Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Another Night At McCarthy's

My father in law was never a big drinker even before he was felled by a massive heart attack (and by the way he is doing just excellent now, thank you very much). When he came to visit he would take on a project of some sort and usually he would have a couple of beer while he did his work or maybe in the evening he'd have a whiskey. Since the heart attack he sticks to red wine for the most part, a glass or two a day, and the odd beer.

Now I think like any guy (or most guys I should say) he likes his drink but my mother in law and her family are pretty staid when it comes to alcohol. A drink or two will do them for the most part. So I think that over the years he's been pretty smart about making sure that he toes the line, at least on the outside. Its like my Mom's aunt and uncle. They live in Timmins and just down the street my Dad's brother happened to live with his family. My great uncle (follow along now) was a teetotaller, or so my great aunt said, but my uncle, a drinker himself, would snicker and snort, as he recalled that every day for as long as they lived in that house, he looked out the window to see my great uncle stroll by, out for his daily walk, which just happened to pass by the local Legion. He'd nip in for his pint or two and then walk back home. Every day. ;)

So with my father in law I don't think he's a big drinker but I also think he's a bigger drinker than anyone thinks, if you know what I mean. A couple of nights before our wedding on PEI we had our rehearsal dinner, so we had my folks and Jenn's folks and a half dozen buddies and their wives and girlfriends plus all of the bridal party and then afterwards we hit the town. My father in law came along and we ended up at the Old Dublin which is a pretty good place for a pint. We walked in and they had the aye-diddle-aye going on and right in front of the dance floor there was a big long table and it had been commandeered by my family, a whole bunch of bald men with hairy backs and their women, and so I brought Brian over and introduced him and the last I saw of him he was getting his glass refilled for the fifth or sixth time, happier than a pig in shit.

Speaking of shit he got in some that night, Jenn told me the next day that her Mom said she had never seen him drunk in all of their years together.

I just raised an eyebrow at that.

It was a few years later and they were up for a visit and I asked Brian if he wanted to come for a stroll to McCarthy's, a little Irish pub about fifteen minutes from our place. I've written about McCarthy's before, its just a tiny little hole in the wall, a terrific place. Probably my favourite pub in Toronto, which is saying a lot, the reason being most of all is that you can go in there and not know a soul and by the time you've left you'll have had a half dozen conversations on a good night. Part of it is that its so damn tiny and part of it is the folks there are mostly Irish expats or Irish passing through and that's the way they are and part of it is that's just the way it is there. They'll leave you alone if you want to be left alone but if you're open to talk then you can find someone to talk to anytime.

Its run by twin sisters, they're a couple of characters, the one has been less involved the last few years but on Saturday nights you'll generally find them both in there, tying one on.

So on this day we arrived about midafternoon. The place was pretty quiet and we were able to get seats on one end of the small gentle curve of a bar. Brian sat at the end, then myself, then one of the sisters, then a couple of lads, then the second sister. Behind the bar there was a young fellow whose accent betrayed him to be one of those youngsters just travelling through, picking up a few extra dollars.

So I order a couple of pints and beside me sister S is already doing pretty well, despite the early hour. She finishes up her cider and then orders herself a shot of Jager.

Before I go any further did I mention that the father in law is pretty heavily involved in the church back in PEI?

So she 'trows' back her shot and she sings it praises:

Oh that's the good stuff right there, that is, that's the truly good stuff.

Meanwhile your man takes a step over and now he's at our end of the bar and I look down and I'm about half done and because I am the type who likes to take charge of a situation I order myself another pint. Brian protests that its his round and I tell him that he can get the next one as I will be done both the one I am working on as well as this new one before he is done his first, thinking almost immediately afterwards that perhaps I should keep my mouth shut because letting your father in law know that the one thing you're pretty damn good at is drinking Guinness to beat the band might not be all that smart. But then again I've never claimed to be either smart or to have any foresight so what can you do?

Its the truth though so when he orders the next round I hand in two glasses to his one.

Meanwhile S calls over to the young fellow to give her some more of that Jager and he does.

