The Dealer

I sat with the girl
Curls like deep dried blood
Danced around her near-smile
Soft scar on her chin stood
Against an incursion of joy

The cuffs on her wrists
The wrong elegance

She laid out the spades
We both remained trapped
By greed or absence
All our waning strength sapped
Acting the hour as happy

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Published in: on December 3, 2012 at 5:06 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Too Cool Too Old

I can’t tell if I’m too old for this party or if it’s too cool for me.  The apartment is small, not dirty so much as ragged, and far too crowded.  In the living room they’re blasting bass infused music that I can’t pretend to like from that close.  I have been struck somewhat shy, so I stay in the kitchen, leaning in the doorway, watching the party.  I don’t go too far from my vodka, as it remains my salvation, and I fill my glass more often than I should.

She comes up to me, the sort of brave extrovert who can’t let someone at a party have a bad time.  She is trying to draw me out.  “What’s that girly drink?”

I look at my saucer shaped glass.  “It’s a vodka martini.  It’s not that girly.”

She scoffs.  It’s been a long time since someone has scoffed at my martinis, certain the glass makes it a weak beverage.  I’m definitely too old for this party.  But the girl challenged me, so I hand her the cup.  “Try it.”

She takes a sip and her face implodes.  She hands it back, and goes back to her Sour Puss and Seven.  She poured it into another one of the stolen martini glasses, and she drinks it through a straw.  We exchange names, and she asks me what I do.

I’m never my job at parties.  I’m a writer, and more importantly, I’m a drunk writer.  I start talking about what I write.  I’m not really talking to her.  I’m enjoying the sound of my own voice, at it goes on and on about what a genius I am.  She seems impressed, nodding and asking the right questions to keep me going.

She is standing close now, head tilted up.  She runs her straw over her lips as she listens.  She’s enthralled by my monologue, but eventually I tire of it and stop.  The music gets turned up.  She sees the change in me and puts her hand on my arm.  “Are you okay?”

“I kind of hate people.”  She looks at me in disbelief.  “In large quantities.  This place is way too crowded.” I glance at the door.  “I’m going outside.

She follows me, a bit to my surprise.  I’m drunk and I’m goofy.  I walk around with my arms stretched as far as they go, along the little wall on some little old ladies little yard.  She is a few steps behind, and she’s laughing.

We reach a park, and I scramble onto the playground equipment as quickly as possible.  She hesitates, and I insist she join me.  We climb as high as we can, nearly eight feet off the ground, and I start to stare at the stars.  I’m lost in their glow.

“I’m cold,” she tells me.  She wants my jacket, but I don’t want to be cold.  Instead,  I wrap an arm around her and she melts into me.  I point out all three of the constellations I know and then kiss her.

I’m not sure when morning got here, but the alarm clock klaxons away.  It’s a terrible sound and I hate it.  She wanders out of my bed and gathers her clothes from the floor.  “Bathroom?” she asks, and I point across the hall without really looking. 

She’s gone, and if I really cared, I could probably figure out her name in the next couple of minutes.  My head hurts and I’m embarrassed, because I doubt she is twenty yet.  I’m afraid to see her drivers license, or what my roommates will say about her.  I sleep till she gets back.

“You think it’s cold out?” she asks as she comes back in.  “Can I borrow a sweater?”

I don’t want her to borrow a sweater.  Borrow implies that I’ll be back in some awkward conversation with her, sober, and responsible for whatever happened in that blank spot last night.  I force myself to somewhere near awake and head to my closet.  I select a hoodie I can live without and hand it to her.

 I’m pretty sure I was too old for that party, but I still hope it was just too cool for me.

Published in: on March 21, 2011 at 12:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Waitress with an Accent

The other day, Tall and I went out for supper.  The restaurant we went to was small and on a Tuesday night, there was a birthday party and two other tables.  Normally, this means the waitress will dote on Tall and me, because he’s naturally gregarious, and I’m manipulative.

Due to the nature of the restaurant, we barely saw her.  It was mostly a buffet, so the one cute girl who was working showed us to our table, took our drink order, and then vanished into the back.  When she came back, she dropped off our drinks and said in an Aussie accent “There you go.”

When she left I turned to Tall and asked “Did she have that when we sat down?”

