The Old Oregon Saloon in Lincoln City had the distinction of being the first Oregon Tavern Age joint directly in the Path of Totality of the Great American Solar Eclipse, the first one across the continental United States in 99 years.
At approximately 10:00 a.m. on Monday, August 21, the moon would fall into perfect alignment, and blot out the sun. The media had fanned anticipation and people had journeyed for around the world to don the glasses and witness a marvel of our solar system in person.
The Old O opens at 7:00 a.m. (seven days a week) so I guessed a couple of regulars would be bellied up to the bar drinking as the momentous celestial event occurred…and…they…wouldn’t budge an inch. Too much strain. Too much science to consider. They couldn’t be bothered. In fact, they were bitching about the fuss. A bunch of crazy tourists buying gewgaws and nude hippies dancing on Cascade Head.
That was my eclipse story—the curmudgeon—and I would damn well get it, while other the lemmings dug up their cliches and interviewed a corporate executive waxing spiritual or single mom whose baby got his retinas fried.
I would nail the curmudgeon angle because I was a curmudgeon of the eclipse. The Grinch of the Eclipse. I wanted rain, a freak summer storm, a viscous gray, to obliterate the joy and awe of Whovilles in the Path of Totality. They would get the Path of Nothing and like it.
The Oregon Gods were summoned the night before. I knelt by my bed, anointed myself with Rainier, lit myrtle wood incense, and prayed to the spirits of Tom McCall and Ken Kesey for a secular wet intervention. I relished a holy washout and terrible things said about Oregon.
I couldn’t travel to Lincoln City to investigate the OTA indifference myself, although I dearly wanted to. Authorities predicted cataclysmic traffic jams and coastal gridlock. Locals had hit the liquor stores to stock up and ride out the madness. Vodka dried up first. Then came the mediocre brands of Canadian whiskey.
This story was mine! I would not be denied! Thus, I went deep into my bag of storytelling tricks and conjured a solution. My great notion was to call the Old Oregon Saloon during the eclipse and interview the OTAs who didn’t care and stayed in the bar. They’d be lining up to bitch to me and ordering shots of Fireball to fuel their harangue.
I placed a call 30 minutes before the event to prep the story. A bartender answered and I gave her the lowdown on my angle. She was game and would query the regulars. I would call back later and get the cynical goods. I asked about eclipse drink and food specials. None, she said. Good. She did add that commemorative sweat shirts were gone and only a few t-shirts remained.
What? Alarming. There was some interest and several OTAs had spent money on apparel. This was good beer money poured down the drain instead of the the gullet.
“Thanks for your help,” I said.
“Sure honey,” the bartender said.
I love being called “honey” in OTA country, just nowhere else, though.
The call ended and I waited for the eclipse. I would be calling the Old O soon. I rubbed my hands together in anticipation of listening to a double shots of sheer vitriol. I might even crack open a Rainier to chase it.
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