Friday, May 19, 2006

Reading/thinking/drinking. beer. (Bukowski).

It's Friday night, after a long week at work. The weather has been sunny and hot, but today everything turned gray, began to rain. There's a baseball game on tv, and my father is in town. The perfect time for a cold beer, a bowl of potato chips from a newly opened bag (somehow chips are only good the first day you open them, no matter how well you seal the bag afterwards), and a few hours of watching the game while cooking and eating dinner. The bottle is cool and green against my hand, I pour some beer into a glass as I stir something in the pan. Foam rises, subsides as I drink it down. The air is hot over the stove; I've got two burners going at full blast, and the beer is cold down my throat.

I never drank beer when I was younger. I thought it was disgusting, completely unappealing in both taste and aroma. Maybe once in a while, on a hot summer night, I would swipe cool sips of pilsner from my father's glass, but otherwise, no. In college, on the rare occasions when we drank, we stuck to...other things. Vodka, during the time I spoke Russian and hung out with other people who spoke Russian, or foofy, girly drinks with my friends. Red wine at home with my parents and their friends. Beer I avoided.

That all changed after I turned 25. What else did I start doing when I turned 25? I began reading Bukowski. Fiction was where it all started, Post Office. I've written about this part before. Reading Bukowski made me thirsty. (It did not, however, induce a desire to sleep with practically every man I met. And I did not take up smoking cigarettes and betting on horses. Or writing poetry, for that matter. I swear). It was around this time that I starting drinking beer. Occasionally. Lagers, like Harp. Chimay ales, increasing in intensity and...potency, until my face flushed pink and my lips turned red. Guinness, which I liked a lot more this time around than when I had first tried it. Something had changed. My palate for one, but it was something more than that. I began to enjoy the taste. The feeling you get when you drink a beer on a hot day, a bowl of chips at your elbow and a book in your hand...

One night, before going to sleep, I stretched an arm out, absent-mindedly grabbed a book off the pile that has taken over the nightstand. Opened it at random. The title of the poem said it all. beer. Somehow everything always comes back to Bukowski.

rivers and seas of beer
beer beer beer
the radio singing love songs
as the phone remains silent
and the walls stand
straight up and down
and beer is all there is.

(From Love is a Dog from Hell, the last stanza of the poem beer).

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