A local restaurant (now out of business) called The Fox and Firkin identified their men’s and woman’s rooms using the unimaginative titles “Foxes” versus “Firkins” on each bathroom door. Now most people pretty much know what a fox is; it turns out that a “firkin” is:
- a British unit of capacity usually equal to a quarter of a barrel.
- a small wooden vessel or tub for butter, lard, etc.
So there I was standing before two doors, glancing back and forth trying to decide which was the men’s room. I knew that among foxes, the male is called a “reynard” and the female a “vixen”. However in popular American culture we often refer to attractive young women as “foxes”; so that could be the women's room... Ah but much to my relief, the voice of the bartender said in a tiresome tone belying he probably has had to say it a lot: “You’re a firkin”.
So yet again this past week, after downing a pint of luscious ale at a coastal brew pub, came the need for me to make room for more ale. I followed the directional signs to the restrooms only to be faced again with yet another clever restaurateur puzzle: two doors, one labeled “Hops” the other “Barley”. I’m now completely stumped; not in my wildest imagination am I able to assign gender to beer ingredients. Glancing over my shoulder least I be observed, I nudged the “Hops” door open just enough to peek inside. Within view were the reassuring fixtures of urinals.
When I got back to the table, Nancy then had to go; I decided to allow her the pleasure of solving the puzzle all by herself. When she returned I asked her which did she use, “Hops” or “Barley”?
“Neither”, she said. “I used the generic handicapped restroom”.