Saturday, May 25, 2013

Charles Bradley: Pucks, Pets and CAN-AM Camaraderie, Part II

Continued from Part I

Charles Bradley, black and blue thumbnail and all, is back in business and back in the game. At the Dunkin’ Donuts in West Concord, he’s his same old amiable self as he sits at the table next to my wife and me. Caring to the core about pets and humans like me, Charles listens to my wife describe my ongoing injury saga and makes a suggestion or two from his own experience as a hockey player and animal doctor. (You’ve probably seen the bumper sticker, “Be kind to animals. Hug a hockey player.” Right?)

Stop by Domino Veterinary Hospital (DVH), Charlie says; I’ll give you a brochure for the doctor that fixed my wrist.

He stands up to get in line for his coffee as my wife and I prepare to leave.

We run an errand and then meet Charlie at DVH in West Concord.

Paint greets our nostrils as a contractor applies color to the door leading to the reception area. We shuffle to the right and see Dr. Bradley.

Charlie rises from his chair in a side office and then leads us on an impromptu tour of the new facility. We walk from room to room, Charlie showing us machines for examining and treating dogs and cats.

If I were a patient or pet owner, I’d like the soothing, soft colors—including sage and beige—of the treatment and special procedure rooms and pharmacy that serve customers in Concord, Sudbury, Maynard and beyond. The place is bright and cheery. Just like Charlie.

He’s not about to apply for sainthood and is the first to admit the adversity he has endured in the aforesaid changing veterinary market. He left the profession, and the AMHL, a few years ago to dabble in the home renovation business, but that endeavor proved unsuccessful.

We move on, chatting about Charlie's drives through Vermont to Canada and listening to CBC Radio. Charlie asks if my wife and I are familiar with Stuart McLean

Of course. 

We agree that the Canadian storyteller-comic (born and raised in Montreal West, a few blocks away from Charlie’s Loyola High School) and McLean's The Vinyl Cafe program are akin to Garrison Keiller’s A Prairie Home Companion(Dave and Morley, often featured on McLean's hour-long variety show, own a dog, Arthur.)

We reach the front lobby and discuss the nuances of Canadian parlance.

“He says ‘eh’ a lot less than he used to,” Dr. Bradley's assistant, sitting behind the new desk in these new veterinary digs, says.

But it’s not all about the “eh;” it’s also about the A, as in Yahoo!, Mazda and pasta. YEAH-who, MAZZ-duh, PASS-tuh, right?

“Right,” Charlie says, smiling about a Canadian’s propensity to end a sentence with an affirmative interrogative.

We change topics from linguistics to cross-border cooperation to Can-Am adventures and camaraderie, and ultimately circle back to hockey.

Are you over the devastation, my wife wonders, of the Canadiens losing in the first round? She’s not aware that Charlie told me ten years ago that he’s a Bruins fan.

“I made the conversion,” he says.

In an amped-up professional hockey environment where the lines between rivalry and rage often blur and can block us from seeing the beauty of our game, Charlie Bradley sticks out like a sore thumbnail.

“You call him Charlie?” his assistant asks.

“They’ve seen each other in garter belts,” my wife says.

Charlie explains that we hockey players assign pet names (my pun, not his) to each other, adding an –ie or –y to our first names. “Charlie, Jimmy…,” he says.

I can call him Charlie. And if I had a sick dog or cat, I’d call Dr. Bradley.
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