Erik was singing to himself as he drove, dancing with his shoulders, one finger apparently conducting an tiny orchestra sitting somewhere on the dashboard. "You've made my life so glamorous... You can't blame me for feeling amorous..." He reached up for the high notes, and pulled them down with a flutter of wings and a squawk; stretched for the lows and wrestled them furiously to the ground. "Yeah, that's right, baby. ...Its wonderful, it's marvelous, that you should care for me..." He honked out a triumphant ending, wiped the sweat from his forehead and slumped in his seat, exhausted...
There follows: a bouncing around the bottom of Ontario like a frog in a bucket. We had Kitchener, Hamilton, Guelph, Niagara, Grand Bend, London, Sarnia, Strathroy, more... Trips back-and-forth betwee; a motor home changing direction so many times it became dizzy. "C'mon, boy," Brad says, patting the dash. "Just a few deep breaths. You'll be okay." Up-down; side-to-side. Here-there-and-everywhere. So much, in fact, that...
"HELLO, KITCHENER!" booms Erik from the front of the school gymnasium, raising his arms like an inspired evangelist.
"Uhh, Erik?" whispers Brad. "We're in Sarnia..."
"HELLO, SARNIA!" booms Erik. "I WAS JUST KIDDING, BEFORE!"
One... Soon enough, we found huge forklifts looking like creatures from space, whirling conveyor belts, ceilings so high you had to squint to see the roof, and miles-without-end of boxes. "This here," says Jeff. "...Our warehouse."
Home-base, headquarters, center-of-the-universe: Columbia, our sponsor. Tip-top place, in our books, jumping on board with a promise of warm-and-dry in windy-wet winter. "So... Anything you need, guys?"
"Well," Erik answers, pulling from his pocket a scroll of paper that unrolls, hits the floor, and pools about his feet. "I do have this little list here..."
Two... We now discover, in this raggedy pile, an Oktoberfest... 5,000 people pretending to be German; roasting nuts, cooking pretzels, drinking beers, spilling them on each other. Carnival games, too, where Brad cheered the participants. "Nice shot, buddy. Give it another go. I'm sure you'll get it this time." Chris took a baseball, threw a shot, and hit a bull's-eye. The bikini-girl shrieked as her platform jumped to one side and introduced her to the water. We danced the polka with men in leather pants, paraded with pig-tailed women, and traded jokes with grandmothers and their knee-slapping hubbies... And then, as the roof of the tent began dripping with accumulated sweat, it was swiftly decided. Enough, enough. It certainly was.
Three... From one watery-fall to another. But bigger-and-better, this one; place of honeymoons, proposals, anniversaries, too... With the mist and roar rising behind us, we filled the camera with pictures. And because everyone was watching, Erik climbed the rail and stepped to the edge. Rolled forward into a handstand with his fingers on a slippery lip and a hundred-foot drop inches ahead. But, Mrs. Hanson, rest the mind; no slips-'n-slides, no water-logged kid, this time.
And Four... Down and dirty; in London, dormitory rooms were begging a cleaning - places, you realize, to make those slums of India, gutters of Brazil, seem a haven of spic-and-span. Open the door and any housekeeper would screech in horror, but we sucked up courage with handy vacuums, and swept ahead with our brooms. And mops and rags and bottles and buckets and gloves. Definitely, gloves... "Umm, guys?" Val asks, holding up something that could, at one time, have been a sock, as it wriggled and twisted in his hand, snapping angrily at his thumb. "What on earth... is this?"
"Hey!" cries the sleepy-eyed occupant of this room (after all, it was only 1:00). "So that's where you got to." Val hands it over. Steps carefully away.
Late that night, tucked away in the motor home... Stretched on the dashboard as usual, Erik was murmuring in his sleep. "And... I need skateboarding shoes... yeah, definitely skateboarding shoes... And two more jackets... No... four more. Yeah, four... maybe five... Scarves, too... Lots of scarves... And toques, too. Lots and lots of toques. Gimme toques... Gotta have those toques..."