Mission One: Burns Night at The Tap Room in Downtown St. Louis."
The location looked promising. Outside it was really neat looking. Matt and I walked into the Tap Room and asked the hostess where to go for Burns Night. She said we could either sit downstairs in the restaurant and have a pint of newly-released Scottish ale, or we could go upstairs to the pub, get a drink, and listen to some Scottish musicians play. I asked where the poetry reading and such was happening. She said the bagpipe procession had already taken place along with the poem (singular) reading.
W. T. F.
Seriously? That was Burns' Night? A new beer to sample? Who goes to this stuff? We went upstairs for the heck of it. It was crowded up the butt, and the two Scottish instrumentalists were in a dark corner, suffocated by, as far as I could tell, the roar of normal Wednesday night drinking crowd with nothing better to do. Don't think we lost heart and just left. We squeezed through the blathering hordes to confirm that there wasn't a place to sit that was remotely close to the ‘cultural corner’ of music. We were right. I snapped a few embittered photos over the many talking heads to prove to everyone that we had actually been there. We left.
But we did it. We jumped out and away from the What-We-Knew-It-To-Be, and had no choice but to meet the oncoming Whatever-It-Would-Become. And that's the point. In the words of Kahlil Gibran, we "finally extended our knowledge to a world beyond the narrow cavern of our birth." I look at it this way, if what we found in the end was too predictable, then we could be sure we didn't make it out of our existential backyard. So, I’m glad it wasn't exactly what I expected—that would have been an utter failure. I thought I would learn about Burns and his influence on culture...and who knows, maybe I did in a way that is a bit deflating to my ideal of Burns.
Burns was all about the common man. He had a lack-luster pedigree himself, and developed a profound appreciation for the hardship and joys of the working class. His poem, "A Man's a Man For A' That" extols the man and woman of low degree: "The rank is but the guinea's stamp, the Man's the gowd [gold] for a' that." There was plenty of Burns' "hamely fair" brewing this night at the Tap Room, and is it so bad that the celebration of culture was not a celebration about culture? If Burns’ true interest was in the fellowship of mankind without regard for the stamp of cultural rank, then the pageantry of this night was most likely antithetical to Burn’s praxis of drinking it up with friends.
I only wish I could have seen or heard a “pith o' sense, an' pride o' worth” in the whole place. Who knows maybe the sense and worth marched out with the bagpipes. I pray with Burns that “ Sense and Worth, o'er a' the earth, shall bear the gree, an' a' that.” Here, here!
Yes, let’s bear the gree. It’s all in the gree ya know. That’s the only place it’s ever been in. The gree.
Burns, my homey from another croney, with what I saw tonight, are you sure a man’s a man for all of that? I can hear you now, “No, I ne’er said ‘a man’s a man for all of that’. I said “a man’s a man for a’ that.”
Ah yes. Who am I to argue? Now pour me anither paiynt!