Talkin' Tall Kids Playin' Hockey Blues.

I was just reading about that tall kid that plays hockey. The 12 year old one.

They say he's 6' 5" or so.

Which to me, is not that tall. Fact is, I've known taller.

See, the majority part of tallness is dependent upon where you're being measured. Second in importance would be what your standard of measurement is. And finally, who's doing the measuring.

For instance, my cousin Bruce was notorious tall. (As a boy. Later, he dwarfed out a bit, but as a child, my but he was tall.) See, Bruce was the eldest of the 5 boys, but clearly the tallest. (The lone girl, Julia, having died of consumption. That is, from being consumed by her brothers. Which you moderns may not appreciate, but during the Hard Winter of '49, times were hard. I remember well how hard it was to watch the last sachet of pickle relish disappear down my own brother's gullet. And I do not like pickle relish.)

But on the point of issue facing us here today, Bruce was - without a doubt - the onliest one in his family that could say, as he often said and with some pride, that he was two apple barrels tall. And that's stacked end-on-end-upward, mind you, not laid down on their sides or shoved up all inside of one another.

Two. Barrels. Tall.


Above, foreground, two barrels. Full of apples.


Above, background, a child. Standing on an apple barrel. Which they shouldn't ought to be doing. But are likely too young to know better.

Whereas Bruce's younger brother Roy - who talked a good game, about how tall he was and all - turned out not even to be able to stack two barrels on top of one another in the first place. Which, ipso facto, meant he had to be measured against the much less tall apple boxes. So that - even though he stood 5 apple boxes tall (plus, in the interests of fairness, some hair and forehead showing over the top) - he just wasn't in the same league as Bruce, what with Bruce's barrel-based measure.

Ok, sure, Bruce didn't do Roy no favours, what with jabbing him in the ribs with the one finger while Roy was trying to stack them two wooden barrels up on top of one another, but our Dads had said you could one finger jab the other fella, when angered, and I was watching, as close as Kerry Fraser, to make sure it was done fair, both the jabbin' and the barrel stackin', but Roy failed to get his barrels both up, and balanced.

They were clearly tippy, and come down pretty much of their own accord.

Anyway, back in them days, we laughed like hell at Roy and his "little fella" ways. Him always wanting to be considered our physical and intellectual equal. Which, as you can see from the example above, he warn't. [Even today, you can see the results of his uppity attitude, where his performance - Head of Emergency Medicine for Brockville, Leeds and Grenville - has come out so much lower than his once braggy ambition - to be the #1 Cannonballer in the World, and not just Acapulco.]

Another quite tall fella was my best friend Rupert R. Horny, whose Dad ran the Texaco. (Truth is, Rupert's real name was Ribald, but he didn't like the name much, and so, when he asked his Mum, she said the name Rupert would also be appropriate.) Now, Rupert was, in his own way, quite tall. In those days - and these were the days before the Jap cars had made such a negative impact on our motoring preferences - Rupert come right up over the roof of a Chevy. Not just up to it, but right on up over. You could clearly see his eyes over the top. Tall. Enough so, that he could hand his father - that'd be Wilbur - a wrench, right across the top of that Chev. AT TWELVE. And I'm not talking toss the wrench, or have to shinny up the door with your knees a bit to hand it across, but standing flat-footed, and then hand it across, Rupert-to-Wrench-to-Wilbur, job done.

His Dad always called Rupert "the little Man," which maybe explains his tallness, as well as his height. You see, he was always more Man than Boy, medically speaking, what with his arm hair being pure black, and him basically growing a moustache at 11, and it coming in thick, 'til he started to look just like the blacksmith, who was also called Rupert. And who was Wilbur's Dad. Or brother. Related.

Anyway, Rupert went on to play hockey. Because, as he always said, hockey players get to stick their penis into lots of other people.

Also, he married a girl named Ellen.


Rupert R. Horny - he liked to stick his penis into other people. And play hockey. Later married Ellen.

Another example. My best friend on our hockey team was Dangerous. Or rather, Dangerous Junior, more properly. He was not only fearsome fast on ice, and able to turn both ways, but also tall for his age. And his height.

