Welcome to My Awkward Past
When I was in first year University, I decided to take a summer job at a local tourist attraction called Fort Henry, which is a Canadian military fort from the late 1800s. Essentially, it was a big hole cut into the ground with some flags thrown on top to fool foreign countries into thinking that Canada has any kind of military presence at all.
In the present day, the fort had been transformed from a dank, ugly and diseased military base into a dank, ugly and diseased tourist attraction for children, complete with “privies” (i.e old-fashioned poo houses), “prisons” (also, essentially old-fashioned poo houses), and a “pet goat” who always seemed to be on the verge of dying at any given moment.
Due to my 8 years of in-depth theoretical and practical musical training on the classical piano, I was able to secure the much sought-after position of “Fife Player” in the “Guard”. Meaning I was basically hired to dress like a man, play a child’s recorder and walk around in organized circles all day in the parade square under the beating hot sun, wearing a heavy wool uniform. Since, in the 1860′s, no one actually ever attacked Forts that were situated in Southwestern Ontario, they would spend their time making up Fife Dances and prancing around the parade square playing the Fife and tap dancing with their spit-polished boots all day, so that was what we had to do, too:
The only thing that made the whole experience worthwhile was this one hot guy who was an “Edson” I think, which is a wicked-high position and he got to wear a super-sexy black uniform, and he didn’t have to wear the same embarrassing pillbox hat that we all had to wear. He was so brutally hot, that it made my Fife Dancing in the stifling heat somewhat bearable.
So, when you start at Fort Henry, there is a, like “boot camp rookie” hazing-type period, where you work like a durty dawg for 2 weeks prior to the Fort opening. On my second day of said hazing period, I remember that I had to wake up really early that day for some reason, and I didn’t have time to consume my typical nourishing breakfast of Honey Nut Cheerios and a Diet Coke, which was usually enough to sustain me until we had our lunchtime gruel in the staff cafeteria.
The first “exercise” of the day was “Carbine Drills”. If you don’t know what a Carbine is, then you’re in for a treat!
They are basically gigantic guns with big knives attached to the end, so that we can shoot AND stab all of the thousands of foreign intruders who come to Fort Henry to interrupt our Fife Dances. They are also REALLY heavy. Especially the ones made in the 1860s, when guns were basically made out of lead or cast iron or melted-down viking helmets or some heavy-ass shit like that. Heavy enough that a breakfast of Honey Nut Cheerios would have provided the essential nutritional support to carry them around for the 2 hour drill.
So, we start walking onto the parade square and I start to think again “Holy shitty BALLS, this Carbine is REALLY heavy!” At this point, I should also mention that I have really low blood pressure, so I am susceptible to fainting at least one or two times per year, and I tend to know what it feels like. You get all light headed and feel like you’re floating, then you start getting tunnel vision, and everyone’s voices start getting all echo-y, then you faint. So, I’m assuming that the combination of the sun, the heavy Carbine, the lack of nourishing Honey and Nuts in my stomach all formed the perfect storm, because my tunnel vision started.
Since being a Fife Player in the 1860′s was such an important and disciplined profession, us Fife Players were not allowed to address our “Head Fife Player” without raising one hand up at the forearm and screaming “FIFE MASTER!” or something along those lines. So, since I was pretty sure I was about to faint, I mustered up all of my energy and screamed out to my Fife Master with gusto. Then I blacked out.
The rest of the story was pieced together for me through eye-witness accounts of the other Fife Players and other guys in the “Infantry” unit (i.e. those individuals who didn’t have the useful background of multiple years of classical musical training in order to appropriately coax notes of yearning beauty from a child’s recorder). Apparently, after I addressed the Fife Master Guy, I let out a HUUUUGE snort, that echoed and ricocheted against the walls of the Parade Square with the pitch, volume and violence of a Terodactyl protecting its young.
Then I took one step forwards, and my knees buckled like origami paper, and I turned and did a full 360 spin-out, with both arms flailing out as if I were doing a Russian spin-dance, and my Carbine shot out of my hand like a pointy projectile directly AT the Fife Master. He had to jump out of the way in order to avoid being stabbed in the heart by the 200 pound, rusty knife-mounted weapon. Then I collapsed on the ground in a heap.
I envision the whole parade square, populated with at least 50 employee/soldier/fifers standing in complete silence, looked at my snorty, deformed heap of a body on the ground in disbelief. Of course, the one individual who was certified in First Aid ran to my side to help revive me. I think you can guess who it was. Mr. Hot Edson in his sexy black uniform.
I remember waking up from my mortifying collapse, and I could hear his voice pulling me back from the brink of darkness with the lilting tone of a dove, cooing in my ear. I let out another loud snort. Then, my eyes opened, and it was like that scene from The Little Mermaid, where Ariel saves Eric from drowning, and he wakes up and she’s beautiful, all surrounded by light, and she’s singing this song and he’s mesmerised, and she’s all like “ahhhhhhh, ahhhhhh, ah-uh-ah-uh-uh-ah-ah-ah!”.
Except I was Eric and all snorty, and he was Ariel, but even brutally hotter. Incidentally, while looking for this photo, I found this one of Eric playing the Fife, which is, I believe, what I looked like when I played the Fife (i.e. like a complete idiot):
So I wiped my sweaty face and got to my feet and hobbled over to the first aid tent, where the goat mascot was hanging out, chewing on dirty hay, on the verge of death, baaa-ing like he was mocking me.
So I quit my job the next day.