My Red Neck And The Demolition Derby

It’s the annual agricultural fair this weekend. My village doubles, and sometimes even triples in size for three days of sheep shearing, horse and tractor pulls and, of course, the demolition derby.

I’ve only ever gone twice mostly because I hate running into most of the people I know. Tonight is the demolition derby, and I can hear the cars going at each other from my apartment. Twenty, even fifteen years ago the cars were still made mostly with steel. But they’re all gone now so the derby’s are mostly made up of 90’s mid-sized plastic cars.

Years ago, like back in 1987 and 88, we’d get more than 3,000 people come to town just for the Derby, which is the population of my village plus a whole lot. I did a photo essay on it for college. The organizers set up a ring of huge cement blocks, then a fence about twenty feet further out so the cars don’t careen into the crowd.

The firemen let me inside the fence to take my shots, but at one point I was actually inside the concrete… I did get an A, so totally worth the risk.


Tonight is as loud as it ever gets in this region. There are usually about fifty or more cars. Each one with the exhaust system, electronics and backseat pulled out. But it’s not just the cars, it’s the kids. The parents set their kids loose in the fairgrounds, then the kids take off up into town where there’s always the same kind of teen mating ritual where packs of boys and girls collide outside the convenience store.

But that’s cool. I like listening to sounds of people doing stuff. Sometimes, when there’s an event like this, I’ll go out and just walk through the crowd… there are actually a lot of large events in this town.

The main problem with this weekend, really the only problem, is at 1:30am when the bars start emptying. Early this morning, like 3am, there were four police cars parked on main street making sure no one did anything stupid. Two years ago there was a decent brawl on main street, apparently it was a Carny versus Local thing.


I spent this morning and part of the afternoon working with my step-father. He owns a rental property beside his moms place and the neighbour was being an ass, so my step-father erected a six-foot tall fence between the properties.

Years ago when my step-father’s uncle Edward owned the property the neighbour convinced Edward to sell him a four-foot wide, one hundred-foot long strip of property for next to nothing. My step-father never forgot that. So when we put in the fence he had the local whoever come over and map out the property lines. Ends up the rental property actually extends about two feet into the neighbours driveway, so with the fence where it is the neighbour won’t be able to park a moped in the space that’s left.

Of course I forgot to put on sunscreen so now my neck is a bright, throbbing red sunburn. Totally worth it though, I really enjoy working with my step-father on these projects. He’s an architect so everything gets done properly. Plus he doesn’t talk a lot when we’re working… I’ve never been big on the workplace talkers.


And I finally picked up a bike. I still have to buy a decent lock, a lot of bikes get stolen around here, but I am the proud owner of a second-hand Rocky Mountain eighteen-speed with road tires. It’s green. I took it out for a quick ride last night and apparently it really is hard to forget how to do it.

I haven’t owned a bike since I was seventeen. Back then I used to go on week long bike-hikes during the summer. We’d start in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, then down through Vermont and New Hampshire before coming back. My bike was a ten-speed tank. I had the front and back racks, plus the handlebar thing so I’d get the most crap to carry. Which was fine, it probably added another 10mph to my downhill speed.

Once you get into the States down there it’s mostly logging roads. So, slow up and fast down. My friend Randy had a speedometer and from what I can remember we were getting into the mid-40’s. We’d have to take the corners in the other lane, and when it was raining I’d spend the entire trip down thinking I was going to die. Awesome.

I’m hoping the bike will help me drop ten or fifteen pounds, because sitting around playing video games and eating Chinese food just isn’t working out as well as I thought it would.




About Gabriel...

...diagnosed with manic depression when I was nineteen, for the next 14-years I lived without treatment or a recovery plan. I've been homeless, one time I graduated college, I've won awards for reporting on Internet privacy issues, and a weekly humour column. In 2002 I finally hit bottom and found help. It's now 2022, and I have an 8-year old son, and a 12-year old son... I’m usually about six feet tall, and I'm pretty sure I screwed up my book deal. I mostly blog at
This entry was posted in Bipolar Disease, Bipolar Disorder, crazy people with no pants, General Tao's Chicken, Grand Theft Auto, Health, Living With Depression, Living With Manic Depression, Memories. Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to My Red Neck And The Demolition Derby

  1. thordora says:

    I kinda miss some of the little town festival stuff…of course, it stopped being fun when the mock battles were outlawed, but there was such a sense of connectivity-I actually felt like I was part of something, even if it was just for a day.

    Never liked the bar closings though…lived far too close to the bars.

    I found I never lost weight on a bike-just gained mass in my legs. Love that feeling though….enjoy it.

  2. Soire says:

    It’s funny you know, video games and fudgeeo’s aren’t helping me either. Ah well. Back to the pool with me!

  3. Gabriel... says:

    Bonjour Thordora and Soire… I’d love to get back to the pool, the last time I tried was in 1994 when I was still smoking and heavier than I am now. I got about three metres and realized I wasn’t swimming, I was drowning. I’m hoping the bike will be a decent substitute… I need something to do where, at the end of the activity, I’m sweating but there’s no spicy General Taos chicken involved.

