Where it started

Where it started

People often ask me where this “whole rugged schtick” came from.  Believe me, I didn’t sit down one day and try to think of some crazy-ass thing that might catch on to the average Joe and Joanne, sitting on their couch watching a TV show.  And, no, an over-priced marketing agency didn’t come up with it either.  The funny thing to me is that people from all over the world, not just my home country of Canada, really latched on to “rugged.”  I once got an email from a soldier in the US Army who was seeing combat in Iraq.  He explained, “RD, last night we were out on patrol in our tank.  We had orders to blow up this certain building, so we did.  As soon as it was hit, the gunner yelled out, “Now, that was rugged!”  Indeed it was.

Back when I was about 11 or 12 years old, I was at my grandparent’s summer cottage (known as a “camp” in northwestern Ontario!) for the summer and I had a couple of friends on the same lake.  Tommy White from upstate New York and Ross Hill from Scarborough and I would spend hours and hours on the lake fishing every day.  Gas was .75 a gallon back then…

One evening we were sitting around at another friend’s cottage watching the only TV set on the lake.  It was a little 13 inch black and white set with the rabbit ears on top… one channel.   This would have been around 1973 – 74.  There was a thirty second commercial on for one of the new double bladed razors of the day.  In the ad, there was one of these handsome, chiselled-faced cowboy guys, along with a smokin’ hot power-babe who was obviously hired on to do the commercial for that ever-successful strategy that sex sells.  As she was stroking this guy’s clean shaven face, she looked right into the camera and said something to the effect of, “I like my man clean shaven… my man is rugged!”

Where it started

Well, let me tell you… that immediately caught on with me and my “rugged buddies” and as of that point in time, everything that we did was “rugged!”  Fishing, shooting squirrels, boats, canoes, tools, mud, if one of us got all banged up falling down the rocks by the lake, he was “rugged!”  Before long, we had our own “Ruggedtivity ID cards” notating that so and so was “Officially Rugged and has withstood all rugged tests.”  If my memory serves me correctly, it was Ross (Rugged Ross) who turned these babies out on his mom’s typewriter at home and mailed them to me and Tommy.

Soon we had our own T shirts made at the mall with a huge ”RUGGED” prominently displayed on them… priceless.   Of course, as we became “adults” (do I really want to call it that?) we kept it up.  Why?  Well, first of ’cause we’re rugged!  Once, when Rugged Ross and I were duck hunting, on the morning our friend’s wedding,  (that in itself was rugged!) I nailed two ducks in one shot.  Just lucky, really.  Of course, we both bolt out at the exact same time, “That was rugged!”  Showing up to the church in our muddy vehicle with our guns, dead ducks, decoys, boat and waders was also, “rugged!”  I remember me and Rugged Ross getting changed into our suits (alas) in the washroom of the church hall.  That was also rugged.

Of course it was…

Ross, a mechanical engineer, lives in southern Ontario and Tommy, a “landman” working in gas exploration, lives in upstate New York.  Both of these crazy pricks are still my best friends to this day.  In 2008, the three of us went up to Pickle Lake, Ontario, and flew in to North Caribou Lake to tape one of the final shows of the Officially Rugged series.   That trip was an absolute riot and at one point I was laughing so hard that I think a little bit of pee actually did come out.   Not so rugged…