Brawn Versus The Old Buzzard

A man working under an old car
Inuvik had their share of so-called muscle-challenged folks who demolished the wimp stereotype. Photo: Pixabay

Every muscle sprang into action, and without a single ounce of energy left for cursing, he hoisted the tranny into place.

In the memorable sixties, many comic books had bodybuilding advertisements portraying the 97-pound weakling. The ads were in comic-book form and usually followed the same script. The first frame would open with a scrawny fellow sitting blissfully on the beach with his sweetie. In the next frame all their bliss was crushed in a heartbeat, as a muscle-bound bully

kicked sand in their faces.

Stereotypical scenes would then follow where the humiliated sweetie declares that she’s not going to be caught dead hanging around with a wimp. With his pride in the dumpster and his honey skipping out, our scrawny friend decides that there’s only one solution—retribution. Naturally, a few bodybuilding sessions turns the muscle-challenged squirt into a muscle-bound Charles Atlas—lickety-split. The bully is taught a physical lesson and our former scrawny friend leaves the final scene walking hand in hand with his honey, and they all lived happily ever after.

That advertisement was in print for over a decade. It played into the stereotype that the more muscular you were, the more success you would have in life. Fortunately, I was exposed to many instances where never-ending stamina, along with a high threshold for pain, were great

equalizers. Inuvik had their share of so-called muscle-challenged folks who demolished the wimp stereotype.

One scrawny old buzzard, whose nickname was Relic (the name absconded from the TV series The Beachcombers), certainly demolished the stereotype. He was a superb mechanic and he used up more chances at life than most cats. The concept of safety was never a high priority for him. Usually, he would jack a vehicle up with a jackall and then crawl under and start repairing it without proper safety blocking. The old boy normally worked alone, but he was lucky on a couple of occasions. Someone just happened to be in the shop when the law of averages decided that it was time to cash in. The vehicle slipped off the jack and trapped him underneath. His rescuers scrambled to lift the vehicle off of him but they never received a drop of appreciation from below. All they received was a blue-streaked tongue-lashing questioning why it was taking so long.

He was no stranger to self-inflicted shellackings. On several occasions over the years, he came out of the Eskimo Inn supremely pissed. Taxi drivers parked at the bottom of the hotel steps were usually treated to a performance where he would come down the stairs every way but normal. They watched one of his best performances one evening when he tripped at the top

of the stairs. Following a half twist, he did a faceplant into the sharp metal grates. After his glasses exploded, his face made a rat-a-tat-tat to the bottom of the stairs. His face looked like it had spent the night at the butcher shop getting tenderized, but the old boy

was up and at ’em in the morning.

The scrawny old wrench puller’s strength impressed me one afternoon when he asked me to help him install an automatic transmission in a full-size Chevy. His request was very simple for me to handle. He would lift the transmission into place by hand and all I had to do was screw in the bolts.

He slid under the blocked-up transmission and adjusted himself into a contorted position and got ready to lift with one leg and both arms. Every muscle sprang into action and without a single ounce of energy left for cursing, he hoisted the tranny into place.

Even though I quickly whipped in a couple of bolts, I still had to absorb a couple of snarly outbursts from the old boy.

“Hurry up, you [email protected]#$&%g maggot. This [email protected]#$&%g thing is heavy. I haven’t got all day.”

For a time he owned one of the taxi companies in town and he made it quite successful. He never tried to micromanage the outfit and he let the female dispatchers rule the roost. They never had to endure any of his verbal eruptions. He was humorous and mild-mannered in their company. His fiery tongue was reserved for men only.

He dumped the booze habit in his later years but it never softened his demeanour. The guy would razz anyone who screwed up in the slightest. For those of us on the receiving end, we believed that he had earned that right, with his superior mechanical skills along with a heart of gold. Over the years many of us were bailed out of mechanical jams by him. We owe him big time.

The last time that I saw him was over a decade ago and he was still working. That memory is crystal clear and is the perfect way that I want to remember him. He was belly-flopped over the

radiator on a pickup, working in a tight spot at the rear of the pickup’s engine. As usual, there was a constant torrent of profanity trying to escape from under the hood. The scrawny old buzzard looked like a spring chicken at 84.

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