“What, the accent?”

He looked at me as though I was really dumb.  “Yeah.  Of course she did.”

We enjoyed the rest of the meal without seeing much of her, because, well, buffet.  It was really a shame, because over years, Tall and I have perfected bantering with waitresses and cashiers.  There’s a long line of Denny’s servers and Safeway clerks who long for the gentle giant and the charming rogue who came through their life, for a few fleeting moments of bliss.  It kills Tall when he has something to say to the waitress, some opening that he can’t use because she hasn’t come back.  He loves to get her talking, and then see where I take it, because I build off his foundations.

That’s important, because he’s married, so he won’t do more than start a conversation, and then he’s stuck not wanting to offend the poor girl, so he’s trying to emphasize his wedding ring before she falls hopelessly in love with him.

Being a wise man, he knew that there is one fatal mistake that will piss off a certain type of girl; never call a Kiwi an Australian.  The same way that Canadians hate to be mistaken for Americans, New Zealanders hate being mistook for their larger neighbors.

So when she came to give us the bill, he said to her “I’m sorry, but I can’t quite place your accent.  Where are you from?”

“Whales,” she smiled.

“I’m glad I asked.  I was afraid I would’ve guessed wrong,” he oozed all his natural charm.

“I was just afraid you’d be Welsh,” I chirped.  JACKPOT!  I have an enormous repertoire of jokes about the Welsh, and absolutely no reason to use them.  At least, not until we found this girl.

The birthday table wanted her to come over, but she was torn.  She thought Tall was geniunely sweet and I was funnier than God, because you would need to be a comedic genius to know that the Welsh are to be mocked in Calgary.  “Yeah,” she said in an accent which sounds about as Welsh as a kangaroo named Bruce throwing another shrimp on the barbie, “No one ever gets it right.”

Wonder why…

“Everyone always thinks I’m Australian.”

Tall nodded knowingly, but before we could add anything else, the birthday table was nearly shouting.  “Sorry, I’ve got to go,” she excused herself.  “Have a great night.”

As we left, Tall said, “We have to come back.  She nearly loves you.”

I nodded.  “Next time, if she doesn’t recognize us,” which is a big if, considering Tall is 6’6, “I’m gonna ask her ‘Can you settle a bet?  Are you Welsh?”

I’m going to own her heart like a Welshman owns a crippling addiction to cheap beer.

Published in: on February 28, 2011 at 12:00 pm  Comments (3)  
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The Pet Paradox

This is Bella:

She lives with my parents, and is smart, adorable, and shy.  I am obviously a dog person.  Cats piss me off because we do everything for them, feed them, keep them safe, and they think they’re doing us a favour by hanging out.  Dogs know that they owe you, and so they play with you, and come when you tell them, and do their best to keep you happy.  They want to be near you and with you, and are, in every way superior to cats.

I live with a cat right now.  I had to choose one of my many pictures of Bella, whom my parents got after I’d gone to university, so I never lived with her for more than a few months a year.  Molly, the cat who lives in my house now, well, I couldn’t be bothered to pull out my BlackBerry and snap a picture of that uppity bitch.

I would love to get a dog again.  I miss that constant companionship.  Walking a dog would get me outside when the sun is out.  When I had a bad day, I could depend on its unconditional love.

But I don’t want to be solely responsible for a dog.  I still want to travel, and if you decide to spend three weeks in Egypt, or even five days in Mexico, it’s a pain in the ass to look after the dog.  You need a kennel or a dog sitter, and when you get back Brutus is giving you that “You betrayed me” look of sorrow, and you know in your heart he’s right, you chose your pleasure over his.  You don’t get to take a day off from a dog.  You need to feed, and play, and walk, no matter what.

At least if you’re a good dog owner, which I would want to be.

Ideally, I’d want someone who was in there with me.  Someone else who shares the playing, feeding, walking, training, loving responsiblity, so that on a bad day, or a busy day, the poor guy wouldn’t get neglected.  This makes me think it’s best to wait until you have a family to get a dog.  When you’re kids beg you for one, and you make them promise to feed it and walk it everyday, I think most parents know they’ll be doing all the work.  When you hit that one bad day though, you can ask your kids why they didn’t do it, and blame them for screwing up, and you’re not off the hook, you’re teaching an important lesson.

