And the big "night out" with the boys, Saturday, the first of Stampede. G, the new Italian waiter and I set out for Ranchmans after work.

Strange to say, in 20 years of Calgary, I've never been. It's amazing. By which I mean, I'm not a cowboy by a long shot, but they do it up well with all the western props and such, it's a proper hillbilly bar, many a bar outside of Calgary could learn something here. This is what you expect to stumble into in the Bayou or one of those dire pubs hidden in the wastelands of Montana. And, being Stampede, it's packed. Packed with maybe a thousand people, maybe more, hard to guess, all in various stages of inebriation, all held up by the press of the crowd, I've been nominated the designated driver and so the boys take turns buying me diet cokes, and with a sober eye it's hard not to laugh, but still I'm impressed, the new Italian waiter, it's the first time he's been properly out, he's only seen Calgary through the skewed lens of the restaurant, 100 year old dowagers feted by 80 year old children, he's pleasantly astonished: "It's a pussy paradise!!" he tells me, and sets off to find some prey. There's no shortage of prey here, only his tastes range towards the asian, and there's only a few of those here, guarded by rather large pumped boyfriends, I worry a little about the possibility of a brawl.

Not to worry, as hammered as he gets he's too charming to take offense to...

Cue circus music, boys get inebriated, G finds his way home via a girlfriend, I drive the Italian waiter, he's enthused about this bar, wants to come back, solicits my promise to return next Saturday, exactly what I need, more sober nights out, ...