is an award winning
member of the North
American Guild of Beer
Writers. His column
Adventures in Beerland
is now a regular feature of
|It's time to open America. Well, not all of America; some things should stay closed for the public safety and more
importantly my safety. Other places, especially one, need to be open as of yesterday. By the way, feel free to
forward this to the Governor, the Mayor, and the County Executive. Please do not include those politicians currently
in jail which should considerably cut down on the number of stamps you need.
Keep the golf courses closed. Think of how many people will be saved from near death experiences due to capsized
golf carts, from four hours of strenuous idleness, or having to deal with wise guy caddies like the one I once asked if
a four iron would get me to the green who replied “eventually”. I however do admit to missing playing with some of
my friends, mainly the ones that are even worse than me.
Keep the beaches closed. Some folks may want to live in the sunshine, swim in the sea, drink in the wild air, and
infect people they don’t know. The scariest part about the beach is there are few sleeves around for people to catch
their sneezes. After all, armpits can hold only so many of those virus droplets.
Keep hair styling salons closed. Unfortunately the virus can pass easily from comb to scissor to the chair to the towel
to just about everything in the salon to you. Now if the salon were a saloon then it would be safe because of all the
alcohol. What a difference one extra letter can make.
Over these many weeks of not being able to get a haircut I do admit to developing some empathy for Larry Talbot,
aka Lon Chaney Jr., aka The Wolf Man. Looking in the mirror every day is like watching a real life version of that
movie monster’s transformation. Rumor has it that when Mr. Talbot went for a haircut the barber charged extra for
Cruise (not Tom) ships should be permanently grounded. Now that I think of it, throw Tom in there too. The value of
the three biggest US cruise lines, Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian, has continued to tumble on Wall Street
to the point of “flat-out ridiculous”. That’s according to my dentist who moonlights as an on board ship comedian.
When the virus hit he told the passengers it's not the love boat anymore, it's now the glove boat. Hey, people laugh
at anything on a quarantined ship.
I could go on but that’s enough negativity. Let’s talk about the most important thing that should be opened
immediately. It’s only three little letters. Pick up your pom-poms and let’s go. Come on, in your best cheerleader
voice, gimmie a B, gimmie an A, gimmie an R. What does it spell? Bar. What does it spell? Bar? What do we want
Unfortunately we will likely not find things exactly as they were at our favorite pubs when they reopen. Many of the
odd characters and denizens who seemed as permanent a fixture as the uneven stool and overpriced craft drafts
may not be there thanks to discovering that drinking at home means not having to leave a tip or having to put on a
clean shirt every other week. Not being able to hear their tales would be a disappointment. If they’re not there who
else would prattle on about battling for a refund at Walmart because his guaranteed not to-tear shirt and backpack
were ripped when he was stabbed and how he returned a very expensive top of the line waterproof mountaineering
boots because they were “leaking”?. It didn’t take me long to figure out it was just his feet sweating.
When they reopen, bars will not need their Standing Room Only/SRO signs. You will never again have to stand three
deep at the bar frantically waving to a lazy bartender flirting with a customer at the other end. Oh, the bartender will
still be lazy and a flirt, but you will not be standing mainly because it won’t be allowed. The only thing SRO will mean
is Skunked Oxidized Repulsive. Ah, wait, I got confused. That’s how people described my last home brew.
It will be extremely hard to find an empty bar stool when you triumphantly return to your pub of choice. Each one will
be taken. The magic of social distancing will mean bars will have to remove many of them so the remaining stools
can be properly spaced. That in turn will cause the Double Boomerang Whammy Bankruptcy rule to go into effect –
fewer stools, chairs and tables means the place will be filled to legal capacity but go out of business for lack of
customers or to put it another way, full now means almost empty. All of this adds some credibility to Yogi Berra’s
observation that some places are so crowded no one goes there anymore.
Expect to stand in a queue outside some bars that will rival in length those seen outside supermarkets with toilet
paper and hand sanitizers in stock. Not to worry since enterprising bars will begin literal curb side service as each
spot in the line becomes an innovative single person serving station. Al fresco drinking will be common. Well, Al
always liked to drink so no surprise there.
