It was a balmy June night. With my senioritis absolved and my diploma in hand, I proceeded to figure out this whole “drinking” thing at Marie’s graduation party.

I showed up, and eyed the bucket of Coronas. The ice had melted into liquid, and they would bob each time the bucket was brushed by a relative’s ankle, or on the rare occasion that one would be grabbed out. They were there for the taking.

After noticing that a few of the other recent graduates of the class of ’07 had popped the Coronas, I made my move. I reached into the ice water, grabbed a bottle, and lifted into the air. I cracked it, it fizzed, and then I gulped.

It was putrid. It must have been in Marie’s garage collecting dust since last season. It was so skunked I could taste the rust of the cap in the metallic aftertaste. I’m not sure if the seal on the cap was tight, as I tasted the aftertaste of the refrigerator ice present in the bucket. Only one thing can have that potpourri of every expired, pungent, and forgotten food item from weeks past, and this beer had managed to absorb those flavors through some neglectful form of osmosis.

Soon after the beer was empty, the bucket ran cold too. I knew that Mike had a 30-rack of something in his car, and that it would be brought out after the last relative had left. Night began to fall, and we slipped into the back yard to play some Frisbee before we could sneak our cargo in.

Eric was Marie’s dad. As the local reverend of the church, he was at the center of the town’s talk and walk, and was a favorite among the children for his wisdom and open ear. However, his light manner was not to be tested when his temper flared, and none of the town’s children knew how he would respond to the 30 rack in the car. He was an intelligent and accomplished man; he got his divinity degree from Yale. If he was to believe that his daughter’s graduation party would go without a few cold ones down the hatch, it would belie the intellect I knew he had that guided our small new-england town.

As the final rays of sun slipped behind the horizon, he slipped upstairs to make sure there were no more relatives lurking in the dark corners of the house.

When E had gone inside, Mike made his move.

Sliding the 30 of (Pabst, Keystone, Bud Light, Beast, Shaefer, High Life, pick your poison) out of the backseat, we scurried the cumbersome box into the yard. I grabbed the (now) water bucket, and Mike dumped the whole box into the cold water. The spray of the cascading beers collected on my face. The low thud of metal on plastic forced the Frisbee players to look west at Mike’s fresh bounty.

Eric appeared in the doorway.

“Michael, what did I tell you?”

A deer in the headlights; a moose on the tracks; a boy and his first 30.

“I…”

“Life is too short to drink shitty beer.”

***

Hat City Hoppers seeks to review beer on a variety of levels, including microbrew, craft, national, and economy.

We are based out of Danbury, CT.

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