I made a purchase yesterday. It's very exciting and hip. I bought one of those carriages on wheels that many seniors use to pull their groceries home. Let me tell you those shopping bags that we have all been forced to buy have handles that are way too long and when I carry my stuff home in one of those its almost taller and bigger than my entire body plus it keeps smacking me in the knees like a ball crane. That's not good.
Anyway I wanted mine to be nicer and more fashionable (because I am such a fashionista) than everyone else's so I customized. First I chose a neon green sack that shows I am environmentally (and other type of mentally) conscious and I like to disco dance (don't we all). Then I figured I should get some mean wheels so I went to my favourite skate board shop (of course I skate board - actually I own a long board with a great design of dogs playing cards - I can almost guarantee you that I am one of the few if any middle age Jewish women who grew up in Cote St Luc - or as I like to call it - Cohen St. Luc - who skate boards, doesn't brush or blow dry her hair and whose idea of dressing up is wearing a lumber shirt that still has all the buttons and is long enough to fit like a dress which works well when people ask why I never wear dress because then I wear my longest lumber shirt and well they have to take the comment back -sort of)and I chose a pair of fat knobby wheels and get this - I bought some shocks as well.
So I put together this gangstered out trolley and took it for a ride to my nearest friendly grocer (actually they are not friendly at the nearest grocery - the guy at the fish counter doesn't like to be asked to cut the fat off the tuna and the woman at the meat counter doesn't like me asking if there is anything behind her counter that did not involved animal cruelty and the cashier well she's standing on her feet all day (what's with that expression - how do you stand without your feet?) having to say "Do you have airmiles?" 1000 times and "Swipe your card the other way or push your card all the way in" so she is in no mood for me. I only really needed a few things but I wanted to test my wheels so I figured I'd stock up on canned soups for the Winter. I paid $5 for one of those salad kits. I have no patience for washing lettuce, cutting up veggies, choosing a dressing and besides the kits come with funky stuff like pineapples, oriental noodles, sun dried tomatoes and instructions.
People were checking out my "ride" and it got me thinking maybe I should start taking orders and sell these babies for some serious cash. As I was nursing that thought a little, crunched up old lady banged her ride into mine. I was shocked. I wanted to see her license and registration and her insurance information. But all she did was shoot me a dirty look and move on. I couldn't believe it - not even an apology.
Once I was out on the street she faced me off and we made our way to the corner. I moved my wheels back and forth in front of me. She did the same and then BAM we were off to the races. She was a lot faster than I had imagined however I knew there was no way her old battered cart could keep up with my techno machine. And then it happened, we were 65 seconds into the race when one of her wheels popped and I must add not very adventurousness (I made that word up and it's wonderful). That was it, I was clearly in the lead and going to be the winner. People were clapping and yelling all along the sidewalk. I had fans.
As I made my way home I decided I would multi-task and in addition to walking, talking to myself (the usual), pulling my cart and having disturbing thoughts that I would also whistle and skip. Whistling bothers some people but others rather enjoy it. As for skipping, well I hadn't done that since I was a little girl. It was actually quite early on when I acted and looked like a girl. I would be sporting this pink dress and these white leotards (awful things) and my Buster Brown green shoes (I was quite the matcher) and I would be holding hands with this boy that I liked who lived on my street and we would be skipping to the park (the fact that he was skipping is much more disturbing than my outfit).
I arrived home exhausted from skipping, whistling, pulling my cart, the big race, shopping, making decisions (all the right ones) and well from just being me. I emptied my cart and about 50 soup cans later closed the pantry door. Just then my doorbell rang. Now I don't usually answer the door - I mean what for? If I don't have plans with someone and I am sure that I did not invite anyone over - why would I go to my door? Instead I peaked out the window and saw this older woman (like 110 yrs old) that lived across the street. I had never spoken to her but seeing her standing there hunched over I couldn't help but let her in.
She introduced herself as Hazel and said that she had seen my new cart and was wondering if she could borrow it. I was thinking what is she going to do with it? She's like 120 yrs old and can barely walk and she doesn't look like she eats so why would she need groceries? It killed me to give up my ride even for a few hours but I just couldn't say no to her so I pulled it over and placed it in her hands.
