Our story begins in a small village set at the base of the Catskill mountains in what will someday be the state of New York in the year 1775. The center of this village, at least after the sun has set, is the town tavern. It is a cheerful and lively establishment owned by a Mister Nicholas Vedder. Nicholas’ son, Davy, works as the bartender with hopes of one day owning a small drinking establishment of his own. He is an industrious and hard-working lad and although generally kind natured, he can’t help but feel a tinge of resentment towards another of the village’s young men, the irrepressible Rip Van Winkle. Rip is also an employee of the tavern but his job seems more like play than work, at least to Davy, who watches as several of the tavern’s pretty, young barmaids gather around a table listening intently to Rip as he sets up his equipment for the night’s entertainment.
You see, Rip is a minstrel, a troubadour and storyteller renown for his tall tales, enchanting songs and way with the ladies. One lady in particular, the barmaid Sally, is the object of Davy’s desire but she seemingly only has eyes for Rip, thus, the principal cause for Davy’s resentment. At the other end of the bar Davy’s father Nicholas, stands smoking his pipe as he listens to several men seated at a table engaged in a heated discussion.
“I'm as loyal to King George as any man here but why should I have to pay a tax to the crown to support an army I don't even want here?” questions one of the men leaning over the table trying to be discreet, although the beer has made them believe their conversation is more private than it actually is.
“Aye! We who were born and raised on this soil have a right to the lands west of the Alleghenies,” insists his equally inebriated companion.
The third man seems a bit more sedated by the drink than the others.
“Not if the King made a treaty with the Indians promising those lands on the other side of the mountains would belong to them,” he reasons.
“So we have to pay for an army sent to stop us from taking what we want? I'm not going to pay for that!” the first man says, his voice raised even louder.
Concerned that the mood in his otherwise friendly establishment may take a turn for the worse, Nicholas Vedder turns to his son, “Davy, my boy, go tell Rip his break's over. We need some music to soothe the savage beasts,” he says as he nods to the gentlemen at the table.
Davy relishes the opportunity to tear Rip away from the girls. “Yes, father,” he says then steps out from behind the bar and walks up behind Rip who is about to reach the crescendo of the yarn he has been spinning for the benefit of the women leaning on his every word.
“And then this creature, tall as a house and covered with hair...” says Rip.
“Like a bear?” asks one of the barmaids, her eyes wide as gold doubloons.
“Like a bear, but not a bear,” says Rip, leaning towards her. “Like a man, but not a man,” he continues, “steps out of the deep forest with feet the size of...” he says as he leans back and spreads his hands apart illustrating the size of the creature he’s describing as Davy interrupts.
“Ah, Van Winkle, Father says you're to get back to work,” demands Davy.
“Work?” chortles Rip, incredulously, “Why, I've never worked a day in my life!”
“I know,” deadpans Davy, who then walks away, returning to the bar.
“I'll continue my story in song, lovely ladies,” says Rip as he picks up his guitar and positions himself on a stool situated in a pool of lantern light.
Davy turns to the barmaids still seated in front of Rip, “You three get back to work too,” he says before turning toward Sally standing nearby staring dreamily at Rip.
“You too, Sally... if you please,” he says in a much more hushed tone.
Sally and the other barmaids get back to waiting tables while keeping their attention glued to Rip. Davy looks longingly at Sally as Rip sings his song and yearns for the sparkle in her eyes to someday be there because of him and not the
scruffy reprobate getting inebriated on sips of ale taken in-between songs. Davy eventually notices that much of Rip’s songs’ lyrics are actually thinly veiled requests to the audience to send him up free drinks, so he decides to cut him off and confiscates his beer mug sitting on the stool next to him, much to Rip’s chagrin.
Rip ends his set while still remaining balanced on his stool, barely, as everyone applauds. The girls scream a little in barely contained hysteria as Rip drunkenly carries his guitar toward the door while the tavern crew starts to clean up. Sally runs after him with a leg of lamb bone on a tray.
“Rip!” calls Sally as she hands him the bone. “Here's a bone for Wolf.”
“Thanks, Sally. Wolf will remember you in his dreams,” says Rip as he exits the tavern, taking a big bite of meat off the bone before throwing it to Wolf, his dog, who has been patiently waiting outside of the tavern.
Sally sighs and whispers to herself, “And I will remember you in mine,” as Rip and Wolf walk off down the road in the moonlight.
“Isn't this the life, Wolf? What could be better, hunting all day, just taking your meals from the land then singing and drinking all night surrounded by beautiful women? It's a bachelor's life for us, eh boy?” asks Rip of Wolf who happily struggles to carry the leg bone. Wolf runs up to
Rip's rather dilapidated cottage with an overgrown yard and a broken fence. Rip opens the front door and he and Wolf enter into a typical bachelor's pigsty.
“Then again,” he adds as an afterthought, “a lady's touch might be nice around here.”
Wolf growls in disagreement.
The golden light of late afternoon streams through the wavy glass panes of the tavern’s windows as Sally and the three other waitresses serve the handful of early evening customers while Davy wipes down the bar. The front door opens and in walks Rip with his guitar and his customary grin.
“Good morning, Ladies,” Rip cheerfully announces his arrival.
The waitresses all turn to smile at Rip but only Sally replies.
