Baby's got (bad) back

I was just reading about Jamelah’s sufferings with her back and it reminded me of my own past back issues. (By “just” I, of course, mean a month or so ago.) I think I’ve written about them in here before, but, quite frankly, I can’t imagine anyone reading my posts for long enough to to have seen it. And who reads archives? (Though you should TOTALLY read mine. They’ll change you, man.)

The tale of woe starts simply enough. This young Cape Breton boy starts school at Dalhousie University in Halifax. (A school he essentially picked because the school colours were black and gold and also because, “Dude… six thousand women.”)

(And I’ll put as many sentences in parentheses as I desire.)

(So there.)

Frosh week was going well. I was making friends and doing my thing. I, much to the delight of my frosh leaders, tried to incite a little brawl with members of a rival dorm. (“Smith House? Shit House, motherfuckers!” — That’s clever wordplay right there.) I didn’t get the nickname “Flounder” or attend a single toga party, but I was fairly content.

I had heard rumblings of a certain late night annual ritual, but mostly ignored them — as I do with anything that displeases me. Then Wednesday night I heard a knock on my door. I looked at my clock. 3:00 am. “Screw that noise,” I thought and rolled over.

Then louder knocking.

My skittish roommate — this roomie had his stomach pumped 3 (at least) times during frosh week and tried to off himself on pills after Xmas — asked, “What are we going to do? What are we going to do?” as he almost jumped out of his bed.

I said, “We go back to sleep. We go back to sleep.”

The knocking became louder, and much more impatient.

“Pretend we aren’t here,” I whispered.

“We know you are in there, DeWolf!”

I recognized the voice to be a bar-brawling goon frosh leader. Before I could reply…

“And don’t fucking make us come in there.” The second voice was the goon’s even scarier sidekick. (Note: I still think that guy might have been Satan. Dude’s eyes glowed red! Though I think he was also something of a pot head, so that might explain that…)

Even though I had only known these dudes for three days, I knew lunatics when I saw them. (I also spent the next two years in the dorm trying to get either of these dudes to laugh. I got Satan to smile once!)

And then one of them started hammering the door with an aluminum baseball bat.

“So, yeah, I guess we’re getting up,” I said, as I looked for my shorts and frosh t-shirt.

I opened my door with a “Boys! How the hell are ya?” Which was promptly answered with a “Get the fuck outside.”

“I think I’m just going to get the fuck outside…”

Outside I saw that all on campus students were gathered, divided by house. I found my group (Cameron House!!!!!! Whoooooooooooo!!) and made my way over. Our sister floor from the large female dorm was there with us as well.

“Let’s go!” one of the frosh leaders yelled, and suddenly we were all walking down the street. This middle of the night tour lasted for-freakin’-ever, and involved visiting, and paying tribute to, all of the favourite eating and drinking establishments of past Cameron House residents.

And they made us sing.

This included singing to a favourite bar. (Scoundrels, we hardly knew ye.) We sang New Kids on The Block’s “Step By Step.” With solos.

I was Step 4. You know, with the giving you of more.


Not really.

Our tour continued. For some unknown reason, at a random intersection, one frosh leader decided that our sister floor chicas should not have to walk across it. We men of Cameron House would carry them.

When it was announced, the fellas flocked to the women. It was like a feeding frenzy. Since I’ve never been one to compete for women, I laid back a bit and let things calm down. Then I saw a girl who seemed to be doing much the same thing. I slowly walked towards her. As I got closer I thought, “Hmm. You are little and cute.”

I gave her the upward nod.
She smiled.
I did the “You wanna do this thing?” sideways head jerk.
She nodded.
She introduced herself. (Jessica?)
I pointed to the “PETE” written in black magic marker across the chest of my frosh t-shirt.

I should tell you that one of the things I was most looking forward to about college was the potential for getting a cool-assed nickname. I had seen ANIMAL HOUSE many times, people.

When I arrived that first day at college, our frosh leaders were having a few snifters and passing out the t-shirts. They’d make you put it on and then one of the guys would come up with a nickname and write it on your chest.

As I waited my turn, I saw guys coming out with some pretty funny names. I was excited. When I stepped into the room and slipped on the T, the marker was passed to a little blond dude. He couldn’t have been nicer… or sobererer. I knew that wasn’t a good sign. After a two minute discussion about whether I preferred Peter or Pete — I had no preference — I was branded as “PETE.”

