For Nellie’s birthday weekend I had decided to surprise her by flying two of her best friends — the Murphy girls — in from Halifax. My plan was well-thought-out and probably would have come off cleanly but for two things: a massive snowstorm wreaked havoc with flights into Toronto on Friday, and Nellie started drinking at Bryden’s with co-workers at noon. So now I was dealing with two forces of nature messing with the plan.
Fortunately I steered Nellie (along with half a dozen of her co-workers) to AAA and enlisted their help with the surprise. It wasn’t easy, but we kept her under control and oblivious while, after an epic travel ordeal, the girls arrived. There was an long, amusing moment when Nellie didn’t recognize one lifelong friend but did recognize the older sister, but that was soon overcome. And then the crying started. And lasted for about ten minutes. We finally got ourselves out of there and trudged through the snow back to our place, where we opened wine and listened to music and watched Nellie run and up and down the hallway yelling “Best! Birthday! Ever!” (vraiment?) The co-workers retired shortly after 1AM and we finally let the weary travellers get some sleep.
We dragged our asses up the next morning, not feeling our best but determined to maximize our day together. Some Fahrenheit coffee helped wake us up, and peameal bacon sandwiches from Carousel settled our tummies. We spent the afternoon catching up, napping, watching The Hunger Games, and scratching cat bellies. Eventually Nellie needed a little more nap action, so the Murphy girls and I walked through the quiet downtown to one of their favourites: Chipotle. After eating one of their near-football-sized burritos we were all worried about our ability to take on our big dinner planned for that night at Richmond Station.
We’d been meaning to try this place since it opened — it’s so close to us, and had been getting great reviews. The four of us met up with two more friends, MLK, and decided on the chef’s menu + wine pairings for the table. And manomanoman, were we glad we did. In retrospect it would have been a grand idea to write down the courses, but I was too busy eating. I skipped the oysters but loved the lobster puffs, paired with an Organized Crime Fumé Blanc. There was a great honking pile of a few different salads, replete with fried head cheese, paired with a fantastic Chablis. Then the main course: an enormous platter of pork…pork in all various forms, including kielbasa flowers (which is what I’m naming my band someday) and wild boar loin…it was epic. It was also paired with a truly stellar Rosewood Riesling. We were all about to pop, so luckily the next course was a small but tasty sampling of cheeses, paired with a Gamay. Finally, dessert: and while we didn’t let the kitchen know it was Nellie’s birthday, it was as if they’d customized it to her. De-constructed carrot cake, de-constructed apple pie, and a lemon mousse-ish thing with a crispy camomile foam. We each ordered a glass of Lailey late harvest Vidal. And then we were well and truly done. It was an outstanding meal, and I see us going back a lot from now on.
This morning was a little easier to face, but we were still full from the night before. Finally, around 10:30, hunger drove us down to Hank’s for breakfast. Then it was time for the Murphy girls to return home, thankfully with clearer skies than those which welcomed them here. We were said to see them go, but the whole weekend’s effort might have been worth it just for this moment.
About twelve years ago, while visiting an aunt (and my mother, who was visiting from out of province) we did a quick side trip to the Aberfoyle Market. No, I don’t know why either. While there, I decided to buy an old bayonet from an older gentleman selling war memorabilia. It was marked ‘1903’, which I took to be the year, and seemed to have a few Arabic characters scratched into the bottom of the blade. I’m not sure why I bought it; it’s possible I was re-reading books about WWI, or was just bored and saw something at the market that seemed interesting. I held onto it for all these years too, through two or three moves, even though there was never really anywhere to put it. I just couldn’t bring myself to get rid of it; there was craftsmanship to it, and it clearly had a story. I did hope it wasn’t a bloody one though. A little interwebby sleuthing tells me it was actually a British Enfield P-1903 1st Model SMLE bayonet.
A couple of weeks ago I walked into my favourite recent addition to my neighbourhood, Fahrenheit Coffee. I don’t even like coffee, but I like their coffee, and have become accustomed to drinking one of their Americanos each morning. They’re cool guys in there too — friendly and funny, and they remember my drink and mark my prepaid card for me so I’m in and out quickly. Anyway, that day a couple of weeks ago two of the staff were talking about collectibles, and one of the guys — Benny — said he collected bayonets.
A couple of days later I went back for another caffeine boost. Benny wasn’t working, but I left the bayonet with Benny’s colleague Brad. He thanked me and said he’d get it to Benny, who’d be pleased. Great. Cool. I went on my way, happy that Benny’s day would probably be made when he came in. A week or so later I was in and saw Benny behind the counter; he thanked me profusely and comped my coffee. Greater! Cooler! I made somebody happy and got a free caffeine burst. The universe works.
Yesterday I dropped in on the guys for my usual hit. I knew I’d nearly run out my prepaid card so, once they’d filled my cup, I made to buy a new card. Sameer and Brad smiled and told me it wasn’t necessary. Benny had bought me two prepaid cards to say thanks, and just not said anything. What a guy.
So yeah, I have a month of free coffee, basically. All for a bayonet that I’d held onto for years without really knowing why. The universe works even better than I thought.
Anyway, the moral of the story is to always buy your coffee from a local independent coffee shop. And to always have a spare bayonet.
Photo by Subsetsum, used under Creative Commons license