The Great White North, Part 1
7.28.2003 by , every Monday.
It's pretty well-known among my friends and family that I'm as lazy as a doped-up cat and such a procrastinator that I'll live to be two hundred just because I'll keep putting off dying. I'm getting quite the reputation for it.
I also can't tell you the number of time that I've been at some huge Hollywood gala or black-tie ball and have people come up to me and ask, “When are you doing a column on your increasingly less-recent trip to Montreal?” Then they'll take my wallet and stride away, secure in the knowledge that I'm too lazy to chase them.
But fear not, dear reader killing time until the new “Bedtime Stories” goes live, for after a mere three months, I have finally written a column about my vacation in Montreal. And it only took three months of procrastination, a brisk bout with writer's block, and several characteristically whiny missives from an individual who will remain nameless. (No, not Sean. Really.)
I'll start by offering some advice to anyone living more than an hour from Montreal: If you want to visit it, you have a wide variety of transit options available. You can go by airplane, train, car, monorail, canoe, dogsled, or even moose-drawn cart. Just do not make the terrible mistake that I did of taking the bus. According to my watch, it takes twenty-six hours for a charter bus to go from Knoxville, Tennessee, to Montreal, Quebec. My watch is a liar, for I know that it took approximately seven million years to get through the New York City bus terminal alone. I think most of my movement was due to continental drift.
So I was somewhat tired by the time the last tectonic shift deposited my bus and some mastodon bones at the Montreal Bus terminal. I stumbled through the door, where I was quickly greeted by three smiling Canadians- A girl smiling far too widely to not be a contestant on a game show, who turned out to be my lovely and gracious host Rosemary, of “Bedtime Stories” fame; a smirking fellow who I would have though to be myself were it not for the fact that his hair was not a mess, who revealed himself to be Forrest, of “Thumbs Up Thumbs Down” notoriety; and a tall, quiet fellow who looked to be more at home in a Calvin Klein ad than standing is a bus station, who was introduced to me as Neale of the column “Ink.” They were surprisingly happy to see me, considering that I must have appeared by that time to be some sort of mentally deranged hobo who kept muttering about reboarding passes.
“So what would you like to do?” Rosemary asked. I tried to be witty. “I'll do anything as long as we don't take the bus there!” I tried to say, but it came out more like “PHRDCLYXMB!! *drool*.” Of course, since all three were college students, they immediately realized I needed caffeine and took me to a coffee shop.
The coffee shop was very nice, though due to my advanced state of mental fatigue, only three things stuck in my mind:
1: Sweet, sweet caffeine.
2: An obscenely cute girl who kept getting both interrupted in her studies and amused by our antics.
3: The Most Horrifying Wall Decoration In The Western Hemisphere.
Since even with the caffeine I was far too wasted to do anything about the girl, let's just go straight to the wall decoration. This was a huge painting with the word “Chocolat” across the top, and a row of cherubic-looking children seated at a table beneath it. Very Norman Rockwell-esque, except for the horrifying part: Chocolate was oozing down from each letter onto a child. Some were gathering it in cups, but one was getting it splattered on his head and one had her head back and was just guzzling the stream of chocolate straight from the second “O” in a manner that came across as more of a money shot than anything. Apparently the artist was cuckoo on Cocoa Puffs when he painted it.
After that was a brisk walk up to the highest point in the city, Mount Royal Park, which featured such sights as a broadcast antenna with three prongs, making it look like a pitchfork. It glows red at night. The park itself offers an amazing view of the city, complete with modern skyscrapers, the St. Lawrence Seaway, and a large monument commemorating a battle in which an army of lumberjacks fought a horde of beavers and moose for domination of the city the previous week.
It was here that I met Julian, who writes the “books” column, and the Legendary Sean, whom you can blame for me writing for Tangmonkey. Julian is a lanky fellow who is far more witty than I could ever hope to be, and Sean is someone whom I can best describe in two words: “Ubiquitous Headphones.” Together, we went back to Rosemary's apartment where I met her friend Tim. Tim is the kind of person you always want on speed dial because he's the first person you want to call when you want to pal around. We all talked animatedly for upwards of fifteen seconds before I passed out in a puddle of my own drool.
I spent most of that Saturday recovering from my trip. Poor Rosemary was forced to constantly keep turning star-struck throngs of beautiful women from her door. “I'm terribly sorry,” she'd say, “But Dan is not awake right now. Also, he is in Finland. Better get your plane tickets.” And dejectedly they'd slink away, sometimes dropping the “blank Rulz” and “I WANT TO HAVE YOUR CHILDREN” signs in the hall. Only after they were gone, and the door securely locked, would Rosemary tell Neale and Tim to remove the handcuffs and ball gag. “No one needs a paternity suit” was her motto. I think Neale just liked playing with the handcuffs and ball gag. Later, Rosemary took me to the smallest grocery store I had ever seen, where I bought the obligatory maple syrup and kept asking questions like “Where's the pharmacy?” and “You mean they don't have a video rental AT ALL?” Then, to further blow my mind, she took me upstairs(!) to a vegetarian restaurant.
Now, for those of you native to Canada in general and Montreal in particular, I should clarify exactly why this was blowing my mind. You see, I come from Tennessee, which doesn't boast such a large and insular city as Montreal. We boast a sort of constant suburban sprawl that can be seen from space as a sort of huge, blah-colored fungus upon the green hills of Tennessee. Our supermarkets are huge, must be driven to and often have their own little mass-transit system. There's a Wal-Mart every five miles. We have convenience stores bigger than that supermarket, and anyone opening a vegetarian bar would be burned as witches by the masses confused and horrified over their lack of burgers and fries. Honestly, that was probably my single biggest culture shock, as I had mentally prepared myself for the existence of poutine.
But the vegetarian bar was great, with the exception of their offering only laughably inferior cheese that did not come in individually wrapped slices or in bar form adorned by a cartoon cow.
The rest of that day was fairly quiet, which was good, which allowed me to rest up for PART TWO OF THIS COLUMN, in which I try poutine, visit a former hockey stadium made movie theater, and meet such illustrious Tangmonkiers as Scott, Burningsnail, and The Legendary Ash. Same blank time, same blank channel.