For example, me, Dangerous and the other Norm (who lived up the hill) used to all pile into Dangerous Senior's car to go to Town for hockey practice. We went to the Town rink on account of them not only owning a hose, which we could've raised money to get, if we'd wanted, 'cause they weren't that dear. But more critical, the Town also had a fella who stayed up and helped make ice all night. Granted, he was no Louie Pasture in the brain department, but that's not why they hired the fella. They hired him to hold the hose through the night, and to keep that water coming, as it was that - the water - plus the cold, what made up the the ice. And even though his mittens would ice right up, so's by the time we'd see him in the morning, they'd look like giant furry white ice-mittens, that fella'd hold on, right through the night, making ice, and do it every night. I'll say this about him, he was hella tough against the weather.

Anyway! Sorry I runned off into that story about Old Curly Claws, which is what they later come to call the ice-making fella, after his ice-making years were done, cause the artheritis came onto him so bad. Especially in his hands. Which was a loss, and a shame.

Ok, but now back to the car where me, Other Norm and Dangerous Junior are already in our hockey pants and socks and garters, before we even get to town, cause no way we were gonna stand out in the snow and change in front of them fucking town kids. (Who were pricks, you gotta give me that.) And when you first got in the car, about 5:45 or so, in the A and M, let me tell you, it was cold. Mister Man Holy Lifting Days, your ass and the backs of your legs would be freezing through them nylon pants, nice though it was that Dangerous Senior's wife had made them for us, out of some good looking and quite clean Shur-Gain feed bags, which where in the good and patriotic company colours of red, white and blue. But still and nonetheless, after you scraped the car off, and got the one door handle that still worked loosened up, and opened the door and jumped in, and then had to wait while Dangerous Senior turned her over a few times and then got her started up, you were already purty damned cold through the leggish regions.

So much so that when it begun to creep into your genitalia, and then your balls, you had to hold them, or you couldn't have future kids.

Which meant that when Dangerous Junior said he needed to make a deposit, TOP PRIORITY, we were not all that happy. Old man Dangerous (Senior) pulled out his watch, which he won from the Timex Company, on account of some lie he told them about his supposed Timex watch, a story that they not only liked well enough to listen to, but even put it in a NATIONAL TV AD, ABOUT HOW HIS WATCH TOOK A LICKIN' AND KEPT ON TICKIN', Dangerous Senior looks at that very watch and says to Baby Dangerous,

"You got 3 minutes boy. 300 seconds. After that, we leave."

Well, Dangerous (Junior) jumped out of that car, and did the following (as confirmed in conversation with Dangerous himself afterward in the car):

He ran around back of the house, opened the shitter door, climbed on in, pulled off the braces holding up his hockey pants, dropped his hockey pants, undid the garters on his hockey socks, took the cup out of his jock so's it wouldn't cut his privates none, yanked the remaining jock material to one side so's he could get at his gitch and pull it over as well, and then - key to our discussion, so take note - hiked himself up onto the ADULT hole, 'cause he was in that much of a hurry (plus his little sister was occupying the #2 dumpster position, the one more properly sized for children) - Dangerous then made his deposit, did the hygienics (after shouting at sister to look away), reversed course with his gitch, his jock, his garters and socks, the hockey pants, and the braces, retraced his route back to the car, come around to the one door that worked, opened her, closed her, and all in just under 2 minutes and 50 seconds, with both me and Other Norm cheering like banshees. After checking his Timex, even old man Dangerous was cheering, and shouted out, "Attaboy Dangerous! You're one quick shitter!" while lookin' quite proud.


Old Man Dangerous (Senior) checking the time, on his Timex.

All of which tells you, if you paid attention at the key point, that he was quite tall, was Dangerous Junior, on account of being able to get up onto the Adult hole of the Dangerous shitter, as well as not falling in, even with all the equipment he had to keep balanced, and in such a state of pulsation and tremulation.

Now. To the even taller part of the story. The part about me.

'Cause I was tall. Man, I was taaaaaaaalllllllllll.




And back then, beyond the being so tall, I was also what was known as (and quite famous for this, so you or your Dad may have read about me, or your Mum heard something on the radio, probably the CBC), anyway, I was known as the Metric Conversion Kid. See, this was back when the French, who were fucking running the country then - if you can believe it - decided to bring in the Metric.

