On January 1, 2010 my wife and, I along with my parents, went to Toronto to watch NIU play in a bowl game after which we were driving to Detroit to watch the Bears beat up on the Lions.  We were staying at the team hotel and the hotel that every other NIU fan was staying at so there was quite an atmosphere. After getting settled in we had a bite to eat and being that it was still early decided on a couple of drinks.  Not daring to go outside we opted to join the revelry at the hotel bar.  If anyone has been to Toronto in January you can relate, it is not unlike the planet Hoth from Star Wars fame.  There is an underground network of streets and walkways so locals aren’t exposed to the extreme cold any more than necessary.

The bar was packed, there was red and black (go Huskies) swarming everywhere. Drinks were flowing and the conversations, as a result, were growing ever louder in anticipation of a Huskie win, sadly it was not to be. My wife and I made our way from our table up to the bar after my parents called it a night. While we were sitting there I innocently commented that the bar tender reminded me of yet another bartender that works all weddings at the Serbian Orthodox church of all places. It’s a great place by the way, any church/religion that has a full bar?  That’s religion I can get down with.  Anyway, my wife kind of looked at the guy out of the corner of her eye with a half turn of her head and gave me an unconvinced;

“Meh, I guess so”.

Leaving it alone I left to go to the bathroom.  At this point she must have kept looking at the guy, deciding I was right, because as I returned and sat down she let out a,

“Jeli si ti Serbian?’ (Are you Serbian?)

The bartender’s head snapped up like a racehorse in the starting block upon hearing that and it was on from there. I was completely left out of the conversation as they yapped like two sorority sisters at a reunion, in Serbian of course.  Once the bartender got close enough we were able to read his name tag; Predrag, pretty big clue that he wasn’t a native Canuck.  Pete, as I called him the rest of the night, was quite a charming guy as any good bartender should be. While he entertained us our conversation and his accent caught the ear of a blonde lady sitting next to us and she asked if he was Russian.

He said, “No”.

She then asked, “How many languages do you speak?”

He answered, “Two.”

“What is your favorite language to speak?”

Without hesitation he remarked, “My favorite language is the language of love”.

I almost fell out of my chair while trying to choke down the mouth full of scotch that I had at the brazen pass he made.  After I got it down I let out a cough-laugh hybrid while covering my mouth, trying not to blast flecks of spit on my wife and tears welling up in my eyes.   Pete became my hero for the night with that line. That and the two rounds he bought us later. Sadly I don’t think the gentleman sitting next to the blonde found him to be as hilarious as I did.

So, as is my custom after meeting a new Serb, I have to ask about Promaja.  At first Pete didn’t hear me ask, so I just raised voice a tad and said “Promaja”.  That got a laugh.  “Thats why I get headaches, because there’s nothing in there”, he said pointing to his head.   He was able to prove that shortly after when he broke a glass.  That in and of itself doesn’t mean much, but I started to wonder if he wasn’t kidding when he didn’t clean up the glass.  At all.  Him and his co-worker just kept stepping on the glass all night ever slowly grinding it into sand.  But redemption was had when he bought us a round.

Watch out for that breeze you crazy bastard.


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