Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Rite of Passage

If there was one rite of passage among Celtic, Irish, French Canadian ( and many other cultures) today it would be a boy’s first all night out drinking.

Not sure what age it happens to most, like some sort of a Bar Mitzvah not too Kosher, but mine was at 14 IIRC.

We had just met our new half-brothers and our family size had doubled all of a sudden. I went from First to fourth in no time at all to my greatest shock and dismay.

I was so stunned by the news and the secret they had kept from us for so many years, crying over old photos of 'nephews', all of us being ‘officially’ Caissys,
and also the strange strange fact that all other kids parents in our school had wedding anniversaries,
a celebration that surreptitiously  never happened in our house.

So on our first summer together in one of our yearly trips to Gaspé or Gaspésie as we prefer to call it
(Gaspé being a town and Gaspésie a huge peninsula)
we met our new “brothers” as my natural siblings are known to call them.  

I stick religiously to half-brothers myself, a stickler for the details of the facts. 

Now there is a story and we might never ever know now,
that I might not be exactly the prime of my father’s jizz. 
Even my mother says she is not sure and doesn’t know.  
In modern relationship terms “It’s Complicated”.

But technically he is a Rioux. All three of them were somewhat abandoned and ‘placed’ among family members not to the best terms of life I gather. 

Majella, Pierre, and Denis in that order. 1951? 1953? 1954? 

And then I came along , after a 500 miles exodus to the big city because of course you did not leave a husband and three kids in a small Catholic Bastion Village of Quebec in 1955.

Being my father’s first, and being born around Xmas too, I was named after my dead uncle, Sergeant Léo Caissy, dead just a few days or weeks before the end of the war (WW2), buried overseas.  
My dad’s oldest brother, he being the second oldest I believe.  
Well of the boys anyway there was an older sister ma tante Eva beloved by us all.  
Her family brought a lot of interesting stories to the family for sure.  

Then there was mon oncle Albenie, the one who couldn’t shut up during movies to my father’s great dismay and anger.
And some younger uncle who popped up much later in my life, when I was around 12 in fact.  According to his story he had been in college for a while college being hard time in a prison out west for armed robbery.  The baby, son of grandmother’s lover, always at odd with my dad for obvious reasons.  A big mouth and a ladies man, well he had a lot of time to catch up to and he did trust me.

It took me years to find out that Uncle Joe, Grandma’s handy man was handy in more ways that I could ever think as a child.  No wonder the 3 of them rented the last seat in the back at church: my grandmother, my “uncle” Joe, and a very old very frustrated and deaf cuckolded grandfather.

So back to that Summer 1970 now.  Even though I forgot an awful lot of my life I do remember many details of that famous night.  

A nice and big white Ford LTD. 429 cu. in. engine, 4 barrels carburator, convertible, blue top and blue leather inside, automatic with transmission on the floor. 
Guess we started drinking at the local pubs the three of us, maybe with a starter at home.  We travelled an awful lot though something like 400 kms? 240 miles? Maybe more even.  We made it to Murdochville at sunrise in the middle of absolutely nowhere at all. Denis doing most of the driving by then since my dad was way too drunk to drive, not that it had ever stopped him thousands of times before and after. That’s what they did then, in fact we managed to kill like six of our family in one shot that way once.  I remember running out of beer in the middle of the night and stopping at a hotel just before they closed, round 3 AM back then and all they could sell us was a case of beer that had been laying on top of a fridge, since they were not supposed to sell beer to take out at all, them were the rules back then too. That beer was a little warmer than what we call tablette let me tell you in fact it was piss hot and absolutely awful but we were way past the caring point anyway.  So we made it back home somehow maybe early afternoon IIRC, and I remember the wonderful feeling for maybe the first time in my life of not giving a single fuck that my mother was very angry at me for the 10 millionth time.

Oh yeah besides the fact we could all have died a thousand times, our only loss was a wheel cap when Denis lost control and made a tête-a- queue, a 180 degrees in a gravel road, in fact most of the roads were lumberjacks roads, long and winding dust filled gravel roads, miles and miles of them.  So look it up one day on Google Earth from Pointe-a-la-Garde, QC to Murdochville, QC and back alive and in one piece.

He was a pretty good driver for a drunk 17 year old. J

R.I.P. Denis Rioux (Caissy?)

P.S. there is a lot of questions as to why my mother went to name my sister, the one after me, Denise, after abandoning a Denis. It was to be a very bad omen for poor Denise.

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