Why would eight to ten grey-bearded men gather in a conference room of a public library? What commonality, aside from their beards, could cause them to assemble around a conference table, nary a smile visible behind those masculine mops?
Those questions crossed my mind a few days ago during a visit to the county library, where I saw such an assemblage of geezers sitting around a table. I considered interrupting them to inquire of their motives for the meeting, but decided, first, to examine the library schedule for the day. There, on the schedule for Conference Room A, was a man’s name, though these few days later I do not recall what that name was.
I looked back toward the room of bearded men, wondering which one owned that forgettable name; who among those men would allow a public announcement that he had reserved the room? It might have been the old man with the long wavy mane, the man whose hair flowed past his shoulders and fell onto his green plaid shirt. Or, the owner of the name that I’m sure has since been removed from the library schedule might have been the youngest of the group, the burly red-shirted guy who looked a little out of place, with his hair and beard only streaked with grey. I doubted it was the smallish man who slumped at the table, shoulders forward and head slightly bowed. Nor, I thought, was it likely the fellow with the round wire-rimmed glasses; he looked a little like Santa Claus with his rosy cheeks and a moderately short-cropped beard and hair to match.
Quite aside from who was leading this group, I wondered again why they were at the library. As far as I could tell, there were no books on the table around which they gathered. Their earnest faces suggested engagement in serious business.
The more I pondered the purpose of this party, the more obvious it became to me: there could be only two reasons for this meeting. Either these men were plotting a KKK rally (I failed to mention they were all white) or they were discussing how and when they would launch a micro-brewery owned and operated by a geezer cooperative. I mean, what else could it be? Exactly! There is no other plausible explanation!
Except for the fact that my wife and my sister-in-law were with me, I would have boldly opened the door to the conference room and announced in a deep, loud voice: “Gentlemen, while I am unable to share your beardedness, I am here to commit to your cause! I am one of you and I am here to take my seat at your table!” After a momentary double-take at this beardless geezer entering their domain, they would uniformly have said, “Welcome, brother! You are among your kind!” At that point, I would have said, “All right, then, fill me in on where we are!”
If the conversation would have turned to planning a Klan rally, I would have excused myself to go to the men’s room, never to return. However, if the discussion had turned to beer, I would have offered up my concept of an ale I’ve always wanted to brew.
“I have always dreamed of creating a dark, rich ale, a brew with high ABV and a powerful flavor profile that would challenge the best oatmeal and coffee-infused stouts. I call my dream ‘Force Ale.’ I envision a collaboration with a major residential realtor, whereby we will team up to place a ‘Force Ale’ sign in front of every house on the market. Are you with me, gents?”
The room would have then erupted in applause and hearty laughter and verbal expressions of appreciation and commendation. The largest of the men would have stood up and lifted me up over their heads and carried me triumphantly out the door, crowds of cheering library patrons following them, chanting, “Force Ale! Force Ale! Force Ale!”
Malvern Avenue would have been shut down by the Hot Springs Police Department, with assistance from the Garland Country Sheriff’s Department, to allow the procession to move through the streets undisturbed. Huge wooden kegs of Force Ale would have been tapped in the streets, with frothy pitchers of dark, rich Force Ale given to passers-by. Little children would have been seen trying to sneak bottles of ale away from the festivities, only to be gently swatted aside by laughing geezers, drunk with joy and Force Ale.
Yes, I know, the transition from announcing an idea to drunken celebrations in the street was a touch quick, but that’s how it goes with these things. One moment, you’re looking through a plate glass window into a conference room and the next you’re shutting down major thoroughfares to celebrate improbable accomplishments. That’s just the way things go in this part of the world. It’s magical, just a magical curious experience. But it’s not uncommon; happens all the time.