It’s true. After some gentle nudging, I decided to temporarily suspend my bar boycott and set out for Le Quincaillerie, the new meeting place of Montreal’s bloggerati. I was ably accompanied by Ellen (AKA Erwin), who has just started a blog of her own and was curious to meet more of our strange breed.
I was mildly apprehensive about our outing, to say the least. It was, after all, the first time I would ever set foot in a bar that did not permit smoking anywhere on its premises. You see, I had already moved to Montreal when Toronto’s first ban came into effect, and my last memories of Vancouver, New York, and London are of smoking freely into the wee hours. Nevertheless, since Patrick had thoughtfully made special accommodations for YULblog’s smokers (salut Michel!), I summoned up my courage and headed bravely east.
Within moments of arriving at Le Quincaillerie, I had secured a plum spot at the edge of the bar’s floor, which ended where two sliding glass doors opened out onto the street. The distance between the floor and the sidewalk was roughly equal to that of a front stoop, upon which I discovered I could perch with something approaching comfort. My smoking position established, I proceeded to settle in for the night.
Leaning against the metal edge of the doors, I arranged myself so that the left half of my body was inside the bar, while the right half was, for all intents and purposes, outside of it. Each time I took a sip of beer, I would lean gently to the left, thus ensuring that the drink stayed within the legal confines of the bar. By contrast, when I had the urge to smoke, which was often, I would lean somewhat more sharply to the right, thus respecting the letter if not the spirit of the law. At moments, I felt a little like a circus performer, albeit one that the police officers housed directly across the street might not think terribly entertaining.
Happily, I was soon visited by several of my favourite bloggers, who were kind enough to join me on my stoop and to refrain from laughing at my awkward acrobatics. First, there was André, who is exuberantly jovial and who promptly asked me what the strangest place I had ever copulated in was. Then there was Frank, who is not only the nicest blogger I have ever had the pleasure to meet (okay, he's tied for first place with g_pi), but also one who has something interesting to say about every conceivable subject. And then there was Nick, who proved that he is a man of his word by immediately offering to buy me a drink. It would have been unspeakably rude of me to decline, right?
There were others, of course—Alston and M-J and even Martine and Blork, who vaguely reminded me of Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins—but by that time the sliding glass doors had been firmly closed and the impossible strangeness of drinking in a smoke-free bar was setting in. I felt my absent cigarette like a phantom limb, and, soon thereafter, the first ant-like pangs of nicotine withdrawal, which are apparently enhanced by the effects of alcohol.
Standing beside the bar, I momentarily envisioned that it was not early June but mid-February, when the sliding glass doors would be frozen shut and the sidewalk beyond them covered in two feet of glassy snow. Shuddering, I banished the thought from my mind and took a long, slow swig of beer. Then I went out for a smoke.