Originally Posted: 2008-10-30 11:06am
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favorite this post Dear Montreal hide this posting unhide

Dear Montreal,

Go ahead, and jab me in the subway with your hardback novel, and then make a tutting noise at me for being in your way.
Go ahead and walk with two friends, six inches between each of you, on the same sidewalk, and roll two pairs of eyes if not all three when I walk up in the opposite direction, breaking your stride.

I love you, and you can’t stop that. Even your weather can’t stop that, and if anything could, it would, with your hot as Georgia summers and refusal to air condition or even dehumidify. I actually don’t mind your winters too much myself – what I don’t like is how your winter makes YOU feel. Well, that, and the fact that you want every indoor space heated above 80 degrees Fahrenheit from October through April.

We both know that you’re not one to let a little snow and ice get in your way. My God! A blizzard comes through and you’ve cleared it all away within half a day. That’s you, Montreal! But you’d think you were Moscow, with the way you carry on about how winter’s on the way when the first hint of a cool breeze blows across you in August. Has my undying love not warmed you yet, even a little? I hate to see you ruin your beautiful autumn year after year by moaning about winter coming from the first day the temperature dips below sultry until the “W” word actually comes for real sometime in December. Life is short, Montreal, don’t wish it away. I love you and want to see you smile like you do when it’s almost the jazz festival and promise is in your air.

Go ahead. Tap your car’s bumper against my heels a few times as I run through the rain on the green light. That won’t stop my love. Go ahead and hit me if you want to – I could actually use the money! Oh wait, if you hit me, all I get is a predetermined sum from the provincial government based on their assessment of level of my physical and mental suffering. That is, as best I understand it from the rather confusing brochure on this that was sent to me in French, unlike some other things you send me, that are in both English AND in French. I think you explained it one night when we were drinking, so it's kind of hazy. But I remember you said something about only stuff that has to do with health and safety is translated into English? Anyway, did I mention I love you?

Go ahead. Answer the simple queries I pose to you in French in disdainful English. The fact that I can’t understand 100% of your automobile insurance literature or be hip with your slang is proof that the two decades spent learning your language, which included acquiring a university degree in French and spending vast amounts of time other, lesser Francophone nations, were not quite enough. I think you did understand though, that I did it all for you, because I love you, and this is why you gave me a day job. I thank you for that. I will do whatever it takes. One day, it will come naturally to me to enter a shop and instead of saying, “Bonjour, j’aimerais une baguette, s’il vous plait,” I will say, “Seigneur! L’hiver s’en vient! Heille, tu as-tu un pain complet biologique aux atocas?” Or somesuch. And you will answer me, accordingly, however that is, and I will quiver with ecstasy.

I swear, I am trying, because Montreal, baby, I love your French. Please never stop talking that way. Keep being insanely creative with the boring old traditional notions of grammar, usage and form and keep twisting your mouth assymetrically over your vowels – that really makes me hot. Lord, is anything more tiresome than Paris, with its prune-lipped, pantyhose and perfume French and its chilly delight in psychological manipulation, including but not limited to its never-ending campaign to convince you how serious, intelligent and too busy it is for you? While some of us, like you and me, Montreal, are too busy doing real things to spend hours lounging around playing mind games.

I even love your rules about French signage and all, and all your other rules for that matter, because how am I to do what is expected of me if I don’t know what that is? Thank you for being so clear, Montreal, and for being such a mensch whenever faced with either of the two assholes to which you are wrongly compared – New York or Paris. You are gracious beyond comprehension, and this inspires me.

It actually was one of the ways I knew that how I felt about you was much, much more than physical.

What got me, though, is the sincere way that underneath it all, you believe in yourself, and you don’t just give yourself away to the first person who asks. This is evidenced in so many ways. One way is your food.

I hope I won’t hurt you when I say this, Montreal, but we both believe in being straightforward, so I’m going to take a chance … a lot of your food is really bad. More than half of it, actually. Like, bad enough to be sent back to the kitchen in other cities. But you have convinced the rest of the continent, at least, that you have the best food on it. And it would be true if all your food was as good as your food that is good, which is probably what you believe is true, or could or will be true? Anyway, we all have our dreams and delusions, and the fact is, your good food is absolutely exquisite, and has to be patiently waited for and then magically discovered by those who really want it… kind of like true love! But if you don’t care enough to try to find it, there are many traps along the way, like the hybrid food troughs with Chinese, Japanese, Italian, Greek, Turkish and Canadian food which always offer some scary-sounding thing called pizzaghetti, or the overpriced places that charge a lot of money for odd and maybe not so delicious things, like truffle ravioli in a fenugreek-wasabi infusion or foie gras on French fries. Your PR campaign has worked brilliantly, despite being home to a host of professional restaurant reviewers who are very specific when they don't like a place. Hey, two years ago, you had a big-name American food magazine devote an entire issue to you and I read the whole thing, of course. They knew about your bagels, but did they know about your Ethiopian or Spanish restaurants? Did they know where your best Chinese food is? No, because they were too mind boggled by the fact that the lesser product known in their country as pastrami is called smoked meat here, and several pages were devoted to them wrapping their minds around that. That’s not real love, Montreal. Not like mine. I wouldn’t question your judgment that way. I never even asked what smoked meat was. I just wanted to taste it, and since then, all I want is more.

Let’s feed the world a plate of foie gras pizzaghetti avec sa sauce de figues biologiques du Québec, Montreal, and let’s you and I go out to a bring-your-own. My treat. I know one with a fireplace, and I’ve got a bottle for each of us. Because I love you. And, I want to know where you’re keeping the real pizza.

  • Location: Montreal
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