In my third stint as a career alcoholic, I found myself drinking at Joey's on Jasper Avenue. What can I say? Home was few blocks away and the eye candy was in full effect.
Should we jump back before going forward? hmmm...Okay, let's do that. Let's take a trip into the distant past where we find ourselves on Whyte Avenue, home of the trendily damned. My first stint of dissolution was at the perennial Old Strathcona hotel, or "the Strat". That and alleys. And alone at home.
Fast forward ten years and I was at the Commercial Hotel (the Commie, Blues on Whyte) just about every single frakking night drinking piss beer and getting an education on the blues. I call this Phase Two. I'd occasionally wander over to the Black Dog but really, from where I was coming from, they were all just pretty kids trying to look dirty and "keep it real". Except me and my friends, who were totally different and completely awesome and kept it even real-er....
Back to the Story
So here I was at Joey Tomatoes, flirting with the bartendress and with the thought of hopping over to Red Star Pub when who should walk in but Ryan Smyth! Smytty, even.
I was, at the time, in a phase of disinterest with hockey and if it weren't for the girl I had been dating, probably wouldn't have even noticed him. But as it was I did notice, and since I was slightly drunk I decided to get his autograph for her.
Now let me pause here a moment and say this:
If anyone ever thinks of doing that, don't. Just Don't.
As soon as I reached his table where he had just sat down, I already felt like a grade-A creep. Then I asked for his Hancock and felt even smarmier. His wife glared at me and I probably shrunk about two feet. What was I thinking?
But you know what? Smyth smiled, said sure, and proceeded to give me his time, his attention and his autograph. Here I am a grown man interrupting his evening with his wife, and Ryan Smyth treats me with respect and cordiality.
Oilers play the Avs on Thursday, which put me in mind of Grabia's piece he wrote last year about Smyth's Return. A year later and I find those same old feelings sprouting up again. Even though he plays for "the enemy" and tens of thousands of fans seem to equate him with CFP or Brickboy, personally I'll be rooting for him. Not for his team but for him.
In my books, Smyth is the kind of guy the league should be imminently proud of and from both my personal experience and everything I've read about him, Edmonton should be proud that we once had this guy representing our city.
Good Luck Smytty.
And thanks for the autograph. It was a hit.