Tuesday, September 29, 2009

No. 66

Beer: Pretty Things
Date: September 27th, 2009
Place: Bryan's Apartment, Somerville, MA

I haven't had a neighbor in years.

Ignore college. The dorm. The 15 floors of testosterone and drunk and ducks being cleaned and prepared in the sinks. Take that year away, and my premise stands.

Not in Oxford. Not in Atlanta. Not in Durham.

Not since elementary school have I been able to walk down the street to a friend's house to play.

Which isn't to say that I wouldn't love to know my neighbors. On one side we've got a Portuguese family who gives me tomatoes when mine, that they have been critical of, don't grow (rightly so - the criticism pertained to my lack of watering, which has a profound impact on the little guys) and whose arbor makes our neighborhood smell like grape juice.

But even though I know them by site, the older man doesn't recognize me out of the context of in my yard, pulling weeds, surrounded by a rusty fence. I see him at the corner store and smile - but he ignores. And I don't know his name. His wife calls me neighbor.

I don't even know the neighbors on the other side.

Outside of Manhattan, Somerville is the most densely packed neighborhood in America. Thousands and thousands of people all on top of one another. With the exception of our friends from North Carolina who live a couple of miles away, I don't know anyone else in town.

And then a new kid starts at work. Kid in a great way. Young guy. Bryan. Just moved from Manhattan. Scoped out all over town. And moves in 24 houses west of us. Maybe not even that much. We're at 50 Street Name, he's at 118.

So Sunday I packed up a beer (and one for him - a welcome to Somerville gift), walked three minutes, and watched my fantasy team lose to my new neighbor.

Who also happens to be my fantasy football general manager, my co-worker, and for all intents and purposes, my cube mate.

If there happens to be a street fight that breaks out, I know someone who has my back. Or, at least, someone who is close enough to come watch the beat down.

Much like elementary school.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

No. 65

Beer: Heineken
Date: September 23rd, 2009
Place: The House, Somerville, MA

2:17 am.

Knock on the door. Startled, I awaken.

My brain is swimming in dreams, even though I don't think REM sleep starts for another few hours. Logic is muddled. Why is anyone at my door?


This time it's on the glass. More like a scratch. If this is a horror movie, the glass shatters in a moment.

But nothing.

Who is out there?

I don't know
I say frustrated. How am I supposed to know who is outside.

I have found my glasses. Slide the curtain to the side, careful not to make much movement. Zombies and robbers are trained to look for curtain movement.

There's a body on the porch. On the stairs. Hunched over. Rocking back and forth.

Back. Forth.

I need to get to the door. I need to find out who is out there. Is it Liam? Pete?

We don't own a baseball bat. But we should. For times like opening the door to fend off zombies at 2:24 am on a Sunday morning.

I open our door and walk into the hallway. I turn on the porch light. I brace my feet at a 45 degree angle and slide the lock. It pops.

I pull open the door. Slowly.

It turns around. Blood shot eyes. Mumbling.

Hulkj hjkeu u ahjakhtu jaklj oiu , hjaiouortyh.

Poor guy
I think.

I don't know what you are saying, Ese.

Did I really just say Ese? It's late. Or early. I don't know. My synapses are misfiring and I might have just made a racial slur. I'm not sure I'm allowed to say that.

Especially to a lost, drunk, tired, scared-looking hispanic man on my steps who either thinks he's at the right place or someplace where someone can help him.

The nuance of Spanglish alludes me.

Well, I'm going to leave this light on. So, in case, you know I say aloud to him, careful to leave off in case you die on my porch.

It's out of my jurisdiction now, kind of. I just rent. If someone is going to be legally responsible for a man passing out, it isn't me. I think morally, though, I signed some kind of contract when I acknowledged him.

At any rate, my eyes are closing as the door is.

Six hours later. The sun is up.

Don't be dead. Don't be dead. Don't be dead.

I open the door. No man. Good. But there's something. Two somethings.

An opened, fully undrank Heinken on the top step. An unopened, banged up can of Heienken on the bottom step. In between them, no man.

That was months ago. The beer has been in my fridge since then.

And was cracked open Wednesday night when we played Mexican train dominos with our friends the Velazquezs.

True story.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

No. 64

Beer: Switchback Ale
Date: September 5th, 2009
Place: Battery Street, Burlington, VT

I have an amazing wife and an amazing life and an amazing God and we found an amazing patio and had a beer and soaked up the waning sun of summer in Vermont.

It's time like this that I realize I'm the luckiest.

And I've not got much more else to say about it.

Friday, September 4, 2009

No. 63

Beer: Shipyard Imperial Porter
Date: September 3, 2009
Place: The House, Somerville, MA

If it weren’t for the world heating up so much and everyone fearing that land mass will dissolve and we will dissolve then I think the biggest threat facing our planet is how it gets smaller every day.

Observe: a girl from my high school lives down the street from me.

Now, this isn’t some massive high school in some community where people are transient and move all over, and this isn’t some she lives down the street from me as a metaphorical device to say I have a friend in Connecticut.

It’s a God honest, denim wearing confession that a girl from my little 800 person high school in the cotton fields of Alabama lives down the street from me in my little city of Somerville, north of the formerly swampy Shawmut Peninsula.

And since college football was on we and since she is from Bama and I’m from Bama and she went to Tennessee and that’s next door to the Carolinas, and my wife is from North Carolina (and hates NC State, who we chose to cheer against – despite being the place where our high school quarterback from our little town in Alabama quarterbacked in college before he became an NFL superstar), we had a friend from Louisiana who went to LSU who I know from some Illinois friends come over and a friend from Texas (who I sat next to at Arnold) and a guy from California, but his brother married a girl from Alabama, and in a small world feat of itself is living upstairs with my landlord, who I have no connection to, other than I drove through his Irish hometown a few years ago {and I pay him monthly}, I wanted to open a beer.

A beer I couldn’t, for the life of me, find a kinfolk connection to.