Oh, we fought it, something fierce. We heard they was rioting somewheres in the West about it, and just outside Toronto, a fella named Arnold Davidson said he'd seen the Imperial Rebels (which is what our forces were called, as against the French Metrics) had got hold of a truck, and some paint, and the Rebels were seen driving down the middle of the road, repainting the yellow lines, 'cause rumour was that the first set of lines had been done according to the Metric measure, and the local Englishes wouldn't have none of that, not that sort of thing, what with the French fuckers and their Metric, and so no one was even batting an eye locally at the repainting, the public support for the Imperial side was that strong.

Nonetheless, they came in with the Metric Laws, the French Government did, and then they said, "You Scotian fellas must teach your kids the Metric, or youll get no more dosh from us, and possibly no Dole neither, and you're kids will sure need it when they get to University anyways." Which bullshit must've been written by the Pope and his Catholic minions, or at least approved by them, cause the English was far too good to have been written by any Frenchman, who would never speak English to us when we had to drive down the Gaspe to get to Toronto to see the family.

Ok, so the Parent-Teacher Association met, which was Mrs Buckingham, and she decided that since I was the only one with any possible hope of going to college (likely Agricultural College at Truro, but maybe if I couldn't get into that, my first choice, then probably Oxford), and that since I was the only one who had proven capable of handling the Grade 5 advanced math, and also, since I was the only one who had read every one of the Classics Illustrated then on display within the school (not just in the Grade 5 classrooms, but the whole School) - then I should be the one who would tackle the Metric, on behalf of the others. And not just on behalf of the kids who were a bit dense like Rupert, or Dangerous, plus probably Bruce, and also Roy, but also, that I could be of some help amongst the adults, for when they got their pension checks in Metric and couldn't read it and such.

Now, there was a bit of debate first. About possible damage to my thinking and IQ, which the School Board didn't want to see pushed down below 100, having broken the 3 digit barrier being so impressive and all, but it still being a bit of a near thing, since I'd been able to hit 102 or even (on a good day) 103 on the IQ test. And the Board didn't want to lose that, being quite a claim to fame in those parts, and they worried the Metric might mess my brain up.

Also, there was some worry about toxins which the French might have inserted into the Metric, like what the Trojans did.

Still, as usual, the biggest issues were the moral ones, of course, and whether my ethics would suffer. And ultimately, whether Jesus would still take me, or instead, if He were to hear me talking the Metric to myself, whether He might just cast me aside like I was a Catholic.

Well, this very thought (and probably especially the word "Catholic") got Mum overwhelmingly upset, you might even say hysterical, which would be a sexist word to use, unless you were Patti Smith and were writing a famous song around that time, like Horses, but this ain't Horses, so I won't say hysterical. But no matter what you call it, Mum mentioned - while using quite a number of the swears I hadn't yet become accustomed to - that I hadn't even reached the age of reason yet, which everyone knew was 13, and that that was the age at which we Baptists could baptize someone, through full immersion, which was HOW JESUS DID IT, IN THE JORDAN RIVER, and how could they sacrifice her baby (me) to the French, and so callously give up his (my) immortal soul.

And then, she fell back into c*ck-sucker this and c*nt-licker that and the whole innovative swearing thing, 'til they got hold of her and held her down.

Anyway, during the debate which she had been having with Mrs Buckingham and the Reverend Butterscots, the Reverend had explained that the age of Baptism had been set at 13, because that was also the age of Reason. And that the logic of it all could be clearly seen because 13 was the first year with the word "teen" into it, as like in 13, as well as 14, and also 15 and 16 and 17 and 18 and 19. All were teen years, and thus, all were Reasonable. And eligible to be Baptized. Whilst a twelve year old was not, because there was no such thing as twelveteen and eleven was not eleventeen.

Even listening from behind the door, you could tell this man had been to Divinity College. Also, at around that point Doc Morse come from Hantsport up to the house with some tranquilizer, and they fixed Mum up quite a bit.

Anyways, the Reverend come up with a ruse. A maneuver. One that would dumbfound the Hab-lovin' Frenchies, who no doubt hadn't considered it, in their nefariousness. The Reverend would have me baptized EARLY. The thinking being, if I was man enough to face the Metric, and work through its complexities, I was old enough to face Jesus, man to God-man. Even at 12.

And lo and behold, the Reverend negotiated an opening, right early in October, down at the Grand Pre United Baptist Church, which had a indoor dunk tank, and thus suitable for all seasons, so even though it was cold, I could be baptized through complete immersion.

And was.


