williamthomaswBy William Thomas

First, let me go on record by saying that I am vehemently opposed to any festival that features poop.

Although this weekend’s Lions Club Carnival in Fenwick, Ontario sounds like a lot of fun – a parade with a high school marching band, floats, midway rides, a chili cook-off – I will not be there. I will remain one county and a township away from Fenwick, because the main feature of this festival is billed as the “Cow Plop Lottery – Go! Bessie! Go!”

You get the picture and no, it’s not a pretty one. Instead of a starter’s pistol or a checkered flag, the crowd will wait patiently for the silent call of nature to start the event. Bessie, an overweight bovine wearing sunglasses will roam a fenced-in pen sectioned off with lottery squares. Responding to the call, Bessie’s tail will go up, a splat will be heard and some guy will shout, “We got a winner!”

Not exactly Vanna White turning over vowels or Yolanda Vega reading the numbers from the New York State Lottery on ping pong balls, but as they say in Fenwick, “You dance with the one that dung ya.”

Don’t get me wrong, the Cow Plop Lottery sounds like a lot of fun even though Daddy receiving a fistful of cash because Bessie did a ginormous number two, might confuse the children. (It’s quite a stretch from the money on the pillow left by the Tooth Fairy this time.)

Problem: The last time I attended a scatological social event, I got some on me. Not “on me” like they had to hose me down but … well, it’s personal. And the memory, which still haunts me, is crystal clear.

It was 19 years ago and a warm spring evening at the Welland Curling Club, a harrrd 19 kilometers from the village of Fenwick. Hey! “Is That Guy Dead Or Is He The Skip?” had just been published with some controversy. It was not what you would call “the definitive book on the sport of curling.” Some even disagreed with my description of our national pastime.

“Essentially the game of curling involves you throwing a rock into a house, then your opponent throws a rock at your rock, rocks hit rocks, some rocks are taken out and at the end of an end, everybody gets their rocks off and they start all over again. It’s a very social sport.”

Apparently, defenders of the great Canadian game took great exception to my claim that curling is the only game in the world you could play while being hooked up to a life support system.

My purpose in writing the book was simple. “Let’s take the degrading and dehumanizing violence out of hockey and put it in curling, a sport that could really use a little action.”

Although the people with brooms were not happy, my publisher was thrilled. “Five thousand curlers bought this book,” screamed the headline on the promotional sheet.  And of course later, five thousand curlers burned it.

However this was before the curling community turned on me, so when the Welland Curling Club invited me to attend the first-ever William Thomas Bonspiel, I was naturally flattered and RSVP’d “Yes!”

When the lights came up on the rink and a gentleman by the name of Gord Dandy was leading two waddling ducks to a large pen on the ice, I noticed the exact title of the event was the William Thomas Crapshoot Bonspiel. Instead of 32 participating curlers, the club had arranged 32 of my columns face-up in the pen where the ducks were now wandering around. Gord assured me that the ducks had eaten a lot lately. He also said he really liked my columns … “highly absorbent” were the words he used.

I also noticed that the ducks were corked. Corks with strings attached had been utilized in such a way as to maximize the blast once they were removed in the pen and the ducks hovering over my columns.

I turned to the mayor of Welland who had experience in the dairy business.

“Could you actually do that?” I asked incredulously. “Cork a duck!?!”

“Hell yes,” he said. “Me and the wife used to cork the kids all the time on long car trips.”

I tried to leave at that point but the poopfest down on the ice was hitting its highlight reel. The person with the winning ticket on which one of my columns got splattered the most, got a cash reward. The couple holding the ticket on the column on which a duck had delivered a direct hit to my photo at the top … they won the bonus of a weekend at the Chelsea Inn in Toronto.

And I got … I got to see how a sampling of my life’s work served as two-ply toilet paper.

So no, I won’t be attending “Fenwick’s Fabulous Carnival” this weekend. “Fun With Dung” only works if you’re not the one who gets the wrong end of the stick.

I still have bad dreams about the ducks, but the thought of my photo looking up from under the udder of “Go! Bessie! Go!” is not the kind of public distinction I had hoped to achieve in my career. And yes, it only takes one good “splat” to remind me – everybody’s a critic.