“Come Over, We’re Having a Decker”

We had plans last weekend. Big plans. Top secret plans.

There was a party at the vets club in Newmarket. A surprise 30th Wedding Anniversary party for two very special people. To call them “my buddy’s parents” is a passable description, but does not do them true justice. They’re so awesome. Gloria is so sweet and lovely. Glenn is hilarious and a remarkable judge of idiocy. He’s seen a lot of it from our crew over the years, so he’s a bona fide expert in the subject. They have a soft spot for their kids’ drunken friends. And if not for their deck I might never have fallen for D.

I met Hoben the summer of 2005, and we hit it off instantly. We bonded over a mutual adoration of John Belushi. We shared an enormous appetite for booze and antics. We got drunk, and we caused shit. We were always egging each other on. Who could be more outrageous? Who could get the most obliterated? It was fun. We were young, we were stupid, and it worked. We were and are great friends.

hoben

Hoben visiting my dorm, Sept. ’05

The following summer of 2006 we hung out all the time. I had just turned 19 in April, and Hoben would be turning 19 in June. We had to do something incredible to commemorate it. Or at least get really drunk. So we decided to put together a plan for the weekend. Hoben called me up on Friday afternoon, his birthday was tomorrow. We were going to hang out and plan something for Saturday. “Come over, we’ll have a decker”, he said. And by decker, he meant we’d be getting drunk on his deck all night. Sounded good to me, I didn’t have to work. I grabbed a 12 pack and went over.

It started out just us. And then people just kept coming over. The more the merrier, that’s how a decker works best. Someone would call Hoben, asking what was up that night. He’d say “Come over, we’re having a decker”, and they did. Some random 40-something neighbourhood dude named Steve even came over. Nobody knew who he was, he just popped his head over the fence and said we seemed like a fun bunch. He wanted to party and we didn’t have the heart to turn him away.

Hobs and I had been drinking since 2:00pm. But he had to leave to work his 5-9 shift at the bulk barn. So he left me and a couple of other buddies to keep the decker going in his absence. And we did.

By 10:00pm I was just the right amount of hammered. Hoben had come back from his shift, and had been in touch with more people. They were on their way over, some cool peeps that Hoben said I would dig. Three dudes opened the gate to the fence and strolled over to the deck. The first two walked over, cracked drinks and sat down. The third dude hung back a second to close the gate. I couldn’t take my eyes off of him. I watched him close the gate and walk up to the deck. Casually, calmly. He was short, and a little stocky. He had a 26 of rye, he was here to party. He was dreamy, and he sat down next to me. I was too drunk to notice it then, but every stride he took across the deck was reeling me in. It was D, and I was powerless to stop myself from falling for him that night.

A little while later Hoben’s parents joined us. Hoben is basically a clone of his dad, so we loved Glenn instantly. He wasn’t shy about zinging us dumb kids, and slayed us with many well-timed one-liners throughout the night. And Gloria was the epitome of class. She was well-dressed and not a single hair on her perfectly coiffed head was out-of-place. She sat down gracefully while lighting a smoke. I loved her immediately too. She was welcoming and warm, bubbly and fun.

We were too effed up that night to stick to the plans we made for Hoben’s birthday the following night. We had this incredible idea for a toga party that never came to fruition. We just got drunk at our friend Curt’s house instead. But we’d never forget that very first decker, what an awesome night.

There were many more deckers to follow over the years. Deckers became the standard summer party for our crew. If someone had a deck and it was free, it didn’t take long to pack some coolers and haul them on over. They were always fun, but they were limited to summer.

one of many great summertime deckers, July '08

one of many great summertime deckers, July ’08

That is, until last weekend. D and I were reunited with all of the Hobens again for the first time in a couple of years for this party. Hoben’s little brother and sister were there too. And I’ve had plenty of fun times with them over the years! They can party just as hard as their big brother can. They were the evil geniuses behind this party for their parents. We were all buzzing with excitement, waiting at the hall for Glenn and Gloria to show up. And the blissfully wedded couple were completely surprised. They had no idea, no suspicion whatsoever that anything fishy was afoot. It was such an amazing thing that the Hoben kids did for their parents. Surprise!

There was a lot of love and happiness in the air for Glenn and Gloria’s anniversary. So many people came to share in their joy. All the memories of the fun times we had on that deck were coming to the surface each time D and I were introduced to another party-goer. “This is Smash and D, and they met on our deck almost seven years ago! And they’re still together,” Gloria proudly exclaimed with each introduction. We felt important, and we felt cherished. Our story was another legend of the Hoben deck.

