I opened the doors to the old building while the British and American flags were having a bit of an argument with each other above my head. It looked like they might be throwing some insults back and forth for old time’s sake, but it was difficult to tell with all that wind in my ears.
Inside, the pub seemed to lean in toward me from the ceiling. Maybe like a welcome; maybe like a threat. I wasn’t sure. Before me sat a bar, which looked a bit lonely sitting there in all its gleam of shiny alcohol logos and very few people to read them. The thought of how I have never sat at a bar in my life crossed my mind.
I thought maybe I should, but I’m just not a bar kind of girl. Americans aren’t as good at bars as the British I don’t think. That’s probably what the flags were arguing about.
No matter, in the middle of my internal debate a waitress appeared and led me to a table, because apparently I don’t look like a bar kind of girl. Or, maybe it had to do with me hovering there like a fly over a big fat American hamburger. As I said, no matter.
And so I was brought to an odd little booth with odd little decorative nobs at its top and the whole thing was oddly small. Clearly it was made a long time ago, and looked like something made for a smaller generation. Suddenly I felt like a China doll set neatly in place on a museum display. That was all fine and well, I could tolerate being stared at, but I did in fact need to eat there.
There is something a bit unappetizing about eating in a museum. Think of the dust. The stagnancy in the air seems to sour supper. And who might be displayed next to you while you enjoy your meal? The shrunken head, of course. Maybe the mummified cat to your left would appreciate a nibble? I swiveled my head back and forth quickly, but was reassured by not seeing the above mentioned.
Instead, there was a great deal of memorabilia hanging from every crevice of available space both on the ceiling and the walls. Some sort of antique looking horns were hanging to my right, and they looked depressed by their own silence. A framed picture hung to my left that looked like some sort of notice. It looked very angrily written in Old English. I respectfully decided to give it a bit of space.
I perused the menu. Cornish Pasty. Scotch Egg. Steak and Kidney Pie—with the words Try It! written beneath. Clearly they had already had their fair share of American skepticism.
Every non-American culture seems to really enjoy their kidneys. In Traditional Chinese Medicine kidneys can be called “the wellspring of life.” It just seems kind of gross to me to eat a wellspring of life. Although I suppose eating a wellspring of life could restore me, just like the fountain of youth. I could return to my youthful days as a young calf frolicking in a field of green.
Don’t want to risk that, I decided. I placed my order and headed over to the bathroom. It was a small room with an extra latch installed above the doorknob, just in case. You can’t be too careful while peeing.
I took a look at the toilet and I had one of those moments, like a premonition. It was one of those sorts of toilets—the old ones that look testy. The sort that might do something unexpected, like overflow. And there I was in that tiny room, barricaded in by an equally testy latch with a bit of rust at the ends.
It turns out it wasn’t a premonition and I safely escaped the little dungeon, but was flagged down on my way back to my table by a couple of suits of armor. Like all suits of armor, they do most of their flagging people down simply by looking eerie. They seemed to stand there in wait, just waiting for that grand moment when they would spring to life (was it the kidney pie?) and ram through the kitchen in search of make-shift swords.
I thought that over for a minute and decided I liked the idea. The knight ghost’s helmet would be awkwardly swung over his handsome face while he dashed forward with a knife that had been used moments earlier by the cook chopping up those kidneys. He would run toward the other ghost knight, who was only just awaking from his not-so-eternal-sleep. That knight—who was possibly better looking than the first—promptly held up a shield that he scavenged off the ceiling. And I couldn’t decide who I was rooting for.
I wondered back to my seat. One shouldn’t get too close to a couple of dueling knights. The decidedly American waitress brought me my food. I leaned back in my seat as I contemplated my new found medieval fantasies and the oddness of eating in a museum.
I like this place, I said to myself. Through the windows I caught sight of those flags outside. They were still fighting, and I think they were enjoying it.