I went back upstairs and looked out the window again (because that's what you do when someone leaves your house - you watch them leave - why? - well maybe they will be talking to themselves or whistling or skipping and hey that would be interesting)and I couldn't believe my eyes, that woman who had smashed into my cart and raced with me on the street was waiting for Hazel. The wheel on her ride had been repaired and they took their places, side by side on the sidewalk and the next thing I knew they were racing down the street. I ran out and yelled "Hazel - you're 180 yrs old - stop - you're going to break my cart" She was leaning on it like crazy - like it was a walker and then it happened, my cart split in half and caught Hazels fall saving her life.
The other woman being the kind, warm hearted soul that she was just kept running and yelled out "I win, I'm a motherf**ker and I win"
I hurried to Hazel and helped her get off the ground. She was surprisingly springy and flexible for a woman of 150yrs. My cart was totalled - a write off - a wreck.
I walked Hazel home and she kept apologizing. I told her not to worry as I examined my mangled cart. I wondered if I should work on a new design and then it came to me - what if I drove my car to the grocery store, parked in the lot,had my items placed in bags and then placed them in my trunk? This was genius. There would be no walking, racing, skipping or crashes but I would still whistle. I was on to something for sure so I brewed some tea, invited Hazel over and we watched re-runs of The Golden Girls.
It was a great day, all in all and me and Hazel, well we're tight even if she is 100 years older than me.
Note - This post was inspired by recent conversations with friends who left this great city of Montreal back in the 80s. We spoke of the amazing food we grew up on (all noted below). We started with the golden, delicious, piping hot, Egg Rolls from the Yangtze and there was no heading back from there.
But let's begin at the beginning -
My brother and I would go to school each day with a well balanced lunch in a bag. This would consist of a sandwich such as tuna or my mom's homemade chicken salad on rye or Challah, a Ziploc with 2 Oreo or chocolate chip cookies, a piece of fruit and this really great juice in a plastic bottle that they don't seem to make anymore.
The first thing we would do when the lunch bell rang was to get out there in the school yard and
"SELL, SELL, SELL".
That's right (I hope my mother is not reading this post and if you are Mom - it's completely fictitious) we would sell our lovely lunches for cold hard cash and then we would take that cash to Cantor's Bakery near our school and buy a much more nutritious meal consisting of a bag of chips (Munchos preferred - do those taste just like french fries or what?) and 2 kosher chocolate donuts (we're talking lick the bag).
As we grew older, we became wiser (or stupider - I can't really decide) and we stole my older brothers lunch (he was never much of an eater) and boy then we really made a profit.
I didn't want to eat my mother's lunches because I was a kid growing up in one of the best cities for some serious get down and lick your lips, chomping all out food orgy sessions. I never left Montreal so when I get a "yen" for something Montrealish (I made up that word and it's great) - here are some of the best:
I want a bag of Cantor's Kosher Chocolate Donuts. I want Bar B Barn Ribs. I want a mille feuille from Bifteque (they closed and re-opened and closed and I would like to buy that machine with the candies in it that everyone lined up for because they were free), I want bubble gum ice cream from Elmers Dairy (on Sherbrooke West - sorry folks - gone - the cows heads too),
I want a Pizza Burger from Delly Boys , I want a Squished Knish from Blossom Pool, I want a Pogo from the Cattleman, I want a Poo Poo Platter from Pumpernicks, I want Poutine from Ti-Jean across the highway from Camp B'nai Brith, I want a smoked meat on rye from Schwartz's,
I want one of those dry, hanging Karnotzles, I want a slice of Pendellis Pizza (still there and still with the bun in the middle),
I want cotton candy from Belmont Park, I want a Harvey's Burger and I want it "My Way", I want BBQ Chicken from Cote St. Luc BBQ
and don't forget the roll which is really a hamburger bun that if you are a serious fresser - you dip it in the gravy and it still tastes great, I want the lunch special from "Le Picinic" in Cote St. Luc Shopping Center, I want to know why those women that worked at Laura Secord in the Cavendish Mall dressed in white uniforms like nurses and I want to know why they never smiled, I want to know why the manager at Pumpernicks got so angry at my Grandmother when she felt the best place for the buns from the salad bar was her purse?
I want to wash it all down with a giant piece of Dunn's Strawberry Cheesecake.
I want a tiny grilled deli sandwich from Wilensky's with extra mustard.
