Thursday, November 12, 2009

Holding Dougie's Hand

Growing up in a suburban Fredericton neighbourhood in the 1970s was....

Stop there for a moment! You're saying that you grew up in the 1970s?

Ummm, yeah. I did.

The 70s were all about recovering from the hangover of the 1960s. Women put their burnt bras back on. The Beatles had their wings clipped (Paul ran off with them). The seventies were about disco, Donny and Marie, and the birth of The Price Is Right. Soft rock got a toe hold in popular culture. Hall and Oates, those lion haired man eaters, were embraced by listeners. The seventies were about bad fashion; flared jeans that were often beige or orange. Animal print shirts were a staple of the day. Thongs came into vogue....and you were a part of all that!?

Yes, and I'm not proud to say that I once owned, and wore, a pair of wide leg cords. They were beige, of course. That was a great history of the seventies, though you forgot to mention that Ben Mulroney was born in 1976.

Sorry, just an oversight. The birth of Ben be praised.

Yes, Ben be praised. I'm not saying that I was proud of the 1970s, I'm just saying that I grew up in the 1970s in a suburban neighbourhood. I was about to make the point that my neighbourhood was filled with brothers. The Slipps had six boys, no girls. The Allabys had six boys, no girls. The Vartys, my parents, had three boys. The place was crawling with brothers. We were always playing road hockey, baseball and ice hockey. We had bicycles and motorbikes and G.I.Joes. We were boy's boys.

There were very few girls in the court where I lived. The family next door had four girls but none of them had a decent slap shot so we all butt (not a typo) ignored them. As a child I knew nothing about the mysterious lives of sisters. To this day I'm still fascinated by the dynamic between sisters.

To illustrate my point I've chosen an image of two sisters (above). One lives in Nova Scotia; the other in Upper Canada. The Upper Canadian sister, who I'll refer to under the identity shielding pseudonym of Renatus, lives in Stratford, Ontario. Stratford bills itself as Canada's 'premier arts town'. Sorry Minto (N.B.), you're number two.

Who's number three?

I knew you'd ask that so I did some research. Turns out that it's Toronto.

Never heard of the place.

You go past it when you drive from Dartmouth to Stratford.

Really? I'll have to keep an eye out for it next time.

You do that. Okay, back to my sermon. I was at Lawrencetown Beach with 'the sisters' and we were enjoying a walk along the grassy knoll that flanks the beach. I was running around with my camera, trying to capture to mood of the evening, when all of a sudden I saw something shocking. The sisters were walking hand in hand!

Sisters may have done that where I grew up, but if they did, I was unaware of it. I can tell you in no uncertain terms that brothers didn't, at least not the brothers who shared my surname.

It was nice to watch the sisters holding hands and walking. I felt a tad envious that I would never experience the joy of walking hand in hand with my siblings. For those of you who don't know my brother Doug, he's 6'5" inches tall and weighs about 250 pounds; no lightweight. He's not the hand holding type, or is he?

I love experiments, so I sent my brother the following e-mail:


I was hanging out with two sisters in Dartmouth this past weekend. We went to Lawrencetown for a walk along the beach. At one point the two sisters were walking together and holding hands. It was nice to see siblings who are so close.

I'm going to write about it for my blog today. As an experiment, I think that we should try holding hands and walking along the Queen Street sidewalk in Fredericton.

Any thoughts?


His reply:

Sure, but only if we wear leopard skin thongs and cowboy boots.

He then sent another e-mail, as I hadn't replied suitably to his comment:

You are dodging the issue of thongs and cowboy boots. Are we on?

You can see that he's all about the fashion statement, and not so interested in holding my hand. He, too, was a child of the seventies, though an older child.

I'm going shopping for a leopard skin thong and a cowboy boots this afternoon. I'm pretty sure that my brother won't have to do any shopping...sounds like he's good to go.

So, yes, Doug, we're on! Name the time and place and I'll meet you there.

You're actually going to do this, Ian?

Of course I am.

Amen brother.


  1. Make sure you call me when the blessed event occurs. Can't wait to see this! FYI, my sister Cynthia and I walked arm in arm down King Street a few weeks ago, and caused nary a raised eyebrow. Maybe we should have been wearing thongs and cowboy boots.

  2. To quote you, "make sure you call me when the blessed event occurs."