Why do the best things always disappear?
- Levon Helm, "Ophelia"
Yeah, I know that Robbie Roberston wrote those words, but Levon sang them so beautifully that he gets the credit this time around. So here's the deal. This past weekend was the first annual BBQ/Campout/full court Basketball tournament/Canadian Beirut Championships/Bonfire/Kegger up at my parents place in Dornoch, Ontario. Needless to say, it was a party for the ages. One of the best nights I've had in a long time. And I had my digital camera out snapping pictures all day and night, prepared to document everything in an epic blog entry for everyone to read and reminisce about, allowing them the opportunity to wonder aloud whether or not they actually did all of those pictured doing in their ridiculously drunken states.
And of course you know where this is going. I needed to reformat my camera for work so that future photos of mine wouldn't take up so much space when I tried to email them. What I didn't know, until about two days ago, is that reformatting your camera erases your entire memory card. Who would have ever guess. And it doesn't even give you any kind of a warning (a simple "are you sure you want to delete every fucking picture on your memory card?" would have sufficed). One minute it was there, and the next it was just... gone. I felt like Chazz Palminteri about three minutes after releasing Verbal Kint from his holding cell at the end of "The Usual Suspects".
Of course, I hadn't saved any of these pictures yet, and when I took it into the camera place, they told me that if I'd just simply deleted the photos (which, it should be noted, comes with the paraphrased aforementioned warning), it would be no problem retrieving them. But if you didn't know any better and tried to reformat your camera? Sorry, there's no way of ever getting those back.
So that's where we stand. The moral of the story, as always, is don't ever trust me with anything more technologically advanced than a pencil. But more specifically, don't ever try to reformat your camera. And especially if you haven't saved your pictures first. That last point should really almost go without saying. Almost.
Maybe at some point someone will forward me some photos worth posting, but in the meantime, I'll be kicking it old school, sans photographic evidence, trying my best to describe for my loyal readers exactly what those irretrievable images once portrayed.
The first shot that we lost was one of my sister's boyfriend, Blake, out sweeping the rain off the basketball court at about noon on Saturday. Blake had managed to score 2 basketball nets from some underpriviledged kids' home in Guelph (I'm not exactly sure whether he told them he was taking them, or if he just kind of backed his truck up in the middle of the night and loaded them up, but when I arrived at my parents place on Friday night, there they were. I didn't ask any further questions, thereby absolving myself of any guilt by association). Anyway, Blake set them up, full-court style on my parents cement driveway, and we were all set for the mother of all full-court games.... and then it began pissing rain. This was our attempt to clear the court. Of course, as soon as we were finished sweeping all of the water off, the skies opened up again and it rained for another four hours...
The next great photograph that disintegrated into the realm of digital nothingness was a classic 70's style basketball team shot, where all of the guys who participated in the full-court extravaganza (the skies cleared beautifully for 2 hours, allowing us the opportunity to show off just how much our talents and bodies had deteriorated over the past few years) gathered for one of those old-school poses, with Dennis, the defensive stopper, kneeling in the middle, ball in hand. The 3-game series was an epic battle, with Santos and Blake doing the dirty work and battling all afternoon under the boards. D-Hibb quickly rounded into a shell of his highschool form, taking over at times and carrying his team for long stretches. Rosco was his Thornhill-blacktop-dominating self, hitting outside jumpers and showing flashes of brilliance in moves that a soon-t0-be-betrothed and self-proclaimedly-out-of-shape-Jewish-man should never even attempt. But for my money, it was Sully who stole the show, displaying the kind of hustle and motor that you just can't teach, and showing us the kind of Tremendous Upside Potential (TUP) that would have ESPN's own Chad Ford absolutely salivating.
Some other highlights from the display of athleticism: Ronnie consistently knocking down outside jumpers and showing us all why he was the NWBL GM of the year back in 2003; B*Rad having to pull himself out of the contest after ten minutes due to what Al Michaels would categorize as "a lung"; every time Skeeter attempted a wide open shot (we very obviously weren't guarding him), his teammate D-Hibb screaming "NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!" as the ball invariably sailed wide of everything but oxygen; none of us being able to walk the next day because we're so pathetically old and out of shape.
