“Stay away from those silly girls!”
That was my mother’s repeated and sage advice. I was never certain just how she expected me to follow this directive. She was after all, a girl herself. There is always an age where you do follow that advice. You don’t want those silly girls at all. You want instead, those very hot kind of girls, the kind you might find on a road trip.
This is a road trip story.
Everyone has to have a road trip at some point in their history. Road trips are about a variety of things. They are a celebration of age… where you can just get into a car, pool gas, and get somewhere all together, stopping points mutable and subject to whimsy. Road trips are about adventure, and about testing your limits back when you didn’t really know you had any.
Sometimes you find out what those limits are on a road trip. That is why there are so many comedy movies based around that age old theme. Three or four guys of different personalities, loaded up in a beat up car bound for nowhere. A road trip is first of all a collection of characters, all different. They all bounce off each other and they are all somehow whacky. That is what makes it work. Road trips where everyone is normal, have none of that entertaining disarray. The plot of a road trip writes itself. All bets are off.
Here is my road trip. The premise was that the hottest women were all in Montreal and they weren’t as unapproachable as Toronto Girls. Time to get scrubbed up and presentable. Leather pants and acid wash denim I think were part of the picture. Early 80’s.
One of my fellow travellers Rod, had just broken up with his girlfriend and was nursing a bruised heart and ego. Then there was Ken who was always up for anything that involved meeting women. It was all he thought about. Ken was prematurely bald at twenty, and very self conscious of the fact. He usually tried to romance women older than he was, convinced that with age would come acceptance of the follically-challenged. And then there was me. I was game. I would not say that I was good with women. Always somewhat terrified rather, coming from a family of all boys. It made women a strange and unknown entity. But youth is perennially optimistic.
We booked a hotel room and hit the road. Bound for Montreal Saint Catherine Street, where all the action is. Bars open past two AM. We got scrubbed up and went downstairs in the hotel to get a bite to eat before hitting the streets.
The hotel restaurant had a quite fetching bartender by the name of France. The French accent... the smell of sweet perfume... Her long blonde hair was crisply straightened, her charms shown off to best advantage in a form-fitting white shirt and a tight mini. I was instantly smitten. Surely I needed to look no further. We started chatting, and I urged my compatriots to go on ahead without me as I angled for a date. France was working of course, but she told me, “I get off at one AM. Meet me at the bar called Le Consierge”.
I took off to locate my friends, swelled with the promise of early success and romance in the air. I found Ken. He had of course made a beeline for a bar with some older women and was trying his best. Rod was out there plying his best lines and finding himself a bit out of his league. I was thinking about one AM and the promise of what could be.
At a certain point it occurred to me to ask someone where the bar was. “Le Consierge? Never heard of it”. Someone else on the street. “I don’t know about that one, but Saint Catherines is a long street. It may be new. Keep walking.” And so I stepped up my pace, looking up at the bright marquis above every establishment. No “Le Consierge” to be found. This is before the days of cell phones, and before the days of Google. No external help to be found. I was reliant on meat power and basic ingenuity. I looked in a few phone books on the street as I passed by. No “Le Consierge” listed anywhere.
One AM was rapidly approaching. I started to get frazzled, racing up and down Saint Catherines, enqiring of everyone I met. Eventually by about two AM I made my way back to the hotel. The doorman was standing inside the entry. “Did you ever hear of a bar called Le Consierge?” I asked. “But of course,” he said. “It is right here. It is the service bar that the staff go to when they are done their shift. Go through that door and you will find it.” He pointed. Le Consierge had been under my nose the whole time. A hop and a skip away. I am an idiot, it seems.
All of my road trip dreams met with reality when I bustled through the door of the pub and saw France sitting on a barstool apparently still waiting for me. I rushed over to explain.
I didn’t get far before a shot glass was launched at my head with considerable force, and I learned a whole lot of new words in French I had never heard before. France was not amused. Neither was she game. I got a dressing down that my mother might have approved of and finally managed to retreat somewhat tattered and worse for wear, to the hotel room.
Rod, had not lasted long before he was overwhelmed with the memory of his recent girlfriend. He had retired to the hotel room early, and gotten stinking drunk. Ken did not have much luck either. They both hammered me with questions. The phone had been ringing for over an hour with a girl named France, demanding to know where I was.
It seems that my most dishonourable of intentions never got too far. My basic instincts were neatly met with the kind of amateur bungling that Darwin himself might have smiled at. It’s what gets a lot of men. That advice from their wives. “Do you have a map? Did anyone give you directions? Do you know how to get there?”
Apparently I did not.
Fortunately, I have at least managed to pass on my genes to another generation, within the honourable confines of marriage. That box is ticked off. Good with women? I think absolutely terrified might be a better way to phrase it. That graced with a few colourful phrases in French that I will never forget.