Saturday, April 2, 2011

Pub King

In a land apart and a time ago there was a village characterized as so many were as a "one pub village". And as was the custom, the pub was where the men, and only some of the women would congregate to recount the events of the day and perhaps to talk a little treason. This made "pub time" an important event on anyone's calendar and led to the owner becoming one of the most influential men in the village.

As the village grew, the owner's influence expanded as well, to the point he was crowned "Pub King" in an event as auspicious as it was unofficial. He had gathered round a cohort of pontifical elders, toadies one and all, who were appointed by the newly minted "King" to his court, commonly referred to as the Pub King Gang. For many happy years the Pub King and his Gang basked in the adoration of the villagers, holding court and giving counsel on all matters large and small. During this golden age of the Pub King, the village continued to grow and with it the stature of king and court.

Until one day, when a Wanderer from afar came to the village and was so struck by its wonderous beauty that he knew then and there this was to become his home. This Wanderer had traveled the world visiting many a village and found this one to be vastly superior to all others. Except in one regard. This was the only village of its size, in all his travels, that offered a man only one option to refresh body and soul. The village's singular imperfection was its equally singular pub and the Wanderer immediately set about addressing this easily corrected imperfection.

The village was to have a second pub.

This revolutionary act was fueled not just by an obvious lack of bar stools on any given Friday night but also by the Wanderer's unquenchable desire for some mysterious brew known as "Hoegaarden". Clearly a contrived name evoking either a quaint pastoral image of a farmer slaving at back-breaking field work or maybe "Hoe" in the common, vulgar form refers to a "garden of delights", or perhaps a combination of both with wild oats being sown. Probably one of the latter as aficionados of the brew liken it to absinthe: exotic, often illicit, and with a magical, romantic quality that no matter who imbibes, man or woman, 'tis the woman who becomes more fetching.

Nonetheless, the village was to have another pub and in that pub would be Hoegaarden. Or thought this Wanderer.

The Pub King was not amused. He called his Gang and set about a plan to "inform" the villagers that the new Pub was not to be entered on penalty of excommunication. No one seen entering the Wanderer's Pub was welcome ever again in the presence or establishment of the Pub King.

Many villagers speaking of loyalty but acting of fear bowed to the Pub King's wishes. But some did not and as tales of the delights of the Wanderer's Pub spread, often in hushed voices lest the Pub King hear, more and more of the villagers were drawn to the Wanderer's Pub. And they were drawn not only to a mysterious new brew, but to tales of far off lands and peoples. They came to understand their neighbors, to see people and customs previously withheld from their view.

But the Pub King was furious, spewing rage from his pulpit backed by the chorus of his toady Gang. But he grew hoarse and soon he found himself surrounded only by his Gang. The villagers had taken no notice of his rants, no longer lived in fear of his threats. Given choice they had chosen and they had not chosen the Pub King.

Only a few years later yet another pub opened and the Pub King found himself all but alone and now being unable to retain a loyal following was forced to close his once famous pub. Shortly thereafter he succumbed to the senility and gout that many believed plagued him for most of his adult life. In death, as in life, the Pub King was ultimately of little note and in the village there was no sense of his passing. Not even the surviving members of his Gang were to be found in mourning, crying.