You’re not heading to the pub anytime soon. I understand. But ho-ho fear not, dear readers, for I have a near perfect solution. I'm bringing the chat directly to you. Now you can enjoy our virtual pub discussion right in your own home. It’ll be like you’re really there. So, go grab the beverage of your choice from the fridge, pull out a packet of Smokey Bacon Taytos and hoist up your legs on your favorite recliner. (Note: I am not responsible for any lost time in the reading of this column. I cannot reimburse wages if consumed while you’re supposed to be working, nor does it offer refunds of any kind, especially for you Larry, so don’t even try.)
CM: Cheers. Anyone sitting here?
Regular Patron: Doesn’t look like it.
CM (with a nod to the bartender and a raised index finger): Pint of Guinness, please.
The speakers behind the bar are softly discharging a glossy pop band inappropriate for the age group gathered at the establishment and yet no one seems to care. Yes, it’s wonderful to be in Ireland.
CM (to the regular patron): What do you recommend for a bite?
RP: An agitated Pitbull usually does the trick.
CM: What if I can’t find one of those?
RP: Soup’s good. Veg today, I think.
Several moments of silence.
Bartender (placing full pint glass in front of CM): Now.
CM: Cheers. Veg soup today, is it?
CM: Could I grab one of those as well?
Bartender: No bother. (Retreats)
Patron at the wall under a newspaper clipping (twisting around on his stool): Ronnie!
RP (spinning on his stool): …
PATWUANC: What’s that clown with the teeth again?
RP (Ronnie): Pennywise.
PATWUANC: That’s the one. Needs an orthodontist that one. And who’s the writer?
RP (Ronnie): Stephen King.
PATWUANC: The very man. (Spins back to face his cohorts)
RP (Ronnie) (turning to face the bar again): Sips from his lager.
CM: Never saw it.
RP (Ronnie): By it, you mean “It?”
CM: I do. Don’t really enjoy horror flicks.
RP (Ronnie): Well, your man’s just delving into them now. Can’t get enough.
CM: Just discovering them, is he? What’s his age?
RP (Ronnie): Oh, he’s near on eighty now.
CM: And he’s into horror movies.
RP (Ronnie): Not for the scare, mind you. For the laughs.
CM: Finds them funny, does he?
RP (Ronnie): Oh, aye. You’ll hear him across the room roarin’ and laughin’, and him recalling something from Netflix last night. “Don’t go in the room, ye stupid git!”
CM: Fair play to him.
RP (Ronnie): “They’re always splitting up! Why wouldn’t they stick together? There’s only one of them murderers out there and there’s six of them. Sure, they’d all still be kicking if they’d a brain amongst them.”
CM: I suppose he’s got a point there.
RP (Ronnie): Oh, aye.
CM: And his wife… is she still around?
RP (Ronnie): She is that. She’ll outlive us all.
CM: Does she enjoy the movies as well?
RP (Ronnie): Not like your man. They’ll put something on, but she’ll be reading a book all the while.
CM: Doesn’t see the humor in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
RP (Ronnie): She lacks vision, no doubt there.
Bartender (placing soup and bread in front of CM): Now.
CM: Thanks. (Sips Guinness and starts the buttering procedure—a process that can take an extended period of time according to some people with knowledge of CM’s eating habits.)
RP (Ronnie): That’s not looking so bad about now.
CM: It’s just what the doctor ordered.
RP (Ronnie): Brian!
Bartender (looks up from wiping a glass)
RP (Ronnie): You wouldn’t have a spare bowl of that stuff you’ve given him?
Bartender (Brian): Just the bit that’s fallen on the floor.
RP (Ronnie): Any chance you’d scrape it up and throw it in a pot?
Bartender (Brian): Will do.
CM (carefully opening the foil from a second pat of butter with his knife and eyeing the quickly cooling soup, still annoyed that the butter was refrigerated and tough to spread): C’mon yiz.
RP (Ronnie) (spinning around on his stool): What is it Patrick?
PATWUANC (Patrick): Come and give us a yarn.
RP (Ronnie): I’m just after ordering some grub.
PATWUANC (Patrick): What’d ye get?
RP (Ronnie): The soup.
PATWUANC (Patrick): It’s carrot, is it?
RP (Ronnie): Veg.
PATWUANC (Patrick): Veg, eh? Well, that’s a whole different kettle of fish.
RP (Ronnie): That’s what I said.
PATWUANC (Patrick): Who’s your man up there?
RP (Ronnie): Dunno. (To CM): What do they call you?
RP (Ronnie) (to PATWUANC, Patrick): Conor.
PATWUANC (Patrick): How’s the soup today, Conor?
CM: Haven’t tried it yet. Still slathering on the butter, which is putting up a valiant fight.
PATWUANC (Patrick): Good man. Let us know how you get on.
CM: Nearly there.
PATWUANC (Patrick): Don’t hurry it. You’re doing the decent thing.
RP (Ronnie): Sure, they’ve warm butter out back too. Brian’ll fetch you some.
CM: That’s good news that could’ve been timelier. The job’s nearly done.
Bartender (Brian) (placing soup and bread in front of RP (Ronnie): Now.
RP (Ronnie): Cheers Brian. You wouldn’t have a bit of butter at a spreadable temperature for your man here?
Bartender (Brian): Yeah, sure.
CM: I’m all set, last few strokes.
RP (Ronnie): Well, I’ll have his then.
Bartender (Brian): Easy enough.
CM: Done (takes a bite of bread and a sip of soup). Oh, that’s nice.
RP (Ronnie) (to PATWUANC, Patrick): It’s a thumbs up on the soup.
PATWUANC (Patrick): That’s me sold. Brian, I’ll have a lepping of that as well.
Man across from Patrick: Make that two.
Woman next to man across from Patrick: Three.Bartender (Brian): You’ve started a movement, Conor. Well done.
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