Leah! Stay out of my bar!

I’ll admit that I do not own the Bovine Sex Club, nor do I have any serious pull with the management or staff other than the fact that they recognize me and know that I tip decently. It is a bar that is open to the public, there is no dress code and anyone is welcome to enter the establishment.

But still, can’t a guy have his loud music and Shanghai Stout without Holly Golightly 2.0 ruining it by showing up?

Apparently not. In today’s edition of the Globe and Mail, Leah McLaren’s discovered the joys of slumming (a term first documented in Lisa Birnbach’s The Official Preppy Handbook about 20 years ago). And she’s come up with a worse name for it. And she did it at my bar!

Maybe it’s something about the summer, but since coming back from my holiday in New York, all that I want in life is low rent. Just recently a great pal of mine had her 34th birthday celebration at the Bovine Sex Club, an old punk rock/metal head institution on Queen West in Toronto, where your bar bill reads: “cheep booze.” She is a polite, cheerful, well-educated sort of girl, and some people were surprised at the venue. I hadn’t been there since high school, and was a little hesitant about the grit level. (Would we be forced to slam dance?)

It turned out to be the best drinks night in recent history. Since then you can’t drag me to an air-conditioned hotel bar for flutes of bub. Forget the bling — I’ve become a biker-bar bitch. I ask how much the draft costs beforehand and if it’s more than a pack of smokes, I’d rather sit on my deck.

Fancy suddenly sucks. I’ve taken to carrying my lunch to work in a plastic grocery bag. It’s not that I don’t have half a dozen designer canvas totes. It’s just that I’m more interested in the reused plastic look these days.

My Bovine friend and I even have a name for it: “Keepin’ it bummy.” (As in, “I could have traded in the Pontiac for a Merc, but instead I’m keepin’ it bummy.”)

A guided tour of cheap places in New York by some guy from Billyburg, a couple of drinks at a bohemian rock and roll watering hole and plastic-bagging it to lunch (despite the fact that she has a half-dozen Martha-Stewart approved canvas lunch caddies) and suddenly she’s all down?

(Ooh! She packs her own lunch! How charmingly pro-vin-see-al! I guess she has to, considering that the Globe and Mail offices — a short bike ride straight south from my house — aren’t too close to a lunchery sufficiently upmarket for The Leah.)

I take great offense to the surprise she expresses that someone who’s polite, cheerful and well-educated would deign to go drinking at the Bovine. We Bovine patrons may dress (or in Carson’s case, undress) a little glam and like our music loud, our hobbies strange and our liquor strong, but we’re not dour barbarians. Why only recently, I had lovely conversations with local dominatrix Mistress Demonica about salad forks, home decorating and my permanent smile, glam rocker Robin Black about computer programming and videogame design, music theory with Jeff and with some random person about Frank Lloyd Wright and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, all at the Bovine.

As for her the plastic-bag-to-lunch-as-fashion-experiment remark, let me just state for the record: Why, oh why, hasn’t someone yet invented some kind of long-distance pimp-slapping device?

This concludes today’s Two Minutes Hate. Now I’m off to get a hot dog from Max’s 24-hour stand. Gotta keep it bummy, you know.

Recommended Reading

Why Leah should not be a Torontonian ambassador. Yeah, maybe a lot of the Montreal-based resentment of Toronto in this article was there prior to Leah’s visit, but did she have to make it worse?

Here’s a scan from the Ryerson Review of Journalism in which Leah gives us her stats, Playboy playmate-style. Trees died for this?

Even Golden Words, the Crazy Go Nuts University humour paper where my old pal Scriban and I used to write, has taken notice of The Leah. [That’s a PDF link]

Proof that we need to gather the Canadian Literature Brat Pack into a remote place and then nuke it from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure…

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