Friday, January 1, 2010


I just realized an epilogue occurs when you wrote a bad ending. Or no ending. Or you just forgot to really end.

I think a moral comes in an epilogue.

I'm drinking my third beer of the evening. My chains have been loosed. I'm free. I can drink as many beers as I want and never have to report them again and they taste a little less important now.

In 09, I drank beers in fifteen different states with one hundred nineteen different folks. There's no telling how many more beers I wish I'd have had with others who I didn't make it to see. But that's life.

I learned this past year to be patient. To follow though. To think.

But, I don't think I ended up saving any natural resources. For ever beer I passed over I made up with some distilled spirit mixed with something or wine shipped from France. I might not have, in retrospect, saved anything except for my kidneys. And then not even. I lost no weight. I still can't travel through time.

What then, do I take away? Anything? Nothing?

That time is short. Plans are fickle. Friends are better than beer or money or houses or jobs or anything except for family and wives. To have family around, whether I avoid them or not, makes me better off than not. To have Marianna by my side makes me the luckiest one.

Thank you to those who shared a beer with me this year.

And cheers to those who will in 2010.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

No. 99

Beer: Bad Penny Brown Ale
Date: December 30th, 2009
Place: Applebees, Durham, NC

This blog couldn't finish. Not without Todd.

His swine flu subsided ha! and he made the drive down and in the last forty-five minutes of our Christmas vacation Todd saved it. Me. The blog. The year. This whole damn project.

I met Todd several years back in church. He was sitting by himself. I was sitting by myself. It sounds like, the way I'm writing this, as if we were about to date. But no. He was alone because his fiance was up in Michigan getting ready to be wed. And Todd was on his way up a couple of weeks later.

He was wearing some shoes I also owned. So I thought he seemed like he could be an okay guy.

I invited Todd out for a beer. Which I probably do too often. Asking guys out for beer.

Nine times out of ten, the beers I've had with complete strangers have leveled the field and opened up the conversation have led to something bigger. Beer does that. Vikings knew it. Drunks know it. I do.

From that beer came several more. Over the next year that I was still in Durham, we spent a lot of time with Todd and his wife, Rebecca. Each time there were beers. Every time there were.

Not too many. Not too few.

We went camping once and I think there were just Margaritas. There should have been ale.

I miss Todd. His wife. The times they and Marianna and I spent together.

But those days are over. Like this year. This project.

I can look back and see the good times. I will forget the bad. Time does that. Selective blogging does that. Remembers the good. Blocks out the bad.

There wasn't much of anything to block out with Todd. He's a great guy. Now he's a dad. Loves it. He wouldn't go back and trade this new life, this new responsibility and parenting, for those olden days, where we'd grab some nachos and beers and kill hours. And I don't blame him.

Anyone who would trade life and all it means for a pint of beer is an idiot.

No. 98

Beer: Fat Tire Amber Ale
Date: December 28th, 2009
Place: Shiki Sushi, Durham, NC

Swine flue evidently doesn't care about my plans.

Me, being a planner, had it all set up. I'd have beer number 98 with Todd who was going to drive down from Cincinnati and we were going to drink a beer and then go to the UNC basketball game and then I was going to have number 99 as a reflectional.

Dude, I'm not going to be able to make it. I think I have H1N1. Yeah, um, okay. So... I'll see you at like 7:30? No, for real. I left Cincy an hour ago, and got all the shakes and thought This ain't going to happen. So I came back. I'm sorry dude.

Don't you die on me.

Etc. Click.

I wasn't going to let swine flu have the last word. Just like the CDC didn't let it have a pandemic, and farmers didn't let it kill their harvest but burned the pigs alive gross.

I flipped the script. Ordered a beer with dinner.

The alcohol should kill off the virus.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

No. 97

Beer: Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
Date: December 27th, 2009
Place: The Stuarts, Raleigh, NC

Holidays that begin with C.

Christmas morning. 10:03am. I open a package from my older brother. He's mailed me a gift basket from Florida to North Carolina, but the company that packed it is from New Hampshire and it might've made sense for me to just drive up to the White Mountains and picked it up.

Contents: Three beers (Sierra Nevada, Leinenkugel, Samuel Adams), a bag a pistachios, a bag of trail mix, a bag of nuts, packing paper, a note (Congrats on only drinking 100 beers this year! Have a few on me!!! -Breshen) all contained within a bucket; the bucket could have easily held four more beers had they put less confetti inside.

