Friday, September 26, 2008

He's Troubled ... But I Can Save Him. Part III : What Is With This Guy and Lawn Ornaments?


Large amounts of rice wine can make a man do strange things.
It can lead to excessive politeness and bowing.
it can lead to really disturbing animation and overzealous work ethics.
Or it can lead to the kidnapping, repainting and subsequent return of a neighbours' yard decoration in a fit of self-righteous anger.

In my defense (not Slappy's - I have barely enough defense for myself) the lawn jockey was pretty damned offensive -- 1940's Warner Bros. cartoon offensive, in fact.
And we were quite drunk on the aforementioned sake. We were going through a pretentious phase. We wanted to get loaded but we had to set ourselves apart from all the other drunken man-children populating Central Ontario. No Black Label for me and Slappy, it had to be sake.
Don't judge. Drinking strange alcoholic beverages is just part of growing up. How do you think The Dr. McGillicuddy's Peach Schnapps Empire stays in business?
It stood to reason that we would steal a lawn jockey from the next door neighbour. We were two crazy non-conformists. We were drinking for SOCIAL JUSTICE! We were drinking for RACIAL EQUALITY! We were drinking because WE DIDN'T HAVE ANY POT!
What else were we going to do? Support our local sports team?
I'm not sure if we had the idea of painting this symbol of oppression -- whom we affectionately dubbed Jonathan Smythe-Davies Sr. -- when we emancipated him. We likely just wanted to keep property values artificially high ... but the binge continued. Barbara was surprisingly well disposed to our cries of "Fetch us more Japanese hooch from a licensed distributor of said beverages, wench." She's a trooper.
Especially since we were wearing her sun dresses at the time.
Slappy, being of an artistic persuasion, had some white paint lying around, I, being of a rockin' persuasion, had some Public Enemy discs lying around. One thing led to another ... and a political statement was born.
The thing that stood out most about Slappy's whitefication of Jonathan Smythe-Davies Sr. was the detail he put into the job. I tend to do non-work related things in a half assed manner. Slappy veers more towards the hilariously triple assed. He didn't just slap on some white paint. He changed the eyes. He changed the lips. He used texture and shading to change the cheek bones.
The man is a god damned artistic genius - although I doubt this made it into his portfolio.
We painted an 'X' on his cap (as was the style at the time) and "It's a black thing ... you wouldn't understand" on the back of his jacket. We put him back facing the neighbour's front door two nights later.
The next morning, Barbara, Girl Detective, was outside trying to corral the cat when she noticed a police car at the curb. She looked around the hedge and saw two officers talking to the aggrieved home owners. From this point on, all quotes are approximated.

Probably Racist Lady Next Door: "We wouldn't have called you but we thought it was part of something larger."
Police Officers "Larger? What do you mean larger?"
PRLND: "Well, we thought it might be gang related."
PO: (trying not to laugh) "Well, I don't know about that but they certainly did a good job."

At the time, there may have been fifteen people of African descent in Orillia. Slappy makes me look like Malcolm X and I am generally the whitest guy in any room I walk into.
Still, I was proud to be the vanguard of Afro-Canadian gang activity in Central Ontario. With apologies to The Simpsons writers, I'd have called us the Christ Punchers.

I worked at the local weekly newspaper at the time. It didn't make it into the police blotter but I was tempted to interview the bigots next door for a story about escalating gang violence in Orillia. Sadly, I lacked the follow through (or the cojones, your choice) and the story died.

J. Smythe-Davies was ultimately repainted black and placed behind a padlocked fence.
We should have freed him. Repainting him was a definite sign our neighbours were douchebags.
Unfortunately, Slappy and I eventually sobered up. It is one of my life's largest regrets.


Anonymous said...

This is by far one of my all-time favourite stories. Thanks for brightening my dreary day!

Anonymous said...

I wonder what ever happened to that lawn jockey... Do you think he (it) is still on the lawn??

Girl Detective said...

I have only one correction to this story, and since I was the only one there for this part, it should be me that shares it... that cop made NO attempt to hide his laughter... I heard him laugh through the hedge as he said, and I quote, "Well, whoever did this sure did a good job!"

Girl Detective said...

First, in your account of the story, you say you were drinking rice wine, but, THEN you post a picture with what is CLEARLY a beer. Which is it, Mr. Hipster, which is it?

And what ELSE have you lied about?

This calls your entire testimony into question.

Hah! Turns out I really AM a detective.

Aging Hipster said...

It wasn't my beer. I was just holding it for J. Smythe-Davies Sr.
His taste isn't as refined as mine.

Barb said...

I drove by the house the other day. No sign of J. Smythe-Davies Sr. It's possible the people who owned him don't live there any more... it's been many years.