Here’s the problem though; you know who else loved dogs?  Cute girls.

Do NOT look for an image like this without Safe Search on...

But if you get the dog when you have a family, or even just a special lady friend who’s long term enough to share dog rearing responsibilities, well, you lose out on the cute girl draw of the puppy.  There in lies the conundrum.  I don’t want a puppy until I’m ready to settle down, but a puppy’s greatest power, the ability to draw in cute girls like a magnet, is useless once I’ve met my basic puppy having requirements.

What to do, what to do…

Published in: on February 4, 2011 at 12:00 pm  Comments (2)  
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The Girl on The Train

I have a weird social anxiety that people who know me don’t realize I have.  I need a set relationship to talk to someone.    If we’re just strangers, I can’t start a conversation.  I know that’s stupid and crazy.  I know that I’m not disturbing people by speaking to them, but if I need to know the time, I’m more likely to go into a store and buy something so I can ask the clerk than to ask a person at a bus stop.  

It’s weird in the ways it doesn’t show up.  I have no problem public speaking.  I’m more comfortable before an audience of hundreds than a single stranger.  I can do my job, which involves speaking with customers I don’t know all day long, because we have a set relationship. 

To meet new people, I generally need to lamprey onto an extrovert. 

It's an unpleasant image, I know.

 

If I have that back up, someone else to say the first word, to start the conversation, I can join in.  That’s why I need Tall or Lina in new social situations.  Once they break the ice, I can plunge into the frozen lack below, but I can’t do it myself. 

Which isn’t helping me right now, as I write this.  I’m on the C-Train with my Black Book.  If you’ve never been on a C-Train, there’s two types of cars.  One has a bunch of seats that all face one direction, like a school bus, where you stare at the head of the person across from you.  Then there’s the ones I call picnic cars.  The benches face each other like this: 

Three sets of these on either side of the train

 

It looks like you’re facing each other, and you’re going to set up a picnic between you.  All that’s missing is the table in the middle and it would be like your grandparents camping trailer.  The awkwardness right now comes from the fact that only a mostly empty train, I’m sitting here: 

I'm brunette, so I'm brown in an overhead view.

 

And this really cute blonde girl came onto the train and looked around.  There were completely empty sets of picnic seats, and she completely ignores them and heads for mine.  This obviously  means she’s into me.  The only problem was I had no extrovert here, no Tall to start up the conversation.  I’m on my way home from work, and I haven’t had a chance to drink yet, and my social anxiety kicks in.  Then it gets worse.  See, normally, when you join someone on a picnic seat, you sit opposite of them. 

Kitty corner, maximum distance from train strangers

 

But this girl doesn’t seem to know the etiquette, or is so into me she doesn’t care.  She sits here. 

As close as she can get.

 

The diagram doesn’t really do it justice.  She was trying to cuddle.  She really wanted to sit in my lap, but I had this book out, so I was writing away.  

How could this happen today!  The one day I don’t drink at work!  How am I supposed to talk to her?  I’m on my own, she came to me, she came right for me!  Does that mean we have a set relationship?  Can I do it?  Can I talk to her, dead sober, on my own? 

Of course I can!  I’m amazing!  I’m such a cool guy!  I’m internet famous, with literally dozens of readers on my blog everyday!  I talk to hundreds of people every week, so why can’t I set a relationship, instead of walking into a predefined one?  In fact, there is one here!  This cute girl defined the relationship as cool writer guy on the train and cute girl who wants him!  There’s no way she thought it would be normal to come sit right next to me!  This is Canada, and we have nothing but open space, so she obviously wanted to get all up in mine so I would get all up in her. 

Then she pulled out this: 

I don't know if it was actually Spanish

 

A foreign language dictionary.  Great, she just doesn’t know our customs. 

Or she’s learning a foreign langauge…. 

Now I’m trying to lean over without her noticing, figuring out what language it is.  I can tell by the type of book what it is, but I can’t see if it’s German, or French, or Japanese.  Those are my ins.  I have enough of those languages that it counts as a set relationship, whether she’s a tourist or a student.  

Fuck, woman, just let me see your book! 