Oh yes, that's the stuff. Its better than milk out of your mother's tittie it is. Oh my.

Now this makes my head snap to a little and I look over and sister number two, M, is working on the crossword and she has just her first glass in front of her and she raises an eyebrow.

Give me another says S and the young bartender tells her that that's the last and holds out the empty bottle as proof.

Oh now that's a turrible turrible ting now. Oh now that's a sad sad ting. But my my look at that big long bottle, the size of it, that reminds me of someting now, oh does it ever, that long tick bottle, now that would be a wonderful ting in itself!

And she chuckles but at this point M interjects, seeing my father in law and guessing correctly that he is a newcomer to their establishment.

Now now there's no call for that sort of language now, is there. Lets mind our manners please.

And this is where it starts because there is no love between the two sisters, indeed one patron once told me of a time that they actually brawled in the bar, the two of them, bare knuckled. The staff and customers cleared a ring and found the facsimile of a bell to bring some semblance of order or they would have killed each other he said and destroyed the bar as well.

And so S retorts:

Well now, mind my manners would I? Well, I would suggest you mind your own fucking manners over there. And your fucking business too.

M: Mind my fucking business then, well it is my fucking business, you stupid cunt, and when I tell you to mind your fucking manners and watch your fucking language then you had better fucking well do it! So mind your fucking language you fucking twat!

S: Cunt am I? A cunt? Well you dirty little fucking slut, there's a the fucking pot for you. You dirty filthy cunt you had better watch who you call cunt.

M: Whoremaster, cunt, fuck, shit, fuckshit, shitfuck cunty cunt.

S: Cunty cunting cunt cunter.

M: Fucking cunt cunter fuck.

You get the picture.

Finally they dragged one outside for a smoke and the other downstairs to cool off and all the time I just stared straight ahead, thinking that of all of the days I brought my wife's father out, it had to be this one and this was the end of it for sure and probably I should order another few rounds with the hopes that he might forget this or at the very least, I might.

And then I sneak a peek and he's grinning from ear to ear and then he bursts out laughing and the next day we're hanging about and he looks over and says 'Hey bye, when are we going for a little walk by that little pub? I'm getting a little thirsty!'


Looking back at the past while it seems that I've had little to say and even less to say about the Oilers. They've started to lose pretty regularly again lately and if Whitney is out for any length of time then it would seem that a top three pick is surely in the bag. You'd think they could do 'better' in that regard but both the Devils and the Islanders are somehow worse, quite a bit worse actually, and in the case of the Devils its really hard to believe. Everyone keeps figuring they'll start going again and maybe Wild On Jack Lemaire will do the trick but my God they are awful and I can't even think of the last time a team that good went south that badly so quickly. And they have to worry about Parise's contract coming due with the mess that they are in cap-wise.

It looks like the Oilers are going to get another bluechip prospect and based on their drafting over the past few years and how so many of their prospects are trending its a pretty fair expectation to think that they may end up with a few more good kids in the cupboard after June.

The Oilers are a hard organization to like in many respects. The way they have gone about the whole arena situation has been understandable (they want the best deal possible, I respect that) but it has given off a bad odour, which is expected whenever Pat LaForge is involved with anything. Buddy walks in the room and the walls begin to bleed slime. They have lived off of the glory years for a long time and the fact that Kevin Lowe and Steve Tambellini remain involved after putting the club into the ditch is about as odd and disgusting as the Wall Street types who got their bonuses after shredding the American economy.

With all of that said however its impossible to ignore that the organization is on the right track, at least temporarily. We might quibble with Tom Renney but he seems to have been a pretty good choice to coach these kids. The minor league affiliate is doing well and the players called up from there have looked equal to the task for the most part (frighteningly enough in a few cases they are better than their counterparts at the big league level). The prospects cupboard overfloweth. And with the big club for the first time in years one can go down the list and put a checkmark beside a lot of names who are meeting or surpassing expectations and that is something that we have not been able to say for a long long time.

Hall, Eberle, Paajarvi, Horcoff, Penner, Hemsky, Gagner, Jones, Whitney, Gilbert, Peckham, Dubnyk.

