Okay, it's just two seconds, but it brings it all to life! No? The Skybar, where we saw the sunset every night, looking down on the Village.
We went to the steakhouse, where last time there was the strange crazy man in the corner with his private bluetooth boombox playing his own soundtrack, and everyone seemed deferential. All manners of theories abounded. Cartel muscle who could do what he wished! And so on. There were no such incidents, just a very good filet mignon. The nicest part is just getting up and leaving at the end, as though you haven’t had to pay at all.
We took coffee and pastries at Piacere, where the menu does not vary from year to year, as far as I can tell. If you wish to cap your evening with a wedge of dry cake and a good espresso, this is your place. When I went to use the loo I discovered something else: a club for teens, although I’m sure a certain set of teens would not be caught dead in such a space so plainly made for them, according to what adults thought they wanted.
Across the hall, another bathroom. I am fascinated by the number of bathrooms, and their diversity.
Next, the evening's entertainment. There's a show most nights, and also late-night dance / karaoke, all outside.
First up: Grease! A strange simulation of a culture that existed 64 years ago! Okay. Then the grown-up show, meaning lots of energetic dancing by people who looked very serious, I mean ROCK SERIOUS. Heavy hits from guitar-based groups from the various eras. Live band, and lots of dancers pretending they were playing guitars.
Boomer stuff, with some "recent" music. All these gray dudes nodding along and RAWKIN OUT. Yes, my friend, it has been a long time since you rock-and-rolled. And no, my friend, this does not qualify.
After five songs or so we gave up and retired to the peace of the canal Aqua Bar, where a large group was making merry. As we entered one of the lasses noted that my glasses were cool, and I went into some routine about how I’d worn them in the 80s, decided to try them again, going for that whole video-killed-the-radio-star thing. (I always do go on too long.) This led to conversation, since they were a bit lit and friendly, and three hours later I’m at the Sports Bar with three of the guys eating fried spam cubes and watching a UFC fight.
A great group. All here for a wedding. All Canadian, in various money businesses - mortgage, wealth management, commercial leasing. All of which SUCKED. One of them had a father who’d been an engineer and property developer, so cue the chat about architects and the death of downtown and Frank Gehry’s twin-tower plan for 94 story structures, and also his grandfather was a beloved broadcaster on a venerable talk station for a long time.
The station was CFRB, named for Canada’s First Rogers Batteryless. Well of course, you say. Rogers invented a radio that didn’t need batteries, which were annoying and drained a lot, and he used the radio station to promote his wares. Or wires, I suppose. The station was the 50,000 watt flamethrower everyone listened to, the type of station that was always on the radio in the kitchen keeping Mom company, telling the news, the weather, happy chat, sports, and so on. Every city had one.
I talked to the father of the groom, who was retired. I asked what he used to do, and he said “Potatoes.” He may have taken my momentary silence for dismay or lack of interesting, when I was just trying to sort all the possible inquiries. So many! He was in a company that grew them, moved them, sold them. Of course you want to know what’s involved in this, what advances have been made, what genetic experiments have been performed to make the Potato of Today better than the Potato of Yore, and that’s when it hit me: here was the man to answer the question that had struck me in the airport. Krinkle-cuts. I’m not wrong, am I? They’re not as good as the fries of today?
And no, they were not. They looked good, they fried up good, but the fries of today come from a better spud with a thicker jacket, the Russett Burbank, whereas the old krinklecuts used a yellow potato (or white, we were on our third drink) that had a much higher starch content.) I said to my wife: was I not just talking about krinkle-cuts at the airport? She backed me up.
It takes a while to convince someone you’re really interested in their potato lore, but once you get people talking on what they do, or did, and they know you’re not just making idle chat, well, you learn things.
All in all, perfect, just like the old shipboard conversations. When it broke up at 1 AM they guys were going to see a UFC fight. I don’t like that sport, but of course I was going to go. We got seated just as it started, and it was over in 30 seconds, so there was naught to do but talk with some of the Indian women who were there for another wedding, and this turned to the Christianization of Indian names and the variety of pop that was played during one of the parties. Again, you learn things. I made it home across the Northwest Passage at a quarter after one, didn’t fall into the canal, and read a bit before calling it a night.