This is getting ridiculous.  Why am I still writing?  Why can’t I talk to her?  For fuck’s sake, it doesn’t matter what language the dictionary is!  Hell, I could just ask her.  Just say “What language is that?”  I’ll be able to tell if she speaks it or if she’s studying it when I ask.  If it’s one of my languages, I’m golden. 

I tried it, just now, but it quickly became a cough. 

Now she seems weirded out.  Why don’t I have a flask on me?  Just a quick shot, just a little buzz that I can blame if I screw up!  Why is this happening to me. 

Fuck, Tall, where are you?  Why aren’t you here?  If I text you, does that count?  Do I have the power to talk to the girl then? 

It’s hard to balance the book and text.  I elbowed her a little.  Not inappropriately.  Now Tall isn’t texting back.  WHERE ARE YOU WHEN I NEED YOU? 

Why is this going so badly?  Why can’t I handle this?  This is a normal thing!  Normal people do it all the time.  We’ve been sitting together for twenty minutes now.  Is it too late?  Why don’t I just talk to her?  Why am I still blogging. 

We’re downtown now.  She’s getting off at the first stop. 

Thank God that’s over. 

Wait a second … 

*************************************************************************************** 

Joey would have you believe he’s suave with women, as he’s surrounded by beautiful girls all the time.  Women constantly fall in love with him on the train.  He’s usually not interested in them.  This girl was special, but that’s not a good thing.

Watchman’s Pub

Watchman’s Pub is just down the street from my apartment.  It’s a rarity on 17th Ave, much like Morgan’s Pub.  Both these places are real. 

By contrast, most of 17th is trying to be ironically classy, and the understanding of irony is about as good as their understanding of classy.  Neither is really all that good.  Classy is usually attempted by setting high prices, acting snobby, and overdoing their ultra modern decorations and menu choices.  They then try too hard to be ironic by acting contemptuous of their self-created surroundings, not worrying about dress codes for staff or customers, and acting like they were forced into a strange, expensive menu.  It blends into an expense poser mess, failing to achieve either goal. 

Watchman’s deserves respect because they just are who they are.  It’s a local pub, with just the right amount of dive bar to be charming without being scary.  They’ve got a great patio for people watching,

and the interior is such a classic pub; wood panel walls and a big central bar. 

When I came in, the crowd was perfect.  Some beer-league team shared pitchers in one corner.  Two old guys argued in a language I couldn’t place.  Some guy sat alone nursing a broken heart and a Budweiser.  Another dud had a scotch and a news paper. 

I knew I had to come here to write.  It’s the sort of place where you can sip a beer and a whiskey and pretend you’re just like Hemingway. 

…if whiskey didn’t make me sick… 

It’s a casual, seat yourself sort of place.  I was barely on my stool when the waitress popped out of nowhere, like an impatient gopher.  Literally, sit, BAM waitress. 

She was either bored or really into me, and couldn’t wait to show me what a great girlfriend she’d make with her beer and food getting skills.  I’m pretty sure it’s the second one, and cute girls who bring me beer are much cuter than those who are too busy already having boyfriends who aren’t me. 

Those girls are jerks. 

I tried the Watchman’s house draft.  It was terrible.  I think maybe some drunk took a bitter pee in a rain barrel.  It was definitely more on the dive bar ascetic than the neighborhood pub, and while it got more drinkable as the glass got emptier, next time I’ll order something I know.  But I drank the whole thing.  And it got better as it went.  I became more and more forgiving.  It wasn’t as bad as I first thought.  It just shouldn’t be your first beer.  You drink it third, when your taste is a little dulled.  It doesn’t sit well with a sober tongue, but it’s not that bad as the night goes on.  I mean, I kept drinking it.

Considering how very pub the place was, I decided to go with the fish and chips.  I almost gave them a full food star, when I realized my meal was just alright.  Sometimes, I forget that Calgary is a long way from the ocean.

A real map. From a map store.

 

I also forget what good fish and chips should taste like.  Honestly, you get Captain Highliner Imitation Fish Paddies at so many of the restaurants in the city I  fool myself into thinking tolerable fish is good. 

This man does not make food.

 These were real fish and chips.  They were good.  They weren’t great, but they were good.  And, I didn’t notice at first, but…

They came on a fish plate!

