Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Beer becomes me

I like beer. I’ve always liked beer. A lot.

It’s taste? Exciting, provocative.

The feeling of drinking a glass on a hot summer day? Exhilarating, refreshing.

The alcohol content? An added bonus.

Sometimes my love of beer causes awkward social situations.

Take the time we were invited to lunch by some new friends. It was Rosh Hashanah. It was humid and muggy. I was wearing a suit and a too-tight necktie. We walked thirty minutes to the house. When we arrived I was sweating, profusely, and feeling very uncomfortable. I loosened my tie. We sat down for lunch. There was no water on the table. Instead, my friend offered me an ice-cold bottle of beer. In desperate need of refreshment and forgetting that we were in polite company, I tipped my head back and drained the entire bottle.

This would have raised nary an eyebrow had it been water or iced tea. But to do it with beer is to put yourself in an altogether different category of being: the drinker. Persona non grata.

When I put down the empty bottle, the look on our host’s face was amused shock. My wife’s expression was the stolid, stone-faced picture of mortification and embarrassment.

I brought my hand to my mouth to suppress the inevitable belch.

What could I say? I love beer, especially on hot days. Which is exactly what I did say.

***

I make no pretense. I am not a beer connoisseur. I’ve always had a hard time taking beer connoisseurs seriously. I see the beer connoisseur as a middle-aged guy with a big gut and a red nose who has managed to turn a drinking problem and a slight penchant for writing into a career. You can't blame him, really. That might just be my personal dream.

Anyway, I drink it all: Bud, Corona, Heineken, Yuengling, Stella, Miller, Pabst, even the occasional forty-ounce malt liquor.

When it comes to forties, my favorite has always been Olde English 800. I love the pure malt flavor, the rich golden hue. Actually, forget that, I really just love the memories I have, late teenage memories: wild laughter, a hot garage transformed into a party palace, and a few friends jumping around, yelling: "forty, forty, forty!"

Goddamn.

Wine has its special allure, its great mythological progeny, but beer--we create our own beer myths and often these myths begin ridiculously, with something like a bottle of Olde E.

Other beers I might drink: Natural Light, Schlitz, and, of course "Beast"--Milwaukee's Best Ice.

These are the type of beers that must be shared. There's nothing quite as unifying as sharing horrid beer. I've cemented friendships over a case of "Beast".

We used to buy something called American which was about five dollars a case, no kidding. If you got it nearly freezing and drank it very fast it almost, as our friend Cogan said, tasted like beer. But it was perfect after we'd come back from doing something stupid in the 90 degree sun. We'd throw back about eight each and almost, as Cogan said, get a buzz.

Yeah, beer--I like it best shared, without pretense, on a warm summer's day, on a corner, in a closet, in a bar, on my couch, on the beach, with a few buddies, on a plaza...whatever.


There's nothing as unifying as sharing beer

***

Occasionally I find myself at bar with an excellent beer selection. If I have a little extra cash in my pocket, I might order a high-end French beer that comes in what looks like a wine bottle. It usually costs about $18 and is delicious.

In an Irish bar, it's always a Guinness. My neighborhood in The Bronx has a large Irish immigrant population. It also has several authentic Irish bars, filled with Irish people in their derby caps, sweaters and flannel pants. When I'm at the bar, I love to listen to the lilt of their accents and the cheeriness with which they greet a common stranger. It's a nice thing to behold in New York, a city where most strangers are treated with instant suspicion. In an Irish bar, nobody orders wine. It's all about the beer and warm, light hearted bar-stool philosophy. Every man is a sage. I like that.

***

The one thing I won’t touch is light beer. To me, light beer has always been the official drink of freshman college girls and cheesy white guys in tight ribbed T-shirts with blond highlighted hair tips, glistening with gel.

Light beer represents everything that is wrong with our American corporate mass culture--that taste, originality, and ultimately experience itself is sacrificed for the projection of a certain image or body type. Light beer offers us an impotent, watered down version of the real thing. As if life itself needs to be neutered, sanitized, and individually wrapped in plastic for our own protection.

Fuck that.

I say drink a real beer. If beer is making you fat, then drink less beer.

Or maybe switch to a good whiskey.

I'll get the next round.

19 comments:

Seth said...

What I like about this post is the beer.

Actually, speaking of beer connoisseurship, I have a ridiculous story. Once I went to Monk's, a local hangout for beer connoisseurs. I ordered what I thought was a fairly reasonable beer: Imperial Russian Stoudt. I drank it, loved it.

Then I got the bill: it was $30 for one bottle! I almost vomited. There was actually two Russian Imperial Stoudts on the menu, a $3 I thought I had ordered, and the $30 I had ordered. The bartender felt so bad for me he just gave me the beer.

I was only like 22, after all, and $30 was my life's savings.

All for beer.

Seth said...

And, in terms of Olde E: forty! forty! forty!

boxy said...

vodka, i love you.
kiss me,
unless you taste like beer.
you dont,
you taste like vodka.
i'm drunk off my love for you vodka,
or maybe i'm just drunk off you.
if only you knew how to play battleship.
fuck it,
i'll set the board up anyway,
and see what happens.
comma
vodka
period

dsc said...

Have a real beer.
Have a Molson Canadian.

