! He would never do that. My dad loves you.”

Mr. Campbell loves me? I was embarrassed to hear her say that. It was pretty strong language considering I only ever saw him when I would wait for her to get picked up after school.

To be fair though, I did like her dad. Any time I saw him after school picking up his daughter, he would call me Oor Wullie. Whatever she was telling him about me at the dinner table must have been really good stuff.

Oor Wullie

Merk’s Olive Branch

By the beginning of grade 4, I was fed up trying to get Merk to forgive me. It was a stupid grudge for a stupid thing that had gone on way too long. I decided I wasn’t even going to try and be nice to her anymore. There would be no ritual of the chairs this year. I had only apathy for her. Besides, I already had a girlfriend and it was Neve.

As the school year began we started learning long multiplication in Math class. That involves multiplying two numbers with multiple digits, for example 935 x 25. You do that by multiplying each digit from one number against each digit from the other number. Then you add the products of each to get a result.

All of a sudden I could not breeze by in math class, because it was no longer a question of memorization. Now you had to think. That was a lot more difficult.

After our teacher taught us how it was done, she wrote five sample problems on the blackboard for us to work on. She told us that when we had our answers we could come up to her desk and she would check them for us. I sat there struggling to figure them out. The kids around me seemed just as confused.

While I was still on the second problem, Merk got up and walked to the teacher’s desk. I was laughing under my breath. If I was struggling, she would have to be completely stumped. As I sat there watching with a smile, the teacher announced, “Class! Suzy a obtenu tous les cinq corrects! Suzy bien faite.”

A groan went through the class. She not only finished them, she got them all right. She walked past me on the way back to her desk. She shot me one of those 'in your face' looks, but said nothing.

In the days that followed, the teacher would again explain how to do long multiplication for those of us that were having trouble. She wrote more sample problems on the board. They were harder ones this time. Each time Merk was always first to the teacher’s desk with the answers and she always had them right.

Math was always my subject. Now it was personal.

I really wanted to find out how Merk was getting this so easily, so I asked Neve if she would find out for me. She didn’t want to go ask, but Holly Presley was willing to do it. Holly reported back that Merk had either taken summer school or spent the summer with a tutor, I can’t remember which.

That explained her advantage, but it still bothered me that Merk was besting me in math.

Then one day a crazy thing happened. Merk talked to me. I have no idea how this conversation started, but she actually talked to me. It was the first time we had talked since grade 1.

“Do you know why I hate you?”

“Yeah, cause I spied on you in the first grade. I remember.”

“No. That’s not it. I hate you, because you’re a goof off. Everything is a big game to you. You don’t even try in class. You skip school all the time….”

“You think I play hookey? I miss school all the time, because I’m sick.”

“That doesn’t matter. When you are here you do nothing. You never do homework. You make paper airplanes. You’re lazy. You cause trouble.” She continued, “I do try. I do go home and study. I do my homework, and every year I end up in the same class with you. It pisses me off that you get by so easily without trying. Imagine where you would be if you did try?”

The irony of being lectured by Merk that day was not lost on me. I had heard that speech a million times from my parents, my brother, my sister, teachers, the principle, hospital tutors, you name it.

When my report cards came out I would take them from the teachers hand and pass them to a classmate without even looking. Then I would say, “I bet you my report card says, ‘M doesn’t apply himself. He is not living up to his potential.’”

Then they would open up my report card and start reading. A few seconds later they would burst out laughing. I would ask them where it says that. They would show me my report card and point.

Merk may have been giving me the silent treatment for three long years, but that girl had been observing. In a way she was paying me a compliment as she talked down to me. I could really understand it from her point of view too. She did work hard in school and she never seemed to get rewarded for it. I felt bad for her.

I was quick to point out that I was not some kind of genius though. This new math we were learning was tripping me up. She seemed to be catching on quicker than anyone, even if I did know why. Then Merk did something that really floored me. She offered to help me.

Three years of treating me like I don’t exist and now she wants to tutor me? I could see right through what she was doing. All those years she felt like I was smarter than her and she resented it. Now she feels like she can negotiate a truce from her new found position of strength. That bothered me.

