We are again having to take a short bypass on our planned writing journey; this time to a place that’s, according to their Facebook page, about 148 beer stores north of Toronto, Ontario (which, for the benefit of the less-geographically aware reader, is in Canada).
It’s a crazy place, where duct tape is more truly the coin of the realm than loonies, but we’re going to try to explain it all today…and in the effort we may even learn about a few things that really matter, like the unimportance of importance, and the kind of quality of life that comes from having a junk pile and a sense of adventure.
So grab the bug spray, Gentle Reader, because it’s time to visit Possum Lodge.
“You want to make it two inches — or, if you’re working in centimeters, make sure it’s enough centimeters for two inches.”
Possum Lodge itself is in the remote north of Canada (right next to Possum Lake), but Lodge members live all over the place.
So how do you spot a Lodge member?
You’ll often find them out in the shed, sorting through the pile of junk, looking for a part…but you might find them at the auction, looking to buy a used police car, or out on the lake, fishing.
Lodge members typically have been with the spouse for long enough that passion has been replaced by realpolitik; that’s certainly true of Dalton Humphrey and his wife Anne-Marie (Dalton owns the “Everything Store”, by the way, and since it’s the only store this side of Port Asbestos, the prices are way too high).
A great way to understand the friendly cynicism of a Lodge member is to check out the Possum Lodge Word Game. In this episode, Red’s geeky nephew Harold is the timekeeper, and Edgar Montrose, the “local explosives expert”, is trying to say a certain word…
When today’s Lodge members were kids, they were the ones who would take things apart, just out of curiosity—and a true Lodge member won’t be able to put the thing back together exactly how it came apart…but that’s why they make what Red calls “the handyman’s secret weapon”, duct tape.
Today, jury-rigging things together in an effort to make something new isn’t just a matter of curiosity…it’s a lifestyle. Check out this example of Red rigging two cars together to make one all-wheel-drive car:
This next video is even better: you get to meet Winston Rothschild (he of the most necessary Rothschild’s Sewer and Septic Sucking Services), and you get to learn how to build a self-operated dog wash at the same time…which, in real life, almost never happens.
“Buzz” Sherwood is the local bush pilot—and the “Buzz” in his name does not refer to how low he flies. Matter of fact, with Buzz also being the local hippie and all, the nickname really refers to how high he flies, if you get my drift.
For these guys, camping can be…it’s…tell you what…just watch this:
Now if this was all there was to our little tale, it would be OK, but this has actually been the set-up for what Paul Harvey would have called “the rest…of the story”.
“I’m a man, but I can change, if I have to…I guess.”
–The Red Green Show’s “Man’s Prayer”
You see, I met Red Green about two weeks ago (to be more accurate, I met Steve Smith, who is one of the two co-creators of the Possum Lodge franchise, in his Red Green character), up at the ol’ True Value in West Seattle, and we had a most interesting conversation…and it won’t be at all what you think we might have talked about—sorry, aboot.
You see, I was recently notified by email that I’m gay, and the night before I was actually attending a meetup with some of my gay friends, and as it turned out, they, being a bit more the “dazzling urbanite” type than myself, had no idea who Red Green really was.
Right that minute, I figured I would put a story together that tried to explain Possum Lodge, not just to the gay community, but to anybody who doesn’t fully understand how a bit of indolence can be a beautiful thing.
And (with apologies in advance for the lack of sound) that’s what we’re talking about in this next video, where Red is preparing to autograph my roll of clear duct tape (and yes, Virginia, there is such a thing as clear duct tape):
So as you can see, we’re talking about all this, me and Red there, by the duct tape display, and he sorta leans over conspiratorially and tells me that he actually has a pretty substantial gay audience—and that in fact, Possum Lodge is the kind of place where nobody would really care if you were gay, and, as far as anyone can tell, a few of the members may very well be gay.
And that made a lot of sense to me, actually, because The Girlfriend and I play mini-golf with a woman who drives a pickup truck that’s just about the same age and size as Red’s “Possum Van”, and she’s constantly workin’ on stuff, which means when you go over to the house it’s often like attending a live segment of “Handyman’s Corner”…and to tell you the truth, she has that kind of not-in-a-particular-hurry personality that would probably fit right in at the Lodge…and, as it turns out, she’s gay.
So how about that for a bit of a story: an introduction to a way of life you may have observed from a distance but never understood, a chance to have a few laughs on Red, and—most surprising of all—a chance to discover that, even 148 beer stores north of Toronto, there’s a place for all kinds of folks to come together and do just about as little as possible for as long as they can get away with it…or at least until the wife finds out.
And if you ask me, that’s a pretty good message for the start of summer.