A marriage counsellor would have a field day with this, but my wife Brenda and I have always entertained ourselves on summer holiday road trips by casually cutting up the other’s home province. I’m from Quebec, she’s from New Brunswick, and we each think that the other has provided us with plenty of fodder for uncomplimentary observations. Brenda’s sister Diane, a phys.ed. teacher, had just moved back to N.B. after fourteen years in Bermuda and provided me with a warehouse of ammunition.
“Can you believe that cruise ships actually stop in at Saint John”, she marvelled during our visit back in July as we cruised through the Irving family’s hometown. “Here they are, probably on a trip to a tropical isle like Turks and Caicos, thinking about drinking pina coladas in a tropical bar, and these unfortunate people are dumped in the Saint John Market in the middle of a cold fog which never seems to lift and have to drink Alpine beer out of a can beside a toothless redneck who’s drowning his sorrows after just getting laid-off from the Irving Shipyards. You call that a cruise?”
Diane was not yet done. “Then my sister Susan can take them up to Horsefly Beach, where they can cut up their feet on those sharp, small rocks while wading through a small brook and swatting horseflies the size of bullfrogs that have landed on their ears and up their nose.”
I had a good laugh at that one, cackling and slapping my knee just like I had seen my grandfather’s old friends do while sitting around the woodstove to warm up after splitting firewood.
The very next day, on our way to Prince Edward Island but still in New Brunswick, we had to stop at a red light in a small town whose name now escapes me. Also stopped was a muddy pickup truck, with a character at the wheel, wild beard, missing teeth, who would have looked right at home as a cast member of that classic seventies movie, ‘Deliverance’.
“Would you look at that hillbilly”, I needled Brenda. “Right out of the backwoods. And that woman sitting beside him is probably his wife and his cousin.” I was really enjoying myself. But then I noticed that he too was laughing and pointing over at me. My attention drawn back to myself, only then did I realize that I was sitting right under the red light, blocking traffic with my car, which was as misplaced and awkward as a Baptist preacher at a college frat party.
Oops. Brenda would be marking up one point for New Brunswick with this one.