I was riding my bike back from the Fringe festival today, along Sherbrooke St, when I got to the corner of St-Mathieu, where I was struck with a slew of memories. Mind you, this is a fairly non-descript corner, the only remarkable thing being La Maîtresse, a resto that serves passable French cuisine for about $100/2 people.
But that’s not the story.
About three years ago, I was leaving my job at the Montreal Mirror to work as a tech writer at Phoenix. On my last night out, there was a gathering at the bar across the street to signal my departure. Several Guinnesses into the soirée, my boss bought me a tequila, which I hadn’t drunk since my university days, when I used it as a lubricant to get into girls’ pants.
After awhile, folks started to arm-wrestle each other. A fellow reporter was up against my boss, and she seemed to be holding up quite well. Being intoxicated, I figured I could display my manly strength, especially seeing as how I had been climbing for several months. Of course, being blond and ignorant, I had failed to notice that my boss wasn’t trying as hard as he should against the her. Also, the last time I had arm-wrestled was approximately 25 years before.
When it got down to him and I, the struggle was close; I was nearly pinned, but he couldn’t get my hand down. My fore-arm was bulging, but I wouldn’t give up. Silly me.
There was an explosion in the bar, and I witnessed this look of horror in my opponent’s face just as he let my hand go. As I pulled my arm back, I realised that it came back crookedly. “Um,” I thought (drunkenly), “I must have dislocated my elbow.” I was about to try to hit my elbow back into place when I realised that the pain was coming from my upper arm.
You know how they talk about exquisite pain? This wasn’t it.
Long story short, I was taken in an ambulance to the hospital, where the doctors ascertained that my humerous had split apart on a spiral, cutting through the radial nerve, making my right hand useless. I was taken into surgery the next day, where a plate was inserted into my upper arm, attached by eight screws. The bone healed fairly quickly, but there were questions as to whether I would ever regain the use of my right arm.
As I said, I was starting a new job, but I also had to learn to use a mouse with my left hand, as well as type lefty-only. I had regular visits at the hospital, where they monitored what little progression I was making.
After the visits, I would walk down St-Mathieu, facing the possibility that I was either facing much more surgery in the future, or that I would have the face the future with only one arm.
To make myself feel better, I would stop by a store called Kayakqua (now RocZone in the Faubourg) where I would treat myself to a piece of climbing equipment. I never knew if I would ever get to use this equipment, but it helped. Three years later, most of my climbing gear comes from purchases I made at that time. The arm healed, I can use my hand.
When I worked at the Mirror, my meager salary was offset by all the free concerts and movies I got to see. That was good. One thing I’ve noticed about artists who perform in Montreal, however, is that they all feel obligated to say, “Merci beaucoup”after every song. God, that annoys me to no end.
Honest, do all singers have this weird misconception that folks in Montreal don’t understand English? Umm, well we listen to, and understand their music. Maybe they think that mispronouncing two words in French will endear them even more to us.
At the concert on Saturday, which, by the way, was amazing (honestly, how often will you find a singer known for electronica up on stage with a violinist, a cellist, and a stand-up bass), Beth Orton kept saying the same two words over and over again, until finally someone in the crowd yelled out that it was okay to speak English, which elicited a cheer.
Years ago, when I suffered through that marketing event Lilith Fair (brought to you by Bioré Nasal Blackhead Strips), I got to the point where I wanted to stick a darning needle in my ears every time some chick singer belted out a raucous tune, only to demurely utter “merci beaucoup, that’s all the French I know” afterward. The only singer I’ve ever met who never fell to this level was Dan Bern–oh, and Ani D–who really didn’t seem to give a crap.
Always missed her in the past (well, okay, she was opening for Beck), but this weekend I finally get to see Beth Orton up close and personal. Oh joy, oh bliss, oh trip folk.