“Tyson…hurry up, get in here!” Dad was beckoning me to the livingroom. One of our favourite shows was on, “That’s Incredible”. It was a show similar to “Ripley’s Believe It or Not”, and it told true stories of people achieving near impossible feats.
The feature story was that of a teenager who had taught his hamster to water ski. It was a very captivating piece. Not only was this hamster balancing on his Popsicle stick skis, but the creative child had become a millionaire in training it to do so. This was 1982, just imagine how much money that was back then!
I went to bed that night wondering what action sports I could get my newt to participate in, and how many zeros would be on my cheque. The next morning I was trying to see if my tiny salamander would be any good at down hill skiing. I practised sliding him down the windshield of Mom’s Subaru when he became lost in the grill that was just below the windshield.
Dreaming is good, and it was something I did in Technicolor every single night and will do again tonight. Being ultra impulsive and focused meant that I was able to harness the power in my dreams as I awoke. What I was lacking was the required ability to sort through the potential costs or ramifications like the loss of my dear pet Simon.
My Dad would say to me countless times over the years, “stop, think, and do Tyson…and in that order”.
One day he said those words to me much louder than any other day and it startled me, I was concentrating on what I was doing. I was on my way home for something to eat during a school day lunch break, and had a neat idea.
I had worked the monster truck show at the Keystone Centre recently and had watched the trucks climb over all the cars with ease. I knew that I could do that too! I made my way down Queens Avenue towards our Basswood Bay home.
Climbing the trunk of the parked cars was the hardest part as they were taller than the front end of the cars. Walking over the roofs felt cool too as you could feel the steel bend and give way to the weight that it was now bearing.
I crushed cars for about a block before a man yelled very loudly from the driver’s seat and through an open passenger window of a passing Audi 5000, it was my Dad. He was extremely curious about “what the hell” I was doing. He also wanted to know if I had stopped and thought before doing.
I explained to Dad that I was a human monster truck. He would reply that I would be in the repair shop for the next two weeks and that I must master the principle of “stop, think, and only then…do!”
I had spent many nights trying to get to sleep with a racing mind, I had finally come up with the idea to become a millionaire.
Mom was an employee in member services at the Brandon Family YMCA on 8th Street. This made me the holder of an all-inclusive membership. I had been lifting weights in the basement weight room and for Christmas I had received Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 1981 book entitled, “Arnold’s Body Building for Men.”
My late night cocktail of thoughts had yielded a plan. I would write the producers of “That’s Incredible” and explain that there was hard work going on by amazing children bodybuilders presumably at YMCA locations in every corner of our nation.
My letter, which was in the mail without delay would explain my idea further. The show would focus on some of us well-developed bodybuilders and could be capped off by a pose-down. I made sure they knew that I was open to their suggestions on exactly how the show would be rolled out.
I used all of Mom’s baby oil on my little Brother and I, our muscles were bulging with girth. I am unsure of how long my parents knew that my idea had been rejected, but the letter of decline had been received by them.
Let me just say that in my defence, Mom & Dad are guilty of creating an undeterred dreamer by always being so supportive, and never crushing my dreams, how dare they?
I guess once they got the news, and also having the knowledge of my impending disappointment, they did a very thoughtful, most heartwarming thing. They purchased a trophy that I still have today and they presented it to me in front of the whole family for a well done weight lifting campaign. They assured me that I would have won the pose-down anyway.
Pictured below in front of the dining room window of 834 12th Street is me, my pipes, and my trophy. 67 pounds of twisted steel and sex appeal.
I was always so driven to become a millionaire. I had an intense tunnel vision, once potential earnings were introduced everything else became blurry and unimportant.
My Mom often sent me to Erma’s grocery for bread and milk.. I remember grabbing Dad his lung darts for just $1.85 per pack. In one instance, I was on my way out the door to return to school after having “ronies” (Kraft Dinner) during lunch break when I was stopped by my Mom.
Mom explained that another trip to the store was needed after school to get bread for supper. As I exited the school at home time, I was greeted by a woman who was looking for a show dog that had escaped her yard in the east end on Percy Street. She handed me a business card and told me about a $50.00 reward for the dog’s safe return!
I didn’t know what a “show dog” was, but I did know what a $50 dollar bill looked like, I also knew that it would be in the depths of my pocket before the streetlights came on that night. I begged the lady to stop networking with the other kids. I assured her that it would be me returning the dog, she vetoed that plan.
We dissected our neighbourhood block by block looking for the black and white Boston. My Brother was the one that spotted Spot running alongside the tracks bordering Park Avenue near 11th Street. We chased the dog all the way to the U-Haul depot at the corner of 1st and Park where a Circle K convenience store is located today.
The dog was out of sorts and scared. Everytime I reached under the U-Haul to get him, he snarled. Oh…and by “I” I mean my little Brother.
Again, so impulsive, and without thinking first, I jumped out in front of a half ton truck on 1st Street that had to brake hard to stop. I asked the man if he had gloves. He was perplexed. I explained that “my” dog wouldn’t come out from under the trailer and that he was mad at me from chasing him.
The man scooped him up with his gloves and in essence, had handed me the prettiest bill ever minted, the one that had the ring of horse riding Mounties on the back.
The lady at the Percy Street home was very thankful and astounded that it was in fact me at her door with her show dog. It was my first $50 and I was so hungry, but there was no bread.
Not paying attention was a consistent problem, and my ADD was undiagnosed at that time. It would remain that way for several years. I was ripping shingles off neighbours roofs, and not to cause damage, but because I could fling them almost three blocks.
I brutally murdered another neighbour’s goldfish from their backyard pond. Not because I hated animals or because I wanted to damage someone’s property. I wanted to see if their lungs were different from ours since they could stay under water. I couldn’t see through the scales so I had to open one up.
Many misunderstandings. Very few incidents came from a place of malice or the desire to hurt someone. It wouldn’t be until after the cost or reverberation took place that I would recognize that there was more going on that I hadn’t calculated.
It would be during a pool game on 4 West in the Brandon Mental Health Centre that I would discover a part of my brain that had previously been unused. I remember hammering away at the balls and then crossing my fingers in my games with Dad on our pool table at home in the basement.
Now I was living in the hospital and was playing 8 ball with younger adults. I listened to them intently, always trying to sponge any available knowledge.
One day during a game of pool, a fella from Winnipegosis had taken me into deep waters. I was slamming my cue into the cue ball as though I was breaking. My opponent explained that if I were to stop and think first and only then do my shot, that my results would improve.
I loved math and pool comes down to geometry in my mind. Once I started calculating, once I slowed down, draining the balls was simple.
This “stop, think, and do” advice I was receiving from my pool opponent was revolutionary. It was a light bulb moment for sure.
Sometimes, lessons can be delivered to you from the most unlikely sources. Learning from others, regardless of who they are or their social status is a valuable education and in this case it changed my life.
My poor Dad slammed his laptop a few paragraphs ago, how frustrating. He had told me a thousand times to stop, think, and do. This man playing billiards with me told me once and presto!
Please consider keeping an open mind when speaking with people of all kinds. Listen to people with a full ear instead of waiting for their lips to stop moving and focusing only on what you want to say next like I am so guilty of.
A person should stop, think, and only then do. It is similar to a carpenter’s credo; measure twice, cut once. Think of the crushing impact your moves can have on others, don’t be a monster truck.
Also, don’t be so quick to judge. That small boy you told to “beat it” in the weight room? He had already won a trophy for body building, he had been involved in the saving of a show dog and he was also doing quite well financially, rollin’ with pockets swollen!
B E G O O D T O P E O P L E