I may have been lucky enough to breeze through grade school without any effort, but it wasn’t like I was the top student in the class, except in math. I never looked down on anyone. I certainly never looked down on her. I tried everything to be her friend. Now after all these years she is acting like she wants to be mine, because she has an edge?

“No thanks. I’ll get it eventually. And I want you to know that while you were spending all summer learning math, I was outside everyday playing baseball. Maybe you should get a life.”

Then I walked away.

Whatever opportunity there was for us to bury the hatchet that day, I completely pissed it to the wind. To this day that is one of my life’s biggest regrets.

Frère Jacques

It was grade 3 or 4 when I did this. I was playing ice hockey the year it happened. Our teacher told us to bring our skates to school, because she was going to take us skating at Vic Johnston Arena. The morning of the skate I was getting dressed. I have no idea what possessed me to do this, but as I was putting my clothes on I put on a piece of hockey equipment. Then I slipped my pants on over top.

I was checking myself out in the mirror and it looked pretty good. It didn’t look noticeable and I figured I would get away with nobody at school knowing. Then again, I’m sure every girl that has ever stuffed their bra thought the same thing.

I went to school and all morning nobody noticed. That afternoon we went skating. We walked over to the arena. Still nobody was the wiser. When we got to the arena we started to put on our skates. Whereas most girls in our class wore a pair of white figure skates, Neve had brought a pair of hand-me-down hockey skates that belonged to her brother.

We were in the corridor by the canteen, on the other side of the glass from the rink itself, and I was lacing up her skates. The way you tie someone’s skates, if you’ve never done it, is you have them put their skate on your thighs, while the blade of the skate slides between your legs. Then you just pull the laces up, thread the top few eyes and tie it at the top.

After I laced up her first skate I opened my legs and her foot dropped to the floor. When she brought up her second skate for me to tie, she accidentally kicked me between the legs.

“I’m sorry.”

“No problem,” I said. Then I faked a little pain. I tried to downplay it as not to make too big of a deal in the hope that the subject would change quickly.

The problem, however, is that hockey skates have a steel toe to them, to protect against slap shots. When her skate made contact, it made this loud ‘konk’ sound like the sound of metal on plastic. It was so loud it seemed to echo off the walls. I tried my best to lace up her second skate and pretend it never happened.

“What was that sound?”

“What sound?”

When I looked at Neve she got this smile on her face that told me she knew, that I knew, that she knew, that I was hiding something. At that point she tried to gently kick me again with the toe of her skate as I was lacing it up. I grabbed her skate with both hands and held on for dear life as I looked up at her.

“What was that sound?”

“I didn’t hear anything”

We were both smiling at each other. It was obvious I was lying.

“Why is your face turning red?”

“My face is not turning red.”

“Yes it is. What is that?” Then she pointed.

I knew she would never let it go unless I told her. Nobody else from our class was nearby so I reluctantly filled her in. She got a very good laugh at my expense.

“Please promise me you won’t tell anyone.”

“M. You have my word I won’t tell a soul.”

“Thank you Neve.”

Not even two seconds later…

“Can I just tell one person?”


“Please, just one person.”


“Come on. I just want to tell Holly.”

“I would rather you take out a full page add in the Toronto Star than tell Holly.”

“Please she won’t tell anyone, I swear.”

“No, Holly won’t tell anyone. She’ll tell everyone. Please don’t.”

A little while later, Neve told Holly. Now I was sweating it.

I am convinced God put Holly Presley on the Earth for the same reason there are mosquitoes in Winnipeg, to get under people’s skin and annoy the hell out of them. That girl lived to push my buttons. When she got something on you she wouldn’t let it go until something new came along that she could bug you about instead. She was never cruel, but she was relentless. She got a rise out of making you squirm.

For the rest of that skate I squirmed.

At the very end of the skate Robert Dykeman found out. Dykeman also played hockey when we were students together. He played for a tiered team called the Terriers. He was a goaltender and he wore goalie skates which were not easy to skate on because they are sharpened a different way.

On the walk back to school he started singing Frère Jacques, which is a French bedtime song. Holly and Neve burst out laughing every time he sang it. Sammy Maltby however, was in the dark.

