Monday, May 18, 2015

Ode to El Gingeroso

When I was in grade three I got into a fight with a ginger.

Before you ask, the answer is yes, I managed to hang on to my soul.

My memory of the event is probably more like a memory of a memory of a memory by now, rewritten and edited over years of watching boxing and MMA fights. Even so, I'll try to reenact it for you.

It's recess. I'm standing outside arguing with this freckled kid from another class. A third kid stands between us: he's friends with both of us and trying to keep the peace.

He fails, miserably.

So he becomes the referee.

The ginger and I start exchanging blistering combinations and slick counters, leg kicks and thai elbows and spinning back-fists.

At least, that's how I choose to remember it.

Then my opponent shoots for a takedown, puts me on my back, and starts raining down punishment.

I tap.

Our friend the referee pulls my opponent off me. I'm laying there, feeling a little dizzy, when a big freckled hand materializes in front of me.

I take it. My opponent helps me to my feet. I tell him, "Good fight."

He says, "Yeah, you too."

We shake hands and start playing freeze-tag like nothing even happened.

These were simpler times!

Fast forward 24 years and this kid and I are still friends. More than that, he's the brother I never had.

Little brother, of course, because I'm five days his elder.

I've had the pleasure and privilege of growing up with this exceptional human being. I had the honour of being the best man at his wedding. And now I get to watch his beautiful little daughter grow up right alongside my kids.

That beating I took in grade three? Worth every second.

He goes by many names.


El Gingeroso.

The River Shitter.

What you call him matters not.

It's what he is that matters.

Loyal. Reliable. High-larious.

You want to know about Rocky?

He's your guy.

You want a fish caught? 

He's your guy.

You want your favourite song

butchered out of tune;

your worst mood turned to laughter;

a drink spilled on your carpet?

He's your guy.

He's not so much a man as he is

a force of nature,

a storm of laughter and love

and powerful lips.

Tomatoes, squash, pumpkins:

his kryptonite.

Fishing, football, and caffeine:

his elixirs.

To observe El Gingerso 

is to study the blueprint

of manhood. Behold!

He is all man:

father, husband, brother,

son and friend ever-present;

 a staunch competitor

who puts health and wellbeing 

second to victory;

a bard with humorous tales;

he's all these things 

and more.

32 years ago today

he charged out of the womb

into the light of day,

tackled a nurse, 

and, seeing his handiwork, 

threw a celebratory kick.

It was a glorious day

worthy of celebration.

Happy birthday, brother.

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