Everything you ever (and maybe never) wanted to know about LBHQ

Last night it occurred to me that this blog might not make much sense to my newer readers. Only so much can be rationalized by the statement “I was drunk,” so perhaps a summary would help catch new readers up.

LBHQ (Liquorstore Bear Headquarters) consists of four humans (five if you count Dolly—more on that later) and countless animals. Occasionally humans visit from outside (grandparents, uncles, aunts, friends), and of course the animal pile grows with every gift-giving occasion. Of all of us, there’s only one self-avowed alcoholic (guess who). But there are plenty of liquor aficionados, which keeps the supply slowly trickling through LBHQ (and I do mean trickling, as in seeping). So, MFI (that’s you, my fellow inebriates), here are the short strokes.


The Humans


Formerly self-employed but now working for the man, Dad is the quintessential geek. Never without a handful of electronic devices, he is plugged in all day, all the time, without ever being punctual.

  • Music
  • Stereo gear
  • Golf (in his dreams)


Brimming with frustration and often spinning her career wheels, the Talking Heads lyric “How did I get here?…” best explains her parenting. Although she usually has my back, she would be fully capable of buying a bear-skin rug.

  • Eating
  • Reading
  • Heaving steel

Miss P

With two months till her seventh birthday and a smile devoid of the important teeth, P’s power to frighten bears has recently ratcheted up.

  • Dressing up
  • Dressing bears up
  • Bonking bears on the head

Miss V

The most intense personality at LBHQ, V loves all animals, as long as they do her bidding. She is that kid who, when you say you’re really leaving the playground and she’d better come along or she’ll get left behind, will never fall for it.

  • Demanding food and then ignoring it
  • Celebrating birthdays (Chihuahua has had at least 15 this year)
  • World domination


Part cyborg, part human, all mama to my dad, Nana doesn’t visit us often enough, but when she does she brings Italian and French wines, enlarging our tasting repertoire and messing with my dad by making him guess how much they cost.

  • Hosting massive parties
  • Creating one-of-a-kind cakes (the kids say they “want kirsch” in the next one; don’t ask me how they thought of it)
  • Replacing her knees with high-tech implants


Not a cyborg but married to one, Papa is my dad’s dad, and very good at it. Industrious and project-oriented, he always has something going on.

  • Co-hosting massive parties
  • Wine tasting
  • Spying on birds

The Animals


Apocalyptic and mangy, Scary can remember a time before kids when he had the TV all to himself. Asked about his origins, Scary will tell you he was caught in a leghold trap and brought by force to Toys R Us, right before he caught a giant salmon…

  • Science fiction
  • Conspiracy theory
  • Speculating how the world will end

Blackie Bear

My go-to friend when I feel anxious, Blackie also hails from the liquor store, although he doesn’t romanticize it the way I do. He thinks we need more girl bears at LBHQ, and he’s probably right.

  • Relaxing
  • Chilling
  • Letting me misquote him


Three inches tall and attached to a hook, Chihuahua is Miss V’s most prized animal. The one time she “accidentally” tore its hook off, she screamed until it was sewn back on.

  • Yapping
  • Getting lost in small spaces
  • Appearing suddenly at the dinner table

Fluffy Bear

Scary’s long-lost and much fluffier twin, Fluffy lived seven years in Ireland with our granny. Shipped to LBHQ after her death last year, Fluffy is perpetually catatonic. He uses his mind (presumably under Granny’s control) to make things go bump in the night. I am totally freaked out by him.

  • Staring
  • Listening
  • Plotting


My sometimes-but-mostly-not girlfriend, Dolly often gets lost in the toybox. Her open-minded attitude toward interspecies coupling lends refreshing perspective to LBHQ. Because she is a proven furvert, I’m including her with the animals.

  • Sarcasm alternated with confusingly genuine affection
  • Bear-baiting
  • YouTube projects


THE WOLFTRAP SYRAH MOURVEDRE VIOGNIER (2010)—Further proof of the Fluffy Problem

No matter what kinds of irresponsible shit I do, no matter how many hours I spend per day passed out or violating someone else’s personal space, my friends have my back.

I didn’t expect an outpouring of sympathy over my girlfriend Dolly’s defection to Fluffy, my deceased Granny’s teddy bear and probable golem. I failed Dolly in all sorts of ways—I even forgot about her for stretches. So I realize I deserved to get bounced.

But my friends rallied! Check it out, my fellow inebriates: my friend Scarybear, who doesn’t even really like me, had an idea.

OMG! Should I hit the “Like” button?

Except I really don’t hate Fluffy. He’s too out-to-lunch to warrant any antipathy. To give you an example of his coma state, the other night we were enjoying THE WOLFTRAP SYRAH/MOURVEDRE/VIOGNIER (2010), and I offered Fluffy some. He didn’t even move. What the hell?

A $15 Friday-night splurge, THE WOLFTRAP had caught my parents’ attention with its unusual blend of varietals, vinified separately and then combined as per South African winemaking law. Sixty-five percent syrah was the perfect answer to my fruit-forward jones, and the 32% mourvedre component promised to weigh in with earthy tannins and structure. And the bonus: 3% viognier for spice. The combo didn’t disappoint.