The arena was about a 45 minute walk from our school. We were halfway back. Dykeman had sung Frère Jacques about a dozen times. Holly and Neve had burst into laughter about a dozen times and Maltby was finally getting curious.

“Why does he keep singing Frère Jacques?”

Dykeman just said, “Oh no reason.”

Then he started singing again, “Frère Jacques, Frère Jacques. Dormez-vous, Dormez-vous. Sonnez les matines, Sonnez les matines, Ding Dang Dong, Ding Dang Dong.”

Neve and Holly kept laughing.

The closer we got to school, the more curious Maltby was getting.

“What’s so funny about that?”

Dykeman for his part kept getting more and more obvious. He kept emphasizing Jacques. Then he started pointing when he said it. Maltby was getting worried the girls were laughing at him. When Dykeman said Jacques and pointed, Maltby checked his zipper to make sure it was done up. That caused more laughter. I was just dying to get back to school and slip out of this thing.

When we finally reached the school grounds Maltby still hadn’t figured it out. Dykeman finally just blurted it out. “For crying out loud, N’s wearing a jock!”

At that point I ran into the school straight to the washroom and slipped it off. I got quite a ribbing over that for some time after.

Picture Day

Each year at Vista Heights we had picture day. We would get individual photos taken and there would be a class picture with all of us together. One year our teacher handed our pictures out near the end of class. I was never a big fan of picture day. I just checked my set of photos to make sure my hair wasn’t sticking up and I didn’t have red eye. Then I put them back in the envelope and tossed them in my bag.

Sammy Maltby came up to me with a worried look just then. He approached me with caution as though he thought I would be very upset about something. It was no secret that Neve and I were good friends. He was concerned.

He asked me, “Did you see the pictures?”

“Yeah, I saw them, why?”

“Did you notice?”

“Notice what?”

“Look again.”

I took the class photo out and looked at it. I was standing on the back row a little to the right, and pretty close to the middle. I took a close look at the guys standing on either side of me. Nothing seemed out of place.

“I don’t see anything,” I said.

That’s when Maltby said, “Look at Neve.”

When my eyes scanned down to the girls sitting on the front row, there was Neve. I noticed instantly. It felt like the wind had been knocked out of me.

Maltby read the expression on my face and said, “I know. What are we going to do?”

I shot a look to the back of the class. Neve was sitting there and putting on a brave face, but it was obvious she already knew. I could see a few guys in the class pointing and giggling, they seemed aware. Maltby and I sat down facing each other. Dykeman sat down on Maltby’s left, facing me as well. He already knew.

The three of us sat at the table thinking without saying a word. The dour look on our faces said it all. Neve really was an angel in that class. She was always so sweet and polite and shy. You never wanted to see her get hurt, but you knew this would hurt her. The silence between the three of us seemed to go on forever. Then Maltby finally broke the silence.

“Still……That is really hot!”

At that point Dykeman and I burst into laughter. Dykeman grabbed Maltby’s hand and started to shake it.

“Thank you Sammy.”

I also nodded and said thank you. In the deepest, darkest chamber at the back of our minds, you knew we were thinking that, but we were too ashamed to say it. Maltby had a way of always cutting through the bull and saying what was on our minds.

For all those years we always saw Neve in the most innocent light. But that day we saw her the way most people view her today. She was sexy beyond belief.

Dykeman made the point, “If she looks like that now, imagine when she turns 18?”

Maltby commented, “This girl could be in Playboy.”

I want to say at this point that Playboy comment really bothered me. I thought the idea of nude pictures of Neve available for purchase at the local corner store was disturbing. I was jealous enough knowing that one picture was in the hands of my classmates. I kept my feelings to myself though. I know Maltby was only making the broader point that Neve was a beautiful girl.

As we sat there spouting locker room language, an ear splitting cry went up from the back of the class. Neve’s head slammed down on her desk and she wrapped her arms around her head as if to hide herself from the world. Maltby and Dykeman had to turn around to witness that. I saw it unfold right in front of me.

When Maltby and Dykeman turned back in my direction the smiles were wiped clean from all our faces. There was no need to say it. We were ashamed for even thinking what we were thinking. At that point we were back to square one. What do we do?

