Almost certainly, I have mentioned euchre.
It is a strange card game which defies explanation. Truly. I have had euchre players tell me that the only way to learn to play it, is to play it – much as I found this deeply informative, I decided to go ahead and watch them for eight years.
This is what I’ve learnt: they sit in groups of four, with a number of cards dealt; they play in pairs, and call out “pass” from time to time. A lot comes down to who’s got the Benny.
Now that we’re clear on the rules…
The euchre season runs from early Autumn to late Spring. The players play and the barmaids watch, oblivious to what is happening. This is as it always was, and evermore shall be.
Usually, there are three pairs from both Home and Away teams who play each other, plus their supporters, who appear at the Club two or three times a month. When the season is over, the Home team still arrives with the same frequency, and they play each other, to hone their skills.
They play for pennies and gravitas.
In the Spring, the Legion hosts the Euchre Drive. At the Drive, around sixty players descend upon the bar, with their groupies, and order highly coloured drinks to intimidate the opposition (lager and blackcurrant is a favourite. Perhaps it’s just the brand of blackcurrant cordial we serve, but it turns the lager bubblegum pink).
I have run the bar singlehanded for the Drive, and I’ve never let anyone forget it.
Tonight there is a disco at the Club.
I am staying home, writing this. Witness the dedication.
I’m not much of a one for disco; beyond Donna Summer, I lose interest. However, it seems there has been something of a miscalculation.
Friday is, and always has been, our busy night at the Club. We can expect several dozen local drinkers, farmers, mums and dads, and being so close to the start of the new school term, there may be several extra parents who we don’t usually see, who will need a little drink as the realisation creeps across their furrowed brows – their children’s feet have grown between the inevitable back to school shop (accomplished in the last week or so), and the actual return to the playground. By the time they have their textbooks stuffed into record bags and backpacks, there will be toes sticking through the soles.
Not wishing to cast aspersions, I will not speculate on which idiot booked the disco and failed to ask how many were expected.
My buddy, not daughter as such, Karin, is tonight’s barmaid. She has just messaged me. Several dozen early birds have arrived, around a hundred are expected. She is less than impressed knowing, as she now does, that she will need to develop a serious caffeine-dependency in the next few minutes. I have told her to write the word ‘TIPS’ on a pint jug and make out like a bandit.
Two more of our barmen are expected in the next couple of hours. This is the joy of Clublife. A barman trained at the Legion might think he’s going up for a little drink and social chit chat, maybe a smidge of political commentary and whiskey chasers, but whenever any of us sees another of our number struggling, we find ourselves behind the bar, assisting.
Drinking and talking at the same time being an important career skill for the barman, it doesn’t really matter which side of the bar we stand on.
Around a year ago, we had a busy weekend coming up – Remembrance Sunday.
Our barmaid for that weekend had begun to question her ability to keep up with the required level of beer-pumping several weeks beforehand.
With no desire to get biceps like a lopsided Martina, and not sure she would be able to serve anything up to eight people at once, she asked for my help.
Frankly, I felt this was wise. I have the most experience and I can move at the speed of light when alcohol is involved. It was at that moment of self-congratulation that I realised – she didn’t want me to assist her behind the bar, she wanted me to take over the bar.
Which I did. Several former and current staff appeared and helped me, and I only walked into Rob once or twice.
I went to the Club on Wednesday night to have a drink with my buddy. The local big band were practising, loudly; a handful of discords and chatter about birds.
One of the girls in the band has just adopted a new cat. The last cat was lazy and spent a great deal of his time sleeping. This new cat is a fighter, a murderer of voles and a maimer of birds. The band girl is terrified of birds.
Of course, the cat brought a badly-wounded, not-yet-dead robin into her kitchen that morning. She screamed, ran up the stairs, shut several doors, and sent her five year old son to remove the cat and the bird from the breakfast bar. Like a hero, he did.
It transpired, during the course of a couple of fruit ciders and pints of Guinness, that my buddy has become Girl-Casanova in the last few months; all the while, her friends relationships have withered and flourished by turns, she’s been sorting out her social life on her phone.
Wednesday’s barman had seen us wander to the quiet end of the lounge bar, and decided to come and sit with us. It might have been girl-talk, but that wouldn’t trouble him.
The band had gone home and he didn’t expect any more customers. He was shattered, he said. I rolled a fag and went behind the bar to wash the empties. The conversation wilted until my cigarette.
I genuinely don’t know if she wanted to tell me because she was deservedly proud of her studly status, or if she was seeking some sort of advice.
She didn’t specify, so I can only assume she wanted to hear herself say it out loud.
She’s a sweet girl, so I don’t begrudge her a thing. I just took my jealousy and went home with it.
The barman removed the till and took steps to lock up early.
The stud left.
And a couple of twenty-something yahoos arrived for a session of shots and pale green cider.