My Three Days as a Whitlams Groupie

Thursday, 13 May 1999

I wake up quite excited about today's drive to Montréal. Stock up enough clothes to tide me over for four days and three nights in what will probably be smoky clubs. Housemate Jude bemoans her lack of slutty groupie gear. We both have slutty (or at least revealing) science fiction convention gear, but I'm working on the assumption that showing up to the gigs dressed as a Renaissance wench or 19th century gentlewoman won't fly. Besides, the t-shirts Cat sent us wouldn't really go with those costumes, and they'd cover up all the cleavage. Husband Derek throws some stuff in the bag and heads off to work.

clock.gif We all make sure to have our FOW and tour t-shirts as well as our Whitlams CDs for the band to autograph. Sudden realization that handing them a stack of six or seven discs might be a bit wanky; resolve not to let this stop me. Derek will fly into Montréal later today, but Jude and I pack up the car and head north for New Hampshire, Vermont, and Québec at 12:40 p.m., about an hour later than I originally insisted we be ready to leave. It figures.

I fail to pay enough attention to my speedometer and the road in New Hampshire and get pulled over for doing 78 mph in a 65 mph zone. Friendly state trooper lets me off with a warning after I present my New South Wales driver's license, which is still my sole current license after almost six months back in the USA. This baby is gold. Too bad I didn't get a three-year license instead of a one-year, which will expire in August. speedlimit.gif

Gorgeous drive through the White Mountain region of New Hampshire. In Vermont I pull over to let Jude try driving my manual-transmission car for a while. This is fine at first, since she started on a downhill slope, but results in a silly situation when we reach the Canadian border-she stops at a stop sign, then stalls the car repeatedly while trying to pull forward to the guard's window. We can see him laughing at us as we execute a Chinese fire drill and I pull the car up to his window.
Jude: Sorry, I'm just learning to drive stick.
Guard: That's okay, I'm on shift until midnight.
D'oh! I take over the driving from there.

We approach Montréal around 6:00 p.m. As we roll into the city, I suddenly remember to look down at the dash. Realize with horror that I never checked the gas gauge during the whole trip (there's no low-fuel light for some reason--maybe Ford decided that an extra bulb would just be too costly). We're running on fumes and I beg and cajole my car into making it to the next available fuel station, no mean feat while stopping and starting in traffic going uphill. Finally reach a station and fill up poor Roz (short for Rocinante). Whew! gasgauge.gif

We find the Hôtel Villard just fine, but not parking. Spend next 15-20 minutes trying to get back on Rue Ontario-est going the other way. Finally manage to stop near the hotel again, check in, and park the car in the underground garage on the next block. We drag all our stuff up to street level and then to the third floor of the hotel. Resolve to make Derek haul the fershlugginer heavy suitcase for the rest of the trip. Turn on the teev in the hotel room looking for shows en français, instead find M*A*S*H in English. We view this as yet another proof of the theory that one can find M*A*S*H somewhere on world television at any given time.

We amble up and down Rue Ontario-est and Rue Saint-Denis for a bit, waiting for Derek, looking for vegetarian-friendly restaurants and a currency exchange. I translate menus and other things for Jude. My French starts coming back to me and I have short bursts of fluency. Unfortunately, said bursts of fluency usually manifest themselves after I say what I want in English. Still, nice to know that I haven't forgotten everything. streetsigns.gif

bong.gif Derek finally shows up at the hotel around 7:45 p.m. We head out in search of a vegetarian restaurant called Le Commensal on Rue St.-Denis. Unfortunately, it wasn't where our book said it was. We wander into a head shop and ask the cashier if he knows of any good vegetarian places. He informs us that Le Commensal is still on Rue St.-Denis, it just moved further south. We find it and eat dinner there. Kinda pricy, but very good.

Suddenly realize that we're running late to show up at the Jello Bar, which, fortunately, is a three-block walk from our hotel. We change into Whitlams t-shirts and head for the club. Hang out for a while watching swing dancers cut up the floor to recorded music while we sip drinks. In my imagination I can dance like them--maybe one day my body will catch up. Greg Weaver spots me and introduces himself, says the band will be on soon. Cool! martini.gif

FOW t-shirt gif, linked Derek, Jude, and I walk up to stand in front of the stage area as the boys get ready. Tim performs a seamless entry to "I Get High" as the recorded music fades out. Ben glances over at us three in our Whitlams shirts and looks dumbfounded. I grin and wave. A few moments later Tim gives us a similar look when he notices us. Our mission to surprise them has been accomplished.


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All text, photos, and illustrations by Laurie Brunner © 1999, EXCEPT the FOW T-shirt gif and FOW logo, linked from the Whitlams home page.