I’ve always thought of Canada as a big cold place where people speak some strange version of French and all wear a lot of fur. These opinions came from middle school French and social studies, and they never changed because it was always more fun to mock Canada than to learn about it.

This past New Year’s Eve, I learned a few things. Canada is not simply aboot weird pronunciation and hunting. It’s also a land where the laws we all grew up with don’t apply. If there was ever a place to run amok, Montreal is it.

Upon arrival the day before New Year’s Eve, I checked into a hotel with four of my friends, along with approximately 800 other Americans, all hell-bent on drinking as much alcohol and being as loud as humanly possible. For a while I was embarrassed to be an American, and then I remembered that I was in Canada, and since the only Canadians I had actually seen up to that point were at the front desk, I figured it was okay. Think of Montreal on New Year’s Eve as the house that people rent to throw a party in and then leave when everything is broken.

I soon realized the real reason why Americans are permitted to do whatever they want. Canada needs us. They need us for our dollar bills since all they have is the crappy dollar coin.

Why do they need dollar bills, you may ask? That’s easy. As a bunch of drunken American idiots, the first thing my friends and I did when we were able to leave our hotel room without falling down was head on over to Supersexe, the world-famous strip joint. (I know, I know, you may not have to wear a coat and tie like at Scores, but this place is classy. The seats are actually cloth and not vinyl, and they serve drinks in real glasses).

At this club it is easy to realize that without American dollars, the strippers would have nothing to dance for. Trust me, there’s no way they’ll take that dollar coin out of your mouth. We tried. Without the American dollar bill, the strippers would go out of business, discontenting large numbers of lonely, single males, allowing them to see that yes, indeed, they are Canadian. Surely riots would ensue.

Even though I never actually saw the city in daylight, I am familiar with some of its more charming characteristics. Montreal is an incredibly safe place with a very efficient fast food industry dwarfing anything New York might have to offer. We figured this out when one member of our party managed to get himself separated from the group for upwards of five hours. He could barely stand, and yet he stumbled back into our hotel at five in the morning without once being pushed, taunted or offered hard drugs, and he only had to run from the police once. No one really knows what happened to him during his missing hours, but he did manage to eat about two-and-a-half pounds in hamburgers at various Burger Kings scattered through the city.

St. Laurent is the street to be on if clubbing is on your agenda. I spent my New Year’s Eve at a place called Tokyo Bar with about 500 other Americans and a few Canadian bartenders. Those Canadians do know how to throw a good party, though. They were even kind enough to let one of my friends steal a bottle of fine vodka, which I found was very useful for making friends fast. People love you if they think you bought them alcohol. Just don’t tell them that it’s from a stolen bottle and poured into a used shot glass that was lifted off the bar.

The trip as a whole was a total success. We all survived with only a minimum of bruises and no serious injuries despite walking down the middle of the street and wrestling in snow banks on the side of the road. The only casualty of the trip was the hotel room, and luckily I was out of there before the cleaning lady even had a chance. And I learned a lesson. Sometimes it’s good to get away. And Montreal’s the place to go if you want to abuse a culture that will take it all lying flat on its back.