Montreal, Quebec is an awesome town if you can get past the French. Most people discount French Canadians out of hand simply because what could they possibly have to offer the world besides baguettes and women who refuse to groom themselves with any more care than your average, well-proportioned ape. Well kids, it’s time to get schooled.
As it happens, a full 40% of French ladies are indistinguishable from non-French ladies, as witnessed by the several thousand strip clubs in Montreal, and the fair abundance of hookers. You can pay for both with loonies. Do you know what a loonie is? It’s a dollar coin with a duck on it. Ha ha, Canada is drunk all the time!
This brings us to why I was in French Canada in the first place. The legal drinking age in Quebec is 18. Beer ranges in alcohol content from about 5% up to 8% give or take and you can buy poutine, fries covered in gravy and melted cheese, in most bars. You can pay for it all with duck coins. Or, if you feel like Daddy Warbucks, bust out the toonies. Those are two dollar coins with polar bears on them. Is there a $5 coin with a beaver riding Celine Dion out there? Let’s hope.
In the winter, the city of Quebec, which is Montreal’s ugly cousin, engages in something called the Winter Carnival. The mascot of this carnival is a terrifying snowman named Bonhomme. So we have beer, greasy food, the French and a snowman forged in the nightmares of snowbound Canadians. The stage is set for the story.
I’d been feeling a bit of wanderlust as I hadn’t had a roadtrip adventure for some time, not since my last run in with Peter Weller, in fact. Opportunity rose like an erection at 7 am when I received a message from my old college roommate Lance who, despite his name, still purports to not be even somewhat gay. Lance had been working at a resort in Quebec for the past five years or so, having given up on ever establishing a real, human existence and instead just being one of those guys who perpetually exists at the fringes of someone else’s good times. So teenaged Japanese and Australian tourists get drunk with him in two week bursts while he progresses at a brisk pace towards liver failure and morbid depression.
Lance had secured a suite at the resort, free of charge, for the entire weekend while some renovations were under way. Plus his brother needed to come into town so I had a ride set up and everything. All I need to pay for was my own alcohol and maple-flavored treats, as is the custom of the mighty Canadian. I quickly exchanged my sensible money for a beaver pelt full of coins, brushed up on my Rush lyrics and packed a toothbrush because dental hygiene is a serious matter and headed out with Lance’s brother Mark.
I hadn’t been to Montreal in many years and was eager to make sure that the strip clubs were still a delightful mix of bad attitudes and naked, dispassionate ladies who seem like they might stab you if you make eye contact. My first clue something was amiss was when Mark proclaimed “we’re here” when we were not, in fact, there. I may not know much geography, and I may have been secretly drinking whiskey-laced Pepsi Max most of the road trip there, but I am still able to read signage and Quebec City is not how you spell Montreal. It’s how you spell “shitty town three hours away form Montreal.”
As it happens, Lance was working here and not in Montreal, thanks to the Winter Carnival that was going on. Winter Carnival, to my drunk ears, sounded like heaven on earth however. I rolled with it.
The thing about a Winter Carnival is that it’s not specifically designed with the needs of the inebriated social miscreant in mind. In fact, it really seems like they don’t even want social miscreants present, which is really bizarre since it’s in Quebec.
As I stumbled from my chariot, I was met with the sights and sounds of people who don’t give a shit that it’s cold enough outside to freeze any number of things ranging from water to testicles to hobos on heating grates. In no less than 10 minutes I saw dog sledding, snow castles, a parade and there, across the blighted, white grounds, surrounded by gleefully hurr-ing little Francophones, Bonhomme.
I hate clowns, let me say that right now. Bonhomme is not a clown, but he looks like what a clown would look like in a world where everyone was a clown and he needed a disguise to become a serial killer. He wears a saucy French beret, some kind of belly sash and he’s sexless so that no gender may distract him from his bloodthirsty rampage.
“F*ck!” I yelled hoarsely. Families of French folks turned en masse to stare at me haughtily, probably more angry that I didn’t translate it into French first. Bonhomme’s dead eyes bobbed in my direction, his mirthless grin wide and beaming sticky, black hatred across the grounds. This wasn’t happening. I needed to find a bar and fast.
Four hours later as I sat at the bottom of a long string of local Canadian aperitifs known as Beaver Busters, waiting for Lance to finish his shift so we could finally start partying, once I sobered up a little and maybe puked up some of the bacon a strange lady in an apron kept feeding me. I peeled my head off of the sticky surface of my table as a cheer filled the room. I assumed Lance had arrived and the locals were just fond of him but nay. Bonhomme had arrived and the locals were fond of him. He stood right next to my table, making exaggerated asshole-in-a-suit gesticulations and not saying a word. Was Bonhomme a mute? Or was he here to steal my women? 6 beers, 10 Beaver Busters and that mickey of rye I dumped into my Pepsi Max assured me he was here to do something nefarious, even if I couldn’t quite get the word nefarious to form correctly in my mind. The sentiment seemed real enough. Naturally I punched him in the kidney.
Bonhomme’s suit is padded for warmth and my arm is padded with fat rather than muscle, insuring my debilitating punch meant to send the man inside spirally into kidney failure made it seem more like I was groping for his ass. Bonhomme turned to me, grinning down with the smile a crocodile has on its face before it screws your mom.
“Eat so many dicks you clown!” I growled. I wasn’t quite upright yet and my hand was still in the vicinity of his undercarriage. Bonhomme bobbed his head slightly, I assume at first in jovial, cartoonish delight. Then a muffled voice said “F*ck you, English. You think I need to take shit from a drunk asshole like you after this Festival crap? You’re lucky I don’t break your face.”
“Yeah? You gonna get your mom to sit on me?” I chuckled to myself. Teach him to make a crocodile screw my mother. And just like that Bonhomme turned into a goddamn ninja. Had I not been so drunk, or on the floor ( I don’t remember getting on the floor) I may have more adequately been able to defend myself from his brutal onslaught. And if I’d been born a millionaire I’d be eating jewel encrusted lobster on a jetski right now. None of that happened though. Instead I sat half pinned under a sticky bar chair covered in bacon and bruises from the fluffy white fists of an enraged snow clown who doesn’t appreciate jokes about his obese mother shattering my face under her girth. Well sorry, Mr. Sensitive.
As the blows continued to rain down and the locals watched with a mix of joy ad curiosity, making no effort to aid in my horribly embarrassing plight, I felt a little transcendent as it occurred to me that nowhere was I ever going to find myself in a more absurd situation than being beat by a fed up snowman in a French Canadian bar while being far too numb to feel a single hit.
Eventually the clown tired of my laughing at his barrage, not in mockery but in drunken retardation, and he told me to insert my head in my own ass, waved to the crowd, and left. Eventually Lance arrived and we continued on with the evening though the taint of blood in my mouth ruined the next few drinks.
The following morning my face and torso was so bruised and swollen I looked like a 12 year old who’d run afoul of Justin Bieber at a Chuck E Cheese. I didn’t remember why at first, but I do now. And I’m OK with it.