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Guinness Learned Young (Is Done Old)

I have to confess something. I used to play saxophone in a youth brass band when I was a boy. That's not the confession, though, it comes later. I was just trying to set some background to the story, which goes way back to when I was, what, not more than fourteen. I was heading with the orchestra for a brass band festival in the Netherlands. Purmerend, I think. But this didn't happen there rather than in some small village near the Germany-Holland border. I can't even remember the name of the place any more, but we were staying there just for the night.

Of course the big boys of the band went to the nearest pub as soon as they could. I managed to tag along dodging the suspecting eyes of the adult guardians. This would be the first time in my life I go to a pub and have a pint of beer. And that I did indeed. (No, having a beer in a pub when underaged is not the confession either.)

I can't remember any more where I had learned it, but I had the impression Guinness would be manly brand enough to order, so Guinness I had. The bartender looked at me one second too long to make me feel comfortable. I was sure he would kick the child out of the pub, even though I have (to this date!) always looked a bit older of my age. I guess keeping my fingers crossed helped since instead of showing me the door he poured me a perfect pint of dark, world famous Irish stout with a splendid creamy head.

I took a sip from my first self-bought pint ever. The taste of the pitch dark stout was way too burnt and bitter for my unacquainted young virgine taste buds. And here finally comes the aforementioned confession: I couldn't finish my pint! Well, maybe I could have, I bravely gulped down small sips one after another, but the clever bartender saw that I clearly had a bit hard time chugging down my beer. So he asked me if I liked my Guinness. I tried to assure him it was ok, but the good man made me an offer I couldn't refuse: - How about you give me that pint, he suggested pointing at my partially consumed Guinness, and I'll give you this one?

The bartender handed me a fresh pint of cold lager, which, I have to admit, was far better back then compared to the bittery burnt taste of Guinness. Later on I have of course grown a taste also for the darker side of  brew industry products. But sometimes it's just good that a professionally skilled expert in catering business knows how to read also their younger customers' needs.



We needed to do some laundry in New Orleans. The hostel didn't have washing machines available, at least that time, but they were friendly enough to tell us where to go. That's some Southern Hospitality for you, I guess. The place was only a couple of blocks away, and actually a pub or a bar, but in the back they had - next to the pool tables - laundromats and tumble dryers. Great concept, go grab a cold beer while having your dirty socks get cleaned. That place had also books, gaming machines, food and whatnot. Just a kind of a place you might well make your regular living room if you lived nearby.

We walked in, got some change for the machines at the bar, got them rolling at the back, and since it was an extremely hot and sunny Louisiana day, we had nothing but time to grab cold dixie beers while waiting. We sat at the bar. Silent moment of the day. There was a couple of young girls nearby, and a man with some silver on his hair and stubble sitting one or two bar stools away. The man must have heard us talking, because he moved next to us begging forgiveness for disturbing us. He was seemingly drunk, more than just tipsy, but not completely smashed either. He introduced himself as Larry.

Garden District, NOLA
Larry had been wondering about the language we were speaking. Before he moved next to us, he had iterated it down to three languages: We spoke either Dutch, Danish or Finnish. We congratulated this worn grey baseball cap wearing, somewhat dishevelled drunken man on his insight on spotting European languages. Obviously he was in need of talking to somebody, since he was very delighted to meet us in particular.  
- I have always wanted to meet people from Finland, he rejoiced. He insisted on buying the next round.

Larry surprised us by knowing quite a lot about Finland, especially about the 20th century war history and Finnish-made firearms. He proudly explained that he's a Vietnam veteran and has a big collection of guns at home nearby. Larry also wanted to impress the two young girls that were sitting nearby:
- Hey, did you know these guys are from Finland? Do you know what's the capital of Finland?
- Helsinki, the girls replied. Larry looked a bit disappointed not being the only one in the pub with some Nordic knowledge.
- But hey, one of the girls asked in return, do you Finns know what's the capital of Louisiana?
- Baton Rouge, I managed to say. Luckily I had done my homework. I got a thumbs-up.

In addition to telling me that he was a Vietnam vet, Larry also wanted to reveal how he made his living. Out of courtesy he whispered it in only my ear. Maybe it was his drunken stupor, maybe his Southern Drawl I still hadn't got used to, maybe it was his use of an euphemism.  Or maybe it was just the usual slowness within my synapses, but I couldn't decipher what the man repeatedly tried to tell me about the source of his income. In the end he had increased the volume of his voice and simplified his phrasing enough so that I heard him say loud and clear:
- I film naked chicks!
- I heard that, replied my wife nonchalantly.
Larry was somewhat embarrassed by the fact that a lady sitting present heard of his field of expertise, but didn't let it come into way because he was still too excited about meeting Finns, people from apparently his second favourite nationality in the world. After buying us another round, Larry insisted we had to come to his place, he lives just around the corner.
- You are the first Finnish persons I've met, you have to come to my home. 
He wouldn't take 'no' as an answer.

Willy and the Po'Boys?
Now let's just stop here for awhile and review the scenario: A drunk, ill-groomed and very excited war veteran, who makes porn for living, wants to invite you to his place to see his gun collection. Everyday situation, isn't it? Well, I tried to look for expressions of warning on the face of the bartender who had stood right in front of us. She must have heard the most of our conversation, and she had definitely heard Larry's invitation, but she didn't even raise her eyebrow. Didn't she hear us after all? Or didn't she just care? Or was it that Larry was her long-time regular customer and widely known for a harmless and good-natured fellow? That she just didn't even come to think there would be any risk whatsoever for us to accept Larry's invitation?

The anticlimactic ending to this rather pointless little story is that we actually had a meeting at the French Quarter in a couple of hours, so we even didn't have to lie to Larry in order to dodge his invitation. But the question still remains after all these years: Should we have gone to check his gun collection?


Mondo Memento Map

I was looking for a map widget with which I could put link on a map pointing to different blog entries within Mondo Memento. So that you could zoom to different areas and click on the markers to read blog entries that have happened there. The ones I found were not what I was looking for - they drew route from point to point, which doesn't work for me, since I'm not blogging a certain single trip rather than snippets of memories on different trips.

I finally learned to build my own map, so here's a cool zoomable map with markers pointing to different blog entries so far. I'll probably put the map on a separate page later on and link to it on the right hand side bar, and that map will be updated with new markers as I write new blog entries whereas this particular blog entry will sink down with its unupdated map, but until then enjoy this map right below:

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