(sigh) … those were the days …

Last week, last Wednesday to be precise, Julie over at Sow, Sew, So wrote a blog that really resonated with me; and the next thing I knew I was taking a little night owltrip down memory lane.  She was talking about how she used to be able to stay up late and never seemed to get tired.  Boy oh boy, do I ever get that.

When I was in my twenties, back in Montreal, I don’t think I got four hours sleep a night.  I’d work all day. Then I’d meet a friend at her favourite bar — Tiffany’s on Crescent Street.  It’s gone now, sadly.  It was in a Victorian style house — the bar was on the main floor and there was a terrific restaurant, owned by the same guy — George Durst — upstairs.  At that time he was Montreal’s club king; and he was definitely a very strange guy, okay creepy.  He had two pet cheetahs he would walk on leashes, like a couple of dogs.  They went everywhere with him.  And I do mean everywhere.

Anyway, Jayne and I would spend several hours there — we rarely left before ten or eleven.  And then we’d go dancing.  The bars and clubs always stayed open very late in Montreal.  Even restaurants did.  I’m sure they still do.

Somewhere around four in the morning, we’d head somewhere for breakfast.  Usually Ben’s Delicatessen — another Montreal landmark that’s no longer there.  It was a trip in there.  At the hours we used to go, you saw a total hodge podge of humanity:  Hookers, pimps, entertainers, waiters and chefs from other restaurants that were already closed for the night, students, doctors and nurses from nearby hospitals whose shifts were finished and the night owls, like us.  There looking for some greasy food to soak up the booze before heading home for a few hours of sleep.

Not that I ever drank that much.  Most of the time I nursed the same glass of wine or rum and coke or brandy for hours.  But there were times I over-indulged and while I never seemed loaded, and managed to stay upright, I definitely suffered the next day.  And in those days I smoked.  A lot.  And by the time I got home my lungs felt like an ashtray.  Disgusting, actually.  I am very glad I quit — more than twenty years ago now.

Jayne used to eat the most revolting concoctions.  I couldn’t watch and honestly, I don’t know how she didn’t go home and barf.  But she never did.  She had two favourites:  Smoked meat fried rice, which she ate with hot cherry peppers and a glass of milk or a grilled club roll, with fries, the hot cherry peppers and a glass of milk.  A club roll, for the uninitiated among you, is an assortment of bologna, smoked meat, salami, pastrami, corned beef etc. in a hamburger bun which is pressed in one of those gizmos you use for grilled cheese sandwiches.  The result is that everything gets squished and the sandwich just oozes grease.  With every bite.


Sorry — I did warn you it was disgusting.

But it worked for her.  She never got nauseous and she never had a hangover the next day.  She did pop a couple of 222’s when she got home, but she swore it was all the grease.

Me?  I usually had bacon and eggs or grilled cheese.  Definitely no milk.  Even as a baby I hated milk.

We rarely got home before five or five thirty in the morning.  She didn’t work — at least not from nine to five.  She was a model and worked when she had bookings.  Money wasn’t an issue for her.  She was the delightfully wayward daughter of a very, very wealthy couple.  But I had to get up and go to work after only a couple of hours of sleep.  Which I always managed to do.

And this we did, night after night after night after night.  Every night.  Every single night.  For years.  And years.  Well, until I moved to Toronto.

Where, for the most part, it came to a grinding halt because in Toronto The Good the clubs close very early.  There have always been after hours clubs for those in the know, and I did try them out in the first year I was here, but they weren’t my thing.  Way too crowded, too grungy and they were always being raided.  Plus the longer my hours were at work, the less able I was to stay out carousing all night.  But I’d still stay up half the night watching late night and late late night television.  I still couldn’t go to bed at a reasonable time.

My mother always used to tell me I was born a night owl.  She said she and my father could never get me to go to bed early — even as an infant.  And growing up, when my parents went out for the evening, I’d always beg my babysitters to let me stay up.  I must have been very convincing because they always let me.  We’d sit there, in the den, with all the lights off, watching Johnny Carson; and as soon as I’d hear my father’s car slowing down as he approached our house I’d leap into bed.

Who I thought I was kidding, I don’t know.  My parents could see the glare of the TV from the street — our den was in the front of the house.  And my mother told me they’d always stand at my door, silently cracking up, watching my chest heaving under the blankets because I was out of breath from running to my bedroom. Kids always think they’re putting something over on their parents.  Not really, is all I can say.  Not that it’s ever stopped us from trying.

Now I’m sorry to say I can’t remember the last time I was in a club.  I’d be lucky if I lasted until midnight.  Hell, I’d be lucky if I lasted until eleven.  And I don’t have to get up at the crack of dawn and go to an office every day anymore.  I still couldn’t do it.

Shit, shit, shit.  That’s a hard thing to admit — that you haven’t got the stamina anymore.  That you haven’t got what it takes.  That you’re … well … that you’re … uh … you know …  too old.  Yikes.  Did I just say that?

One thing’s for sure though.  Montreal was definitely the best city for young people — at least back when I was running around every night.  I had an absolute blast and I have the greatest memories of that time.  I partied my ass off.

Too bad clubs don’t have early bird specials.  That’s probably more my speed now.


12 thoughts on “(sigh) … those were the days …

  1. Oh good. I’m not the only one. I remember the days of 4 hours of sleep like a chapter in a novel that I really liked. Hard to believe sometimes that I could do it. Maybe with a week of good solid sleep I could do it again.

    • I love that “a chapter of a novel I really liked”. That’s a perfect description. Nope — my marathon partying nights are over — but I do love re-reading the novel 🙂

    • Thanks Chris. Oh I loved thise days — and nights. They’d provide dozens and dozens and dozens of blog posts if I wasn’t afraid I’d start boring people to death.

  2. Wow. That sure does bring back memories of dancing at Glass and the Limelight in Montreal and laying out the McGill Daily at Ben’s after we got kicked out of the McGill Student Union building because it was past midnight.

  3. I’m only in my mid-forties, but I hear you. Except I was the girl working in the night clubs, not the one going out to them. My regular customers used to ask me how I could do it every weekend, never getting the chance to go out and party myself, because I spent every Thurs, Fri, and Sat working in the club. I’d tell them to look around — I was in the exact same environment they were, talking to interesting people (before they were too inebriated to have a conversation), listening to the same music — the only difference was I was making money instead of spending it. One club I worked at was open until 4AM – which is the time I get up now, most days. There’s a sobering thought (pardon the pun).

    • Bet you picked up a treasure-trove of reference material and characterizations that will keep you writing novels for years!

  4. Clubbing in Montreal – Wow! I loved, loved, loved to dance and in my late teens and early 20s I’d go out for Ladies Night on Thursday and then party both nights on the weekend. As much as I lived to party I couldn’t go for the duration you described. I need sleep, I quite like to sleep. Great post for thoughtful fermentation.

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