Motoring peacefully through vaguely quaint (or was that quaintly vague?) downtown Fairfield a few afternoons ago, I noticed a banner announcing the future opening of a “Magic Tavern.”
Some newcomers might view this as an exciting development, but I’ve learned from long experience that downtown Fairfield taverns have always been jampacked with plenty of magic. Or, as a dedicated downtown barhopper gleefully announced one foggy night, “Kudos to the hoodoo, dudes!”
I first encountered Fairfield tavern magic several years ago after stopping in at Ding’s, a cozy neighborhood thirst emporium on West Texas Street. I recall ordering a Budweiser. I recall receiving a gin-and-tonic. No big deal. For those of us who made a career out of imbibing, it was all good.
After polishing off my gin and tonic, I decided to expand my horizons and order a double shot of mescal. I received a rum and cola. Realizing that there were many thirsty people in Albania, I dutifully downed the rum and cola and was about to order another when a martini appeared, followed by the Budweiser I’d ordered in the first place.
Magic…Fortunately, I’d left my bewitching Mercury Comet at home that evening and was safely savoring the downtown enchantment on foot.
I magically awakened several hours later in a dimly lit corner of the fabled Daily Republic newspaper (where, on occasion, it was rumored that I was employed).
Another magic-filled tavern was the late lamented Mac’s Club – conveniently located near the seat of Solano County government on Texas Street. Its haunting habitues included, on at least one occasion, an ill-tempered goblin. Or troll. Or gnome. One of those…
Trouble started one rainy night when a longtime customer burst out of the men’s room to announce that he’d been attacked by “a sawed-off little demon kind of guy.”
We all nodded and ordered another round, only to have the aforementioned little sawed-off demon guy come running out of the men’s room throwing haymaker punches and bellowing in what was variously described as Lithuanian, Korean and, er, Canadian.
The 3-foot menace ran the length of the bar, leaving terror and confusion in his wake, then disappeared into the night, never to be seen again.
Magical? You betcha.
One veteran downtown bartender even used magic to rid himself of unwanted customers.
If a bar patron became particularly loud or obnoxious, the wily old bartender would offer to show them a “magic trick” with a $20 bill – or however much available cash the customer had on hand.
With a grand flourish, the master of magic would take the bill, tear it into tiny bits and then conceal the pieces in his hands for a moment. Then he’d wink, grin, open his hands and blow the troublemaker’s shredded drinking money into the air while declaring “Magic! All gone!”
Will the new “Magic Tavern” be able to live up to downtown Fairfield’s truly enchanting past? We can only hope…
Originally published November 21, 2004