"SULLEN BOY" — © 1987 - 1999 by Charles Dobie


A Silly Little Lanark County Fable

Charles Dobie

Once upon a time in Lanark County, there was a young man who never smiled. Those who knew him said he stopped smiling when he was twelve, and he became so sullen that everyone called him `Sullen Boy'. And that's the name he became known by, even when he was a young man.

If anyone wanted to take his picture, they would say: "smile for the camera, Sullen Boy," but he would stand there and look sullen, like he didn't have a friend in the world. And that's not far from the truth, because who wants to be around someone who never smiles? People would ask him why he was so sullen, but he never answered, he just looked away.

In spite of never smiling, Sullen Boy was very handsome. He was young and strong and a hard worker, and all the girls in Lanark County tried to catch his eye. But when they tried to talk to him, he would blush and walk away.

Sullen Boy worked all day in a mill, operating a huge machine. The machine was so noisy it was impossible to talk, so he worked all day without speaking to anyone. Even at lunchtime he ate alone, and although he was polite, he spoke to the other workers only if spoken to. Some of them teased him and asked him why he ignored the girls who tried to catch his eye, but he smiled politely and shrugged and ate his lunch.

Sullen Boy went home after work and had supper, then watched TV and drank beer. He pretended he was one of the men in the beer commercials; they were always smiling and having fun. But the more beer he drank, the more sullen he got, and then he fell asleep. Soon it was morning and time to go to work again.

Every year in early November, the mill closed for a week so the men could go deer hunting, and Sullen Boy would go deer hunting with some of his co-workers. For want of a better word, he called these co-workers his friends.

Sullen Boy's friends had a hunting camp on the shore of a remote lake which was reached by a rough dirt track which wound through the forest. Only the most powerful and the noisiest of vehicles were allowed to use this track, because that's the way real men go hunting.

Sullen Boy enjoyed his trips to the hunting camp because his friends made sure he had lots of beer to drink — everyone knows the purpose of deer hunting is to drink beer. One year they forgot to actually hunt because they were so busy drinking beer, but usually they drank beer and then went hunting. One year they hunted first and then drank beer, just for variety. Variety was the spice of life for Sullen Boy and his friends.


"SULLEN BOY" — © 1987 - 1999 by Charles Dobie