Part III: Cam plays Hugh, and Hugh plays Cam … or, something like that

Hugh Campbell and I were just about to go on stage at the Santa Maria Goretti Community Centre when a look of concern washed over his face.

“I don’t know if I can do this,” he said.

“C’non. It will be fun,” I assured him.

“Yeah, but — you swear and drink beer. And I never, hardly ever swear. I hate  beer. Just ask my wife. And I don’t want people to get the wrong impression.”

I laughed. “They won’t. They know you too well.”

It was December of 1987. Hugh was back in Edmonton as general manager of the Edmonton Eskimos. We had a strong friendship and I was lucky enough to be invited to the staff Eskimo Christmas party.

After dinner, there were skits put on by staff. Hugh and I had — key word: had — the same hair cuts. Before dinner after my third beer, I suggested a skit for the two of us.

Role reversal. He’d me. I’d be him.

He pushed me out on to the stage and then it was poetry in motion. Hugh helped me out of my wheelchair and sit in a chair. He then got in my wheelchair.

I gave him my beer with a straw.

“What do I do with this?” he asked.

“Drink it and have a good time.”

We had fun. In my role, I asked Cam — see, I got it going on — if he needed a ride home, or if he had a new date, or if he wanted to go for a milkshake.

Hugh — or Cam — answered my questions and then threw in of his own.

At the end of our five minutes of fame, Hugh took a sip of my beer.

“It tastes terrible,” he said.

“It tastes like … shit.”

A true role player, indeed.


The last straw … worked!

GeorgeAndrews_rdax_170x202George Andrews stood in front of me Wednesday evening, smack in the middle of Ernest’s Dining Room at NAIT before a recent awards ceremony with two straws. One in his left hand, and one in his right.
“Here,” said George, a good friend since the mid-90’s when he came to Edmonton to work for the United Way of the Capital Region. “Try this one first.”
A little background: I live with cerebral palsy and can’t hold a glass to my mouth. So, when I have a drink — even of the alcoholic variety — I require a straw to enjoy a liquid refreshment.
George handed me the straw he was clutching in his right hand. My most capable assistant Alysson, otherwise known as Mrs. Wonderful, put the straw in my bubbling champagne. I took a big sip: I was thirsty.
I got nothing … but air. George started laughing. And then, so did I.
“You thoughtI forgot, eh?” he asked. “Well, I didn’t.”
Then, he handed me the straw in his left hand. It worked, and as we sipped champagne, we reminisced.
George, now the vice-president of external relations and chief development officer at NAIT, is a big fan of Rick Hansen. When I shared with him that I covered the Man In Motion World Tour for five months between August 1986 and May 1987, he was eager to hear a few stories. One, in particular, centred around Glenn de Goeij the RCMP member who escorted Rick through Alberta. Glenn is quite the prankster. When the tour hit Edmonton, he tour crew and Glenn and his beautiful wife Kong went for dinner at the old Italian Gardens downtown.
I ordered a beer. Glenn asked for two straws for me and I thought he was being thoughtful. Think again.
Glenn poked a hole in one of them. Air! That’s all I got while Glenn bent over in laughter. And, that became standing joke for the rest of the tour.
I told George the story and forgot about it until Wednesday night. He poked a hole in my straw.
After a good visit, he put his hand on my shoulder and posed a great question: “What are friends for?”