Last Friday we decided to take our new Brazilian friend Kayoko to an art exhibit in a beautiful old house and then to a blues bar where they serve famous Montreal smoked meat (one of two reasons why I can;t be a vegetarian. I’m sure we all know the second). It was her first outing since her arrival and it was by far one of the most hilarious nights I have ever experienced.
First of all, my sweet friend had sworn of alcohol long ago because her husband doesn’t drink and she wanted to support him. Ok, I get it but let’s be frank folks – she just moved half way across the world and uprooted her entire world, landing in a completely foreign culture, environment, language – everything; to live with a man she married 11 months previously and had not had physical contact with since. Not only that, but compound it on top of the fact that they don’t have the material resources yet to get their own place (although are close and I am sad) and so are living with who was, up until very recently, were perfect strangers to her. The woman has been through some serious stress and a little fun was in order for us all.
Regine, my dear brilliant friend who I am sure God sent to bring levity into my life, had suggested the art exhibit, and so my husband John, Kayoko and Regine went, all in her car. The evening was going soberly well until we put a thimble full of wine into our friend, and she became hilarious. The pieces of art on exhibit were all done by some very talented local artists, but we discovered that neither one of us are particularly moved by “Shiny Green Apple on Napkin” or a perfectly reproduced chair and cup called “Chair and Cup”. C’mon people. When she saw a picture of a Lynx up close personal, the giant cat caused her to blurt out in her oh so demure japanese manner:
“What the hell is that? “, she looked at me wide eyed.
I tried not to smile. I’m pretty sure there are things that would terrify me in her country so I’m not gonna laugh at what seems strange to her here. But, I do love having to explain to her things I ahev long sicne taken for granted, like how awesomely cool a lynx is. So I answered;
“It’s a very very big wild cat, maybe as big as Jake (our giant black lab) that kills rabbits and other small animals. It lives in the woods and can outrun a wolf”.
I saw her face pale. I could tell she was thinking about the woods behind our hay fields.
“No no!” I said quickly “Farther away”, I smiled. She breathed and flashed her smile once again.
We laughed our way through the art. Every beach she saw she said it looked like Brazil. Eventually she would point to every Inuit painting and say “Canada!|. Hilarious. Our mututal favourite painting was of seven large banana’s standing upright on a beach, with the sun obviously behind them their shadows cast ahead. ANd beside each one is a little lemon and it was called “Baby lemons and their Nanas”. Loved it.
We shuffled our way out after saying hello to a couple of the artists we knew from our town, and headed to Smoked Meat Pete’s in Ile Perrot. If you’re ever in Montreal, this is really a very special place to go. Montreal is famous for smoked meat in a very traditional sense. To have a good smoked meat, you need a hard wooden chair for your ass, a sticky long table where you sit with a bunch of people you have never met but will be best friends with by the end of the night. A perfect smoked meat needs a greasy smelly meat atmosphere that clings to your hair for three days after you spend a few hours there.
In accompaniment to your smoked meat however, and most crucially, you need the blues. The blues are the piece de resistance of this fine culinary experience. And the night Kayoko had her first smoked meat was filled with all of the right ingredients.
Now, if you’re really nice and Pete likes you (Pete pretty much likes everyone), he will grace you with a small paper plate filled with the sweet gooey delicious greasy ends of the ribs he slow bakes in that kitchen all day. It is the most delicious thing you have ever put in your mouth. We ordered the standard crispy fries, a large plate of smoked ,meat, a few pickles and stuff and bread so everyone could share.
Here’s where the evening becomes extremely cool.
The food comes and we are all starving. there are four of us to share. I look at the plate and see there isn’t enough bread for everyone to have a really good sandwich. Rye bread has these tiny little ends that would be like eating smoked meat on a cracker…not ok. There are rules.) But at the end of the long table, where some friends that we know from previous gigs with our own band were sitting, noticed that we didn’t enough. They saw me take a cracker sized piece and try to make something so that Kayoko could have the good part. ALl of a sudden we were being inundated with stuff. Pickles, bread, cole slaw, some delicious garlic thing that made me have heart burn for two days after. It was really touching. I thanked the people while they were passing the food and explained that Kayoko was having her first smoked meat.
Well you have never seen a more excited bunch of french Canadians (except at a hockey game that we are actually winning)! Everyone got in on the deal and soon, I could feel 30 pairs of eyes watching her take her first bite. She was really good about it all, and took the bite slowly and deliciously, letting people wait. Then she raised her right arm and whooped with approval. The whole place cheered. It was hilarious.
I had the chance to go on stage and play some music with Regine’s boyfriend dave who is like my big brother. He is just the bomb on the drums. Then there was this Tim Loftin…from Autin texas…go figure. ALL the way over here in Ile Perrot. Interesting. I don’t ignore signs from the universe as I have just made good blogging friends in this area and have never ever met anyone from Austin texas before these past few weeks, so I took up a conversation with the man.
Turns out I really loved his bass playing and he really loved my voice ad offered to play for SoulFusion any time we wanted. I felt this to be a great honour. That guys was on stage the entire first set without having been told one song in advance and he followed the self-concerned guitarist to a T.
Later he tell sme he will sing a song for the second set. I sat with Kayoko and listened to this man sing with my jaw hanging feebly from my face. He has this awesome sort of carolina meets New Orleans drawl and his style was all zydeco blues. It was so amazing, I felt like I could have watched an entire evening of this wonderful surprise man. I am looking forward to doing something with him in the very near future.
We got home and Kayoko went to tell Graham all about her night. The best part came the next morning when Graham told me what Kayoko had said the night before.
Kayoko had asked Graham what nickname he used for me. Graham and I are close friends, but we are too cool for nicknames, so he answered that he didn’t understand. She said it was like crocodile or something so he says
“Oh! You mean like when she was leaving and I said “See you later alligator?” he asked.
“Yes!” she said!
“No no, that’s just an expression. When people are leaving,” graham said through tears of laughter” people say :see you later alligator, in a while crocodile”. He said still collapsing laughing.
“Well that’s stupid”, she responded to him.
He stopped laughing. “What do you mean that;s stupid? It;s just what we say. Doesn;t really mean anything”.
Well it’s stupid because you don’t even have crocodiles or alligators here!”, she said like we were ridiculous.
Then she found a solution to the whole thing
“Here you should say something like “See you later Moose – in a while Bear“.
I am still laughing,
Goodnight Moose. 🙂