“Let's revisit the time when you threw up on that young Mennonite boy,” Dr. Raymond Vert said in his slow, condescending drawl, “What was his name again? Billy?”
“That's what I called him, but I didn't exactly introduce myself, if you know what I mean Doc.”
“No, J. R., I don't know what 'you mean'. That's why you're here. So you can tell me what exactly 'you mean'.”
“Why are you doing that?” I said as I strained to look up and over at him from the couch.
“Doing what, J.R.?”
“Saying 'you mean' like that? Why are you putting that emphasis on it? You constantly do stuff like that. It's really starting to get on my nerves.”
“Well, let's talk about it then. Why is the inflection of my voice 'getting on your nerves'? What do you think that is telling you?”
“There, you did it again, you fucking did it again.”
I'm sitting up now, but Dr. Vert is just staring down at his tablet, writing. He looks up at me, over his expensive, stereotypical, horn rimmed glasses, and says nothing.
“Whatever, let's just talk about Billy,” I said as I laid back down.
The name of this column, or blog, or whatever this is, is “Beer On My Shirt” and for good reason, as the tale I am about to share has a common component with many tales, or at least many of my tales, that involve throwing back a few cold ones. Specifically, that common element is spilling beer, sometimes a lot, sometimes a little, but always enough to notice, on my shirt. Or perhaps even on your shirt. I'm sorry but it is kind of my thing.
For many years I had referred to these times as 'letting loose' or 'cutting loose' or 'getting loose', with 'loose' clearly being the imperative word. This dates back to the time I saw my friend's father dance his heart out to “Footloose”. I had never seen a man so free, so filled with joy, so loose. At that moment, I knew that I, too, would like to get loose, feel joy, and be free.
Not that my world was, or is, tight and joyless, but seeing this man and his lighting quick feet made me realize that I was doing something wrong.
As the song ended, I approached him and asked for his secret. He replied with three words.
The point I am trying to make is that, generally, I consider myself a rather mild-mannered, responsible, and reserved individual. And I strive toward being a more relaxed, outgoing, and overall, a more free-spirited individual all while still maintaining an aura of responsibility on a day to day basis. Believe it or not, on a day to day basis, outside of special occasions like birthday parties, beer festivals, restaurants/bars with amazing beer selections, hiking, or when a friend calls me on the telephone, I am a responsible drinker. And really, the only reason I am telling you about my responsible drinking habit (“responsible drinking habit” - Possible? An oxymoron? Discuss.) is so that I could, if I may, list for you some of the other ways in which I feel I could be classified as responsible:
In my capacity as 'Dad'
In regards to lawn maintenance
With respect to the changing of my undergarments, not including “weekend socks”
Driving a vehicle, on land. Maritime/Marine vehicles – boats, jet skis, submarines – are not currently under consideration.
For flatulence. As in, “I am responsible for 90% of flatulence that happens in any given room that I currently occupy”. I should really give up dairy.
And finally, to preface the following tale of absolutely irresponsible drinking followed by absolutely irresponsible actions, I would like to speak briefly, and vaguely, about my employment. I work in a field that, for the most part, has a rather reduced workload during the months of June, July, and August. In other words, I rarely, if ever, have to actually wake up and go into work. Perhaps I work in education. Perhaps I am, or work for, a congressman. Perhaps I am a scientist at the North Pole. Or perhaps I work in the research and development department of a major swimsuit manufacturer, which during the summer months could hardly be considered work. Regardless, it is tradition that before we all head home for the summer, many of the employees meet up after that last day to “let loose” and say good-byes.
Now, this particular year, unbeknownst to me, there were several forces at play, all of them conspiring against me and my responsible ways. First, we ended up at an establishment with a surprisingly decent amount of craft beer on tap – Bear Republic's Racer 5, Port's Wipeout, and Ommegang's Hennepin. Second, the proprietor of the establishment invited me to sample some beers he had brewed himself. And they were decent. And he extended the invitation several times. Third, and most importantly, I did not have to drive – Wife had agreed to come pick me up around 4:30 (we had arrived at said establishment around 2:30)
Now, your Honor, this is where the real travesty of justice has occurred: I was drinking at a rate that would allow me to “get loose” within the two-hour window that had been allotted. To my dismay, and to the grand misfortune of all involved, Wife did not arrive until well after six. So, your Honor, I would like to plead “not my fault” and humbly request a mulligan.
