I can’t say for sure how I would have reacted in, say 1995, if you had told me then what I would find myself doing some fifteen years down the road, on a sunny morning in early March.
Way back when, I was living the life of an upwardly mobile single young man living in the big city. I was a relatively recent entrant in the urban Rat Race (Toronto division). A young briefcase-carrying professional during the day, I was also writing music on the side, and I was very interested in (if not particularly successful at) advancing the fortunes of the band after which this blog is named. I lived on Queen Street East in a little flat over top of a jewellery store at Queen and Broadview. Over the noise of the streetcars turning and amid the steady parade of alcohol-fuelled gentlemen filing in and out of the strip joint on the corner, a community there was rapidly gentrifying. Not far from the back door, there was the clubhouse for the outlaw motorcycle gang; it was damaged (but only a little bit) by a rocket attack one night. Across from our place, there was a terrific Jamaican restaurant that served Red Stripe beer and the best jerk chicken you’re ever likely to sample. The neighbourhood, filled with a colourful cast of characters of the “down, but not quite out” variety, was also dotted with antique stores, little cafes and second hand shops. The estimable Reaction Studios, where the lads and I had only months before recorded our studio debut, was a short walk away. I played hockey three or four times a week with my buddies. I went to the precious few clubs that continued to support live music, and my bandmates and I schemed up ways to worm our way on to the Queen West circuit. I dabbled at film-making. I saw Important Movies, I read Important Books and I spent much of my time searching for Big Ideas to bring into my life.
I can’t, in good journalistic conscience, risk having left the false impression with the reader that I was at any point in this period of time edgy, cool or hip. I may very well have thought at the time that I was; in hindsight, it is abundantly clear to me that I most assuredly was not. The quality of my personal aesthetic and fashion achievement during this period of time is not, however, the point; instead, I am trying to convey to you that my life in 1995 was very much a life lived to the peculiar rhythms of the thriving urban community within which I existed.
It is within that context that I suggest that historical me would have had some considerable difficulty comprehending exactly how it came to pass that this morning, here in 2010, I found myself searching out my camera equipment for the following reason: so that I could take a picture of a dead raccoon that my wife had pointed out to me along the side of a country road. Let’s take that last sentence apart piece by precious little piece for a moment, shall we, to make sure we haven’t missed any of the wonderful and varied splendour it contains (and, not coincidentally, that life serves up so unexpectedly when you’re not looking). The logical propositions that are incorporated into that statement are as follows:
- I have a wife (mildly surprising to 1995 me, no doubt);
- We were together on a country road (not so terribly far-fetched for ’95 me, who would presume this rural peregrination as some sort of romantic journey, rather than a trip home from Horton’s);
- My wife pointed something out that she thought would be of interest to me (awwwww);
- The said item of interest was a deceased raccoon (wait, what?);
- She was correct about this being of interest to me; and
- She was so right, in fact, that I would actually drive home, retrieve my camera and excitedly return to the spot in question in order to take a picture.
I don’t know what your feelings are about the movie Forrest Gump. At this point in my life, I don’t much care, to be honest. Regardless of your views on this matter, though, it is difficult at times to argue with that movie’s oft-quoted line, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” I suspect that the little fellow pictured below would have to agree.
UPDATE: From @kidkawartha of the PPP crowd comes the epic de-motivational poster. I am without words, consigned only to chortles, giggles and snorts.
Update to the update, Monday March 8th: As a direct result of this picture and my conversation about it with @kidkawartha (not to mention the considerable efforts of @archluke), #deadraccoonmoviequotes became, for a time, the #1 trending topic on Twitter in Canada on Sunday afternoon (click on the link to see a photo of Twitter, then zoom in and look at the right side of the page). Deal with THAT, Canada. The surprises just keep on coming…
Thanks to everyone who joined in the fun, especially those in the gang over at Pension Plan Puppets.