The next snap that would have appeared in this blog if not for my stupidity would have been one of my cousins; aged 9, 11, and 13; intently watching the Beirut action and taking it all in. Seriously, I'm pretty sure my uncle is going to kill me in six months when he comes home from work to find his pre-adolescent children screaming "DRINK THAT YOU LITTLE COCKSUCKER!!!" while pounding back their dad's stash of Sleeman's, just like their elder cousins taught them.
Other highlights: Two of my cousins (Thompson, 11, and Rachel, 9) jumping on the Team Ramrod bandwagon after they knocked off a previously unbeatable tandem of Ronnie and B*Rad, and subsequently living and dying with every one of Team Ramrod's shots, going so far as to create a song and dance for every time they drilled a cup; James (13), keeping it real with team Hutch and Hibb, and absolutely loving the fact that that his boys eventually knocked off the defending champs; teaching James and Thompson how to properly change a keg of PBR. And for this last corruption, I'm pretty sure I'll be writhing in hellfire for quite some time. But damn was it funny.
Another great irrecoverable image was one of Team Jean Jacket. Yes, the Bryan Adams Tuxedo All-Stars were in full effect, with me and a friend of my parents, both proudly sporting the full length Denim formal-wear, who managed to run the table for the remainder of the evening. Now, it is a little known fact that I'm one of the worst Beirut players in the history of the game, but lucky for me, my boy Pete (I'm pretty sure his name is Pete, but we were well into the second keg of Pabst Blue Ribbon by this point, so it really could have been anything) was a master quarters player back in the day (late 70's - early 80's), absolutely carried me. I was good for two cups a game, my boy Pete just annihilated everything... including a team which consisted of Auntie Marcella (or, as my dad has begun to refer to her: the hottest Grandmother on earth), my playing partner's girlfriend, and MY MOM.
That's right, there was no letting up on Team Cougar, despite the fact that their combined drinking game experience amounted to my mom disgustedly watching us funnel Lucky Lagers two months earlier up at Sauble Beach. Team Jean Jacket was firing on all cylinders, meticulously picking the ladies apart like the consumate proffessionals we are. There was once a picture of my mom chugging a mugful of PBR with Sweet Nate making his old-school Sweet Nate "I can't believe what the fuck I'm seeing!" face in the background, but alas, that too has gone the way of the Dodo bird. I think this particular loss hurts the most. I guess there's always next year.
After the Beirut Tourney, we all headed over to the campfire that Rick had graciously built (it had stopped raining for good by then, and we were left with a beautiful night. I had some beautiful shots of everyone gathered around the fire (there were probably 40 of us). We sang happy birthday to Evelyn Sullivan (hard to believe that young lady is 60), and as we passed the bottle around and smoked cigars, I'm tellin you, Lorne was in his glory. It was the most fun I've had in a long time. Skeeter was his glorious old self, falling over his chair as he stood, deciding then and there that it was probably time for him to hit the hay (he managed to stumble back to the tent which he shared with Ash and Jax - total stud). At one point, my sister busted out her guitar and played 3 tunes for us, prompting Santos to turn to me about halfway through the first song and rhetorically ask: "Are you fucking kidding me?!?". Yep, she's gotten pretty good over the past few years. Maybe it was the PBR, and maybe it was the company of some of the greatest people on earth, but I found myself on the verge of being choked up. My eyes may have been perspiring slightly, but that was probably due to the fire being so hot.
When Blake passed out sitting in his chair beside the fire, it capped a spectacular marathon of drinking for him. Besides my Mom and Dad, nobody put more work into these festivities than our boy Blake. He brought the kegs and the hoops. What kind of a party would it have been without him?
Thanks to my mom and dad for hosting and for putting so much time and effort into the first annual Dornoch-a-palooza. And of course Ronnie and Lisa and Sandra and Amber also had a big part in pulling it off. And what the hell. While we're at it, I even managed to help out here and there, fixing the broken hoop, setting up the professional-length Beirut table, and dominating the BBQ for a solid hour and a half.
Be sure to be there next year, when the festivities will fall on the Granddaddy McCallum holiday of them all: July the 12th.
In the meantime, keep me away from all electronic devices. I am an idiot.