Then the bill came.  It was a great surprise, in that is was super low.  Like couch change low.  So I tipped the waitress 100 percent and promised myself I’d be back. 

This is really a great place.  Sure, I bitch, but I like Watchman’s a lot.  You really need to check it out.

************************************************************************************ 

Final Ratings: 4 Stars 

1/2 Drink Star: The beer was bad, but I wasn’t offended, because it suited the place.  I just wish I hadn’t tried it. 

1/2 Food Star: 1/2 Because they should make good fish and chips in a cool pub, and these were just … okay. 

Staff Star: Attentive and cute.  She was amazing, and made up for the problems I had with the product. 

Atmosphere Star: So cool.  Exactly what I wanted and needed. 

Price Star: Almost derserves two price stars.  Seriously, you get way more than you pay for here.

Miniblog: Jersey Shore

The second season of Jersey Shore premiered last night. 

 

Jersey Shore has two types of fan.  The first type identifies with the cast mates, and envies them of their lifestyle, which is mostly gym, tanning and laundry.  It’s about looking good, clubbing and hooking up.  The cast are of Italian descent, and the guys have reclaimed the term Guido, which was orignally racist, but now describes the partying lifestyle they live.  The girls are Guidettes, women who hope to snag themselves a Guido.  

The other type of fan can’t believe that these people exist.  There’s a level of … idiocy that’s often displayed.  Most of the cast is incredibly self-obsessed, certain that everything in the world revolves around them.  When they speak, similes and metaphors often die painful, terrible deaths.  The words that come out of their mouths shouldn’t be uttered in private, let alone on national TV.  They are a strange group of barely functioning pseudo-adults, who have taken the right to live their own lives, but generally have no understanding of responsiblity. 

And watching them is amazing.  You can’t believe the shit they say, do and think. 

It’s not even a secret guilty pleasure.  When you tell someone you watch Jersey Shore, if they watch it too, you both wait a moment to see if someone expresses glee at their clubbing adventures.  If they see something positive, you know you’re dealing with someone too dumb to catch your contempt. 

I think my secret shame with Jersey Shore is a bit deeper.  Some of the cast a mere parodies of humanity (Snookie,the Situation, Angelina).  Others have the potential to be functioning members of society, and just seem to be taking some time to get all the stupid out of their system.  The most normal is Vinnie. 

or "The Normal One"

 

Vinnie thinks and acts like a person.  You’re rarely laughing at him, and when you are, he is too.  He’s self-aware.  He’s the first to notice when things become ridiculous, and gets the least screen time because he’s the least spectacular.  The man is educated, and for all intensive purposes, should be the person I like most and identify with on the show. 

My secret shame is I really get Ronnie: 

 

First of all, I do not and never will look like that.  His arms are the size of my torso.  He’s a powerful man.  But he’s also insightful.  Right from the start, he knows not to get into his roommates business without a good reason.  He understands how the people around him think.  He’s smart like Vinnie, but he gets involved in everything that happens around him. 

He also keeps putting up with ridiculous behaviour from a cute girl.  Honestly, he’s too smart for Sammie, whom he dated in the first season, and she makes ridiculous demands and ultimatums on him, and he does his best by her, often to his determine. 

Then there was the time some guy kept beaking off to him, so he ran back six blocks, and dropped the guy with one punch.  It was awesome, up until the point where he spent a night in jail.  He understood every consequence of what he did.  He knows you can’t go around punching people. 

But when he does it it’s so awesome. 

That’s my secret shame.  Ronnie, from Jersey Shore, is a guy I understand, and like.  And that kind of makes me feel dirty. 

But don’t tell him and his beefy arms about the dirty feeling part.

Leonard’s Visit

 

Leonard was coming back to Calgary from Art School for a week, which meant I was going to be at either the Ship and Anchor or the Distillery.  The Distillery has changed a lot lately, and in some ways, no matter how many new things she tries, Leonard is still a robot of habit in the deepest steel chambers of her mechanical heart.  She can’t handle seeing how some things have changed, and she wanted the familiar, so we were at the Ship.

