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August 4th, 2004

A beautiful day in "Old" Montreal...

We got up at around 10 or 10:30, and had breakfast downstairs. I just love the classical music they play in that room. It's always classical, but not the same stuff every day. Not being a morning person, it's a nice way to ease into the day, so much more so than a TV blasting or DJs talking nonsense on a radio station. Which also reminds me, I really like the fact that the only TV in this place is downstairs in the lobby, as it makes the room a haven for reading and writing.

After breakfast, I went to the rooftop to catch up my journal, and Steve watched a little TV, I think. I also read some more of Life of Pi before we headed out for the day.

Our agenda for today was the "Old City" of Montreal. The weather was fantastic. We walked the very short distance to the Old City, where it was just charming. I did not see the section we walked through today when I was here in the winter, as it was too wet to do that much walking, we were only here for three days, and there was snow on the ground.

We ended up in a square with restaurants all along the perimeter of it. We took a leisurely walk by each one, and checked out the menu (and the men) before deciding on one on the corner, at the lower end of the slight hill on which the square set. We took a table by the railing looking out over the square, each ordered a beer (a Bud Light), and a sandwich with fries -- me, the Turkey Bacon Club, and Steve, the Ham and Cheese.

We thoroughly enjoyed the wait, which was on the long side for some sandwiches, but the activity in the square kept us entertained during the wait. And the weather was just so beautiful. There was a man sitting on the curb across from where we were who was playing the accordion, with a box for money set out in front of him. What was interesting about him was that he had on black tennis shoes, like the Reebocks I dance in, and he kept bouncing his feet up off the ground, as if dancing, but he was sitting down the whole time -- sitting down on the curb.

Of course we boy-watched, and were well-rewarded -- a "movable feast" as it were.

After a short while, a man with a unicycle next to him started yelling to draw a crowd around him, which he did, and he entertained for probably 30 minutes or more. By the time he finished, the crowd was several rows deep in a circle around him. He started off asking for cigarettes from people in the crowd, and then lit up some flame-thrower type things, and did some antics. I'm not sure how the cigarettes were connected. I really couldn't see everything he was doing, or rather more accurately, wasn't interested enough to make an effort to see what he was doing. It was more fun just watching the crowd form around him, and listening to him draw a collective laugh from the audience at fairly regular intervals.

He also did a lot of audience participation-type things, a la donating cigarettes, bringing someone into the circle to toss juggling objects to him, holding him up once he got on the unicycle, etc. He seemed to build a good rapport with the crowd, even though looking at him, myself, I did not find him charismatic.

I started wondering what his motivation was the first time he got a good laugh from the audience. What gives him the most pleasure? Is it the laughter (is the impetus the comedy?); is it the applause (is the impetus the confirmation that he is good at what he does?); or is it the notoriety (is the impetus the "fame"?). Or is it something else altogether? What makes this man tick? Or should I say, "What makes this man do tricks?"

Steve and I thoroughly enjoyed this lunch and time here, and once again noted how sweet the ketchup was that we put on our fries. We asked the waiter to take our picture, hoping that it will turn out as good as the one we have last year of us together in that restaurant that "the Barker" recommended to us.

From there, we walked to find the Notre Dame Cathedral. I couldn't remember where it was, as I hadn't come from this way the last time I was here. Steve ended up asking someone in a shop, and we made our way there. It was close by -- three short "old city" cobblestone street blocks.

I forgot that it cost $4 to get in, so I told Steve I would wait outside for him. I took advantage of the time to sit and people-watch, for which there was ample material. The horse and buggies (offering short tours of the Old City) were lined up across the street like cabs. It was interesting to note their "process," which was not unlike cabs. There were more "units" than there was curb for, and as the first one left, they all moved up one, with, eventually, one having to cross a perpendicular street to move up to "the main area."

The skin on the horses legs were constantly twitching as flies landed on them, and I wondered if the flies were biting them, or just tickling them, and I also wondered if they were just flies, or "horse flies" and then where the term, or name, horse flies came from. Are they just "bigger" flies? Or are flies that bother horses automatically considered horse flies? Inquiring minds want to know.

