When he’d opened his bar in 1985, Louie wanted everyone from frat boys to the most sad sack drunks, to put down their burdens and enjoy life. His philosophy of sanctuary and reverie was encapsulated in a simple message in the front window: Louie’s Lounge: Where the Fun Is.
But a decade later, things had changed. Louie’s wife accused him of contributing to the moral decay of the nation. His soul searching after their acrimonious split led him to an impossible crossroads. Dispensing liquor to the masses was a morally suspect occupation. Yet dispensing liquor (and fun) was all that he knew.
Searching for insight, Louie devoured philosophy and Native American wisdom. He decided the bar needed a makeover to match his internal transformation. Vestiges of spiritual immaturity abounded in the saloon. What about the the inflatable skeleton embracing the giant gin bottle? Or the flocked 70’s wallpaper with its repeating patterns of top hats and dice? He’d change the facade starting with the window. Louie’s Lounge: Where the Fun Is. He needed a new message designed to appeal to a loftier breed of recreational drinker:
Louie’s Lounge: In Vino Veritas
Louie’s Lounge: Imbibe and Reflect
Louie’s Lounge: The Earth Does Not Belong to the People, the People Belong to the Earth.
Louie liked the third option. A little long maybe, but at least it invited spiritual reflection. He hosted poetry readings and spiritual book clubs and pop culture salons. A different strain of customer began to frequent the bar. Bookish and destitute, this new breed nursed beers and pontificated on everything from Red Cloud to Redd Foxx. Yet instead of being energized by this infusion of intellectual energy, Louie felt depressed. He missed the sound of the frat boys the way a city-bound poet might miss the call of a loon over a lake. Only a few hardcore faithful remained.
“What happened to you Louie?” asked an old drunk named Wagon Wheels. “You used to be so much fun.”
“I guess I grew up,” Louie mumbled.
Wagon Wheels shrugged.
“Or maybe you just got old.”
Wagon Wheels shuffled out the door leaving Louie alone at the bar to contemplate the rummy’s harsh truth. He had cultivated the company of intellectuals only to find the greatest wisdom came from a man who once ate glass on a dare. Could sagacity be found in fun? What was the philosophical importance of having a good time? It wasn’t too late. The old customers would return. He would call them. Louie propped open the door with a large ceramic pirate and turned on the football game. Blasting Foreigner on the jukebox, Louie stood in the doorway savoring the mixed up siren song of his people.