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It's October, the leaves are turning brown, the days are growing just a bit shorter, pumpkin beer
is everywhere (for reasons beyond comprehension), Oktoberfest beers are as bland as ever,
and Halloween is ready for it's annual homage to kids getting something for nothing even if it
does ruin their teeth. One of the best places for an adult to celebrate Halloween, or just about
any other holiday is usually the local pub. I say usually because of my experience last
Halloween. Let me explain what happened.
“Just read in today’s newspaper that this is the first full moon on Halloween in the past 20
years” Jeff the bartender informed me. While I mentally filed this fact as interesting but
monumentally trivial, I never realized that Jeff’s revelation was also a chilling warning of the gut
wrenching trick or treat decision that awaited me this evening at the Gaslight Brewery &
The night began tranquilly enough as I enjoyed a few pints of one of the establishment’s
fine craft brews. My drink of choice was something called Patrick Henry Ale. It proved to
be quite the tasty, full-bodied, hop laden, bold, and potent beverage. Indeed, it was just
the perfect beer to use in a toast to Halloween since this uniquely American holiday clearly
called out for a beer named after a unique American. And you just don’t get more
American than Patrick Henry. Jeff, sensing my fondness for the beer, told me that it was
made from the Gaslight’s recipe for their popular Patriot Pale ale, which was then fortified
with large amounts of an indigenous American hop variety, Liberty. Sounded great to
me– Patrick Henry, Patriot, and Liberty – an All-American triumvirate.
Jeff next reached under the counter, and pulled up a lava lamp like object that he duly
plugged in and placed near the end of the bar. It’s bubbly, blue green soft light was ideal
for the feeling of peacefulness I had, no doubt courtesy of Mr. Henry’s ale. Looking more
closely at the lamp, I noticed, “It’s a Bud light” written across the base. Ah, now I get it. A
cute, one chuckle promotion from our friends at Anheuser-Bush. “There’s more to
come,” Jeff said, “wait until the Bud team arrives”. I quickly decided not to hold my
breath and continued my interaction with Patrick, who I now knew on a first name basis.
Almost immediately shouts of “The Bud Guys are heeeeeer! The Bud Guys are heeeeeer!”
began to fill the pub.
A trio of individuals burst through the door costumed as what I guessed was the Three
Musketeers. They were complete with grand flowing capes, rubber swords, polished
boots, swashbuckling waistbands and oh so large feathered hats. Impressively authentic
outfits to be sure, though the emblazoned "B U D" on each item might slightly strain
credibility for those historically inclined.
The bar patrons seemed to emit a collective yawn as the Bud Guys carried three huge,
nondescript boxes toward my end of the bar. As they began an animated discussion
with Jeff, I noticed that each box was filled with shirts and hats. But not just ordinary
shirts and hats. This was top of the line, high quality stuff. The shirts had collars
and embroidered logos and the hats boasted buckles on the back instead of cheap plastic
strips for sizing.
The leader of the Bud Guys promptly handed Jeff a credit card and asked that four dozen
bottles of Bud Light be placed at the end of the bar, almost directly in front of me.
“Thanks for giving us some space” the tallest Musketeer said as he handed me a bottle.
He then grabbled several more in each hand and joined his partners as they circled the bar
chanting “No tricks – only treats! Free Bud Lights, shirts, and hats”. No tricks – only
treats! Free Bud Lights, shirts, and hats”. And it was all true. There were treats and no
tricks, but there was a catch. And it was a big one.
The catch blindsided me when I politely asked the shortest Musketeer for my promised
shirt and hat. “It’s all yours, but you only get them when you drink a second free Bud
Light.” Was he kidding? Did he mean I actually had to finish not one but two of his tepid,
pedestrian, taste free lagers while beckoning taps of Gaslight’s flavor packed Patrick Henry,
Perfect Stout, Steam, India Pale Ale, Pilsner, and cask conditioned Hop Fest Ale were within
arms reach waiting to replenish my empty pint glass? This was taking a Halloween
promotion much too far.
Sensing that an erudite dissertation proving the no tricks-only treats chant was an
enforceable implied verbal contract that could possibly result in a rubber sword duel, I instantly
went to plan B. Hoping he wouldn’t notice my crossed fingers or have a portable
polygraph, I told the Musketeer that the first Bud Light was just so good that I wanted
only one so as to make the memory of this evening a singular treasure. Ok, not good,
but I figured a guy wearing a cape and false goatee might just go for it. Wrong.
I looked around the bar for support and saw many of my brethren craft beer lovers
blithely putting on hats and holding up shirts. What? How could they give in so quickly?
It was then that I realized this moment was about more than just trying to scam a few
very nice, free goodies. Could it be that my earlier choice of Patrick Henry ale might have
been more than just a coincidence? After all, was it not this revered patriot who intoned, “I
care not what others may do but as for me give me liberty (hops) or give me death”?
Didn’t he place honor and great tasting ale above all else? Didn’t he back up his fiery
words with heroic action and sacrifice?
History does however show that Henry was also a very practical man. It was quite
possible that given similar circumstances he might do whatever was needed to get that
hat. After all, those Revolutionary nights could get quite chilly. If only I had only gotten
into the Halloween spirit and worn a costume. The anonymity of a mask would make this
decision much easier. Oh well.
I slowly began to recognize that this was one of those unexpected moments in life when
from out of nowhere, a blazing cosmic exam of truth was being forced upon me. It is how
we react to those moments that forever seal our fate. One crowd simply smiles,
straightens up, and gladly reaches for another Bud, while others reach deep in the
enlightenment of truth and take the path of righteousness becoming champions of justice.
“Last chance, Buddy” bellowed the Musketeer. I cleared my throat. Loudly. Several
times. Now the attention of the entire bar was focused directly on me. Slowly,
majestically, I stood up. Holding my empty glass high, I turned toward Jeff and simply but
firmly said, “another Patrick Henry, please.”
A frozen silence gripped the entire bar. Then it started. A dark shadow sliced through the
dim light of the bar toward the Musketeers. Suddenly a blizzard of Bud hats and shirts
filled the air. Pleas for glasses of Hop Fest, Perfect Stout and IPA resounded. The
conscience of a people had been stirred!
The Bud Men scrambled behind a nearby pillar that was fortunately located on a direct
route to the exit. Salvaging some honor they shouted, “got to go to our next stop,
Happy Halloween” as they disappeared through the pub doors into the engulfing
darkness. Those at the bar sat silent and satisfied amid the ruin of spent hats and torn
shirts. Good beer had prevailed.
Perhaps it is lucky that full moons on Halloween only come once every 20 years
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