A few years back I was in Toronto and went out to dinner with a good friend who worked for a major record company. He had a nice expense account and was able to go out at nights and dine at some of the best restaurants in town on the company card. That night I sat with him and a few young British musicians who were in town doing a show the following day at Massey Hall. I hadn’t seen this guy in a while and we caught up on all of the gossip about all of our friends while these young British guys complained about their filet mignons and wished that we could have gone to McDonald’s instead. Punkers at a fine dining establishment…. Ha!!!! I loved it…. But then again, I love sitting back and having a ring side seat to any sort of scandal that unfolds.
A few tables over I could see a table of suits finishing their dinner and ordering snifters of some sort of golden fluid while the kids at our table complained to our server about the lack of milkshakes on the menu. I thought that since I didn’t have to see the bill, I’d also order some brandy to go with the creme brulee I’d soon be digging into. Thats when I overheard a woman at a table next to the suits comment on how terrible the suits’ cigars smelled. Cigars?? I turned my head quickly and saw that the suits hadn’t even lit their cigars and this woman had issues with aromas… Ha ha, this was going to be good!
This was a few years back when we could smoke in restaurants and we were in the smoking section of this private club restaurant, in fact, this was the only thing about this place that the punkers liked and they chain-smoked through our entire service. Didn’t bother me.. So now the suits light up 2 of these cigars with that very distinct yellow and black band that we all know about and the fun began. The woman one table over, in a very loud and annoying voice announced that she strongly suggested that the cigars be exterminated immediately. The suits ignored her which made her repeat herself a bit louder. The punkers started cheering up a bit. This was when I discovered I had a whole new respect for the punk movement.
One of the young musicians at our table got up, walked over to the woman and told her to shut her gob. Gob??? I had a lot to learn. Her husband told the young man to return to his seat and thats when the young British gentleman ( I started liking him more and more ) took his cigarette and flicked it’s ash into the woman’s hair. Her husband quickly stood up and the young chain-smoking gentleman clad in black leather told him to sit back down or he’d give him some aggro…. Aggro????? Is there supposed to be a “vation” attached to the end of that word????? I didn’t care, I just wanted to see what would happen next..
The second young spiky haired chain-smoking black leather clad British musician we were sitting with somehow sneaked behind the husband who was now nose to nose with the first ash flicking musician and got on all fours directly behind him. Thats when ol’ ash flicker gave the husband a bit of a push and down he went. My friend asked for our bill and announced to our server that we had to catch a plane. I didn’t want to go anywhere but, oh well, what could I do?? The manager ran over to the commotion and begged everyone to quiet down and please return to your tables. This is when I thought I could see a bit of smoke coming out of the top of the woman’s hairdo, which she obviously couldn’t feel or smell.. I remember thinking that it was the best day of my life when the husband got back up reached over and removed his wife’s hair (wig), threw it to the floor and then doused the smoldering furry mass with a glass of red wine.
The nearly bald woman screamed, got up, flew out of the dining room. Our bill arrived. Now the thing that I think I’ll never forget was how cool and calm the suits were as all of the drama was taking place. These must have been very confident, successful individuals who knew how to enjoy life to its fullest without ever getting too worked up. I asked my friend if he thought it would be OK to call our server back and buy a round for the suits on the company card. All at our table agreed that it was the right thing to do.
I haven’t been to Toronto since that night and I’ve learned that my friend now works for an American record label in New york. I’ll have to fly down to the Big Apple some day and find out when if and when he’ll be entertaining the next British Invasion.. I want to be there..