A good friend passed away yesterday. Its hard to accurately express the feelings of loss, injustice, and shock. She was one of those people that if you knew her, you loved her. And if you didn't know her ... well, trust me. You would've loved her. She was simply Lori. Our Lori. We always had fun. Whether it was just the two of us, or the whole gang. We had this one adventure that I will never forget.
Peggi-Jo, Lori and I decided to go to Timmins. I had to go as I was working with a bar band there for the week. I'm not exactly sure how or why it came to be that the girls took me there, but they did. The three of us piled into Lori's little blue Chevette (I forget its nick-name ... something girlie). I was driving, that was the deal. So there we were on HWY 144, me driving, Lori co-driving, and Peggi-Jo back-seat-co-driving.
We were all in good spirits, having a blast, and for some reason Peggi felt it prudent to reminded me that, "When you see a moose on the road you don't swerve to avoid it but slam on the brakes and stay straight." I assured her that I knew what I was doing because; a) I'm a guy, and b) I grew up in Northern Ontario, and c) everybody knows that, Captain Obvious! Plus, at that moment I would have bet that we wouldn't have need of that advice. But secretly, I was glad she said it because I really had no idea!
A key piece of background information to this story is the fact that I drive kind of, shall we say ... nonchalantly. I see the road, keep the car between the lines, and spend the rest of my time wondering and/or investigating whatever else is going on. I genetically inherited this talent from my Grandfather and he was never involved in a car crash, so you know it's all good. Another key data point to this story is the fact that the girls didn't know any of this.
So night falls as we were driving along (this was so long ago I don't remember what time we left Chelmsford) and I see this shooting star. It caught my attention because, well, it was a shooting star. Never mind that this particular shooting star was falling down towards the horizon as opposed to across the sky. And you know the deal with shooting stars, as soon as you tell someone to look, its gone. So I didn't say anything. But as the star disappeared into the horizon I saw a pair of green dots. They were peculiar green dots, close together and right in the path of the shooting star. It was as if that star was saying, "Hey! Look over here! What are these?" I thought, 'that's peculiar', and having already discussed moose on the road I was wondering what sort of wildlife this could be.
Then this blood curdling scream accompanied by a searing pain in my right elbow snatched me out of my internal inquiry. Instead of looking for the source of pain something told me to look at the road (in hind sight, I think it was Peggi-Jo screaming in my ear), so I looked straight up. I saw at least six of those green dots, albeit a little farther apart, and then fur! And legs! Big legs! And more fur! Now, nano-seconds later, those green dots were dark eyes that were so wide they were surrounded by white and looked as though they were going to fall out of their sockets. Moose everywhere reared on their hind legs and bolted in I don't know how many directions. I'm not sure when I locked up the brakes or how I remembered to keep the car straight, but I did. If you remember the scene in Planes, Trains, and Automobiles where John Candy locks up the brakes so hard he bends the steering wheel over, then you've got a pretty good visual of that moment.
Some kind of luck kept us from hitting any one of those moose that night. I'll bet that if those moose wore underwear they would have been the same colour, smell and texture as ours. Now, with the moose safely in the bush, it was time to take stock. I finally realized the source of my elbow pain. Lori had a death grip on my elbow. Her nails had dug right in. It wasn't until Peggi said, 'good job' that Lori extracted her talons. She also muttered something about handling the situation, but I can't quite recall if she was congratulating me or not. The Chevette, miraculously, was still running but needed a little more throttle than usual to get going.
So once again we were on our way. We started to disseminate the incident, as typical humans usually do after a typical near death experience. I decided that this was the appropriate moment to disclose to Lori and Peggi the details of the shooting star and those green dots that I now knew were moose eyes. I've never really lived that down. Also, I've never really understood why I didn't pick that moment to shut the fuck up.
I'll never forget these words:
Peggi: "What were you doing looking at the sky and the bush!?! Why weren't you looking at the road?!?"
Lori: "Ya! Oh Rosco, Rosco, Rosco."
So this is what I hear about for the rest of the trip, not to mention the rest of my life.
Once in Timmins we park at the Empire Hotel, since closed, and go up to my room. Lori and Peggi were stunned at the accommodations to say the least. Bar bands in the late '80's did not get the best rooms, and the Empire was one of those hotels that homeless people wouldn't stay in. To call them rooms was laughable. The girls weren't laughing. I think Lori was freaking out about possible infestations in the room. And, of course, Peggi supported her emphatically. I think I was in block out mode by that point because I don't remember much of that part of the night. Tired, emotionally drained, completely embarrassed, I just crashed.
I don't remember much of the next day. The girls must have gotten themselves home safe or I think I would have been telling this story a long time ago to a whole different audience.
I've been thinking of Lori a lot lately. Her trademark, "HA!", her "Well finally!", and the way she rolled her eyes that said, "Well finally!" There was the ever popular, "Ya think?" and, "Hello!" that she and Peggi-Jo co-authored. These and a million other Lori-isms have been making me smile this past month.
And I've been thinking about that adventure. It was by far the funniest adventure the three of us ever went on together. But when I play it back in my head now, I just want to reach over and hug Lori and never let her go.