Winnipeg Chronicles #6: I Thank God For Nights Like These

Either/Or – Elliott Smith

There’s a common belief out there that when I go out with my boys we, as the black people put it these days, run this town. While that’s a notion that I’ve enjoyed and perpetuated for years, I’m afraid that the time has come for full disclosure: We do not run Toronto or Winnipeg or any other town for that matter. Then again, I wasn’t along on the now legendary Montreal trip that occurred within the last couple of years and I’ve been told again and again that they ran the shit out of la ville. To clarify, I, personally, have not had the pleasure of indulging in the running of any towns. Perhaps the following will dispel any further confusion.

William and Paolo arrived Friday afternoon after their flight was delayed for several hours. It was on me to feed them, which sounds daunting except when you consider my new found cooking prowess and the plentiful supply of meat that is available when one lives with a Maple Leaf Foods employee. Also, Paolo did most of the work.

I insisted that the two of them take a nap, but was ignored. Paolo was kind of half asleep, but it looked more like he was passed out on/making love to Derek’s sofa bed. William was entranced by the Winter Olympics. The two would later pay for their insolence.

The big deal on Friday was that we’d be attending our first live mixed martial arts event. I’d been excited about going to see the Canadian Fighting Championship for months and I would have been happy to go all by myself, but it was nice to have the Toronto crew along for the ride. Surprisingly, I also agreed that drinking would enhance the experience exponentially. After all, we had no idea who the hell any of these fighters were. The biggest name there was former UFC referee Big John McCarthy. Not a good sign.

Our first mistake was buying Absente, which proudly declares itself to be “Absinthe Refined”. We were all hoping it would be like that scene from Eurotrip, but we were sorely disappointed. For one thing, it tasted like black licorice and a dude’s dick. It was also 55% alcohol and 110 proof, which prompted Paolo to chase it with a shot of Jägermeister. And another thing, with the exception of that one part with Fred Armisen, Eurotrip was shit and shame on us for wanting to recreate anything from that movie.

Suffice to say, Paolo and William were wiped out within the first hour of the event. Lesson to all the kids out there: It’s best not to combine jet lag with sleep deprivation and heavy drinking. But what do I know? For me, the event was a blast and William agreed with me that watching the fights in person did have a baseball-y feel to it. Of course, he said this moments before passing out so make of that what you will. In retrospect, I should have asked the boys if they wanted to bail after the preliminary fights because they were totally out of it. I do appreciate them gutting it out.

The next night was what the visit was all about anyway. Derek had arranged for us to meet with some friends from work for some drinks and clubbing. I passed on Saturday’s round of Absente though I did have my first Jägerbomb, which I didn’t find unpleasant. The Toronto boys were definitely in full effect as we arrived for drinks at Moxie’s. Paolo began chatting up with the ladies right away, gleaning information while at the same time providing levity. The alcohol had clearly gotten do Derek already as he launched into his usual routine of playful belligerence. William did his thing where he attempts to be sociable, but inevitably says something inappropriate or overly revealing, which only makes whatever he’s saying a hundred times funnier. I, as always, played the straight man.

Ivy and Kerry (who I met at Festival du Voyageur) brought their friend Michelle, a schoolmate of Kerry’s now living in Toronto. I’m not sure I heard her say more than four or five words at a time. She left soon after we began our shtick and while I believe that she really did have a flight to catch (she is a flight attendant after all), I can safely say that our conduct made her decision to leave less difficult.

After waiting in line at Whiskey Dix for about half an hour we decided to bail and check out a club called Mystique. I enjoyed the set-up there as it had just the right touch of seediness that I need. The DJ was on a stage flanked by two slutty dancers and there was easy access to the upper level. The good thing about the upper level was that it wasn’t particularly crowded on this night so you could go up there to cool off and look down girls’ shirts.

I don’t have much to add to what William already said about the pick-up artist. The trick was absolutely terrible and at first I thought he was trying to steal William’s watch. I still have no idea what the hell he accomplished. I will also corroborate his claim that some U of M students bought him and the guys some drinks. These dudes were definitely trying to get in William’s pants and it’s a shame that William passed on the opportunity to have his first African. Another regret he’ll have to live with.

