'Hyme for a Dyme' is a lyrical piece that's unsettling at times but mostly pleasant as it unfolds and redeems itself. Its title might infer to some that it's a story of finding God but it is not. It's a coming of age story that becomes a quest for wisdom story.
The novel is set in the mid-seventies and partly in a fictional central Ontario town called Shelagh and partly in the real city of Toronto. It's a story of three young friends, each of them reared as best as possible by their single moms. The three spend their seventeenth summer in an idyllic north-central Ontario town 'partying' and hanging-out just like any other seventeen year olds would and perhaps this would be for their last time as three tight friends before it's all going to inevitably change - college, dead-end jobs, small town living and the usual 'find a life' kind of thing were all seemingly just ahead on the horizon - but of course that is not what happens. The last big party the 'Three Amigos' were saving for the 'Labor-Day' weekend changes everything and sends the narrator, Paul on a quest for wisdom.
Jack the dog was wise to his world. Where others before him and there were many would cave-in to their natural instinct to chase a car, to leap before looking and other behaviors we’d naturally expect from man’s best friend; Jack had learned to be cool. Among the dogs that had hung out around here he was a survivor. The best thing I loved Jack for was how he received the people he had come to love. His greeting to start with was much like other crazy mutts; his tail would be wagging at a crazy speed and it would appear he was laughing if dogs can do that. There would be a flurry of barking and yelping. Then he would try to get you to stop for him by plopping right down in front of you with his head pointed straight up like a performing seal at a circus. And then he’d work his magic, licking through your hands and fingers as only a dog and a dogs’ tongue can do. He seemed to get so much satisfaction from sniffing and taking in the whole flavor of whomever he was greeting. You’d rub his head and he’d give you the best eye contact just short of what you would expect from a beautiful moment with your own mother. In Jack’s world it seemed that you could never be unhappy.
So, Jack and I visited for a spell a few feet from the Martindale’s screen door because Jack wouldn’t have it any other way. When I was certain that he knew what I had had for breakfast and lunch I continued on to the screen door and knocked the bottom panel a couple of times because any pressure on the ballooning screen above was going to cause a screen door cave in. Dale was in there somewhere - I could hear the Rubbles chortling from the television in the living room. The television went silent and I was hoping that this wouldn’t happen. For some time now, Roy’s younger sister had been getting all strange when Roy and I hung out. Fortunately that was almost never around here or Gran’s; it wasn’t cool. Roy and I liked a tight ship and little dip-shits and adults were not cool.
“Hi Paul,” said Dale over emphasizing my name.
Christ, she’s wearing make up! I thought I’d puke!
“He’s indisposed,” said Dale grinning towards the staircase leading upstairs to the washroom and the family bedrooms.
“Roy, - Paul’s here!” she called behind.
Before she could add an invitation for me to wait inside I volunteered to wait outside and away from this fourteen year old hussy.
She wasn’t having any of that and came out and sat on the top step of the porch with her knees bundled up by her arms grinning at me and posing like Miss June from a recent Play Boy magazine. Thank god for small mercies Jack the dog with his cold wet nose and his foot long tongue came up the stoop to greet Dale. Nothing romantic about this picture now as Jack insisted on checking out Dale and what she had to eat in the past twelve hours or so. I smiled. Not a kind one really but one more like I’d just gotten away with a little something. I could hear Roy rustling just inside the door way. Thank God, I mused some more.