Sunday, October 03, 2004

Another party

Ah, another party, and one I remember this time. How novel.

The party is supposed to start with a game of football in the park at 4pm, leading onto lengthy shower-queues at the party venue, followed by drinking large amounts of alcohol whilst eating BBQ.

The best laid plans of mice and men, and all that, so a thunderstorm appears and flashes great bolts of lighting as it throws down sheets of rain.

We sit inside our house, at 3.30pm, and look out of the window. We have the lights on. We decide not to go to the football, and instead just turn up for the post-match party.

So I drink just one beer before we leave, at about 7pm. We take a bus, and then walk. The rain has stopped, and though there is a damp chill in the air, it is pleasant. We meet Leaf in the area, and enter the party with him.

Pristine, pearly white walls shout their non-smoking origins, in a tidy, comfortable lounge, African style voodoo masks adorn the walls, but not in a scary way. It's the kind of apartment that looks tidy, and not in need of a glass of red wine on the sofa.

New people, all interesting. I just brought six beers, in an effort to not drink too much and / or stay too late. Interesting strategy.

There is a BBQ after all, and we watch Bjork cook sausages until they are blackened and charred. Consumers stare at their plates, prodding their elongated charcoal with forks, in a forlorn manner.

MC explains to me, 'It is how Germans cook meat, apparently. Every time he cooks meat it is like this. He's always saying, "I don't think it's quite cooked enough.." and then blackens it.'

In the end, others are sent to seize control of the BBQ and sausage browning. There are sighs of relief. It is Bjork's birthday, so I suppose he should be allowed to burn the meat if he wants to.

Once the variously-shaped bits of animal have been consumed, and the blood soaked up with bread, the drinking begins in earnest. There is a lot of beer in the fridge, so much so that a great deal of it waits patiently outside for its turn to be chilled. But in the end it all vanishes, of course.

No shots in sight. I'm very glad.

'I was bought a bottle of whisky,' Bjork tells me, as he lights his cigarette, outside, with a new zippo. He points to an ominous bottle of single malt, on the shelf, high above the milling crowd.

'Ah.' I say.

'Maybe later, we can have a small glass?' He suggests.

'Ah.' I say. 'Maybe not, I don't really drink spirits any more, especially at parties.'

'But if it is the end of the night, and your last drink before you go home?'

He is the devil, and I listen to his bargain, as all lost souls do.

'Hmm, perhaps,' I concede.

The wife finds me and asks me, too many times, if she is red in the face.

'No, why?' I ask.

It turns out that there is a 'famous person' at the party. Famous in Quebec, that is, as I've never heard of him. I ask not to have him pointed out. I don't want my behaviour modified by knowing. In fact, I take a perverse pleasure in knowing that I'll probably talk to him and not know that he is supposed to be famous.

I drink more beer and lecture people about how to give up cigarettes, as I smoke outside.

I wander around inside and watch people dance to cheesy 80's anthems, screaming and shouting their hearts out.

I smoke some more and talk about how hard it is to learn French in Montreal, and how easy it is to learn English (in English).

I then spend a considerable amount of time with Xena, extracting all the English words from the French magnetic poetry on the fridge, and then making nonsense phrases out of them:

'Metal bras excite' and so forth.

I finish my beer and go to the depanneur to buy 2 more bottles, and another bottle of wine for the wife. At the time I'm don't contemplate that perhaps two bottles of wine is a lot to drink

Back at the fridge, drinking, I talk to a pretty girl whom I had noticed earlier showing off her cleavage to her girlfriends. She is surprised to hear that I'm married. She looks disappointed, and thinks about this for a moment.

'Can I French kiss you then?' She asks.

I think about this.

'No,' I say, 'I think my wife would be upset if you French kissed me.'

'Hmm.' She says, and thinks some more. 'Maybe at another party then?'

I think she is missing the point.

Suddenly the fridge is empty and the whole world is looking for beer. I spy a bottle, unopened, hidden away behind some boxes, and take it, free of guilt as I do so.

We stay for another fifteen minutes and then leave, not, for once, the last people to go. And, thankfully, without a glass of malt whisky for the road.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Party of Leaf and Xena

I wondered for a while if I should, in fact, write a review of this party, mainly because it didn't end so well for me, personally. But, life is life, and it does deserve a write up, in reality. I also took no pictures during the evening, but I've had some sent to me since, and so I'll use one of them... I'm sure Karloff won't mind.

The error of my judgement on this day can perhaps be traced back to the two pints I drank at 4pm in Grumpy's Bar after a day of shopping downtown. I was waiting for the wife at the time. After receiving a phone call to the bar from her (amusing image of the barmaid holding up the phone and shouting my name), I then went to meet her and Marty at the Barbare.