MOLSON

Love your story.
Made me a bit too nostalgic and thirsty.

tonya said...

steve! this made me bust out laughing.

i spent my last few farthings on a guinness in ireland at the tail end of a broke ass vacation.

you kids are hilarious and always send me off into the world with a big ole smile on my face.

big love,
t

Seth said...

boxy:

Nice little poem. But beer would clearly sink vodka's battleship.

boxy said...

update.
it was close but in the end
the bottle of stoli sank my destroyer
while i,
sank further into oblivion

vodka said...

dear seth:

how dare you question my board gaming skills?
life is monopoly
and beer just stopped in for an extended stay
at my deluxe park place hotel.
pay up beer
or i'll send my goons after you.
as for you seth,
why ust you continue to turn your back on the light of truth?
you continue to embrace the shame of beer, pretending that it loves you, pretending that you guys share something special.
you dont
beer is a jerk
in fact,
beer is an ugly whore.
yesterday i saw beer going in and out
in and out
in and out of some transients mouth at the bus stop of main street.
thrusting its foamy mess
all the way down of his dirty throat.
it made me sick,
like beer is.

come to me seth
and we could be together always.

i am your beacon seth,
and you could be mine.

love,
vodka

Wine said...

Dear Vodka,

Seth already has a love and it is me. So back off you miscreant.

Seth's find me alluring, leggy, and full of sulfuric passion. We've made love so many times this week alone I've lost count.

I know because Seth has told me: he finds you reprehensible and vomit-inducing. The last time he drank you he was in his Jim Morrison phase and he was full of a reckless, stupid gusto. Of course, he vomited. And then he vomited again.

Because that's what happens when people meet you or hang out with you too long--they vomit.

I will not kick your ass because that is not my style. I don't need too. You kick your own ass.

Fuck your board games. I prefer Life.

love,

Wine

vodka said...

dear wine,

ah...the illusion of elegance you've manipulated him with is really something spectacular.

i can only assume you didn't tell him did you?

obviusly not.

i know about you wine.
i know your giant ego is all just a sham of the most basic kind.

you reel them in with your vivid imagery of classy manhattan parties, the women laughing in that sincere way that they do while the men recline and brag.
the pop of the cork.

the great comedy shared when it pops with such a vigor as to spill its heavenly syrup over the threshold and onto the kitchen floor.
"becky, remember that one winters eve..."
"oh vince, you are just too much some times..."

your vineyards are praised
your taste and scent applauded by uppity douchebags with one hand on their secretarys leg and the other turning off their blackberry...in case the wife calls.

ah the glamour of you.

but when the party's over what becomes of you?

when the tasting winds down, where do you scamper off to?

curious indeed.

i followed you one night after you stole away from one such party and the things i saw terrified me.

i followed you to the outskirts of town,
saw you slip out of that dazzling bottle of yours
and then it happened.

you got in a box!
a box of all things!

i couldnt believe my eyes.

you then allowed yourself, nay, begged to be passed around by the hobos that gather by the traintracks on nights such as this.

you sloshed around in your cardboard harlot suit
spilling down those cracked lips
into coarse beards and dirty scarves.

it was like watching jesus give head.

i couldnt watch.
but i heard the disillusioned grunt of the too far gone
and i knew that you had been extinguished in the empty hearts of these shabby ne'er-do-wells.

you were dead to me.
to yourself.
you laid in the bellies of these sleeping wretch's
while i strode over
and pissed all over them.

thats the real you, wine.
something thats inside a urine-soaked hobo.

you say you prefer life
yet you've been present and accounted for
in the deaths that these men live
on a daily basis.

choose life,
choose vodka.

Beer said...

Your all a bunch of pussies.

Steve said...

why are all of my best post about alcohol?

actually, seth desreves alot of the credit.

he edited the hell out of this piece. basically we co-wrote it.

yes, this is the first co-written piece to appear this blog.

i like that.

we should do more.

are you listening? sue? seth?

it makes me want to raise a glass of beer and say L'Chaim!

L'Chaim!

Wine said...

Dear Beer,

That's so like you to write "your" when you really meant "you're".

You, my friend, are the pussy. You are afraid of grammar.

Sincerely,

Wine

Beer said...

Dear Wine,

There you go again,
Always correcting my grammar.

Thats the thing with you.

So quick you are to turn
the slope of your glass around to catch the awkward
reflection of someone else
in your murky purple
poison depths.

I know who I am.

I also know you-
drunk on your own pretention.

I saw you last night.

It was late,
at an Uptown party
thrown by a couple of
soul-less I-bankers
in their twenties.

They were getting a hard-on
as they passed out
their business cards to each other.
They didn't ven know that they were drinking you
out of champagne glasses.
Fuckin Dorks.

Their women were blowing lines
off of the black marble
kitchen counter top
in little black
fuckme dresses.

There you were
in the middle of it all.
Your long glass wine stem
sliding in between their fingers
like a...

Aw hell.
I've said enough.

Johnny Cash hates you.

Your friend,
Beer

ULOF said...

You already know about me and beer.

Suzanne said...

I love beer.

Nonsense said...

I would go on and on about beer, but if I write to much I'd be drunk on beer and bad grammar.

I love beer and Pyle

Steve said...

And I love you, nonsense.

I've seen much of you lately.

Toby said...

Great post Steve... and yes, I see Seth in there too :-)

This made me laugh a lot. I needed that this morning.

Toby