I have long thought it would be fun to go to a bar with a vast whiskey collection, throw down credit card, and have a knowledgeable bartender pour me a Tour of Scotland, providing wee sips of a wide variety of single malts and telling me about each one. Last night I came close.
There is a bar here in Prague, a copy of one in New York, apparently, called Books and Bar. Or was it Bar and Books? In any case, it is a bar, and shelves of books (mostly in German for some reason, and obviously not meant to be read) adorn one of the walls. It is more upscale than the places I usually find myself, but sometimes it’s fun to pretend I’m sophisticated, and since we had invited Belladonna to join us, it seemed like a good time to try a place that Soup Boy had been encouraging me to visit anyway. Soup Boy (storyboarder for Pirates and now my roommate) had invited some of his friends out as well, but only Little John was free. So we set out for the city center, hoping that Belladonna would also bring friends.
Another acquaintance of Soup Boy, who we will call Hole, spotted us entering the establishment and came in to say hi. We chatted a bit and then he went off to work out. The Boy and I sat, and soon after Belladonna arrived with two friends in tow, fellow med students. Conversation was pleasant and unforced, and when Little John arrived, adding his limitless energy to the affair, things were going quite nicely.
I ordered a flight of Whiskey – six small glasses of the good stuff. (I paid extra for the very, very good stuff, that cash from being an extra burning a hole in my pocket.) As I slowly made my way around the islands and the highlands I appreciated the variety of different flavors, how each achieved a different balance of Earth (peat), Air (vapors), Fire (alcohol’s ‘bite’), and Water (smoothness). Truly the booze of the gods, and I was hitchhiking through the pantheon.
Sometime while I was enjoying my travels Hole returned. Belladonna knew him, and did not like him—not at all. In a cascading guilt by association Soup Boy was demoted a few notches, and I took a hit as well. (This just after she had started to recover from learning my age. I am rather older than she thought—Firenze, bless her sweet heart, guessed I was 29—and Belladonna has about her an air of maturity that made me think she was older.)
A note about Little John. I’ve only met him a couple of times, but I’ve seen how his exuberance can really keep a gathering lively. There is a danger, though, that someone else can turn his power to the Dark Side, and that is what happened when Hole showed up. I don’t think Firenze was aware of the crude humor being directed at her, not at first anyway, but the evening’s vibe, which had survived a couple of bumps, was now deteriorating rapidly. A change of venue was called for.
So we went to another place new to me, called M1, where the seating, inconvenient for large groups, led to me having a very pleasant conversation with Firenze, Soup Boy chatting with Belladonna, and Little John and Hole hovering and getting bored. They eventually left, and the mood recovered, but the evening ended somewhat awkwardly and uncertainly. It was, overall, a lot of fun, and it’s (almost) always nice to get out and meet new people. Hopefully we’ll be able to hang out again sometime.