Like a Caged Rat, eh?

This past Sunday the O-Dog had a doubleheader of birthday parties. Unfortunately, the first one was one that the Fletchmonster had to sit out. His heartbreaking cries of "I want to go with mommy and O.D." made the daddy-tears well up.

"Don't worry, Fletch. We'll hang out like gentlemen."
"I don't want to hang out like gentlemen. I want to go with mommy. Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!"

As Mrs. P and the O-Dog left, I was left with a wailing two year-old.

Any parent knows that the quickest way to stop a kid from crying is to put him in the car and tell him you're going to buy him something. I thought I'd take a quick jaunt to Ft. Erie in Canada to buy myself some hockey elbow pads (the cheap, sh*tty pair I currently own did little to protect me from a weak-ass shot from the point). Also, the Fountain Plaza ice rink should be opening any day and it's time to throw the Fletch into the size 7 Bauer skates. I figured I'd get him a helmet while I was there.

For the geographically impaired, Ft. Erie is on the other side of the Niagara River from Buffalo, NY. We live five minutes from the Peace Bridge and the Canadian Tire store is about another 8 minutes away. Going through Canadian customs is usually a breeze, so I figured the whole trip might take an hour or less...

I turned to take the bridge and got an eye-full of Faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhk!

There was a back up of about two to three miles of what my Canuck brother-in-law calls "cheap-ass Canadians" coming into the U.S. to take advantage of our crappy Crap-mas sales over the holiday weekend.

I felt like that Flick kid in "A Christmas Story" as soon as he put his tongue on the lamp post.

"Stuck? Stuck! Waah-hah haaaaaaaW! (painful wails continue).

Short of making an international incident causing u-turn in the middle of the bridge (brown people like me get shot first and get questions asked later when doing anything unusual), I bit my lip and headed into Ontario.

Customs Official: Purpose of your visit.
Prego: Well, I was just going to take a quick trip over to Canadian Tire, but...(Customs Official winces and grimaces...) I think I picked a bad day...
Customs Official: Yeah. I'd say so.
Prego: ... so I'm probably going to pay a visit to my sister in Thorold, ON.
Customs Official: Yeah. You might want to extend your stay a little. Go ahead.

I drove the 20 minutes to Thorold, short of breath... suffocating from feeling trapped in the land of hosers, curling and (shudder...) politesse.

In the meanwhile, the Fletch was chatting me up from the back seat.
"You getting me a hockey helmet? Where's the store, daddy? Am I going to see my cousins, daddy?"

"Yes, buddy. We're close. Yes, buddy."

I pulled into Canadian tire and browsed the aisles for hockey gear. Bingo. On sale, $16 cdn for a pair of elbow pads. Sweet. Now where are those helmets?

I located them in the next aisle. $50 cdn? Jesus! I put one on the Fletch's head, at his request. The vision of my handsome toddler behind the facemask evoked fantasies of the Fletch-Master General leading the Maple Leafs to their first Stanley Cup win since 1967... or becoming a stalwart defenceman for the Edmonton Oilers...

Sh*t like that? 50 scoots is a baaaahr-gain. In the end, it was almost worth getting stuck in Canada, eh?

For the record, I paid my sister and her family a 40 minute visit before I decided to head back to the U.S. I managed to spend an hour and a half in Niagara Falls, inching my way towards and across the Rainbow Bridge, trying to maintain my composure. Remember, brown people like me get shot and get asked questions later.


keda said...

oh my ether! the fletch monster is just scary gorgeous. all that head shaking under his helmet! wow..

glad you guys live a long way away or the littlelets might develop cradlesnatching crushes for that wild boy!

and well done on not getting shot. that woulda been a bummer.

the beige one said...

Brer Prego, I hear you on the dangers of being beige/brown whilst traveling...oh, how I hear you. I'm sure to be frisked at least once on the trip to Denver for Xmas. Hopin' it's not another burly guy, instead gimme a hot redhead in a security uniform. I can deal with that.

meanwhile, gotta ask, does Fletch get his name from the obvious source, and are you a fan of the books? do you actually call him that.

