Birthday antics and NHL

Trip Start Jan 09, 2004
Trip End Jul 14, 2004

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Flag of Canada  , Alberta,
Sunday, February 29, 2004

Hockey kicks ass over football. I have had a fantastic, hangover-inducing weekend, which led me to discover there's no better way to cure a hangover than an NHL game, with buttered popcorn, nachos and of course cups of Molson Canadian beer.

It's my 21st on Wednesday, the third, but I have a midterm on Thursday, I'm working on Tuesday night, and I'm heading for Panorama bright and early on Friday morning. So the time to celebrate in Calgary was inescapably this weekend. This didn't actually occur to me until Saturday morning (when travelling, which I still essentially am, time is a vortex. My birthday could have been a month away still for all I know), so I made several phone calls and managed to pull together about a dozen of my friends to come out for dinner, and wherever else thereafter.

I know there's no point trying to compare having a 21st here to having one at home with all my close friends and family, so I though I may as well go for the opposite. We went to an Ethiopian restaurant for dinner, which was preceded with jokes about having one bean for dinner between ten people, whether we were eating the starving children or their parents etc. etc, but everyone, including myself, was presently surprised and entertained. We had two big communal platters, one meat and one vegetarian, with various dishes on each platter. Ethiopians don't eat with cutlery. They have spongy, crepe like bread which they use kind of like a mitt to scoop up food, which we did. It was a great socialising meal, and my friends, despite diverse heritage, mingled amiably.

We then headed to the Cherry Lounge, and capitalised on my birthday with a few rounds of free shots. Some time later we headed on to the Drum and Monkey and then later still to the Warehouse, but my memory gets hazy as the night, and the alcohol, wore on. I had a great time, definitely birthday-worthy. I couldn't have had more fun in Australia.

My housemates had all been present and so our house was unusually still this morning. No-one on the ground floor emerged before midday, I suffered in bed until about 2pm when I decided the risk of head spinning was low enough to attempt to eat, and drink water. Karen, Andrea, Andrew, Phil and I sat watching mindless TV for much of the remaining afternoon, unable to accomplish much else. The pain of being miserably hungover is lessened if the experience is shared. I had motivation to pull myself together though as Darren and Phil have season Flames double passes, and I was invited. Andrew actually sacrificed Phil's other ticket so I could go, buying another seated ticket with his friends. So I'm indebted to several of my housemates for such a great experience.

Darren, to our eventual concern, had disappeared at around 3am, and his girlfriend Nicki rang the house at about 4am saying he had tried to call her. No-one knew what had happened to him. Luckily at around 5pm, an hour before the game, he rang to say he had eventually found his way to Nicki's house, and could Phil please drive his car to pick them up for the game. So we drove across town to pick them up, and then headed to the Saddledome, home of the world famous Calgary Stampede - and the Calgary Flames ice hockey team.

I have a predilection for Canadian sports. I'd choose ice hockey or lacrosse over footy or cricket any day. Curling, that crazy ice-sweeping rock-pushing game, is beyond my comprehension though. We found our seats, right next to the President's boxes but not exactly close to the action. Nonetheless the view was impressive. It was everything I expected my North American sporting spectator experience to be. We drank cups of beer and heckled Pheonix, laughed at the half time entertainment and cheered when Calgary scored their way to victory. Everyone grumbled that there wasn't enough fighting though. They had that stupid organ music psyching up the crowd, and I got a free T-shirt by bogusly signing up for a credit card. It was an overstimulating capitalistic experience, and it was great!
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