By Scott Keith –
“My happiest hours are often spent with three or four old friends in old clothes tramping together and putting up in small pubs––or else sitting up till the small hours in someone’s college rooms, talking nonsense, poetry, theology, metaphysics over beer, tea, and pipes.” –C. S. Lewis
As many of you may be aware from reading my previous posts, my lovely wife, Joy and I have been seeking a new pub/bar in Irvine. If you know anything about Irvine, California, you’ll know this has become an almost impossible task. But, this past Friday night we found Eureka, a new set of stools on which to enjoy a libation or two. Now, in truth, Eureka is not necessarily my kind of place. It is loud, trendy, full of hipsters, and people who have been of legal drinking age for two months, but think they know everything there is to know about the art of the drink. Nonetheless, I did have a wonderful experience at Eureka. As soon as my butt hit the stool a voice from the other side of the bar said: “Hey, aren’t you a professor at my college?” I replied: “Yes, I work and teach at the private Lutheran college up the road.” As it turns out this young man, Jason, is a student at our institution of higher learning, and he is quite bright and precocious.
Jason is a History and Political Thought major, who minors in Biology. In other words, he is very smart. Soon Jason and I were laughing together and discussing all manner of philosophy, science, history, mathematics, politics, and culture. We began by discussing the science in the new movie Interstellar, which is a must see. (Joel, are you going to write a review of this movie?) As we talked, I noticed something more. Jason is a great Bartender. This young man absolutely ran the bar. He knows beer, whiskey, and mixed drinks as though he has been a Bartender for 40 years. Better yet, he knows good conversation. Soon I asked him what he wanted to do when he finished his degree. To my surprise and enjoyment, he said: “I don’t know.” So, I asked why he was going to school. Jason replied with the answer I have been seeking for three years; he said: “To become educated.” All this he did over the Saturday night intense clamor and continued, with what looked like ease, to pour drinks, check I.D.’s, and help out his fellow bartenders who did a quarter of the work he was doing.
Jason went on to tell me that he loves being a bartender because he believes that after a few good drinks with friends whom, they themselves are interested in becoming better educated, is where most meaningful ideas originate. He is a young man. Most of the young men with whom I come into contact are interested in drinking purely for drunkenness sake. Rather, this young man believes that after a few drinks the everyday minutiae, which normally clutters our mind, breaks free. Then we can focus on true higher order ideas. To bolster his point, he cited the story wherein Francis Crick interrupted patrons’ lunchtime on 28 February 1953 at the Cambridge pub, The Eagle, to announce that he and James Watson had “discovered the secret of life” after they had worked out their proposal for the double helix structure of DNA on a napkin. Eureka! There he was right in front of me, hope.
Not only was this young man right in that the best ideas are worked out over a few drinks, but also, he knows his vocation. His sentiment about the drink is something that I have often considered, conversed about, and with which I imminently agree. I was immediately reminded of something I had just read from Bryan Berghoef commenting on his book Pub Theology. “Luther kick-started the Reformation over a few pints. The Church of England was started in the White Horse Tavern,” says Berghoef. Yes, he and Melanchthon did. But this young man too knows his vocation. He is a purveyor of drink and conversation, and he does both with the zeal of a true craftsman. So, although Eureka the bar is not necessarily my kind of place, Eureka the young man named Jason, is my kind of bartender. I will be back and will marvel at how well he does what God has called him to do: pour me a drink, garner my interest, and laugh with me. Cheers.