The Omicron Matter – Jason and John Build a Water Heater – Tuesday Evening at the Pig and Cow

A new entry in the Omicron Matter – Jason and John Build a Water Heater.  It is now evening.  John, having been invited by Stephanie, hangs around the pub as it closes down.  But groups are formed and he is not one of them. Stephan signals him over to the bar and walks him through a beer tasting. As John newly considers beer, he discusses history with Stephan.

For those who are new to the Omicron Matter, the home page is a good place to start.


Tuesday Evening at the Pig and Cow

That night, as Stephanie had predicted, the pub seemed to close up early. Jason and Candace had joined up with Geoff and the three of them were already laughing at some story by Geoff. John looked around at other groups. Stephanie was in conference with her mother. Kimberly was serving the last tables. John shuffled his feet a bit and felt awkward. Stephanie may have said he was almost family but he felt very alone at the moment.  Over at the bar, Stephan waved him over and John sat down. Stephan cleaned a glass as he said, “What’ll ye be drinking?”

John looked over the bar at the taps and wall options, “It’s been awhile since I was in a proper pub. I’ve been drinking gin and whiskey for the past couple of years.”

Stephan waved his hand dismissively, “Bah…I can fix that gin habit o’ yours.  Restore ye to yer roots.” Stephan placed five tumbler glasses in front of John.  Stephen then poured samples of each of the tapped beer into the tumblers and arranged them from lightest to darkest.  He pointed to each “Wheat, Lager, Pale Ale, Bitter, and Stout”. Stephan then explained the virtues and vices of each.  John considered and started with the wheat beer. He found it a bit sweet for a beer but a good flavor otherwise.

Stephan went back to cleaning the glass and waved around the room at one point, “Lad, you’ll find you will need to be confident when you walk into a room.”

John said, “Pubs haven’t been my element for a while. I do ok in a card room or a coffee house.”

Stephan said amiably, “I was always a bit rough for that crowd. Abigail could always work card rooms and coffee houses. Sean could too, but he had his rough edges.”

John tried the next beer, a lager. He sipped it. It was less sweet and a bit fuller. He commented, “I like this one better. Why would I have to ‘work a crowd?’ Aren’t my expenses paid already?”

Stephan set the glass down and leaned in to say, “You will be the exotic native from a far off and backward land brought in to experience civilization or some tripe like that.” He leaned back and poured his own beer, a stout. Stephan continued, “Some people were easy to talk to, but some set my teeth on edge with all that ‘species superiority’ crap.”

John sighed and drank from the lager, “That could have been my life for the past four years.”

Stephan eyed him sideways and took a drink and then said, “I’ve heard a bit.  Thought it might sound familiar.”

John set the empty tumbler down and moved to the Pale Ale and sipped.  He winced a bit and said, “A bit more of a kick and a tad bitter. “ He tasted a bit more, “A bit like the Wheat but with more body and a hint of bitter. I think the debutantes were the most obnoxious. They always wanted to hear stories of  my early life as if I was some Dickensonian urchin spending my childhood barefoot in the snow.  At least the older folk were willing to discuss common interests such as the latest column in the ‘Quarterly Review’or common whist plays.”

Stephan said, “The pale ale has a bit more hop and you’re tasting that now. You’ll see a lot of both types on your journey.  I expect you’ll want to help Jason and that Rachael lass so that they keep their heads. It wouldn’t do to piss off the punters.”  He drank his beer and then mused, “I suppose it ain’t polite to talk about people like that.  But somebody has to pay for all that work.  For the money these people put in, they get to mingle with the ‘exhibits’. And that is you.”

John took a drink of the bitter, winced and said, “How does Rachael drink that swill?” He went back to the lager and said, “Maybe I’ll give lessons on attending society parties to the group.”

Stephan laughed and said, “Jason could sure use em’”

Stephanie sat down and Stephan poured a lager for her. She asked, “Jason could use what?”

John smirked and said, “Lessons on society party manners.”

Stephanie snorted as she took a drink at the same time as his comment and began alternately laughing and coughing, “Oh Lord, you must give warning when such a comment is coming.” She cleaned herself with a napkin and waved a hand at her face dramatically and said, “Whew!”

Geoff, from the far table, shouted, “You three are having far too much fun. Whatever are you discussing?”

John answered smoothly, “Enrichment opportunities.”

This resulted in more laughing, coughing and spilt beer by Stephan and Stephanie.  Stephanie gasped, “Please …stop…can’t breathe.”

John eyed the stout dubiously, but Stephan was already pulling a proper pint of the lager and set it down in front of John saying, “on the house for the man who managed to reduce me to tears.”  John took the beer and raised it back and took a long drink in East End style. Jolene sat down with the three at the bar and said, “Your group sounds like the fun one tonight. Don’t know about those stick in the muds over there. Do tell.” Stephan and Stephanie recounted the entire sequence in hushed tone while John blushed.  When Stephan shouted “Enrichment opportunities!,” there was more laughter and Jolene choked on her sherry.


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