Fucking Eh

By: Steve Kitagawa

I had just arrived in Paris after spending the past five weeks in Angola managing some offshore drilling rigs.  Shitty job.  After laying down the rules, I got some pushback from the locals.  Not a surprise.  Typical work politics down there.  Since oil paid better than almost any job short of crime in Angola, the local unions tried to overload the worksite with their sons, uncles, nephews, and step cousins as additional workers who were both unqualified and unnecessary.  My job was to say, “No.”

After a death threat or three (which was typical and not cause for alarm), my passport disappeared (which wasn’t typical and somehow made the death threats seem not so benign)—and what was supposed to be a five-day job turned into five weeks in and out of the Canadian consulate trying to convince some fucking Larry that I wasn’t part of some elaborate fraudulent passport ring so I could get my passport back.  Anyways, the short of it was that the last five weeks of bullshit was back-up (essentially an excuse to myself) to get fall on the floor and “Fuck you Dad,” drunk when I got to Paris for some rescheduled meetings.

It was tourist season in Paris and the company I worked for were becoming cheap sons of bitches because oil prices were dropping.  As a result, I ended up in a shitty, 75 square foot room in Paris north with an old boxy TV that only played French MTV and a giant bath tub that took up half of the room.  After a short nap, I headed to the hotel lobby on my way to meet some Russian clients for a sales meeting at some Russian restaurant near the Champs Elysees.   Fortunately, Russians party like Canadians, so I was about to get my drink on.

On my way out, I got into a stupid argument with the pretty lady at the front desk.

I was leaving with my messenger bag, which I used instead of a briefcase.  Some of the boys called it a “murse” and called me “fancy boy,” but fuck them.  I liked it.  Plus, it could carry my laptop, my tablet, my work documents, conceal a bottle of Ketel one, and still have plenty of room for my wallet, a sweatshirt, and an emergency tall boy.

So I was leaving and the lady said, “Mr. Joe, you’d better wrap your purse strap around you,” as she mimicked someone pulling my bag away and started pumping her hands like she was running.  She smiled big.  She had warm giant smile with a toothless gap, like a Bobby Clarke hockey card.  She winked.  “This is bad area you know.”

She had a warm giant smile with a toothless gap…

“Fucking eh, lady,” and I gave her the thumbs up.  She didn’t get it.

“What is it you mean Fuck you eh?”  Her smile turned into a disgusted snarl, “Nique ta mer.  Nique ta mer.  Stupid Canadian,” and she spit on the ground and turned away in disgust.

Fuck.  I was going to keep walking, but you know us Canadians, always apologizing for something. “No lady, No.  Not fuck you, eh.  Fucking eh.  I mean ‘good, great, awesome, thank-you,’” She turned around, one eye brow raised.  I raised two thumbs up like some fucking moron, “You know fucking eh.  It’s like Canadian for “all right.”  You know like ‘let’s giver, eh.’”

She immediately smiled her huge hockey smile, which somehow looked right on her.  You know, made her more attractive.  “Oh, I’m so sorry.  I thought you said, “Fuck you, eh,” and she proudly gave me the finger.  She thought for a moment and smiled, “Sarah Mclachlan…Fucking,  eh.”  She started humming.  “I will remember youuuuu…”  She sounded just like Sarah Mclachlan, but better.  A voice like the virgin Mary and Lauryn Hill, but with a French accent.

At this point everything was so surreal, I didn’t know what to say; but, she got it so I just gave her another double thumbs up, “Fucking eh.”

“Ha.  Fucking eh, Mr. Joe.”

The meeting with the Russians went great. I managed to sell them enough oil to double my sales quota for the year. It was by far the easiest sale of my life because I didn’t really have to pitch anything.  Seems like they already made a decision based on the numbers we exchanged during the past few weeks.  We just talked hockey, took shots of vodka, and ate a shitload of pickled hors d’oeuvres.

Turned out that the decision maker, Vlady had played pro hockey for a few years in the KHL when he was younger and thought that I looked like Wayne Gretzky so he started calling me “Gretz.”