    I’m actually kind of proud of the amount of stuff there is to do in my little village. It’s very community-friendly. Something new this year is the Merchant’s Association are having outdoor children’s movies at the fairgrounds every Thursday… three bucks and all the popcorn and lemonade you can handle.

  4. Rhiannon says:

    Gabriel I love reading your blog. It is wonderful, I love reading about opther people who are in recovery, it helps me keep my shit in perspective.

    I don’t however think that weight is an issue when comes to people’s health. I am not going to say anything more because I’m in your living room as it were, but I’d love to dicuss Fat Acceptance with you if you’re interested.

  5. Sounds like a good weekend. Maybe you could go out in disguise…? And that is a beast of a fence. You’re very tall…

  6. markps2 says:

    “Back then I used to go on week long bike-hikes during the summer. ”
    I would like to do this. This summer it looks like it is too late now , nights are fairly cold.
    Who taught you the rules and ways of a week long bike hike?
    I have no idea how to do it. A toilet, and legal place to camp-sleep are my main concerns.

  7. beeper says:

    That sounds like a constructive and theraputic weekend, hope the neck has calmed a little?

    I’m gradually starting to feel better thanks goodness, head is starting to freshen and I’m thinking about my blog again, which is in form my therapy. Thanks for asking.

    Don’t be mistaken, even when things aren’t good, I’m still around and I’m always reading.

    Stay well *hug*


  8. Gabriel... says:

    Thanks for coming around again Rhiannon, I’m glad you’re finding something useful here. The issues with my weight actually come from my diabetes nurse and her dietitian partner. According to my BMI (which is not a measurement I entirely trust) I’m “low grade obese”, so something. So they want me to lose 10-15lbs over the next few months. Most of my blood test stuff — cholesterol et al. — says I’m in excellent shape otherwise.

    But if you want to drop some knowledge, feel free wherever you want to… I’m not sure I’ve written a body image post yet.

    Hi Allie… I’m just a little bit over six-feet tall. I think the shoes I was wearing that day (six-year old Airwalks) add almost 1.5″ to my tallness.

    Mark… holy crap Mark, I was just getting ready to write an email asking where you were. When I went on the bike-hikes it was part of a summer camp called “Frontier Lodge”. It’s down near Magog on Lake Wallace, but it’s run by a church in Pointe Clare… the name of which I have no idea.

    There are campgrounds scattered all over the place in the States, so we’d just plan our trips based around where they were. They all have toilets, showers and shelters.

    Welcome back Mark.

    Hi beeper, my neck currently feels a lot like cheap leather. But the throbbing has stopped, so I’m happy about that. I like your blog, I know how difficult it can be to maintain while we’re having head difficulties so I’m glad you’re starting to clear up.

  9. Ameroux says:

    Hi! I’m a mental health professional who’s also manic-depressive. I wanted to say you’re doing great stuff with this blog. You’re saying all the most important things, especially that we are not our diagnosis — we are who we are first. Thanks and rock on.

  10. alruiceis says:

    We, as fleamarket vendors, do a lot of stuff like this. Tractor shows, street fairs, car/bike shows, etc etc. Fun fun fun.

    I hope to get a folding bike someday. My city, however, isn’t very bike-friendly. Typical American city, I guess. Stupid car-centric travel.

    Good luck with the weight loss! 🙂

  11. Gabriel... says:

    Hi Ameroux, and thanks. Feel free to comment wherever you see fit, I always like to get the opinions of people working in the mental health field.

    Annyong haseyo, and thanks Esther… I was going to say ‘folding bikes are cool but I’d only buy one when they invented one with adult-sized wheels’, but then I checked and there’s a company called Bazooka Sports making folding mountain bikes. So maybe… they also make those crazy little circus-wheeled ones as well.

    Ottawa and Toronto are very bike-friendly but they only got that way because enough bikes were clogging the roads and sidewalks… so maybe organize a group of people and go be a clogging annoyance.

  12. bromac says:

    I love county and state fairs….any kind of festival. A big one around here is the Strawberry festival in Plant City in February. It doubles as the whole ag/4H thing too.

  13. bromac says:

    For some reason, it posted before I was done. Not that I had anything important to say, at any rate. Just going to add that the fair food, people watching, and games for my daughter make any fair/festival my favorite place to be on a lazy Saturday.

  14. Rhiannon says:

    It’s definitely not a good idea to trust the BMI tables:
    Body Mass Index (BMI) Badly Flawed

    Another good place to start re-educating yourself is Junk Food Science . If I were you I would ask my dietitian if s/he knows anything about Healthy At Every Size (HAES) and if they can work with you on being healthy without losing weight.

    [I fixed the links Rhiannon]

  15. Rhiannon says:

    Yeah, I’m “obese” too, but I’m healthy. Obesity is just not the most accurate measurement of health. Things like HDL, LDL levels, blood pressure, fasting blood sugar levels, etc are much more important. Really there just isn’t the causitive relationship between fat and illness as many people would have us think. In my experience health care professionals tend to be very ill-educated about these things. There is a pervasive anti-fat sentiment throughout the profession, though this is beginning to change.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s