That's when I walked over to Neve and sat down beside her. I sat with her more to keep her company than anything else. I wanted to console her, but how do you console someone after something like that? I loved that girl. It was heartbreaking to watch.

One of the girls in our class finally walked up to the teacher as Neve sat there crying. The girl held up the class photo to the teacher and started pointing and talking. I couldn’t hear what that girl was saying, but it was obvious what they were talking about.

I remember reading the expression on the teachers face. She sat down like she was in shock. She looked in our direction, but Neve still had her head on the desk crying. The teacher sat at her desk thinking for a short time. The school bell was about to ring. Then the teacher ran to the door and closed it so nobody could leave.

“Class, I need your attention. There is a problem with the pictures and I need to ask everyone to turn them in right now.”

That was a good call. We all went up to the teacher’s desk and turned in our pictures. The school bell rang and kids started leaving. I went back and sat with Neve. She always got picked up after school and often she didn’t get picked up until quite a while after school ended. I waited with her until someone came to get her. When she finally did get picked up she was still crying.

I missed the first transit bus, so I took a later one. I rode that one home alone. It was a long somber bus ride. You just knew that experience was going to become a scar that would affect her for the rest of her life.

The next morning I went to school early.

Not only did Neve get picked up from school long after the school bell rang, but her dad usually dropped her off at school well before school started in the morning. Since she got there before anyone else arrived, she would usually wait in class rather than wait outside in the school yard all by herself. I went to the class to see her, but she wasn’t there yet, so I went back outside.

When Maltby arrived we talked about what we could do to cheer her up. We pondered that one for a while. Then Maltby came up with the idea that we should go around the school yard and pick flowers. All the guys from the class should pick some. Then when we went to class, since she would already be there, we would form a line single file at her desk and all give her flowers one by one. That idea was brilliant.

That’s what we did. There weren’t many places to pick flowers from at the school though. There were a lot of white buttercups in the yard a few places with lavender. We knew there were some really good flowers in front of a house on the other side of Vista Boulevard. Some of us snuck off the school grounds and grabbed a few of those. We told the other guys in our class what we were doing as they arrived. We picked extra flowers for the guys that might be arriving late. We had all these flowers when the school bell rang.

What happened when we arrived in class is something I think nobody from that class will ever forget.

As we walked in the door we noticed Neve still wasn’t in class yet. That was strange, because she almost always arrived before anyone else. It was possible she was running late, so we took our seats. As I was taking my seat, the teacher asked one of the four boys in our class named Chris to sit up at the front. I thought that was strange, but I was wondering more about where Neve was.

As time ran out on the clock, the second bell rang. We sang Oh Canada and listened to announcements on the PA. Her desk still sat empty. We sat there with our flowers knowing full well she wasn’t coming. I could picture her sitting at home depressed out of her mind.

There was an eerie silence as we sat down after Oh Canada. Usually the teacher started every day by going to the front of the class and teaching a lesson. Instead, the teacher sat at her desk writing in a book and ignoring us. The silence went on for a long time. We were sitting with our flowers. Neve wasn’t there. The teacher was ignoring us. Nobody wanted to break the silence. It was all very, very uncomfortable.

After what seemed like an eternity, the teacher finally put down her pen and walked over to the classroom door. She said something like this,

“Class yesterday I told everyone that there was a problem with the pictures and I asked everyone to return them to me. When I went home and counted the pictures I noticed that one set was missing. Would someone like to talk about that?”

Now when the teacher gave the first explanation I thought that what she meant was that everyone in the class had turned in their pictures like they were asked to, but someone went into the teacher’s desk after the fact and stole a set. I remember thinking that if that happened, it would be impossible to figure out who it was unless someone confessed.

That also worried me. Whenever something bad happened in that class I was usually the prime suspect, and often I was even the guilty party. But I would never do anything like this. Neve was my closest friend in that class and I would never have done anything like that to her. At that point I felt rage building inside me as I prepared to blast our teacher if she even dared to suspect me.

This unsettling silence went on for a very long time as the teacher waited for someone to own up. I sat there gritting my teeth waiting for her to mention my name. After this long drawn out silence, nobody spoke up. At that point the teacher turned around, put her hand on the classroom door, and with every ounce of her strength she slammed that door shut. It sounded like an explosion when the door hit the frame. The door hit so hard that the latch didn’t catch and the door bounced out, so the teacher had to kick the door a second time with her foot to get it to stay closed.

