The Life and Times of a Suburban Nobody – Good Eats

It’s a miracle I’m alive.  No really, I’m not being dramatic, I’ve been hit by a car whilst walking in a parking lot, gone cliff diving, sat in the passenger seat with some less than ideal drivers, had too many drinks too many times, skateboarded in a concrete pool with no protective equipment, completed BMX jumps made out of bricks and plywood…by now I should have done myself in.  There have been so many close calls, I think the first thing I do when I get to heaven (hey hey…I might get in.  They let Mark Howe into the Hockey Hall of Fame) is find my guardian angel and give her a big hug.

But more than the potential for physical accidents, it’s pretty amazing that I didn’t poison myself as a kid growing up in the suburbs.  Not self-poisoning from drinking bleach or anything like that (I was curious and careless…not mind-numbingly stupid), but more from eating things that I probably shouldn’t have eaten.  Come to think of it, things that I definitely shouldn’t have eaten.

One of the things I ate a lot of (but that I was pretty sure wouldn’t kill me) was dog biscuits.  What possessed me to do that you ask?  Nothing more than sheer laziness.  My friend Mike (yes, the same one who was with me when my mum got hit in the butt with a street ball…hmm…maybe I just shouldn’t have hung out with Mike so much) and I would sit in his basement playing Intellivision and eventually we would get hungry.  We didn’t really feel like going upstairs to make a sandwich or grab some cookies or anything, so we would just look around us to see what was within arm’s reach.  Mike had a doberman, so there were always dog biscuits around.  We figured if his dog was so quick and muscular, there had to be something good in those biscuits.  So we’d eat them.  They were extremely hard, dry and not all that tasty, but they sure as hell cured the munchies.  You didn’t want to eat anything for a few hours after having a few of those.  It was like they would break down in your mouth, but then solidify into something harder than their original form once they hit your stomach.  Dog biscuits, modern marvels of physics.

What I can’t believe didn’t kill us was the amount of various random plants and berries we used to eat.  We’d be out in our parents’ gardens and once again being too lazy to go inside, we would drink from the hose and then eat plants.  It didn’t matter if they were really leafy or if they were more like a spider plant, we’d eat them.  If they even resembled green onions, they were doing down first.  That was pretty much the logic on what was safe to eat: does it look like something we already eat?   Shiny red berries on a hedge?  Heck, those are just mini-cranberries.  Not so shiny red and orange berries on some other plant?  Well, those are just crabapples or “northern cherries”.  They were going down too.

I remember watching Into the Wild a few years ago and (SPOILER ALERT) seeing how he dies because he ate the wrong plant out in the wild and all I could think was, “How the hell wasn’t that me?  Surely there are some poisonous plants around in our everyday lives.   With all of the plants I ate in backyards and parks, not even a case of the trots.  Nothing.  Amazing.  This guy ate one plant and died.”

It wasn’t all laziness that led me to eat whatever plants were around.  Any kid knows that if you go inside to eat when you were originally outside playing, there’s always that chance your mum will tell you to stay inside and wash up for dinner.  If you’re playing a particularly great game or just don’t feel like being inside, you’ll do anything to stay outside.  Come to think of it, now that I am thinking back on all of those plants I ate, I’m making myself sick thinking of all the kids who probably peed on some of those plants not wanting to go home to use the washroom for fear of being kept inside.

Okay, now I am going to be sick.  I’m not going to die, but I’m at least going to be sick.


  1. avatar Wendy B Says:

    Have you tried dog biscuits again since? Perhaps with a nice gravy and some wine?

  2. avatar Jay Says:

    You know, I was dog sitting about a month ago and I bought these dog treats from Bark & Fitz…they’re chicken pot pie. The dog was enjoying them and I seriously thought about having one…but I didn’t. I guess some things you outgrow.

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