I want Lafleur's French fries and an all dressed Michigan (why should you have to choose between a hot dog and a burger when you can have them together at the same time?).
I want a hot Fairmont bagel fresh from the oven that I eat out of a paper bag while driving home at 2 AM knowing I am going to regret everything that happened that evening come sunrise (except the bagel).
But mostly - I want to pull up at that giant Orange on Decarie, order me up an OJ (orange julep - think creamsicle, sugar, cold and it comes out of tubes connected to the giant fake orange) on a hot summer's night surrounded by my fellow Montrealers with great music from the 60s and 70s blasting from the speakers and the same skies above, the same stars as when my parents took me there when I was 5.
There are a few sweet memories we have throughout our lives and food is one of the strongest. The scent, the atmosphere, the times we have been there in the past, the present and the future - first as kids with our parents, then as parents with our kids and our parents suddenly grandparents and then in our later years as comfort as something good and fine that never changed.
And if Montreal was or is your city - those are some pretty damn delicious memories.
Thank you Montreal - You taste great!
Statement of Release of Liability re Life is Your Story - Lisa Audrey Cohen - The author is in no way responsible for the very strong possibility that this Blog post will cause you to run out no matter what time of day or night and gather as much of the aforementioned food and eat it all resulting in a very serious calorie intake and a very blissful food buzz.
And let's not forget Kojak's Souvlaki!
Nothing is as beautiful as you
No field of wild flowers
No wild running river
No summers kiss
You are beautiful as a person
You are everything as a friend
You are my past, my present, my future
You are my beginning, my middle, my end
I carry you with me wherever I go, wherever I am
I know you support my every decision as much as my every mistake
I see you when you are not there or here or anywhere
I strive to emulate you in gesture, kindness and compassion
You are beautiful
You are irreplaceable
You are my Mom
I love you
"ROADTRIP!" That's what I yelled out to my husband before he left to work (he just nodded and said "I'll see you tonight hun").
But he wasn't going to see me on that night because I was off on a journey, no not a journey, a mission - yes, I was going to find a small town and go completely "Footloose" on them.
I looked at a map, packed my tights and my dancing shoes and then my mother called. I told her I would see her in a few days and that I was off on a "business trip" to which she replied "What business?"
As she would say, I explained my plans to her in a "nutshell" then I hung up and ran outside, got into my car and it stalled and then it stalled again and then I realized I would need a lift to my mission. So I was about to call a friend when my father called (even though I had just spoken to my mother and he was sitting directly across from her having a piece of pecan pie).
"Leeza (once again, has no idea my name is Lisa), what's this your mother tells me you are hitting the road? I'm coming. Do they have good restaurants where you are going?"
"Dad, you're not coming" And then miraculously a crazy thought went through my head (imagine that?), I would need my parents and their car. The car - to get there - wherever there was and them to register me in the local high school where I would be busting loose in dance. They would play the part of my parents and I would be their teenage daughter (not too far fetched at all). So I told my father to pack, grab my mom and head to my house immediately.
They live 14 minutes away so 2 hours later they arrived at my house and I could hear my mother screaming my name from outside. I looked everywhere and couldn't find them or their car, then I called their cell phone but they don't actually ever have it on and then I saw my mother's head sticking out in between parked cars about a block down. I yelled "pull up in front of my house" to which she replied (while everyone stopped and stared) "There's no damn parking spots on this street"
It took a few minutes until they realized they could pull up in front of my driveway. Then an argument ensued. My father refused to let me drive. Here is why that is a problem. My father believes that if he drives with his foot constantly on and off the gas, he will get wherever he is going sooner and it will cost less.
So I got in the back seat of their puke brown Toyota Corolla with the wind up windows and my mothers nail polish painted on the bumper where my dad constantly smashed it into the driveway wall. I sat on one of those cushions that people put down at outdoor stadiums so their bum stays warm. Why do they have those in their car? I have no idea - perhaps they give lifts to their friends many of whom have big hemorrhoids.
We headed toward the highway and just as we were about to make some moves my dad decided to stop at Lafleurs for his second lunch of the day. (For my readers in Latvia, Lafleurs is a little snack bar by the highway in Lachine. There they cut potatoes all day and have excellent french fries. They also steam hot dogs and toast the buns and place raw onions over the dog or if you are really adventurous meat sauce. You can feed your entire family there for $20. However you have to eat standing up in a shack like building along side some very large truck drivers (not that there is anything wrong with that) or in your car (which will stink if you do so).
