Big Billy – The winter of my discontent

Minnie thinks she’s right smart, eh. Well, at least she thinks she’s smarter than me, and I’d have an easier time arguin’ the point if she didn’t keep trickin’ me into stuff.

Take all the snow we had this week, eh? Now normally, as soon as there’s a few flurries Big BIllycomin’ down at all, Minnie will start talkin’ about how the step gotta be shovelled. She don’t come right out and ask me to do it or anything, she just sort of wanders around, worryin’ out loud about all the ways somebody could break their neck on the back step if they slipped on it because it wasn’t shovelled.

Look at that snow, she’ll say, and do that tsk tsk tsk sound. Can you imagine now if somebody went to the store and came home carryin’ a few bags and tried to come up them steps? Phhhhtp! she’ll say, swipin’ her hand in a big loop that means… Arse over teakettle! she’ll say. Flat on yer arse and bust yer head open. Tsk tsk tsk.

Usuaully that goes on for a while, and then to ramp it up, she’ll casually mention it to me like I never heard her talkin’ to herself all day.

Billy, she’ll say, isn’t it awful, the state of that back step. It’s not fit for man nor beast out there.

And if I ignore that two or three times, that’s when she’ll finally turn on me and yell at me to get my lazy arse out the door and shovel off the step before she puts the broom in the side of my head.

So of course, the other day there when the snow started comin’ down, I expected the usual rigamarole. Instead, I heard her and Little Bill talkin’ out in the kitchen before he went out the door and I seen him walkin’ down the road in the snow.

Where’s he goin’? I said, when Minnie came in the room where I was watchin’ TV.

The girlfriend’s, where else? Minnie said. But I told him, he gotta shovel off that step and the driveway as soon as he gets back.

I kept my eyes on the TV because I wasn’t sure what she was up to, but I liked the sound of that.

Good idea, I said.

I told him, she said, you’re a strappin’ young fella and you got no excuse. You could be out there ten or fifteen minutes with the shovel and the whole thing would be done.

Yup, I said, still not sure what she was up to.

I said to him, she said, I hope ya don’t expect your father to go out and do it. I said to him, there’s your father in there, and he’s too old to be out shovellin’ snow like he used to. I mean, he turns the wrong way or somethin’ and he could drop dead.

Well, I dunno know about –

Ya see it on TV all the time, some old fella keels over in a snowbank or somethin’. And I told him, there’s your father in there with all that grey hair, takin’ blood pressure pills now, probably got the diabetes but got away with it by cheatin’ the test, and he got that great big beer gut on him, I hope ya don’t expect him to be out there shovellin’ while you’re in here!

Wait now, I don’t got that much grey hair, do I? I said.

And I told him, the way your father eats, if he slipped and fell out there, he’d probably break his hip. He don’t get his vegetables into him, and ya never see him drinkin’ milk unless it’s in tea, so his bones’d probably turn to dust if he fell. That’s all we’d need!

Hang on, I said. I’m not ready for the old folks home yet, I said. I’m still pretty strong – you wouldn’t believe how strong I am. That time over Cyril’s last summer, I carried that whole door into the house by myself. And another thing –

I went on and on about how young and strong I am, even compared myself to a young Hulk Hogan, minus the moustache – on and on – and at some point I guess while I was talkin, I stood up and started tuckin’ in my shirt, and tuckin my pant legs into my socks.

I was askin’ Minnie how much she thought I could bench-press as I was zippin’ up my coat and tryin’ to find my gloves. I dunno how much, I said to her, but I’ll tell ya this – when I was 20, I could bench-press almost 200 pounds.

Where are ya goin’? said Minnie. I don’t want to have to worry about you outside.

Don’t you worry about me, I said, Tuckin’ in the tongues of my boots and lacin’ them up. I ain’t over the hill yet, I said. No sirree Bob, there’s a lot of miles left on ol’ Billy, don’t you worry about that, I said.

I hate to think of ya out there, Minnie said, holdin’ the door open for me while I dug the shovel out of the snow on the back step.
I just put my head down and started goin’ to work. I didn’t just shovel the snow, I picked it up and threw it clear across the yard.

Imagine! I muttered to myself. Tellin’ me I’m too old to be out shovellin’! Worried I’d fall and break my hip like some old man! If she thinks I can’t shovel no more, she got another thing comin’ to her, I said.

And that’s when it hit me. I took a look through the kitchen into the livin’ room and there was Minnie, sippin’ her tea with her feet up, flippin’ the channel from the hockey game, probably to Oprah or some cookin’ show.

Ohhhh, she thinks she’s some smart, that one.

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