If so, you've stolen my idea. Prepare to hear from my attorney, Gloria Allred.

Prego said...

I'd take the rubber-glove treatment from a hot redhead in the name of security. Regrettably, that's seldom the case. Good luck on your trip.

Regarding the Fletch-Master General, his moniker is more of an ode to the Mutiny on the Bounty and less Chevy Chase/Gregory McDonald, though the latter does add some nice secondary ├ęclat.

Feel free to file suit. Unfortunately, my first choice for representation, Clarence Darrow, has been dead for 68 years.

Atul said...

It's funny how the traffic flows at the US-Canada borders have reversed now that the U.S. dollar has tanked relative to the Canadian dollar. And boy do I hate traffic so I only cross to Windsor Ontario when I have to.

Anyway, the helmet for Fletchmaster is a worthy investment for his future hockey career. And if you can get him to wear it in the car, think of all the extra impact protection he'll have(!), (something which he'll hopefully never have to use).

Kevin J. Hosey said...

It sounds like you may need to wear a hockey helmet for your border crossings, Prego.

Thanks for leaving me laughing out loud, shaking my head and wondering how such a cute kid came from such an, um, well, rugged father.

Maryanne said...

Hockey Helmet for the toddler, huh? I'm surprised you waited this long to get him one. If my husband had sent in the right troops and we had been blessed with a son, he would have had him wearing it before the cord was cut. How 'bout those Sabres, will we go into overtime tonight?

carli said...

Mutiny on the Bounty rocks. Although it's really, really long. . . the first one. Couldn't get through the remake.

Glad you got some good Canadien hockey gear. I can't even stand up in skates, so it amazes me that people can stand up and chase a puck with a stick in their hands while a bunch of other people try to knock them into the wall. Here from Michele.

sage said...

Don't know much about hockey, but when I lived in W NY, I learned the Canadian holidays and knew to avoid the bridges and the malls on those days

Carmi said...

I'm sorry you didn't get to spend more time in our lovely country. We don't shoot anybody. We invite them in, give them whatever they want, then thank them for putting Canada at the top of their list.

As always, my friend, you've made me smile. How many times have I been on a Daddy-mission to make the little man happy. Happy sigh...

Two Sirius said...

Cutest. Thing. EVER.

I must know, though...how does it come about that a tire store carries hockey gear?

Michele sent me!

angela marie said...

So even in the frustration of d r i v i n g slowly, you were able to purchase your much-needed hockey items AND get brownine points for visiting your sister?

Way to go. If you cooked dinner for the family, I would call a trifecta.

Anonymous said...

The land of hockey helmets, Tim Hortons, and lack of guns welcomes you. Politely. ;)

Hi from Michele's.

Dak-Ind said...

what a handsome little man ya got there!

i love hockey, but the nearest rink is over an hour from us, and we have but a pitiful AAA team here... the portland Winterhawks. they might even be double A.

My neihgbors always make funny comments about driving while brown being a crime... they get stopped twice as often as i do. I had a tail light out and was stopped and told i should get it fixed and let go. The neighbor (who is a permanent resident alien from Mexico) got pulled over for a taillight out a few days after i did and was sited 170 bucks for equipment violation. ouch.

michele sent me.

Dave said...

Nice story. The whole idea of popping into another country is really wierd to us Brits. Although I guess that the channel tunnel makes it a bit more feasible nowadays.

Carrie said...

I've never been to Canada. I had a friend come back recently and she was terrified of the ordeal.

Sounds like you found some good deals and you made the little guy happy.

Love your new picture.

Jacques Roux said...

You should write a MasterCard ad:
Hockey pads & helmet from Canada: super-cheap.
cross border traffic: unbearable.
Visions of your son winning the Stanely Cup, priceless.