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Easter Sunday afternoon 8 April 2007
Prologue: What better way to follow the Big Wheel Races down Lombard Street than a visit to a pub in the vicinity? (Take a taxi if you want, but rumor has it Wanda is going to be there and she likes to walk. What the hell – thanks to global warming, it’s bound to be a beautiful day.) And what more festive Easter fare can there be but pastrami sandwiches? I’m really looking forward to drinking at The Black Horse London Pub. Not only do the proprietors understand that definite articles are not to be included in alphabetization (always a good sign) but it is purportedly the smallest Bar in San Francisco (7 x 19 feet — can you imagine it?!?). As if those weren’t reasons enough to drink there, they also have their own Rules (which they call “Tenets” and looky at the first one: “Thou Shall give priority seating to all Women in the Bar. (If you need further explication, please see “Exit.”)” — does this place scream “Grenadine” or what?
Afterword: The afternoon began with a quite a bang at the Big Wheel Races, which I am not even going to try to describe here because, let’s face it, either you were there and you know there really aren’t words to do them justice (especially if you saw the guy in the kilt wipe out at the end of the last race, let’s just say he was wearing his attire – ahem – traditionally), or you weren’t there, and really, you should have been. Anyway, The Black Horse London Pub is a pleasant stroll away from the curvy part of Lombard Street, and Wanda and I sauntered there, as planned, marvelling all the way that we managed to locate each other in the masses at the races, speculating as to whether their greatness will translate on YouTube, and wondering if The Black Horse London Pub was really going to be open on Easter Sunday…
Which it was. And there was already a regular there (hi Allen!). We introduced ourselves to the bartender, whose name is Dave, which is always a good sign for me because all the guys named Dave I have ever met have been nice ones (Allen says watch out for Georges, though). This particular Dave is also adorable, I might add. He introduced us to Allen and proceeded to apologize for the small selection of beers available that afternoon. (Apparently the previous evening had depleted the ususal inventory.) Since all they sell is beer (ok, and cider), it didn’t matter to me that they only had four varieties, because, as some of us agreed later, beer is pretty much beer (you had to be there, this was positively profound at the time).
It is definitely, as advertised, the smallest bar in San Francisco. While the pastrami sandwiches are apparently some sort of myth, they do serve nice cheese plates. And then, there are the calendars (go and ask to see them). The most striking thing about The Black Horse London Pub, though, is how much Fun fits into such a small space. I am talking physics-defying here. I could not believe what a good time I was having, drinking beer of all things, talking to people (which, if you know me, you know I profess to pretty much dislike in most instances).
Wanda said at some point, “This place is like Cheers,” to which I replied, “Only better.” What I can’t put my finger on is the question of whether only cool, fun people go to The Black Horse London Pub, or do all people become magically transformed into cool, fun people when they walk in the door? What I do know for certain is that everyone who was there on Sunday was cool and fun, and friendly, and downright jolly, and I didn’t even care that all they sell is beer (ok, and cider).
Of course, meeting Shakes didn’t hurt. He’s another regular, and was having some moving disaster, and like any intelligent, right-minded individual after my own heart, he decided the best thing to do was to head to a pub for a drink. Dave introduced us and when I told him about Bars By The Book, he wiped an imaginary tear from his eye and said something to the effect that it was the most beautiful thing he had ever heard of, which is a much better response than the usual “why?” or “are you serious?” I typically get. He signed up on the spot and I may or may not have fallen completely in love with him for at least that moment. He bought Wanda and I a round of drinks, and I’m looking forward to helping him find a local favorite Bar in his new neighborhood. Not to mention the fact that he’s in the 2007 calendar (you need to go and ask to see them, trust me), and he promised to autograph mine (whenever The Black Horse London Pub gets around to printing them out this year) — Shakes is indeed a most welcome new Barfly (hi Shakes!).
Shakes finally decided to it was time to go and finish dealing with his moving woes. And Wanda and I were getting around to leaving, too, but then Dave’s parents showed up to bring him Easter dinner, so of course we had to stay a little longer to chat with them. They were just as cool and fun as everyone else there. Dave’s mom even said if she had known that people would actually be there on Easter Sunday, she would have brought enough food for everyone (and I am not making this up). It was a good thing we stuck around, because we got to meet James, too (hi James, are you still keeping an eye on me?).
The Black Horse London Pub was a great place to spend Easter evening. It’s a great place to spend any evening, really, and I plan on spending some more there. After all, I’ll have to pick up my calendar…
As if the Big Wheel Races, and The Black Horse London Pub, and kickin’ it with Wanda wasn’t enough to make that Sunday the Best Easter Ever, wiat ’til you hear what an adventure befell me on the way home! (See the Various Marginalia page’s entry about The # 1 California bus for details — and no, I was not drinking on the bus, which is not to say I never do…)
One (obviously!). Small (even more obviously), but surprisingly not the smallest I have seen (go figure!). There’s a metal box of some sort on the wall that apparently poses some hazzard to tall (or drunk?) people, because there is a warning written on it to watch your head, but I didn’t feel the least bit menaced. Getting to the bathroom might be tricky if there is a dart game going on (yes, there is a dart board, which is incongruous to say the least). Bottom line: go for it — as all they serve is beer (ok, and cider), you’re sure to need to pee, and you’ll get to meet everyone at that end of the bar on your way.
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