It was a chilly, rainy Thursday night. My friends and I sat huddled at the bar of the Rusty Musket, the hotel bar of the Ramada Williamsburg. The only other people present were a perturbed young bartender and a man engrossed in a basketball game. We couldn’t help but laugh at the ridiculousness of our situation. This bar was very different from the normal student hangouts on Richmond Road. How did we end up here, you might ask?
It all started last September, on a night very different than last Thursday. I was sitting outside at The Crust with two of my friends, enjoying the warm weather, when a waitress came up to us and asked us about our weekend plans. Although we didn’t know her, she was very friendly, so we ended up engaging in a long conversation.
A resident of Williamsburg, she told us that we absolutely had to go to The Rusty Musket. Apparently the drinks were cheap, the staff was friendly, and we would be in for a great night.
Since then, The Rusty Musket has become a bucket list destination for us. Our new friend had vigorously sung the praises of this bar, so we had to see what all the hype was about. But as it is driving distance from campus and none of us had a car, the trek to the bar never panned out.
Last Wednesday, I was sitting at the Green Leafe with a group of friends for the weekly Senior Mug Night. We were discussing how the Library Tavern was closing soon. Library is a place rarely frequented by students, except for the occasional sorority or fraternity date party, and as such it has achieved a legendary status among students. You know when you do go to Library, you’re in for a night for the books.
As seniors in college, our weekend nights have gotten a bit monotonous. It feels like we’ve been to the same parties and bars over and over again. But during Mug Night, we hatched a plan to chart a Thursday night course that we were sure no other W&M student before us had experienced. We wanted to break the monotony of a normal weekend and experience something different. Hopefully it would prove to be a fresh look at Williamsburg.
First, we would have dinner at El Sabroson, a wonderful El Salvadorian/Mexican/Peruvian restaurant that is a Williamsburg hidden gem. Then, it would be on to our holy grail, The Rusty Musket. From there, we would head to the Library Tavern. Our friend Julia valiantly volunteered to be designated driver.
At 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 25, we piled into Julia’s Subaru and set off for Destination Number One — El Sabroson. But when we got there, it was closed. The restaurant keeps unusual hours, which we should have known. Undeterred, we went to South of the Border, since it is conveniently located down the street from the Ramada.
After a leisurely meal, we hopped into the car and drove to The Rusty Musket. From the parking lot, we could see that there was only one man sitting at the bar, but we knew that it was early yet. The outside of the bar is decorated with images of colonial men and — you guessed it — muskets.
The poor bartender was clearly counting the minutes until her shift was over and seemed a little disappointed at the prospect of more customers. We all ordered our drinks and immediately picked up on the vibe that the night was over already at the Musket. Except for the sounds of the basketball game, the bar was silent. It was a bit awkward, but we enjoyed each other’s company. At least we had finally checked this place off of our bucket list. After one drink, however, we decided to leave. While it had been vastly different than what had been described to us, it had still been a unique experience.
Before we left, we got news from another friend that The Library Tavern had already closed. It is sad news because despite the fact that students didn’t go there frequently, I know that it maintains a fond place in many students’ hearts.
So where did we end up after this was all over? The Green Leafe, of course. There is a lovely irony that even though we viewed ourselves as explorers charting a new weekend course, we ended up at the place where we go practically every weekend night.
Even though this night sounds like a failure, I don’t view it that way. At least we tried to do something new. Along the way on this unique adventure, there were laughs, surprises, and frankly weird moments that are all going be memories that I am never going to forget. But walking back through the doors of the Leafe at the end of the night, it was really nice to see familiar faces of friends and classmates. That is something I will miss in the real world.