“Gretz, I like you.  You are honest and old school.”  He grabbed my shirt like it was a hockey jersey and twisted it like he was going to hockey fight me.  “We were going to buy anyway, but now we buy enough to make you look good my friend.”  And that was it.  “Gretz, I always hated you after Canada Cup ’87, but now that we finally meet, I buy all your Canuck oil, you bastard.”  He poured another round of shots and raised his hand “Tvoe zdorovie muthafucka.”

“Tvoe zdorovie.”  I slammed back the shot.  “Fucking eh, Tretiak.”  Vlady’s full name was Vladislav Christov, so I called him Tretiak like the famous Russian goalie, Vladislav Tretiak.  He liked that.  It would be like calling someone Tom Brady if everyone outside of Boston actually adored Tom Brady and “Deflategate” never happened.

Tretiak’s partner, Igor Malkin was smart, soft spoken, and quiet.  He kind of looked like a cross between Ivan Drago from Rocky IV and Guile from Street Fighter.  He was about six feet tall and stocky with a blonde flat top and a boxy chin.  Good looking dude and looked like he could definitely bash some heads in if need be.   He pretty much just smiled, took shots, ate pickles, and laughed with us.  Occasionally, he would pipe in with a hockey jab, “Why can’t you grow hockey beard like Brent Burns, Gretz?  Too much estrogen, eh.”   When the waitress came around, he would smile and flirt with her in Russian.  You could tell she liked him.

Why Can’t You Grow Hockey Beard Like Brett Burns, Gretz.

As the fog rolled in, I brought in reinforcements with shots of Hennesey.  Soon we were singing Ice Cube, “You know how the lonely act off the Cognac…We be clubbin’, We be clubbin’, we be clubbin’.”

“Let’s go clubbin’, Gretz.”

“Fuckin’ eh, Tretiak.”  We stumbled out of the restaurant and hailed a cab.

“To Twenty One Sound Bar, my friend,” Tretiak said to the cabbie and we were off.  He slapped me on the back, “We’re going to party to some real fucking hip hop, Gretz…you know Gang Starr; Biggie; Wu Tang Clan.  Yo, Wu Tang Clan ain’t nothing to fuck with mutha…”

About two minutes in the cab and Igor started to chortle.  He had convinced the waitress to sell him a bottle of Hennessey on the cheap…like free.  He pulled the bottle out of his coat and started swilling down like he was Jay Z.

When we got to the club, Igor was in rough shape.  Me and Tretiak were on auto pilot for sure, but it was one of those top of the world, I feel good you knew that I would now, auto pilots.  The world was ours tonight.  On the other hand (with that free bottle of Hennessey) Igor had bought a ticket to Sleepsville with alternate stops to Pukesville along the way.  I can’t remember whether we waited in line or if we tried to storm into the club, but whatever happened, we were denied access.  I remember explaining that “We be clubbin’” to some huge Ivory Coast bouncer—and he didn’t get it.  “We be clubbin’ and we need to be clubbin’ eh.  Don’t you get it…”  He didn’t and we soon found ourselves in another cab.

Tretiak was convinced that our bad luck at Twenty One Sound Bar was Igor’s doing.  “Igor’s got bad Juju by charming that bottle of Hennessey from that Ukranian hottie at the restaurant.  Let’s drop this drunk bastard off at your hotel, before his bad luck rubs off on us Gretz.”  It made perfect sense, so we did.

By the time we made it to my hotel, Igor had left splatter art all over the side of the cab, with the remainder dripping from his chin.  I pulled out some wet wipes out of my bag and cleaned the puke off of Igor’s chin.  Igor smiled, “Lucky for me you’ve got that purse,” then bent over, gasping like he just ran the Ironman.  He looked up, caught his breath and smiled again.  “Fucking eh, Gretz.  I hated you since Canada Cup ’87.”  He patted me on the shoulder and collapsed.

It must have taken half an hour to drag, carry, hockey fight, stumble, and convince that Larry Mullen Jr./Drago looking bastard into my room.  By this time, he was speaking only Russian and (I assume gibberish) because even Tretiak couldn’t understand what he was saying.  We left him on the bed with his head turned to the side, so he could puke on the floor and not choke—or so we surmised.  “Bobby Orr is better than you Gretz…Gretzky is big…”

Bobby Orr Is Better Than You Gretz…

Fortunately, the pretty lady at the front desk was still there.  As we were leaving, I gave her the key to my room and a hundred Euros.  “Please check on my friend, Igor and make sure he doesn’t die, okay.”