Although I never advocate cellaring anything unless you’re so made of money that you can afford other things to drink while your precious wines develop, I did find myself wondering what a year or two would do for THE WOLFTRAP. Yes, it was rich and heavy and leggy with generous black fruits, floral notes, spice, and it had a satisfying mellowness, but its oak ageing was quite conspicuous. I’d venture that—if one could handle waiting to crack this bottle—it would pay dividends in terms of maturity. Still, it didn’t lack for balance; it was an excellent casual sipper and a great find for the money.

If I were Fluffy and my new bear friend LB were offering me wine, I would have responded somehow—maybe nodded, advanced toward the glass, or something. But Fluffy was completely impassive.

AND YET. Since Fluffy arrived, Strange Things have been happening in the house. Noises. Cold spots. Girlfriend stealing.

I asked Dolly if it bothered her that Fluffy is probably possessed by Granny’s ghost. She said, “Isn’t he cuddly? He smells like Fleecy.” Punctuated with a giggle.

I think Dolly might be a sociopath. She is a known furvert (Type 4 furrie) whose fetish leads her to seek the sexual company of bears, but she nevertheless admires Toshiko Shek’s decapitated-bear purses. If there is a dichotomy here, Dolly is unaware of it.

Given Fluffy’s lack of response to Dolly’s affections and how undeterred she is, she might also be a necrophile. But I’ll stop right there because I don’t want to say anything bad about her.

I wish she’d come back. 😦

In the meantime, my friend Rachael had a tremendous idea:

I suggest trying a Ouija Board with Fluffy. Maybe you’ll be able to break through that catatonia and find the REAL reason that bear is so frighteningly quiet.

Would that work? We don’t have a Ouija board here at LBHQ; my mum has too much Catholic baggage to permit one in the house. So how can I get hold of one without her knowing???


My morning child abuse (abuse by children, if you haven’t been following) came with a reminder that today is a special day. I truly wouldn’t have remembered if Miss P hadn’t bounced around all morning about it—today is the day we defer to a soil-dwelling rodent on questions of climate. It’s Groundhog Day, my fellow inebriates, which means the creature will give us an opportunity today to either laugh off global warming or get up in arms about it.

Of course there’s a multiplicity of prognosticating vermin throughout North America. With a six-year lifespan, you can bet Punxsutawney Phil isn’t the original Punxsutawney Phil—unless Chuck Testa did an unusually good job reanimating him. Groundhogs mate like crazy between March and April, producing two to six young at a time, so there’s always a fresh supply for—given the media resources that get dedicated to the annual event—what must be the deadest day ever for actual news.

Cheesy Canadiana and/or Americana always make me feel like a beer, and with Miss P safely off to grade one, I decided to crack an ALEXANDER KEITH’S RED AMBER ALE. The cans had appeared in our fridge following a rare visit from (even rarer) friends of my parents—a “slumming it” product that I would certainly buy to take to someone’s house if I didn’t necessarily care about retaining their respect, or if I thought maybe I could trade up to something better in their fridge.

Everything about the pour suggests mass-produced domestic beer—hockey beer, if you will. The color is aggressively orange, the head loose and half-hearted. In terms of smell this amber ale doesn’t give much away; you have to just take the plunge and taste it.

And much the way my on-again-off-again-mostly-off girlfriend Dolly describes an evening with me, ALEXANDER KEITH’S RED AMBER ALE is pretty much a waste of time. It’s ordinary: tangy but sweet and thin with insufficient malt—the sort of brew that reinforces a general sense of unmet expectations and thereby propels the drinker toward more serious alcohol earlier in the day than planned. I do therefore recommend it for non-daytime imbibers as a method of jumping the mental hurdle into “Why not?” territory.

As I started a second can, I wondered if Dolly would be interested in Groundhog Day simply because of her fur fetish. Plenty of people share her proclivities, and with Valentine’s Day looming, they are probably stirring in their burrows much like Punxsutawney Phil and Wiarton Willie.

Social stigma hinders fur fetishists even more than it does daytime drinkers. According to my sources, “furries” fall into five categories, none of which dovetail too well with mainstream mores.

  • Fursuiters (those who like to dress up)
  • Otherkins (those who believe they are animal in spirit)
  • Furries (those who enjoy roleplay)
  • Furverts (those with fur fetishes plus every subset you can think of)
  • Trans-species (those who physically alter themselves to resemble kindred animals)

It was sweet of Dolly to cross the line into full-on bestiality with me, but I have to realize it’s over, and there are enough other bears in the house to give her whatever it is she needs without subjecting her to the odor of rancid beer. Drinking ALEXANDER KEITH’S RED AMBER ALE is my way of accepting Dolly’s rejection.

We all slum it sometimes, whether it be with Malibu or Alexander Keith’s. Dolly slummed it with me, but I think that was the bottom for her. And I don’t want to say anything mean about her. I really doubt she’d get that interested in a groundhog, even if it could predict the weather (which would be amazing given that the weather channel can’t).

So what happened anyway with North America’s groundhogs? Did they see their shadows?

According to the three most closely watched of these psychic vermin, spring is coming. So get out the hay fever meds, brush up on your climate-related conversation, and (Dad) take the Christmas tree down. Spring is sprung and love is in the air (unless you’re me).