This post is the beginning of a series. Look for the continuation each Sunday under the title "A room with a brew."
The pub has long been a profitable place to observe humanity and its manifold foibles.
And then there are the real characters. Regular customers you come to know as friends and who are often as annoying and eventually as beloved as family. Take Jojo, for instance.
Jojo was the kind of guy who repeatedly put the First Amendment to a rigorous test. He often would loudly proclaim the most asinine of opinions. And if his crackpot views met with the least bit of incredulity on the part of any interlocutor, even a slightly arched eyebrow or barely audible snort, Jojo would immediately back up his bubbleheaded baloney by betting – anything from the classic cold drink bet to a “put your money where your mouth is” hundred buck challenge.
This usually took place late in the night. Earlier, Jojo would have been easy enough to ignore since he probably would have been trying to talk his way into a naive or tipsy babe's frillies. But if indeed it was late in the evening that usually meant Jojo had not scored and was perhaps a bit frustrated, while we were just that much more into our cups and our socializing ways and were less in the mood to put up with the know-it-all nonsense of a nattering numbskull. It was then that Jojo’s outrageous claims most often met with conversation-killing call outs.
Once Jojo claimed that the ratio of women to men worldwide was 7:1. Humble reason was no match against the obdurate one, nor could a preponderance of easily observed anecdotal data make him readjust his skewed view of human demography. One bartender even printed out information from the Internet to show Jojo. Of course Jojo ignored it.
On subsequent occasions, if the topic of a supposed surfeit of the sleeker sex came up, Jojo would repeat his lopsided notion and even claim he had been the one who had brought in the data from the Internet and that it had only reinforced his assertion of an overwhelming worldwide female numerical superiority.
Occasionally, Jojo might buy you a bottle of beer, but like a corporation that never admits wrongdoing when settling a lawsuit, Jojo would never concede he lost a beer on a wager. As for those famous $100 bets, we soon learned that was pie in the sky. Still, many of us held onto napkins with scribbled details of the wild assertions that were the subject of the wagering – for example, that the historic city of Troy is really located in present-day England – on the off chance that Jojo would strike it rich one day and be overcome by a swoon of generosity and a desire to settle all gambling debts. Who knew, maybe he would land the proverbial wealthy widow. Others merely kept these notes as mementos of a lunacy hard to grasp without forensics.