I grew up in a suburban middle-class city near Toronto, Ontario with great parents and two older sisters. Being an early 80’s kid, I was privy to being brainwashed with Doug and The Slugs music – knowing the words but not understanding the context behind the hilarity of ‘Making It Work” or heartbreak of “Tropical Rainstorm”. At a young age all I knew was that their music was so much fun to sing and dance to, and my parents didn’t hold back when hauling us 3 kids to concerts we were allowed to attend – (thank you 1980’s loose bar law days!).
Oh, the memories of driving up to the family cottage while my parents would blare Doug and the Slugs, and I sat between my sisters in the back, interchangeably singing to the music while annoying one another for the 2 1/2 hour ride.
I don’t remember as much as other family members do. My Mom laughs as she tells the story of going to a Doug and the Slugs concert at Ontario Place in the late 80’s/early 90’s, and Doug taking the disposable camera from my eldest sister Jennifer to take a picture of his crotch – which apparently made the Toronto Star?! Doug was always known to walk into the crowd and mess with the audience. Many people would react by laughing and cheering back then – perhaps not as much in today’s world…
A decade or so later, Doug hadn’t lost his flare – I remember when a family friend won a free CD for unzipping his pants to show his boxers at a show. My mom still laughs to this day, (and the family friend I fact-checked with recalls the win with nostalgia, but asks I don’t share his name, as is a ‘big shot’ in his industry!).
Fast forward to 2011…
At 28 years old, I had emergency surgery to remove a brain tumour.
My Neurosurgeon Dr. Muller explained “Melissa, you won the lottery of Brain Tumours”, as I sat in a wheelchair in front of him. Now, as I share this story while public speaking, I follow with a sarcastic “Jeeez, thanks!”. Joking aside, I adored him and it made total sense to me. My doctor was referring to the 2% rarity of the kind of tumour, as there are over 100 different kinds.
Unable to walk or use my right hand, I needed an output for my thoughts and to organize what happened: appointment times, memories while in hospital etc. Thankfully, I had my laptop brought to the hospital so I could use my index finger to type out every word I wanted to say/remember. A sentence turned into a paragraph, and as another paragraph started, a new page began.
I had a goal – I was going to write a book called ‘Day By Day’ to signify not only my new mantra to get through each day, but also because of Doug and the Slug’s inspirational song, ‘Day By Day’ – I took it as a positive sign when the song came on the rehab centre’s sound system as I struggled to learn to walk again.
Weeks later I moved back into Mom’s house while rehabilitating. I wanted to do something special for her – I wanted to thank and apologize to Mom for taking me & stress in, along with the constant phone calls/emails/paperwork to deal with.
How do you thank someone for such a sacrifice?!
I had an idea…. I emailed ‘Doug and the Slugs’ website asking if someone could contact my Mom to wish her Merry Christmas, in view of the stressful gong-show I had caused – she was such a big fan of the Slugs.
It was days later – Simon CALLED my Mom! She was visibly starstruck at first – but after the phone call, she carried a certain breeze about her, as if she had gotten in with the ‘cool kids’.
Turns out Simon had a special connection with my scenario as his sister and his Mom had both lived with significant disabilities and had learned to adapt to life in a wheelchair.
Although unable to work a typical 9-5, I am able to work from home doing Social Media. Somehow the stars aligned – and here I am: I help with posting for the Doug and the Slugs Facebook and Website pages! It’s been over 5 years, and I’m oh-so-grateful for the opportunity to work with such incredibly talented & fun guys!
Aside from having fun with making the goofy images to post, my favourite part working for the Slugs is to come across stories from fans inside and outside of the Facebook page. It’s heartwarming to witness Simon’s kindness spread across all these years, regardless if there was a spotlight on him or not. From Doug’s antics (RIP), Teds Okos’s stage presence and the band’s overall fun and upbeat tunes – their music echoes across decades, generations & across international borders.
Melissa Louise (Nichols)
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