Reflections: Hobbies of the old

George Rowe


When you get to our age it takes little to create excitement and anticipate new challenges every day. I get personal satisfaction when I see how little it takes to move my wife from one level of excitement to another.

My wearing an apron, grilling at the barbecue, pushing a mop across the floor or helping “make” the bed opens up a whole new level of excitement for my lady of forty-five years. The latest level of excitement has now been achieved. It is now official. My wife is the Bungee Jumping Champion of the entire Peace Region—maybe the Bungee Jumping Champion of all British Columbia.

In recent months we have done a fair amount of traveling (this explains why my Reflection articles have not been so regular). From Mexico to Fort McMurray, Red Deer, Vancouver, Cold Lake, Sparwood, Edmonton and many places in between. When we drive on trips that last from ten to fourteen hours we try novel ideas to help pass the time while making the trip meaningful from start to finish.

On a recent trip to Red Deer I spotted a black rubber bungee cord on the side of the highway. Then another and another and another. “I have an idea,” I thought. “When it is safe to do so I’m going to stop my little Ford Ranger and start picking up bungee cords.”

I shared the idea with my wife and her response was between cold and freezing cold. “Are you serious?” she said. “What will people say if they catch you jumping out of the truck and running for bungee cords?” “I will figure it out,” I said. “Just leave it with me.” I spotted a few but made no comment or any attempt to stop and retrieve it—I just wanted to get a reaction from my wife because I knew she was also looking and saw what I was seeing. I wanted her to buy into my idea of a new but silly adventure.

Then it happened. On a nice stretch of divided highway I saw another. “There is one,” said my wife. “Grab it! Grab it!” I knew that hormonal secretion was now flowing because adrenaline was going through the roof. She was hooked. “Sweetheart, the thing is still a hundred yards away and I just can’t grab it on the fly.” “Why not?” she gasped. “Because I would find it really difficult to open my door and grab the thing while going 110 km/h.”

Slowing down and checking for other traffic I safely got out of my vehicle and grabbing the rubber bungee, I actually shouted, “I got it! I got it!” I looked stupid and I sounded stupid. One would have thought I had found the Ark of the Covenant or a whole bunch of diamonds from Solomon’s mines.

Getting back into the truck I felt a small sense of accomplishment and in the rear view mirror I kept glancing at my new-found treasure.

My wife is doing her thing. Knitting some wool into magnificent creations of multi-colored socks and nattering unintelligible words that almost caused me to fall asleep at the steering wheel when suddenly, into my right ear came a thunderous and high pitch scream, “George ! George!” “Yep,” I said, “that my name.” “George! George! There is one and its blue! Grab it! Grab it!”

I can’t believe my wife is getting so excited about such a trivial matter like picking up rubber bungee cords on a weather beaten highway, especially knowing that it was my idea. She has not yet realized how difficult it is to coast from 110kmh to 0kmh without shredding brakes or causing transmissional (is that a word?) damage to the vehicle. But I did it. My second bungee cord and we still have a long drive to Red Deer. Thirteen bungee cords later we arrive at Red Deer with tall tales of daring and dangerous battles as we wrestled bungee cords from the jaws of nature.

It is now time to drive back to Chetwynd. I need to get my wife involved in not just spotting the bungee cords but actually getting out of the truck and grabbing them off the highway. We talk about it casually and I suggest that if we see one on her side of the highway then she picks it up. “Fair enough,” she said. To get the adrenaline reactivated starting with her brain I would deliberately get all excited, shout and point and say to her, “There it is! Grab it! Grab it!” I know my wife and this is guaranteed to work.

We chit-chat as we leave Red Deer and Sheila is all caught up in her knitting and occasionally will hold her creation up and say, “Do you like it? Isn’t that a pretty colour?” I would simply nod and continue to search both sides of the highway for rubber treasure.

The front seat is crowded with balls and balls of wool, lots of colored socks and my wife’s shoulder, arm, wrist and finger coordination is driving me bananas at the sound of knitting needles. Then, I see it.

Still some distance ahead, it is just lying on her side of the highway. This is not going to be pretty but it is going to be fun. I wanted to raise the level of excitement to the heights of the highest mountains. I go all crazy and hitting the brakes—looking for traffic first, of course—I shout out: “There it is! There it is! Yes! Yes! It’s on your side of the highway! Grab it! Grab it!”

The deliberate and intentional use of my voice and body language does its work and quickly opening the door while jumping out of the truck in a tizzy I see socks, wool, knitting needles and brown paper bags going everywhere and hitting the pavement. On the run she grabs the bungee cord, all tangled up in multi-colored wool. She shouts, “I got it! I got it!”

I feel sorry for my sweetheart. Vehicles on the other side of the divided highway slow down to take pictures of this multi-colored creature as she sheepishly gets back into the truck. I don’t know if I should laugh, cry or jump out of the truck into the one directional traffic on my side of the divided highway.

There is momentary silence. I ask: “Is it a good one?” Trying to collect all of the tools and materials that have been scattered, dislodged and lost in various parts of the truck and on the pavement she says through clenched teeth and with a great deal of restraint, “Yes! Yes! Yes!” I’m loving it to the point of being hysterical and I quietly respond, “I only want you to answer once, dear.”

I look and I see it. I see divorce papers written all over her forehead, both cheeks (face cheeks that is), her chin and all the way down her throat till it disappears, diving into her chest. I am dead meat. I am finished.

I hope my wife remembers where the will is and then the phone rings. I think: “Praise God for small miracles.” My wife grabs the phone and putting it on speaker I hear our daughter ask, “Hi guys. Any bungee cords today?”

Sweet, sweet music. I quietly put the Ranger into drive and slipping back onto the highway I start to whistle ‘O Canada’ so that if the wife kills me with the phone, I would at least die as a loyal Canadian patriot. At the end of the telephone conversation all traces of anger are gone and we are ready to pluck rubber bungees from the jaws of nature.

The rest of the trip is enjoyable, relaxing and, to further remove any traces of anger or possible death threats, I stop at her favorite place, Dairy Queen, feeling like the King. I did it. She is appeased, smiling, knitting and enjoying the jump from the vehicle to the pavement and back into the vehicle. She could now do it with such ease, professionalism and dexterity that I can now call her the Bungee Jumping Champing of British Columbia. Getting back to Chetwynd we counted forty-three bungee cords in the box of the truck. Remember to have fun, be safe, enjoy each other’s company and never forget that the sun is always shining.