The Mud Boys

“Dad, how come there are only boys on the Science of Stupid?”

This TV show has been amusing my daughters and I for awhile with the ridiculous things people attempt for fun, inflicting themselves with massive amounts of pain, and Katie finally noticed a pattern. It was mostly the male population we were watching.

“Well Katie, when you get a bunch of guys together they tend to think AFTER they attempt something stupid.”

“Why?” Katie said

“I don’t really know” I responded..

At our small group last night we were laughing about how many ridiculous ways we tempted death when we were younger and I still don’t really know the answer to that. We finally concluded that it might have something to do with being kicked out of the house most days because there was nothing to do inside except drive mom crazy.

Every kid has an electronic device now and is absorbed with playing games etc, which keeps them quiet and relatively safe.

But when we were young we had two decent channels on our TV with the giant antenna strapped to the side of our house, and one other channel you could see if the wind was just right or the stars aligned. There were no children’s channels either, so we got kicked outside.

The outside world was one of adventure and danger, but every kid on the block was in on it. I remember the neighbourhood garden raids when we were hungry and the jumps we used to make for our bikes. I remember being scuffed up often and getting in the odd fight picking baseball teams. And I remember having a whole lot of fun.

Helmets were an apparatus riding our bikes that would likely get us beat up or called “Safety Boy” with snickering. There was an underlying assumption that nature was always trying to weed out those with weak heads, but it wasn’t going to be us. One of the guys said “I finally started getting the picture after my third concussion” with a smile.

It’s just the way it was for us.

I remember shooting arrows straight up and waiting for them to come down to see who was the most courageous, and who chickened out too soon and ran for cover.

I remember playing survival by sticking a knife in the ground by your buddy’s foot and he would have to keep moving his feet further apart with every successful throw until someone fell over or pulled their groin muscle.

Also we had knives. Lots of them. We needed them to protect us from nature, which was probably trying to kill us.

Most of my friends were farmers and they had guns too. We loved spending the afternoon on the farm shooting gophers and feeling like we were helping the farming community at the same time. My mom said she was a really good shot when she was young so grandpa Jim sent her out with a box of .22 long shells into the field to actual “do something useful” with the gun. She shot her first gopher then had a good cry thinking of the poor gopher widow and orphans at home, went back to the farm yard and back to “wasting ammunition on fence post cans”.

We used to wrap a rifle in deerskin, prop it between our legs and ride our 50cc scooters legally down the road at the age of fourteen to our next adventure (the gun wasn’t technically legal for us on the scooter, but driving them at that age was:)

We’d shoot pennies out of fence posts from six inches away because it made the pennies look amazing. Granted, the ricochets nearly hit us in the face, but the pennies looked cool after so…

Now if you’ve only ever lived in the city you probably think we were a bunch of insane monsters, but that’s just how life was for us back then. And we had amazing childhoods. We were always afraid of going to downtown Calgary and getting stabbed or something (most of us had never been downtown and only had TV shows from New York street gangs as a reference). Ironically we actually did occasionally stab ourselves with our own knives trying to carve a tree branch by the light of a campfire. We’d yell and hop around while the guys laughed, and then go back to carving.

I remember watching some neighbourhood kids find a small mud lake behind a new housing development and partake in the obvious temptation for about twenty minutes one day. It was like a post apocalyptic movie until Armageddon showed up in the form of mom screeching to a halt and flying out the of car screaming bloody murder.

You could see them all kind of come to themselves and realize what crimes they were committing as they scrambled home to avoid the wrath to come. But mom called the oldest brother on the floor in the middle of the street.


The boy was wise in that he kept his eyes on the ground and muttered:

“Twelve” with the proper amount of penitence.

Turns out it was his job to keep his little brothers from doing something stupid.

It’s funny, but I don’t recall seeing any girls playing in the mud. I wonder why that was?

It doesn’t really matter now, it makes a great story to tell their kids…


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