Quadrophonic Malloy

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The Winnipeg basement artistry of Chris Malloy.

I haven’t seen the subject of this post, my high school friend Chris Malloy, in years, possibly since shortly after the original 2008 publication date. We lost touch after a backyard incident at my parents’ house…

… when I practically forcibly ejected him from the premises. I tried to get in touch this past summer on my annual visit back, but couldn’t get in touch. It’s a shame. Chris, if you’re reading this—mazel tov!

Winnipeg tourist attractions—Chris Malloy’s basement

It strikes me, a week after arriving back home in Vancouver, that I haven’t wrapped up my story of my trip back to my hometown. The 10-day non-vacation (at least half the time was spent working or with relations) offered a chance to reacquaint myself with family and friends and, as is my wont, to consider all the ways my life has gone wrong since I left the warmth of the family hearth, if not the womb.

All in all, I’d say the trip was a success. True, I didn’t manage to talk my way out of staying at my parents’ (the food is questionable, the service worse, and I have no fondness for my old room, a small dank basement unit with wood-panelling where I spent my troubled teenage years and which is now full of my nephew’s sports equipment). And true, the mosquitoes were bad, though perhaps not as bad as in Hellboy II. And the weather was not great, especially the last few days, when I actually had to wear long pants and a hoodie.

A typical Winnipeg mosquito.

But I did reconnect with my friend Dennis and his lovely wife Sandra. In fact, my one venture out into Winnipeg nightlife—not counting hipster karaoke on the Wednesday night—was with Dennis, Sandra, and Sandra’s cousin Steiny (short for Thorstein–he’s Icelandic). Steiny was down from the Pas, a northern Manitoba (meaning: colder than an icebox in winter) settlement of about 6,000. I’m not sure what, exactly, he made of Alive, the nightclub we went to last Friday. Sandra had asked around to find out where to go, and when to get there to avoid a lineup. We avoided a lineup, all right. We also avoided any other patrons, at least until half an hour later.

That’s when the Badabing party bus rolled up outside the club. A red carpet was unfurled, and a couple of dozen 20somethings in various states of inebriation tumbled out. We moved from a window seat to a table overlooking the dancefloor, which was suddenly semi-populated. Then the Miller Genuine Draft girls appeared, and set up a tub full of beer. As the evening wore on, the zippers on their jumpers got lower. Around 11 the evening’s entertainment, a cover band called the Boom, hit the stage. Let’s just say, it takes some nerve on the part of management to post a dress code that specifies “no white shoes”, and then employs a band that covers Bryan Adams songs.

A visit to the Malloy Dome

The man, the myth.

One disappointment of the trip was that my high school drinking partner, Chris Malloy, never called back about a visit. This is too bad because he’s always good for a story. A great big bloke, black hair, uni-brow, the youngest of a big Irish family, he has the sickest imagination and sense of humour of anyone I know. If you’ve seen the movie Superbad, specifically the end credits—which play over drawing after drawing of cocks, an obsession of one of the main (male) characters—you’ll have some idea of the kind of drawings that found their way onto Malloy’s notebook paper during chemistry class.

He has gone on to marry and breed—two daughters at last count. My last visit to his house in the Winnipeg suburbs was typical: he ushered me downstairs to his basement domain, poured me a rye-and-Coke, and gave me a tour. There, amidst the models (a Monkees car, a Starship Enterprise), Beatles paraphernalia, and a ’70s pinball machine, he treated me to a classic Malloy performance. He popped in a videocassette of footage of him playing guitar on a picket line from when he and his fellow casino workers were on strike, and pressed “play” on a cassette mix of classic rock tunes and his own 4-track originals. He handed me a scrapbook, which featured all his appearances in the local print media, from high school basketball photos to news stories about his picket line serenading. Then, while his voice warbled out of the speakers and he appeared on TV and I flipped through the clips of long-ago exploits, he talked about himself. Quadrophonic Malloy.

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