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Paper Boy | I Should Have Taken a Paper Route

Films

I was a proper boy. I was polite. I was calm. I was a model pint-sized citizen. I did not realize one could be a scoundrel until late in my teens. I always assumed there was only one way of being a kid: the being nice and having clean old fun with the neighbours outside way. My parents, one must conclude, did a stellar job at diverting me from the shenanigans of youth. I was, I’m sad to report, “born to be good.”

But let me say this outright: I missed out. After seeing Clay Borris’ Paper Boy, a 14-minute short that follows a badass newspaper boy on his inner city route, I realize and deplore the absolute folly of my goodie-two-shoes ways.

Seriously. I should have taken a paper route.

While I was busy doing the dishes, this kid was running around town following his true calling. A calling of wreaking havoc! Playing around with women’s underwear, drinking out of people’s milk, smoking cigarettes to stunt his growth and remain a little pest for the rest of his life. He sure knew how to live life to the fullest. While I conscientiously learned about ethics, he was tossing morals up everyone’s face.

At the same time, our paperboy knows when to help his fellow man. After dumping all his remaining papers at a nearby motel, he stops to help a poor old wino back up on his pins. But, that sliver of altruism doesn’t last long. Even when he’s playing nice, anything can set him off again. A few steps down the road, he loses it on a telephone booth. Incensed that someone is taking their sweet time on the phone, he hurls a rock through the window.

Later, reminiscing about an encounter with an unhappy customer, our hell child strikes a power pose on his bike and smiles. Freed from the regular constraints of remorse or introspection, he is clearly cut from the same cloth as Damien from The Omen..

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Wordless yet propelled by the blues, Paper Boy is everyone’s worst nightmare in paper delivering practices. It’s also a most entertaining joyride in the streets and apartment buildings of Toronto. For a film with no dialogue, you can practically hear everyone cursing at his antics.

Watching this film reminds me of a great line in Orson Wells’ The Magnificent Ambersons where the film’s narrator talks about one of the main characters overdue comeuppance. That’s what’s lying in wait for our newspaper boy. For all the cancelled subscriptions, this renegade would’ve certainly deserved a swift kick to the backside….

But that’s grown-up talk.

If you’re ever reading this, paperboy, I urge you to never chance. Take it from someone who’s childhood was stolen away. Stay wild and free.