I feel like I found a kindred spirit in Kerry, who looked comfortable, but sedated. She was the designated driver so she couldn’t even get hammered to kill the time. I understand where she’s coming from. You want be sociable and get out of the house, but after a while you realize you’d rather be sitting at home in your pajamas watching those episodes of The Bachelor: On The Wings Of Love you PVR’d before going to bed at 11:30.

Alas, with the role of “reluctant club-goer” taken, I found myself having to come up with something new. I decided, Fuck it. Let’s dance. The group was already splintering. Paolo appeared to have reached an ideal state of intoxication and was sort of maundering about like some kind of Filipino Mr. Magoo. I hit the dance floor running. I jabbed and poked and probed, but I couldn’t engage any fine lady to dance with me. This was harder than I thought. I almost gave up when this one girl made a fatal error. She made eye contact with me for more than half a second. Gotcha!

She quickly turned around to return to her friends, but in a moment of sheer delirium, I tapped her on the shoulder. She looked at me and I believe I said, Hey, where are your boys at? I have no idea what I was going for.

To her credit, rather than feign deafness or slapping me in the face, she explained that her boyfriend and her friends’ boyfriends were all at home. Somehow, the fact that she was oddly forthcoming with this information did not deter me.

That’s cool. My boyfriend is at home too.

A cheap trick, I know. She asked if she heard me right and I told her that I was kidding, but I’d already disarmed her with my false faggotry and before I knew what was happening she invited her two friends to come over and dance with us. I wish I could tell you what they looked like, but it was dark and…oh, wait a minute…

These girls. From left, Melissa (I think), Anna and Christina. Keep in mind that at this point I was on my second Jägerbomb and we’re dealing with club lighting so I couldn’t tell at the time how attractive these girls were. After analyzing this photo for the last three hours, I can safely say that I was not dancing with a trio of bruisers.

Melissa was the one I initially spoke to and she was more than willingly to pass along my story to her friends. She told them I was from Toronto and that I was a writer and that I was just looking for people to dance with. We got along swell. A few songs and several clumsy dance moves later, I worried that this situation was dying down. God bless the DJ for putting on that brilliant Follow The Leader song. There’s nothing like a tune that turns intelligent adults into glorified cymbal monkeys to reignite a party. I held onto Anna’s hips for dear life and we almost got another hot girl to join our impromptu congo line. Unfortunately, she remembered that she wasn’t at a grade school MuchMusic Video Dance Party and released me in disgust. After the song ended, Anna thanked me for the dance (um, you’re welcome?) and she went to get some water. Her friends joined her and my waltz with the women of Winnipeg was over.

Now back to where this post started. The idea that Derek, Paolo, William and I are a quartet of big time rollers is a fantasy that I enjoy and always will. Look, the truth is that the four of us are never going to be the type of guys to go out and get a dozen phone numbers or wake up in some college sorority house or whatever. That’s not who we are, that’s not what we do. But it’s nice to pretend for a while, you know? For four or five hours on a weekend night we can escape into whatever world we want to. Whether that means getting buzzed or flirting with some girls or just dancing, you sort of forget the mundane things you’d be doing on any other evening.

When we got back to the apartment, the guys were straight-up demolished for the second night in a row. Derek and William had been the beneficiaries of the free drinks and Derek swore that he must have been roofie’d because he felt like he was dying. William looked like he was already dead as he lay face down on Paolo’s sofa bed. It was almost five in the morning and their flight was leaving at 9:30. I surveyed the damage one last time before laying down on the floor of the apartment and as I began my personal prayers, I made sure to thank God for nights like these.

*****

I don’t know whether to be disappointed or relieved that I’m not the only one who thinks that the Massachussets Literacy Foundation logo seems to be evocative of something unsavoury.

I hate to just link to Wikipedia pages, because I find that random Wiki surfing is best kept to oneself, but this article on the Beard Liberation Front was too cool not to share.

I wrote a song. I’m gonna throw it in.
I swear to God, you cannot add a song.
It’s gonna happen.
I will smack your face off of your face.

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Destined to fight the world's evil, The WAMBAG endures massive battles involving impossible stunts, races on horse-pulled carriages, and the desecration of enchanting medieval castles (all done with dizzying computer graphics). Not only does the eye candy keep on coming, the tongue-in-cheek writing and deep Transylvanian accents perfect the film with a dose of dark humor.

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