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Montreal

As Rachelle was trying on some dresses in a boutique on St. Denis, I asked the two young salesgirls if anything interesting was happening in the city this weekend. They looked a little bit startled, like they had no idea how to answer such a question. They hemmed and hawed a bit, trying to imagine the sorts of things that a person 20 years older than them might find “interesting.” “Yeah, isn’t the Arcade Fire playing somewhere tonight?” I asked, the desire for belonging colouring my voice, my face. The girls looked utterly astonished. Their mouths dropped in unison and their eyes grew wide, “You like the Arcade Fire?!” they asked, dead certain my musical taste began and ended with Blue Rodeo.

On St. Laurent a man that looked a lot like film director Denys Arcand was picking cigarette butts up off the street and putting them in a little baggie he kept in his back pocket. Later I joked to my uncle that Arcand’s career must have really tanked, and as it turned out my uncle was a friend of the director’s brother. He told me that in the family cemetery outside of Montreal, their mother had erected a huge cenotaph with Denys’ name on it when he was a teen as a stern reminder to him of how things were going to turn out if he continued in his wayward ways.

In the west end a young woman in hot pants leans in through the widow of cab, striking negotiations. Finally, the driver is convinced and nods his head, and the girl runs off around the corner, shouting and waving her hands. Immediately, six boozed-up and party-bound teenagers come running out of the darkness and pile into the cab, elbows, knees, mops of hair and cans of beer sticking outside the open windows.

In Old Montreal I went into a little souvenir store looking for an Expo baseball cap. I asked the East Indian guy working the cash if they had any, and he said that they did not, adding a little defensively, “Sir, that team has not existed for quite some time!”

“ No, you’re wrong, “ I said, “the Expos still exist” and I pointed at my head, trying to indicate that they lived on in my memory, but he didn’t seem to understand this and grew agitated. Standing up and waving the Subway sandwich he had been eating for lunch, he shouted, “No! It’s is you who are wrong! They are no more!”

“The live on,” I insisted.

“Ask anybody, they are no more! You are making a foolish man of yourself!”

“Oh, they exist alright, they exist,” and then I left the store.

From Mile’s End to NDG at 1:00 in the morning, the cab climbed Mt. Royal when I wasn’t paying attention, and then suddenly, outside the window, all of the city glittering beneath.

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