10. Scylla and Charybdis
At this point, Odysseus needed to steer his ship between the perilous Scylla and Charybdis, monsters of the seas who promise a certain kind of tempest upon his craft. Recognizing these as Nosh and Taco Escobarr, we chose the former, and lo, lost Ed the Hugehearted to the dark wonders of the night. Now five, we sat at the bar and ordered vials of Don Julio silver, which sat in our bellies better than we might have in the cruel whirlpools of Charybdis. A few gnawed at sausages — which doesn’t have a parallel in the story but were reportedly delicious. With Scylla and Charybdis the most unreasonably cruel station on the journey, we knew we had to press on fast.
11. The Forbidden Cattle of Helios
As we surged away from the reach of Nosh, our longship found purchase at the lush island of the Thrinacians — a/k/a Pizza Villa, the Greek-style pizzeria and sports bar on lower Congress Street. Here, Odysseus and his crew lounged in respite among the golden flocks of sheep and cattle tended by goddesses Phaethusa and Lampetie, daughers of Helios the Sun God. Yet though starving, they were strictly forbidden to eat them. They did, of course (and so did we, devouring both a chicken/spinach and a pepperoni pie in a matter of minutes), which bade Helios convince Zeus to curse Odysseus and his men to Hades for all time. Our stately bartender with his trim beard, whose patience was surely tested by our well-weathered state, was the figure in the room who cut closest to Zeus. He didn’t banish us anywhere, but we don’t think he would have minded the opportunity.
12. Calypso (again)
Zeus brings down some true pain on Odysseus and his crew here, wrecking his vessel and leaving only O alive to wash ashore Ogygia again (we lost Andrew the Mage and his longship, but three of my crew proved more resilient than anything found in Homer). Here he lives peacefully with Calypso for seven years, but as it was nearing 12:40, we hardly had seven minutes before the gates of Ithaca were to close. We returned quickly to LFK, where the same bartender prepared us shotglass versions of the Screaming Phoenix #2, a house concoction of El Jimador reposado, orange, pineapple, Aperol, and peach bitters. The trumpets of Ithaca sounding in our ears, we threw back our powers and stormed into the night.
13. Return to Ithaca
Long assumed to be dead, Odysseus returns home to Ithaca in beggar’s clothes, and goes through the arduous process of convincing his son Telemachus of his true identity. It takes significantly more effort to satisfy his wife Penelope, however, for whose hand he battles countless suitors and, rather harshly, slays them. Aided by a swift wind across the Congo, we blew into Local 188, my Ithaca (full disclosure: I’ve worked as a server there for a few years), where I and my valiant remaining crew feasted on one final elixir, a house cocktail of tequila infused with spilanthes, an herb with medicinal, almost anesthetizing powers. Unlike Odysseus, I had no interest in slaying dozens of my fellow countrymen here. Besides, I doubt that such an act would even impress Penelope in 2014, wherever she was. I sat with my crew in a hazy sort of glory, half wracked with the shame of my own hubris — a human condition that hasn’t seemed to change much since Homer’s day. The book ends when Athena, goddess of wisdom, steps in and calls truce; for us it was that more familiar deus ex machina — like a bolt from above, the house lights went suddenly up, and we all put down our armor and went home.