The Summer of Us

It’s the last day of August, so summer is basically over. All of the usual “demise of summer” indications are afoot: dip in the temperature, sun setting earlier, back to school shopping commercials on T.V., sweaters on the store mannequins, and the most ominous of all, there’s Halloween candy at the grocery store. Frightening indeed.

Come this September it will have been ten years since I met my friendship soul mates and fell in love. I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately, how the time passes.

drinking in 1st year

There are people that we meet in life that change us forever. Joce and Sara are my people. Karan too, of course. But he came round a year later.

Ten years isn’t such a long time in the scheme of it all, but looking back it feels like a lifetime. And even though we’ve long since left behind the cozy bubble of school and had to join the real world, we’re still closer than ever. We’re not the types to let our friendship fade into the background while life rages on. Our friendship is very much at the forefront of everything.

When Joce and Harry moved to Australia and then Thailand for a year we all stayed in touch, constantly using Skype and FaceTime to be together from opposite ends of the world. And when Sara left for Vietnam last summer we did the same thing. Though we miss each other desperately when one of us is off on an adventure, it’s like no time at all has passed when we’re together again. And when the gang is all back together again after months apart you can be damn sure we’re making the most of that time.

Case in point, this summer. The summer of us.

the girls

Sara left for Vietnam last July and got home at the end of this June. Almost a whole year had gone by since we’d last seen her beautiful glowing face in person. She signed on for two years teaching abroad in Vietnam, and year one was finally done. We were so excited for her return, but we knew it would be short-lived because she’d be going back again soon; she only had eight weeks of summer vacation in Canada. Joce and I made a pact that for the duration of Sara’s time back home we’d drop anything and everything for the three of us to be together if Sara was free. She had a busy schedule, with so many things to do and so many other people who wanted to see her too. But if she was free, we booked her.

And it was amazing. It was the best summer ever.

We started with a wonderfully drunken reunion weekend at Joce’s cottage. Best hug ever.

best hug ever

Then there was an amazing evening of comedy at the Second City followed by hilariously rad karaoke. Where we unfortunately didn’t get the perfect photos to capture the memories, but that doesn’t matter so much. What we got suits us just fine.

karaoke

moar karoke!

Sara and her parents hosted a super awesome pool party! And the water temperature was spot on. Big Lar did a damn fine job with the pool, if I do say so myself.

po

Joce and Harry had a belated housewarming party.

the gang

housewarming

And it was so much fun that even D danced. For reals. The merriment was too contagious, even for Old Grandpa D to resist.

D danced!

There were shots aplenty…

shots

moar shots

Laughs galore…

laughs

boxhead

And we rediscovered our intense love of charades!

charades

It was an absolute blast. Having Sara back home, seeing each other almost every weekend for the eight weeks she was with us, it was a dream come true. All I ever want is to be with my best friends. They’re the most wonderful people and I love them so dearly. Everything with them is fun and easy. Everything is just fucking awesome when you’ve got your best pals by your side.

One night while we were hanging out, Sara told me that it’s hard to meet good people and make lasting friendships overseas. Good people who just get you and who you want to be with always. Those people you can confide in and who will support you unconditionally through anything. Those kind of people are a rare and precious commodity. She told me that this experience living abroad made her realize how profoundly grateful she is to have found Joce and I. And Karan too, of course. I’ve never been in the same situation as her, striking out on her own in another country on the other side of the world. But I believe her. There are special people in the world, very special people who you make connections with that you know are everlasting. And that’s not something you can just find anywhere.

Ten years ago when I moved into the dorm on labour day weekend, I didn’t know what the future would hold. I was nervous about living alone, and I wasn’t sure that I’d fit in. I was excited about starting a new life, sure. I just figured it was going to be a four-year pit-stop on my way to the real world. I didn’t know that I was going to find my tribe. But I did. I found my people, I found where I belong.

And I can’t imagine my life without them. I don’t care what a shitty cliché that is either, because it’s true.

the summer of us

We had the best summer ever, we did everything together. The summer of us. We were completely inseparable, just like the old days. Just like it still is. Nothing’s really changed after all this time.

And when Sara gets home again next summer, we’re going to do it all over again. I can’t wait. I’m already checking off the days on the calendar. Days until my heart feels whole with friendship and laughter again. Joce is still here, that’s awesome. There’s Skype, too. That helps. And I’ve got a good stash of memories from this summer past to hold me over until then. But still, I just want to have my people close all the time. I’m selfish like that.

