Bringing up the rear.

They grew up in the same neighbourhood. As kids they played out great adventures in the houses under construction in their new neighbourhood of Windsor Park in Edmonton. They were the best of friends and over the years you begin to understand exactly what that means. Best friends are always there for you. Most of all, though, best friends are always there to do better than you. Maybe it’s a man thing.

ES29Like motorcycle racers Kenny Roberts and Kevin Schwantz or billionaires Paul Allen and Larry Ellison, Bob and Ted grew up competing. For girls, for summer jobs, for the longest time spent hunched over a porcelain bowl purging the previous night’s excesses. They filled the shelves in their student apartments and later in their homes with trophies. Driveways became showrooms as Bob and Ted one-upped each other with a perpetual parade of the fanciest cars and motorcycles they could afford.

They did well. And they tried to do good. Even in the area of charitable endeavours, Bob and Ted competed. One landed on the board of a museum and dedicated his precious free time to preserving Western Canada’s aviation heritage. The other coached women’s hockey. They grew old, but they never stopped competing, although the passage of time and the reality of fixed incomes eventually narrowed the field of competition. The motorcycles took up permanent residence in Bob’s garage so the pair of them could sit and reminisce about the rides they’d shared before their category 6 licences, like them, were retired.

Not long ago, Ted’s doctor suggested that ominous signs indicated that a colonoscopy would be a good idea. Ted mentioned it to Bob who said “I’ve heard that’s a painful procedure.” Ted responded “I’m sure I can handle it.” Bob said: “You know, I should probably look at doing the same thing. I haven’t had a check-up in years.”

Suddenly, Bob and Ted were once again at the starting line. This time on their hospital gurneys, wrinkled and with their teeth in plastic cups but each determined to win the battle of the bowels.

On the day, they were wheeled into separate rooms with black coils of flexible tubing hanging from the walls and TV monitors displaying the innards of the last victim. The nurse was confused. “Are we doing both?” Bob was to learn that when it comes to entering the digestive tract, there are two orifice options. Down the throat and up the … well …

“Yes,” Bob said, sensing an opportunity to grab the Gold Intestine Trophy from Ted, leaving him with the Silver. Little did he know that the same conversation was taking place in the adjacent room. A nurse approached Bob with a needle. The doctor asked “have we started the drip?” There is normally an anaesthetic involved. It hurts when they stick things down your throat and up your posterior. No ifs, ands or butts about it.

Bob asked “do I have to have an anaesthetic?” The team turned to him with a collective look of astonishment. “Most people do. It makes it easier, believe me.” Bob immediately saw an opportunity to beat Ted to the first corner; to counter his triple with a quad as it were.

“I’d like to try without,” he said.

For the next forty minutes Bob endured the most excruciating pain he’d ever felt. A dozen times he wanted to cry out “start the damned drip” but pride and competition threw their hands over his mouth. He finally emerged thoroughly explored from top to bottom; having suffered an invasive procedure without any pansy painkillers. Bob and Ted got together a couple of days later for a beer.

“How did it go,” Ted asked.

“Good” Bob replied.

After a lengthy pause Ted bragged “I did both.”

Bob was ready. “So did I. Without an anaesthetic.”

“Without an anaesthetic?”

“Without an anaesthetic.”

Ah, the sweet stink of victory.

12 years ago

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