Posts Tagged ‘Winnipeg’



In life, most of us reach a point where we crave our independence. It’s a time when we grow enough backbone to stand up for ourselves and announce that we will be responsible for what we are and who we are. At first, our legs may be wobbly, and our resolve shaky, but eventually… it can come to pass. Of course, this is a time that varies for each and all of us. Some reach their independence at a much earlier time than others. Life is not a race, after all, it’s a marathon.

I say all this to set up the story of my first real independence, the time I screamed out ‘ENOUGH!’. I was 16 years old, was in Winnipeg in a high school with 1,200 other students, and I wanted to expose my individuality. I wanted not to be a number, but a person recognised as original and relevant. And at the time, my wardrobe just wasn’t making that statement. I wore what was bought FOR me, not by me. And I truly appreciate the fact that my parents provided for me. But the time had come to move out of the 70’s and into the 80’s with clothing that could properly show off my sense of style.

After explaining this to my mom and dad, they allowed me to withdraw some of my hard-earned cash and go shopping by myself. Armed with my new driver’s licence, my dad’s Buick, and a renewed sense of being, I made my way to the mall. And it didn’t take me long to find out my hard-earned moolah would not go far at these stores. So, off I was to the discount stores, where clothing was less than half the price!! Yes sir, an independent decision if there ever was one!!

The most pressing problem I had in my wardrobe, sadly, was my pants. They were all too big, way too loose to look cool. And I planned to rectify that. I wanted tight jeans that could show off my physique. Of course, my physique at the time could best be described as ‘The Pillsbury Dough Boy meets Fat Albert’. The lady at the store was horrified at my jean choices…upon reflection, I likely looked like ‘5 scoops of ice cream in a one-scoop cone’….but, it was my decision.

I took the city bus to school each day, and the first real sign of my folly was trying to actually get on the bus. These jeans did not allow for much lateral movement. But I did it. I couldn’t sit down, but I did it. After getting off the bus and walking the three blocks to school, the jeans were finally starting to act normally. I could sit (sort of), and I weaved my way through the day, excited that people were looking at my clothing and talking! (silly me)

At noon hour, my friends and I were messing around, and I was play fighting with my best friend. And it came time to administer my famous ‘round-house’ kick, which I did with perhaps a little more gusto than I should. And what happened next was epic….tragically epic. The sound it made was unlike anything I had ever heard, and can best be described as a ‘tear in the fabric of space and time’. Not only had my pants ripped, but they ripped completely from front to back. In fact, the only reason my pants were still standing (so to speak) was that I had a belt on. Sadly, this was also before I wore boxers. Time stood still as we all tried to deal with the sudden change in events.

The next three hours were a study in trying to look nonchalant in an otherwise epically challenging situation. I wore my jacket tied around my waist, and I hoped that this would conceal most of the exposed areas, but you’d be amazed how fast news like this travels through a school that size. And this is before cell phones and texting! More and more people were finding ways to pass where I happened to be. My teachers were avoiding eye contact with me. When the final bell rang, I still faced the arduous task of walking to the bus stop, and taking the 20-minute ride home, surrounded by students from my school and 2 others, who had also apparently heard of my dilemma. Ironically, getting up the stairs to the bus was easier now that my pants were looser. As horrified kids watched me make my way to the back seat, I held my head high, with my hands in front of my pants.

At home, I discarded my new jeans, and finally took the time to face the facts. Tight jeans were not for me. I was perhaps too early for such independence. I had just wasted $7.00 on pants that were now rags. And, I needed to go back to school the next day, to get ’back up on the horse’ so to speak. The next day’s bus ride and walk to school were the longest in my life. I imagined the worst, you can bet on that. The teasing would be relentless.

But I found out the power of good friends that day. After a few good-natured chuckles, the let me off the hook, and pretty much insulated me from the rest of the school for the remainder of the day. And in many ways, I really did earn my independence, albeit not quite the way I had intended.