I was standing at the bar at the Jolly Trolley in Westfield, New Jersey, staring at my Fuller’s London Pride, when I decided I was so drunk I would indeed have a hangover in the morning. The red label reminded me of the Protestant solidity of London and the infinite possibilities of drinking yardarms of lager in the afternoon.
I noticed a burly blond man in a business suit with an elaborate mustache drinking Carlsberg in the corner of the bar. I could tell he was from “abroad.”
Since Westfield was a town of prosperous bourgeois burghers who commuted every day by train into Manhattan, there were a lot of people from Europe living and working in this typical Main Street USA Colonial town, founded before the American Revolution. The cemetery across the street from the white clapboard Church had gravestones from before the Revolution, around 1720, decorated with stylized figures with wings, which resembled mad Mozarts, or even angels or vampires.
The cartoonist Charles Adams, of the Adams Family, used to live here, as did the Stepfather, the notorious serial killer who seemed as wholesome as a bowl of Grape Nuts. (“The taste reminds me of wild hickory nuts, Pumpkin!”)
In the pub, the prosperous well-dressed American and British moghuls and robber barons back from Wall Street (America’s “City”) managed to hold the bearing of swank healthy sane primates, who say “Cheers!” and “Sorry!” rather than aggressive back-slapping John Bulls roaring “Rather, raaather!!!”
The American equivalent in show somehow always reminded me of the money-mad characters from Michael Douglas’s Wall Street, cleft-chinned weasels who make cold calls and say, “Don’t yank my chain!”
“What about Little Denmark?” the businessman asked, tears of nostalgia welling up in his eyes.
“Our Danish kroner are hard to trade against the euro or dollar.”
“I’ve been to the Copenhagen Jazz Festival,” I prouded. “I saw the bassists Stanley Clarke and Miroslav Vitous jam together. I also saw that statue of Hans Christian Anderson’s.”
“The Little Mermaid! Oh, it is so beautiful!” The drunk Dane’s ruby-red lips parted open from his foam-speckled mustache slightly, intent as welcoming as the nether region of a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue centerfold. “In Little Denmark, we are well placed to make trades. . . .”
“I’d like to go back to Little Denmark.” I smiled.
The Dane wasn’t laughing. He could tell I was making fun of him.
Abruptly, I stumbled outside to an august wind, ready to find my car in the rancid rain and outwit the bored Westfield Police, who confined themselves to doling out DUIs to the rich trust-fund babies who acted like soccer hooligans.
For good measure, I made the claw and used my finger to paint the sky with lightning. Some people call it witchcraft; I call it downright frightening.
Despite what the Dane had said about “Little Denmark,” I decided the country was instead rather quite large. I had in one night almost drunk their entire per capita beer consumption.
They own Greenland.