Opening the new pub.
As it turns out, the technicalities of re-opening the rechristened pub nipped me quite viciously in the rear. I could not carry over the existing liquor license due to the name change, so it was incumbent upon me to pony up twenty thousand of our finest for a new one. The plumbing hadn't been inspected since Jerome bought the establishment in the 80s, during which time local bureaucrats seem to have come up with literally tomes of new regulations. The only regulation that seems to have existed at the last turn of ownership was that there had to be a pipe draining away from the toilet; it doesn't seem to have been important that the pipe actually went anywhere. As near as the county inspector could tell, the pipe from the pub's loo just kind of goes off 'round a corner somewhere and disappears. Seems to work well enough to me, but that's not good enough for the local carbon-copiers. A new channel had to be cut through a foot of cement, leading to the public sewer line, which of course has an access fee nearly as dear as the front row at a Rolling Stones concert.
The long and short of these and the many other mounting costs? I put in my call to Ray Smuckles, asking if he would care to act as a silent partner in the business. He was all aboard rather quickly — and his only demand was naming rights. This suited me quite well, as that was really the only sticking point in my entire vision for the place. (You may refer to prior blog posts, in which I actually consider naming the thing something like The Frustrated Old Man.)
Fortunately, Ray had forgotten his original suggestion of naming the pub "RAY, RAY, A HUNDRED RAYS, ONE THOUSAND RAYS." He promised to call me back with a name, and said he'd take care of all the civic permitting in the meanwhile.
UPDATE: I have, in fact, just gotten off the phone with the good man, and I shall record our conversation here for your edification.
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RAY: Hey, chochi-...chotch...hey, man.
ME: What was that? You can't call me "chochacho" like you do with all your other pals?
RAY: It's just...I think the cutoff age is like 45.
ME: Well, then. I believe in the Spanish, you might adapt the word to "chochichuelo." As in, "abuelo" for grandfather.
RAY: Dude, I like that! I LIKE that! That's perfect! Say, how's it goin', chochichuelo!?
ME: Rather good. I've been looking forward to your call.
RAY: Yeah, exactly. I know. Me too.
ME: So, have you put your finger on a name for the pub?
RAY: Oh, that! Yeah, I been meanin' to think about that. I mean, I had one thought, and that was that you were totally stuck on that "That and That" format, like the "Hog and Derrick" or whatever. But that ain't modern, you know?
ME: I do not want this place filled with severe Le Corbusier furniture and pulsing dance beats.
RAY: No, no. I said the wrong word. I meant, usin' that namin' convention sounds kind of insincere.
ME: Okay, I can see where you're going with that thought. People don't use that construction anymore unless they're imitating the past for commercial reasons.
RAY: Exactly, dude! Man, your mouth is like a golden hole.
ME: Thank you.
RAY: So I was thinkin', just toss that out and start fresh. Let's brainstorm.
ME: We could call it Ray's Place.
RAY: Heh, right. Sorry, I sold that trademark off to the Japanese a couple years back.
ME: Cornelius's Place?
RAY: It kind of is your place, I mean you designed how it looks and everything. But I don't like the word "place." Seems kind of 70s.
ME: Well, if we're being sincere, I could name it the Iris Gambol.
RAY: Sorry, man. That totally killed my sausage just now.
ME: That was my dear first wife, if you will recall.
RAY: Yeah, I know. Bad idea. Trust me. Let's move on. This is a place for your neighbors, a place to live your life. We got to dodge this crazy stigma that a bar is a bad place to spend your time. This is a "public house," you know? A bar is a place where drunk people smoke and say things they haven't thought about.
ME: Well, precisely. This is a place for anyone to go and conduct the affairs of life, or to avoid them.
RAY: Yeah. It's kind of just a room where life happens, and you can eat tasty food and put back a few pints. It's like your childhood, but with pints.
ME: That level of comfort and hospitality would be ideal. So, for example, this could be called "The Public House."
RAY: Yeah, that ain't without its merits, but goin' straight on a name like that is just comin' offa trendy right now, like havin' a restaurant named "Restaurant."
ME: Right, right. I detest that amateurish, clinical irony.
RAY: Wow. What? I mean, never mind. So like we got this nice warm idea of a public bar-place where you ain't got to just get plastered, it's for spending regular time, maybe just read in the corner, or have a sandwich and talk to the bartender about what it's like to have hair.
ME: More or less. Right. Like a coffee shop, but with hearty food and ale.
RAY: Yeah. So, what are people namin' that kind of place these days?
ME: Choppy McShenanigan's Garlic and Sushi Conglomo-bar.
RAY: Well, right. Maybe the present ain't such a hot time to look to. Maybe let's just go back, but only like fifty percent, and remember to be straightforward.
ME: The New Public House.
RAY: Wow. Dude. Yes.
ME: You like it?
RAY: [hangs up]
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I take this to mean our new pub is to be called The New Public House. I like it. It says what it is, and that is important in this day of "360° Wrapps" and "P.F. Chang's China Bistro." You won't find a mango-mint beignet at The New Public House. You won't be offered anything containing ahi tuna or kaffir lime leaves. You're going to have a rich pint in a heavy glass, maybe a pot pie or basket of fries, and there are a few tables around where you can set up a game of cards or project old home movies onto the wall.