Babes, boats and Burts and Burts and Burts of beer

Summers in Manitoba are unparalleled. For anyone who has not seen the sun rise over a marsh in the middle of nowhere, or woken in a ditch, blissfully happy with the universe while plagued by a swarm of fat, thirsty mosquitoes, there is a chasm that must be crossed before a common ground can be found. It’s hard to explain, but not impossible.

The other day — arguably the first day of “real spring” weather — I was out on a brief booze cruise around the Central Business District with my band mates The Dank and The Doctor. We picked up Clamato juice, some vitamin D and a wad of cash money from the Safeway and headed to the vendor, then to The Doctor’s office where we would spend the night drinking. As we pulled out of the rent-a-cop patrolled parking lot, the first apparition of full on summer presented herself to us.

“Holy hell,” said The Dank, staring to our right out the window. “That girl is a babe!”

The Dank wasn’t shitting us. Babes were back on the Winnipeg streets. Yes. Before days’ end, we happened across dozens of them. Short skirts, tight shirts and high heels were out, again, in force.

“God bless summer,” The Dank was heard to proclaim, attempting a left hand turn at high speed while gazing, awestruck, at one such beauty. “God bless summer in Winnipeg!”

The Dank somehow pulled the turn off fine, and we piled out at the Doctor’s with a half-Burt and a bottle of clam. Forget California, Mike; Winnipeg is full, chock full, of unbelievable babes. God bless summer in Winnipeg!

After a bunch of cold beers we got to talking about another ass-kicking aspect of Manitoba summers: boats. One of my earliest memories of Winnipeg, actually, is of cruising down the Red in a boat my Grandpa Jensen built, and some relation scolding me when I tried, innocently, to drink the river water from the wake.

“Don’t do that,” they said, rather concerned. “Or we’ll have to take you to the goddamn hospital!”

By dragon boat, powerboat, paddlewheel or canoe, the Red River, disgusting poison trough that it may be, is a goddamn pleasure to sit beside, let alone boat atop. That being as it may, there are 100,000+ lakes in our provincial boundaries that are therefore going to automatically be even more awesome to boat on or sit and fish on the shores of.

One hundred fucking thousand!

“Why do anything else,” The Doctor once said, in all sincerity, “when you could boat?”

Now, drinking and boating is illegal, and therefore immoral in the eyes of our Mighty God etc. ad nauseum. But really, is drinking a fucking beer on a fucking boat on the only fucking day above 30 degrees that Manitoba may receive in one revolution of the Earth around the sun really something to look down upon, much less prosecute against?

Really? Fuck off.

Beers and boats go well together, as do boats and babes — not to mention babes and beer!

Beer is dirt cheap in Manitoba, with almost the cheapest price in the entire country, and praise someone for that! At this time of year, my all-time favourite colloquial expression comes into conversation a lot around the beer vendors of our great city.

“Gimme a Burt of Bud,” someone ahead of you in line will say. The beer troll at the their service will obediently deliver 30 corresponding cold malted beverages, be they Bud, Blue, Busch or Lucky Lager.

Only in Manitoba is an unhealthy designation of alcohol named in honour of a locally born and bred member of the Order of Canada! In the some circles, Burton Cummings is synonymous with being awesome and partying, and being awesome and partying is likewise synonymous with over-indulgence in alcohol.

God bless summer in Manitoba! Knowing, as you do, that the person picking up the Burt ahead of you is going to be having a goddamn blast tonight, you sidle up to the counter yourself.

“Gimme a Burt of Blue,” you’ll say, regardless of your initial intention. And so the summer will pass.

There is nothing that I have ever seen that compares to the sun setting on Clear Lake in June, or the sun rising purple and brilliant off the prairie wetlands at dawn. It is, quite literally, “something else.”

Vancouver may have the mountains, the weather and the coast; Toronto and Montreal might have their history, their culture, their douchebags and their bagels, but Manitoba is a world unto its own.

Suck a bag of debt, B.C.! Burn in hell, Ontario! Parlez-vous a fuck off, Quebec! It’s summer time here in Manitoba! Party on!

Sheldon Birnie is the Comment Editor at the Manitoban.