Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Ugliest Cardigan

Amy's friend Weldon was in town for a visit from Vancouver last week. He needed to escape the crush of humanity that was making his laid back lifestyle next to impossible. Weldon is a poet, and I know he's a good one because none of his work rhymes and I have no idea what any of it means.

Here's a sample:

Sealed Air

Late 1970s, the idea of bubblewrap
was in the air; an actual promo shows
an entire nuclear family exploring its
many uses: a drink cozy, a padded shoe
insert, insulation, a guest bed, a
murder weapon?

anyways it's not on the net and
my Sprite is making a troubling noise

Me either. And no, he doesn't partake.

After five days exploring Toronto we decided to hop in the car and spend the weekend in Montreal. On Friday, I booked two hotel rooms via Priceline.Com for a cheerful $48 each and off we went on the five hour foray across the 401.

If you haven't invested in satellite radio, you don't know what you're missing. There's Steve Byk, but there's also several comedy and old-school music channels that make road trips eminently more bearable.

Mitch Hedberg had us laughing most of the way there.

Mitch Hedberg was a bit nervous performing in public

Nodding our heads to the Geto Boys kept the trip rollin'.

Mind Playing Tricks On Me

We were pleasantly surprised upon checking in to find our $48 investment turned out to be a suite at the Holiday Inn in Old Montreal. I will never pay regular price again.

Friday night was a bar hop up St. Laurent. Drinks at the Bifteck. Rock n Roll and pool at Barfly. Eventually, home.

Saturday was all about shopping. This is Amy's area of expertise. I've dedicated an entire portion of my TripleDeadHeat Features section to our shopping exploits as I tend to find a lot of cool racing stuff.

The first vintage store we walked into was a goldmine. This little place called Friperie St-Laurent was chock full of old tyme (pronounced Old-Timey) treasures. I heard a squeal from the corner of the store and turned around to see Amy laughing and waving this odd pastel dress.

It did not look like anything Amy would normally wear. But what do I know?

"Look! Just look," she laughed.

And then I got it. The whole bloody dress was covered in jockeys on horseback.

The Lovely Amy...

I think Amy is likely taking one for the team here but she told me that she liked it and saved me the embarrassment of having to buy it myself and live with the shame of that.

The rich fabric of thoroughbred racing

Amazingly, the dress fit her like a glove and now she has an outfit to wear to the Queen's Plate this year.

Elegantly Equine?

Directly next door to Friperie St. Laurent was yet another vintage store. We were in the place no more than a minute when Amy came over waving a hanger in front of my face.

It was by far the ugliest cardigan I have ever seen. A yellowy-cream coloured monstrosity with red trim around the cuffs. The sort of thing you buy to wrap around the bottom of your Christmas tree.

"Look! Just look," she laughed.

Sure enough. All around the body of the cardigan were jockeys on horseback. Can you believe it?

This stylish sweater was fit to be worn by only the dandiest of the debauched denizens of the track and I breathed easier knowing there was no way the thing would ever fit me. The cardigan was a size small and I have arms longer than Zdeno Chara.

Though I've tried, I can't seem to find a photo of this ugly gem on the Internet. The "designer" is Herman Geist - the tag said "1980s $45". Search at your own risk.

At any rate, the odds of finding those two items doorways apart are longer than the chances of me cashing any of the four Derby future wagers I made this year.

* * *

The highlight of our Saturday was barbecue chicken.

Amy and I travel a fair bit as her business has us setting up at trade shows all across North America and never Hawaii or Bermuda.

On our last trip to La Belle Province while off trying to find lunch I was painfully rejected by Montreal's answer to the Soup Nazi.

No Soup For You!

While walking down the street on that beautiful Summer's day I became intoxicated with the wafting aroma of barbecue chicken and literally followed my nose to the door of an establishment I won't name but smart readers will figure out.

It's an unassuming wee place no bigger than a walk-in closet.

There's a counter, two men in white coats behind it and one long grill against the wall fired with the power of charcoal. Mmmmmm.

The men behind the counter were not really concerned that I had entered the establishment. The man I assumed to be the proprietor was busy taking whole chickens out of a mystery tub and then going to town with the butcher knife. He did not look happy about his circumstances.

The other fellow kept his head down and tried to look busy.

After an awkward minute or more I politely asked if I might order some chicken.

"For when," came the gruff reply from the man with the knife.

"For now," I offered innocently.

"Order now, come back tomorrow," came the instant reply.

I can't be sure but I think the quiet one snickered just a bit.

Unsure if I had just been slammed or if there was some kind of language barrier, I stupidly tried again.

"Would it be possible to order for today," I asked more firmly this time.

With a weary raise of the eyebrow, the quiet guy handed me a card and said, "You have to order in advance. We're busy."

That I was standing in a shoebox filled to the brim with cooked chickens did little to help my temper.

Enraged. I walked out and kept walking trying to wrap my head around what had just happened.

So now, two years later, Amy came up with the brilliant idea of getting our revenge. We looked up the number and I made the phone call.

"Hello, what do you want," answered the order taker.

"I'd like to order a chicken...for tonight," I said confidently

"Just one," asked the wordsmith.

"Yes...please," I responded politely.

"For when," he challenged.

"6:30," my reply.

"Mmmmm, come at six," he hung up victoriously.

I woudn't have argued anyway.

* * *
Several hours later I'm leaning against the window of the restaurant thankful that Val is Tweeting me live updates of the Kentucky Derby prep races.

It's about 5:30PM and the place is hopping. I'm surrounded by hungry people who know the system. As we wait, we size up each new person to enter the eatery.

Some fool walks in with a friend and offers the quiet fellow behind the counter a huge smile.

It didn't work.

After a couple minutes, the guy works up the courage to ask for some chicken.

"For when," asks the quiet guy.

The veterans among us put our heads down and weep silently.

It truly is a magical place where language has been reduced to a series of facial movements.

Eye contact + eyebrow raise = "Hello sir, welcome to _____, may I take your order?"

Prolonged eye contact = "Get the f&*$ out of my restaurant."

The latter more often communicated than the former.

Val continued to Tweet and eventually Eskendereya would win the Fountain of Youth and Discreetly Mine purred to the finish line to win the Risen Star.

At 6:15PM, only two years and four hours after ordering, Amy and I finally got our chicken. It was incredible. Easily worth all the effort and abuse. I can't wait to go back for more.

Call it a Grade One win.

* * *

Back to regularly scheduled programming about the world of horse racing tomorrow.

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