Heading out to dinner tonight with some old Stargate friends. A late dinner. I know that many don’t consider 8:00 p.m. late (hell, in France and Spain, they often don’t start eating until 10:00 p.m.) but so far as I’m concerned, late dinners are a young man’s game, secretly designed to segue seamlessly into an 11:00 p.m. bar call. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not passing judgment. Back in the day, I used to go clubbing all the time. Me and my buddies would start the night at the Peel Pub (or over at the Stanley Tavern frequented by old war veterans), knocking back watered-down beer before heading over to the Thunderdome. We’d make sure to get there before 7:30 p.m. so we could skip the cover charge and enjoy the $4 pitchers until 11:00 p.m. Four hours later, we’d shut the place down and walk three blocks over to Kojax for souvlaki (where a friend’s friend once ordered the hot sauce and suffered an all-night nose bleed). Five blocks over we’d catch the late bus that would leave every hour on the hour, depositing us on the West Island forty-five minutes later. A fifteen minute walk home and I’d be in bed by 5:00 a.m. with the birds chirping, the sun rising and, three hours later, mom vacuuming and singing church hymns at the top of her lungs. Those were my Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights for most of my university years. On the surface, it seems exhausting but, at the time, it was nice, comfy little routine that allowed me to pass the time between not going to classes and arguing with one of my several crazy girlfriends.
On those nights, my partners in crime varied, but the core group remained fairly consistent. There was Nigel, the artist – a soft-spoken literati with a penchant for modwear and the Premier League who once broke his ankle while cutting through a parking lot in the dead of night, racing to catch that 4:00 bus back to the West Island – and save himself $2 in cab fare. There was John, the baby-faced boozer who always got into trouble whenever he drank but usually managed to emerge unscathed (except for the time that girl knocked out his two front teeth). There was Ramesh, the voice of reason, who always managed to maintain a certain level of lucid sobriety and borderline dignity that the rest of us would speed past with alarming regularity. And then there was me. On rare occasions, my writing partner Paul would join us but he was never one for beer or crowds, preferring the quiet dignity of numerous glasses of scotch over conversation.
I can’t say I miss those days, but I do miss the camaraderie, in general, and the company of my olds friends in particular. I think fondly back to that time Nigel tried sake for the first time – got so drunk he wandered off, couldn’t find his way back to the party, and ended up leaving his comb on the windshield of John’s car as a cryptic message to us (“Hey, what’s this dirty comb doing on the windshield. Wait! That’s Nigel’s comb! Comb. Home. Nigel’s one home!”). That time John picked a fight with three burly rugby players in the dead of winter, ended up down on the ice, slipping and sliding, unable to land a punch – until his buddy, visiting from out west, hurried over to see what was going on and ended up getting slugged; a broken nose for his troubles. That time I woke up, having dreamt I’d done a half dozen beers, two zombies, tequila shots, and several cigars the previous night with predictably disastrous results – only to quickly realize it hadn’t been a dream after all.
If not altogether great times, they certainly were memorable.
And what about you, dear readers? Keeping in touch with your old friends? Ribald memories of note worth sharing with the rest of us?
A modest mailbag:
CMDragonia writes: “This year my friends are having a cartoon/comic themed New Years Eve party. What could a female red-head (with a blonde wig just in case) dress as?”
Gen writes: ” Made your truffles last night Joe. Thanks for posting your recipe a while back. I used some 60% cacao and rolled some in cocoa, some in finely chopped walnuts. Turned out pretty well, I think, though I need to work on my rolling technique (I’m thinking I tried to work with it too soon after taking it out of the fridge). Any suggestions?”
Answer: Yes. Make sure you leave it in the refrigerator long enough – I’d suggest overnight – so that it doesn’t melt in your hands. Also, consider using Akemi’s two-spoon technique – scooping the chocolate and then molding it back and forth between the two spoons before using your hands for that final roll.
Shiny writes: “What was the best dish of 2011?”
Answer: Hmmm. Hard to say. The truffle risotto at Campagnola Roma? The veal rack with Hunter Sauce and shaved white truffles that same night? The basil and tomato spaghetti at Scarpetta. About a half dozen dishes at Buca in Toronto.
Preston writes: “OK. What’s up with all the Jello in Stargate?”
Answer: The jello – specifically blue jello – was an inside joke amongst a couple of the (SG-1) actors that took on a life of its own. It wasn’t uncommon for different behind-the-scenes individuals to leave their mark on certain episodes. In addition to the blue jello, there was Director Martin Wood’s enormous wrench, Director Will Waring’s hidden pineapples, and Director Peter DeLuise’s numerous cameos. That conspicuous snickers bar in SGA’s The Ark was an oversight and not a signature prop.
Christoffer Grandin writes: “I gather that you’re not a fan of video games., though if it’s due a genuine dislike for the forum or a lack of time I won’t hazard a guess on. Anyway, my question. As a fan of Scifi, have you at the very least read anything about the video game series “Mass Effect” by Bioware? Maybe peeked at wikipedia? Of course I can’t be sure, but I think you’d enjoy the story that powers this award winning role playing series.”
Answer: It’s not that I don’t enjoy gaming. Quite the opposite in fact, which is why I avoid starting a hobby that could potentially take over my life. And, yes, I’ve heard very good things about Mass Effect.