“Good day, Rip.”
“Good morning, Sally.”
“Oh... I like the sound of that,” sighs Sally imagining a morning after having spent the night together.
Rip carries his guitar and leather bag to the small stage and sets down his gear when suddenly the tavern door is kicked open and a large, angry man enters, dragging his teenage daughter by her arm.
“Which one of you is Van Winkle? Come on, speak up you miserable cur!” demands the irate father.
Davy quickly steps out from behind the bar and blocks his entering any further. “May I help you, sir?”
“Are you the proprietor of this establishment?” asks the man, sizing up Davy.
“My father is the owner but when he's not here I am in charge,” responds Davy.
“I believe you have an employee here by the name of Van Winkle?” says the man.
Rip sees the man's daughter and turns his face away.
“Is there a problem, sir?” asks Davy.
“Von Dutch is the name,” responds the angry man. “My daughter here has been moon-eyed and crying over this "Van Winkle" ever since she came in here last week. I don't know what went on between them but I demand satisfaction!”
Sally’s eyes grow wide and then narrow in annoyance as she steps up to the man.
“And what sort of "satisfaction" would you demand from my fiancé?” she defiantly inquires.
Von Dutch raises his brow in surprise. “Your fiancé?”
“Yes,” says Sally as she walks across the room to grab Rip by the arm. “This is Rip Van Winkle and we're engaged to be married,” she says as she drags him over to Von Dutch. Von Dutch's daughter suddenly breaks out in hysterics and runs crying from the tavern. Von Dutch watches his distraught daughter slam the tavern door behind her then turns to confront Rip.
“What?! You two are engaged?! Why, pray tell, did you announce your feelings and intent to my daughter?!” he demands.
Rip smiles sheepishly and then turns on whatever charm he can muster through his fear. “I am a troubadour, my Lord, employed here as a singer of love songs. I may have directed my song toward your daughter but it was merely in an effort to entertain and engage, certainly not to mislead or deceive.”
“I may attest to that,” interjects Sally as she links her arm through Rip’s and squeezes closer to him. “Especially since I work here as well and keep an especially diligent eye upon my betrothed.” She looks lovingly, yet suspiciously, up at Rip who smiles an extremely guilty smile.
Von Dutch also looks suspiciously at Rip but for different reasons.
“And when is your wedding to take place?” he asks.
“A week from tomorrow, as a matter of fact. Isn't that right, Dear?” says Sally as she pulls Rip tighter into her grip.
Rip nods, reluctantly, in agreement.
“Next Saturday. Wouldn't miss it for the world.”
Sally turns to address Von Dutch, “I assure you, Sir, this is all just an unfortunate misunderstanding.”
Von Dutch leans back, narrows his brows, sets one hand onto his hip and strokes his beard
plaintively with the other. Finally, at some length, he says, “Well, she is just a young thing with no real experience in these matters. I suppose she could have let her imagination get the better of her. Good luck with your nuptials. Good day now.” He slowly turns, still a bit unsure of what just happened and follows after his love-struck young daughter, calling out for her once outside of the tavern, “Lucinda! Lucinda!”
Rip looks relieved, while Sally appears absolutely giddy.
“I have so much to do! I have to get my dress, and retain the church and the priest and arrange for the food...” Sally says to no one in particular as she throws her apron behind the bar and runs excitedly out of the tavern.
Davy, in a bit of shock himself, turns to Rip after watching Sally rush off and says to him, “Poor girl. She must have let her imagination run away with her that time I saw you two out behind the barn.” Davy smiles and returns to wiping down the bar top. “But I really think it's Sally's imagination that's your real problem now.”
“Oh, Sally was just trying to help me out of a tight situation, that's all,” says Rip with a relieved smile.
“I don't know,” says Davy not looking up from his cleaning, “I heard you agree to the engagement.”
Several bar patrons, having witnessed the exchange, grunt in agreement.
“We all heard you agree,” smiles Davy, teasing Rip a bit.
Rip loses his smile as he ponders the implications. “No. She won't hold me to that. How drunk do you think I'd have to be to go through with that?”
Davy pours an extra large beer and hands it out to Rip. “Here you go. Drink up!”
It was a lovely Sunday morning except for the dark clouds hovering directly over the altar of the village church where Rip Van Winkle, the village’s most committed bachelor, stands in his best, or at least, least ratty attire, next to a radiant Sally, standing in her wedding dress. However, Sally’s joyous demeanor is offset not only by her groom’s dour and hung-over continence, but also by the mood of Davy, seated in the church pew between his parents and barely visible as he slumps down with arms folded and scowling, in turns both angry and heartbrokenly sad. A row back from the Vedder family are seated the three barmaids from the tavern, all dressed in black and crying as if at a funeral, rather than a wedding.
The Minister raises his voice for all the congregation to hear as he approaches the end of the ceremony, “...and now I pronounce you husband and wife, Mister and Misses Van Winkle.”
The whimpering from the sobbing barmaids erupts into a full-fledged wail, “Waaahhh!”
***Bonus*** Accompanying book RIPPED included with physical CD-RP purchase @ https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/thetooners17
THE TOONERS are a multimedia rock and roll band from Los
Angeles who not only produce their own original music but also illustrate their songs and award winning (Chicago International Film Festival) fully animated music videos....more