From an old website, Alien in Montreal
If it's true that everyone has a story to tell, then logically, there should be a hundred or more to hear in a nightclub. All human stories have an interesting message in them, somewhere, and contain at least one of the essential elements that make up a good tale – comedy, drama or tragedy.
If you decide to stay in your home, rather than go out and listen to the stories, then nothing will ever happen to you. It's like standing in a hot shower – it's very nice and you don't want to leave the cubicle because it might be cold outside. But, life is outside, and you can't stay in the shower forever. This is an important point – if you stay at home all your life, then the most exciting thing that can happen to you is that you could become a one-in-a-million statistic, and fall over onto a large bread knife in the kitchen.
So, we're in Le Petit Medley, a small club playing music from 'my generation', which can mean an awful lot of things, but in this case meant Guns n Roses, Madonna and The Violent Femmes, et al. I'm sure you know the type of scene. So I'm watching a man whom you might describe, in an unimaginative moment, as a Lunk. He towers above everyone around him and is as big as a barrel that lifts weights. He looks vacant, like he's missing some vital brain components. I watch him for a while, my mind made up about his character.
The he starts to dance. There is some kind of Latin type of music playing at the moment and he dances with a little blonde thing who comes up to his waist (well, maybe a bit more than that), and he's good. I mean, amazing. He twirls her around, spins himself, flings her into the air (quite literally), makes shimmying moves, and all perfectly in time with the girl. It's like watching a Fred Astaire film. I'm starting to change my opinion of the lunk.
Then I notice his shirt. At first I think that it's just the pattern, but then I begin to have a horrible suspicion – that the dark grey pattern that covers most of the shirt is actually sweat. I stare at the shirt for quite a while, trying to make up my mind. My wife dances into him and freezes, as if poked with a cattle prod, and then dances away, quickly. She comes up to me and says,
'That man is disgusting.'
I assume that means that he is covered in sweat after all. The thing is, the Lunk is popular, he's chatting with lots of girls, who all seem to like him. He's slapping the backs of groups of guys, laughing. Everyone seems to know him and like him, and don't seem bothered by his amazing sweat at all.
I'm distracted at this moment by the arrival of a girl, who sits on my wife's barstool and smiles at me. I try to say, in French, that this seat is taken, but she doesn't understand, and pulls faces at me.
I tell her that I don't speak good French and she asks if I want to speak in English, so I say yes.
'This seat is taken.' I say.
She looks puzzled. 'You're saying that you don't want me to sit here?'
'No, I don't mind you sitting here, but the person whose stool it is will.'
This sentence is too complex and she looks puzzled for a moment, then says, 'Are you smoking pot?' And points at my rollie.
'No, just tobacco.' I point at my tobacco.
'Oh.' She says, and takes out a bag of grass. She takes a big pinch and begins to pull it to bits on the table. She points at my tobacco pouch.
'I only have three papers left.' I say, and this is true. I'm pacing myself to finish my last cigarette at 2:45am, just before we leave.
'Hmm.' She says, and pulls out a pack of rizla from her back pocket.
It's about this time that I start to wonder when my wife will return.
The girl points at my tobacco.
I ask, 'Do you want some tobacco?'
She nods, and takes some. She then tries to roll up her joint, but it isn't working very well. It keeps on falling apart. 'I can't see in this light,' she complains, 'which way the glue is.'
She gives up and takes out another rizla, examining it very closely before beginning again. I stop her, take the rizla, turn it around, and give it back. She looks suspicious, but rolls it anyway. It works fine, the glue is on the correct side. She looks at me with an expression that means, well, I thought you were a fool, but apparently you're not.
I give her my lighter and look around for my wife. This probably won't look good, I'm thinking.
'Do you think I'll get into trouble for smoking pot in here?' She asks me, lighter poised.
'It's my first time here, I don't know.' I admit.
She lights the joint and smokes it heartily. Plumes of pot surround us. I'm wondering if the bouncers will believe that I'm not with her if they come over. All the people around us turn sharply at the smell and stare at us. Yes, us. The lunk makes an appearance and puts his face very close to ours and wags his finger in a prohibitive manner.
Now my wife comes back. She looks at the girl in her seat and doesn't say anything. She gives her a smile that means, I hate you, keep away from him, and sips her drink. Then, when the girl is looking away, she manages, using only facial expressions and gestures, to have this conversation with me:
Who is she?
Are you smoking pot with her?
Are you flirting with her?
Satisfied, she returns to the dancefloor.
The Dope Girl now puts half of her joint in the ashtray and gestures to me.
'Ooh, no thanks.' I say.
She shrugs and walks off, leaving it there. I stare at it. For the next hour it sits there, loudly, and reminds us of her presence. I try and ignore it. I worry, vaguely, what I'll do if someone tries to empty the ashtray. Should I try and save it for her?
I ponder this and drink my beer. As I drink, I fail to notice that my beermat has stuck to the bottom, and it now falls off and floats down into the abyss under the seats, never to be seen again. There isn't another. I think, this beermat is something that I've relied upon for a long time, and I've paid it no attention. But I only realise it now that it's gone. I think that this is profound. I then realise that I'm drunk.
All the girls come back from the dancefloor now and sit at the table. As they're chatting, the Dope Girl comes back and looks alarmed at the female presence. I wink at her, which doesn't go down too well at the table. She takes her joint and sits at our table, smoking it nervously. Everyone stares at her in silence.
Eventually she can't handle it any longer, stubs out the joint and leaves. It leaves a large cloud of pot smoke hanging over us. People are staring again. It's at this precise moment that I decide to hand my rollie to my wife so she can smoke some of it, as we're sharing to conserve the last few papers. As I hand it over I see people staring at the exchange - they all thing it's the joint that's making the big smell. I look around for bouncers, but don't see any.
Now the Lunk comes over again and starts leering at us and making odd faces. I watch him more closely as he interacts with his friends and have a sudden realisation – they aren't his friends, and he doesn't know any of them. He simply talks to anyone he sees and, as he's so big, they smile and chat back. In fact, he seems to be alone. He wanders around, from group to group, ever moving.
Now it's 2:45am and I roll my last cigarette of the evening. It's a large one, of the kind only ever normally seen in the hands of a homeless guy whom you've just offered your tobacco to, to roll his own.
It takes a lot of smoking. By the end of it I feel a little ill and never want to smoke again. This is the idea, of course, as I can't smoke any more that evening, so I may as well not feel like it – it makes life easier.
We leave, and go home, to crash around the house, noisily, at 3am for a while.
Le Petit Medley Facts 1. Address: 6206, rue Saint-Hubert, Montréal, H2S 2M2 2. Tel: 514-271-7887.