The village of my baptism. By full immersion. And thus, salvation. Sorry for all you sprinklers.

Thus fortified by God, and with Jesus firmly in the corner (and also, with the Holy Ghost likely having a periodic look in, as was his wont), I sat down, and faced the Metric. In its Handbook. As published by the French Government of Canada.

Well, this Handbook had a FRONT HALF which was all written in French. And then, UPSIDE DOWN AND IN THE BACK, they had the English. When I saw this, and fully absorbed the insult to Her Majesty of Britain's Imperial Measures As Used By the Scribes of Jesus Who Wrote Down The King James Bible, I too, like my Mum, fell into a rage.

A right down on all fours barking rage, I tell you!

Then... I calmed myself.

Also, prayer.

In the event, it took me - and I say this now with some justified pride - just 11 days to translate from the original English Imperial measure... through the French part of the handbook... then upside-down and backward through the English sections of the Handbook... and finally on into the full Metric.

It took time, but I done it. And I done it proper.

And let me just say, as I said to the congregation at the next service, "Those Frenchies are no slouches when it comes to complexity. Why, they rank right up there with the Babylonians!" (This was a joke, on account of everyone knowing I meant the Byzantines, who were notorious for their complex ways, but the joke worked, as people understood I was using the so-called "false modesty," which was a new method of joking in those days, but I done it in a very friendly way, while waving and grinning to signify that I was not intending to be unGodly. At all.)

But I told them I had persevered, and completed the Imperial-to-Metric. Which got me one helluva gosh-darn big round of applause, people appreciating my sacrifice, and also, the ongoing dosh, plus likely, no threat to their Dole payments. One fella even stood. Which got me all kinda teary, 'til he started in singing Hymn 483, at which point I realized it was Harold McKenzie, who always tried to sing Hymn 483 at about this point in the service.

Ok. My conclusion? Well, it was that - contrary to the opinions of certain naysayers, like Wilbur - and Rupert - both - was that in fact, I could be measured in the Metric. Or rather, my "tallness" could. A man's immortal soul cannot be measured in the Metric, but requires proper cubits and such. And as I told them that day in Church, this tallness could be equated with our own Imperial system of measurement, albeit through the terribly convoluted system of conversion that the French had designed. I even told them - this time using real humility, as it seemed to work better - that I thought I might be able to design a simpler system in the coming months, if provided with the requisite support from the congregation. Who - when asked to make a show of hands - were quite pleased to commit to the cash.

I then announced my tallness. In the Metric measure.

And by God, I was huge. EASILY the biggest Metric fella anyone had ever seen. I outmeasured the French all to hell. Take that, Beliveau!

Hahahahahahaha!!!! Bet you never saw THAT coming, did you Frenchies!

And Mrs Buckingham, bless her, was so moved she decided to make me a gift, to commemorate the occasion. Which she did by sewing a message in bright yellow (edit) GOLD lettering into the brim of my cloth cap. Marking me out, as it were, as the Metric Conversion Kid. She wrote, and all in clockwise, of course, on account of that's how the Bible was written. Anyway, she wrote the following:

This kid, the Metric Conversion Kid, has been hereby masured (sic), and calculated, and found to be, 7.83 Metrics in heighth. The tallest 12 year old boy (also saved, and fully-immersed) in Christendom.

Later on that Fall, they even showed me on TV. The CBC.

With my cap.

And you could see, I was the full 7.83 tall. Maybe more.

So this new kid of today? What plays hockey? Pffft. He's not so tall. 6 foot 5, they say.

But where I'm from, we'd say, "That boy ain't even two barrels."

Now. Last thought. Or, a "footnote" as they say. (Also, proof of the verity of my story.) Even today when you see me in my travels, no matter where and what I'm doing, I'm wearing that same cloth cap. The one what has Mrs Buckingham's message on it.

And I wear it with pride.


Here's me, driving someone's child home from school. Look how tall I am. Way bigger than that kid.


Here's me, bending down to help a friend with her luggage. You can see how I'm still as tall as her, even though I'm almost bent in half.


And here, where I had to sit down to fit inside the camera frame. Also look how thoughtful I am. Way more thoughtful than the 6' 5" kid. is a fan community that allows members to post their own thoughts and opinions on the Toronto Maple Leafs and hockey in general. These views and thoughts may not be shared by the editor of