This summer I had a welcome reunion with my valued old friend Roy, a guy whom i had not been in touch with for decades. To my delight, we still get along as famously as we did those many years ago. And in light of that, and also in light of the fact Halloween is coming up, I offer you a bit of a reminiscence from a slightly edited manuscript from a few years ago.
We had a number of school bus drivers over the two years I went to my junior high. Most were OK, some were assholes, but we did have one we cherished. This guy looked, with no exaggeration, almost exactly like Edward G. Robinson and he let us basically do what we wanted. We smoked, we cussed, we felt up (only willing) girls and just had a wonderful old time on that ‘party’ bus. Let’s face it, it’s a pretty thankless job so I have to retrospectively admire this man for the liberties he gave us. But, I’ll be his liberalities did not sit well with his employers. Then one day he disappeared never to manifest again. He was replaced by a smooth talking cross between a car salesman and a televangelist who, in reference to the latter, was fond of quoting scripture to the more obstreperous amongst us. He also ruled with an iron fist, and was not averse to reporting misbehaviour to the principal. We did not like him. And we decided we must be rid of him. Not quite sure how that was going to happen.
The chance we were waiting for, we deluded ourselves into thinking, happened near to Halloween one year. As we rode along home the bus was entering into a right hand turn lane near the Lougheed Highway. Sitting in the through lane was a police car. My friend Roy lit one of those red cherry bombs that were still available to kids in those days. Roy, who was not a bad kid at all but obviously a bit impulsive, dropped it out of the bus window and onto the roof of the cop-car, whence it exploded with a significant crack. In a trice the cruiser’s roof light was flashing and the siren activated, and then the cop car swerved in front of the bus and pulled us over. Two RCMP members entered and vainly tried to get somebody to own up. We were all utterly innocent in expression, especially Roy. Eventually the cops left, and the driver was mortified and enraged. We, of course, like the kids on The Simpsons collapsed in gales of laughter. And of course the driver ratted us out to our jerk of a principal.
This jerkish principal, who shall be left nameless, threatened us with all manner of mayhem, including cancelling the school bus forevermore. However we knew parents would never allow that to happen, since we all lived over five miles from the school. In any case, some fink ratted out Roy and he g, and with a bonus. We got a new driver. He was not good, not bad, just sort of there, so we let him got the boot from the bus in perpetuity. But, he was my friend so I often joined him on the long trek home, a trek that often included hitchhiking in those more innocent days.