As we get into this, we first need to reflect on the great “shaggy dog story”. Wikipedia defines it this way
In its original sense, a shaggy dog story or yarn is an extremely long-winded anecdote characterized by extensive narration of typically irrelevant incidents and terminated by an anticlimax.
It is a long established form of humor. Mark Twain, for example, reveled in it
… in Mark Twain‘s book about his travels west, Roughing It, Twain’s friends encourage him to go find a man called Jim Blaine when he is properly drunk, and ask him to tell “the stirring story about his grandfather’s old ram.” Twain, encouraged by his friends who have already heard the story, finally finds Blaine, an old silver miner, who sets out to tell Twain and his friends the tale. Blaine starts out with the ram (“There never was a bullier old ram than what he was”), and goes on for four more mostly dull but occasionally hilarious unparagraphed pages.
Of course, you never hear about the ram. Instead …
…Blaine tells many stories, each of which connects back to the one before by some tenuous thread, and none of which has to do with the old ram. Among these stories are: a tale of boiled missionaries; of a lady who borrows a false eye, a peg leg, and the wig of a coffin-salesman’s wife; and a final tale of a man who gets caught in machinery at a carpet factory and whose “widder bought the piece of carpet that had his remains wove in …” As Blaine tells the story of the carpet man’s funeral, he begins to fall asleep, and Twain, looking around, sees his friends “suffocating with suppressed laughter.” They now inform him that “at a certain stage of intoxication, no human power could keep [Blaine] from setting out, with impressive unction, to tell about a wonderful adventure which he had once had with his grandfather’s old ram — and the mention of the ram in the first sentence was as far as any man had heard him get, concerning it.”
As you might notice, drinking and shaggy dog stories go together like peas and pods. That was the life story of the great shaggy dog himself, Dylan Thomas. In fact, one might argue that the whole point of heading over to a bar is to be able to open up and exchange shaggy dog stories. Not for the point of them, but for the pleasure of the details in those stories.And of course, the opportunity to create new shaggy dog stories.
Like the time my cousin tried to climb over the wall of the botanical gardens at 3 in the morning. He did not notice the sharp metal thing sticking up …
BTW, the plot in the 1946 film called “I See a Dark Stranger” is based on a great shaggy dog story told in an Irish pub. Deborah Kerr plays the lead. A young Trevor Howard falls in love with her. It is a fun film to curl up and watch with a pint of Guinness.
Back to our story!
So what kinds of bars are best for this? We can rule out the Cocktail bar at the Connaught. As nice as this place might be, it is not the venue for a great shaggy dog story. They might even kick you out if the story gets too much attention!
In fact, I would argue that shaggy dog story telling venues have to be more relaxed. More accepting of eccentricities. Like a nice coffee shop.
So …. is it surprising that some coffee shops are expanding into the bar business? I would say “no”. And in case you want to know the best of this new breed, here is your list!
Get talking … and enjoy!