After my dad finished his fries and michigan (that's the dog with the meat - you bet), we were on our way.
1.5 hour later (about 1.5 hour more than I could take being in the car with them), we arrived in a town called Joli (completely fictitious) and found a Hampton Inn. Once we were checked in, my dad went to the front desk to ask when the continental breakfast was being served to which they replied "Tomorrow morning sir" or actually they replied in French which translates into "Tomorrow morning sir".
After that my mother kicked my father out of their room so she could read and correct papers (Professor) and my dad set up office in the lobby where he went on to interview anyone and everyone about their lives (former reporter)and of course to wait for breakfast.
I took a tour of the town and found the local high school. I then returned to the hotel and dressed up like a teenager which involved nothing since I dress like a teenager. Then I grabbed my parents and had them rehearse what they were going to say to the Principal about us just moving to town and my needing a school. My mother called and made an appointment and the Principal agreed to meet with them after school.
There we were in front of Madame Sheusta (fictitious). My father told her she was a beautiful woman and then asked where the nearest dessert place was particularly a frozen yogurt place where the handles come out of the wall and you can eat cotton candy and pina colada. My mother went on to tell her that I was very feminine when I was little and she really wasn't sure when things went awfully wrong.
Anyway the next day I showed up at school and met some nice friends. We went to the cafeteria at lunch and it was time for my big dance - this was my chance - so I got up on a long table and I blasted my boom box and I footloosed all over the place - I mean I was twisting, jumping, spinning - just ripping up the place - and you know what? No one cared. This was extremely disappointing. Where were the people that don't allow dancing in their town?
When I returned to the hotel my parents were ready to go for dinner (4pm). They thought there would be an Early Bird Discount somewhere. We ended up at a local diner where my father told the waitress she was the most beautiful woman and my mother told him to shut up. We ordered our food and about an hour later a bunch of locals starting coming in (they missed the Early Bird).
Again, this was my shot at foot loosing - so I got up on the front counter and started to dance. I didn't have my boom box but the sound system at the diner was playing "Rain drops keep falling on my head" so I jiggied out to that and really started to get into it. And you know what happened - no one cared.
We returned to our hotel and I realized that perhaps I had made a huge mistake in thinking that all small towns do not allow dancing or loud music. Just then my mother asked me if I wanted to go play Bingo at the local church. My father only agreed to come if snacks were being served so my mother packed some cookies and some chips in her purse and we were on our way.
There were alot of older people playing Bingo and it was very, very quiet as they concentrated intensely (as if you have to concentrate on Bingo - there is no strategy - just wait for them to call your number and stand up for God's sake). There it was the shining opportunity. I ran to the car, grabbed my boom box and just as someone was calling out Bingo (my mother) I began to dance in front of the whole crowd. They went crazy - throwing their Bingo boards at me blocking their ears - a riot ensued. My parents headed for the door (well my Dad first went to the snack table and grabbed some cake) and I followed suit.
It had worked, I had made a name for myself in Joli. I had caused a Bingo riot. I was Footloose and loving it.
We arrived home later that night. My husband was watching the news with the dogs on the couch.
"How was your roadtrip?"
"It was great. I ate a Michigan, I made it on time for an Early Bird Special, went back to highschool, danced on a table in a cafeteria, danced in a Bingo church hall and hung out with my parents"
He didn't hear anything I said because the TV was blasting and then a news story came on about this girl who decided to play her boom box and dance in the middle of Sherbrooke St right in front of the McGill gates. There were all these people honking their horns and yelling at her. Students were blocked from crossing the intersection so they were throwing things at her. Everyone was up in arms and she was the rebel, the devil, yes, she was FOOTLOSE and all I had done was show up at a Bingo game in a small town.
I went to bed that night feeling like a real loser however when I awoke the next morning, a brilliant thought came to mind - what if I could be the next American Idol even though I'm past the age limit, not American and can't sing - yes, this was the perfect plan. I called my parents, they were on their way and I was about to be a star.
Kevin Bacon - call me - I know a Bingo hall where you can dance and a diner that serves excellent Pecan Pie.