When I arrived they were already a few bites into burgers, so I ordered a cheese platter, as I thought it would be quick to prepare. I ordered a beer - a 5 a 7 special of some alcoholic orange liquid.

The cheese platter was obviously designed to be shared amongst several friends. There was a huge wedge of Camembert, a mountain of cheddar cubes, and a large slice of goat cheese. When I finished, which I did, I sat back and my stomach shouted angrily at me for filling it with so much dairy, on top of three pints of beer.

I felt a bit odd from this point onwards in our story, dear reader.

We returned home, to relax and change, and I drank a rather nasty bottle of Milwaukee Dry, which happened to be in the fridge. This beer always makes me feel strange, and often brings on stomach cramps or burning sensations. Anyway, beer is beer, I reasoned.

Feeling a little tired, I decided to have an espresso before leaving, but realised that we didn't have much coffee left. No problem, I thought, I'll top up the coffee with cocoa powder and make an espresso-mocha.


Well, with added sugar, I thought it was great, though the wife wasn't convinced, and in fact pulled an odd face when she tried it. Anyway, I drank it all down and proclaimed that I felt great.

I only had six beers with me to take - Belle Guelle - and had bee told by Xena that there would be plenty of Gin and Tonic if I wanted more later at the party. The wife took a bottle of red wine.

Time passes. We arrive.

Very jolly beginning it was too. I talk to a lot of people, and drink a beer. Good atmosphere, plenty of laughter, this is the part of the evening that everyone recalls clearly the next day.

Then Xena arrives with a tray of shots. Vodka perhaps.

I pull a face. I have been avoiding shots since they were linked to my blackouts in the past.

'Ooh, I don't know,' I say. But I'm talked into it - just one to celebrate various things that seemed like they needed toasting, desperately, at that moment.

'Okay,' I say, 'just one.' And descend into murkiness. 'But,' I add, seriously to Xena, 'don't let me drink any more, eh?'

'Sure,' she says, and wanders off to ply spirits on more people.

So, suffice to say that during the rest of the evening, it was never long before a tray of shots was thrust under my nose for sampling. And, worse, I would often help Xena finish the last few on the tray before she went to create something new.

'What goes with Gin?' She would ask, desperate to make new and more interesting shots for the masses.

So we spend a lot of time on the roof, as we can smoke there. To get there you have to travel in the lift/elevator each time, then walk through darkened corridors and up spooky, gloomy steps. There are a few stumbles. Of course.

I'm having fun at this point in the evening, and have had, perhaps four or five of my beers. One of my final memories of the night is X's (who's name I shall not mention) girlfriend telling a large crowd of people how she shaves his balls.

'I can't stand that hair!' She cries.

'Well, we've all been there,' I say, and the men in the group thoughtfully nod.

Then it's all over. A few flashes, but no real memories. I wake up the next day, in bed.

I have managed to re-create the rest of the evening from various sources:

Downstairs I'm drinking strong German lager that someone has given me, slurring, and swaying. My wife sees this and brings me some water, which she thinks will do me some good. I'm of the opinion that it won't do me any good, and don't want to drink it. She is insistent, and I become excited in my refusal. This escalates into me tossing my empty beer bottle onto the table - the ultimate 'no' symbol.

I am manhandled into a small room, as I'm now considered a threat to society. And there various people come in and try and make me drink water, as I sit on a small chair, alone. I become more and more agitated as I perceive the world massing and conspiring against me, all of them wanting me to drink water, that I don't want to drink.

Then the wife begins to shout at me. She told me later that this once worked for her - when I was drunk, she shouted at me to pull myself together, and I did. However, this time, it did not, and I remained resolutely drunk. Then an idea came into her head - perhaps a slap across the face, like on the TV, would do the trick. Kind of shock me into sobriety?

She tells me that she is going to slap me.

I fix her gaze and say, 'Go on then.' But, I can't help imagine that I meant it in the sense of, 'no, don't.'

She tells me three times that she is about to slap me, and then wham! She lets rip.

A second later I have hurled a cup across the little room, and it has smashed into many bits. At least I took out my anger on an inanimate object, and not a live thing, I later thought.

We leave soon after, at 4am or so. The wife is upset with me, for some reason.

In the morning I'm simply told that I threw beer bottles around and smashed a cup against the wall.

'What?' I say, 'why would I do that?'

'I don't know,' said the wife.

During the evening I also managed to break my antique gold watch, the 1960 Longine Grand Prix. That watch is precious to me, so that when I saw the top fall off, in the bathroom that morning, and the little second hand bent into a 'U', I could have almost cried.

New resolution: No more shots.