Apparently, it’s time to discuss Family Traditions here at SEARCH Magazine.
While my family members are all wonderful people, there’s not much I can say about our traditions without one or more of them getting a wee bit upset that I’ve aired our emotional laundry in public. It’s my job in this column to bring you the smiles and laughs, unfortunately there aren’t a lot of laughs to be had in the traditions of a family who should probably keep a team of therapists on retainer. That said, there is one tradition I inherited both from my maternal grandfather and my father, who died two months apart in 1982 and 1983, and that is the spinning of tails and the fabricating of fictions. In the grand tradition of those good men, I shall spin you a story about my life, and our–not at all true–family traditions.
As part of our Blast from the Past issue, we’re revisiting useful articles from past issues. This article first appeared in Summer 2017:
Fifty Shades of Beige
by Tim Reynolds
I live a boring little life, in a boring little duplex, on a boring little cul-de-sac, in a city whose most exciting event of the year revolves around cows.
I eat, I sleep, I go to work, I write, I hang out with my three beasts. My life is completely devoid of adventure and really always has been. If there was a color to describe my life, it would be Suburban Beige, the beigiest beige on the color wheel.
As a kid I wanted to be everything from an astronaut to a cowboy to a spy to a movie star, and finally, Elvis. None of it happened.
I’ve never even had the adventure of marriage, although I did once propose to a girlfriend at the airport before she left on a jet plane to fly across the continent to donate a kidney to her mother. No, she didn’t say ‘yes’. She laughed and said, “Are you kidding?”
When I was a teacher, my classroom was on the second floor of a solid, old limestone school facing west. The two of us, whose classrooms had the best views, were responsible for watching for funnel clouds where the tornadoes came from.
If we sounded out the tornado alarm, the entire school population would march to the basement in a semi-orderly fashion with limited screams and tears and hunker down in the corridor, our heads between our knees or something like that.
We were trained. We were ready until, during a parent/teacher interview, we got hit by an earthquake. It was just a little rumble that made the light fixtures swing back and forth for a minute, but we were not prepared.
Since that day, I have been prepared. I was once an elite Boy Scout, a Chief Scout, which is Canada’s highest honor for Scouts, about the same as an Eagle Scout in the USA. I know how to be prepared.
I have nine computers, prepared for when I fall into a time vortex and wake up in the 1990s needing…
You laugh, but I am a Space Cadet, or better, a Space Fanatic. I always have been. I was born just before Yuri Gagarin went into orbit, and my childhood was spent watching the Space Race from the rug in the rec room right along with Dad, a former Navy pilot. Clutched tightly in one hand was my Major Matt Mason action figure because the whole idea of man landing on the moon fascinated me. The Moon! That waxing, waning white-grey shiny thingy hanging in the sky above the house!
I even built a monstrous (for me) plastic model of Saturn V rocket with removable Command and Lunar Modules. But a model, an action figure, and an old black and white television were all so abstract. They got me excited, but it wasn’t until the Ontario Science Centre opened in September 1969 (two months after Neil and Buzz stepped foot onto luna firma) that my love of space reached escape velocity. In that wondrous building were housed a real NASA spacesuit, a mock-up of the Command Module that I could actually sit in and flick switches and a Lunar Module Eagle simulator!
I spent hours trying to land that sucker on the “moon” and imagined that NASA themselves would pick the next crop of astronauts from the kids who could successfully land that Eagle onto that Sea of Tranquility. Sadly, I was never able to master the skill, and today I’m sure that’s why … Read more in the Fall 2019 issue
Rescue missions were our specialty, though up to this point in time all previous missions involved only G. I. Joes. This was our first live specimen, zoological rescue, and no thirteen- and fourteen-year-old, two-kid team was more prepared than Ron and me.
We’d ridden our bikes up to the greenbelt area behind the local tennis courts that used to be the IBM golf course. Ron and I had done our traditional summer-day work out on the high-intensity obstacle course disguised as a playground. We were returning from the drinking fountain when we spotted him hobbling across the playground gravel. The wee squirrel was injured, and it was plain to see it wasn’t just a thorn in his paw. He couldn’t put any weight on one leg, and it was bent at an odd angle.
