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New Year's Eve at the Boar' Head Inn
- A Mystery -


 

Some years ago while eating a sandwich in Lee Park, I found this manuscript lying under a bench. It told an interesting story, one never before shared, of a local prank that may or may not have happened. It sounds plausible to me.

At one time a group of central Virginians used to meet for occasional dinners at each other's homes and at finer dining establishments here.

Some of the men in the group were chefs at leading restaurants and hotels; others were lovers of fine food and good judges of it. These soirees were actually informal contests to see who could prepare the most interesting meal.

One year the Boar's Head Inn chef's night to host the group fell on New Year's Eve. That was convenient, for on New Year's Eve this group always wore formal wear. At the area's most sumptuous and splendid inn formal dress would be appropriate.

Early in the day as plans for the evening were made, it occurred to someone that in his freezer was the severed head of a large pig left over from an autumn pig roast. It had been placed in the freezer awaiting an auspicious time to enter society.

"Tonight we bring the pig," someone said, and no one thought otherwise.

While pondering how to get this large porcine head into the inn undetected, a tall and inventive blond remembered she would be wearing crinoline skirts and could conceal it between her legs. To that end, the head was removed from the freezer and invited to seek room temperature as quickly as possible.

Eight hours later the group arrived at the inn dressed to the nines and ready for the cook-off. The men waited in the lobby while the women went off on some female errand, then they took their seats at the banquet table.

"Uh ... where is it?" someone asked. "You'll see," the tall blond replied.

A few minutes later the chef delivered his welcome and the menu, and the group got a glimpse of treasures soon to be served. There was just enough time to see that the first course was oysters Rockefeller when a shriek, a bellow, then a series of screeches were heard coming from the area of the lobby.

The group glanced at each other, the tall blond chuckled, and they went back to their menus.

Eventually an explanation of the disturbance filtered back to the dining room by way of the staff.

It seems a guest entered the women's powder room and, in search of smaller, more private quarters, had entered a stall. There, according to her, she found a large, hairy animal climbing out of the porcelain facility.

She screamed and fled to the lobby, shrieking and bellowing. Every staffer on the ground floor rushed to investigate.

The group never learned if the staff tried to explain to her the difference between an aggressive, live animal and a dead hairy head, or just said the hell with it. Nor was it ever determined what became of the head. Nor did the inn staff or owner John Rogan ever learn how this occurred or who caused it. We felt it wise not to involve or inform the chef.

He did his level best with the meal, turned out an absolutely terrific rack of lamb, and the group ate and drank until well past 11. It was superb fare and was voted No. 2 for the year.

How this manuscript came to be left under a bench in Lee Park, and who wrote it, we will likely never know. It was unsigned. As to whether it relates fact or fiction, who can say.

But it's true there was a congenial gourmet group here in the 70s and 80s fitting that description, one of the members was a lively tall blond who ended up in Las Vegas, and they were famous for their fall pig roasts. That adds up to motive, means, and opportunity, so I would believe it.

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