We went on Friday.  If you don’t know, the Ship and Anchor is a bit of a punk pub, at least originally, but it’s slowly showing a hipster influence.  There’s a row of fake books on a shelf near the ceiling.  Antique-looking paintings and artefacts adorn the walls, interspersed with FIFA soccer pennants.  Each table had its own crowd, with no coherent group dominating the bar.  A couple of old guys spoke emphatically near a group of bookish girls too afraid to yell to be heard over the bar noise.  A pair of overly attractive people tried to decide if they wanted to make out at 8 pm in a pub, mostly through trail and error.

I got there to find Kodie, Leonard, B1 and A2.  I hadn’t eaten, so I ordered food.  For the rest of the night, one person at our table was always eating.  Either someone new would show up and order food, or someone who had been there for a while needed an appy.

I was sitting by A2.  He was ordering a different beer with each round and showing off his iPhone.

Tall showed up a bit later, followed by R1 and A3, friends of Leonard.  It freaks her out to see people she knows from different places together, especially if they get along.  She especially hates it if they start doing things without her.  She calls it “hanging out behind her back.”  I believe it’s because robots are always plotting against humans, so she assumes it goes the other way.  She knows it’s crazy, and she’s mostly gotten over it, but at times it bugs her.

So I probably shouldn’t have been hitting on A3.  Since the last time I’d seen her, she’d gotten a rather significant haircut, and was adorable with her short hair.  I was trying to be subtle, so as not to upset Leonard until there was reason for her to be truly angry at me.  On top of that, it was a loud bar, and everyone kept switching places around the table, so A3 and I didn’t get much of a chance to talk.  I doubt she noticed.  She also didn’t get my full attention, and I wasn’t willing to push to hard, so she was able to escape my considerable charm.

This time…

When Shawn showed up, our waitress changed.  The new girl was gorgeous, and completely inattentive.  You had to yell at her to stop her to order a drink.  We soon decided it was time to move the party, and Kodie and Shawn suggested the Elbow River Casino.  Tall, A3, B1 and R2 were out, but the rest of us decided to go. 

I’ve only ever been to the casino in Lethbridge.  It’s a newish building on the highway out of town.  I used to go with Txt Girl and her friends, because she loved to gamble.  I’d spend $20 on ten games of blackjack, then just hang out, because I value my money.  The Lethbridge Casino was fun every time.

Elbow River Casino was different.  It was smaller, darker, and mostly row upon row of heartless slot machines. 

Pictured: Uncivilized Gambling

 I don’t like playing the slots because they’re too much like video games.  The bright lights and sounds confuse me into thinking I’m having more fun than I am, and I forget every button I press costs me money.  I feel like my Nintendo cheated me as a child, so I know those machines that are literally after my money will for sure.  I just don’t like the disconnect I get from something too much like my Xbox 360.

So I walked by and got a drink.  Then I checked out the Blackjack.

There were no $2 tables.

The lowest on the floor were $5 minimum bet.

When the fuck did that happen?  I want 10 games for my $20.  Now, the most I’m guaranteed is 4 games.  4 fucking games.  Less than half.  I sighed, and sat down by A2.  I managed to last for 8 games without going over my $20 limit.  I was frustrated when the last of my money left so I went to find Kodie.

He was at a slot machine, and I was not sober enough to make good decisions.  In 3 minutes, the evil little robot ate $20 more.  I asked Kodie how he managed to keep the machine going.  He shrugged a timid shrug that suggested he’d spent more than he should have.

Shawn and I found the cheapest slots in the place, and I lost another $10 before I gave up.  It was home time, and I was down $50.

Do all Casino’s suck this much?  Am I remembering things wrong?

Or is the Elbow River Casino where hope goes to die?

Miniblog: Japanese Tourists

I have this dream for Stampede.  I keep hoping I’ll run into some cute lost Japanese girl. 

Someone along these lines

 

She’ll be all confused by the city, maybe talking to her equally cute friend, who will probably be wearing a cowboy hat, trying to figure out how to get somewhere, like the grounds, or how to do something relatively simple, like pay for parking.  Of course, they’ll be afraid to use their English, because these two girls are Japanese University students, who fear mispronouncing a word more than death. 

