Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Bottle openers

Imagine that you’re living your dream of relaxing on a tropical island in the Pacific. The sun shining, the breeze off the ocean, the abundant pineapples, coconuts, and mangoes growing all around you. You’ve got lots of cold beer. What could be better? Then you discover that you’ve got no bottle opener. Horror of horrors! What do you do?

The bottle caps that we see here are the old fashioned non-twist off variety. You need a bottle opener. Well, not necessarily a bottle opener, since our friends have shown us a number of ways to open a bottle when no opener is present, which up to now has been 100 percent of the time. They have come up with novel and ingenious ways to remove the caps.

One of the easiest ways to open a bottle is with your teeth, or so we’ve been told. One of the regular tour guides named Bobby, or “EveryBobby” as he refers to himself, used to be especially adept at opening beer bottles; here most bottles are beer bottles. Unfortunately for EveryBobby, who is semi-retired due to poor health, his molars aren’t so good anymore – we can’t imagine why – so he has not personally been able to demonstrate this particular method. Bottle caps are simply left where they land, and if the particular method results in the cap being held in the hand, it is simply discarded with a flick of the wrist. In EveryBobby’s case, we imagine he probably spit out the cap. Thus the drinking area is decorated – or littered, if you prefer – with bottle caps.

A simple way to remove a bottle cap is with your everyday machete, or bolo as it is called here. The method requires grabbing the bottle around the neck with one hand. Then you take your bolo, prop it –blade out- across your thumb and forefinger on the opposite side of the bottle from your hand, and pry off the cap using your stabilizing forefinger for resistance. With practice you can get the cap off in one move. You must take care not to aim the bottle cap at a human being, however, because it can fly off at the speed of a 22 caliber bullet. Similar items can be used, such as spoons, knives, and forks. You had better use a fairly solid utensil, however, or it’s going to end up in need of a chiropractor and not be of much use for anything after that. Even the base of a cigarette lighter can be used, carefully, of course. And the top of a plastic bottle can also work as Armando recently showed us.

Another way to remove the cap is to place the neck of the bottle and the cap at the end of a wooden bench. The wood has to be such that it will grab the cap as you push down on the bottle. The cap should bite into the wood and off it will come. Understand that eventually you will have eaten away at the entire top edge of your bench, like it is at Ronilo’s, thus making it unusable for opening more bottles. You have to set your priority, nice bench or beer.

We have seen a man who simply grabs the top of the bottle and in an instant the top is in his hand, ready to be added to the collection strewn around the table. It looks pretty amazing until he reveals that he is opening the bottle by jamming his ring, in his case on his index finger, under the cap and simply prying it off. Obviously he has this method perfected.

The most fascinating way that we have seen to open a bottle is one that Jhun (pronounced June), the island plumber, uses. Jhun by the way is shorter for junior, or someone named after his dad, and Jhun is a very common nickname in the Philippines. Anyway, Jhun can open a bottle with another bottle. He sets the bottle he is going to open on the table, turns another upside down, and hooks the two caps together. You would think that the odds are 50-50 that the upside-down bottle would open, thus losing its precious contents. But no, the bottle that is standing is always the bottle that Jhun opens. The trick is that he actually uses the side of the cap on the inverted bottle, and wedges it under the lip of the other cap, ensuring only the upright bottle will open. He also has the advantage of very strong hands, like some other plumbers we know. Magnificent!

And what if you have no bolo, knife, lighter, bench or any other solid object? All you really need is another bottle cap. That is, if you’ve got fingers as strong as Jhun the plumber’s.

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