CALGARY -- Despite all the skyscrapers, Calgary is at heart a yippee-ti-yi-yo sort of place. Consider the nightlife; our hosts for the evening are Hidy and Howdy, the cowboy-hatted stuffed bears who are the official mascots of the Winter Olympics.
First stop on our tour -- keep your arms and legs in the bus, ladies and gentlemen -- is the Longhorn Dance Hall. The required beverage there is Prairie Fire, a simple but potent mixture of tequila and Tabasco.
Incidentally, shots of whiskey are not to be picked up. The approved manner of ingestion is to lean over the bar, pick the glass up between your teeth, and throw your head back.
This is a real dance hall. They only do one dance there, the two-step, of course, to bands named "Cahoots," and "YaHoo." If you don't know how to do the two-step, a Buckle Bunny (cowboy groupie) will be happy to help you.
For those who like to use their hands when they eat and drink, there are more sedate establishments. Alberta beef is famed, and Caesars Steak House is one of the finest anywhere. Peter Jennings liked it, too, the other night.
At Hy's Steakhouse, a bartender says that the young Prince of Norway decided to take a night off from protocol, threw off his jacket, and rolled up the sleeves of his white button-down shirt. That proved to be a mistake, because the next thing he knew, a maitre d' had grabbed him. "Go bus that table," he was ordered. The Prince's secret service intervened before he could earn any tips.
The next stop is Ranchman, a sprawling clapboard place down a boulevard nicknamed Electric Avenue. Care should be taken entering the establishment, as visitors have been known to get poked in the eye by a stiletto high heel when some overenthusiastic bronco-buster decided to just pick up his date and carry her out the door feet first.
A lesson in etiquette. You don't order "a beer." You raise your voice and howl, "Gimme a Blue." If you follow the correct procedure, you should receive a cold Labatt's Blue, Canada's favorite.
For something more complicated, how about a "Cowgirl's Kiss," of coffee, Grand Marnier and kahlua, or "A Half Mile of Hell," which is two ounces of tequila, two ounces of anisette, and a touch of cherry whiskey.
Should all of this prove too much for you, the Ranchman has a soothing advertisement posted on the way out for Cowboy Ministries, a sect begun by a former champion calf roper who presumbably had a hangover.