It’s summer-summer-summer time! Time to sit back and unwind (as Will Smith said). I must admit, summer is my least-favourite season (fall, spring, winter, summer, in case you were wondering). Not to say I don’t/didn’t enjoy me some good summertime fun. I sure do/did. In fact, let’s take a trip back to 1989. It was the end of third grade, and I had pretty high hopes for what might happen on Canada Day that year:
“I’d like the whole family to get together. We usually go up to Ottawa in the summer. We watch my poppa set off fireworks, but first we go to Aunt Nancy’s and Uncle Scott’s for a barbecue of hot dogs and hamburgers. And pie! Then we head back to Gramma and Poppa’s place and set off the firecrackers. They are very fancy fireworks. The neighbours also watch. They are usually impressed.”
Impressed and, if I recall correctly, terrified.
I have vivid memories of being a kid and standing on my grandparents’ front lawn while fireworks lit up the dark sky. And of various neighbours and family members murmuring “Do you think that one is too big for a neighbourhood show?” and “Are those sparks going to set that guy’s roof on fire?” and “Is that one lit? You go check.” “No, you go check.” “No, you go -” “Ah, yeah. It was lit. Dang, those were my eyebrows.”
I’m not 100% sure WHERE my family procured their fireworks from, but I assume it was some kind of stadium-fireworks-supply store. Because I am totally sure that neighbourhood fireworks shows should be comprised of:
- The green and red poppy balls
- The sparkly ones
- The worm ones
- The burning school house
And the ones that we set off in Ottawa were more like:
- The explosive one
- The really loud banging one
- The screaming one
- The super-explosive one
- The roof-igniter
- The burning school house. Obvs.
My favourite fireworks moments were (in no particular order):
1.Grandma warns everyone of impending doom. My grandmother was nothing if not overly cautious. She stood at the window and gazed out at us (fools!) from her living room. She was holding one of my many cousins. The cousin was screaming. Grandma was shaking her head and glaring. Ah, fun times.
- Poppa isn’t sure the firecracker is lit. This happened at least once a year. Poppa would light the fuse, nothing would happen, he’d venture back over, the firecracker would start to sputter and he’d run for his life before his eyebrows were singed off.
- Someone’s roof nearly caught on fire. Note that no actual roofs really caught ablaze, but there were some mighty close calls. Also, there were so many giant trees in the neighbourhood, it’s amazing we didn’t burn the whole valley down.
What else did we do in the summer? Well, when I was seven, we tried eating something healthy.
“Today, me and Kenneth got some vegetables and made salads, one for everyone. I have to say, they were only OK.”
Yup. Salad sucks. I mean, what? No. Salad is delicious (no, it isn’t). At my house, growing up, we didn’t exactly have a balanced food pyramid. Ours was basically inverted. (Lots of fats and sugar! Minimal veggies and fruit! Still a significant number of carbs!)
We tried growing a garden (several times), but the only things that ever grew really well in our old backyard were two crab apple trees. And, if you’re a long-time reader, you know what we did with those suckers: badminton-ed the heck out of them over the fence into Pool Guy’s pool. (And I ask again, for the umpteenth time, WHO HAS A POOL IN MALVERN? You’re basically begging us to fire crab apples into your yard.)
In case you’re concerned about the food situation that occurred during the rest of the summer of ’88, here are a few excerpts (apparently, I was quite intent in keeping record of our desserts for posterity. In that respect, nothing has changed.):
“Today we went to the Dairy Queen for chocolate-dipped cones!”
Side note: that’s pretty much ALL I could eat at the Dairy Queen. FYI: if you have a fatal peanut allergy, don’t ever get a Blizzard. They don’t wash the mixer off properly between flavours. I say this as a person who has reacted not once, not twice, but thrice to Blizzards. After the last bout of anaphylaxis, I decided to maybe never go there again.
“Today Mom and Mrs. Campbell went to a chocolate show called ‘Death by Chocolate’!”
I am 100% sure I got some kind of delicious souvenir from this. Which, as another side note, would’ve been almost as tasty as when Mom took cake decorating classes and then brought home the Styrofoam cake dummies and let me pull the royal icing decorations off and eat them. For breakfast.
“Today we made SO MANY Rice Krispie squares!”
“Today we went to Baskin Robbins for ice cream!”
