God sees the truth, but waits*

Well, I may have inadvertently stumbled on the worst pickup line in the history of the world, or at least in the history of Russian literature. “Hey, I just finished reading War and Peace. Want to help me celebrate?”**

But give me a break–you try reading a 1,215 page Russian novel while staying COMPLETELY SOBER, and then not talk about it endlessly, even at a birthday bash for a 23-year-old.

img_5883.jpgErin S.–still with her whole life ahead of her to read War and Peace!

It was Saturday night, and I’d finally finished the Tolstoy classic I had started reading Jan. 1. Diligent adherence to a regimen of 40-50 pages a day had kept me on track, with a few days to spare before reaching my goal of Jan. 31. The thing was, I’d made a deal with myself to stay sober for all of January; then I decided well, 28 days should do the trick. Then I realized, I deserve a reward for finishing this doorstop, and so the bargain was made—when I finished reading the Russian epic I could have a drink.


Well, the joke was on me in more ways than one. I mean, have you ever read War and Peace? Not only is it long but—okay, here’s the thing. It’s really good. I mean, obviously. It’s great. Some parts require more concentration than others—the battle scenes, for instance. But the drawing-room stuff, the relationships between family members and lovers and friends, all that stuff’s a breeze and a joy to read. Tolstoy was a master, after all. But and so. There you are reading this big book and enjoying the characters and everything, and then the main story ends and there’s an epilogue of about 70 pages. Keep in mind at this point you just want to finish the damn thing and have a big glass of vodka. And then you realize that nearly all 70 pages is a dense, practically unreadable discourse on history, how we can never really know the causes of an event, and on the nature of free will.


But I persevered. And, upon finishing, I had that drink, and then another. By the time the Wingman picked me up I already had a buzz on. But again, this being a night fate decided to play a big old joke on me, and my first buzz in nearly a month came crashing down when I encountered, upon reaching our destination, Wingy’s completely tanked, giggly, and Taser-worthy buddy Ivan (a Russian! how fateful is that?), and his equally messy date.


We found ourselves at the Lamplighter (http://www.thelamplighter.ca/), a Gastown nightspot that has undergone more facelifts than Courtney Love—from a drug bar with classic rock cover bands to an indie-rock club with live original music. Now, it’s part of a local entertainment chain and features DJs not old enough to shave spinning Electric Light Orchestra.


Anyway, to bring it all back home… we were there for Erin S., a co-worker of Wingy’s celebrating her 23rd birthday. She introduced me to a few of her cute friends but I could only talk about War and Peace. For some reason this doesn’t seem to be a turn-on for girls! The wingman spotted a locally-based VJ and we went over to talk to her and her friends, but then drunk Ivan, who’d been sitting in a corner with his date the whole time, insisted on going to go to another dance club up the street. To cut a long story short, a few minutes later, after Wingy had left to get Ivan into the other place, I found myself experiencing one of those moments where, if it had been a movie, the room would have been spinning around while distorted faces laughed and fingers pointed in my general direction and Rod Stewart’s “Young Turks” played on the soundtrack.


If all that wasn’t enough to prove a Tolstoy kind of fate wasn’t on my side, I woke up the next day hung over—and determined to not drink again. At least until I’ve finished Remembrance of Things Past.

*Leo Tolstoy

**Shawn Conner

1 Response to “God sees the truth, but waits*”

  1. 1 mark
    September 14, 2008 at 4:00 pm

    duude! i just finished reading war and peace as well. When you read the last sentence you cant believe that its over. It took me over two years to finish it. Sneaking in pages between classes and reading the online copy on my computer at work. I almost cried for the first time since i was a little kid when i thought Pierre was going to be shot … haha … Whaaaaat a book! .. i dont know how anybody could write such a thing …

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