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Hit the deck at Pour House Pub

I'm playing beer pong against a pirate, and it's not going very well. Aim is an issue, certainly, but trajectory is what's causing me the most trouble: My ping-pong balls are either missing the table altogether or rolling around the rims of the red plastic cups before plummeting off the plank. Each time the pegleg scores, he orders me to "Drink!" in a curmudgeonly voice, while his neon-pink parakeet squawks at me in condescension. While the cups re-rack themselves, I squint one eye closed and convince myself that this toss will be the one. It's all very disconcerting — a veteran lush losing a drinking game to a virtual buccaneer — but I eventually persevere, scoring 202, 266 points (enough for first!) two dollars in quarters later. Damn you, Megatouch.

Between games, and completely alone at the downstairs bar of the Pour House Pub (1435 Market Street), I order $3 you-call-it cans of Boddingtons (Mondays after 7 p.m.) and slow-pour them into my pint glass. Unlike carbonated beer, nitrogenated ales and stouts — even canned varieties, which feature patented, recyclable Draughtflow widgets and whatnot — don't benefit from the angled-glass side pour. No, a thick, pillowy head is ideal here, which is why I'm holding the can completely vertical inside my glass and slowly lifting it so that I trap the beer inside and allow it to escape only on my terms. The result? Creamy, cocoa-colored foam dripping into my lap and down my legs. I should really stick to consuming and let the professionals pour.

Before wandering down to the uninhabited main level — which, in true Irish pub form, is all inviting front patio and high-top tables and warm wood from floor to ceiling — I spend the better part of the early evening on the two-tiered rooftop patio watching the Red Sox lead the Orioles in the eighth. It takes me but a moment to realize I'm in a BoSox bar, though not because the packed tables are erupting with excitement every time the Crimson Hose scores. Actually, no one cheers, not for anything. This relative quiet makes it easy for me to ask bartendress Nicole about the drawn and tied plastic Bud Light curtains visually separating the patio from the parking garage across the street (they keep heat in during the winter — sorta) and the five surveillance cameras of various shapes and sizes Big Brothering the area from all angles (she really doesn't know why they're there...suuurrre). Nicole is as warm and inviting as the timber downstairs; she explains that she's making a concerted effort to be more ambidextrous, imploring me not to make fun when she spills while pouring with her left hand or fumbles quarters intended for the tip bucket. I agree, if only because she brings me new $2.50 Bud bottles ($1 off everything during happy hour, 2 to 7 p.m. daily) at a rapid rate.

Just after 7 p.m., when happy hour ends and the you-call-its begin, I ask for a Guinness. No dice: Apparently the keg is out, and no one has the keys to the magical beer room. "We've been locked out all day," Nicole tells me. The same is true for the Sam Adams Summer Ale. "Somewhere," I respond, "there's a manager to blame." Nicole just smiles. The draft-beer drought forces me to the Boddingtons cans, and a shift change forces me downstairs, beer in hand, for an artificial aptitude battle with a pirate and his impossibly pink parakeet.

Bring it on.

 
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