Every kid in our class was now freaking out. Even the ones that had nothing to fear were quaking. No one had ever seen the teacher this mad before.

At that point the teacher spoke again and said,

“Surely this person must know that in addition to the class photo there were individual photos. It’s very easy for me to go through the pictures and figure out who has them.”

From that second explanation I realized that I had it all wrong. It was not that everyone turned in their pictures and one kid stole a set and ran out the door. Someone in our class never turned in their pictures in the first place. When she said that I realized that the teacher already knew which kid had it. So the teacher knew it wasn’t me. I was relieved that I would not be accused, but that begged the question. Who had the pictures?

All the kids started looking at each other at that point. There were a lot of poker faces in that class as we started looking at each other. We knew someone was scared out of their wits, even if they weren’t talking. The teacher let the silence go on and on. Someone had to be ready to crack. Still, nobody would talk.

Then after the longest time, the teacher walked away from the door to the chalkboard. She leaned over a bit and grabbed the leg of the desk that Chris was leaning on at the front of the room. Then she ripped the desk out from under him and slammed the desk up against the wall. The teacher then sat on the desk, stared him in the eye and said, “Would you like to talk about it Chris?”

Our teacher set that kid up for a public humiliation. Chris was now the object of scorn. It was the perfect thing for that teacher to do too. He was getting a small taste of the same humiliation Neve was feeling at home.

When Chris finally spoke, he defended himself by saying, “Well I took those photos home and gave them to my parents and they said they liked them and wanted to keep them. There’s nothing I can do. It’s out of my hands. I’m sorry, but there’s nothing I can do.”

Gasps and snickers went up front my classmates when he said that. It was obvious he was lying. Unless, his parents were outright pedophiles there was no way in hell that was true. The teacher asked him then if she should call his parents.

“Yep, you can call them right now if you like. They’ll tell you. It’s not my fault. It’s out of my hands, there nothing I can do. I’m sorry, but there’s nothing I can do.”

The teacher took him at his word and started walking toward the door.

“Okay class I have to make a phone call, so I’ll be back. By the way Chris, will your parents be at home when I call or at work?”

“Well neither actually, they had something they needed to do today.”

The class laughed when he said that. It was like watching a kid with his hand in the cookie jar. The teacher just said she would try the numbers she had and be right back.

Looking back, it was lucky the teacher was never charged with criminal negligence causing death for leaving Chris alone with us that day. I doubt I was the only one thinking about killing him.

When the teacher got back to the classroom, she slammed the door shut again. The class fell silent.

“Well Chris, that story doesn’t check out, would you care to try another?”

At that point Chris changed his story.

“Well the truth is I took the pictures home and I lost them. I don’t know where they are. I’m very sorry, but they’re gone and I can’t find them and there’s nothing I can do. It’s out of my hands. I wish I could change that, but it’s out of my hands. I’m very sorry, there’s nothing I can do.”

We all started snickering again. It was so obvious he was lying. We all knew damn well those pictures were at home on his nightstand, right beside his box of Kleenex. However, he wouldn’t back down from this new story. The teacher tried to reason with him. She tried to make him feel sympathy for a girl who was probably sitting at home in tears that very moment. He wouldn’t back down.

Eventually the teacher realized she had a class to teach and the subject dropped.

The class went on and we started talking amongst ourselves.

As for the flowers we picked, some landed on the teacher’s desk. The rest of them got tossed out the window at the back of the class or in the garbage. I felt bad for stealing flowers out of someone’s yard only to throw them in the trash.

I wanted to beat the crap out of Chris. I decided against it though. I had this bad feeling that if I beat him up he would think he had some kind of moral right to keep those pictures as compensation. I figured fear was the best way to get him to turn those pictures in. If everyone in the class would unite to bring Neve flowers, maybe they would unite to put the fear of God into him too.

I pitched Maltby on the idea of swarming him at lunch and threatening him with a beating if he didn’t cough up the pictures. Maltby was on board. Jason Ashton, Gerard Real, and Chris Stopa were on board too.

