(Click on the Picture to Make it Enormous)
There are no real Cafe Loup patrons in this picture. There is one person who is based on a real person, but not a customer. The rest of these characters are from our collective imagination. However, when I posted this on Bookface on May 8, 2013, all of my Loup friends thought they had figured out who was who. I guess on the one hand, you could find similarities to a couple of our customers in some of these fellows, but they just happen to be at the bar. In fact, this one wasn't even located at the Loup until the very end, when I put in the coat room and the clock over there on the far left of the picture. Before that, it was just some random bar in Anytown, U.S.A, although with all those shot glasses littering the bar, it could be anywhere in the world. We always joke about Happy Hour, saying that it's always Happy Hour when someone inquires if we have any specials. I worked in Massachusetts for a long time and you aren't allowed to have happy hours there at all. You can't have happy hours, drink specials, or sell beer in gas stations or after 11 pm or on Sundays (actually, that one got changed) and last call at the bars is at 1am. It's all from what they call the Blue Laws, which is a fancy name for antiquated Puritanical nonsense. There are Blue Laws in many states and countries that basically force businesses to stay closed on Sunday to observe the sabbath; Massachusetts dates back to the 17th century. You can imagine my surprise when I went to college in New York and found out the bars are open until 4am and you can buy beer pretty much anywhere. I was born in Massachusetts and I have a lot of family from that part of the world, but there are some things about that state that baffle me. I understand that you want to control the amount of alcohol people consume before they do something stupid. I even understand that people in bars at 4am are certainly up to no good. But, if there is one thing I've learned about people and drugs (and alcohol is one of those weirdly and widely accepted drugs), it's that if you want some, you can figure out a way to get it. I learned this in High School, when drinking was taboo, but very common. I learned from a early age that the cool kids went to places like The Field and had parties with beer! This story is as old as teenagers, I'm sure. These kids would find a way to get booze, any kind of booze,and 9 times out of 10 they would succeed. My buddies knew a guy named Basil who would sell them Milwaukee Best cases when they were 16. Kids would lift their parents bottles of booze (which I previously mentioned led to my never drinking of Johnnie Walker Red again). You could always get something if you really wanted it and were determined. It's like that old Chris Rock joke where he says that junkies are the most industrious Americans because they wake up in the gutter and they are high as a Georgia pine by the time they go to sleep.
Drinking is such an ingrained part of the American Culture. The advertisements for booze come into our homes right through the television. Every magazine has ads for beer and wine and even hard liquor these days. On top of that, people are always discovering new ways to get a buzz. In my lifetime, dozens of new designer drugs have been invented for people to get high from. I know that these are very different from alcohol, but in some ways they are exactly the same. From these designer drugs, all the way down to the caffeine in your daily cup of coffee, drugs are a part of daily American life. You ingest them in order to change your chemical composition in your brain to feel good and feel different from how you feel without ingesting these things. You take these things to feel happier. You take them at your own Happy Hour. By that logic, when I wake up in morning and have a cup of coffee, that's Happy Hour. When I get off work and have a beer, that's Happy Hour. I guess we were right in our assessment: it really is always Happy Hour at the Cafe Loup.