Everyone partied and everyone had fun. When it was time for the bar to close down, there was this collective feeling amongst us all. A feeling that the party wasn’t over yet. It couldn’t be.

All the cheap drinks we’d imbibed had stirred up a longing for those simple summer nights. Nights spent on the deck, drinking and laughing. The weather was absurdly mild for a day in January. So why not? Why couldn’t we have a decker for old time’s sake? Glenn gave the official nod of approval. To the Hoben deck! And off we went in our respective cabs, racing back to the Hoben deck to keep the party rolling.

I set foot on the deck and was immediately transported back in time. I was 19 again. Working some shitty summer job that paid peanuts. Hanging out with my friends, just goofing around. My only care in the world if my beers were cold enough yet. Pure happiness.

Just enjoying the January decker with Ally and Shan

Just enjoying the January decker with Ally and Shan, January ’13

This decker will become the stuff of legends in time too. Remember guys? That time, after Glenn and Gloria’s anniversary party, we had a decker in January? Yeah, those were the days.

While sitting next to Gloria, I asked her if there was any secret to their marital bliss. She told me, “He makes me laugh every single day.”

Congratulations Glenn and Gloria! You’re an amazing couple and I will consider myself very lucky if D and I end up as happy as you two are in so many years.

Glenn and Gloria dancing to their wedding tune

Glenn and Gloria dancing to their wedding tune, January ’13.

This post is dedicated to another great couple, my Aunt Carrie and Uncle Tom. They graciously let us crash at their place on Saturday night, so we could go full blast at the party. They’re totally awesome party animals, and we always have a lot of fun when we’re hanging out with them. I have an amazingly terrible photo of them from when they first started dating posted on my fridge. I could post it here, but I’ll spare them the embarrassment. That photo hangs on my fridge to remind me to be awesome 24/7. And that the style in the 90’s really isn’t as chic as I remember it to be…

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Gordon

The electronic gurgle emitted from the computer as it accepts the disc and pulls it within is a nod of great appreciation. It loves this album too, I think. Or perhaps I’m just projecting my profound love for Gordon upon it. That’s the most likely scenario, but I don’t really give a damn. I know I can rip the disc to the computer, I’ve ripped many others. But there’s something in the act of putting the disc in, and hearing that gurgle of agreement from the computer that I don’t want to lose. It’s become something of a ritual to savour that fleeting moment before the first strains of “Hello City” begin to float gloriously out of the speakers and dance their way to my greedy ears.

I instinctively clear my throat and wet my lips. I know I’m going to sing every last lyric on that album right along with the band. Without fail, every time. It doesn’t matter that I can’t carry a tune, don’t have the right pitch, or don’t even really know what the difference between those two things is. My love for the music makes my cruddy warbling beautiful. That’s the power that the music we love wields.

I don’t have as much free time as I used to for listening to music. Time to absorb an entire album’s worth of music into the very core of my being. Because that was exactly what I did when I first purchased Gordon. I was young, I didn’t have a job or anywhere to be. I could sit in my room for hours, listening to music, shut off from the world. Sometimes I was singing into a hairbrush mic, or inventing terrible new dance moves. Sometimes I was contemplating the meaning and majesty of the lyrics. Sometimes I was wallowing. In happy times Gordon is my laughter, my fun, my delight. In sad times Gordon is my remedy, my escape, my solace. That’s the way it’s been, and the way it always will be with me and Gordon.

For the whole 59.1 minutes of greatness that this album generously bestows upon me, I am euphoric. And, I am thankful for the creative efforts of the Barenaked Ladies. This album reaches me on a level that no other ever will.

I’ve already admitted that my musical capabilities are limited. I’ve never been able to play an instrument competently in my life. I sat through 7th grade music whispering into my baritone so as not to expose my inability to read scales. Then I did the exact same thing through 8th grade with the trumpet, because it was more inconspicuous with 7 other trumpeters in the class and an entire row of eager clarinet people, whatever they’re called, to shield me. Clarineters? Clarinetees? Clarinetoes? That third option just feels right… Either way, this gross ineptitude as a musician doesn’t mean that my capacity to appreciate music is nil.

