canadian love affair

A cold and rainy Sunday spent indoors playing with Keaton while Sharaun nursed another pregnancy migraine.  Saturday I finally got the bike out and did the first real ride since Spring started, clocking in a chilly seventeen miles around town – I love the trail system here.  A good weekend, overall.

In the late 80s my family packed up and moved from Southern California to Central Florida.  At the the time Florida seemed to me to be about as far removed from California as was possible (I guess I wasn’t entirely wrong, after all).  I had just finished the fifth-grade when we left and would spend most of that summer before my first year of middle school living in a condominium on the beach while my folks looked for a new house to move our family into.  The condo one of many in a large multi-floor building which was laid-out similar to an apartment complex.  It was literally right on the beach and had a large shared pool.  My brother and I spent every waking moment in the water, going back and forth between the beach and the pool from sun-up to sun-down seven days a week.  Neither of us knew a single soul in Florida, and so that summer we were each other’s best friend.

I suspect if one was born inside Disneyland and lived his whole childhood there that even such a wonderful and seemingly ceaselessly fun place would eventually become boring.  This weakness of human nature is what found my brother and I, even in the midst of our ocean-side paradise, looking for “something to do.”  We’d jump from the first floor landing into the grass; we’d use the elevator as a mechanical plaything; and we’d run around ringing doorbells and ditching.  That last one was one of our more enjoyed time-killers.  We’d have to each be at the door when the bell was rung, and then we’d both hightail it down to the elevator and try and get away before anyone could catch us.  It quickly became a close third to the pool and beach in terms of activities from which we derived enjoyment.

Around the time we started playing our regular games of ding-dong-ditch, we also began noticing a couple new kids around the complex.  I myself on the cusp of that particular brand of sixth-grade manhood was quick to notice that they were both females, and neither too hard on the eyes.  I judged them both a little older than me.  We quickly learned that their condo was near dead-above us on the floor above ours.  Some evenings we’d see them out on their porch hanging their feet through the railing and talking to each other.  We sit below on ours and listen, watching their legs swing in time.  They spoke some foreign language and laughed a lot.  Oh, and they knew we were down there listening, too. Once we realized our cover was blown we went for broke.

The girls’ condo became our favorite doorbell-ditching target.  We’d hit it at least once a day, maybe more.  We almost got caught several times and the girls were definitely on to us.  We’d see them around the pool and down at the beach and they’d smile and point and laugh.  We’d pretend not to notice but, at least for me (maybe not my younger, female-indifferent, brother), it was all some terribly exciting one-upped game of chase-around-the-playground.  After a while we became truly friendly, hanging out together as  a group of four.  They were from Canada and spoke French primary but both had excellent English.  Our folks met their folks (they were cousins) and our families struck up a real friendship, even joining each other for dinner at times.  When we finally found a house and their vacation’s-end saw them headed back north we exchanged addresses and promised to write.

And write I did.  Except… the passing time and my sixth-grade hormones made seemed to warp my memories.  I remembered our relationship in some 60%/40% mix of fantasy and reality, and wrote letters that were embarrassingly hot and heavy.  I’d send Penthouse Forum -esque missives detailing the, ahem, things we would do when we saw each other again. I don’t think I ever got one response back during my campaign of written sexual assault, and I can only remember writing three or so letters to begin with.  Then, maybe two years later my dad told me that our Canuck friends were going to be back in town, in the very same condo, and they’d invited us over for dinner.  Now a few years younger, but not a whit more experienced, I was embarrassed to death at the thought of facing the girl.

Turns out the French in the Canadians extends beyond language alone, as one of the dinner table topics were the torrid letters I’d sent years earlier.  The adults seemed to get a great laugh out of it all – while I was able to brush it off surprisingly well considering.

I can’t remember ever seeing her again.


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