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Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Piss and Garlic



That was the smell of Edmonton on Thursday – at least the miniscule part of the city that is the bathroom of Blues on Whyte. More on that shortly, though.

Alana and I were back in town Thursday night to Monday afternoon for our friend Kirk’s wedding. We caught up with the stag party around 11pm, at the Black Dog. The upstairs was overcrowded and sweaty but awash with boozy smiles and beer-stained blue and orange, despite the Oiler’s loss. Drunks shamelessly wearing cardboard promo hockey helmets, smashing back $3.75 pints of Grasshopper and talking over the DJ’s electronic set; it was totally Edmonton: fuck pretense, bring on the cheap liquor and funny hats.

Next stop: the Strath’ (on the way, the drunker of our number screamed “REGINA” – Kirk’s home town – at the top of their lungs to strangers, which could’ve caused a fight, but thankfully resulted in random people joining them and changing the chant to – you guessed it – “VAGINAAAA”). I’ve always dug the ancient swighole’s low-rent VLTs and windowless stained walls atmosphere, but Christ, I’ve never had a glass of the draft and not regretted it. The ridiculous urban legend is they were once busted for recycling beer from the urinals, because the booze tastes that bad, like the worst draft you could buy at a regular bar cut with Clorox and stirred with a vinegar-soaked sweat-sock. I stopped at two glasses.

Kirk, who’d been drinking since that afternoon, did the bar’s signature shot: tequila slurped from half of a hollowed out pickled egg. That’s hearty drinkin’ by a guy wearing fuzzy handcuffs, a bridal veil with plastic penises on it, plus a shirt with testicles drawn on it, who’s carrying a purse, and has a remote controlled dildo in his pants that vibrates his sack to a crescendo of painful protests every time someone turns it on.

Last stop of the night was Blues on Whyte, the time-worn sister bar of sorts to the Old Strathcona but with live blues and a separate room for VLTs. This is where things began to unhinge. Glasses were broken, drinkers were scolded every five minutes by the bouncer for taking pics in the bar, some weird-ass old guy sat down at our table and didn’t say a word, and a large sombrero was passed between revelers who looked they were wearing red-eyed costumes of themselves made from Keith Richards. But this is Edmonton, and there were weirder, drunker things going on. In the bathroom, for example.

Piss and garlic were the smells that greeted me in the can. The piss was obvious but the garlic was coming from an Army and Navy bag on the counter. It was full of Kielbasa sausage, which its owner was attempting to sell to some poor dude who just wanted to wash his hands (as Tenacious D sings, "My kielbasa sausage has just got to perform!"). The salesman probably would’ve had an easier time selling sex toys on a slaughterhouse floor, but that didn’t make his determination any less dogged. Shockingly, the other guy wanted nothing to do with this sausage party.

Illicit Meat Vendor: “C’mon, help me out here.”

Guy: “For the last time no.”

[pause]

Illicit Meat Vendor: “OK, then… can I have some change?”

Guy: “I don’t think so.”

[angry mumbling and fist shaking]

I once had a junkie try to sell me a wheel of cheese at a bar in Vancouver near East Hastings – if they could’ve found someone with a trench coat full of crackers there coulda been a helluva cocktail party.

Anyhow, our own party wound down with the requisite trip to the Funky Pickle for pizza slices better than out alco-stunned taste-buds deserved. Despite not drinking all that much, I awoke the next morning with one of the worst hangovers in recent memory. It felt like the back of my skull was trying to give birth to my brain, and there was a motocross in my guts. Either I got poisoned or, as Edmontonians love to remind those of us who’ve moved to Toronto, I'm getting soft living in the East.

If Whyte Ave (party central) can be considered an amplified microcosm of my hometown, than it’s the dogged absence of class and unabashed partying that makes the place both endearing and, at a certain point, poisonous; a place where you’re never sure if a drunk stranger will offer an embrace or a punch in the face. I’ve seen the worst side of humanity turn that street into an asphalt shit stain, but that night, perhaps buoyed by a warm weather and a beloved sports team in the play-offs, it was good times all around. Don’t get me wrong, either – Toronto’s a prime cut of livin’, but you can’t help but miss the home-cooked party. I guess Edmonton really is like piss and garlic…

Actually, no, that’s the dumbest simile I’ve heard. But the “biggest small town in the world” can be pretty fun sometimes, and made me wish I’d been there Monday night for Oiler Gras. Go Team!

2 Comments:

Anonymous Steve-Dave said...

No mention of your lunch with me? I figured that was a highlight. As well, Dick Cheney tasted like gingerbread.

12:05 PM

 
Blogger Superdude said...

Ah, the old stoming grounds. I get a little thirsty for an evening of unabashed alcoholism and long-standing chats with non-standing friends. A little puke on the shirt for ya, guv'nor? Pizza for three? Colonoscopies all around monday mornin', folk. It's an Edmonton tradition to find out what exactly WAS on that Funky Pickle Slice. Most of the time, a Whyte night needs a colonoscopy, or at least an enema, to deal with the toxic alcohol constipation that street's ingestibles cause.
The old Whyte-Ave rule still stands--puke before bed-no pounding head. Keep it inside--feel like you've died.

12:22 PM

 

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