I pitched Dykeman on the plan and to my surprise he wouldn’t go for it. I was shocked. Of all the kids in the class we needed him the most. He was the undisputed tough guy in our class. Nobody could stand up to him in a fight. He insisted that he didn’t need anyone’s help to beat up Chris, he could do it himself.

“Dykeman! I don’t need your help to beat up Chris. I could take him by myself. Stopa has a limp and he can take him. Even Ashton could take him. Chris is a gimp. The goal is not to beat him up. We just need to scare him so he’ll bring those pictures back.”

It took a few tries to get through to him. He was adamant that he could do it himself. Eventually we convinced him that we needed to do this together as a class, but he made it clear that if he took part it would have to be his show. He would do the talking. We would not talk when he was talking. We had no problem agreeing to that, so he finally agreed to take part.

Once we had Dykeman and a few other guys we had all we needed. Anything else was overkill, but I wanted to get everyone from the class if I could.

I remember talking to Brian and Larry about my plan. I knew they didn’t like me, because I made fun of their relationship. This was for Neve though, so I figured they would be in. They were both open minded enough to hear me out. When I pitched them on the idea, Larry said absolutely not.

When I asked him why not, he started spewing all this liberal crap about how violence doesn’t solve anything and two wrongs don’t make a right. I explained again that we were not really going to beat him up. We just wanted to scare him into bringing the pictures back. Larry shot back by saying intimidation and threats are not an acceptable means of resolving conflict. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I knew those two had contempt for me, but this was Neve we were talking about. I asked them what their solution would be and they didn’t have one. They told me they didn’t care. Then they walked away.

To this day, whenever I listen to anti-war pacifists and leftist kooks on the news, guys like Stéphane Dion and Jack Layton, I think back to when Larry and Brian would not help me get those pictures back. Every ounce of contempt I have for liberal pacifists can be traced back to that one moment in my life.

I know liberals pride themselves on their big hearts every time they oppose military conflict. But they always seem oblivious to the suffering of people that necessitates the credible threat of force. Larry and Brian may have thought they were taking the moral high ground when they wouldn’t take part, but their pacifism did absolutely nothing to relieve the suffering of a girl that we all knew was at home crying. I learned back then what works in life and what doesn’t! They really pissed me off.

In the end, it didn’t matter though. We had Dykeman and virtually everyone else from the class. When lunch came we all got together. It was agreed that Dykeman was our speaker and we were simply there as a show of force. When we caught up with Chris on the school yard we surrounded him.

Dykeman walked up to Chris, and pushed him toward the wall of the school. He folded his arms across his chest and put his elbows up against the wall so that his forearms were around Chris’ throat. Then he got right in Chris’ face and politely explained his only option.

He gave Chris the obligatory 24 hours to bring those pictures back and turn them in. Then he explained what was going to happen if he didn’t.

“Starting tomorrow at lunch if you don’t bring those pictures back, we are going to lay a beating into you. And we are going to beat on you every day, day after day, until you bring those pictures back.”

Considering Chris was surrounded with Dykeman in his face, it was amazing that he still wouldn’t back down.

“There’s no point in waiting until tomorrow. I lost those pictures and I can’t find them. There’s nothing I can do. It’s out of my hands. You may as well beat me up right now, I can’t find them. Really, there’s nothing I can do.”

Chris just kept repeating that over and over. Dykeman just shook his head.

“No Chris. We’re not going to beat you up now. We are going to leave you alone so that you can think about the beating we’re going to give you tomorrow. And every day after, until you bring those pictures back.”

Then Dykeman walked away. He was absolutely brilliant. We all stood there staring at Chris for a few extra seconds not saying a word. Then we all walked away. I remember Maltby was still standing there as we were walking away. He was scowling at Chris and shaking his fist. I tugged on his shirt sleeve to get him to come. He was such a ham.

The next morning Chris came to class. It was a miracle! Apparently he was cleaning out his closet the night before and he found the pictures in there somewhere. We were all very relieved for him. He spared himself a hell of a beating.

Neve still wasn’t back to class two days later though. If I remember right she didn’t come back until the middle of the following week.