Fortunately, I’ll be there to save them with my ability to understand the idiocy of Calgary parking, and my scant Japanese which I speak with more confidence than it deserves.  Of course, they’ll want me to hang out with them all day, and then eventually, I’ll accept their displays of gratitude, whatever they might be. 

Probably blow jobs, but I won’t be too picky. 

Anyways, if that’s going to happen, I better get out there to Stampede.  What if someone else with rudimentary Japanese gets to them first?  Those are my bjs!

Published in: on July 14, 2010 at 8:47 am  Comments (1)  
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The Baby Stag

I recently went up to Edmonton to visit a buddy of mine from high school just before his wife had a baby.  I asked them what they wanted me to call them in my blog, as per my naming convention, and she told me to make up nicknames for them.  She requested they sound like 80s supervillians.  So she is Malinmar and he is Professor Destructo. 

This was my first baby stag.  It is a party you have before the baby is born, when you don’t have to worry about being too quiet or being a bad influence.  It’s more bachelor party than baby shower.  The party was a Saturday evening, so Kodie and I drove up that day, planning to sleep on our hosts floor.  We brought amusing gifts for the baby based on old inside jokes.  We fascinated the guests who arrived before us.  I had my ninj-brella because it was raining, 

A weapon? Protection from the rain? Or both...

And our vodka was in a crystal skull. 

Magic Vodka

Yeah, prop comedy.  How far the mighty have fallen… 

I grew up with Professor Destructo.  When I think back to my earliest memories, his house is the first friend’s I remember playing at.  We took figure skating lessons together, including a performance dressed as Ewoks, and went to the same school from kindergarten to grade 12.  It’s a bit odd to visit him at the house he owns, with his wife, to celebrate his first child.  It’s really cool, but it’s also weird.  I can picture him as an unsteady four year old dressed as Wicket, and he’s having a baby.

I may be remembering it wrong, but I think we looked like this

 

Malinmar is a different story, because I’ve only known her as an adult.  I met her at their wedding, and took a liking to her right away.  It could be that I like to be famous, and I feel famous when I hang out with her.  In Harvey, the greatest  play of all time, Elwood Dowd says “You seem to have me at a disadvantage,” when someone knows his name, and more about him than he knows about them.  I always feel this way with Malinmar.  Professor Destructo has told her reams of stories about me, but as we haven’t lived in the same city since high school, he never had many chances to tell me about her.  She’s also read a great number of my blogs, so she knows what I think about things and we always have great conversations about things I’m interested in, on which she has insightful ideas. 

The best part about her, though, is she’s good for Professor Destructo.  They compliment each other with different strengths and a genuine desire to look after each other.  When Professor Destructo gets lost, which happens because he’s easily distracted, she’s there to right his course.  When Malinmar gets down, he’s there to lift her up, and he’s never happier than when he’s doing something to make her smile.  They also speak the same way.  They say “realistically” constantly.  I made a game out of it, to see if what they said afterwards was realistic.  It’s similar to when you try to determine if people are using irony after they say “it’s ironic.” 

This was one of the biggest gatherings of my friends from high school, probably since Malinmar and Professor Destructo got married.  We drank at their house, and Ryan dominated the room.  This always happens, because he’s got an incredible presence, and all eyes end up on him.  He’s quick witted and gregarious, and always seems to be the center of the most interesting conversations.  So we listened to stories about the drunkest he’s ever been, and how everyone reads the letters of the “Anonymous” tattoo on his arm upside down, and due to the script get “Snowhound” instead.  

I think I realized why Kodie and Ryan always got along so well.  Kodie rarely speaks, but with Ryan there, no none notices or cares. 

Rounding out the group of people I spent everyday in high school with was Skippy.  Skippy and Professor Destructo stayed close like Kodie and I did.  For Skippy’s last birthday, Malinmar got him a doll so he could practice not hurting the baby, just before she announced her pregnancy.  Skippy is a series of contradictions.  He looks like a biker, with a bushy beard, standing 6 foot 3, and you have to really pay attention to notice the guy is brilliant.  He doesn’t want you to know.  He listens to really heavy metal, or the Russian Philharmonic Orchestra.  He will constantly make comments designed to display how negligent he is, until someone actually needs help, which he gives freely and with gusto. 

