Gary Holloway likes to tell people he has a twin brother who goes by the name of George.
Well, it’s pronounced more like “Garge” and he’s a bit more of stereotypical Newfoundlander than the 58-year-old Gary.
We can assume his vocabulary is a bit “slangier,” there’s a distinct Irish twang to his voice and he’s speaks at a distinctly different speed than those around him.
To the untrained ear, he might even seem like he’s not even forming words.
Here’s the rub: Gary doesn’t have a twin brother.
Garge Holloway is a character Gary likes to play when he’s requested to perform a Screech-in ceremony on occasion.
You know, those ceremonies where come-from-aways do their best Newfoundlander impressions, kiss a frozen fish — my favourite’s when they have to kiss a puffin’s arse — and becomes an honorary member of this province.
For the last 20 years, Gary has been conducting an event that has become as much a part of our national identity as the fishery. Whether that’s good or bad, well, that’s not up for me to decide.
A lot of people in the province love them, so let’s go with that.
A member of the forestry division of the province’s department of fisheries, forestry and agrifoods, Gary started converting mainlanders after a friend asked if he’d help him out.
He’s done ceremonies at weddings, company meetings and other venues. Each time, he brings Garge to the forefront and guides his charges through the Screech-In wilderness.
Gary liked it so much he’s still doing them and looking to make the experience as authentic as he can make it.
That’s why he recently posted a classified ad looking for a Black Diamond (the brand name) sou’wester. It’s just another way for him to add to the experience and make things a little more authentic for his audience.
So far, he’s had a couple of nibbles and one deal fall through, but he hopes he’ll get one sooner or later.
Screech-Ins have a tendency to go one or two ways. There’s the wedding ceremony that features a few token lines — long may your big jib draw, etc — a shot of the nectar and the certificate.
Then, there’s the full-on character exposition that features sing-songs, bologna and frozen fish.
Gary likes to think his Screech-Ins fall somewhere between the two. They’re not as serious as the latter, but there’s more to it than the former.
“That’s what the people want and you try to be respectful about it,” he said.
I like to have a bit of fun with it.”
— Nicholas Mercer is the online editor with the Western Star. He lives in Corner Brook and can be reached at email@example.com