Music is made to be heard after all. And when I’m listening to Gordon I know I’m hearing genius. From the start of the album to the very finish I’m taken on a roller coaster ride through the swift and often jarring mood changes of the album. Soaring from zany heights of silliness and spectacle one minute, only to plummet to staggering depths of morose reflection the next. It’s just, so stunning to me!

This post is easily taking me quadruple the normal amount of time to write. As I write, I’m listening to Gordon, naturally. As I’m listening to it, I’m getting so caught up in it that I stop writing for lengthy periods of time because it just takes over. No matter how many times I hear it, it’s still powerful enough to invade my mind and ensnare my heart at any given note.

Furthermore, I know it’s a great album for a fact. My die-hard metalhead, musically inclined boyfriend D never had a problem with me putting Gordon, or any Barenaked Ladies album for that matter, on in the car. I daresay he even enjoys it. His much more musically refined ear recognizes that these are some damn good musicians at work, even though the music they make is the complete opposite style and genre of his liking. That’s the mark of a remarkable group or artist: to dispel of any genre prejudices the listener may have through the masterful arrangement of notes, and lyrics. And the Barenaked Ladies are undoubtedly masters in this craft.

Bow down and worship at the altar of Gordon.


Most of my appreciation for Gordon comes from my love of the written word. In particular, I’m a poetry enthusiast. Songs bear an uncanny resemblance to poetry, do they not? And as we all know, poetry is where the written word goes when it wants to party. So songs are where the written word takes itself for the mind-bendingly insane after party. And they party all through the night at, you guessed it, Gordon. I’ll show you!

Gordon: Smash’s Lyrical Highlights

3. Grade 9

Favourite lyrics: Got into the classroom and my knowledge was gone / Guess I should have studied instead of watching Wrath of Khan

4. Brian Wilson

Favourite lyrics: Call it impulsive, call it compulsive, call it insane; / But when I’m surrounded I just can’t stop

6. Wrap Your Arms Around Me

Favourite lyrics: I regret every time I raised my voice / And it wouldn’t be that bright of me to say I had no choice / I can kiss your eyes your hair your neck / Until we forget

(that’s a particularly good one to belt out with Steven Page in eyes closed fervour!)

7. What a Good Boy

This is my all-time favourite song.

Favourite lyrics: I wake up scared, I wake up strange / I wake up wondering if anything in my life is ever going to change / I wake up scared, I wake up strange / and everything around me stays the same

and…

I couldn’t tell you that you were right / so instead I looked in the mirror, / watched TV, laid awake all night

AND…

Afraid of change, afraid of staying the same / When temptation calls, we just look away

11. New Kid (On The Block)

Favourite Lyric: I can stay up all night. I can have a blast / I can breakdance, I can fight, I can kick your sorry ass. / I’m a New Kid on the Block

12. Blame It On Me

Favourite lyrics: You think you’re so smart, but I’ve seen you naked / and I’ll probably see you naked again

and…

Yes dear, I love you / But sometimes I think that love’s not enough for you / So you want to play mind games, / well that’s fine, go ahead, la la la I can’t hear you

GAH! It’s just so awesome! Are you starting to feel the awesome now too?

If all of that isn’t enough to prove how much I cherish this fucking album, then maybe this will do the trick:

Gordon the Hamster

I will win you with cuteness. This was my pet hamster, Gordon. Named so expressly because of the album. He was a short-lived homage to the album, but a really frickin’ cute one!

My point? Oh, was I going to be getting to that sometime soon? Yes!

My point, after all of that, is that Gordon is a fucking masterpiece. In my eyes, nay, in my ears. And while you might not share my love for this album (though you really should, it’s great), I do hope you feel this way about any other album or song, capable of inciting your passions in a similarly obsessive and frenzied manner. Music helps us, heals us, speaks to us, inspires us, and changes us. In this busy, bustling existence of ours, we may not always have time to just listen to music and truly appreciate the impact its had on us. I’m not talking about listening with your ears, as familiar songs loop continuously on your iPod throughout the day. I’m talking about listening with your mind and with your heart.

I’m happy. I had the luxury of time this weekend. Time to catch up with my old friend Gordon. I’ve had an insane last couple of weeks at work, so I needed something to help me float back into my happy place.

And when the last track faded out for the umpteenth time, I still got goosebumps.

