Yep, for a week each year, my moniker was Pork Chop. It wasn’t because of my weight, which was above average, but because of my prophet-like ability to see into the future. Let me explain.
Every fall/winter we would head up to the camp for a blissful week of drunken shenanigans, mixed with a little bit of slaughter. I say a little bit, because we rarely came home with meat, but we always had a story to tell. Now we had a bunch of different guys that we hunted with over the years, and one of those guys was Cecil. Cecil went by the CB handle of “City Slicker”, and it was quite fitting for a man such as him. He was 90% Toronto, and 10% Bancroft, but he wanted to be 100% Cardiff. He was one of the most amiable guys you would ever meet, and he’d share his last half a sandwich with you if you were hungry. He was just a great guy, and because of birthing logistics, grew up in a completely different part of the province than he should have. Cecil was also one of those guys that would talk to anyone, and a lot of times, about things he shouldn’t. That was just his way, and it made him a lot of friends, because for all of the “out there” shit that he did, he was always welcome around everyone’s camp, and the only reason was because we all knew he meant well, and he was a funny SOB.
Now one other thing that Cecil can be credited for, is getting us involved in hunting with Clown’s camp. They were a fun loving, ragtag bunch of folks that I believe were all in-laws or related somehow. We used to go down there and merge forces, so as to fully encompass an area, almost ensuring that there will be meat on the hanging pole. This has only ever worked once, when one of the guys shot a big buck on a side hill, and it kind of landed all stretched out like it was running. That was when Clown noticed and shot it too, because he thought it was still running. Hey, I never said it was science. After the only successful combined hunt ever, we all took part in the field dressing, and then back to Clown’s camp for some revelry. Come on, we were the fruitful hunters, there was cause for celebration.
Whilst we were imbibing, and indulging in merriment, the Clown, cooked up a whole bunch of stuffed pork chops, and was passing them around the table, where we were, seven hours later, still rejoicing in our skill as deerslayers. It was about this time that we were all decided to go to the Cardiff Legion and share our tales of stealth and butchery with the local townsfolk, while partaking in their ale and spirits. We were all getting ready to go, when Clown decided that we weren’t leaving until all of the pork chops were gone. Everyone fell to the table in a feeding frenzy, the likes of which have only been seen at Crazy Boy Burgers after a night of dance and antics at one of the many watering holes of my youth. I was still quite full from the several pork chops that I had already eaten, so I wasn’t able to eat mine, but we were all given the green light to climb into the van, and the one sober person was going to drive us the four or six kilometres to the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 566 in Cardiff, Ontario, Canada.
We were having a fine time of it at the Legion, and after several games of billiards and shuffleboard, we were starting to get a little bit hungry. Now most Legions have a big jar of pickled eggs and sausage sitting there at the bar, but I guess they were out, so they could only offer us peanuts and potato chips. As I was standing there, I reached into the pocket of my hunting pants, and pulled out my last pork chop, wrapped up in some napkins. You see, the Clown, in all of his infinite wisdom, wrapped up my pork chop for me, because he knew I’d be hungry later, and because I’d been going on about how good his cooking was. He didn’t want me to miss out on having such a delicious treat, just because I’d filled my belly already, so he told me I could take it home and have it later. What a smart guy.
So, while the others are trading with the bartender for tiny sleeves of peanuts, and little bags of chips, I produced a delicious pork chop from my pocket, and began to feast on that delightful bastard. At first I was jeered at and ridiculed for my intuition, but as they saw the joy on my face, they probably couldn’t help but feel a little pang of envy. I’m sure those nuts tasted okay, but if I have a choice between a nice, greasy pork chop, or a bag of salted peanuts at 1 AM, I’ll take some pig every time.
The next day over coffee, one of the guys that I didn’t know very well was trying to tell something involving me and The Captain, and he either couldn’t remember my name, or had just remembered the night before, because he said “…and then, uhhh, Pork Chop over there says…”, and it hit everyone. Right, here’s the young guy that just whips a stuffed chop out of his pants, four hours after supper, while everyone else is having to buy confections at the bar. From then on, I was known as Pork Chop in that group of friends, and you know what? I didn’t mind it at all. Those were great times, with good people.
When I write these stories about days of yore, it gives me such a heightened sense of the wonderful people that I have come across in my life. I really miss those days, when Paul, the Larries and I would head up north, set up camp, and just forget about working, bathing, and watching our language for a week. We had a great group to hang out and drink with, and other than the odd run in with an undesirable or two, everyone got along really well. It’s hard to write this through my tears, because while I have so many great memories, it’s really difficult to accept that Paul isn’t here anymore. Earlier tonight, as I was at Mom’s, putting her chair together in the garage, I thought about how empty it seemed. I went through his drawers, and boxes, looking for some sandpaper, but mostly just thinking back to when I was young, and how I’d search for things with no luck, and then he’d just walk out and pull them out without even having to look.
I’m still as unorganized as ever, Paul, and I could use a good kick in the ass right about now, but I guess that’s nothing new. We got a hound mix from a shelter the other day, and I think you’d really like him. He’s pretty smart, got a hell of a nose, and really good legs. I think I’ll take him up this year and let him run a bit.