Cheers, Sara! I hope year two is every bit the adventure that the first one was. I miss you. But I’ll see you soon, it’s not so long until we’re together again. Enjoy your journey.

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“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…

De-Slutifying Halloween!

I can feel the grin spread across my face as I sit here mentally categorizing all of the things I love about Halloween. I know it’s become a heavily commercialized holiday, and all of the ways in which we celebrate are perversions of its true meaning. But blah blah blah I don’t care. I like it this way! I like that it’s an excuse for kids to run around the neighbourhood hyped up on sugar and begging for candy from strangers like starving mongrels. I like that my need to binge on cheesy old horror movies is enabled by almost all of the channels on t.v. for two weeks of the year. I love that I can get belligerently drunk while wearing a hilarious costume. I love the decorations, the ghouls, the pranks, the candy, and all the mischief that’s afoot.

Most importantly though, I love that this holiday has absolutely nothing to do with love, peace on earth, romance, gift exchanges, or gratitude of any kind. This isn’t some bitch ass little holiday where we’re supposed to tell each other how we feel and play nice with one another for the sake of the holidays. This isn’t the kind of holiday that forces you to take a long hard look at yourself and overanalyze the nature of your relationships and personal goals, or think too hard about what you’re doing with your life. You’re too busy handing out candy and trying to scare people to be bothered with all that garbage.

Halloween is hedonism in its most pure form, and that is something I can really get down with. It’s a time to let your imagination soar! To come up with the most creative costume, to have the most intense and riveting display of decorations, to eat gluttonous amounts of candy unabashedly! What other holiday simultaneously encourages you to stay out all night terrorizing the neighbourhood, or pass out early with candy wrappers littering your chest in front of the television? You can have your fun-size Mars bar and eat it too!

The only aspect of Halloween that I have disdainful feelings towards is the part where girls dress like sluts. Costumes are about being creative, funny, charming, spooky, and/or clever. They’re not about putting on a thong and a pair of wings and calling yourself a frickin’ butterfly or something equally stupid. And don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I have a problem with people showing off their bodies. More power to you if you’ve been lucky enough to get a hot one. But why does it have to be on Halloween? Why can’t you be brave enough to dress like a slut on any other normal day of the year?

I realize a lot of people are out to get some on Halloween, which is probably a huge factor when deciding to put on that slut-bag costume. But do you think you’re not as likely to score in a slightly more modest costume? Maybe if you aim to look glamorous, beautiful, or cute as opposed to cheap you’ll wind up in a costume that is still flattering to your figure, but doesn’t garner negative attention from your peers. Added bonus: you get to go home with your dignity intact!

Less is not always more with costumes. Physical attractiveness fades in time, and an awesome personality is for life. The earlier you start cultivating that winning personality, the better off you’ll be.

On the flip side of that, all the unintelligible sluts flooding the parties and bars make the rest of us who possess remarkable craftsmanship, personality, wit, and imagination really stand out. Which is why every year I use Halloween as an opportunity to be myself while bucking the norms. I come up with costumes that are fun, that people get a laugh out of, and that tell the world I’m a one-of-a-kind chick. Who, with only a kick-ass personality and flair for drag can captivate her peers on Halloween without a slutty gimmick.

I get out there every year, to the parties and bars, clad in my hilarious non-sexualized costume to combat the bullshit. When you’re trying to endure some tedious conversation with a slutty twerp at a party, or you feel like you might have a stroke because of all the body glitter and overexposure, you can take comfort in the thought that Smash is out there. I’m out there looking a fool for you. I’m out there to inspire others, because you can have a great costume without sacrificing your self-respect.

See for yourself!

Snoochies boochies! Halloween 2009

Hocus Pocus! Halloween 2008

That rug really tied the room together, man! Halloween 2011

And this year’s costume was no exception!

Welcome to Riverdale! Halloween 2012

Archie’s working that charm…

The people we talked to at the party and ran into while cruising through the city really dug our costumes. We got a lot of compliments and laughs because people love to see something they don’t expect. It’s refreshing to see a girl go silly instead of skanky.

It also didn’t hurt that we were hanging out with these jokers all night:

beep beep, coming through bitches!

By the end of the night the scoreboard read:

Awesome Costumes—1

Sluts—0

We put forth another solid effort of thumbing our noses to the slutty costume trend this year. There will always be sluts lurking around on Halloween, we’ll never be able to quash vanity entirely. But hopefully we gained a few more Awesome Costume allies!