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From an old website, Alien in Montreal

'Are you afraid of the Loch Ness virus?'

This was the unlikely comment I heard in Cheers bar, soon after entering. It was part of a story that a girl was telling about some guy she knew – what he meant was the 'West Nile' virus, of course.

I wandered into Cheers on a Tuesday afternoon, after an enormous plate of Chow Mein, and so for the first half a hour sat on the bar stool and concentrated soley on my digestion process.

The bar is pretty big – three floors in fact. I was always a little dubious to enter, as a bar dubbed 'Cheers' in the same font as the TV show, arouses suspecion of 'theme pub' within me. But the atmosphere inside is smoky, old wood, faint smell of sour beer, and drunken people. The 'good' pub smell, that is.

I drink Budwesier, which, it is revealed to me, is the number one selling beer in Canada at the moment. I tell them that it is the same thing in Ireland (so I read). I changed my beer afterwards and drank Labatts 50 (note, the bottled domesic beer was only $3 something a time, which is why I was drinking it at all...)

Then the rain started and we all peered outside, all thankful that we had a good reason to stay and drink more.

'I hope to god it's raining like that in Laval,' one guy says, 'or my wife'll kill me.'

We drink more beer and watch the rain. The barmain quips that he actually has people on the roof with sprinklers.

The people in the bar are funny, in both senses of the word. There is one guy who can't keep a secret and is as blunt as you can get. He introduced himself with the words, 'Don't tell me anything you don't want other people to know.' Which is at least honest.

After $13 worth of beer, and a free one from the nice blabbermouth (after a big fruit machine win), the original barman finishes up. He neglects to collect the money I left on the bar for my tab, and wanders off. I stare at the cash and wonder if I should run after him.

Ah, I figure, he'll come back for it soon. But he doesn't, so I pick it up and then feel guilty for an hour about it. In the end I buy some drinks for people, which helps ease my conscience a little.

I spot him as he is leaving the pub, and tell him that I still owe him money. He hadn't noticed.

'I'll, um, give it to you next time I come in then?' I say.

'Yeah, okay.'

So, I suppose I really do have to return now.

I call the wife to invite her to the bar, but she is already at home and doesn't want to come out now. I'm getting a little drunk and say that I'll be home 'whenever', which is always a bad omen.

More beer is drunk and eventually a plan is hatched to go to the Foufounes Electric, as pitchers are only $6 on Tuesdays...

...And that is another story. Suffice to say that I got home at about 4am... Not bad for me.