I was in Siegel's on Canada Day, picking up some stuff to take to my Aunt's cabin in cottage country in Ontario. Siegel's is an independent grocery store on St. Laurent that has the best deals. It's always a bit chaotic and crowded, but never boring. It caters to the Portuguese community, but everyone shops there.
The manager there is a guy called Murphy (or Murray, it depends) who knows where everything is and its price. He manages the lines (go to him if you aren't sure which one is the fastest) and greets everyone who is coming in. He's an anglophone, old-school Montrealer. He's also a big sports fan, so I've passed a night or two with him in the nearby sports bars. I'd consider him an aquaintance and we always have a brief chat when I go there.
This summer, due to work, family and vacation commitments, I am going to be out of Montreal for over half of the time. Though most of these trips are going to be enjoyable or good for my career, I am missing a ton of good stuff. I had to sacrifice the Rza show, which was part of jazz fest and I've cut my Fantasia participation down to 10 movies (from 30 last year) and am really steamed to be missing what could be the only theatrical screening of Special Magnum (a '70s Canadian/Italian crime flick filmed entirely in Montreal). I also just found out that Gordon Liu himself was present at the screening of Disciples of the 36th Chamber, which I also had to miss.
Even if there wasn't so much actual stuff going on (and I'm not even discussing Quebec City, which is celebrating its 400th anniversary and supposed to be just insane), I still would like to spend the summer here. I've got a little garden plot to tend, a basketball court right behind my place, all kinds of cool friends with whom I could be hanging out and getting to know better. My new street is one of those great neighbourhoods where everyone sits out on there porch and I could spend hours doing that, watching the kids play, chatting with neighbours, watching the various people go by. I'm within walking distance of Parc Mont-Royal, towards which hundreds of people stream all weekend. The Sunday tam-tam is crazy scene to check out and the medieval battles go on all day behind that. And now that we've hit 30º, Montreal has once again demonstrated that it contains the greatest per capita density of beautiful and stylish women in the world.
So I'm in Siegel's, chatting with Murphy. He's a proud Canadian (a minority here) and responded positively when I wished him a happy Canada Day. There really isn't too much of a celebration in Montreal (or so I thought), at least in comparison to St. Jean Baptiste, but Murphy told me there was a big party down in the old port. "It's really nice, mostly for families and stuff in the day, but at night, they have an outdoor concert. I'll probably head down there after work, have a couple beers and watch the show. Then I'll head back up through downtown and Jazzfest and catch some of the free shows which'll be going late. It's gonna be perfect."
Me (in a slightly lamenting tone): "Man, there's so much going on here! There really isn't much of a reason to leave Montreal in the summer."
Murphy (with some vehemence): "You gotta be fucking crazy to leave Montreal in the summer!"