A cute boy, maybe 25ish, came up on his rollerblades to the steps where I was sitting, about 15 feet to the left of me, and sat down. He made a phone call, which probably lasted about 1o minutes, during which he was removing his rollerblades, and putting on shoes. He had on shorts, nice calves, and had a green backpack, from which he withdrew his shoes. I didn't see if he eventually put the rollerblades in the backpack, or just ended up carrying them. I had looked away, and the next time I looked back, he was gone. On the ground where he sat was his cellphone.

I walked over and picked it up before someone stepped on it, or stole it. I thought I'd keep it until we left, and if hadn't come back, I'd give it to someone in the church in case he called it, they could tell him that they had it.

Steve came out after a few more minutes, and I told him about the phone. He asked the pertinent question, "Was the guy hot?" and I said, "Sort of, yeah." I told him of my plan to turn the phone in, and he said, "Or you could keep it, and when Steve suggested that I keep the phone and that the guy called you could tell him to come get it from you." I liked this plan, and so we carried it out.

We watched some of the owners of the horses give them water, one opening the fire hydrant near by, filling up a bucket, and giving it to his horse. Another owner took a spray bottle and was spraying her horse all over. When she sprayed his underbelly toward the rear of him, his back left leg kicked up into the air, not unlike a dog does when you find that one spot on him and scratch. I wondered if it was the same kind of reaction, which as a human with a dog, assume that it feels good, or if it was tickling him in an irritating way and he was kicking for that reason.

Next on the horse education and entertainment agenda was feeding buckets for the horse. They clamped a bucket with food in it to the horses head and mouth. At first I thought it was a muzzle on the horse, but then realize it was food and they were eating away. I thought, one of those would save Steve and I a whole lot of time.

During this people-watching time, this hottest guy (with, what we presumed was a girlfriend or wife) walked by. Steve and I followed him all the way from when he came into view to the right of us, until he disappeared from our view to the left. We were both shaking our head at how hot he was, and Steve made some comment like, "I'd like to take his head..." and while saying it, bopped me on the back of my head mocking what he'd do. Suddenly, a lady sitting on a little ledge behind us started laughing. She had been watching us drooling like two teenagers over this man walking by, and evidently found it "tres amusante." Her husband had just walked up, and I don't think he found it nearly as amusing as she did.

After she left, I said to Steve, "I'll bet she thought we were lovers, and that you bopped me because I was staring at that man so much, or maybe, she thought I said something about him that you didn't like." We both laughed thinking that that was exactly the case. Little did she know that "men are pigs" in general.

We hung around the little square in front of the cathedral, which contained a statue in its center, and flowers all around. I was standing aside as Steve was snapping a picture of the Cathedral, and the phone in my hand vibrated. I pushed the button, which on my phone is the "Send" button, but was, unfortunately on this phone, the "No" button, and it stopped vibrating.

"Damnit!" I said. I hope he tries again. I tried to find a redial, but the keypad was locked, allowing only to answer a call.

A few minutes later, the phone vibrated again, and this time, I hit the "Yes" button, where my "End" button is. "Hello?" I said.

He started speaking in French, to which I replied, "Parlez-vous Anglais?"

"Yes," he said.

"Hi. I have your phone, and I'm still at the Cathedral. Where are you?"

"So am I, actually. I'm inside the Cathedral."

"Okay, I'm outside, across the street in front of the square. I am American. I have on a white t-shirt, and shorts, and I'm with my friend, who's taller than me."

"Okay. I have on a blue t-shirt..."

I interrupted him, "Yes, I know. And shorts. And you have a green backpack. You were taking your rollerblades off, and putting on your shoes out front." Then I stopped, thinking he doesn't need to know how much I was watching him when he was out front before.

"Yes. Yes," he said. "I'll be right out."

He came out, and we waved to him. He crossed the street, and introduced himself. "My name is Hugo."

Steve asked him to repeat it, as he used a silent "H," as the French do, and I said, "Hugo, like Victor Hugo." Hugo smiled at the recognition, though I'm sure he's heard that a 1,000 times.

He was very nice, and asked us if we were here on vacation, and how long, the usual stuff. "If you get a chance, go see the FrancoFolies. It's good music and very entertaining. We wondered later if he was perhaps in the show.

"Is it in English? I asked.

"No, French; but it's good music anyway." The more this boy talked the cuter he got. He acknowledged his gratefulness for the return of his found, said, "Enjoy your stay in Montreal," and bid us adieu.