We sprang into action. You can’t catch a squirrel with your bare hands, so Ron observed Tripod, a name appropriate to his condition, while I went dumpster diving for a zoological specimen containment thingy … Read more in the Summer 2019 issue
As an author, you’re told you have to promote, go to conferences, books signings, book fairs, etc. Having attended a few is why I ask are you rude of infinitely patient? If you don’t know, carry on a conversation with someone hard of hearing. Don’t get the wrong idea. I’m not slamming people with a hearing handicap. I’m on the receiving end, not the giving. About twenty years ago, thanks to a doctor who gave me a medication in too strong a dosage for too long a time, I lost the majority of my hearing. Since, I’ve discovered people who answer to both ends of that question. To some, I suddenly become invisible to a degree they not only cut me out of a conversation, they turn their backs to me. Are they embarrassed, thoughtless, or….?
I really don’t know, but I do know, there are more on the other side, for which I’m grateful. I know it’s frustrating to have to repeat what you say, two or three times. It’s frustrating to me to have to ask you to. I’m happy to say the ratio of those willing to is far higher than those who get irritated, rude, or back off when I move closer to hear better. Honestly, I’ve had people back away to the point I worried about BO more than did I invading their space… Read more in the Spring 2019 issue.
Although I haven’t traveled much lately, I have always enjoyed my little adventures. Sometimes, though, I find myself in odd situations while exploring.
I was once questioned by a State Trooper in Death Valley, while I was trying to tie my shoes; risked arrest and beheading (okay, maybe not beheading), trying to photograph the British Crown Jewels in the vault of the Tower of London; been yelled at in more languages than I can count for trying to sneak photos in various museums and castles; was kicked out of a bordello-looking place for trying to interview a staff member as research for a novel; nearly died—twice—while hiking in the Rockies; had to pretend to be high on crack to evade drug dealers in downtown Toronto; and was almost shot in Italy.
I’m what I call an “airline brat”—someone who grew up with a parent who worked in the airline industry and took advantage of the travel benefits. Mom and Dad traveled quite a bit to the Caribbean when my two sisters and I were young, though they never took us with them. I suspect they needed the breaks. The first real trip they took us on was to upstate New York’s Finger Lakes District when I was ten. Ever the klutz, I managed to … Read more in the Spring 2019 issue
I’m a shower man. I take a bath now and then, but by and large I take showers. Weekend showers are my little treat. Normally I have a quick splash around then out, dressed and off to work, but weekends, ah weekends. I laze about and slowly work the temperature up so it’s hot–really hot, and I’m in lather up to my eyeballs and just stand there sizzling. It’s like being in Heaven.
Perhaps before I go any further I ought to explain how our shower works, because it may be a bit different in England to yours in the US. Ours is an electric shower, just an over-the-bath job, you step in, draw the curtain, and away you go. It works on the amount of water flowing through the head and a restrictor valve controls the heat. The slower the water flow, the hotter it gets. Still with me?
So back to the story. This morning I was just lazing in there, at peace with the world. The water was just about as hot as I could stand, and the bathroom full of steam. My darling wife shouted through the door to hurry up as she wanted to shower, too, and that she was going to put in some washing. She constantly tries to improve efficiency in our house. She put in the washing, switched on the machine and spent the next few minutes puttering around the kitchen. Continue reading in the Winter 2018 issue of SEARCH magazine.
I’ve never been quite so embarrassed as when I asked my husband
to call roadside assistance. I stopped at a convenience store for a thirty-twoounce
soda. Caffeine fortification ensured, my next errand was a quick trip into the wholesale house for one item. For less to carry, I poked the keys into my pocket and tucked my purse under the seat. My wallet went into the oxygen tank bag I carry for my emphysema. As I crawled out, I flipped the auto-lock button. Once inside the store, I snagged an electric cart.
I was really trucking then, as fast as one can on those carts. When I got back to my car and reached in my pocket for my keys, no keys. I slapped every pocket. No keys. Tugged and pulled on the door. I even went to the other side of the car to tug and pull like I’d miraculously find the automatic lock hadn’t really locked all the doors. From there I could see the keys, lying on the driver’s seat … continue reading in the Fall 2018 issue.