I was a bit disappointed. However, that was tempered a few minutes later when a dude walked out with “PAP SMEAR” written across his chest.

OK, back to the walking tour…

I don’t remember a lot about “Jessica,” other than her hair lived in the dirty blond/light brown neighbourhood and she was rocking a kickass ponytail.

So, I picked her up and started walking across the intersection. At the halfway point, I realized I wasn’t speaking and said, “So… do you come here often?”

In my defense, it was like 4 in the morning and in the middle of frosh week.

She laughed.

In her defense, it was like 4 in the morning and in the middle of frosh week.

I was thinking that I had found a cute walk buddy and the rest of the night might not be so evil.

When we got to the other side, I gently put her down on the sidewalk. She did a little half bow. I tipped my baseball cap. (Yes, even back then.)

Then she got a sad look on her face. I turned to see what she was looking at. One of the girls was left by herself on the other side of the street.

Jessica said, “That’s my friend ngrjengre.”

Of course I replied, “One sec, I’ll go get kjfhrjwnfw”

I started jogging across the street and the closer I got I realized something.

Now, I want to put this as delicately as possible…

Do you know the Jim Croce song “Roller Derby Queen?”

You don’t?

Jim Croce is awesome.

Anyway, in the song, he says about said Roller Derby Queen that “she was built like a ‘fridgerator with a head.”

The girl on the sidewalk was at least 5’11 and very middle linebackeresque.

I looked back over my shoulder at Jessica, who was now all smiley-faced. And when I turned back, I found out that ngjrenjklgj had gotten excited and ran and launched herself towards me. When I caught her I was completely off balance and felt a *POP* in my lower back.

The pain hit immediately.

I carried her about 3/4 of the way across the intersection before whimpering, “Far… enough… man… down…” and putting her down. She ran the rest of the way over to Jessica — who looked at me all hunched over in the middle of the street. I saw a trace of compassion in her face, which quickly turned back into a smile when I waved her off and she and her friend ran to catch up with everyone else.

Five minutes later they made us all roll down Citadel Hill.


Weeks later when I went home for a visit, my back was still pretty wrecked.

My family tried to get me to go to a doctor. But, Peter no like doctors. I won’t even watch ER. For real. A
ll things medical kind of freak me out. This doesn’t include sexy nurse costumes. *cough*

Although, to be truthful, my sister and cousin becoming nurses kind of ruined that classic male fantasy for me.


So, my reply to the “Go to the doctor, moron!” requests was my usual, “Our bodies are wondrous things. They know what they are doing. They heal themselves.”

“Peter, you just got your leg blown off by a bazooka.”
“Our bodies are wondrous things… It’ll grow back, I’m sure.”

My back hurt for a full year. But, now I know to lift, and to catch flying women, with my legs.

So, it all worked out, right?

[If this wasn’t so long already I’d tell a side story about when I cracked my tail bone playing hockey on a lake over Xmas break that year and refused to go to the doctor because, “What are they going to do, cast my ass? Come on.” Sonofabitch still hurts if I sit in the same position for too long.]

The point of this post?


That sometimes being a nice guy bites you on the ass.

And that no one has ruined sexy French maid costumes for me.

0 thoughts on “Baby's got (bad) back

  1. Ok seriously campuses actually still have these hazing rituals ala Dazed and Confused? I thought that kind of stuff was only reserved for frats and sororities.

  2. jenny: Yes. Yes it does. And I am available for consulting purposes on any costume purchase.

    mim: This was a few years ago. It wasn’t really hazing… each dorm just had their traditions.

  3. molly: As I was trying not to pass out from the pain, she did seem very upbeat. And, truth be told, I would do it all again. Except with better posture.

  4. I love Jim Croce. I love that Song. And now every time I hear it I will have a distorted image of a little frosh guy carrying a thick chick in knee pads across a dark street.


  5. That is one funny story.
    Especially when Cami called you little.
    Poor “Pete”.
    I can call you Daisy, if you want. :)

  6. Very good post! Very funny. It’s amazing how many funny things happen to us in our lifetimes that we can use as fodder for the bottomless blog pit. This one was a nugget that polished up real nice.

    Sorry, that was a trifecta of mixed metaphores.

    I also suffered through back pain for years with the idea that my body would heal itself after the bus hit me. I should have gone to the chiropractor ten years sooner.

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