Found! My Sweet Jams…

I am feeling so incredibly triumphant right now! Which is remarkable given the hectic and scattered day I’ve been having…

Ever since we moved back in May, I have been looking for this goddamn mixed CD. Why is it even important, you ask? Surely you must have made it with the songs in your own library? Songs which you undoubtedly have access to and could burn onto a new CD, yes? Actually, it’s important because the Magpie made it for me as a 25th birthday gift. It is divinely original, it cannot be manufactured again. It simply cannot!

So I got the CD at the end of April and lost it at the beginning of May… which means I really haven’t even had time to appreciate it. I can’t believe it’s been lost this long though. I absolutely abhor clutter, so it’s not like there were a lot of places for the friggen’ thing to hide in my apartment. All summer I would go through these bouts where I desperately had to find it, but couldn’t. I would get this feeling, like this time is the time. Today is the day I find this CD! But I would always come up empty-handed.

I was seriously considering the possibility that maybe I left it in D’s old car, which has since been sold to my parents, and that by now it had been tossed in the garbage. I imagined the little happy face on the cover all smudged with crud, wasting away in a landfill, lost to me forever. But then this nagging feeling that it was still within my reach would prevail, and I’d start my search all over again.

I’m forever misplacing my things. Which is strange, given how orderly and meticulous I am with certain things. Until D put the key rack up in the front hall for me, I never knew where my keys were. I never know where I’ve last placed my favourite necklace, my metro pass, important documents for the impending tax season, or my iPod. When I need things, I just scramble around like a maniac, cursing ferociously, until they’ve finally been located. One morning I almost walked out the door to work barefoot, until D reminded me that shoes are a necessity on the subway. I’m so bizarrely orderly and absent-minded at the same time.

I may not work through all of these issues today, but for now, I’m very pleased to announce that after months of fruitless searching I’ve finally come up successful! Buried in an old Coleman cooler with stacks of other CD’s, video games, books, and other hidden gems, my mixed CD gazed impassively up at me. As if to say, “I’ve been here all along, silly!” I lifted it ever so gingerly from the cooler, ran my fingers wondrously over its beautiful handcrafted cover, and then lovingly promised to never misplace it again.

When the Magpie gave me this CD on my birthday I was so totally excited. I greatly value all of the mixed CDs that people have given me over the years. It’s one of the most unique gifts you can get. There is no other CD on the planet with these exact same songs. Who isn’t touched by the offering of sweet jams, all of which have been expertly engineered with you in mind? Heartless jerks, that’s who.

So now that your interest has been appropriately piqued, I present you with the contents of this jealously coveted gem:

  1. Drain You: Nirvana 1991
  2. Pretend We’re Dead: L7 1992
  3. Violet: Hole 1994
  4. Deceptacon: Le Tigre 1999
  5. Downtime: The Gandharvas 1997
  6. Oh Mandy: Spinto Band 2006
  7. Close to Me: The Cure 1990 (re-release)
  8. Divine Hammer: The Breeders 1993
  9. Take Me I’m Yours: Squeeze 1994 (re-release)
  10. Ramble On: Led Zepplin 1992 (re-release)
  11. Only Shallow: My Bloody Valentine 1992
  12. Undone: Weezer 1994
  13. Blimps Go 90: Guided By Voices 1995
  14. Little Trouble Girl: Sonic Youth 1995
  15. Alone & Annoyed: Eric’s Trip 1996
  16. Homeboy: Adorable 1993
  17. I Am The Resurrection: Stone Roses 1999
  18. Get Me Away From Here I’m Dying: Belle & Sebastian 1996

These are “songs that I like that are mostly from the 90’s on your 25th birthday” quoth the Magpie. She knows that the 90’s is my favourite decade of music, and so she gifted me with the songs that she considers to be quintessential 90’s tracks. There are a few exceptions, but awesome ones. I had no idea who The Gandharvas were until I met the Magpie, and I must say they have very quickly jumped to the top of my list of favourite bands.

I have been irrevocably affected by their awesomeness, and The First Day of Spring will haunt me forever. Although this song isn’t on the disc above, I recommend starting there for your first taste of The Gandharvas:

I’m touched by the amount of time that she spent making me this wicked CD, and I am so happy that I finally found the fucking thing! I’m so excited to listen to it again and to discover its greatness. It’s just what I needed to melt away the stress of the day. This is no small win, it’s a tremendous victory! My finest conquest of the day, and validation that my frantic searching was not in vain.

I would definitely recommend that you seek out these tracks and give them a listen. Go forth and explore some wonderful new music! Or fall in love with old favourites all over again…

I wish you groovy listening, friends.