|Vince Capano is a two time winner of the prestigious Quill and Tankard
writing award for humor from the North American Guild of Beer Writers.
Vince's column is now a regular feature of beernexus.com
Check back often for the next installment of
Vince's Adventures in Beerland
|Second Seat From The End by Vince Capano
The universe has an amazing order. Everything always seems in the right place. Fish are in
water, chefs are in kitchens, and I am usually in the pub. See what I mean? And even that
pub has a regular order. Just take a careful look around your favorite establishment the
next time you visit. The taps are always in the middle of the bar, the glassware is
conveniently nearby, and there’s always a ready supply of olives just above the vodka
bottles in the speed rack. Yes, everything is in their proper place, including the customers.
No matter where in the world your bar may be it has a cadre of regulars who inevitably take
the same seats. No one may even know their name but their bar stool is common
knowledge. Let’s take my local, the Gaslight Brewery, as case in point. There’s one guy
who always sits on the third seat from the TV, on the left side, near the wall. No one really
knows his name but most people just call him “Three”. However since he occasionally orders
that number of pints at a time I can’t be sure if that name is about location or
consumption. And at his level of drinking, I’d be surprised if he knew either.
Then there’s Sam, the guy who always sits under the blackboard that lists the beers
currently on tap. I’m not really sure why he always picks that seat but my best guess is
that it’s either because he wants everyone to see how he can comb over three strands of
hair into a majestic Elvis like coiffeur or he simply forgot his glasses and has to be two inches
away from the board to see what beer he’s ordering next.
Pavel, the pub’s favorite (and only) citizen of the Czech Republic, is a sometimes actor and
movie double. According to him he’s actually in one scene of Conan The Barbarian,
doubling for the Governator himself. If you discount the fact that Arnold has hair, a
bodybuilder’s physique, and handsome Hollywood looks, you’d swear they were brothers.
Pavel always takes the seat under the far side TV since he claims that’s the only place
anyone can actually hear the commentary from whatever game is on the tube. He does
leave out the fact that he actually can’t see the TV from that seat since it extends over his
head. Hearing is believing, I guess.
My friend Dan zeroes in on the very last stool on the restaurant side of the bar. Now that I
think of it I’ve never really seen him sit anywhere else. If his beloved seat is taken, Dan will
stand, nervously fidgeting, for as long as it takes until that “seat stealing, low life slime,
soused SOB” get up and leaves. Dan has been known to stand and wait for hours.
Needless to say he’s mastered the art of standing and and drinking at the same time. Now
Dan’s actions may not seem too unreasonable unless you consider the fact that while he’s
counting down the minutes until his special seat is available nearly thirty other stools in the
pub are empty.
Of course most pubs have slightly more enlightened bar regulars who are not so specific
about which bar stool they use. You won’t find this liberal group fretting over one particular
seat. No, they just have to sit in the same area. Take one of the founding fathers of the
Gaslight regulars, Scott. A genial, free spirit, he will sit anywhere in the bar as long as there is
a wall behind him. Scott you see is a student of history, the Old West, to be specific. He
often tells the story of Wild Bill Hitchcock who always, always, took a seat with a wall at his
back to prevent some cowardly evil doer from sending a few lead slugs into his back from a
blazing six gun. Just to show you how right Wild Bill was, the one and only time he took a
seat with his back exposed to the saloon’s swinging door he was unceremoniously gunned
down. To make things worse, his aces and eights would have won the pot in the poker
game he was involved in. Scott’s reasoning is a tad suspect however. After all, the Gaslight
has long since removed the swinging doors, doesn’t allow poker playing, and is located in
South, not West, Orange, NJ. Then again, as Wild Bill proved, it only takes one mistake. I
have to admit it’s hard to argue with Scott’s precautions, since not one Western bad man
has yet to interrupt his drinking enjoyment with gunplay.
Janny, rhymes with fanny, always sits in the seat directly in front of the large TV at the
south end of the bar. At least I think it’s the South end; has to be since it’s a well known rule
that all bars have a north to south pitch to help the truly inebriated crawl, downhill, out the
door. Janny sits there, wearing red, for every broadcast of any Ohio State athletic team.
She’s a huge buckeye fan. I on the other hand used to be a huge Giant fan.....but now I’m
an air conditioner. (For your safety only continue reading when you stop laughing at that
joke.) It seems Ohio State once won a game when Janny sat in that very same place four
years ago. Ever since then she has forgone her usual horseshoe with four leaf clover
imprints for that one and same bar stool. However, I’m not quite sure the chair is as magical
as she thinks. That sad conclusion is confirmed by another regular, “long hair Kev”. Ever
the ladies’ man, Kev says that whenever he sits on Janny’s stool he never gets “lucky”. He
usually forgets to add that he’s never gotten lucky no matter where he sits in any bar. I
think it’s the deodorant…or lack thereof.
There is also a group of regulars who disconcertingly never sit in the same spot twice.
“Barking” Tom (you don’t want to know about that nickname) will even move his seat with
each pint he has. I tried asking him about this once but he wished me a good day and sent
me a drink. All in all, I felt that was the perfect answer. Sunday regulars Vinny and Judy also
bounce around a good deal too. However since they’ve been going to Gaslight for so long
they’ve probably sat on every stool in the pub several hundred times making any place their
Securing your regular seat was fairly easy when Gaslight first opened but as the bar’s
popularity grew it became a challenge. Fortunately this brought out the best in several
regulars. Brian, the beloved " beer poet”, tacked a “reserved “sign to the back of his chair.
He almost got away with it but the owners felt the electric charge he hooked up to the seat
as a reminder to interlopers was a bit much. To his credit Brian did not blame management
but the litigious society that made them fearful of a lawsuit.
Twice a week “Pittsburgh Augie” pops in for a beer on his way to do a bit of grocery
shopping. He downs a quick pint and then asks for a ½ glass of water. At that point, after
loudly announcing he’s on the way to the restroom, he stealthily slips out the back door to
finish shopping knowing his seat is safe since bar etiquette says a partially filled glass on the
bar means this seat is taken. It was an effective ploy until an even sharper smoothie took
the seat, ordered a few drinks, and told the bartender to just add it to the tab.
Just in case you were wondering, I too have a regular seat. It’s the second from the end.
From there I have a perfect sight line to watch Gaslight’s new large screen TV, I’m near the
hand pump for convenient ordering of cask ale, and, no small meaning to a beer drinker,
I’m closest to the men’s room .
Having said all of this you’re probably wondering where you should sit when you walk into
the Gaslight for the first time. Don’t worry, just pick out any stool and enjoy. We regulars
are beer lovers first and foremost which means we’re friendly folk. However, to be safe, I
recommend you immediately buy a round for the house.
Oh, just one last thing, free beer or not, don’t ever, ever take the second seat from the end.
|Second Seat From The End