Story Question: A guy walks into a bar...
February 27, 2017 9:12 AM   Subscribe

Hey MeFites! I have a great idea for a short film and I'm sure I'm riffing off some old fable or fairy tale but I can't for the life of me remember or google-fu it. You're my only hope! Story: A sad guy walks into a bar. bartender pours him a beer to cheer him up. Guy drinks the beer, turns away for a moment and the glass is full again! After a few more times, the guy realizes he's got a magic refilling beer glass but no one believes him as the glass only fills up when no one is looking. Nice thing to have huh? But I'm stuck on the moral and the ending. If it is based on a fable, then I could work from that, but right now I'm at a loss. What are your thoughts?
posted by drinkmaildave to Writing & Language (21 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I can only think of the genie joke: A guy finds a magic lamp, a genie comes out, says he gets three wishes. The guy wishes for a bottle of his favorite booze that never empties. Poof, he has a bottle. He drinks, it refills. He drinks more, it refills. He quickly gets so drunk that when the genie asks him what his other two wishes are, he says, "Gimme two more of these."
posted by Etrigan at 9:18 AM on February 27, 2017 [6 favorites]

It's a little Strega Nona's pasta pot. So the moral/ending would involve the misuse of the glass, a fix, and a "punishment fitting the crime" sort of twist.
posted by LKWorking at 9:28 AM on February 27, 2017 [2 favorites]

The Brothers Grimm, "The Raven": "...Then she laid a loaf beside him, and after that a piece of meat, and thirdly a bottle of wine, and he might consume as much of all of them as he liked, but they would never grow less."
posted by MonkeyToes at 9:32 AM on February 27, 2017

Not what you are thinking about, but I can't resist mentioning Invisible Boy from Mystery Men who can only turn invisible when no-one is looking.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 9:39 AM on February 27, 2017 [2 favorites]

Other instances of bottomless mythological vessels:
The Dagda's Undry Cauldron
Krishna's Akshaya Patra
Both The Horn of BrĂ¢n Galed and The Crock and Dish of Rhygenydd Ysgolhaig of the Thirteen Treasures of the Island of Britain
posted by zamboni at 9:41 AM on February 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

It doesn't strike a chord with me, although I'm not a student of folklore. But if you're looking for an ending, it would be amusing if he left the bar and got a DUI.
posted by kevinbelt at 9:48 AM on February 27, 2017

What happens if the glass is turned upside down when no one is looking? Beer flood?

Also reminiscent of the Charlie and Chocolate factory "Everlasting Gobstopper". Perhaps it's planted by omniscient person to observe his true character? Does he get super drunk all of the time? Hook it up to some sort of bottling machine? Donate the proceeds or live a luxurious life?
posted by TomFoolery at 10:01 AM on February 27, 2017

As mentioned in this previous AskMe, stories similar to Strega Nona's pasta pot can be classified as an instance of Aarne-Thompson 565: The Magic Mill. (Sweet Porridge, Why The Sea Is Salt).
You might also want to look at 564: The Two Marvelous Pitchers (The Months) for inspiration, but I think a fun short movie ending would be 591: The Thieving Pot, where it's not creating the beer, but stealing it from the glasses of his fellow patrons.
posted by zamboni at 10:02 AM on February 27, 2017 [8 favorites]

The "magical thing that only happens when no one else is looking" part reminds me of One Froggy Evening.
posted by Metroid Baby at 10:18 AM on February 27, 2017 [3 favorites]

