Every word of what you’re about to read is true.
Beth, of course, says differently. And she takes great pleasure in telling her side of the story.
Here’s what really happened.
On the long drive home from North Carolina after a recent family mini-reunion, we were targeting a spot to walk the pooch and grab a bite. The weather was OK. Sunny and dry, so we opted for the outdoor mall at White Marsh, Md.
As the family’s resident beer snob, I volunteered to pick the venue while Beth and Max took Westmonster for a walk. Lots of choices, but as always, beer selection was the prime motivator. I stuck my head into two or three places. Narrowed it down to the brewpub and, across the way, Tilted Kilt, a chain pseudo-Irish pub.
Let the record show, your Honor, that I’d never before heard of this particular establishment nor had I ever set foot in one before this occasion.
On any day, I’d go with the brewpub. I avoid chain joints like the plague and will almost always opt to enrich the true local economy by patronizing locally owned haunts. But I couldn’t this day. The problem, the place was heavy with the dense and somewhat overwhelming aromas of brewing. Stink, most would say. As a brewer myself, I have only respect for any brewpub trying to make a go of it (especially in such a horrid location as this, a Disneyesque fake main street in a fake mall parking lot.)
But the place was really ripe that day. I could have tolerated it OK but I knew Max would be unhappy, with his more easily offended olfactory sensibility.
So I decided the simulated Irish pub would be the better choice. No malodors to contend with and the beer selection was off the charts. Perfect.
I went back in to inquire about the dog. He’s a service dog in training, so most places understand that they have to let him in under ADA rules. But on very rare occasions, we’ll run up against an uninformed restaurateur who holds his ground, for one reason or another. So out of courtesy, we tend to ask ahead of time instead of barging in and demanding that the place accommodate him. I approached the hostess station.
It’s important to note, your Honor, this object’s construction.
It was a tall wooden box, maybe four and a half feet high. A young woman was standing inside. I could see her neck and head, and little else. I’m not much of a fashionista so I don’t normally notice what people are wearing. But in this case, the cabinetwork obscured her duds so they were completely out of mind. I asked if the service animal would be OK and she was very polite and friendly in her approval. I took a closer look at the beer taps, where I saw the second of only two employees I encoutered during this reconnaissance: a guy in a T-shirt.
Key details, your Honor. Girl in a wooden box. Guy in a T-shirt.
Back outside, I circled around to the bookstore to pick up the rest of the family, satisfied with my scouting mission. We headed back across the pseudo-street and marched through the front door.
At this point, we were immediately approached by a trio of Tilted Kilt representatives, female, bubbly and enthusiastically welcoming.
One thought went through my mind: I am so screwed.
Let’s just say the Tilted Kilt work uniform allows unrestricted views of almost all piercings and tattoos. If you’re not against scantily-clad women, take a look.
Oh well. Already in deep, no turning back. We sat, settled the dog and I held the giant plank of a laminated Technicolor menu before my nose to avoid eye contact with my wife. It was in vain.
“So. We came here for the beer selection, huh?” came my spouse's incredulous response.
I think for the foreseeable future, “beer selection” has officially become our family’s euphemism for the architectural features of a pretty, perky and barely contained young woman.
“Wow. Would you look at the beer selection on her?”
And of course Beth won’t think of letting me live it down.