There were a bunch of other people there as well, some whom I knew, others who had gone to university with Professor Destructo, Malinmar, and Ryan, and others who’s relation I couldn’t trace.  Kodie, Skippy and I spent a while catching up or listening to Ryan, until it was time to bowl. 

I haven’t been five pin bowling in years, mostly because I have an easier time finding ten pin.  We took up three lanes.  We drank beer at bowling alley prices, which is the true meaning of bowling. 

The bartender was a cute girl in dreads who was eating out of Ryan’s hand as soon as he spoke to her.  He felt bad, being unavailable as she kept throwing herself at him with mounting desperation.  We kept egging him on to find out facts about her.  Between being the center of attention, and really just being asked to talk to the cute girl, he couldn’t deny us.  By the end of the night he knew her age, whet she was taking in uni, where she was born, and nearly every biographical fact she could offer, except for her name and how to get her on the phone.  I think he broke her heart. 

Skippy bowls regularly, and destroyed our scores by the end of the first game.  Professor Destructo couldn’t believe I came in second, probably because in high school I was notoriously bad at sports.  The thing is bowling is less a sport and more a drinking game.  There’s a certain  buzz I can catch that makes me a competent bowler. 

By the second game I had passed it and came in near the bottom of the heat. 

Kodie watched us all silently, pleased to see how easily things could go back to the way they always were, at least for a night. 

After three or four games (I’m really not sure) we returned to the house.  Skippy had to head out, and as he was the sober guy in a crowd of drunks, I really don’t blame him.  Kodie and Malinmar had a long discussion about religion.  He kept dragging me into it, no matter how I tried to escape.  I’d find another conversation, but he’d need to check a fact with me.  

Not long after Kodie realized he was drinking, and as usually he decided he had better vomit and pass out.  I had long discussions about movies, superheroes, and heard a harrowing tale of betrayal in those pre-dawn hours where exhaustion and the haze of vodka mean everyone who’s still awake can be trusted, and you’ll only remember topics, not specifics.  It’s when truths come out, the sort you wish didn’t have to be true, but need shared when there’s no light left, just to purge the darkness.  If you’ve never lasted to five am, I can’ t really explain this twilight to you.  I encourage you to learn pacing, because these are the most human moments in the world, and if they aren’t painfully sad, they are ridiculously perfect.  You won’t know until they happen, but every one is a treasure of truth. 

Soon after, I was asleep on the couch.  I woke up to the 2009 Astroboy movie playing, which has Nicolas Cage, Donald Sutherland, Nathan Lane, and Kirsten Bell.  It’s better than I expected, and is worthy of that cast.  Malinmar got up soon after, and was puttering around the kitchen, making breakfast for everyone.  I offered to help, but she tod me I’d just be in her way. 

Despite my knowledge of breakfast cooking, a talent even Gilly will admit I possess, I’m never offended when I get kicked out of a kitchen.  Anyone who doesn’t want your help probably knows exactly what they’re doing.  Malinmar made the best French Toast anyone has ever eaten.  Ever.  She also made a range of bacon, from deliciously soft, to ruined crispy, so that even freaks could have their burnt, ruined bacon. 

Ryan’s mom lives in Edmonton, and she joined us for breakfast.  She spent a far portion of the meal trying to convince us she had never done anything wrong and neither had her son.  We had grown up with him and spent the previous night listening to him trying to figure out which story was actually the drunkest he had ever been, but he quietly nodded, letting his escapades slip below her radar. 

I don’t quite understand it.  I’m proud of my mistakes.  I’ll tell anyone about the time I jumped out of a moving car, or why I can’t drink scotch, or the tale of Tequila Bender 2006.  My mom, much to her regret, keeps reading my blogs and sees hears the tales of my escapades.  I think she prays constantly that David never takes up blogging. 

Unlike Skippy’s Birthday, which I call November Absinth Massacre, Kodie was able to move the next day.  He drove us back to Calgary, talking about how he wants to plan a camping trip with me, Skippy, Ryan, and, if he can leave the baby for a few days, Professor Destructo. 

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Since this was written, the baby has been born.  This kid doesn’t know how lucky he is.  Baby Destructo couldn’t come into a more loving home, and couldn’t ask for a better set of people as parents.