My son Sam wants to walk home after school. Two years ago that would have meant a six-block stroll. Now he goes to university 150 kms away, so a bit more planning is called for. When he told me his idea on the phone my first thought was, of course, sure. Good exercise, a chance for some self-reliance, a way to enjoy the spring weather and the wonderful scenery of southern Ontario. Could he borrow my old backpack and tent? Sure. And could I give a lift to Bucky and Ted when I came to pick up his computer and move him home for the summer? Sure. And could I think of anything apart from food and drink and fire he might need along the route? A map and a cell phone, I said. And a VISA card. (I am not much of a camper.) He laughed.
The first thing Ted did when he found out about the trip (Ted and Bucky are old friends of Sam's, by the way, in case you thought they were gerbils or stuffed animals) was to buy -- get this -- an expensive hunting knife over the internet. He showed it to me when I picked him and Bucky up. I made appreciative noises.
This thing is so strong it'll cut through bullets, Ted told me, seriously. He's a tall fit guy with an earnest expression.
I did not explode into laughter, did not even smile, but it was a strain.
Bullets? I said politely.
I pictured a matrix-like slow motion scene, Ted turning in mid air to slice a bullet in half, then wheeling to deflect another shot.
Do you expect to meet a lot of bullets? I asked.
No, but it just shows you, he said.
It certainly does.
We drove to Kingston with the setting sun behind us and the birds saying goodnight to each other. The boys' plan was to start bright and early the next morning, and reach Cobourg sometime on day three. I loaded Sam's computer and squash racket into the car, gave him a hug, and left him and his friends on the brink of adventure.