There are a lot of fables/folklore/etc that involve a never-ending something (pennies in a purse, bread or oil or some foodstuff that never runs out, etc) but I don't think of any that are specifically beer. (much more of them are money, and often a sack).
A few common variations on the storyline of that trope:
- the item is just a convenience not integral to the plot (i.e. the story is really about the boy's adventures, but in case you were thinking of asking where he got his ship from, let me just remind you that he had an infinite purse, so stop asking annoying questions, kids)
- it's about a device that stops working when it's no longer needed (Elijah and the widow who baked bread every day but only until the end of drought)
- someone else takes the device and misuses it or the owner forgets the rules (starts the flow and can't make it stop is pretty typical) and a Lesson is learned, but the owner just lives to the end of his days enjoying his infinite supply of whatever in a quiet unassuming kind of way.
- it would have been an infinite supply but the protagonist ruins it by being too inquisitive - goose that laid the golden eggs is pretty typical, by trying to figure out how it works, or how to replicate it, or how to profit by it, hero loses magic item and is no better off than when he started

As far as your beer story goes, there's rarely any question that the device in question is magic; one of the essential concepts of the folklore is a belief in myterious forces (magic, miracles, god(s), devil(s), etc) so the "nobody believes him" is a modern twist. Only filling up when nobody is watching leads to wanting to prove/diagnose what's happening, which is a definite goose-gold-egg scenario, likely to break it by studying it.
posted by aimedwander at 10:21 AM on February 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

Take the guy at the bar through the eventual and inevitable stages of elation, greed, overuse, malfunction (the overly watched glass never refills), depression, figurative disenchantment (acceptance in the manner of Kubler-Ross) , and then perhaps actual disenchantment (of the glass itself, but by then the guy at the bar has achieved detachment).

It ends with "A guy walks out of a bar one day," spilling and breaking someone's glass that he has recognized as being similarly gifted; or having him notice that everyone in the bar has been afflicted with a similar gift.
posted by the Real Dan at 10:52 AM on February 27, 2017 [2 favorites]

What if the glass only fills up with problematic/disappointing beer (dishwater beer, overpoweringly painfully hoppy beer, bitter beer, flat beer, funky badly fermented beer)? Or perhaps the character of the beer changes over time in some interesting way. I'm thinking some combination of Picture of Dorian Gray and that Wayside School story where the teacher makes ice cream flavored like the inside of each of their classmate's mouths. The ice cream flavors are related to the person's personality. Person A can't taste their own flavor (it tastes like the background flavor of their mouth) but their classmates can.
posted by cnidaria at 11:39 AM on February 27, 2017

The magic pudding is another "food again" story.
posted by freethefeet at 12:30 PM on February 27, 2017

It kind of reminds me of the "Goose That Laid the Golden Eggs" story from Aesop's Fables.
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:37 PM on February 27, 2017

What about the setup to a joke? At the end of the night, the bartender give a bill for the open tab of 10 beers that he kept adding to the man's glass (always when no one was looking).
posted by nobeagle at 12:57 PM on February 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Similar premise to Turnpike Films--Magic Beer, although in that one the man shares with the whole bar instead of it being hidden.
posted by impishoptimist at 1:26 PM on February 27, 2017

Response by poster: Thanks everyone for your thoughts, suggestions, and comments.
I've gotta ponder all you've posted and, after impishoptimist found roughly what I was thinking, see if I want to continue with this idea.
Still like it, just not sure if I want to riff off a Bud commercial...
posted by drinkmaildave at 8:11 PM on February 27, 2017

The "no one believes him"/"no one is looking" part reminds me of One Froggy Evening.
posted by redfoxtail at 8:24 PM on February 27, 2017

Puts me in mind of the myth of the Cornucopia and also the classic cartoon One Froggy Evening.
posted by esto-again at 3:03 AM on February 28, 2017

Best answer: how about this: the glass doesn't just fill with beer, it transfers the beer from the meanest biggest roughest guy in the bar. Cue bar fight. Lather, rinse, repeat. The end.
posted by Parsnip at 6:01 AM on February 28, 2017

The challenge with your setup is that I'm not clear why no one believing you about your magic beer glass is a problem.
And in what you wrote, the guy's problem is that he is sad. Your setup and character are independent. Assuming you want to keep the setup, find a way to make the magic glass a problem, as per for example, Parsnip's suggestion above.
posted by eyeofthetiger at 1:28 PM on February 28, 2017

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