The beers are somewhat cold due to the package being left out in the garage. I could open one up right here. Right on the floor in front of the fireplace and beside my stocking. Or drink all three. But I can't drink all three. I don't have three left in me for the year.

I have to be diplomatic about the situation. I've not planned any beers with the family. Or, any more. And I haven't planned any with Ann and John. Which is shallow. Weak. Poor planning. Lack of leadership.

Sticky things that begin with T.

But I can't not have one. I can't just a) leave them or b) ship them in my luggage back up to the commonwealth. Some terrorist foiled my plot to take the beers back. He ruined it for us all. And the beer lobby hasn't been strong enough to overturn the 3oz. limit. Or, in the past three years, perhaps, they've lost vision.

So I put my other plans on hold. Planned beers exit. Unplanned enter. This is Christmas and Christmas is about family and my family sent me beers and my family is playing Scattergories Bodies of water that begin with R, J, E and I'm going to drink a beer and answer questions and figure out later what to do with the two that are left in the refrigerator.

Thanks for the beer, Breshen. Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

No. 96

Beer: Budweiser
Date: December 25th, 2009
Place: The Griffins, Fayetteville, NC

I've been meaning to have a beer with Dan for a couple of years now.

Dan is family. Or, in the typical convoluted family connection description paradigm, he is my wife's aunt's husband, or my father-in-law's brother-in-law, or my wife's cousin's dad. Or, in the proper business sense, Dan is our financial planner.

After the Madoff debacle, the family member as money shepherd is somewhat of a creepy thing. You ship crates of money their way, trust they put it where it would benefit you most. Talk to them monthly and view statements and ask advice and hope that the whole of it isn't built of cards but of more - as if our monetary system is backed by something real and something other than simple trust.

As well as our money going through that man's hands, he seems like a good guy.

At every holiday we are in Raleigh, I can't help but feel like he's gotten the short end of the stick. He's accepted a heck of a lot of responsibility for the family and has taken it with no bitterness. He drives his inlaws and wife and kids up to Raleigh, two and a half hours round trip, for all the holidays and all the Sunday afternoon meals and whatever else transpires between family, between houses. And as it's the case, it's never been a good time to sit and have a beer. Dan is a man on a schedule and a mission and an interstate.

But I've been promising that I owe him a beer for months now. So as we pulled into their house, I unloaded a sixer of Budweiser, straightened my tie, and celebrated the holiday.

After the dinner was eaten and the presents were opened and before the dessert sweetened the deal, I was able to crack open a brew with Dan. And we were able to chat for a few minutes about nothing in particular.

And about as quickly as it had started, it was over. Because for a man on a mission and a man on a schedule and a man like Dan, who saddles up responsibility of families and monies, there isn't much time to slow down and have a beer.

For there are still desserts to be out out and dishes to be cleaned and families to be hugged and weekends to be squeezed before enduring another week of an economy that had soured years ago.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

No. 95

Beer: Harpoon Winter Warmer
Date: December 20th, 2009
Place: The House, Somerville, MA

In a number of ways, my life is like a movie. Except for the paycheck. Or the notoriety. Or the stalkers in the bushes.

Apart from those three things, and maybe a couple hundred more, my life and that of the top names in Hollywood are virtually indistinguishable. Oh, and maybe the square footage of my apartment.

But this weekend, when Christmas travelers were snowed in, airports turned into waitports, roads out of the Midwest and New England clogged up and snarled, and the holidays were starting to become less bright for some souls, the scenario I've only watched on the big screen made a debut in my neighborhood.

One of those souls was down the street. Trying to make it home to Maryland out of Boston but the snow was bad in Boston and far worse eight hours down the seaboard. Bryan was stuck and burning vacation days and family days and holy days and there wasn't anything I could do to get him to DC any sooner.

So we rented Christmas Vacation. Had Bryan over. And Pete down. And made dinner. And had seasonal beers. And got into the spirit of the Christmas season while we were all at least 500 miles from where we hoped to end up in the next few days.

The snow didn't melt much over the next few days.

But the warmth of friends and family sure made it seem like it did.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

No. 94

Beer: Samuel Smith's Oatmeal Stout
Date: December 12th, 2009
Place: The White Horse Tavern, Newport, RI

One beer.

On December 12.

In the oldest tavern in America.

Built in 1673.