Bewitched, Bottled and Bewildered

My Dad: [reading the paper] “Huh. This artist made a face mask to ward off evil spirits.”

Me: “I would totally wear a face mask to ward off evil spirits.”

My Dad: [with a resigned smile] “Yeah. I know you would.”

I should mention that I’m in Boston at the moment. My dad is moving up here to be closer to his grandkids, and my brother and sister-in-law put us up in a lovely bed-and-breakfast for the weekend. Here’s what happened as soon as we walked into his room:

Me: [pointing at the mantle] “OH MY GOD, IT’S A BELLARMINE JAR.”

Bellarmine
Howdy do, good sir.

My Dad: “A what now?”

Me: “A Bellarmine jar! They were produced in the Cologne region of Germany back in the 1600s. They were used to store beer and were satirically named after a Catholic cardinal who was infamous for wanting to ban alcohol across Europe.”

Everyone: “…”

Me: “This is just a replica, of course, but can you imagine if we just randomly found an original here? Haha! That would be awesome. Oh, and they’re sometimes known as Bartmann jugs, ‘bartmann’ being German for ‘bearded man.’ But I think Bellarmines are what most people call them these days.”

My Dad: [to my sister-in-law; half impressed, half concerned] “How does he even know all this?”

Innkeeper: “Hello! Just popping in to give you the remote control for your air conditioner.”

Me: “Hi there! I couldn’t help but notice a price tag on the bottom of this jar. Is it for sale? Do you accept cash?”

Innkeeper: “What, that? You can just have that.”

Me: “… Seriously?

Innkeeper: “Sure.”

Me: [delirious pterodactyl noises]

What I did not mention to my family is that Bellarmine jars were regularly used to make witch bottles. (As excitable as I am on the subject, I do sometimes know when to stop talking.) I briefly considered turning my new beardy friend into a witch bottle of my own, which would sadly dampen his curio value, but then I let myself into my room, where I found something even more useful waiting for me:

Boston Mason
No, Samuel Sewall. Thank YOU.

This made me so happy! Not only did I end up with another neat souvenir, but now won’t have to eat the entire jar of relish in my fridge back home before I have an appropriately-sized empty container. So many wins.

Later, during dinner, I was sharing the story of the time I begged Deborah Lipp to help me with a Tarot reading and then argued against her interpretation, which led to her including several pages in her next book that described, in loving detail, just how awful I am at reading Tarot [spoiler: I’m really awful at it], and my dad was like, “Sometimes I suspect you have this secret, multi-faceted life that you don’t tell the rest of us about.”

In response, I was like, “I promise I’m boring. I just know some people who know interesting people.” But shit, y’all. He’s onto me. I may have to bottle him.

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