Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at
Posted 08.05.11
Stanstead, Quebec


Beds Are Burning, or time to change your sheets

Dear kids,

They said it couldn't be done. Your grandmothers said it shouldn't be done. But, as planned, Mom and I are abandoning you working-stiff teens to head on our cross-Canada vacation. We'll be living in tents. You'll be living in squalor. We'll see who cracks first.

Naturally, we have a list of instructions to help you navigate the coming weeks without jeopardizing yourselves or our insurance premiums. I thought about crafting a series of friendly memory-aid acronyms ("TO GET WOE: Take Out Garbage Every Two Weeks, Or Else"), but then I thought: you know what really triggers memory? Music!

Why, I only have to hear The Human League's "Don't You Want Me" and I instantly recall the summer of 1982 and Sarah Hale's bathing suit, which is a story for another time when your mother isn't standing right next to me.

Here, then, is your Don't Be "Burning Down the House" Classic Rock To-Do List:

    "All Day and All of the Night" (The Kinks)

    That's when you should anticipate random drop-ins from neighbours and friends who've come to check on you, the house and the level in the liquor bottles.

    "People Are Strange" (The Doors)

    Yes, they are, which is why you should lock all The Doors at night. (See what I did there? Funny, right? Aren't you going to miss me?)

    "Black Water" (Doobie Brothers)

    In the pool, in the toilet, ankle-deep in the basement -- if you see black water anywhere, you might want to call a professional. And remember the plumbing lesson we learned last summer: "Flush it again!" is never the correct response.

    "You Can't Always Get What You Want" (The Rolling Stones)

    Bear this in mind when you go to the grocery store. No lobster! In fact, let's review what does not constitute groceries. Delivery pizza is not groceries. Subway is not groceries. Convenience store meat sticks are not groceries. No one knows what convenience store meat sticks are but they're definitely not groceries. Movie theatre popcorn (with extra butter and movie admission for all your friends) is not groceries. The money we've left you is for healthy food and, if necessary, bail.

    "Black Dog" / "In the Evening" (Led Zeppelin)

    Good time of day for a little canine exercise. Did you know that if you don't regularly walk a dog, its legs dissolve? That's why you see people carrying their dogs in their purses, and we don't have a purse big enough for our dog. So walk the dog.

    "A Man Needs a Maid" (Neil Young)

    No, he doesn't. Neil Young can be such an idiot sometimes. Don't listen to him, kids. Just pick up after yourselves.

    "Do It Again" (Steely Dan)

    Recycling every second Friday.

    "That Smell" (Lynyrd Skynyrd)

    Compost every Thursday.

    "Enter Sandman" (Metallica)

    Clean cat litter daily.

    "Rough Boys" (Pete Townshend)

    Not an instruction. Just a really good song!

    "It's the End of the World as We Know It" (R.E.M.)

That's what you'll be saying if we find out you've had a party. Sure, it's fun to Raise a Little Hell (Trooper) and maybe Play That Funky Music (Wild Cherry). And you might think, "What's the harm if one of my friends says 'Let's Dance!' (David Bowie), especially if she's just a Tiny Dancer (Elton John)." But invite one person in the house and it becomes a dozen, and then it's people you don't know, maybe some Midnight Rambler (The Rolling Stones) or other Bad Company (Bad Company). If unwanted guests drop by, be firm. Tell them, "Don't Come Around Here No More (Tom Petty)!" Remember, this is Our House (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young) -- a very, very, very sort-of-fine house.

"The Final Countdown" (Europe)

We'll call you when we're getting close to home so that you can take care of last-minute pickups, maybe call in one of those special teams that clean up crime scenes.

Honestly, I'm sure you'll both be fine. Just don't De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da (The Police) anything I wouldn't do.

All of My Love (Led Zeppelin),


Ross Murray's collection, You're Not Going to Eat That, Are You?, is available in Quebec in area book stores and through He can be reached at