Let us start this meeting by reciting the Possum Lodge motto: "Quondo Omni Flunkus Moritati" or "When All Else Fails, Play Dead."
On Wednesday night, we held the 400th meeting of Possum Lodge, with our national leader Red Green presiding.
He arrived on stage at Vanier Hall through a weather system of his own creation. It was a fog of plaid with intermittent denim periods throughout. And while we have all heard about the fading of other fraternal orders across our community and our country, it was nice to see how ours was very much a disorder. There were men and women, old and young, rural and urban, all united by an apparently preternatural tolerance for mosquitos, beer and puns - the three main commodities of the Port Asbestos region.
While I was expecting to laugh during the proceedings - Mr. Green's reputation as a joke is legendary - I was not expecting such wisdom from our harolded leader. Actually Harold couldn't be there, it was just Red. If you want to see Harold, you have to buy the DVD collection of The Red Green Show.
So it was all up to Red to ply us with his insights. We were hoping for alcohol, but apparently the tickets didn't include the six-pack of discount suds we had all been expecting. By "all" I mean me and by "expecting" I mean "wouldn't that have been nice" but maybe that's a motion I can make at the Annual General Meeting if they ever unblock my Facebook inquiries about that.
We may have (mostly) been sober but we still got treated to nuggets like "you can't outrun even the slowest explosion" and "you can surprise anybody, one night at a time," and we will never forget that classic Red Green observation "don't."
Red Green's main attribute, other than holding his liquor, is his everyday appeal. When he disclosed to us that "in our town, the animals outnumbered the people, which was OK because it increased the average IQ," it was like he had grown up right here with us. I mean, this is the man who, through sheer force of mental hopscotch (or hops and scotch, depending on the day of the week) came up with the genius notion of stuffing a plunger in the ground upside down to make a convenient drink holder, and revolutionized the home decoration industry with his combination carpet rollend/forklift giant paint roller. And here he was in Prince George in person. He had me at "pull my finger."
But he did more than just relate to us as equals, he also inspired us. I'm now looking for a T-shirt that has his latest profundity "that whole giving birth thing is proof that with enough perseverance you can get out of anything." He further demonstrated his empathy for children with the observation - universally applicable, really - "well, babies do the opposite of that." You just think about that next time you're...um.... Well, just sometimes think about that.
I couldn't get all of his blue collar wisdom down on paper fast enough. Sorry. He said right at the start that we didn't have to take notes 'cause it was all in his latest book How to Do Everything, which I predict will become the do-it-yourself, home improvement handyman's Bible and the professional tradesperson's drink coaster. But since I couldn't calculate how many bottles I'd have to collect from my den in the garage in order to pay for the book, I tried to write it all down anyway. This is as far as I got.
I knew I wasn't the only one not getting it all down. I sat beside a guy who just finished rowing a boat from Francois Lake to Fraser Lake in one day. In the bathroom I got chatting with a man in a Winnipeg Jets jersey, but had the good sense to not mention it since I know him to be an expert with a chainsaw. And the fellows sitting right in front, one of them in a John Deer vest, stood up after the meeting was adjourned at about 9 p.m. and said "well, OK, let's go get that job done." This was not a crowd of people afraid of hard work. They all had duct tape and weren't afraid to use it. So as the plaid fog dissipated into the night, you could still hear the sound - it was kind of a subtle groan - of us going back to our now richer daily lives where we would try to keep our stick on the ice. Try our best to change. If we had to. I guess.