My illness has lingered, clawing at my throat and making my vocal chords the rusted out nightmare of a shipwreck off the Bermuda Triangle. Plus, it hurts to talk.
So I’m sitting on the rail, listening to the bartender hold court (he’s telling people about how corporations are going into local shows to make sure musicians aren’t using samples) and the man next to me quote a comedy show I’ve never heard of (‘I once ran naked through a bowling alley for $3’) while I fight off a slight headache and drink Stone‘s ’09 13th Anniversary imperial red.
The brew tastes like chocolate and chalk. I’m suddenly back in 5th grade being punished for eating a Hershey bar in class by being forced to lick the chalkboard.
I wave the bartender down, my throat punishing me for every hoarsely buzzed note: “So, this isn’t good, right?”
He replies, “I think it’s a little bit past it’s prime,” while making a non-committal motion with his hands. The patron next to me agrees; something’s wrong with this beer.
“I can pour you something else if you like,” the barkeep offers.
I would indeed like. I go for Pelican‘s Riptide, this merely a red instead of an imperial.
And just like that, I’ve got a better beer, one that’s almost too easy to drink but in a good way. All but the definition of a session ale, maybe (maybe!) just a little high at 5.3%, this is what to drink when I’m in a drinkin’ mood. I can hang out for a few hours, drink this and still feel like I’m making sense. It’s just malty enough to have some throughline of taste, a very crisp finish with the whiff of citrus there, like lemon water, to complete the quenching element of this beverage.
With no desire to speak, I’m listening to the dull stoner one-drop, the muted clank of a tipped glass breaking, the warning that Jolly Pumpkin isn’t producing a pumpkin beer and a discussion about Northern California where bikers grow weed to smoke meth while the man next to me takes a photo of an old lamb doll, the kind that could find a home in the Velveteen Rabbit to post on some social media site, somewhere.
I hope kids still read the Velveteen Rabbit. It’s a rare commentary to suggest that loving something makes it real, instead of love being the proof that something is real. I rather like that.