After a Friday evening, where I imbibed a tad too liberally, I woke up in full-hermit mode Saturday afternoon and shunned invitations to pick up beds and watch fireworks, in favor of trudging down Papineau to Ontario to find some kind of nourishment before visiting my girlfriend's cat, which I said I'd do last week.
I found a delicious Portuguese bakery and, with corned beef sandwich, cheesecake and Coca-Cola in tow, I marched toward my destination, to visit a cat that had been meowing at passerbys at her window since being left to herself Thursday evening. When I arrived, the grey-black enigma, which has so far treated me in a very hot-and-cold fashion, followed me around like my shadow as I dumped some kitty chow into her bowl and blew my allergies into a kleenex in the bathroom and then turned the lights on. I laid down and started into my sammy, sharing pieces of beef with the culinarily curious kitty. I opened a book, stared at the words for five minutes, before opting for some Planet Earth. After the Future disc, I went to Great Plains and, after that, the Pole to Pole one and then Caves. I could hear the fireworks, but I didn't want to think about them or anything. I wanted to marvel at the world's greatest and most inspiring creations, while simultaneously retreating from them inside a small, black apartment with a cat that just wanted to lay next to something. (It's debatable whether I did more for the cat than it did for me.)
Nine hours of Planet Earth later: I woke up crusty-eyed (no allergy pills) and hacking, nearly fully-clothed (always too hot to wear a t-shirt inside here in the summer) sometime around dawn, on an improvised duvet, not meant for sleeping on. I laid there, reluctantly coming to terms with the upcoming day, debating whether I should turn off the Planet Earth menu, which ended up playing on a 15-second loop for probably about three hours. (At one point, I had each of the 18 shots memorized in sequence. These are things I probably shouldn't be telling anyone.)
After a day where I literally laid on a couch with a cat, I couldn't fathom how I'd be able to muster the energy to do all the things I had to do - ie. haul a bed frame home at noon, fix my bike tire... and that's it. That's the state I was in.
When the menu had driven me to my breaking point, I got up, turned it off, gave the cat one last pet and one last treat, threw on my shirt and hoofed it home. From there, I received a call from the Fitz, asking when I'd be by to pick up the bed frame. I called my buddy Jones and he said he'd be there at noon. I started off. I got there. We taped up the bed. Jones arrived and we hauled it painstakingly from West of St. Laurent, down Sherbrooke, to my place East of Park Lafontaine, to the amusement of nearly everyone we passed. That's how I roll. Stubbornly.
I was tired, but I felt good, knocking something so important off my list of ever-expanding things to do. Hey, it only took me 8 months to acquire a bed!
We called up Heee-Ren and went up to a Vegan spot to eat some lunch. (Who does this Herbiberous think he is? Don't worry, it gets better.) On our way up there, I spy a garage sale of sorts and say, hey boys, we should go check out what they've got.
Turns out these kids are selling a record player. "How much?"
"Oh everything's cheap. Five bucks?"
"It works?" I asked, shocked.
"Yeah, I think it just needs a new needle."
Sold. I look over and beside the turntable, they've got a stack of records. Sgt. Peppers, Dark Side of the Moon, James Bond themes....
"How much for the records?"
"Cheap. 50 cents each," the chick says.
I look at the boys and we start to laugh. Score.
We throw her $15 and now I own a record player with a burgeoning record collection.
(Aside: If you're keeping track at home, this now means that I'm a fixed-speed bike and smoking habit away from becoming a fully functioning Hipster. Actually, I also need an ironic moustache, since part of my hermitude on Saturday morning had me shaving off my faux-handlebar nose-neighbour in disgust. I'm clean-shaven for the first time since before St. Patricks day. A girl at work called me "little boy" today.)
So, how's that for productive? We have a healthy lunch (for a change.) I had a vegan BLT, with the bacon substituted for bacon-smoked coconut chips. If you're through Montreal, check this place out - Aux Vivres. You eat these huge wraps and the food just floats inside you. You don't feel heavy at all.
With the boys heading off to baseball, I decide to try for a trifecta of sorts: let's get this damned bike fixed.
So I walk all the way from Mont Royal and St. Laurent to the Canadian Tire in Hochelaga. By this time, the chafe has set in. My inner thighs are like two slightly moist pieces of rubber rubbing against each other. My balls are sandpaper. I'm in pain. But I press on. I've been walking all day. I get to Canadian Tire finally at five after 5 p.m. and, somehow, on a Sunday, the store is closed. Shake of the head. Wag of the finger. Tears for the ballsack.
Oh well. I get home and have a rest and wait for Fitz to call, as he's got some more stuff for me. Eventually, he rings back at around 10 p.m. and I set out again and, after a glass of vino and a semi-goodbye, I'm back out the door with a electrical fan in my right hand, a plant in my left and a bookbag packed with various knick-knacks that I may never need.
I got home last night and dropped the new apartment accoutrement on the floor and I barely recognized my place. It reminded me of that skit in the Simpsons were Homer takes advantage of Flanders' financial troubles and buys all his furniture from him at a bargain-basement price and then he's sitting around outside, watching TV, drinking beers and BBQ-ing with Flanders' stuff. I'm living in the Casa del Fitzy, right now.
This whole episode taught me that life is all about balance. Well, balance for normal people. And for me too, in a way, in that I'll probably always wind up at some median level of ambition, energy, etc., but that I ride the peaks and valleys hard... and with a vengeance.
Sadly though, this story also illustrates that Montreal has lost another hero in the gradual, but seemingly endless exodus of great folks from the city. Fitzy and Tameens, I'll see you guys in July, but I've had a grand old time getting to know you guys over the last year or so. I'll tell you that in a much more intimate and slurred way this time next month.