She smiled.  “Yes, Mr. Joe.”

I was sure she didn’t get it.  If Igor died in his puke, that would probably blow the entire deal. “Lady,” I grabbed her right hand with both of my hands and stared at her like I was Ricky Schroeder at the end of the “Champ.”  An Oscar moment for sure.  “Please make sure my friend is okay.”  Feeling a little fake, I fumbled through my wallet and give her another fifty Euros.

“Yes Mr. Joe.”

With that, me and Tretiak were convinced and proud we did the prudent and responsible thing and were out the door to club the night away.

The next morning, I stumbled into my hotel room and panicked.  Igor was gone.  The room seemed cleaner than I remember, but smelled like Hennessey, ass, and Windex.  The window was open and the bed was made.  The bath tub sparkled.

I called Tretiak.  After the third call, he picked up and informed me that Igor was safe and back at their hotel.  They had both stumbled into the lobby at the same time and both were trying to sleep.  He assured me of our deal and told me we’d meet up later.

Relieved, I passed out.

Several hours later, I woke up, washed up, changed, and called Igor.

I was walking through the lobby when the pretty lady at the front desk called out to me.  “Fucking eh.  Mr, Joe.  Fucking eh.”  She smiled with her huge toothless grin and shook a room key between her thumb and index finger.

I gave her the double thumbs up.  “Ha. Ha.  Fucking eh, Lady.”

At dinner, Tretiak was his jovial self.  He was in a tremendous mood.  Igor was melancholy, almost introspective.  “Tell him about your dream,” laughed Tretiak.

Igor frowned.

“Tell him.”

“Okay.  Okay.”

“Go.”

“Fuck you.”  Igor gave Tretiak a charlie horse punch to the outer thigh.

Tretiak laughed.   “Tell him.”

He gathered his thoughts and started, “So Wayne, I never drink Hennessey before and so last night, I tripped on the fucking balls, you know.”

I nodded.  “Yup, you were in rough shape buddy.”

“Any way sorry for being asshole and trying to hockey fight you like Bob Probert.”

“No worries, eh.”

Tretiak gave Igor a jab to his side with his index finger.

“Okay.  Okay.”

“So…that fucking Hennessey gave me the wildest dreams.  You know.  Like I was some techno hippy on acid at Burning Man.”

“What are you talking about?”

“I mean, I know you and Vlady leave me in the room.  But I dream that I puke in your room and in your toilet.  I’m cursing you and Vlady and then pass out with head on toilet.  Next thing I know I’m in bubble bath and this angel is washing me down and giving me cold Evian to drink, humming Sarah Mclachlan.  You know, ‘I will remeeeeeember youuuuuuuuuuuu….I will….’

Tretiak spit out his drink and continued to laugh as vodka and tonic ran out his nose and mouth.

“Shut the fuck up, fucker.”  Igor continued, “So then she starts massaging my head, still singing that sweet song like a pixie.  I turn to her and tell her she is angel.  She turned to me and smiled the most beautiful smile, but it is hockey smile.  You know like Bobby Clarke,” and he mimicked pulling out a tooth.

Holy fucking shit.  I barely cracked a grin, trying desperately not to laugh.  I caught eye contact with Igor and was about to burst out.  I bit my lip, hard and looked down at the table.  My body was shaking up and down like I hadn’t pissed in two days and was holding it.  This was classic and I had to hear the end of this.

“I shit on you not, Gretz.  So, I wake up and I’m in your bed, covers swaddled around me like baby.  I feel clean so the I get up and there’s no puke anywhere.  No bubble bath.  No empty bottles of Evian.  Worst of all, no beautiful lady with hockey smile singing Sarah Mclachlan.  The only thing I see is an empty bottle of Hennessey.”  He paused.  “That fucking Hennessey rocks man.  I call cab and when I get to my hotel, I see Vlady in the lobby.  Crazy shit, man.  Crazy shit.  I’m telling you it felt real man.  What do you think, Gretz?”

I gave Igor a fist bump, “Fucking eh, brother.  Fucking eh.”

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