I arrived early to Mistress Quickly's tavern and found Dr. Johnson, as anticipated, already arguing and drowning in his cups.
"A theatrical performance can be appreciated only from the height of a man's two eyes!" he was shouting at Quickley's dog. "Your opinions lack stature, in every sense of the word! The day I take seriously the theatrical criticisms of a BEAGLE is the day I deign to piss in the cup of a Scotsman!"
To this the dog expelled a fart so enormous it should have filled the very halls of Pandemonium (if not it had a natural inclination toward ascension), and so gusty that the lamps flared in a dangerous fashion, and so rank of gas that Madame Quickly must have feared for the health of her customers if she were not lost in merriment, cackling wildly, dugs a-heaving, one hand slapping the unfortunate Dr. Johnson's recently-singed peruke.
"Oh dear Samuel!" she whooped. "Put that dog's arse-trumpet i' your dictionary, under the letter BRAPPP! It hath twice the politic of all the Beedle's bollocks you've wrote so far!"
"'That fart was wise indeed," Dr. Johnson admitted. "Mingere cum bumbis, rec saluberrima est lumbis."
"Where be our guest tonight?" I asked the silent tapper, and the he nodded to the tavern door. A man of great distinction stood on the threshold. "Two bags of oats for my mount, and don't forget the sauce!" he yelled to the Hostler. "My mare doth love the sauce!"
"Dearest Pedro!" cried Dr. Johnson, raising his bulk and motioning to Mistress Quickley for another bottle of sack. "You've tarried so, we half expected to find ye lost or slain!"
"Only one of those briefly, and I charge each of you to divine which," he said, and even the Tapper laughed at so clever a jest.
"Lost, I gather! How now, Boswell, this shifty rogue in the sheepskin doublet is weaver Pedro, a man of wit, a master artisan, and the creepiest fellow I have ever had the fortune to meet."
"I have heard of you, slimy toady," said Pedro pleasantly as we shook our hands.
"A weaver you say?"
"Aye, the halls from St. Peter's to far off Araby are graced with my warp and woof."
Mistress Quickly, having arrived with the sack and seeing entry for another fulsome jest, shouted, "A better treat then we experienced not 'alf an hour hence, which were this doggie's FART and woof!" All fell about in that curious British way so often acted in Shakespeare's bawdy "Carry On, Dead King," of holding wide the mouth and turning head from viz to viz, accompanied by a scattershot laughing as loud and regular as Antwerp's artillery fire.
"Mistress!" Dr. Johnson wiped a tear from his eye. "I grant you, though art quick!"
"How could one doubt it...'tis my proper name!" And once again we cackled, as was our comick nature. But throughout the merriment our weaver, Pedro, had been wiping something from his eye, and afore long Dr. Johnson made note of his sad countenance.
"Enough of these quibbles. Pedro, what troubles you? Why the creepy frowning viz?"
Pedro shook off Dr. Johnson's embrace and rose from the table, commanding the attention of all in the tavern. "I mourn the death of an idea, a dream, the final passing of culture, the end of the most companiable banter on our old and noble isle...the closing of our beloved entertainment vendor, Generation X!" Pedro collapsed to the table and sobbed, schoolgirl-like, into his sack.
"Have you not grown reconciled, dear Pedro?" asked Dr. Johnson. "It has been sad for us, true, but 'tis no reason to cry in your drink. For everything there is a season and an allotted time. Even the jolliest of men shall die before he wish. May we all go in the manner of Generation X -- in our hearty primes -- before we descend into ignominity and penury, our metaphorical halls and stages used only for wenching and bear-baiting and games of 'Throw The Apple at The Captured Esquimaux.'"
"Oh, the porn, which I so craved..."
"Man can live without porn, and without arty foreign films too. I have explained all this to Boswell."
"Mr. Johnson is right," I said. "There is peer-to-peer file sharing."
"Pah!" said Pedro. "Barely 300 baud in my wattle-and-daub hut so far from the city. It's trouble enough for a man to play a full game of Hunt The Wumpus or Schmoo, let alone to download the entirety of 'Michael Palin's Dugs-a-Plenty' in high definition."
"Patience, Pedro...drink of my sack."
"And where will I see YOUR films?" cried Pedro. "This latest--"
Dr. Johnson slapped his brainpan, sending his peruke into the fire. "Blast it man, I told you, I am not that blackamoor actor you prate upon!"
"Snakes On An Omnibus, Dr. Johnson! 'Twas your finest role! Ever since I first set my viz 'pon the premiere performance of Pulp Fiction at the Globe--"
"I have said time and time again--"
"Three encores! And John Travolta dancing!"
"Enough!" Dr. Johnson bellowed, and the babble of anachronistic cross-generational dialect ceased. "My peruke is in flames once again, Pedro, as is so often the way when we meet. I will trade all the porn in the world if you will stop this tiresome contrivance of mistaken identity."
"I shall consent, Dr. Johnson, if only you would enact a bitter moment from 'Do the Right Thing.'"
At this the enraged Doctor lurched into the thousand ticks and vapours to which he was subject in times of distress. "A turd i' your teeth!" he shouted. "Johnny Bums in Scratchland!"
Pedro rose from his seat. "Gentlemen, it has been a pleasure, but I must be off...Generation X is disclosing its wares and I must secure 'Michael Palin's Arsey-Turvy' before it is gone. You will excuse me." I tilted my hat, and Dr. Johnson, unable to cease his strange hopping perambulations, merely scowled from beneath his armpits.
"Let's rob a carriage and dominate a play!" shouted the fat knight in the corner, but for once nobody was listening to him.