Quite often I awake with my mind just choc full of text, rather like someone waking with a full bladder after a night of drinking. It's a strange feeling, and no dobut due to my hypergraphia, but just the other day I slowly kicked my way up from the depts of unconsciousness with a few vague memories floating through my head and a soft voice whispering to me, ghost-like, "real women drink beer...."
Now, having grown up in the Midwest you'd THINK that I would have naturally known a whole passle of wimmin-folken who imbibed a pint o' suds now and then, but this was surprisingly not the case. My mother never in her LIFE drank beer in any shade, colour or strength, nor did my grandmother, my auntie or any of the extended relatives that I knew. Most of the women I knew were hard-workin' folken of some collar or other-- white, bloo or pink-- but despite what they did, from assembly lines to education, from nursing to restaurant hostess-ing, NO ONE I knew who drank beer was female.
Amongst my own family, beer seemed to be crude and masculine, something consumed in a dank bar full of stevadores and steel-workers with dirt under their fingernails at 5:15 PM. Something like this, I suppose:
Either THAT, or women who drank beer were assumed to be floozies or college chicks out on a tear lookin' for a good, cheap time (making them cheap wimmin themselves). Something like this:
Along those lines, it was subtly suggested that women who DID drink beer naturally hung around with idiot men who also drank beer like the organgatang in Any Which Way But Loose. Guys like this:
In short, amongst the women in my life as a child-- and there were many of them, I was always more comfortable among women than I was among men and my mom had about 200 friends whereas I think you could count my DAD'S friends on one hand and have a few fingers left o'er-- I think there were only two women that I knew of who ever drank beer at all.
One of them was my great auntie who was an RN in Arizona and just a lil' bit butch. The other was a refined woman who was in one of my mother's many bridge clubs who was German. That's it. Welllll, MAAAYBE a third-- I have a vague memory of Mrs. Chase, one of my mum's bestest friends who's husband was rather well-2-doo and who had an inground pool in the backyard that she offered me to come o'er and swim in on a summer's day, I seem to THINK I remember her sitting on her porch while I frollicked in the water like an otter, while she sat enjoying a book and glass of what strikes me as Pabst Bloo Ribbon.
Why, then, should I, at the ripe age of 40 n' a fortnight, float out of an otherwise deep sleep with vague visions of my mother at the IGA going down the beer aisle and putting a 6-pack of Budweiser in her cart, my eyes large and staring at the occurence??
Beats hell outta me. Lemmie keep writing. See what i digg upp.
First off, since it's been o'er 2 years since I seriously wrote for SZ:tCoB, most of you probably won't remember how, as a child, I was practically OBSESSED with beer, mostly because it was so featured on TV and magazines and seemed so grown-up and adultish and often refined and just plain kewl, no doubt because such a product was ne'er SEEN in my house. When it WAS taken out and poured (which was rare), I loved everything about it: it's colour, the way it foamed up and maintained such a nice white head, the smell of it. Therefore, when beer DID come home, I was right there waiting for it to be released from it's can.
The occasion that floated up in my dream state was mom preparing for a bridge club meeting at our house, sometime 'round this time of the year-- I remember the night coming on earlier than usual, the windows closed and the leaves in the wooded lot behind our house blazing with oranges and yellows. Mom went crazy cleaning and tidying up our already-neat house, and it was my job to help with such things as moving furniture to be Hoovered under, setting up card tables and choosing decks of cards.
I was also in charge of NOT using the family's one and only beer glass-- a funny-shaped vessel that looked like a cross between a pilsner glass, a brandy snifter and a flower pot.
SOMETHING like that, but more bowled out on the side. ANYWAY, it was my favourite glass and I was under strict orders not to use it on this Bridge Nite 'cuz Ms. Schwartz was coming o'er and would like one of the beers in the fridge.
She DID drink it, and I think she even let me pour it for her (as I took deep whiffs of the beer) and it sat at her elbow for the time that I was allowed to be in the room while the ladies played (dad and i were effectively banished from the room, or at the least Dad would only nodd politely at Mom's friends; he was probably a much more shy person than I would've realized).
My point-- if there IS one, other than just a trip down Memory Lane to one of the Halcyon Days of My Youth in this, my Fifth Season-- is that I realized something then: real women DO drink beer.. This was a drink that was perfectally acceptable among mom's friends who were elegant ladies who dressed up and did their hair for these Bridge Nights, rather like going out to a fancy dinner. These evenings were intended to be enjoyable and fun and relaxing, a chance to socialize in a structured envionment without a television on; a chance to tell stories, exchange gossip and news about children and grandchildren and be within each other's auras-- the game was practically an afterthought. No one was out to get drunk, drown sorrows, forget evils or men or get picked up for some cheap whoopie-- none of the vague stereotypes that I had somehow gotten by having near-teatoatlers for parents.
Besides, I LIKE beer! I like it's ways and it's hows and how smooth it goes down. I like bitters and ales and especially porters. When I get a chance to try a new broo I like to turn to my companions aside me and say, "wow! Taste this!" and have them take a sniff and then a slug and give me their opinion, negative or positive. I like to try a new beer with that sense of curiosity and discovery that it comes with it-- will this Magic Hat be good or will it suck rocks?? Would you like to try an English hard cider or rather have an ale? How about we all take a weekend afternoon and make an honest attempt to brew our own?? One doesn't have to be a woman, of course, but lots of my friends ARE female, having been a teacher for so many years, and it somehow always makes me feel good to clink the necks of beer bottles together 'pon a summer's night or winter's afternoon and have some beer!!