Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Palace: Of Mice and Men

The Palace Bar in Whitefish, MT.  Haven't been there for a decade or more, but back then it was famous for Saturday Night Mouse Races.  Lengths of 1" rope were strung across the barroom about 9' off the floor, running from a plank bearing the starting gate stalls with their trap doors to a plank perhaps fifteen feet away where a very obvious and odious chunk of cheddar awaited each contestant.  Wagering on which mouse would win went on for some time before the actual race, bettors inspecting each racemouse with a critical eye before they were auctioned off to the highest bidders.  Not to be outdone, my skiing buddies and I - emboldened by beer as I recall - bought our mouse for several hundred dollars (the actual amount has been lost to history) and probably wagered twice that on our little hero.  And what a great mouse it was too: skinny and therefore hungry, mangy and therefore a scrapper, in other words "a sure bet".  A hush came over the room as the announcer counted down, tripped the starting gates, and called the race.  Despite the roar of the crowd our mighty mouse got off to a good start but appeared to lose interest about halfway across, whereupon he (she?) turned around and went right back to the start!  Not only did we lose our "investment" and all our side bets, but a few minutes later we were presented with our (no doubt) purebred racemouse - after all we owned it.  Not wanting to be saddled with the critter, we begged the Palace staff to take him (her?) off our hands - which they consented to do for a mere $15!  The lesson here when you visit the Palace Bar?  Buy a fat mouse - they obviously win more often.