It will come as no surprise to those who know my family that I inherited my love of doing strange things from my father. Last summer, I found myself with two tickets to see Gogol Bordello at Danforth Music Hall and no one to go with. Since my father had been a fan of Gogol Bordello since I introduced him to the band a few summers ago, I told him about the concert and he said he would love to go. 

We drove along the Danforth on the day of the concert looking for somewhere to eat before the show. We had eaten Greek food recently, so we decided to try some place different. We happened upon an Ethiopian restaurant and decided to stop there. The first thing I noticed when we entered the restaurant was elaborate rugs covering the place. The second thing I noticed was that my father and I were the only white people there. If two tall white people weren’t conspicuous enough, I was dressed like I thought I was a hip-hop artist and I was wearing a fluorescent orange shirt. (In case you do not recall, fluorescents and snapbacks were big last summer.) We were shown to a low table and I thought enough to take off my snapback. My father and I knew nothing about Ethiopian food, so we picked out a few dishes from the menu that looked promising. The woman who seemed to be running the place — she was the only employee we saw — told us they were out of those options. We named a few more dishes and she told us they were out of those too. My father asked her what they weren’t of out. “Goat,” she said. “Then goat it is,” replied my father.

The woman returned a few minutes later with two bowls of soup and two overripe bananas. The bananas were almost completely black, and since both my father and I prefer our bananas to have a bit of green on them, we agreed to eat the soup and leave the bananas. When we finished, the woman collected the bowls and the bananas while we drank our tea in satisfaction. We didn’t have long to wait before she came out with the goat plates and the same overripe bananas from before. We ate the nicely spiced meat, rice and vegetables, again leaving the bananas. When we finished eating, we asked to have the remains packed up. We were given a plastic bag with two packed styrofoam containers and the two bananas, of course. “Those must be some really important bananas,” my father said.

We made it to the Danforth Music Hall just in time for the opening act, a Brendan Canning DJ set. He made no move to introduce himself, so no one other than my father and I knew he was from Broken Social Scene. He spun old reggae records for an hour, proudly displaying the album covers while the songs played. Most of the albums seemed to have been recorded in the sixties. After the most mellow hour I’ve ever experienced, my father left me near the stage to avoid the chaos to come. Gogol Bordello came on and a mosh pit erupted around me. I stayed in the mosh pit until I was covered in sweat — and not my own sweat — and I had been kicked in the head a few times. I moved towards the side of the venue to where my father stood with a group of people who he enthusiastically told me were Ethiopian. In fact, he was helping them to hold up the Ethiopian flag. (Gogol Bordello’s bass player is Ethiopian.) When the final encore was finished, my father introduced me to his new friends, all of whom hugged me and then him. We said good bye and walked out into the summer night smelling of exotic perfume and cologne. We never did eat those bananas.

Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures of us from that night, so the opening photo is from another time when we were in Toronto together and I was wearing a snapback. 

My father’s birthday is tomorrow, but I wanted to post this as a Story Time Wednesday to surprise him. Happy birthday Dad! I wish you great times, great friends, great music, and very few overripe bananas. I look forward to our next adventure.

Song of the Day: Immigrant Punk by Gogol Bordello

OR Ethiopia by Red Hot Chili Peppers, because it came on while I was writing this

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