(Note that these entries occurred over the course of a week).
Let’s fast-forward to 1996. I was 15. Too young to drive, too young to have a decent job…and anyway, I was headed to Hawaii!
I know, I know. Right about now you’re all “OMG, you lived in the ‘hood, but you visited Hawaii? Lies!”
Let me just explain that my dad traveled almost non-stop for my entire childhood. Like, gone over 200 days of the year traveled. Like, lived in Norway for 6 months without a visit traveled. Like, had his own apartment in Chile, Calgary and England (technically, the last one was a house). Like that. So Dad got to keep his air miles (which were plentiful) and every now and then we’d take a really nice trip (like to Hawaii). So now you know. It’s possible to live in the ‘vern, but still have been to paradise on holiday. And what did we do there? Glad you asked!
“Well, it’s been an eventful trip here in Hawaii. We’ve run over a mongoose, seen several geckos, visited “Billy Bob’s Park ‘N’ Pork,” and tried to identify a species of very flat frog. Turns out, it was a very dead frog.”
- The mongoose had it coming. OK, I have no idea if that’s true or not. I just tell myself he was a bad mongoose with evil intentions to make it seem less horrible that we ran him over. I’m sorry, former mongoose. RIP.
- Billy Bob’s Park ‘N’ Pork was a real thing. I don’t think we ate there, but I do remember stopping. Somewhere, there’s a picture or beer mug or both.
- Yeah. The frog. So we saw this frog sitting in the grass and my mom was all, “Oh, wow! What kind of frog is that? Do you think it’s poisonous? Go check it out, kids!” Now, to be fair, it was sunset and the lighting was pretty bad. But after staring at said frog for several minutes and waiting for it to do something (anything!) Dad procured a stick and gave it a good poke. And, of course, nothing happened because it was dead (and desiccated, in case you’re wondering).
After Hawaii, we headed out to Ottawa. (Three days after coming home. Way to pace your summer trips, Boyd family!) And what did we do there? One very nineties experience, coming up!
“Wow, LaserQuest sucks. Of course, that could be because I was beaten by a four-year-old, but that’s fine. It’s not like I’m going to need laser-shooting skills to get through life or anything.”
That was my first, last and only experience playing laser tag. And yes, a four-year-old actually out-shot me. But 15-year-old Jess was right: I have never needed laser-shooting abilities to do anything. Actually, now that I come to think of it, there are many skills I either had to acquire (through public education) or tried to acquire (just for funsies/to fit in with the ’90’s crowd) that I have never, ever needed. They include:
* Ability to win at laser tag
* Calculus of any kind
* Physics of any kind
* Volley-ball serving and/or returning or whatever the hell you do in volley-ball that doesn’t fall under the category of “trying not to get beaned in the head.”
* Long-distance running
* Cartwheel turning
* Swing dancing (Though lord knows, I tried. And failed. Miserably.)
* Roman numerals (Like, really? Google can help with this, should the need ever arise. It won’t.)
* Small engine repair
* Chemistry (Sorry, Dad.)
Anyway, this summer has been pretty fun so far. One of the major non-kid highlights was seeing Idina Menzel (again)! This time, I dragged the bestie along. We had, as always, a memorable time. The top three moments were:
- Telling Jay he’s just like his mom (he is basically a boy version of Barb).
- Jay’s awesome quote. One of many.
(We were out to dinner and the server asked if we wanted bubbly water or tap, and Jay said “Bubbly water, please.” At the same time, I said “Tap water.” We agreed on bubbly and when the server left, he said this most memorable of quotes.)
- Idina singing “For Good,” which is kind of my song with Jay. He’s totally the Glinda, and I’m 100% Elphaba, but he’ll probably say it’s the other way around. But he’s wrong.
“YOU were supposed to be the Glinda!” “Says YOU! The problem is, I’m CLEARLY the Elphaba!”And I can’t stop laughing at this picture because it’s totally something that would happen to us. You’re the best, Jay! But you’re still Glinda.
Anyway, it’s mid-August. The kiddos go back to school in less than a month. (And so do my teacher/principal friends. Sorry, guys!) Enjoy what’s left of the sunny days and warm-ish nights. And eat some popsicles for me. They don’t count in the summer. They’re practically REQUIRED eating.
According to my childhood food pyramid, anyway.