St. Paddy’s

St Patrick’s Day is one of my favorite holidays. It could not be more perfectly designed for my personality: Irish music, plaid things, and whiskey are all held in high regard. Also the casual, unintentional racism, but you know.

This is also our last holiday in Montreal. It is our last real chance to see the city on a “big night out”. It’s one of our final weekends here. Our plan was to play the night by ear. There was a potential reddit meetup, but that seemed really disorganized. And there was talk of all the bars filling up really fast, so we had reservations about even getting in anywhere. Luckily, the night turned out pretty awesome.

I really feel we entirely hit on the key to good traveling insta-friend-making all in one night. You would think we would have figured this out by now, but when you move somewhere to live, you approach things differently. Tonight, we approached things as “what will make us enjoy the night the most”. Not “how to make a lasting connection/peer group”, which is a key difference.

After tonight, for traveling in pairs, I’ve discovered the key to meeting people:

1) Pick a busy hotspot and show up early. Get a table with more spaces than you have people for. For 2, find a table for 6-8. For one, find a table for around 4-5.
2) Have a few drinks. Not so many that you’re incompetant, but enough so you’re “squiffy”. For me, that’s around 3. Then maintain the buzz by alternating water/juice/soda and slowly-sipped drinks.
3) Ask questions. Basic questions, but really look for follow-up questions and opinions. Answer all questions with the typical straightforward answer, plus some leading information tacked on the end of it. In other words, lay as much on the table as possible. A good example is someone asks “What do you do for work?” you could answer, “I’m an engineer” OR you could answer “I’m an engineer, but I (insert opinion about your field/education/job experience)”.

Step 3 is really the hardest to intuit as an older traveler. You forget how you made your current friends at home, and you probably made them in an obvious-common-ground environment like high school or university dorms. On top of that, most of us are less guarded when we’re younger.

The key is being more obviously open. If you tack leading information onto answers, you give someone an easy follow-up. The hardest part of beginning conversation is going from not knowing a thing about the other person to feeling like you make a connection. You have to throw a little more on the table about your opinions and history if you expect to make it past awkward pleasantries. And throwing your own shit on the table will make it easier for your companions to do so as well, which makes for even better conversation. Let go of the formalities. This is naturally easier with a touch of alcohol (but not too much!).

The final key, of course, is to have a partner in crime you can bail to if the people you’ve wrangled turn out to be less than interesting. We had a hit-or-miss group tonight. The first group that joined our table were a bunch of coked-up frat/sorority types. I don’t like to judge people that harsh, but one guy was in a muscle tanktop and one girl kept playing with her hair and dipping it in her drink. From an outsider perspective, hilarious, but did not make for easy conversation.

The second group were redditors. Nice people, but pretty awkward. Plus after the first group, we were a bit doubious about letting out too much info. We got a bit more relaxed as more people and drinks showed. But it was short lived, and the redditors left to find another bar. We decided to stay, mainly because the Canucks game was finally on and we were a little more confident if the night just ended the two of us.

We switched tables with a really large group, and ended up with a medium table, only to be joined 10 minutes later by a group of 6 or so theatre kids. I say “kids” because it turned out we were almost a decade older than them. Theatre kids aren’t shy, and really hammered home the “laying it all on the table” thing. It was a fantastic end to the evening with “this is who I am” conversations, as well as superficial hockey and travel talk. It was a wonderful final holiday in Montreal.

Now I have to sleep. The Hubby has an alarm set so we can make it to the St Paddy’s parade in the morning. Every year he hauls me out of bed to go. It’s our ritual squabble. I hate the parade, I’m usually a tad hungover, and I always go because he loves it and I do like seeing him giddy like a 4-year-old. I’m never mad or make it unusually difficult. But I’ll be damned if I don’t put up a fight! At least Montreal is civilized, and their parade doesn’t start till noon!



One Comment to “St. Paddy’s”

  1. Love reading your stuff..miss you more after I do though. I had no idea that Vancouver put on a parade for St Paddy’s day…! And Montreal?
    I would be there..but I have a showing today..please cross your fingers..that these are the ones!!
    I didn’t know my boy loved the parade so much! Give him a big hug and kiss from for Ger too. See you soon!

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