Steve grunted. "Ungh. Hugo. Wego where Hugo." Beautiful.

Later, back at the room, we planned the rest of the evening, and decided to each venture out on our own. Steve left first, and I left maybe an hour later, I believe it was around 9:00. I hadn't eaten dinner yet, but wasn't very hungry at this hour, yet wanted to eat something before it got too late if I was going to eat. I walked down St. Catherine's in the direction opposite to the one we normally walk.

After about a block, it started to get "very straight," with various strip clubs with names like "Pussy Bar" or "Club Pussy," something like that. As I walked a little further in that direction, I saw the bar called, "The Western Bar," which I recognized from my walk along this street on my visit last December with Gregor. Further up this road, then, actually somewhat of a ways, a left would take you down to the Hotel Centre-Ville, which is where Gregor and I stayed.

I passed the Western bar, looked in to empty tables, and walked past as two, to be polite, I call them "somewhat beefy" women (if women can be beefy) were taking seats in the window. They had hair that was just a little too big, and makeup that was just a little too, well made up.

Quickly, I sensed that this was not the part of town I wanted to be in. I turned around, and started walking back to "the Village" end of St. Catherine's. The place right before the Western Bar was a strip club, and I was looking up at the bright neon lights announcing the name, which I never saw. I was too close to the building and it was too "straight up" to read anything. All I could see was twisted gas tubes in the shape of female dancers. I was still looking up when I again passed the Western Bar window, and heard one of the heifers say, "Hey sexy. How ya doin tonight?" I crinkled my forehead as if I were deep in thought trying to read those neon lights, and acted like I didn't even speak English, as I passed the window without looking at their merchandise again. I would think, this close to the line of where "the gay end of St. Catherine's" begins, they must have realized that they were so barking up the wrong tree.

Crossing St. Hubert, and beginning the "gay side" of St. Catherine, the comfort and delight of freedom of men to check each other out without threat of physical harm or of some straight guy going bonkers because you're looking at them was welcomed. Oh to live in such a place.

I couldn't decide on what I wanted to eat, passed the McDonald's (no Juan-Carlos on the corner looking for a husband), and knew I didn't want fast food again. I walked further down St. Catherine's, thinking maybe a slice of pizza, and checked out a little place that only sold pizza, with some "by the slice" available. It didn't really appeal to me. I continued to walk. Still nothing appealing. I passed the Italian place we ate at last night, and considered ducking in there for something, but I didn't want a long drawn out meal. I then thought, Maybe I'll just skip dinner tonight. That'll make the alcohol take effect easier. I kept walking.

I came to the McDonald's across the corner from Le Stud bar. I ran through the possibility of a Big Mac, McNuggets, which here are one the menu are McCroquettes, the Bacon Ranch Salad Steve told me was so good, but moved on. I went over to Le Stud to start on a liquid dinner.

I "took a twirl" to check out the clientele at his early hour, which was around 9:45 at this time. I saw a hot guy sitting at the end of the main bar. I went over to "Le Stud" -- my friend, Steve. We laughed about meeting up in this town on our "separate night out." He told me about this fantastic place next door at which he'd had a hot dog with cheese, bacon, ketchup and relish, a huge order of fries and a drink for just a little over $5.00. The place was real friendly, too, and one of the people working in there had been to the Outer Banks in NC, a conversation for which the impetus was Steve's t-shirt that said NC on it.

We decided to walk back up toward our place together. I was heading toward "Club Bolo," which is the C&W bar here. I wanted to wait until at least 10:00 or after to check it out. I thought it would be neat if they had dancing on Wednesday night, as Flex does, and I thought about everyone dancing at Flex at that very time. I wondered if Robert was there, and if he was having a good time. I hoped so.

I walked into WEGAS with Steve, and he checked the "indicators" on the video machines, which give you an idea of how many men are "downstairs" in the "theater" area. The way this place worked is that you pick out a video to take with you, and can stay as long as you want. The machines to play the videos are at the desk, and when you give them your choice of video, they put the video in the player, and give you a key or ring to take with you. So, you can just look up there, and if there are mostly keys still on the players, then you know there are not many people down there. There was only one key missing.

Steve walked with me down to Club Bolo, I looked around the corner at the parking lot attached to the building, which was empty. I pulled the door. It was locked. Evidently not a dance night.

We returned to the guest house.

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