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My Boys, My Troops 

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The next thing I remember
I am walking down the street
I'm feeling all right
I'm with my boys
I'm with my troops, yeah
—"Late in the Evening" by Paul Simon

On a perfect Toronto evening for it, skies clear, the heat cooling to warmth, I go to see the Blue Jays play. It is my first time to a major league baseball game, and my company is the most excellent of companies.

Wally and Chris
  • Wally and Chris
Chris Bennett is a terrific nice everyday normal guy, songwriter and really really good guitarist. He is pals with one of my oldest friends, Walter Thornton, who is now a lawyer, great guitarist, grandfather, Blue Jays and Red Wings fan, living in Toronto. Walter has really great seats for this game, just behind third base, and he brings along two gloves, because we are in a primo area for catching errant fly balls. One glove is blue and has Wall e stitched onto it, along with the fleur de lis of the Quebec flag. It’s a beautiful glove, but the second glove, a mocha coloured beaut is the real thing, a real pro glove and a show stopper for those who know gloves.
Wally
  • Wally


Another old friend, oldest of friends, is with us. Lawrence Horwood is (I think) a day trader, tennis player, bass player, guitar player. In a few weeks he leaves to walk the Camino de Santiago in Spain.

Lornie
  • Lornie

There were decades when I did not see these friends, and there are many details about their lives I have no idea about, and you could suggest that maybe I don’t know them so well after all, but it doesn’t matter too much to me what these men do or have been doing, as long as they are happy enough (and when they are not it is deep sadness). I made my mind up about them a long, long time ago; my love for them, for better or worse, is unshakable. I take great comfort from knowing I have sustained something in my life.

I have known Lawrence from the first day of grade one, at Alta Vista Public School in Ottawa. Walter wasn’t in the same class as Lawrence and I, but he was there too, and a few more of us, ruffians, mutts, soldiers, juvenile delinquents and heroes, through public school and then high school, at Ridgemont. There are a thousand stories about us. We were great. These boys were my heroes. These men are also.

So I am thrilled and at peace with my company. The lights in the Rogers Centre grow brighter and brighter as the evening sky passes from wedgewood to cerulean to prussian blue. I love the lights, the crowd, the jumbotron, the CN Tower sticking up beyond first base.

After the game we walk within the crowd in a still evening, from Front Street up to Adelaide. I realize that Lawrence was there when I saw my only NHL game, in Montreal, when Larry Robinson scored in overtime during quarter finals. As we walk he looks up the date. It was April 17, 1973. It is a geat walk in the big city evening; I'm with my boys, I'm with my troops. Lawrence catches the subway. Walter goes back to the office. Chris and I drive out to the Danforth where both he and my sister Sue live.

People ask me about the highlights of my trip, and there are many, mostly in the countrysides of the states and provinces where I have been, but this too, an evening of such grace for me, is high on that list.

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