The last thing I truly remember is revealing to a colleague, rather discretely, my deep affection for early 80's punk rock – Black Flag, Minor Threat, the Misfits, etc..
“I listen to Minor Threat when I mow the grass so my lawn will have straight edges.”
I recall saying it and feeling extremely clever. Whether or not it made or makes any sense to anyone else, was and still is unclear to me.
It was around this time that I went from letting loose, to letting go. I even made up a saying -- “hanging one off it” -- which apparently is the next phase in the process – as in “I am standing on a metaphorical ledge, tempting fate, hanging one off it.” At least that is what I imagine it means, but I can't be sure, as I am relying solely on Wife's memory and the sarcastic text messages, emails, and Facebook comments of my colleagues.
Speaking of Wife and Colleagues, apparently when Wife finally arrived, my first order of business was to introduce her to a female coworker. This introduction included the subtle, yet extremely loud, announcement that I love her (the female coworker) and that she (the female coworker) loves me -- a shocking revelation for all involved, except for me.
It was an embarrassing scene that I repeated each time I introduced Wife to another female coworker. Luckily, it became less shocking, although not necessarily less embarrassing, with each iteration.
Don't get me wrong, I work with some really great women, but I am not exactly the Paul Revere of emotions. My insides are more like that machine at a junkyard that takes scrap metal (a symbol for emotions) and compacts it into nice, neat, little cubes and then stacks them in nice, neat rows of identical cubes of mangled metal. And somewhere there is a ferocious dog roaming around eating young kids that hop the fence.
Hell, I was madly in love with Wife for years before I revealed any emotion other than ignorance. It wasn't until that fateful day when our knees accidentally touched under a table and, well, that was it. True story. Also a cautionary, and slightly Victorian tale about the consequences of not covering your knees.
My time at this lovely establishment came to an end as I spilled a rather large amount of Bear Republic's Racer 5 IPA on my shirt. As wife walked me out of the bar, I continually pointed to the dark, wet region on the front of my shirt and exclaimed “Beer On My Shirt! Beer On My Shirt! I rate my appearance 5 out of 5! Beer On My Shirt!”
“Yes Honey, Beer On My Shirt, that's you,” she said, “Did you pay your tab?”
“About a hundred times.”
She got me in the car. She drove towards home. She stopped at a gas station/sandwich shop. I opened the car door. The top half of my body fell out of the car, my bottom half remained firmly belted in. And then I vomited. In an attempt to propel my horizontal top half into a more vertical position, I vomited again, this time with more force. I was not successful.
As I looked up from my failure, my watery eyes slowly focused on the shining face of a young Mennonite boy, putting air in his bike tires a mere five feet away from the puddle I had created.
Actually, it was less a puddle and more a liquified sandwich.
His eyes locked onto mine and his face had a sublime expressionless look to it, much like my face probably looked the first time I saw what appeared to be a homeless man up close and in person.
Curious. Afraid. Empathetic. Confused. Nervous. Emotionally, our souls were in sync. We were lucky that we didn't end up trading bodies right then and there, like what tends to happen at exactly these types of moments in so many classic examples of American cinema.
Our eyes still locked, fearing body transference, I said, “Sorry Billy.” It was all I could muster as I managed to get my top half back into the car and shut the door.
Once home, Wife helped me with many things - doors, disrobing, and even mouthwash, which I spit everywhere as I shouted accusations and refusals. "I won't drink your death water, witchy woman!"
Face down in the bed, stuck in several odd transitions, I existed somewhere between the worlds of work clothes and nudity, life and death, and sitting up and lying down. Wife, forever the family archivist, took many, many pictures. She keeps them in a safe deposit box, in a manila envelope labeled "Chistmas Cards." She frequently refers to them as her "insurance policy."
Clearly, my life is in danger.
Racer 5 IPA, Bear Republic Brewing Co. 4.45/5
appearance = 4/5
A nice golden, orange color, with a little white head that stops by for a visit and just as quickly says good bye.
smell = 4.25/5
Pine resin, with some floral and citrus too.
taste = 4.5/5
Not a hop bomb, but the subtly and balance of the bitterness and fruity, floral flavors of the hops is wonderful. The malt back bone is there, but in more of a supporting role, not as a second act.
mouthfeel = 4.75/5
Creamy. Nice carbonation to keep it all happening. And creamy.
Overall = 4.5/5
I am a big fan of this. It continues to please me each time I have it.