Late last night, as I was driving back to my new apartment from yet another boardgame nerdfest, there was a large foreign object jus' chillin' rite thurr, in the middle of my lane. At first I thought it was just a snowball, but as I got closer, I soon realized that it was actually a near-bowling-ball-sized chunk of rock. I couldn't maneuver around it into the next lane because there was a white Mazda 3 with an "ARMENIAN PRIDE" sticker on the bumper, windows down, playing loud Armenian music, with two young, cute but overly made-up (make-upped?) dark haired girls - presumably Armenian - talking on their cell phones, completely oblivious to my plight. So, I decided to slow down as much as I could, and swerve away from it as far as possible without careening headfirst into the Armenian rave party happening in the next vehicle.
My dad was, in most ways, a creature of habit. In his later years he took some chances and let himself explore outside of his comfort zone a little more, taking up swing dancing, travelling more, making new friends, and trying new foods. It was only later in life that he'd let me start taking him for lunch, settling on an amazing little Indian restaurant in Laval as our go-to lunch place. Growing up, on the rare occasions we'd head out to restaurants, I always knew what the choices were: Bill Wong's [RIP], Harvey's or, on a really special occasion, Le Biftèque. On Sundays, after church, we'd all head over to the Montreal Pool Room on St-Laurent - comfortably nestled between a shady army surplus shop with blacked-out windows and a busy all-day strip club [sans blacked-out windows] - and impatiently wait in the car while my dad went inside to purchase hot dogs, fries and soda. He'd return with a big carton of the stuff, and my sisters, parents and I would sit in the Chevy Impala / Buick Century / Buick Century / Buick Century, parked right there on St-Laurent in the sweltering Sunday afternoon sun, eating greasy fries and steamed hotdogs, doing our best not to squirt ketchup or drop onion chunks onto the brown / burgundy / grey velour seats. After stuffing our faces with unredeemingly unhealthy junk food, we'd head up to St-Viateur Bagel to get a dozen (or two) freshly-baked bagels. Today, fresh Montreal bagels are at the top of my favourite foods list, but back in those days, the combination of the aforementioned greasy fast food and the raging sea-sickness induced by the yacht-like ride in my dad's car left me with a distaste for those fresh, warm, delicious bagels. Of course, the next morning, I would beg for them for breakfast.
This is the first in a many-part series on businesses with whom I've recently had either extremely positive or extremely negative experiences. For the sake of courtesy, I'm kicking it off with a positive one.
North America: 1-877-631-7478
Many of you already know that I've recently adopted a 10 month-old mutt. His name is Ryu, and he looks like a hyena reject from a Japanese anime movie. He's a cross of a multitude of breeds; best guesses approximate something like 50% Lab (temperament), 25% Grey or Sighthound (body and energy level), 25% Pitbull (jawline), and 125% submissive pushover. He is probably the most gentle dog I have ever met. He adores women and follows them around everywhere they go - though I'm not yet sure if this is simply part of his personality or if it's something he's already picked up on from hanging out with me too much.
My new 10-month old Hyena Puppy.
Note: Not really a Hyena.
Also like his alpha, he can be clumsy, awkward, stubborn, and often confused as to what's expected of him. He
and I was in dire need of some training. The rescue I adopted him from (Eleven Eleven - highly recommended as well) suggested I get in touch with Joe Rosen (of, you guessed it, JR's Dog Training in Montreal) to get started on lessons right away. I mostly wanted to make sure he was clean in the house and heeled well with me when we go jogging, but halfway through the training I realized that JR was in fact giving me all the tools and information I needed to raise what was becoming, in essence, the perfect dog.
It was a Tuesday morning, a couple of weeks ago, and it was one of the most beautiful mornings I can remember so far this winter. As I walked to Le Dépanneur Café, the biggest snowflakes you've ever seen were lazily making their descent to the ground. L'Esplanade street was mostly deserted quiet except for me and the crunching of the snow beneath my Columbia boots. Four or five hours of work fly by me like doves until my good friend Elizabeth walks in.
Benoit, the owner, convinces us to buy the CD of his newest musical crush - Erin Lang. I went ahead and paid the paltry $10 for it, while Elizabeth contents herself with a green tea cupcake, also made by Erin Lang that morning. I took a bite. It was pretty good.
I sometimes wonder what parts of my life I'll look back on with fondness in my later years. We tend to morph, twist and deform places, people and things deep in the recesses of our memories, warping proportions and exaggerating emotions. Whenever I listen to Erin Lang, maybe I'll somehow manage to remember the day where giant snowflakes fell on the plateau only to be destroyed under the heel of my even giant-er boot, worked on my laptop for many many hours and ate a dozen green tea cupcakes.