One person tables the size of a bar mat on an expandable pole (all heights are welcome) will be provided with your
delivered drink. These iso-singular tables (my patent is pending) will also serve as an intoxication determinant. After
yours topples over three times you will be cut off. I wonder if I could pitch this product on SharkTank?
The job of bar bouncer will take on added prestige. Now, in addition to slapping around loud mouth intoxicated
drinkers and pretending to check IDs, he will become the first link in your protection. The bouncer now will be
responsible for taking everyone’s temperature. To make sure customers know which function he is performing he will
don a perky, small, white nurses’ cap with a red cross for his health related duties and simply remove it when beating
you up or throwing you out on your butt. His sprayed on, heavy metal band t-shirt will be the same for both duties.
It's mandated by his union.
Bartenders, chefs, waiters, bar backs, and every other employee will also be checked following the model established
by major companies like Walmart and Amazon who now take the temperature of hundreds of thousands of
employees when they report to work. Now before you say all of this temperature checking is illegal and an
infringement on your rights, many, though not all, attorneys believe the government can restrict people's liberties in a
time of a pandemic. They liken it to limits on free speech citing the classic position of Oliver Wendell Holmes who said
freedom of speech does not mean you can shout fire in a crowded theater. However, after watching countless
episodes of Perry Mason, I can say that it is totally within your rights to shout theater in a crowded fire anytime you
It is possible that when your favorite pub reopens it won’t be for long. Precedent has been set for rolling quarantines
and shutdowns. Hong Kong set the standard by practicing what they call “suppress and lift”. You can take that
literally since they suppress the lift of your glass. That is supposed to happen whenever an area experiences an
uptick in virus cases. Considering you’ll never know when an uptick will happen my advice is to order and drink your
beer quickly. Then, if the place doesn’t close down keep ordering and you’ll be well ahead of the game; if it does,
just get a few dozen growlers to go.
Ohio too has begun to reopen bars with a few important rules that other states are sure to copy. A maximum of 10
people may sit together as long as they’re a minimum of six feet apart. That makes for one long table. The waiters
too must follow that distancing practice which means serving will be a bit more difficult. It might not be a bad time to
buy stock in companies that make those long handle pizza paddles. They can hold quite a few beers.
Groups will also be asked not to converse since to pronounce some words correctly a certain amount of spittle
projection is needed. If you don’t believe me try saying these three common, everyday words quickly and see what
happens: isepiptesis, phthisis., and diathesis If however you put your iconoclasm ahead of this safety protocol and
choose not to make a binding vow of silence you will be seated in a special area. There, every table and chair is
separated by a sturdy, thick, solid partition. There will likely be a cover charge if you opt for the clear glass ones
along with a freshly sanitized speaking tube. Due to a shortage, the Cone of Silence is reserved for VIPs.
Cash will be verboten, not to mention not allowed. No one will be permitted to reach for their wallet to take out money
because currency is a Petri dish of germs. ATM machines will begin to rust from lack of use, bars will have to report
their real income, and your cheap SOB friend who never picks up a tab will be glowing in righteous justification
imagining all the people he has saved over the years he never put his money on the table.
I’ve heard that some states will limit the hours a bar can stay open by forcing them to close early. That will clearly
protect patrons from the late night germs that, like Dracula, sleep all day and only do their dastardly work in the late
night. So be aware next time you hear the bartender yell “last call” you’ll be able to get home in time to watch the
6 O’clock news and at least several reruns of MASH.
Everyone in the bar will of course be wearing a mask but how will they unlock their phone to place an order (sorry no
verbal directions to the bartender) if it uses facial recognition? I have a solution that some, mainly me, might call
genius. Make a mask with your face printed on it. It’s your best chance to prove your phone, at least this time, is not
smarter than you.
I really don’t like changes, especially some of these but the one thing I really hope won’t change is that the reopened
bars will still be pouring great craft beer. Some pessimists are predicting up to 40% of craft breweries will not return.
I don’t think that’s true. I expect to be back at the pub enjoying great beer soon. Just look for me on the third bar
stool from the left or at the second table near the door.
I’ll be the guy struggling to figure out how to drink my beer while wearing an official BeerNexus mask.
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