“Hi, my name is Cloud and I’ll be taking care of you tonight.”
(You wish, I thought in reflex.)
But, aloud said, “Cloud, that’s an unusual name. I wouldn’t suppose that your last name is Bank by any chance.”
“No,” Cloud replied, “my last name is Chambers.”
“Cloud Chambers?” I smiled, “I hope you’re a physics major!”
“Why would you think that,” Cloud responded airily?
“Uh, no reason. None at all. Well, you seem to have quite a few beers on offer.”
“Oh, yes,” Cloud wafted, “we’re the number one brewpub in Lawrence. We have an extensive selection.”
“Great, just wonderful. Well, I’ll start with the Jayhawk Stout.”
“Oh, the stout’s my favorite,” Cloud gushed, “it’s rich and creamy and, oh, so strong! I get goose bumps just thinking about it!”
“Uh, yeah, OK. Well, I’ll start with the Stout.”
“Off. It’s off as in ‘not on.’ Out. We’re out of stout. Oh, I made a rhyme!” Delighted with herself Cloud performed a little hop and clapped in excitement.
Distracted by Cloud’s charm for a moment, I turned my attention to the beer menu for my second choice.
“OK, then, I’ll have the Irish Red.”
“Ummmmmmm! The Irish Red is naughty and tart, a perfect companion to our Chicken Fried Steak dinner.”
“Yeah, that’s sounds just right.” I was warming up to the evening. “I’ll have a Red and the Chicken Fried.”
“Great choice!” Cloud looked ecstatic. Then her face fell. “But, the Red’s off.”
“Yes, like the stout. Off, as in ‘not on’ as in ‘we don’t have any’ sort of off”
By this point I was looking around for the hidden camera. Seeing none I scanned the beer menu for my third choice. Wheat, no. Raspberry, definitely no. Blonde something, no. IPA.
IPA, Indian Pale Ale, yes! That would hit the spot. I placed my order.
“OK, then, I’ll have the IPA.”
I glanced up at Cloud. I didn’t need the Weather Channel to see that a storm was moving in. Definitely a front colliding with a warm air mass from the Gulf. It might even be a tornado warning.
“Let me guess,” I said, “IPA is off. Off as in ‘not on.’ Off as in ‘you don’t have any on tap.’ Like you and me, it ain’t gonna happen kinda off.” I batted my eyes, rested my chin on my hands and paused for a reply.
Cloud looked down and as she did so the storm dissipated. She brightened considerably and broke into a wide smile.
“Wow, you must be some kind of psychic. You’re right, we’re out of IPA. You must have ESB.”
I gazed at Cloud for quite a while before speaking. Finally, I said:
“Darling, if I had ESB at least I’d have a beer.”