Getting Through the Night… and the Day

The little guy lowered his hand after I called out his name. He was wide-eyed and exuberant. “My dad woke up in the middle of the night and he had to pee. And when he went into the bathroom and looked in the mirror he saw the devil.”


I didn’t really know what to say so I just told everyone to pull out their math notebooks and turn to page 23. The rest of the class didn’t laugh uproariously and there wasn’t one snide remark. Not even a raised eyebrow. I relayed the story to my father later on and he smiled sardonically, blew his cigarette smoke out through his nose and said, “Maybe he did.”

This was back in 1980 and I was doing a five week stint of student teaching a Grade Five class in Magog, Quebec. The school was called… Magog Elementary, predictably enough. I remember that school started at 8 a.m. and that there were four of us who carpooled out there every morning with David Bird, the only one who had a car. We’d drive out from Lennoxville and I’d be the first one to jump aboard at 6:30 a.m. Louis was always the last to be picked up, living on the outskirts of Sherbrooke as he did. I remember all this because it always struck me as funny that Lou would be standing in a snowbank, smoking a joint. I asked him if he always started his day off in this manner and he’d say no, usually he woke up at 3:30 in the morning, had a coffee and smoked a doobie. Louis was always laid-back, the stereotypical pothead, and even smiley and articulate in those days. He became less well-spoken as the year went on, to the point where he couldn’t even finish his sentences. Later on that spring when we taught at Alexander Galt, the Eastern Townships regional high school, Louis would forego the staffroom, where most of the other pedagogues would have a smoke. He would exit the school, downwind from the kids’ smoking area and have a splif. I can’t even hazard a guess as to what number it was in the morning’s intake.
He was the only one in the class not to graduate.

I’ve been leery of the benefits of pot ever since.

I’m not saying that I have it all figured out. We are all unique and everyone has their own individual philosophy that helps them get through their days and navigate their nights. God knows that there is more than enough medication out there, making somebody rich. I’ve always loved this quote: “Doctors prescribe medication of which they know little to arrest diseases of which they know less to cure human beings of which they know nothing.”

Voltaire wrote that in the seventeenth century.

My apologies to the medical profession out there for which I have the utmost respect. We’ve made a lot of progress. Doctors are certainly under a lot of pressure and time restraints and most people enter their chambers and want to come out clutching a prescription of some sort. I’m very good at offending someone with every blog that I churn out.

I justify myself by saying that I mean well even if I haven’t figured out much in life: where we come from, what we are here for, what happens at the final curtain.

We’ve got to figure it out for ourselves. Me ? I’m usually at my best after popping open a beer after hockey.

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