Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tales from the Tavern
This is not a new tale, nor a unique tale, but it is mine own. It is not particularly significant, just one more leaf fallen from the Tree of Humanity. But such a compost those leaves have produced...

Last Saturday, as I do nearly every other week, I bundled up the recyclables, emptied the trash, and went on a dump run. Autumn has fully taken hold of the Hudson Valley, and it was pleasant to be out and about. On the way home, as is my wont, I stopped off at a favourite tavern for a pint and some wings. The Beertender and waitstaff know me as a regular, and other Locals nodded in recognition. I don't know their names, nor they mine, but we occasionally share wry commentary and small chit-chat.

I have been frequenting this establishment since I began college, back when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, or, as the Green Man reckons it, September 12th, 1971. Some of the fellows seated at the bar might have been seniors when I was a freshman; some might have been freshman when I was a senior. Some might be recent arrivals, local vendors and service providers. Presence, recognition, and casual exchanges, some of the lubricants that help society to function.

Hoisting the pint in my hand, I considered that other lubricant as well. Fermented beverage. Yeast-shit. As best archaeology can tell us, around 9000 years olde, produced in every culture other than arctic. A mixed blessing; I remember nights so intoxicated that, no, I really don't remember them at all. Under its influence, relationships may be severed. A number of my compatriots have been pulled from their vehicles, and failing to recite the alphabet, backwards, standing on one foot and alternating nose-touches, joined that expensive club of those driven under the influence.

But alcoholic drink has also facilitated the sharing of tragedy and complication, of celebration and entertainment, and has sometime strengthened the bonds of companionship. As best the tales tell, from antiquity to modernity, it has ever been thus. Having myself tended bar, I understand the admixture of personalities and the beverage imbibed. I have heard tales of days gone by; of the secret underground conduits before Repeal; of the extended living-room on every corner, first to offer radio, and then, television, to gather after long weary weeks of manual labour and be entertained by Fibber McGee and Molly; to cheer, or jeer, events in the House that Ruth Built; to hear a President's Call to Arms as the American fleet burned at Oahu. My father recollected being sent as a child to the corner to fetch a pail of beer; my Ur-aunt told of the gathering place where recent immigrants of foreign tongue could have their documents translated while nursing a ouiskey and cigar. I have visited taverns where Patriots quaffed brandy and rum, and plotted revolution; so it has been, whether it was Roman pub or German brauhaus, or earlier, rude village huts with bitter and clotted brews.

If one day man is settled on Luna, a flask will accompany. NASA prohibits alcohol in orbit, but are the cosmonauts so Puritan?

As I write, an aromatic amber fluid glimmers beside me in a very small glass. Sip, and revise. Reminisce, sip, and consider. One of the most mixed of Blessings; a tasty treat, a lethal draught. Stop, when good sense reminds you. Buy a round when your pocket is full. But always attend to your companions; the dates may change, but the human patterns remain.

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At 7:15 AM, Anonymous Socks said...

Ah, yes - a calming brew in a darkened room. Perhaps one watches the television, or maybe just views it occasionally. Relaxing contemplation with perhaps a nod, or a word or two exchanged with a fellow-patron. So delightful! You did mention DUI, however, so I must add that I wouldn't even consider the idea of a solo visit to a friendly tavern, now that we reside in "car country." It's a shame, too. Your description made me so nostalgic....


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