Most of you who feel even slightly inclined to read this blog know this about me: more important than finding a comfortable place to live, more essential than finding good coffee within walking distance, more imperative than tapping a decent library system is finding a pub--a pub I can love as my own mother, a loving, supple, life-giving mother.
Of course, being the foundation of American alcoholism, New England provides a variety of valid candidates: Captain Seaweed, Abe's, Spats, Snookers, Muldowney's, etc. The list continues, becoming more Irish closer to downtown. But my trusty-though-sputtering liver lead me to Wickenden Pub, est. 1890.
I was the only patron there Thursday aternoon, so my personal bartender Ken and I get to talking. We cover sports and the ailing job market, school, beer in the area, beer in the Northwest, beer in general. Everything is normal. Until he opens a plastic grocery bag on the bar and starts unloading individual sacks of blue water, each with its own beta fish in it.
I say, "What're you doing, Ken?"
He says, "It's fish raffle day."
He then proceeds to pull empty clear bottles from beneath the counter. Bacardi, Patron, DeKuyser. I don't really understand New England humor yet, so I have to assume he's 1) playing an elaborate trick on the fresh meat in the area, or 2) serious.
He then proceeds to pour beta fish into the bottles. He's serious.
"The Patron is the easiest one. It's all about fitting the right fish to the right bottle. I've been doing this going on 20 years now. You should stick around. Get a ticket. Maybe win a fish."
I'm thinking, "This man is out of his fucking mind. He's going to get a crowd full of Rhode Islanders (who're all stodgy and pissed because of the I-95 redirection construction, by the way) drunk off their asses, and then let them take home a pet, a living creature, who's only going to die the next morning from breathing too much tequila."
But, I have to recant because of this epiphany: pair beer with anything and life gets better. Beer + beta in a Bacardi bottle = the American dream. The same with winter Olympic biathlons: Norwegians pair everything with skiing and make it a sport. Hence, skiing and shooting a gun. Americans, being slightly less athletic but vastly more entertaining, need to step up and introduce the consumption of beer as an Olympic event. We already regularly enjoy beer + ping pong. Why not beer + speed skating? Beer + volleyball? Beer + fencing? Beer + hurdles (which only seems natural)? Beer + javelins? Why not skiing and downing an Irish car bomb? Oprah Winfrey should've thought of that. Then, maybe, Chicago might've had the bid for 2016 instead of Rio, eh?