Sunday, October 12, 2008

Right--that'll be one chimerical cocktail, one make-believe mixed drink, and one illusory libation, coming right up.

{Photos by rocketlass.}

As Ed and I have, admittedly, been hard pressed to find ways to spend the oceans of grant money that have been flowing into the vaults of the Invisible Library--let alone our allotted portion of the $700 billion invisible bailout approved by Congress last week--I was glad to hit upon an idea while I was reading P. G. Wodehouse's Meet Mr. Mulliner (1927) yesterday afternoon.

In "The Story of William," Mr. Mulliner's Uncle William, having lost his best girl to a bounder in 1906 San Francisco, drags the empty shell of himself into Mike's Place in search of a specific for treating the rent heart:
The gentlemanly bar-tender pondered for some moments.

"Well," he replied at length, "I advance it, you understand, as a purely personal opinion, and I shall not be in the least offended if you decide not to act upon it; but my suggestion--for what it is worth--is that you try a Dynamite Dew-Drop."

One of the crowd that had gathered sympathetically round shook his head. He was a charming man with a black eye, who had shaved on the preceding Thursday.

"Much better give him a Dreamland Special."

A second man, in a sweater and a cloth cap, had yet another theory.

"You can't beat an Undertaker's Joy."
The imaginary cocktail! That's what the Invisible Library needs: a lavishly appointed, dimly lit lounge where our weary, word-drunk patrons can obtain purely notional cocktails, poured--alongside invisible viands and nonexistent noshes--by a dour-faced bartender who looks to have been pickled (rather carelessly) early in the Taft administration. As soon as I'm done with this post, I'll start drawing up the plans and thinking of apposite additions to the cocktail menu. The Menard's Malady? The Byronic Conscience? The Rough Magic? The Odo's Lament? The Third Murderer? The Lincoln's Dream?

As for Uncle William, well, he took the advice of the room to heart:
They were all so perfectly delighted and appeared to have his interests so unselfishly at heart that William could not bring himself to choose between them. He solved the problem in diplomatic fashion by playing no favourites and ordering all three of the beverages recommended.

The effect was instantaneous and gratifying. As he drained the first glass, it seemed to him that a torchlight procession, of whose existence he had hitherto not been aware, had begun to march down his throat and explore the recesses of his stomach. The second glass, though slightly too heavily charged with molten lava, was extremely palatable. It helped the torchlight procession along by adding to it a brass band of sinular power and sweetness of tone. And with the third someobody began to touch off fireworks inside his head.

William felt better--not only spiritually but physically.
Now that's the effect we want our invisible restoratives to have on our frequently melancholy patrons--making them keen of mind, strong of heart, firm of constitution! Perhaps we could name the bar The Circulation Desk?


  1. Anonymous2:36 PM

    Surely you'll want to include Death Comes for the Archbishop, Harrison Wisebite's "refreshing cocktail." ANK

  2. There is a Vietnamese restaurant in Philadelphia that serves a very strong Polynesian mixed drink called "The Suffering Bastard".

  3. Don't forget the Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster, whose effects are like having your brains smashed out by a slice of lemon wrapped around a large gold brick.

  4. What a wonderful, wonderful posting. I can always count on you to offer a little PGW.

  5. Oh, those are good additions--thank you, everyone! The Suffering Bastard sounds wonderfully terrible, and I'd flat-out forgotten the Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster, though I remember laughing out loud when I first encountered it. As for the Death Comes for the Archbishop, I'll admit to being flat-out embarrassed that I didn't think of it. What sort of Anthony Powell fan am I?!

  6. Jack Handey, in his new novel, The Stench of Honolulu, has his clueless protagonist down a couple of Drowsy Lifeguards. I'm guessing two is plenty.