Time To Go Northward! 54’40” or Fight, we shouted, and we got into the car. It was Montreal time. Like Benedict Arnold, we were going to Montreal. More likely than not, to burn that shit down. (We also considered betraying the US in September 1780 and eventually settling down in London to die at home, disgraced, in 1801. You know the way these trips tend to shape up.)
Our friend Eric lives in Montreal, in a giant exposed-brick duplex townhouse apartment that costs something like $350 a month (P.S. Eric, I hate you). Every year for four years, except last year and the year before, we’ve driven up to Montreal to sleep on his floor and debauch, debauch, debauch. Is “debauch” even a verb? It doesn’t matter, because I bet it is in French.
Quick directions to Montreal [oh, you thought the Smackdown didn’t do lists anymore, didn’t you]:
- Get a car.
- Put like $150 worth of gas in the car.
- Drive north until your eyes glaze over.
- If nobody’s speaking French, turn right and drive until they are. If you hit the Atlantic Ocean, you probably should have turned metric left, which is Canadian for “slightly to the right.”
- Get really, really drunk.
Montreal is a special place, and it has a very special dark side to match. It’s a place where everyone is good looking, but bars are, terrifyingly, full of fifteen-year-old girls who flirted their way in using French. This is how Montreal works. It’s a beautiful city that has approximately eight trees, total. It has like three million people and maybe eight of them are friendly. Prostitution, gambling, and murder are legal*. A very nice mountain park. Two strip clubs for every inhabitant. They speak this special dialect of English where every word is accentuated by rolling your eyes at passersby to indicate how annoyed you are to be speaking English. There’s a thriving culture and music scene*. It’s fun*.
But let me tell you something about this trip: Montreal was not any fucking fun. One experience to sum it up: Parched, we wandered helplessly down Avenue Mont-Royal, looking for something to quench our thirst. A parade of people was walking in the opposite direction, all eating delicious-looking ice cream. We stopped one of them. “Where did you get that ice cream?” She shrugged her shoulders. Uninterested? Trapped behind the language barrier? We tried again in French. “Où avez-vous trouvé la crème glacée?” She looked at us like we were crazy. We would have tried the good old-fashioned language of saying what-the-fuck really loud, but instead we all ended up sitting on the lawn in front of a metro station, trying to hash out the details of a suicide pact. Nobody ever wants to be the last one in a suicide pact, that’s what I learned. And 4 PM is too late to start.
I learned a lot of other things, too. I learned that when your friend crosses the border without a passport, they will not necessarily be cavity searched. Not both ways, at least. I also now understand that the duty-free shop sucks. Bonus conversation:
Customs officer: So what do you guys do for a living?
Me: I’m a computer programmer.
Matt: I’m unemployed.
Tom: Yeah, unemployed.
Rob: I’m unemployed at present.
Customs officer: Huh. Well, you know, Homeland Security is hiring.
Everyone at once: (uproarious laughter until we all, slowly, realize that we’re laughing at this guy’s awful job)
Customs officer: Uh huh, have a good time in America. Drive on the right side.
Hey, in the “pro” column, Homeland Security guys get to live near the border, and you know what that means — you too can be treated like shit in a foreign country, anytime you want! Plus: government salary! Cha-ching! Jenga!