I’m not a materialistic guy. I don’t pursue “toys” like many; the boats, floats, ski-doos, sea-doos, bikes, trikes, and the like. I only get envious when the owners of these gas-fuelled fun machines, insist on parading them before me every weekend. It comes with living along the shortest route from Edmonton to the parks around Pigeon Lake.
One toy tugs at my yearn-strings the most and that’s the quad. It’s the most cost-effective-per-hours-spent-enjoying, “big boy toy” on the market (ed note: “big boy toy” not to be confused with the prey of the majestic, wild Canadian cougar). Those four-wheeled wonders are all-terrain, all-weather and definitely sound like they’re all about fun.
Then, a month ago, I got a call from my son, Matt, with another of his “deals of a lifetime”. Apparently, after intense negotiations, he got his boss, Kevin to agree to sell me his quad for “only” eight hundred bucks.
“I know you’ve always wanted one, but why do I need a quad?” I sighed. “Seems sketchy.”
“It’s not sketchy!” he volleyed. “Me and my buddies can rig up a blade so your new toy becomes a ride ‘em snow shovel!”
That was downright devious, I thought, playing upon my weakness for ride ‘em anythings. I reflected silently he should really pursue a career in sales. I deflected with my patented, 100% effective and unarguable response, “I’ll talk to your mother.”
“I already did,” Matt admitted. “She says she’d love to try quadding, to draw you together and inspire greater closeness, leading to a stronger marital bond between you. Actually, she’s okayed it, I just thought you’d want to know. And before you pop a gasket in your brain circuitry, my boss says he’ll just come get it, if it doesn’t work out.”
“With a pitch like that, you should be in the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame.” I grunted. “Okay, bring it over whenever.”
“Who was that on the phone?” asked Cupcake.
“Just Matt asking us to buy him a quad,” I answered mildly.
“He asked me, too,” she responded. “I said we couldn’t afford it but to talk to you.”
The quad was an older Honda model with a rope start like my mower. At least it didn’t have a crank in the front, I mused, while kicking the tires and pretending like I knew what I was doing. I had hoped for an electric start, since I find pulling starter ropes is a leading cause of pulling shoulder muscles.
Kevin, a pleasant, cheery fellow, reeled off particulars, including why he had trouble starting it.
“Bad gas,” he explained as he yanked the rope again.
“I can relate,” I nodded sagely.
The mighty engine roared to life. Kevin insisted I “take ‘er for a spin”. With my heart pounding harder than the pistons in the motor, I straddled the seat, slammed it into gear and putted about in first, around the back yard.
“Come on, Dad, you’re embarrassing me,” Matt whispered to me as he slowly walked beside the vehicle, as I made a circuit of the fire-pit. “You’ll have to leave the yard to really test-drive it.”
“Quiet while I’m enjoying the feeling of the wind in my face,” I snapped.
After Kevin left, I decided to give it a real whirl; maybe even trying second, even third gear… in “low”, of course. My goal was the Co-op snack bar at the edge of town I could get to, by following the edge of the farmer’s field behind our house, and avoiding paved roads; from which my new ride was banned. Freshly tilled fields, however, are a series of gigantic dirt speed bumps. With my lack of depth perception, I felt like a newbie cowboy on his first bucking bronc. My terror was at level; “trouser-tainting”. Using every ounce of courage I had, (about a half a cup) I soldiered on shakily. I would not let fear deter me from my quest for the black “Nibs” available there. I decided I’d take the back roads home, bearing any legal lumps that may arise, than face the mogul-strewn field again.
At the Co-op, my feeling of triumphant was short-lived when I noticed my new aluminum cane was missing from its storage place behind the quad seat.
Panicking, I immediately retraced my tracks through the weedy harrowed ridges of the field, keeping a close watch for my precious daily living aid. Trekking back through the treacherous terrain, my eyes watering from vigilance, weed pollen and the thought the $20.00 the cane cost. I finally located my missing stick five feet from my back gate. It appeared to have been run over, as it now had a slight bend in the middle. Frustrated and nibless, I killed the engine and went in the house to take a decongestant and change my shorts.
Kevin had insisted we have fun with it for a while and only pay if we decided to keep it. Unwisely, I agreed. I’d already decided it wasn’t for me, however, I remembered Cupcake had yet to have a turn. I fervently hoped if she liked it, she’d do the snow clearing come winter.
“Good try,” Cupcake snorted at the suggestion, crushing my plans.
With a sense of failure, I eventually made the necessary call.
“I’m sorry,” I began sadly. “That quad just won’t work out. It’s the wife, eh. They can be so unreasonable.”
“Oh, sure, no problem,” Kevin said sportingly. “I’ll pick it up right away.”
As disheartening as it was to have had a quad in my hands only to have it torn away, I was buoyed by the fact Matt would be even more disappointed.