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When I Was 12 And Roaming
The Streets Of Toronto

By John Barbour

Forgive this short moment of philosophy and Truth-telling and story telling , but it has a point..or two, and in my dotage I seem to be getting more of these moments.

When I was 12, and roaming the streets of Toronto getting into trouble while my mother was off somewhere banging an unknown uncle, she decided that in order to not have her banging sessions interrupted, she called me truthfully an incourageable troublemaker and sent me off to a boarding farm in Northern Ontario just outside of Burke's Falls, Ontario for the 3 months of Summer.

It was here I learned that farms, which I knew nothing of, were the real supermarkets to the planet. Although scared to death, it was here I learned to catch and pluck a chicken and then cut its head off and fry it.

It was here where I learned to hang a calf by the neck plunge a knife from its neck to its loins pull the guts out and then chop up the rest for steaks and roasts.

It was here that I learned that when most farmers and all Indians say 'grace,' or give thanks for what they're eating, they do not thank God; they thank the animals and the creatures they are eating... for giving up.their lives for ours. It was all a mind expanding adventure into real reality.

When I returned home at the end of the summer my mother, on weekends, was either at Niagara Falls or Buffalo banging another newfound uncle. One of my best buddies, Donald, had extremely religious but very, very nice parents. When they saw me alone on most weekends they invited me over for lunch and dinner. 0f course, being very religious Baptists, whom do they obviously thank for the food they were eating? God, of course.

After a few weeks of this delightful company and great meals, they asked me if I would like to say what they call Grace. The meal the mother had prepared this day was a huge hamburger which they knew I loved. I was embarrassed because I didn't know what to say and told them so. The sweet mother, the cook, said, 'Johnny, just say what's in your heart!'

So, I folded my hands like they did, bowed my head a little, and said, 'I thank the unknown cow who is giving its life to me by the pound, and also I give thanks to the tinier creatures who will later eat me when I am in the ground!’

I was never invited to lunch or dinner again and lost one of my closest friends! What I discovered, though, was that I had this survivor's sense of humor. And the painful but pleasing arrogance of what I'm about to say, and part of the point of this is: I would rather lose a friend no matter how close, than lose my sense of humor...for two reasons...

One: a sense of humor never ever lets you down. And, two: it's that sense of humor that may be the reason you survive not only the loss of the best of friends...but losing a lot of other things as well !!!

Have a great day!