I would argue that all have done their jobs. There have been a few bumps for these men, yes, but there are a dozen names who have been pretty good for this club.

And that bodes well for the future.

And this is what this year is all about after all. We knew it was going to be an awful mess and we know that the future is uncertain but really we figured that it was going to be a total disaster (at least I did) and the fact that we can look at a lot of positives means that it may be salvageable after all.

Hard to believe.


Halfwise said...

Sitting here laughing out loud at the sisters and their witty repartee...

I thought I lived in Oil Country but, between the sad results today and the glittering prospects for the future, I believe it would be more properly called Next Year Country.

A Happy New Year to you and yours.

spOILer said...

Perfect story... I'm sporting a shiner myself today after helping break up a bar fight Monday night...

Went down to one of the locals that night thinking it would be quiet and maybe I could get some writing done, and sure enough the place was an empty barn. There's just the bartender and 2 girls and me. Yet just as I'm finishing my first a group of about 75 guys comes trundling in from a 3 on 3 hockey tournament they set up and play every year (the trophy was an athletic cup on a toy stick embedded into a Pilsner box, and yes the cup was drank from).

Well boys will be boys and sure enough while the bartender and I are snatching a quick puff outside, one boy insulted another and dammit there's gonna be an apology or fisticuffs, you know. So while the bartender is talking sense into the two pushing each other around, the one guy's "lifelong friend" and the other guy's lifelong brother start throwin down.

Now my buddy is occupied holding the other two apart so that pretty much leaves me or the whole thing could blow sky high between the warring parties, so my 45 year old ex-bartender ass dives in. Sadly the motherfucker got one shot in, grad ring right to my temple before I got him tied up. No worries. I've taken so many blows to the head over the years, I've lost count, hehe.

I come inside and everyone's asking if I'm okay, and I'm like well ya, it was just one punch, but they keep asking so I go into the can and sure enough the whole left side of my face is covered in blood. The little motherfucker! If I had known that I would have fed him one on the way down. Oh well. Beats fighting women. They scare the fuck out of me.

The moral of the story is... most of the kids are alright, but a couple have to go and Doobie has to get into the ring more often.

Bar Qu said...

We have said it before, but it is tough to give up on your team, no matter how bad things look. And the light seems to be on at the end of the tunnel (as evidenced by the fact that I won't take off my new Eberle jersey). If only the clowns in charge don't give the light away for magic beans.

If Sutter gets fired for what he's done, then Tambi surely deserves the same fate.

PDO said...

Great story Pat, but I'm going to hijack for a minute if you don't mind.

I'm currently dog sitting a pair of puppies (Basenji's) for my girlfriend while her and her family are in Hawaii.

Been here for 13 days or so, and while I knew my own dog wasn't doing the greatest, figured she still had a good 6 months at least in her...

Turns out she didn't, and she passed this morning. She was stumbling around the kitchen and wanted to go outside, but Dad wouldn't let her because he knew what was up... within a couple minutes she passed on his lap.

Never lost a dog before... but... wow. This sucks. Didn't even get to say goodbye.

She was 9. Bichon Poodle... think there was some Maltese in there too, though the breeder said otherwise.

Young for that breed. She was such a good girl....

PDO said...

And now of course the boy (and he's black!) runs in as tight of a circle as he can for 8 or 9 passes chasing his tail before he stops, looks at me, and falls right over when realizing just how dizzy he is.

I'll miss Sierra so much, but man dogs are are awesome....

PDO said...

I lied.

I will get to say goodbye, because I'm going to bury her tomorrow.

I'm sorry again for hijacking Pat... just seemed the most appropriate place I can think of, and I really needed an outlet since it's the holidays and EVERYONE is gone...

Max Powers said...

Your blogs kick ass Pat!

Black Dog said...

Hey Brian, I'll drop you a proper line but I'm so sorry for your loss. Its an awful thing to have to go through but be thankful that it sounds like she didn't suffer too much.

Not the greatest way to start the new year, my friend. I'll be thinking about you and your pal.