During my third medical year at McGill Medical School, I shared a poorly air-conditioned apartment with three roommates on Sherbrooke Street. My father, who had an upscale ladies’ wear dress shop in Ottawa, would travel to Montreal three to four Fridays a year, visiting several manufacturers on Saturday and selecting those garments he wished to purchase as inventory for the upcoming season. One particular weekend, the weather in Montreal was impossibly stifling. As it turned out, my roommates and I were all on call for the weekend and thus our apartment was vacant. So we invited my dad to stay overnight, and then the next day he could visit each of his manufacturers.
My roommates were multi-talented and one, who shall go unnamed, was a real beer aficionado. Using a secret formula, he brewed beer in our bathtub, which served as an excellent still, following which he would bottle the beer and place it, unlabelled, in our refrigerator. My father, wandering about the vacant apartment, desperately searching for a cool spot, opened the refrigerator and found what apparently was about a dozen bottles of beer.
Because he was so warm and so thirsty, he decided he would try one. The beer was surprisingly tasty and after a bottle he was feeling refreshed, although still quite warm; thus, he assumed that he would feel even more refreshed if he drank a second bottle. By this time, he was feeling quite sleepy, managing only part of a third bottle of beer, before he quickly fell asleep for the night. When he finally awakened, he was shocked to see that it was 3:30 on Saturday afternoon, a time when all of his manufacturers would be closing for the weekend. He phoned each of them, explaining that something had come up and, unfortunately, he would be a “no show.”
At a later date, my father invited all four of us out for a delicious Friday evening lobster dinner, following which we invited him to sleep over again at our apartment. My dad said he was very appreciative, but he thought this time he should try a hotel!
Recently, I spoke with my other roommate, Gordon Bashant, who is alive and well, thriving in a very successful second career as an accomplished artist. Previously, he was a highly respected surgeon. Sadly, our other two roommates – Ellisworth Littler and Roland (Ron) Hok – have passed on. Gordie remembered well the episode that I have described above. He particularly remembers the lobster dinner that followed!
(PS Gordie was not the beer maker!)
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